The Borderlands series has always had an element of cosmic horror and Lovecraftian influence to it, right from the very start. Admittedly, it's been played for laughs (mostly), but it's definitely there. How else do you explain a planet where everybody ultimately goes completely bonkers if they stay there long enough? But in Gearbox's second DLC entry for Borderlands 3, Gearbox leans hard into the vibe, bringing players to the frozen world of Xylourgos for the biggest destination wedding ever held in the Six Galaxies.

Come for the frostbite, stay for the gibbering madness.

Those who watched the end credits of the main campaign caught a still image of renowned adventurer and big game hunter Sir Alistair Hammerlock proposing to Wainwright "Winnie" Jakobs. It's clear that Jakobs accepted the proposal, and sometime between the end of the main storyline and the player's return from "stealing" The Handsome Jackpot, the couple has finalized their wedding plans. They're off to the frigid and permanently eclipsed world of Xylourgos. A world on the edge of the galaxy, home to all manner of hostile fauna, deranged cultists and the corpse of what is most likely a colossal Vault Guardian.

But our two would-be grooms come down with a case of cold feet which doesn't have a thing to do with the ice, and leads to Wainwright becoming possessed by an ancient entity with some serious boundary issues. As Hammerlock himself mentions in the game, "It seemed a lot less culty in the brochure." Enter the Vault Hunters, smoothing the course of true love one bullet at a time to make sure this wedding goes off without more hitches than pretty much everything they get themselves involved with.

Not quite a cunning disguise...

Guns, Love, and Tentacles is in some respects a smaller and somewhat more intimate adventure than the first DLC, though there are areas which are certainly big and sprawling if you're looking just at the map view. The level design throughout the adventure feels strangely compacted, almost claustrophobic, in spots. It messes with your head a little bit, which is really to the benefit of the DLC. There's never a feeling that you're going to get lost, as such, and you're likely either to make a complete loop of an area or find a one-way exit out. The one exception to this is the town of Gloomhaven, which sprawls a little bit, but certainly feels navigable while flaunting its very Tim Burton-esque aesthetic.

Being a Borderlands game, there's certainly new loot to obtain, and like the first DLC, it's themed to match the intended atmosphere of the game. However, there's a lack of visual punch in a lot of the new items. Weapons with alien barrels were present from the launch of the base game, so seeing the same ones here feels very much like a missed opportunity.

What Haley Joel Osment gets from Bruce Willis in the action packed sequel.

Guns, Love, and Tentacles could have been the perfect candidate to re-introduce Eridian weapons from the first Borderlands game. Or Gearbox could have taken cues from existing weapons such as "The Sell-Out" and "Digby's Smooth Tube," adding decidedly different sound effects as they fired. I can't think of a better way to suggest something eldritch and potentially soul destroying as a weapon chanting out strange words with every pull of the trigger. On the other hand, it's entirely possible such weapons are hiding in the game and haven't turned up yet due to the vagaries of the RNG.

While the story is romantic in a very tongue-in-cheek and dick joke sort of way, it is oddly heartwarming. Hearing Jakobs and Hammerlock both confiding their fears and worries to the Vault Hunter, and finding the core of those fears to be understandably normal, makes for a good additional impetus for the player to succeed. A segment of the fan base was very excited about the return of Gaige The Mechromancer, one of the add-on Vault Hunters from Borderlands 2. Like all of the other Borderlands 2 characters who showed up, she's an NPC serving as the wedding planner for the whole affair. And, like Hammerlock and Jakobs, she's facing her own life changes, such as shifting from anarchic cyberneticist and Vault Hunter to wedding planner. That being said, I don't feel like Gaige was necessarily written quite as well. There's a little too much parody in her character which detracts a bit from the overall story.

And about as much subtlety as a tactical nuke in the face.

Fans of H.P. Lovecraft and other works in the Cthulhu Mythos will undoubtedly have all manner of fun trying to find all of the references in Guns, Love, and Tentacles. For myself, obvious ones include "The Colour Out of Space," "At The Mountains of Madness," and "The Hounds of Tindalos." However, I was a little surprised they didn't try to work in allusions to other works which could be described as Lovecraft-adjacent. The potential for John Carpenter references alone would have made for a fun little meta-game of trivia.

Even after the credits roll, there's still a few quests to take care of, and fresh challenges to undertake (if you haven't during the campaign). Guns, Love, and Tentacles may only be a small part of the larger Borderlands 3 story, but it's one well worth experiencing.