While 2K's "Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel" will be transporting the franchise faithful to Pandora's moon, gamers hoping to return to the outlaw planet will get their wish with Telltale Games' "Tales From the Borderlands." The game is broken out into five episodes, the first of which is set to debut sometime this summer.
Don't expect to be taking out hordes of skags and bullymongs. "Tales" takes its gameplay notes from titles such as "The Walking Dead" and "Wolf Among Us," incorporating Quick Time Events (QTEs) and decision trees to advance the story. However, the game is unquestionably "Borderlands," down to its dark, irreverent humor, cel-shaded animation and addictive loot system.
Our 40-minute demo of "Tales" started out like every other "Borderlands" game — with narration from arms dealer Marcus Kincaid.
"You want to hear another story of treasure hunting?" Yes, Marcus, indeed we do.
The story takes place after "Borderlands 2." After Handsome Jack's demise at the hands of the Vault Hunters, everyone at the Hyperion Corporation is looking to fill Jack's spot at the top. We meet Rhys, a contender who fell short, meeting with the Patrick Warburton-voiced Hugo Vasquez, the new CEO of the weapons-manufacturing company.
During the meeting, Rhys eavesdrops on a call between Vasquez and a mysterious caller about an important artifact. From there, a decision tree pops up, and the Telltale rep chooses to try to take a peek at the computer. When that fails, Rhys uses his cybernetic eye to discover that the item in question is a Vault Key, which unlocks one of the mythical vaults full of treasure and advanced alien technology.
The meeting is interrupted when August (voiced by "Uncharted's" Nolan North), Rhys' best friend, creates a flimsy excuse to get him out of the meeting. From there, they met up with Yvette, their other friend, and come up with a plan to get the vault key before Vasquez. After some quick embezzling on August's part, he joins Rhys to meet up with the vault key owner to set up a buy on Pandora.
Pandora is just as beautifully desolate as ever in "Tales," right down to the cel-shaded art with its heavy brush strokes. The violence, while gory, still possesses an undeniable flair, as shown by the carcass of a skag hit by Vasquez's stolen car.
Once Rhys and August reach the seller's location, they run afoul of some local toughs. Instead of "Borderland's" usual gunplay, Telltale relies on QTEs to push the actions and decision trees to deliver the dialogue.
One thing Telltale has kept is the game's iconic loot boxes. The rep made no mention of how they would be used throughout the game, but it was great to see them.
After defeating the locals with the help of a Loader Bot dispatched by Yvette, Rhys and August locate the buyer in a museum of sorts. There we see past villains from the series including the firebug Bewm and the Handsome Jack-obsessed Professor Nakayama.
A scuffle breaks out after the seller gets cold feet and the second protagonist of this story, Fiona, interrupts the story. A con-artist, Fiona has stolen from nearly everyone on the planet and is looking to making one last big score.
Fiona interjects that the deal went south because a vault hunter arrived and sure enough, the robot ninja Zero from "Borderlands 2" crashed the party, ending the demo.
Just going off the first 40 minutes of the demo, "Tales from the Borderlands" looks like it's going to be the best of both worlds — a fun, engaging story with plenty of inappropriate hijinks. We're really looking forward to spending part of our summer vacation exploring the far reaches of Pandora.