the Andrew Bailey

Tales from the Borderlands

Borderlands 3 has been out for almost a year, but I haven't bought it yet. Yes, I'm aware that it's on Steam these days, but I haven't been that enthused about it. I'll probably get it in the next Steam sale, along with the Halo collection (because I threatened a long time ago to buy it if it came to Steam). I intended to play through all the Telltale games in order of release before I got to Tales from the Borderlands (and all that before Borderlands 3), but that hasn't happened. Even without that, I recognized lots of tropes of the latter Telltale games (Walking Dead and afterwards) that I've heard told over the years. I'm pretty sure that there's no kind of continuity to spoil by not playing through them in order of release.

"Screenshot of Tales from the Borderlands, showing Rhys, Jack, and Fiona."

I've been acutely aware of the "(character) will remember this" prompts for many years. It's like the telltale sign that you're playing a Telltale game. I was also aware that Telltale games have many choices, but they aren't meaningful (mostly; it's complicated). Unlike some other games that I've played, these games don't pretend to be RPGs. It looks like shortly after Sam & Max, Telltale decided to scrap the point-and-click adventure playstyle. What's left resembles an action adventure style, but with talking being most of the action. Don't worry, there's so much showing that the telling doesn't bother me, unlike Dear Esther.

There are still some point-and-click features. There are times where you need to navigate your character around a space. Your character has an inventory, but I don't think I used half of what I picked up, because there's so little opportunity to use anything other than dialog options. This game plays more like an interactive movie than anything else! Though when given the option to shout about a meat bicycle, I took it immediately without hesitation.

"Screenshot of most of the cast, walking like astronauts to a rocket."

Now that I've finished what I think is general Telltale critique, I'll talk specifics. This series revolves around 2 characters. Rhys (pronounced "reese") is a Hyperion corporate drone on Helios. Fiona is a con-artist. After being promoted to janitor, Rhys and friends embezzle 10 million dollars to buy a vault key for Fiona's friends, and things just get worse. You play as both characters, but you don't get to switch between them. They are used to tell the story in a specific order from different points of view.

The story is hilarious as things go from bad to worse. Handsome Jack returns from the dead as a hologram inside Rhys' head, because Rhys is a cyborg (with a sweet metal arm). You attract the attention of the local mob boss, and catch a ride into space, just to have some epic finger gun battles on Helios! Rhys somehow finds enough stocks to own the Atlas Corporation, a company from the first game that got completely wiped out (or, at least left Pandora) during the Borderlands DLCs.

"Screenshot of the open vault, with Rhys and Fiona looking like ants before it."

Like the Pre-Sequel, this series is actually the two characters retelling the story while being held hostage two years later. (In addition, you see some familiar faces from the Pre-Sequel.) These sequences book-end every episode, except the last when the mask literally comes off. (There were some hilarious deus ex machina situations where the other character says "that's totally not what happened".) Remember when I said your choices don't matter? I lied: about 7 choices matter. After Rhys and Fiona get released, you form your own vault hunter team, and seemingly random choices influence who you can recruit. I wonder if it's possible to epic fail this like Mass Effect 2. You open a vault, fight the monster guarding it, and collect.

Just before Borderlands 3 released, another DLC for Borderlands 2 dropped: Commander Lilith and The Fight for Sanctuary. A former Atlas general invades the main town and starts killing people with plants, and Lilith teleports everyone else away. Divided, you happen to come across and move in with Rhys' friends. When I realized who these people were, I decided that I better finish the Tales series. This is set no earlier than that two year gap, and probably just before Borderlands 3.

I feel that I'm all caught up as I can be, and I am looking forward to the next Borderlands installment. I hope my geriatric GPU can handle it.