New Tales from the Borderlands Preview – An unusual trio, funny mini-games, great humor

New Tales from the Borderlands Preview - An unusual trio, funny mini-games, great humor


After Telltale’s first episodic adventure, Gearbox is now sending you onto the scene of Borderlands 3. A first gameplay presentation shows that it’s going to be wacky, humorous and exciting.

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The success of Borderlandsseries nobody would have seen coming to this extent. But since the first part of 2009, the Lootshooter series has not only been a constant part of the genre spearhead, but also an integral part of video game nerd culture. This is certainly not insignificant – and now please don’t hate me – the little robot sidekick Claptrap. So it’s no wonder that the rolling, constantly babbling contemporary has appeared in every part of the series so far, even in the tabletop fantasy spin-off Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands (in the test).

Also in the episodic adventure Tales from the Borderlands he happened. However, he did not take on such a dominant role as in the shooter parts. Instead, the focus was on little-to-unknown characters from the franchise. While the story focus was unusual for the series, it was largely well received, which was certainly also due to Telltale Games’ developer’s narrative expertise. With the studio ending in 2019, however, the future of the sub-series was uncertain. Now Gearbox has taken heart and takes on the license itself.

New Tales from the Borderlands but will not resolve the open end of the last episode of the predecessor, but will tell its own story. Although you should also meet well-known characters, but otherwise a completely separate setting was created on Promethea, the planet Borderlands 3 (under test) constructed. Noisy James LopezDirector of Production and Lin Joyce, Head of Writing at Gearbox Software, it’s a conscious decision, they just love creating new things. In an exclusive session, the two gave me more detailed information about New Tales from the Borderlands based on a live demo – which I don’t want to withhold from you, of course.

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What is hidden in this vault? You’ll have to find that out for yourself as you progress through the game.

Lovable losers on a treasure hunt

In the game, you control the fortunes of three characters who are on a treasure hunt. To be precise, it’s about the scientist Anu, her little brother Octavio and the frozen yogurt shop owner Fran. The latter might be familiar to series connoisseurs as a tiny supporting character from the third part, or rather her shop with the focus on Froghurt. Gearbox describes the love trio as lovable losers, and that seems to be the case. At least in the live demo I found them consistently likeable, funny and they already had their own quirks and idiosyncrasies in the short time I was able to see them.

This was shown particularly well in a scene that took place underground. Because the unlikely trio goes on a treasure hunt together and uses a secret tunnel in Fran’s shop to get underground. Unfortunately, they don’t have the peace and quiet in the canals that they originally hoped. Because this is where soldiers from Tediore, the weapons company, are lurking. Now why may you ask? Quite simply, because they are looking for the treasury themselves.

Relatively soon after the demo started, our heroes were faced with their first choice: do they follow Fran’s plan and use the mechanical hand of her floating chair to “smash the soldiers’ windpipes” or would they rather stick with Ocatavio and try to to sneak past the troops? The effects of my actions were very nice to see here: The developers first showed me Fran’s attempt to eliminate the soldier from behind. However, the quick time event was unsuccessful and so the froghurt woman died – accompanied by delicious animations. The stealth approach, on the other hand, worked at least for the first soldier, with a thrown bottle for variety.

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Octavio is the epitome of a likeable chaotic who takes himself more seriously than he really is.

Hard and soft failure

At this point it was shown that messed up quick time events or incorrectly hit dialogue options can have a hard or soft effect. By this, the developers mean that you either see a “game over” directly or you only notice later through other details how this affects you, but you can continue playing. Incidentally, I noticed that after Fran’s death, the score was set back a long way before I decided whether to play loud or quiet. While this is pleasant at first glance, it’s not even intentional – according to James Lopez, it has to do with the internal logic of the game.

If you’re not a fan of Quick Time Events, you can look forward to various accessibility options. Because, as the developers confirmed to me, you can adapt the reaction games in many ways to make them easier or harder. For example, you have more time or less time to complete them. A nice option that will certainly not only please disabled people.

Mini-games and bowing to colleagues

The next soldier our squad encountered revealed another element of New Tales from the Borderlands: the Vaultlanders minigame. Because the villain didn’t want to shoot the caught Octavio directly over the heap, but was a super fan of said game and the associated minifigures. As luck would have it, my dreadlock-wearing good-for-nothing also had such a toy with him and so the somewhat different duel began. You can choose your fighter from all the characters that you have found throughout the game, they even all have different values. This could be reminiscent of fighting games like Tekken, but the actual brawl turns out to be rather simple. You just keep banging on your buttons until your opponent’s life bar drops to zero.

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Incidentally, the setup was particularly cool until Octavio was caught. Because the clever crook simply pulled a box over his head and wanted to sneak past the soldier on a narrow bridge. Because that’s not absurd enough, music started in the background that didn’t remind you of Metal Gear Solid for nothing. When I asked if there would be more homages to other brands, Lin and James responded that references to their own and other games have always been a part of Borderlands. So that will probably not change in the new episodic adventure.

By the way, Vaultlanders isn’t supposed to be the only minigame in New Tales from the Borderlands. My interviewees didn’t want to tell me exactly which ones there will be – or weren’t allowed to. However, the figure brawler will be the most important.

Vaulthunters is supposed to play a big role and you will be able to find many optional characters.