Being terrible at first-person shooters is one of my worst-kept secrets. I'm uncoordinated, my reflexes are slow and I can move my in-game characters about as gracefully as a cat in a sack race.
In my panic to try to not get shot and clear levels as effectively as I can, I often miss details of the game world. I gloss over environments. I don't pause to think of the backstory. From the moment I'm thrown into the game, it's go, go, go. According to Kevin Bruner, the founder and president of Telltale Games — the studio behind The Walking Dead game and The Wolf Among Us — I'm not alone.
Bruner says that in first-person shooters like Gearbox's Borderlands, players tend to only experience a slice of the game world because they're moving so fast. When players are plunged into a world of adrenaline-pumping chaos, it's hard to stop and smell the roses the developers have scattered throughout the game. In Tales from the Borderlands, Telltale wants players to experience those details.
Set after the events of Borderlands 2, Tales from the Borderlands returns to Pandora. Instead of a first-person shooter, the game adopts Telltale's signature storytelling style of dialogue trees with short bursts of action. It's a much slower experience, and it gives players a chance to really see the game world and its characters.
"We're not making up a lot of these details [in Tales from the Borderlands]," Bruner says. "These details are in canon. They're from the Gearbox universe. But there just isn't as much of an opportunity in Borderlands to experience it."
According to Bruner, the Borderlands universe is rich with different environments, characters, history and lore — it's all there — it's just too easy to miss them in the Gearbox games. So in Telltale's take on Borderlands, players will be able to slowly move through environments and examine objects. They'll get a better understanding of the characters, the gangs and the communities by having conversations and negotiations with non-playable characters. And they'll have the opportunity to see the Borderlands world from a different perspective.
Where players took on the role of vault hunters in the earlier Borderlands games, Tales from the Borderlands lets players see the world through the eyes of Rhys and Fiona, the former an employee of Hyperion, the latter a person who grew up on Pandora. By telling the story through those two characters, Bruner says the development team is starting the game from a place that isn't as well-represented in the first-person shooter.
"In the first-person shooter, you're responsible for tons of the chaos," he says. "You go through and you're just laying waste everywhere. But what would it be like to live in that world and have that be your reality? To have to grow up in that?
"What would it be like, instead of being a vault hunter, to be a person who has to deal with that world and to try to make your way through it?"
Bruner says this is what Borderlands would feel like if the Gearbox games slowed down. So whether you're clumsy and uncoordinated or graceful and fast, Tales from the Borderlands is a chance to stop and smell Borderlands' roses.