New Tales from the Borderlands TEST: the worst Borderlands game to date?

Eight years ago, Telltale achieved a tour de force by brilliantly transforming a shooter / looter into a narrative adventure game that had allowed it to dust off a formula that we thought was coming to an end.

Tales from the Borderlands was so powerful that it became part of the main storyline of the universe, bridging Borderlands 2 and the third game. After many complaints from fans, the spin-off is back not for a season 2 but a whole new story. Exit Telltale, Gearbox Quebec takes over the reins for New Tales from the Borderlands. A spiritual sequel enriched with a crazy cast as we like, but which clearly does not manage to compete with its model.

A cast of endearing fools

Direction Prometheus. A year after the events of Borderlands 3, the scars of war are felt all over the city. Its inhabitants try to survive in misery as they can. Fran, the jolly and angry manager of a frozen yogurt store blown up by a laser beam from Maliwan, tries to save her business. Low-level thief and self-proclaimed entrepreneur Octavio is desperate to break through with his own biz. More down to earth, his big sister Anu left her hometown to join the ranks of Atlas. Under the tutelage of Rhys, protagonist of Tales From the Borderlands, the idealistic scientist cherishes the sweet dream of ending violence and creating “devices” capable of helping humanity. A nice bunch of losers who will find themselves having to save the world against a planetary invasion, a monster from the Ark and a power-hungry capitalist. In order not to spoil the experience, we will be careful not to reveal the ins and outs of the scenario, which promises its share of struck characters and completely wacky moments, without ever reaching the anthology like the original opus.

New Tales from the Borderlands obviously takes up all the sparkling humor of the franchise with a flood of half-hearted valves. From its introductory episode, the game tries desperately to be funny without succeeding. But once its cast is comfortably installed and the scenario engaged, the mayonnaise ends up taking with jokes that get at least a smile, at best a hearty laugh, although the software never manages to be as hilarious as its model. Delirious just as it should be, the title has for him an incredible fishing which results in an ingenious staging which does not skimp on the incredible situations topped with dialogues as stupid as they are effective. In its best moments, Gearbox manages to create surprise with varied situations and interactions as unexpected as they are very referenced.

New Tales from the Borderlands and its cast of hyper-endearing imbeciles are furthermore carried by a nice technical and visual forward sound. Improved textures and 3D models, more refined and less pronounced cel-shading, real lip sync and worthy facial and body animations: the staging of this new spin-off is more dynamic and modern than usual. . All the craziness is allowed, from flashy cutscenes to facial expressions that come to force the line of a situation at the right time, while giving substance to the trio and their colorful personalities. The acting is not to be outdone, both in the original version and in VF. Conversely, it also has the effect of making the unbearable characters even more irritating and Octavio will quickly get on your nerves. Fortunately, the colorful secondary interlocutors come to raise the level, with a special mention to L0U13, the robot-assassin as funny as it is classy who comes to steal the show.

New Tales from the Borderlands Review

Good ideas never materialized

If Telltale is no longer in charge, his paw is everywhere. New Tales from the Borderlands always leads the player to make choices, both in the dialogues and in the course of events, with the promise as old as the world of long-term script impacts. For example, opting for the approach proposed by one character rather than another opens the way to different situations, but which will always lead to the same outcome. We know the formula by heart for a long time and Gearbox was clearly not intended to reinvent it but to adapt it in its own way. The Quebec studio relies more on more organic consequences related to the cohesion of the team, evaluated on the scale of skateboards ranging from one to who knows how many. Don’t try to understand, it’s Borderlands and star ratings are has-been.

The lack of coordination may lead to different but insignificant branches, which will only have real consequences during the final scene. The idea wouldn’t have been bad if the execution hadn’t been so wobbly and insignificant for the majority of the adventure. New Tales from the Borderlands also shoots itself in the foot by openly encouraging the player to choose the more sensible dialogues, those which strengthen the bonds, rather than the surreal answers, those which hide the completely crossed dialogues which had made all the salt of his predecessor. The bombardment of messages in the corner of the screen warning of the lack of cohesion of the team clearly encourages us to take a more conventional route at the risk of making us miss what really makes the charm of the game: its humor. But it is on this point that Gearbox is clearly betting.

This desire to want to bring the player in a given direction also removes all interest in QTEs. More varied than other productions of the genre, they ultimately do not bring much as they have no consequences. Are you missing one? No worries you can rectify the shooting. Still can’t do it? The characters always find a parade. Even deadly QTEs don’t affect the flow of the game, since it makes you restart the scene until you arrive. The lack of direct consequences and real branches prevents us from fully investing in the story of this trio, which is nevertheless well written, except Octavio, we insist. Couple it all with exploration phases that can be counted on the fingertips, a jagged rhythm, two final episodes (out of five) almost soporific and very long and you get a game in need of interactivity and of replayability. A few well-thought-out and judiciously brought sequences come to raise the whole, but they are so rare and so spaced out that they do not save the player from boredom.

Finally, most of the good ideas of New Tales from the Borderlands turn into missed opportunities like its ArchiiBôs mini-game highlighted several times in the scenario. These figurines to be collected throughout the five episodes allow you to take part in unfortunately too simplistic fights which end in the space of a few seconds by hammering the attack button and dodging. A fun feature the first few times, which should have been further developed by really exploiting the statistics of the immortalized characters and incorporating real game mechanics. As it stands, it leaves a taste of wasted potential, like everything else in the game. Game.

Tales from the Borderlands 2 Review

New Tales from the Borderlands TEST: the worst Borderlands game to date?