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E3 2014 – Tales from the Borderlands preview

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Tales from the borderlands e3

I’ve enjoyed the offerings from Telltale Games thus far – The Walking Dead was one of the most emotional gaming experiences last year, and The Wolf Among Us is bringing the graphic novel characters to life in a brilliant way. I wasn’t convinced about the collaboration with Gearbox for Tales from the Borderlands, and the demo hasn’t won me over, either. Warning: contains spoilers.

Tales from the Borderlands will be comprised of five episodes that explore the lore and characters from the Borderlands universe. The game takes place after the events of Borderlands 2, and most interestingly it looks at the truth from two very different perspectives. The main view we saw was that of Rhys, a regular guy who worked at Hyperion after Handsome Jack died.

All the characters in the game are fuelled by greed and the fallout from that. Rhys spends most of his time lying his way through the game, pretending to be something he’s not in order to cheat his way to power and money. He has two friends to help him along in this journey towards a Gordon Gekko paradise.

The aesthetic of the game is, naturally, fantastic. Telltale Games had free access to Gearbox’s assets – they worked together closely on the game. As Borderlands already has a specific cell-shaded look that fits in beautifully with Telltale Games’ usual design, it was a match made in heaven. The game really does look like a Borderlands game, with all the visual cues that you’d expect.

Unlike previous titles from Telltale Games, Tales from the Borderlands is focused on humor and characters. There is some action; during the demo we saw a section including bot combat that even allowed players to customize their bot with the typical Borderlands-styled gear. However, it’s more about bringing the humor to the fore, something that ends up making the game feel forced – it seems that they are trying too hard to make us laugh at the characters and circumstances.

Tales from the Borderlands is not a morality game. In The Walking Dead, players must make impossible choices between two things that they don’t want. In The Wolf Among Us, it’s all so mysterious that players find it difficult to even know what they’re choosing. But in Tales from the Borderlands players will have to choose between two things that they do want, adding the greed factor into gameplay.

It’s hard to tell if the humor just felt forced in that section, or due to the demo-player’s choices. However, as much as there were elements that could be funny, it simply seemed like the game was trying too hard.

Last Updated: June 18, 2014

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