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New Tales from the Borderlands review for Xbox, PlayStation, Switch, PC


Platform: Xbox Series X
Also On: Xbox One, PS5, PS4, Switch, PC
Publisher: 2K
Developer: Gearbox Studios
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: M

I love the world of Borderlands. The colorful and insane cast of characters, its vast environments, its array of weaponry and its fun story telling. When the original 2014 “Tales Of the Borderlands” was released, I was a bit skeptical. “A episodic Telltale game set in the Borderlands universe? No way is this going to work” I was very wrong. What we got was a well written and hilariously emotional trip to Pandora. The team at Gearbox has done it with its attempt at replicating what Telltale has previously. This fun, all in one stand alone story that’s what I got from this game. It is not perfect and the game has its flaws, but with its digestible run time you will fall in love with the cast of lunatics.

My favorite part of any Borderlands game are the unique characters. This game continues that trend. Every character no matter how minor is brimming with personality and is beyond diverse.. We follow our 3 main protagonists, Anu, a career scientist who stands for pacifism in this crazy world of guns. Octavio, Anu’s fame obsessed street smart, adopted brother. Rounding out the trio is Froyo Queen Fran. A recovering rage-aholic.The cast is very diverse coming from vast backgrounds and identities.

Some other charachter standouts are: LOU13, an assassin bot, who through the progression of the game starts to have a crisis of his own being. Lou13 offers up some of the best moments of the game. His inability to kill someone without first knowing their name is a great gag that’s repeated throughout the game. Brock, a walking, talking Tediore gun, who depending on the choices you make follows you throughout the game. Rhys, our hero from the first Tales, Stapleface, a female Psycho who Anu accidently saves from death, and Susan Coldwell, the head of the Tediore corporation and our main antagonist of New Tales.

I think one of my biggest hang ups about New Tales is the way I consumed the story. With the first Tales I was able to consume in an episodic format over the course of a few months. With this title, I couldn’t really sit on turning points or impactful moments because I was immediately thrusted onto the next chapter. I also experienced some performance issues with the game. I would get scenes where the environment wouldn’t fully load in. I got scenes when the VO track was off sync and it threw off dialogue. The story is well paced until you reach the last chapter. Chapters 1-4 do so well replicating the magic of Tales. Chapter 5 suffers from a bit of a pacing problem. Your final choices bring you to an abrupt conclusion and depending on your choices, one of multiple endings.

The game takes place about one year after the events of Borderlands 3 and Maliwan’s failed attempted takeover of the Atlas corporation on Prometha. The game starts with all 3 of our heroes separate, but just like every other Borderlands game, they’re brought together by a vault. At the same time, Atlas is now being attacked by Susan Coldwell and the Tediore Corp. The game is filled with pop culture references and some fast hitting humor. Sometimes it’s a bit much, but the humor is refreshing and never feels forced. New Tales From the Borderlands replicates the well known Telltale gameplay formula. There is very little gameplay as you wait for the next stop on your dialogue tree. In between you may run into the occasional quick time event. The puzzles are very easy to figure out and you will be asked to scan multiple items to unlock new scenarios. Every episode begins with a nice music intro, giving it a real TV show vibe. Gearbox brings over the customization of characters from their mainline Borderlands games. There is an “Amiibo”-style figure collecting side mission. They unlock a fighting mini-game called “Vaultlanders”. It’s a very easy to play button masher that uses popular characters from throughout the Borderlands series.

Gearbox Studios took a chance by giving us a sequel to such a critically acclaimed and highly regarded title. They delivered in giving us that same feeling we got playing Tales, a game with humor and heart. I enjoyed being able to play in this sandbox with these new characters and giving us one of the funniest games of 2022. Don’t let the lack of gameplay and stretched out story deter you away from the title. If you have never played the first Tales you’re in for a treat. I would recommend also circling back and playing the first if you have not gotten to experience it.

Note: 2K provided us with a New Tales from the Borderlands Xbox code for review purposes.

Grade: B+