Games

New Tales From The Borderlands Review


Our Score

7.0 / 10

The Good

Character development, story

The Bad

Lack of originality in gameplay

Release Date

October 21

Developed By

Gearbox Studio Quebec

Available On

PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC

Reviewed On

PC

Disclaimer: A code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.


Charming characters? Check. Zany situations? Check. Over-the-top, but still funny, humor? Also, check. These are the core elements of the Borderlands universe and New Tales From The Borderlands does not veer off from the already well-paved path.

Tales From The Borderlands was one of Telltale Games’ most well-received entries when it released back in 2014 across five separate episodes, praised for its strong characters and narrative. True to Telltale form, it was a narrative-led ‘shape your own adventure,’ filled with cutscenes where your decisions affect character relationships, story outcomes, and of course who lives and who dies.

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After the closure of Telltale Games, Borderlands series developer Gearbox decided to try their own hand at this story-based series with New Tales From The Borderlands. Rather than taking the episodic release approach, they have instead decided to release all five episodes together in one package.

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A traditional follow-up typically continues the story started in its predecessor with at least some overlap in characters, but New Tales From The Borderlands takes the new part of its title to heart. This spin-off series thus far is treated like an anthology by introducing a mostly new cast, even though there are a few cameos here and there. Rhys and Fiona are no longer your lead protagonists, having been replaced with a new trio named Anu, Octavio, and Fran.

Anu is the straight-laced scientist that is constantly one hiccup away from a panic attack, who starts the game actually working for the former protagonist Rhys at Atlas. We do not get to see much of Rhys though, as Anu is quickly fired just before the Tediore corporation starts a raid on Atlas’ ship and soon their own planet of Promethea. This forces Anu to find an escape pod to head down to the planet herself and try to find her brother Octavio whom she left behind years prior.

Compared to his scientist sister, Octavio was essentially raised on the streets, which gives him the delusion of ‘street smarts’ that in reality he lacks. Octavio and Anu really play well off of one another, especially when they begin to show some growth throughout the relatively short story.

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The last of the playable characters is Fran – the most traditionally Borderlands-ish one of the bunch. That is to say, that she has a very big personality and shows it often. In fact, Fran would probably flirt with a wall if she needed to. She’s the hoverchair-bound owner of Fran’s Frogurts frozen yogurt shop, and from the very beginning you see that she has a major temper that she is trying to keep in check and work upon.

New Tales From The Borderlands Review 5

Like any Borderlands game, there’s an array of side characters that stand out in their minimal screen time in the game. A personal favorite of mine was L0U13, a robot assassin who is close friends with Octavio, and faces the existential crisis of having to kill everyone he comes across with a bounty on their head. His character arc is great, and he still delivers laughs all the way (such as a certain incident involving a digital STD).

Despite the trademark humor, there are plenty of emotional moments later on in the game, as the character are forced to reflect on themselves and how they got into their current situation, and it all leads up to a very satisfying climax. Speaking of that humor though, it’s of the classic crude-and-cringey Borderlands variety, which isn’t for everyone, and will shape how you react to things like its silly references to Metal Gear Solid, or a gimmick about Fran’s ‘OnlyFrans’ page where she broadcasts herself working in her yogurt shop.

You can’t have a Borderlands game without the series’ signature humor

As for the gameplay itself, it is very much what you would expect from what we can call ‘The Telltale Structure.’ The majority of the game is filled with dialogue choices, interactive cutscenes, and occasional QTE segments. The end of each episode shows how your answers compared to others who have played, but how impactful most of these decisions are isn’t that clear (unlike, say, As Dusk Falls, which shows blank boxes at the end of each chapter for all the story branches you didn’t take, and even lets you replay from certain points to see those alternative outcomes). This means you’d really have to play through the game countless times to find out everything.

There are sections that allow you to take control of one of the three playable characters and wander around in very small areas. The walking mechanics themselves are much improved from the original game, but there were still some issues interacting with objects that would force you to back up and move around to finally be able to interact. While walking around as Anu, you can activate her goggles to scan certain objects, while Octavio has his ECHOdex that he can use to initiate mindless hacking sequences that just require you to press the same button repeatedly.

New-Tales-From-The-Borderlands-Review-3-1

Even Vaultlanders, an intriguing mini-game that utilizes mini-figures based on characters from the series’ past, including FL4K, Maya, and of course Claptrap, flatters to deceive, and ends up being nothing more than a button-masher that is way too easy. Unless you outright put the controller down and walk away, you should never lose a single one of these battles in the game, much less take any damage.

Borderlands has always been known for its likable characters, and the protagonists introduce in New Tales From The Borderlands continue this grand tradition alongside a well written story. The characters play very well off of one another and grow before our eyes as they each dive deeper into their own psyches. But the lack of innovation in the gameplay is disappointing after this many years, which makes New Tales From The Borderlands mainly worth checking out for fans of the series.

NEXT: Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands Review



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