Borderlands Of My Dreams: Tales From The Borderlands

Oh, don't fuss over the Xbox controller prompts - these are just press kit shots, y'all.

I don’t enjoy Borderlands. I find the core first-person shooting unsatisfying, and I don’t enjoy how its action-RPG side augments that with boring incremental skills and randomised weapons.

I do, however, dig the idea of a weird west planet on the outskirts of known space filled with chancers, treasure-hunters, weirdos, and gangs of murderers. That’s nice, that. And gosh oh golly, I have very much enjoyed watching the new trailer for Telltale’s episodic adventure game series Tales from the Borderlands. It’s got all the griftin’, cheatin’, sneakin’, and rootin’ tootin’ robot shootin’ I would want from a game set in that world. Come see!

Tales from the Borderlands sees a Hyperion company man in a dead-end job teaming up with a grifter and some unwitting stooges to scam a vault key and claim their fortune. They’re not heavily-armed vault hunters, just a couple of schlubs trying to strike it rich. It brings the series down to a far more human level. Yeah, Borderlands has had some decent writing, but that’s been defused by the games ultimately coming down to shooting faces real good. I’m excited that Gearbox’s world might finally reach its potential – in a game made by other people.

Telltale say the first of Tales from the Borderlands’ five episodes will arrive “soon.” Given their historical usage of the word “soon”, that could mean anything from tomorrow to a month from now. A season pass will cost $24.99, which usually converts to £18.99.

32 Comments

  1. Kollega says:

    In my eyes, story was never Borderlands’ strong suit. In the first game it was just forgettable (although the used-future garbage planet aesthetic was more solid in it), and the second game I remember mainly thanks to Handsome Jack’s undying ability to find the player characters in the Alps for pretty much the entire game untill he magically loses his ten-steps-ahead omnipotence in the last hour of it. And it looks like this game is not going to dispose of Handsome Jack entirely despite being set after BL2. Which is a huge shame.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      I guess you missed the massive plot reason for Jack knowing what the player/resistance were doing for most of the game?

      • defunct says:

        Guess he didn’t finish the game, because it really was massive, and quite unforgettable. At least for me.

      • SuicideKing says:

        Lol yeah. It’s not like there was a *SPOILER*

        pretend AI who you shot at the end.

      • Kollega says:

        Um, considering that I say “Jack only loses his omnipotence in the last hour of the game”, it kind of implies that I finished the game. And considering that the aforementioned “plot reason” stops aiding Jack at the end of act 1 and is shot to death at the end of act 2, Jack probably shouldn’t be as omnipotent as he is in the latter 2/3rds of the game. As it is, his drop from “plays all the characters like a fiddle” to “can’t finish his evil plot to save his life, literally” is too jarring – unless he really is that terrible at working alone, which kind of doesn’t mesh with “Jack is an expert manipulator” thing.

        And that’s not touching on the fact that this “plot reason” is crudely retconned into making Jack the villain of the first game as well as the second, all as a cheap shot to make the players feel like fools. I mean, I get that the player is supposed to hate Jack with every fiber of their being, but the entire game feels like a monument to his douchebaggery. If anyone remembers General Sarrano from Bulletstorm, that was an example of a loathsome, irredeemable, love-to-hate villain done right.

        • SkittleDiddler says:

          Bullet What? General Who? Nobody remembers that mediocre game and its mediocre characterizations.

          • Kollega says:

            Bulletstorm characterizations… MEDIOCRE?! Such offense will simply not stand! I request a duel, good sir! Meet me on the field of honor at dawn!

        • Distec says:

          Sarrano was gold. I relished every second he was present in the game.

        • AyeBraine says:

          I must say, I liked Bulletstorm A LOT, but I can’t remember the personality of this evil General for the life of me. Borderlands 2, though, I love tenderly. And plot/characters are a make-or-break thing for me in a game. I think for me Borderlands 2 managed this incredibly difficult feat: to be loud, tongue-in-cheek and silly, but still be smart, emotional and well-developed (i.e. having lore, layers and consistency). In this kind of narrative style, you can slip such a “plot hole” in, because it balanced roughly in the middle _between_ “get me a cool monster to kill and get a big loud finale” and “flesh out the plot conflict convincingly and give villain his comeuppance”. So it’s not on either of these extremes, but sits fairly comfortably between them.

          For me, actually, the ending was a relief: it was not as bad as so many story-driven game endings are nowadays, and it rounded things up successfully. Whew, they made it to the end and didn’t screw up, I thought. And then came the D&D DLC, which has its own solid plot and gives the game a satisfying, well-written ending with all characters accounted for.

    • Xocrates says:

      Yeah, as much as I liked Handsome Jack in 2, I fear they may be getting too attached to him. I do hope they move on by the time of Borderlands 3.

  2. Turkey says:

    I’m curious to see how well Telltale’s choice thing will work in a universe where nothing really matters. I guess you’ll just make your decisions based on how funny you think a thing will be.

