Before you read on, you need to answer this key question: Do you find Borderlands funny? If you don’t, then New Tales from the Borderlands won’t do anything for you. Even though the story focuses on very different characters than fans of the series are probably used to, it’s still a Borderlands game, full of crude humor, violence, talking guns and all.
If, like me, you’re a fan of the very specific (read, annoying) kind of humor that Borderlands offers, then New Tales from the Borderlands will be perfect for you, and might even end up surprising you with how sincere and characterful it is. -driven is. Well, compared to all the looting and shooting in the main series, anyway.
New Tales from the Borderlands follows three nobodies who are drawn into a war against Tediore (that’s right, Tediore is finally doing something) thanks to a mysterious crystal with healing properties. The trio includes Anu, an anxious scientist looking to find a more peaceful approach to Pandora’s problems, Fran, a frog shop owner trying to get over her anger issues, and Octavio, the “wise-cracking” adoptive younger brother. street” of Anu, which is basically the equivalent of Borderlands. Jesse Pinkman, that is, a wannabe.
These three characters, their relationships with each other, and their place in the world as no one else is at the core of New Tales from the Borderlands, a pretty big change considering the main series stars larger-than-life heroes who are willing to kill as much. as possible. This smaller scale works in New Tales’ favor here and offers some of the series’ most likable and relatable characters yet, each with interesting character arcs and real personalities beyond the loud noises and loving weapons. .
Admittedly, there are annoying moments, like Octavio occasionally being much more stupid than he’s shown in other scenes, and Fran’s overt arousal becoming a bit too much, but these are outweighed by the moments of growth they have and their connections to each other. It’s hard to pick a favorite of the three thanks to a fantastic final chapter that makes everyone feel like layered characters, but Octavio’s quest for fame and constant need for approval blew me away. Borderlands should focus on the ‘nobodies’ more often, because they’re so much more interesting than normal fodder and make Pandora feel like more than just a massive shooting gallery.
This also extends to the fantastic supporting cast, such as the British killer robot LOU13, who slowly learns what it means to be human, and Stapleface, a psychopath who decides she wants to be something more. However, a special mention has to go to Tediore’s soldiers, who are so incompetent and clumsy that now I want a game where you just shoot them. However, anyone expecting cameos from other Borderlands characters will be sorely disappointed, as it’s pretty much just Rhys with any screen time here.
Is it really fun though? Well, that entirely depends on whether you already find Borderlands fun as I mentioned at the beginning. It’s not as brash and loud, but it’s certainly just as stupid and regularly undermines serious moments with characters saying or doing things they shouldn’t be. I found myself laughing pretty much the entire game, with a few laughs of my own thrown in for good measure. Borderlands’ kind of humor isn’t the kind you want to admit to laughing at, but fuck it, I laughed a lot here and I’d consider it one of the funniest games of 2022.
That was helped by the fact that I went with the worst options most of the time, like making Octavian pee in a firefight or having Anu panic in the middle of a big throw. I was impressed by how the dialogue choices I had made earlier in the game were also brought up a bit later. Even silence gets some notable reactions, even though it always feels like a workaround option. It’s a shame there isn’t more room for the story to change and it’s one of the few areas where Telltale’s influence is lost, but I was happy to see that a lot of the dialogue is up to the player.
However, Gearbox seems to lean heavily on dialogue, as New Tales from the Borderlands is incredibly light on the actual game. Adventure games tend to be pretty light to do anything other than walk and interact with things, but I could count the times I was able to do it with two hands.
There are rarely moments to walk around and explore the environment, and instead you stay to watch long cutscenes, barely participating in anything except selecting what to say and occasionally pressing a few buttons. Combine this with the fact that you can’t skip the dialogue, fast readers I guess, and there are long stretches of time in New Tales where you’ll do nothing but sit and watch.
It’s also a shame because the small sections of gameplay that are here manage to capture the tone of Borderlands perfectly. Most of the time you’re still scanning things and talking to people, but your science goggles will always have a snarky response for you, and mini-games include scientifically hitting devices, removing pop-ups to hack people, and the weird little Vaultlanders fighting game. . with statues.
New Tales from the Borderlands is the first time I’ve felt invested in the series since Borderlands 2. It’s a much smaller-scale adventure that feels more like a movie than a game at times, but its heartfelt cast of characters ( a little) smarter humor and a tougher approach make this a tale worth listening to.
New Tales from the Borderlands is available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, and PC. We tested the PC version for this review. The publisher provided the review code.