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I've joined several games on the Roland rescue mission ("A Dam Fine Rescue"), and:

some times Roland is rescued in Friendship Gulag instead of in Bloodshot Ramparts

What determines this outcome? Is it randomized for each game? Does it involve a plot decision I missed?

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Don't know for sure, but we had a really tough time in the first fight and had done essentially no damage in about 5 minutes. I got the impression there was a time limit of 5-10 minutes for the Bloodshot Ramparts fight. –  Alex Oct 2 '12 at 8:56
    
There was this dropship that arrived just as I destroyed the constructor. I assumed it was scripted. Perhaps it isn't. –  Ids Oct 2 '12 at 10:10
    
@Ids apparently it's scripted to appear but only if you take too long (or just long enough apparently) to kill the warden. I'm surprised I didn't see it, I had a hell of a time with him solo in my second playthrough. –  Ben Brocka Oct 2 '12 at 13:29
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up vote 5 down vote accepted

A Dam Fine Rescue has two outcomes, based on your performance during the W4R-D3N fight.

Destroy W4R-D3N before the barge that Roland mentions arrives and picks the W4R-D3N up?

You will rescue Roland then and there and will not need to make a trip to the Friendship Gulag.

If you fail to do so, however...

You will need to make a detour to the Friendship Gulag to rescue him.

Note that the first outcome merely circumvents the requirement of the second outcome - the story will play out the same way once the requirements of the second outcome have been resolved if you have to do so.

(Note: I have actually never failed to destroy the W4R-D3N, so I can't say if there's extra story bits to the second outcome inside the spoiler location.)

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I've failed and succeeded to kill the W4R-D3N the first time, and there are no story differences. Roland says exactly the same thing both times. –  Nathan Sabruka Oct 2 '12 at 14:59
    
@NathanSabruka Awesome. I just put the disclaimer there just in case there was special stuff that happened if you failed. –  Rilgon Arcsinh Oct 3 '12 at 14:07
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