  3. dolgion1 says:

    It’s crazy how natural a fit for Telltale this is. Aesthetically, it’s a seamless transition from Gearbox’s shooter to this Telltale narrative game. Borderlands has a really large fanbase, with some good world building, but the unfulfilled story potential is such low hanging fruit for Telltale to take advantage of, it’s almost too easy.

  4. Scurra says:

    Really, really enjoyed Borderlands 2 until the grind got me down in the run to the endgame, meaning that I haven’t actually finished it even though I got into the story enough to want to know what the payoff was going to be (in the end I read a plot summary; kind of glad I didn’t get there now.)
    But it was the writing that kept me going – whilst it was rarely innovative and often repetitive, I did find it pretty funny, and the world had enough going on in the sidequests to make me interested in this.

    • SuicideKing says:

      It probably only gets grindy if you’re after legendary and Seraph weapons, or have to solo raid bosses of your own level. And of course, Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode.

      They could have also probably not wasted the first 4 levels in terms of skill points (your skill tree only activates lv 5 onward), and designed it such that you’d have at least 2 capstones at lv 50.

      • GiantPotato says:

        I always wished that I could max out 2 trees, but then I had a re-think about it.

        Generally, you want to get as far along in each tree as possible, because the better skills are further along. So here’s the thing: If you can max one tree and move halfway up a second then each class has 6 feasible builds. But if you can max out 2 trees then there are only 3 feasible builds. So the limitation actually allows you more expression in how you build out your character.

        • AyeBraine says:

          That’s a great thought! I agree that the limit to the skill points driven people to experiment so much and come up with so many playstyles. It really has you juggling points, and prevents you from simply turning the character into a Swiss army juggernaut.

  5. Dawngreeter says:

    I’m in a similar boat. I really want to love Borderlands. And I do, to an extent. But every time I play it for a day or three and then just stop for no real reason. I don’t think FPS as a genre is as good a fit for me as it was back in the day.

    But the world is great and the stories are great and the writing is great! It’s going to rock as a Telltale game.

    Actually… I think Telltale are getting close to being the video game equivalent of Prime Time Adventures for tabletop RPGs. Many, many games work better when Prime Time Adventures does them, then their own game system.

  6. skyturnedred says:

    Sounds like Fiona is voiced by Laura Bailey, who did Bloodrayne for example. I really like her voice, even made a soundset for Baldur’s Gate II. Closest I’ve ever gotten to making a mod for a game.

  7. TheTingler says:

    So close. I’d be more interested in Telltale doing a game based on another 2K shooter property beginning with ‘B’ that also had a much better world than it was an FPS.

  8. SuicideKing says:

    Borderland 2’s strong suits (narrative wise) were arguably its side-quests and DLCs, rather than the main campaign (which wasn’t bad either, in my opinion).

  9. Smashbox says:

    I, in the other hand, thought the gameplay mechanics were pretty solid and the writing was unforgivably bad

    • MarMar95 says:

      I’m sorry but if you don’t think Butt Stallion was the best name for a diamond encrusted pony in the world…. You was never gonna like borderlands. #ShootThisGuyInTheFace

    • fish99 says:

      Same here, I pretty much hated the story in BL2, but the shooting mechanics seemed fine to me, especially the sniping.

    • Asurmen says:

      I thought both were good. Now we just need someone who hated both…

  10. Rizlar says:

    Surprisingly interesting.

  11. colossalstrikepackage says:

    For what it’s worth, completely agree with Alice’s first para. I played Borderlands co-op and had a blast. Borderlands 2 solo was a drag and I couldn’t bring myself to continue the carnage – not sure why, but I just lost all desire to push through the endless killing for the (admittedly intriguing) story.

    Hope Telltale delivers something special with this one. As usual, will wait until it’s all out and recommended by RPS before I purchase. Episodic gaming for me doesn’t fit into today’s on-demand culture. I want to be able to go at my own pace.

    • AXAXAXAS MLO II: MLO HARDER says:

      I also agree completely with Alice’s first para, and it was a relief I had at least one person in the hivemind that felt about this game like I do. It seems the opinion of the Old Men of RPS is that it’s a game with decent enough gameplay and poor writing, when my own opinions go the other way around.

      • fish99 says:

        TBH what colossalstrikepackage has noticed is that the Borderlands games are dull single player games but for some reason they just work played co-op.

        ***spoilers***

        As for the BL2 story, here’s what I didn’t like – firstly most of the story is just you gathering up the characters from the first game. Then due to the complaints about the ending of the first game they go and change Angel from an automated satellite to a siren. Then they go and kill a character in a scene where you just stand there doing nothing, as if you don’t exist. Then the dumbest and most telegraphed ‘twist’ ever where Jack captures Lilith. I saw that coming way before it happened and it just made me feel like the good guys were all complete idiots.

        The other thing that annoyed me was that Jack never once shuts up for the whole game, and maybe 5% of what he says is funny.

  12. kdz says:

    I loved Jack in Borderlands 2. This looks awesome!… Though up to this point the greatest thing aobut Telltale’s episodic games was how they tugged at my heartstrings and that’s not really what Borderlands is about, so I don’t know if they’ll even try to achieve the same thing they did with The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us. And I’m not sure I can be drawn in just by comedic value.