New Tales from the Borderlands is more like an interactive movie than a game. It takes place 1 year after the events of Borderlands 3. Throughout the story, you get to make choices on how the story of the 3 characters plays out. You get to decide their responses and actions to the multitude of scenarios. Some of your choices will steer the story into a different side path while others impact the tone of a scene and the relationships you build up.
Table of contents
Introduction to the Characters
You quickly get introduced to the three main characters at the start of the game. Since they haven’t teamed up yet, you alternate between their stories. When they make the shift from one character to another, they leave you on a cliffhanger wondering what will happen next. These short burst keep you engaged and quickly bring you up to speed on the loveable losers.
When New Tales From The Borderlands got announced, we got introduced to the three main characters and I was like “who are these folks and why should I care”. They weren’t directly relatable to the Borderlands audience as they aren’t established characters in the franchise. Octavio made me cringe in the trailers but I actually enjoyed him in the game.
The performance of Anu and Fran was also great but for some reason the real star of New Tales From The Borderlands is LOU13. This assassin bot is your companion throughout the game and has its own unique view of things that makes for an enjoyable experience.
Susan Coldwell made for a good villain and her endgame surprised me. Initially, I thought her appearance might be a bit too cliche, however, her performance is great and she brought the power to her power suit.
The Tediore soldiers look really cool, I like how the visual equalizer shows up on their helmets as they speak. While they are often used as comedic “Storm Trooper” characters they actually also deliver intelligent/clever dialogue. So while the situation is funny there is some actual truth going on.
The side characters look interesting, however, they aren’t utilized that much throughout the story. I had some more expectations here. Because Gearbox sets up these relationships and you expect them to be part of your adventure but that sadly doesn’t happen.
Overall the game delivers an entertaining story. The first two episodes are a bit quicker, as they have fewer chapters and in the first one, there is a lot of jumping around as every main character is still on their own journey, and you are left on a little cliffhanger as you go through their stories.
Towards the end of the game, there is a moment of revelation which has a lot of ground to cover and therefore can feel slow. The game picks up some speed toward the end.
There were nice fan service moments and recurring gags along the way. I know some jokes work best in three, however, some jokes recur a bit more frequently. Some are optional dialogue options so you can choose to opt-in but some are forced. You kinda got that Scrat thing going from Ice Age, the squirrel that shows up between segments.
In the final chapter, you will need to make a big choice that will impact how the finale pans out. I really, like the scope of these alternate endings. However, the real outcome all depends on the choices you made along the way.
You will encounter quick-time events throughout the game. You occasionally have to dodge things and then are asked to quickly move the thumbstick in that direction (I’m playing with a controller). Other times, you need to press a button to perform a task.
Some of these actions are needed to progress the story. Other times, by ignoring them you also make a choice. However, there are also moments the game asks you to do something but if you failed the requirement there is a soft failure. Then the story continues as usual, however, there are also hard failures that ask you to replay a section.
The quick-time events weren’t difficult on the default settings for me but you can make them more challenging or forgiving you can adjust that in the options menu.
Occasionally, I forgot that I was playing a game as you are basically watching a movie the whole time and therefore my brain froze when quickly asked to press a button and I’m trying to remember the button layout. Luckily, there is a prompt that reminds you that a quick-time event is coming but I got distracted.
Free Movement Sections
There are moments in each episode when you can freely walk around and explore an area. I liked these sections. You can open chests for money and hunt down Vaultlander figurines. These sections aren’t really difficult I was just afraid I would trigger the main quest line and didn’t get to explore the whole area.
While these sections felt good, on the other side there isn’t a lot to do but now I kinda want a third-person Borderlands puzzle action adventure.
Going into these Free Movement Sections I expected to be able to interact with objects by standing in front of them, however, while that is true you need to aim the camera at the object. Something I didn’t catch on to early on in the game so I started walking back and forth to trigger the interaction pop-up.
The performance capture is great. The actors did a great job! The running ratches at the beginning were questionable, they stood out because Gearbox Software clearly didn’t have a real ratch in a MOCAP suit.
You will see that the game engine is a fraction too late with loading in the high res character models during big transitions. For example, when one group of characters is on one side of the map and the other group is on the other side. The group that isn’t in the scene is being removed from the memory buffer to make space for the things that are happening at that moment, however, when the camera quickly jumps back to show what the other group is doing, you often see a low poly model but when you blink the high res model is loaded in. I get that it is a game but it presents itself as an (interactive) movie and this looked weird to me, breaking a bit of the immersion.
Other than that, the game runs smoothly on my system.
When Things Fall Apart
As I mentioned above, New Tales From The Borderlands is an enjoyable experience, however, there were also moments things aren’t that great.
During some dialogue options, I felt that the response I chose wasn’t reflected in the dialogue. Or when I tried to empathize with another character the tone shifted from caring to being confrontational.
There was one scene where I paused the game to check if I received the full game or a preview build with cut content. There is a scene where the group splits up, they are devastated that they have to leave one person behind. However, then the others continue forward you are presented with a black screen and the prompt “sometime later”. The duo is sad that the other person couldn’t join and then tada that person is also there. Why split up and have them reunited 10 seconds later? It’s like there was a chapter missing there. The duo and the single person both had to have a moment of progress without the other(s). Then there was some kind of struggle and you had that pay-off “we missed you and we are glad the group is back together”.
There is a moment you need to get something and there is a whole journey to obtaining it but then you lose it after your victory dance. I kinda understand it’s a joke and the story needed to push you into a certain direction but it made my actions feel pointless.
New Tales From The Borderlands has multiple endings and of course, you want the best one, however, when you get one of the other endings the story wraps up while not explaining a key component of that event. This feels weird and out of place.
Is New Tales From the Borderlands Worth it
New Tales From The Borderlands is an entertaining experience. It’s not a “Game of the Year” contender but you will have an overall good time with this game.
The story is fun but if you analyze things too much some things fall apart.
Personally, I would slot this game into my “TV” time instead of my “Game” time and watch one episode each night. While there are quick time events there are long passive segments where you are not participating in the experience and waiting to do something.
I think there is definitely a place for these types of experiences and I’m curious to see what Gearbox Software is going to do with this genre.
Would I purchase New Tales From The Borderlands? Yes, because I love the Borderlands Universe and its characters. It’s not a $60 game and it isn’t priced that way, therefore, I think it’s decently priced.