Tales from the Borderlands allows Telltale to finally have fun with people killing each other

Opinion

Richard Iggo is the senior director of marketing at Telltale Games, and he’s about to show us gameplay from the company's upcoming adventure game set in the world of Borderlands. He’s aware that this may seem kind of strange.

"The first thing to say is that it might seem kind of odd that we, a company that is known for character-based gameplay, choices that you make, all that kind of stuff, is making a game on a first-person shooter. In general terms it’s a genre that really hasn’t focused on story and character," he said.

"In a nutshell, Gearbox has created this world that’s rich in story and content and background, you just haven’t seen it yet. We found out, when we started this partnership with Gearbox, that they have as much material, probably as much if not more, as something like Star Wars. It sounds like hyperbole, but it’s absolutely true," Iggo continued.

The existing Borderlands games haven’t needed to use the background information that has been created, written and stored for the game, but Tales from the Borderlands is going to take a deep dive into Pandora and the characters who make up this world.

I will name my first son "Loaderbot"

Vaults are repositories of alien technology, and there are many of them on the planet Pandora. Tales from the Borderlands takes place after the events of Borderlands 2, and touches on the power vacuum that exists after the death of that game’s villain. Everyone wants to take his place, including one of the game’s characters, Rhys.

In fact, you play as two characters throughout the game, one female grifter named Fiona who is trying to make one last score before taking off, and a company man who thinks that securing a vault key is his ticket to power and riches.

This is stuff you should find out for yourself.

The story takes place in flashback as they meet a masked character who is trying to get inside the vault, and they both tell their side of the story behind their last attempt. They may be unreliable as narrators, and in fact Fiona calls Rhys out on his bullshit in the opening scenes, but the ability to see the story from two points of view could open the narrative up in a few interesting ways.

The game also introduces that idea that Rhys can call down backup from the space station in place above Pandora, and we see a lumbering mech called down to fight back against a group of bandits who want to steal the briefcase of cash strapped to the hand of one of your friends.

The story makes sense, and it’s told with the flair for characters and writing that Telltale is known for, but the less said about specifics, the better. This is stuff you should find out for yourself.

I don’t want to repeat the funny jokes or the story beats, because that’s boring and will harm your enjoyment of the game, but Telltale has done a terrific job of filling the world of Borderlands with characters that may not actually be nice, but are definitely fun. The game is filled with charismatic individuals who are very much aware that life is cheap in this world.

They seem like people, in other words, complete with reasons for doing what they’re doing, even if those reasons aren’t always the most noble. We saw around 30 minutes of game play and the adventure game style of Telltale mixed very well with the stylized animation style of Borderlands, and most importantly I can’t wait to figure out what happens next with the story.

There was also a sense of relief from the Telltale developers in the room to be working on a project that allowed them to have fun with the story and the characters.

This isn’t a game set in a land of murder and tragedy, and both Walking Dead and Wolf Among Us can be pitch black in tone. Borderlands is a world where death is cheap, but at least everyone seems to be enjoying themselves when it comes to dying and killing.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Polygon as an organization.

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