As I mentioned in my recent review, Borderlands 2 is stuffed to the gills with references to….well, everything. They range from small homage’s (guns named after characters from Fallout 3, player skins paying tribute to Breaking Bad & Metal Gear Solid etc.) to much more obvious shows of appreciation. In this list I want to point out the ten best references I found whilst looting my way across the weird and wonderful planet of Pandora.
WARNING – The following list may contain spoilers both for Borderlands 2 and the material it references.
10 – “I…AM…RAKKMAN!!!”
Starting off the list we have a doff of the cap to the Dark Knight himself, Batman.
In The Fridge, by negotiating the tunnel area called ‘The Rat’s Maze’ players will eventually come to a area overlooking the scenery called ‘The Rakk Cave’, where they can encounter an enemy called ‘Rakkman’ (who it is revealed in an Echo recording lost his parents similar to Bruce Wayne). He wears a cape made out of dead Rakk, which are essentially enormous bats that fly in the skies of Pandora, and talks in a gravely voice.
Rakkman will occasionally disappear in a puff of bat-shaped smoke while in combat, and has chances of dropping a legendary gun called the ‘Gunerang’, which can be thrown at enemies like Batman’s custom Batarang’s. In a nice touch, when going through the game in True Vault Hunter mode his name will change to ‘Rakkman Forever’, a reference to the title of the third (and not very good) film.
9 – “I Bet I Can Make It”
In the Caustic Caverns, there happens to be an island way out in the middle of a sea of corrosive junk. For those gamers with the desire to get there (or a suitable amount of health to sustain damage from corrosion), they will find the small island almost deserted, bar for one character sitting by a fire named Solitaire – this is a reference to Solaire from the popular dungeon crawler Dark Souls. Sadly, he doesn’t really do anything, but you do get some Badass Ranks for getting to the island in the first place.
8 – The Splinter Group
One early mission given to you by Tannis sees you delivering some pizza to the Bloodshot Stronghold to lure out some mutated bandits. Upon going through the sewers to get to the drop-off point, the bandits realise you aren’t the usual pizza guy and attack; they happen to be called Lee, Dan, Ralph and Mick.
This is of course a reference to the original ‘heroes in a half-shell’, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Once they are dead, you can also lure out another boss called Flinter (*cough cough Splinter*) by solving a light puzzle in the next room. When you turn the mission in, the comment simply says ‘References!’.
Another nice bonus with this mission in the QR code that can be found of the pizza box given to you by Moxxi – scan the code and you get the following quote from the TMNT film: “Wise man say forgiveness is divine but never pay full price for late pizza. – Captain Picard”. This references the ‘Use The Force, Harry’ misquote picture floating around on the internet
7 – Tannis Rides Again
There was a bizarre Easter Egg in the first Borderlands where if you shot a set of barrels in Treacher’s Landing in the correct order, Tannis would appear in the water riding a fish through obstacles of fire. Well, head to the Main Street Reservoir in Sawtooth Cauldron and go to the coast. Fire at the elemental barrels present in the correct order, and Tannis will ride again for your amusement.
6 – JENKINSSSSS!!!!
Throughout Borderlands 2, you might notice wanted posters for a mini-loader called Jimmy Jenkins. He can theoretically appear from any Hyperion chest, crate or box in the game, but is incredibly rare to find (some areas have a much higher spawn rate). If you do have the good fortune to come across him, defeating him will earn you a Badass Rank called ‘JEEEEEKINSSSSSS!’ – a reference to the infamous battle cry given by one Leeroy Jenkins in World Of Warcraft.
P.S That video still makes me laugh after nearly 7 years
5 – “What’s In The Box?!?!?”
Every time you enter ‘The Dust’, a seemingly ordinary cardboard box will spawn in one of five locations. Inside the box is a DAHL machine pistol called ‘Gwen’s Head’…and a skull? This a homage to the twist at the end of the film Se7en, where Brad Pitt finds his wife’s head in a box. To cap this off, when you obtain the weapon, Handsome Jack will get on the Echo device out of nowhere are proclaim ‘WHATS IN THE BOOOOX?’
4 – Donkey Mong & King Mong
Bullymongs are large ape like creatures that you encounter all across Pandora – they aren’t the friendliest sort to be honest, preferring to throw rocks and cars at you if they have the chance. There happens to be two unique Bullymong’s that are worth your attention, both located in the Eridium Blight. One is ‘King Mong’, an enormous creature based on the legendary King Kong from the movies who has the chance of dropping some pretty neat loot.
The other is ‘Donkey Mong’, a Bullymong with a red tie who throws explosive barrels at you. This is of course a tribute to Nintendo’s very own barrel throwing Donkey Kong. You will also get an achievement/trophy for killing Donkey Mong called ‘Definitely An Italian Plumber’, a reference to Mario who regularly battles with Donkey Kong in various games.
3 – Michael Mamaril
Occasionally while wandering around the town of Sanctuary, you might come across this chap, who claims to be a fellow Vault Hunter. If you engage in a chat with him, he will be nice enough to give you a random blue, purple or even orange tier weapon for free. Receiving a weapon also gets you the ‘Tribute To A Vault Hunter’ achievement/trophy.
The inclusion of this character is actually based on real life events; Micheal Mamaril was diagnosed with cancer and died at the age of 22. He was a fan of the original Borderlands, and his friend Carlo e-mailed Gearbox Software to request if he could be remembered in someway. They responded by having Claptrap deliver a moving eulogy from the team, and immortalising him as an NPC in the second game. Kudos to you, Gearbox.
2 – Minecraft!
In another area of the Caustic Caverns, you may come across a wall that looks strangely pixelated and can be destroyed with a few melee attacks. Breaking through this leads to another pixel wall, which then reveals a hidden area not on the map. Whilst wandering around here, you will suddenly be attacked by Creepers from the indie sensation Minecraft, who not only drop themed player skins from the game but can also drop a special shotgun and sniper rifle that fire pixels at enemies. Their inclusion in the game is part of a deal signed with Minecraft creator Markus Persson.
1 – “Too Close For Missiles”
This mission takes the cake and eats it for references, and one can only get the feeling that the developers had a soft spot for Top Gun. Given to you by a pilot named ‘Loggins’ (after Kenny Loggins, who sang ‘Danger Zone’ in the film), the mission has you invading a Buzzard camp called ‘Goose’s Roost’ and setting fire to a volleyball net with jet fuel, after which a hoard of shirtless volleyball players attempt to kill you. Having quoted many lines from the film, when you hand in the quest, Loggins’ lays the most famous one of all on you – “you can be my wingman anytime”. The main problem with this mission is it can be done quite early, and nothing after ever quite reaches the same heights of mindlessly entertaining stupidity.