Reviews - Updated on October 26, 2022

Fans of Tales from the Borderlands have long dreamed of a sequel to the game, which has become one of the best releases in the history of Telltale Games. Eight years later, their wish came true, but, as is usually the case, there is one caveat. Even two. First, New Tales from the Borderlands is not a sequel, but a story about new characters. Secondly, it was developed by Gearbox Software, responsible for the main Borderlands series. It turned out not so bad, but with reservations.

It could be worse

After Borderlands 3, one could lose faith in the Gearbox writers, but there are noticeably fewer annoying elements in the story of New Tales from the Borderlands. If there some of the characters caused disgust from the very first minutes, then here you even feel sympathy for the main characters. There are three protagonists in the novelty, and we are introduced to all of them in turn before their paths cross.

First, we learn about Anu, a scientist working for the Atlas Corporation. Although this organization is engaged in the production of weapons, the girl opposes violence and creates a device that does not kill, but teleports targets to no one knows where. The boss in the person of Reese from the first Tales does not like this approach, so he fires her. At this time, Atlas is attacked by its competitor, the Tediore Corporation. Anu escapes to Prometheus, where she meets her brother Octavio (second protagonist), a “child of the streets” who talks more than he does. Octavio works at Fren’s diner, a frozen yogurt saleswoman and another main character.

Developers surprisingly rarely use the “loud is funny” formula, and you quickly become attached to the protagonists. However, this would not be Borderlands if the writers did not do everything possible so that the player began to tire of the characters. For me, the main problem with Gearbox has always been that every good joke the team manages to spoil. The same Hochma can be repeated five times in a row so that you, the fool, understand that you need to laugh. After that, I want the topic to be changed as soon as possible.

Some of the scenes are frankly drawn out because of this. There are only five two-hour episodes here, and sometimes it seems that the creators were saving resources by locking you in one room for half an hour and not advancing the plot. This is especially noticeable in the third episode, the first half of which becomes a test of endurance – the writers squeeze all the juice out of the same jokes, often not even causing a smile.

Of course, there are successful witticisms – in each episode you can find a couple. And in general, the story is not the worst, and the situations that the main characters find themselves in are varied enough so that the player does not get bored. However, since Gearbox prefers to take the number of jokes over quality, it is often necessary to put up with the fact that the taco seller is named Paco and other gems. The situation is saved by the sarcastic robot LOU13, who accompanies the heroes in some scenes – with his participation there are so many successful moments, as if this character was not created by Gearbox.

The desire of the authors to stuff every dialogue with jokes goes against the dialogue system. Like in the Telltale games, periodically we have to choose one of the four answers in order for the conversation to continue. You can be rude, you can answer calmly – the options are different depending on the situation. The problem is that these remarks affect the attitude of the characters to each other – the game sums up the statistics after each episode, and sometimes reports the level gained in the middle of the story. It is logical that you want everyone to be friends with everyone, so you have to miss jokes or generally be silent.

Moments like this give you a lot of time to think.

Moments like this give you a lot of time to think.

Unlike Telltale games, it’s not said that someone will remember something – the player has no idea which moments are important to the story and which are not. Only from time to time in the upper left corner appear short phrases like “Fran still does not respect you.” That is, some decisions in the dialogues affect the story, but which ones are a mystery. The main plot, of course, does not change much in any case, but the content of some scenes and the ending (yes, there are several endings) depend on your actions.

You can also see how many players made the same decisions as you - in other tabs.

You can also see how many players made the same decisions as you – in other tabs.

Tried to make a game

In general, the gameplay in New Tales from the Borderlands has the most questions. It is so primitive that it could not exist at all. Of course, the first game did not shine in this regard either, but eight years have passed since then – you expect at least some development from the new part. Instead, the developers made the game as simple as possible – it’s not even clear why the settings allow you to make it even easier.

The game warns in advance about what type of QTE is ahead.

Almost all QTEs require you to either press a single button or tilt the stick in a specified direction. Moreover, if you did something wrong, you can immediately correct the error. Completely failed QTE (which is almost impossible) – load the last autosave and try again.

The hacking mini-game, consisting of three stages, works in much the same way. First, press one button 15 times in a row, then three more times and finally dial the combination of numbers written on the same screen. No jokes, no humor – all this is proposed to be done in all seriousness.

At times, the player is allowed to explore small locations, but there are ridiculously few interactive objects on them – basically you interact with what you need according to the plot. So that you do not forget that you are playing Borderlands, there are safes and boxes with green diodes where money is hidden here and there. The only purpose of the local currency is to buy costumes for the characters in the main menu, but they give you dozens of times more money than you need.

Bonus costumes greatly change the appearance of the characters, and with each episode there are more and more of them.

Bonus costumes greatly change the appearance of the characters, and with each episode there are more and more of them.

In New Tales from the Borderlands, they seemed to be trying to make a slightly more interesting gameplay – the developers gave Anu glasses that allow him to scan objects, and Octavio walks around with a watch that can open dossiers on everyone he meets. But this is all not really used and added only for even more bad jokes. As a result, every game mechanic seems completely pointless and unnecessary – so much so that without these attempts to make a game out of a game, the game would have turned out even better.

Perhaps the strangest thing in the local gameplay is the battles of the figures. According to the plot or in the process of exploring locations, you will find figures between which you can arrange fights. The whole point is that you press the same button to attack, and then dodge the opponent’s blows by tilting the stick in the indicated direction. Everything. Why do the figures have different characteristics and “passives”? Why is the mode available in the menu if there are no rewards for it? more questions than answers.

The fight of the figurines ends with a fatality, although in terms of entertainment, this, of course, is not Mortal Kombat.

With all the shortcomings, New Tales from the Borderlands wants to go through. The characters are not bad, the story is able to hook, and the game looks gorgeous – the artists continue to improve the recognizable visual style. It’s a pity that there is no novelty in the gameplay, and the plot is spoiled by the bad humor of the scriptwriters who do not know the measure. It’s great that the Tales from the Borderlands brand has not been forgotten, but something a little brighter was expected from its return.

Pros: The characters are likable for the most part; history is more often captivating than not; great visual style.

Cons: there are too many jokes, and many are either unsuccessful or drawn out; very weak gameplay, which would not be better – QTE and mini-games are especially bad; the system of relations between the characters forces you to choose in the dialogues not what you want, but positive or neutral remarks.

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