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Tales from the Borderlands

E3 2014: Tales From The Borderlands Preview – Telltale Does It Again

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I think it’s safe to say that Telltale really has found its formula when it comes to making games that truly resonate with gamers. Their interactive, story-driven, narrative rollercoaster rides have become a hit with gamers across the globe and that trend doesn’t look like it’s going to stop any time soon. First it was The Walking Dead, then it was The Wolf Among Us, and on first inspection, it looks like the developer is going to make it a trifecta of hits when Tales From The Borderlands commences later this month.

Tales From The Borderlands throws you into the shoes of two playable characters: Rhys, a cybernetically enhanced Hyperion employee; and Fiona, a grifter, con-artist, looking for that last big con, as they go in search of an elusive vault key. Told across a series of flashbacks from the perspective of each character, The Tales From The Borderlands sees each character embellish and exaggerate their personal account of the events leading up to the game’s present day, leaving the player to decipher fact from fiction.

For all intents and purposes, Tales From The Borderlands is a classic Telltale title, but with a Borderlands twist. That means as well as the classic choice and consequence scenes, players will see plenty more in the way of action sequences, a whole load of looting and that classic Borderlands humour we’ve all come to know and love.

We picked up the proceedings right from the beginning with Rhys in the office of Hugo Vasquez – a corporate asshole if ever there was one – voiced by Patrick Warburton (Joe Swanson from Family Guy). It's here that Rhys overhears a plot to get hold of a vault key and Rhys sees a chance to make a name for himself. Because of Rhys’ cybernetic enhancements, he is able to use his cyber eye to hack into objects like computers and can even use his hand to create a holographic representation of said hacked images.

Using the information that Rhys has hacked, he, and friends Vaughn – voiced by Chris Hardwick (Talking Dead, Nerdist) – and Yvette hatch a master plan to get their hands on the vault key. After syphoning funds to pay for the key, Rhys and Vaughn jetted down to the surface of Pandora to meet their contact, August, who they’ve tricked into thinking that Rhys is the man he originally arranged to do business with.

Within minutes of being on Pandora, Tales From The Borderlands’ loot mechanic becomes apparent, thanks to a chap sat in a plastic chair next to a locker, no doubt full of goodies. A quick nudge of the guy in the chair establishes that he’s not awake so Rhys proceeds to loot the locker. Uh oh, that’s only gone and triggered a response by a group of bandits. IT WAS A TRAP!

This initiates an action heavy sequence, something that’s not really been attempted before by Telltale, and based on this showing alone… no frame rate issues! Hopefully that means they’re a thing of the past. In the sequence Rhys was dodging attacks by a group of bandits, before calling in a Loader Bot to assist – he works for Hyperion, after all. After choosing which weapon loadouts he has, you’re doing typical Telltale controller movements to avoid rockets, knock objects out the air, smack bandits and what not. The scene ends with Rhys triggering the self-destruct button on the Loader and eventually meeting up with his contact: August – voiced by Nolan North.

August is cagey, a little nervous about Rhys, and the exchange is a nervous one between the two. August asks Rhys to show first, he refuses, makes August do it, which he does. That only causes August’s girlfriend to flip though and the deal starts to go south. In typical Borderlands fashion, Rhys rips the heart out of August before muttering the line, “someone had a change of heart…”

But wait, that’s not how it panned out, interrupted Fiona, as the pair break out of flashback mode and return to the present day. Watching from the pipes within August’s lair, you start to hear Fiona’s perspective, and it’s a tad different to the events that Rhys described. The scene – and the demo – culminated with Zer0, Borderlands 2's assassin vault hunter, breaking into the scene, slashing his sword before the demo faded to black. Incidentally, Zer0 isn’t the only previous character you’re likely to run into over the course of the game either, so there’s something interesting here for not just Telltale fans, but for Borderlands fans too.

So there you have it, more of the same traditional, brilliant storytelling from Telltale, but this time with a different vibe and feel. It’s not just a repackaged Walking Dead or Wolf Among Us either. The humour, the art style, the looting and what not, it all comes together to make this feel like the best of both worlds. There’s no doubt about it, Tales From The Borderlands is shaping up to be another ace in the hole… the only fear from our perspective is that Telltale might be juggling a few too many franchises now and can't churn out the episodes quick enough to keep us interested. With this and Game of Thrones in the pipeline, whatever happens, Telltale has carved itself an enviable niche in storytelling, that’s for sure.

Tales From The Borderlands is scheduled for release sometime this summer.




 
 

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