E3 2014 coverage: Tales From the Borderlands

Game logo. TELLTALE GAMES Game logo.

Check out our impressions for this adventure title from the shooter game universe.

I've never actually played Borderlands, since I'm not a big shooter fan anymore, though Titanfall has started to get me interested in the genre again. I am, however, a big fan of Telltale Games, after playing Tales of Monkey Island, Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People, and The Walking Dead. I had high hopes for Tales From the Borderlands when I walked into the Telltale booth, and after walking out, I'm glad to say my hopes were basically at the exact same height.

While prior Telltale games mostly have you playing a single character through one story, Tales From the Borderlands has two main characters, Rhys and Fiona. You see the same story played from both their perspectives, with the two accounts differing in some significant and/or humorous ways, and then the accounts will be reconciled together at the end. The story has another major twist, though, which the Telltale crew were rather eager to show.

Graphically, this game is very similar to Telltale's two previous (ongoing) offerings, The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us. It has a clear cel-shaded style reminiscent of a comic book come to life, which looks quite good stylistically. The Borderlands games also have that bit of cel-shading to them, so the look should be familiar, but it's closer to Telltale's games than Gearbox's. It looks quite nice running at 60 FPS, though right now the mouth movements need a bit of work. While we're talking about performance, I can say that the loading in this game was quite fast, which is good to see.

The game is told in flashbacks, as Rhys and Fiona recall how they came across a vault key. The first flashback starts out aboard a Hyperion vessel, with Rhys being talked down to by his newly-promoted coworker Vasquez; I immediately recognized the voice of Vasquez as Patrick Warburton (The Tick, Joe from Family Guy), which means this game is destined for greatness. This is where we got introduced to Rhys's scanner, built into his eye. Activating the scanner brings up another mode, where you can instantly scan objects or hack machines; this seems like a convenient way to get more information on things.

There was more dialogue on the Hyperion ship, where your friends are introduced, though it felt very much like it had no real effect on the story progression; that's fair, though, since the game's story needs some setup. The characters were all talking about obtaining a vault key, and Telltale took this time to talk about loot. Since lockers and loot are such a major component of Borderlands, the characters in Tales From the Borderlands will be able to loot as well, and the loot you get will have an effect on the story. More information on this will be coming soon.

Once they got down onto the planet, we were able to see action sequences in... action. After enough talking, Rhys and his friend Vaughn got themselves into a fight, and they summoned a loader bot to take out some targets. The action sequences were mostly selecting foes for the loader bot to take out, though there were some QTEs thrown in as well; we were told that if you fail enough QTEs, your character can actually die. This section went on for quite a while before the story resumed.

When Rhys and Vaughn met with another character, it was easier to see how your choices were important, as his dialogue was a reflection of the choices that had been made thus far. This is also where we got to see how the different perspectives came into play, as Rhys gave a ridiculously over-the-top description of an encounter. The most interesting part by far, however, was when Fiona spoke up to give her version of events. At this point, we were given a choice between three entirely different plot points, and the one that was chosen started to play out right before the demo came to an end. I can't stress enough that these were completely different events that we got to choose from; one option had the vault key getting broken, while another option had it stolen by a famous thief. It's hard for me to imagine how resolving these things can result in anything but a different story progression, and this excites me quite a lot.

Overall, this looks like it will be a fun new Telltale adventure game, faithful to the Borderlands universe (not that I would know, but people keep saying that). The graphics are good, the story elements look great, and the game has a strong voice cast. In addition to Patrick Warburton, the game features a number of voices from the Borderlands cast, as well as well-known voice actors such as Nolan North (Uncharted) or Chris Hardwick (Attack of the Show). This is a game I'll be keeping an eye on, and Telltale fans should take notice as well, along with big Borderlands fans.

Stay tuned to GeekNifty for more E3 impressions.