LifeisXbox’s New Tales from the Borderlands Review | Time to re-live the original concept of Telltale games with a well-known approach and brand-spanking new story added to the Borderlands series with New Tales from the Borderlands. This time, we are brought into a relatively well-known setting of the war-torn metropolis of Promethea, for those who have played Borderlands 3, but with plenty of fresh-faced badasses to get our adventure started and bring the intriguing story to life. There are three main characters you will be in control of throughout the game – Anu, Octavio, and Fran who certainly all have their quirks. Taking on the decisions of three separate characters who come together in a heroic effort to save the world, your decisions will ultimately decide your fate and the ending you will receive. New Tales from the Borderlands by no major surprise has been developed by GEARBOX and published by 2K Games to further elaborate on the Telltale side of the brand with a couple of extra elements I’m sure everyone who is already a fan of the series will appreciate. Psychos, questionable choices, ridiculous humour, and enemies trying to take over the world? Gimme! Time to cause mayhem and chaos.
Most Memorable Moment
This would have to be the characters and their diverse personalities, including characters which are a little less present throughout New Tales from the Borderlands. Anyone who knows the Borderlands series for its crude jokes and silly humour should understand what I mean. There are three robot characters who all make an impact with their remarks and their presence which is exactly what we would expect from the likes of the predecessor himself, CL4P-TP (Or as many know him, Claptrap). If it wasn’t for the eye-rolling one-liners and gobsmacking comments that have you in hysterics, it wouldn’t be Borderlands. But it has. Which is super-mega-crazy awesome!
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox One S | Review code provided by PR/publisher. This review is the personal opinion of the writer.
What we Liked!
- Quick-time events | If there is one element that I thoroughly enjoy when it’s implemented into video games, it’s the inclusion of quick-time events. Although a simple concept, it keeps my attention gripped to the screen as I’m always waiting in anticipation for them to appear on the screen. Whether you succeed or fail them can determine how story events unravel so I was always mindful of everything. I will state that in New Tales from the Borderlands you have the additional option to choose how difficult these will be if you’re looking for a tougher challenge.
- Replayability factor | With the inclusion of different story paths and multiple variations of endings you can reach, there is plenty of replayability for everyone. As there are often two or four different dialogue options when we are presented with our choices, there are countless ways conversations can turn out – some better than others when it comes to building relationships. With the addition of duplicate saves and chapter selection, there is great ease when replaying content you may have missed. Whether you want to replay the game with completely different choices or clean up what you’ve missed, the replayability value is obviously existent.
- Non-episodic release | Most telltale styles of games have been known to release episodes separately in order to keep us in suspense as to what may happen next. With New Tales from the Borderlands, every episode has been released as a full game, meaning you can play from beginning to end with no need to wait for the next chapter to be released. This made me extremely happy as I’m personally not a supporter of making people wait for the next instalment in the series because it made me lose my initial interest in previous games. A definite major plus for me!
- Visuals | As per the classic Borderlands stylisation we all know and love, the art style follows the same trend with its heavily hand-drawn textures and bold outlines, with plenty of colours to enhance the already impactful concept of visuals. I was pleased the style has continued to be used to produce further Borderlands titles as it’s certainly something that makes the series stand out from the rest of the gaming industry. As time changes, the appearance has altered slightly but this is only because quality has increased, leaving us with stunning imagery that keeps its original qualities.
- Dialogue and audio | The soundtrack for New Tales from the Borderlands was fantastic, had an incredible atmosphere, and was complimentary to the context/situations. I’ve listed to the songs after playing the game and can safely say that some I will be adding to my playlists. Although this may sound somewhat strange, the personality of every character matched up with their voices and separated everyone – whether they were confident, awkward, or just a complete menace. Finally, the sound effects were superb and comedic at times when they needed to be, always working well with the surroundings and events occurring; even the dysfunctional ones.
- Collectables and cosmetics | During your playthrough/s, you can find a selection of collectables known as Vaultlanders. Not only are they collectables but these are used in a particular mini-game you’ll come across multiple times through each chapter and some can only be obtained by choosing specific choices. This gives you something optional to look out for, especially for completionists. You can also find and earn money which can then be spent buying some kick-ass cosmetics for your three main characters that can be changed in certain missions or via the main menu using the extras option. Customisation is something that, if it can be included, it should be in my opinion. Yes, it might seem like a silly extra to some but I find it quirky to change how characters look.
- Skateboard rating | Now, we all know that choices have consequences but the relationships you either make or break with the other main characters will give you a special rating at the end of each episode, besides the first – a skateboard rating! I won’t tell you too much about how that becomes a thing but having to manage your choices to keep the peace between everyone was a nice touch that can be viewed at the end of every episode, along with your choices compared to other players if you’re interested. Your percentages do matter so it’s always in your best interest to weigh up your options.
- Mini-games | To break up the constant story and give us something else to do, even if it’s only momentarily, there are a series of mini-games from time to time you have to complete in order to progress the story (although these are optional and can be skipped). Not only do I wish there were more of these mini-games but they also took more time and were harder to complete because as they currently are, easy would be an understatement with no challenge. I know telltale games are supposed to be relatively relaxing but come on, at least give us the option to make them harder! There is even a warning that failing these could lead to disastrous consequences but I feel like this is near-enough impossible to fail.
- Sense of humour | Borderlands is all about foolish humour and I never want that level of ridiculousness to change. It’s such a unique point to the series that carries the amusement factor more than anything else. There were some moments where I couldn’t stop laughing at either something that was said or the common sense used to make awkward situations funny to be a part of. However, the humour has changed over time and I would have loved more of these moments to experience, as well as more ‘OMG’ scenes that I wasn’t expecting. I wanted to be constantly rolling around, laughing my head off at things that shouldn’t necessarily be funny due to context but personally, there just wasn’t enough of this for me; though the developers have tried.
What we Disliked
- Narrative direction | Now, to me, the Borderlands series is all about violence, guns, psychos, and badasses. Needless to say, New Tales from the Borderlands doesn’t exactly follow this suit; we are made to talk about a device instead of a gun for crying out loud. The overall selling point of Borderlands has been overlooked greatly in this new instalment and that is a huge disappointment. Maybe this new direction/look is intentional but it certainly isn’t the Borderlands I know and love. More shooting, more feuds, and more unrealistic behaviour! Just not enough of the old-school fun and I think this will turn people away.
- Story pacing | With there being five chapters, all varying in length and number of subchapters, New Tales from the Borderlands certainly threw me off with its pacing. For example, the first chapter felt perfect in length but the second went way too quickly for my liking. Not only this but I think some parts were drawn out to prolong the story which felt unnecessary while others could have done with being more prominent to reflect the importance of these sections in relation to the story itself. Overall, I wasn’t impressed with the fluctuating speed as it made the story feel rushed and drawn out in places.
How long to beat the story | Approximately 9-10 Hours
How long to achieve 1000G | Approximately 40+ Hours
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Hello, I’m Victoria. I’m from the UK and have been playing video games for as long as I can remember; back on DreamCast. I’ve pretty much fallen for Xbox since I was around eight years old and remember BioShock being my first game on the Xbox360. Although I find it thoroughly enjoyable to not only experience gameplay, I also find comfort in getting lost and engrossed in the online worlds that sometimes differ greatly from what we know. Another side of my Xbox passion would be achievement hunting and gamerscore. I thrive when I hear the little sound of one popping up on the screen and I’m always finding ways to work on my backlog when possible. Horror is my favourite genre so if you have any recommendations, don’t be afraid to send them my way!