The Borderlands franchise has become quite the hit ever since the first game released but I am not the biggest fan of it. I’ve played most of the entries and something about the humor of it just never quite hit for me. That was until I played Tales from the Borderlands from Telltale Games and I fell absolutely in love with the characters, story, and got a ton of laughs out of the episodic adventure game format that they went with. I always wanted more of it and now in 2022 2K Games and Gearbox Software have delivered New Tales from the Borderlands. Here is my review of the PlayStation 5 version.
Going into New Tales I was a bit skeptical because it isn’t from the same team and mostly features new characters when I really wanted more time with the characters I loved from the first entry. While this new one still gave me some laughs and I did like some of the new faces I was ultimately a bit disappointed with this new entry overall for various reasons I’ll go into. The game is once again episodic but you get all of the episodes from the get-go in the package. The overall run-time is around what the first game was so you’ll likely finish this in around ten hours give or take as each episode is only a couple hours long roughly. It plays almost exactly like the first game as you’ll move around areas, make dialog choices some of which will affect things in the story, and take part in quick-time events which I know bothers some players but I always enjoy them.
The story this time around takes place a year or so after the events of Borderlands 3 and is set on Promethea. Just like the first game you don’t really need to have played the previous Tales from the Borderlands or other Borderlands games to enjoy it but you’ll obviously recognize characters or other things if you have. For example, the lead character of Tales from the Borderlands Rhys shows up in the first episode and is the CEO of Atlas who makes guns. I liked Rhys a lot in the first game but I didn’t like what they did to him in Borderlands 3 and I didn’t like how he was portrayed in this game either. I suspect that other fans of Rhys will feel the same way as me if they play this.
As for the new playable cast you have the scientist Anu, her adopted brother Octavio who knows the streets and Fran who is the owner of Frogurt and who talks about sexual stuff far too much. You also meet various side characters like LOU13 who is a robot built for assassinating and one of my favorite characters in this game. LOU assists Octavio but much like many of the other side characters in this game ends up not being present nearly enough especially since they were the source of most of my laughs. The core cast is OK but I just never really ended up caring about them because the writing surrounding them never really made me. The jokes they crack ended up not being funny most of the time and other times things they would do seemed to go against the type of character that they are. Anu being a scientist shows she can be quite smart at times but then you’ll run into an instance where she doesn’t know what to do in a very simple situation and it just left me scratching my head at who thought this was a good idea?
Much like the characters the overall story can get lost at times as it deals with things like fending off invaders and finding vaults but then you’ll have episodes that seemed to just go off having you focus on something else that seems completely unrelated to the main plot. It just feels like there wasn’t a proper plan in place to keep the plot on track and because of that you end up kind of bouncing all over the place. The story isn’t bad it just feels unfocused but I didn’t regret seeing it through to the end.
When you’re not engaged in conversations, you’ll be able to roam around some small open areas. There usually isn’t a lot to see but you can find some extra money hidden about along with collectibles. Money can be used to buy new cosmetics for your characters but it really isn’t necessary. There is also a really fun mini-game you can play called Vaultlanders that has you battling with figures based on characters from various Borderlands games. I was always on the lookout to find more of these figures to use throughout my playthrough and to play it whenever I got the chance. I really like how more and more developers are creating fun little games within their games lately.
Visually the game looks great on the PlayStation 5 once again going with the cel-shaded look. Not only that but the characters were done with mo-cap helping to make them feel more realistic. Performance was also really good which as we all know wasn’t the case in the old Telltale games that would frequently freeze and stutter. The voice acting is really well done even if the actual writing had me rolling my eyes quite a bit. Music is also excellent as you once again get some really great tunes especially during the opening moments of the episodes. Trophy hunters will find 27 trophies to collect including a Platinum but this isn’t a gimme like old Telltale games. No you’ll have to do quite a few different things during your sessions to earn them all.
New Tales from the Borderlands can’t match the first game due to a less interesting story and cast of characters but it still was a fun time. I did really like a few characters that weren’t part of the core cast and the presentation and audio work is excellent throughout. If you enjoy the Borderlands brand of humor and the universe you’ll likely enjoy this but it isn’t as memorable as the first game.
*New Tales from the Borderlands is available now on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. PlayStation 5 version reviewed. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.