While we await a numbered sequel to the Borderlands series, we get to know what’s happening in between them. New Tales from the Borderlands is such a tale, featuring a new cast of hardly-heroes as fate leads them into an unpleasant run-in with Susan Coldwell of Tediore. The game launches 21 October 2022 on PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC, so won’t be long now for you to dive into another adventure.
As usual, it’s time to head into the options menu. The general settings aren’t much to talk about, but there are some that I consider notable additions, such as:
- Dynamic range audio
- Low for noisy / lower-quality sound systems
- High for quiet or good sound system
- Night mode to be less disruptive to others
- Subtitle options
- A text size slider from 0 to 10
- Subtitle style: default is teal blue and lightly black bordered, default with clear background, default with black background, white text black background, yellow text black background, black text white background
- Subtitles themselves are available in Off, On, Subtitles with Closed Captions flavours
- Controller “rebinding”: still limited but there are two layout options at least
- QTE difficulty
- QTE event warning
- Important choices record
- Assist options in Hold input, repeat input, progress depletion on/off, interactable easy display (use hotkeys instead of needing to mouse over an item and drag to the direction)
There is no option for manual saving, but it saves automatically often enough. One platform can have up to 4 separate profiles.
YOU WILL REMEMBER THAT
Well, it’s a Borderlands series game, so it’s the cel-shade, comic book style art with customary dumb, cheeky title cut-ins for characters, comic violence that is very well spelled out in the content warning for the game – which I’m genuinely delighted by – and the meta-esque humour and references that aren’t necessarily to everyone’s taste. As you wander around, you can buy skins for the main trio of Anu, Octavio and Fran with in-game dollah, reflected in the various sequences they appear in as well as the rotating menus which change with every chapter.
Core gameplay mechanics aren’t very complex, primarily consisting of timed choices, mini games and Quick Time Events (QTE). Remember, not doing anything is also a valid choice. There will be sections of minor investigation sequences where you can walk around to interact with key items and find secrets. The trio have their ‘unique’ mechanics: Anu has her tech goggles to scan things with, Octavio with his “P-HONE” for hacking mini games, and Fran being the muscle because that hoverchair of hers is jacked. You don’t get to use much of these outside of plot-mandated moments, though.
Don’t be fooled by its “five chapter” billing, though: it took me about 9 1/2 hours to get through to one ending which surprised me a lot. Speaking of which, you will be able to go back and replay individual sections within a chapter, though I’m not too sure how that affects the score if I only play the one part. By score I mean the estimation of your character’s relationships with each other, measured in skateboards (don’t ask now).
Taking place some time after the events of Borderlands 3, while it’s not necessary for you to know the lore of the preceding games, it does kiiiiiiinda spoil the fate of one major character from the game. As the narrative is the main point of the game, I won’t talk much about it. I’ve avoided showing screenshots past Chapter 2 at the most, so that you can enjoy the story for yourselves.
Just one more thing about the gameplay: there’s a Vaultlanders mini game where you “fight” with figures featuring characters from across the series. They have their own stats and special abilities which don’t really matter that much to be honest. Wail on the opponent and dodge their attacks. Dodge enough times and they become stunned, so that you can smack ’em down with critical damage. Each figure has their own finisher animation, with the entire process narrated a la Mortal Kombat.
END OF THE ROAD
The accessibility options are incredibly welcome. However, to me, it feels like it strips too much interactivity away from the game. So-called “walking simulators” aren’t bad, of course, and these options certainly aren’t entirely for me, but it was definitely a feeling I got. To that effect, I did eventually toggle off more of the assists so that I could engage with the game some more.
New Tales from the Borderlands does not have a completely original story, and in fact, does have extremely “in your face” lessons. That said, it still can shine, with heartwarming and really hilarious moments. The characters have their diversity without having to be subject to stereotypical caricatures, and have their respective strengths. I do believe Anu, in this case, has much, much stronger character and focus than Octavio and Fran, where ideally all three could have equal billing. I did like the ending, and I will admit I was taken aback by some of the results…
By the way, you can see where you stack up in the Extras menu.
It’s a cozy story with lessons, though on the nose, are still worthwhile to experience. Please, please pause as the credits roll because some of the team have hilarious, and also horrendously “too real” quotes they got to include for the end. Congratulations to the team for putting this together: I’m glad you got this baby out.
|Great accessibility features||In trying to be accessible, it feels like it takes too much away from the interactive parts|
|Comfy story with ‘diverse’ cast that aren’t the butt of mean jokes; it mostly works with the character and wacky setting||Unique mechanics are either half-baked or underutilised|
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