I actually had high hopes for the new New Tales from the Borderlands. First, I love all the Borderlands games, including the spin-off Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands and played through some of them many times. Secondly, I generally believe that the first Tales from the Borderlands is not only the best Telltale Games game, but also the best in the entire Borderlands series. Yes, yes, it’s a completely different genre and gameplay, but the story and characters here are really cool, and it’s not for nothing that some of them appeared later in Borderlands 3. And in general, the way Gearbox Software and Telltale Games combined and linked these games is a good example of how to develop a game franchise. So you get the idea, I was looking forward to New Tales from the Borderlands. And so the game came out…
|Game||New Tales from the Borderlands|
|Platforms||Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S|
||Epic Games Store, Steam|
At first it even seems that New Tales from the Borderlands is almost Tales from the Borderlands, but new. A new graphics engine, a new developer, a new location (well known to Borderlands 3 players), new (and some old) characters, but in terms of gameplay, plot and atmosphere, this is almost as cool a game as Tales from the Borderlands.
This time we play for three main characters at once, sometimes even almost at the same time, and you can understand whose cue you are currently choosing, only by looking at the tiny icon in the answer selection menu. We will remind you that in the original Tales from the Borderlands you played as only two heroes.
All the game characters in New Tales from the Borderlands are typical losers, like Fiona, Rhys, Vaughn and Sasha from the first part. And at first glance, it seems that these are even interesting characters.
An insecure academic idealist Anu, her short-witted brother Octavio, and Fran, a frogurt (frozen yogurt) saleswoman, who clearly has anger management issues and a sad past.
New Tales from the Borderlands takes place one year after the events of Borderlands 3 on Promethea, the home planet of the Atlas Corporation. The trio of heroes find each other at Fran’s cafe during the invasion of Promethea by the forces of the Tediore Corporation led by CEO Susan Coldwell. Our old acquaintance, Atlas CEO Rhys Strongfork (with a mustache), manages to hide the Vault key that Coldwell came to get.
Our characters have a different goal. It just so happens that they’re being hunted by Tediore’s forces, so they’re forced to go into hiding and… you guessed it, they’re the ones who find Eridians’ Vault on Promethea and get “the most valuable thing in the Galaxy.”
That is, everything seems to be as it should be. The plot is unoriginal, but quite interesting; graphics – ok; familiar from previous Telltale Games dialogue choices and “Character remembered it” (well, almost) in place; QTE-action; absurd jokes; nonsense; puns and wordplay – all this is in New Tales from the Borderlands too… but it doesn’t work.
Maybe the thing is that such promising characters turned out to be completely uninteresting, and the plot was flat and linear. That is, you can’t even empathize with the characters. They joke wittily, but the main three lose charisma to secondary characters. And we’re not even mentioning the incredible assassin android L0U13 and the AI assault rifle named Brock. The main characters lose even to the strange TIMM-E robot, the annoying Foopy, the unstable Stapleface and the Keeper of the Dead. Secondary characters make this game in the literal sense of the word.
Or maybe it happened due to the fact that this time it was not Telltale Games that was responsible for the development, but Gearbox Software themselves, which, let’s be honest, know how to create loot shooters, not adventure games. Instead of an interesting plot and dynamic character relationships, we have Comedy Club sketch jokes, and lots and lots of unnecessary fan service.
Gearbox Software has stuffed in-game loot containers with money and Quick Change stations from the main series games in every location. And it would be okay if there were only color variations of the main skins, no, some character skins look downright silly and completely destroy the already fragile atmosphere of the game.
Plus, in New Tales from the Borderlands, there are about a dozen characters from the main games, while they are not even needed here, their appearance is frankly far-fetched. The aforementioned Rhys Strongfork (with mustache), Athena, Wainwright Jakobs, Katagawa Sr., Mr. Torgue. Frankly, you could easily do without them. This is fanservice for fanservice’s sake. Although, to be honest, it was nice for me to see Athena, she is not mentioned that often, and she is an interesting character.
Another silly, but kind of fashionable element of New Tales – the battles of the Vault Hunters… I don’t even know what to say. I have never seen such a stupid, unnecessary and frankly … passable mini-game. The collection of character figures from previous Borderland installments is nice, but again, it’s just fanservice for fanservice’s sake. It is better to ignore the fights, there is no point in them.
To be honest, it would be better if Gearbox Software spent the time spent on stuffing the non-stuffy stuff into New Tales from the Borderlands on finalizing the plot.
Gearbox Software decided to deviate a little from the usual scheme of Telltale Games, so here we have a different system of relationships of characters, which takes into account the relationship of characters in pairs and the general teamwork. The fate of some secondary characters and the end of the game depend on it. But here’s the trouble, it’s not always clear how your choice in the dialogues will affect the relationship of the characters.
Regarding the ending. There are three in New Tales from the Borderlands. Bad, neutral and good. In order to get a good ending, it is necessary that the relations between all the characters are at a good level. In addition, in some endings, some of the heroes are, unfortunately, missing.
Towards the end, the tone of New Tales from the Borderlands changes. The game becomes more serious, even gloomy, raising even quite important topics, such as trust, excessive control, the choice between one’s own and public good. At some moments (no spoilers!) New Tales can even cause very powerful emotions in the player, but this does not save the game. But even the appearance at the very end of the game of one very interesting and important character, who we may see again in Borderland 4, does not change anything.
Unfortunately, the latest episode of New Tales from the Borderlands does not change the fact that Gearbox Software failed to live up to the level of the first Tales from the Borderlands. Worse, this game is weaker than any Telltale Games game, even the passable Batman: The Telltale Series.
That is, we can only recommend New Tales from the Borderlands to the most loyal fans of the Borderland universe (yes, that’s me). Others are better off skipping this game or replaying the first Tales from the Borderlands – it’s still as cool as ever.