New Tales from the Borderlands is the sequel we've been waiting for | Review

New Tales from the Borderlands is the sequel we've been waiting for | Review

I admit, when New Tales from the Borderlands was announced, I didn't contain the enthusiasm. In short, anyone who has been following Borderlands since its inception and has played the graphic adventure Tales from the Borderlands developed by Telltale Games, I think knows very well what I'm talking about, and knows what it meant for those who, in Pandora, have left more than their heart. And I don't mean the wallet, even if the risk of having it taken away by some Sanctuary bandit has always been on the agenda even back in 2012.

Since then, bullets, explosions and Crypt Hunters have been on the agenda several years ago, and we can comfortably say that it was fun to experience the adventures of Mordecai, Zero or Zane, as of Rhys and Fiona in Tales from the Borderlands, arrived in the golden moment of the narrative adventures created by the American studio, recently returned - albeit with a few less components - to today's landscape after the failure occurred in 2018.

That kind of collaboration between Gearbox Software and Telltale Games, in fact, expressed itself in an apt way and proposed an adventure that, inspired by the events of the first two chapters, he entered the hearts of fans, proposing an epic, funny, engaging and, above all, multifaceted and exaggerated story. Telltale Games came from the stratospheric success obtained with The Walking Dead, while Gearbox Software had an enviable and respectable history that was able to present itself in all its glory. At the time, many thought that such a collaboration could actually package a product far from expectations. But it went well, because Tales from the Borderlands was a video game that came at the right time, bringing with it a breath of fresh air in a landscape dominated by too many open worlds. And for a while, actually five long years, it was thought that there would never be a continuation of Tales from the Borderlands.| ); }
This until August 23, just before gamescom, the summer event dedicated to the world of video games. A trailer, three new characters and a story set in Promethea, the planet where the events of the third chapter of the franchise are set. That's right, forget Rhys and Fiona (but not totally) and start making room in your heart for three iconic losers who have nothing to envy to the dynamic duo we have known in the past. Because, if it were not clear, New Tales from the Borderlands is not a sequel to the first episode, but a totally separate story, which deals with the stories of three new protagonists in a unique and original way. But let's proceed in order, from the beginning.

Three new stories, three new plots that intertwine, three new adventures

With New Tales from the Borderlands, on the contrary, I found myself faced with a story that comes slowly to its twists, its contemptuous and ironic moments, never disdaining to leave the player literally dry-mouthed, both for the emotion, as for the excellent realization and the interpretative ability of each protagonist. The plot begins with Anu, who finds herself having to deal with the Jabbers and a clumsy helper, in search of the perfect weapon that, unlike the others that Atlas sells to her customers, does not kill but sends the poor unfortunate who he finds himself on his way to another dimension. This pushes Rhys, who returns in New Tales from the Borderlands always with his ironic and desperate tones, to fire the young scientist.

Returning to the plot , the three protagonists find themselves having to survive the invasion of the Tediore Corporation, led by the stubborn and perfidious Susan Coldwell, a woman who might remind everyone of Handsome Jack for her sense of humor, but who, in reality, is unique in its cruelty. The team, finding themselves in a web of intrigues impossible to remove calmly, therefore find themselves having to rely on each other, trying to do everything to survive. As they advance in experience, their relationship strengthens more and more, often in a completely unique way, as well as unpredictable: relevant details about their lives come out, specifically about Fran, who hides a sensitive soul. Anu, on the contrary, remembers the stormy past with his brother, once forced to manage alone even in complex situations for anyone.

What amazes me, in addition to the writing of the main characters, is especially the construction of the context and of the game world. Despite being a narrative adventure, New Tales from the Borderlands brings the player back to Promethea without leaving anything out. In fact, I have traveled the streets, seen places in the metropolis, attended parties and experienced particular situations, and I never lacked the sense of humor that made Borderlands famous in our favorite medium. In recent weeks, especially from some comments on social media after the publication of a post announcing that the game had gone gold, I read that New Tales from the Borderlands would have very little of the series it was named after.

On the other hand, it was not the case, because it is Borderlands to the nth degree, with all the lore of the case to be the master and, guess what, there is no crypt to open, which means take some risks, going beyond the dictates of the past in which he always impersonated a Hunter ready to take possession of treasures of all kinds, perhaps becoming richer than Handsome Jack. That of New Tales from the Borderlands is probably a better structured story than in the past, as well as more fluid and better especially thanks to the interpretations of the actors behind Anu, Octavio and Fran. In addition to lending their facial expressions, they have enchanted thanks to their voices, specifically Anudhar (the full name of Anu, if you hadn't understood), often a victim of panic attacks, which have me often - and I do not say this lightly. - ripped much more than a laugh.

In contrast, Octavio is a protagonist who always looks for a solution to everything even when there is absolutely no need, with Fran helping him because he is the classic person who literally has his fists in his hands, always making himself available for others even in complicated moments. If on the one hand there is therefore an excellent writing of the main protagonists, on the other there is an extremely accurate realization of the world that surrounds the player, but not only him.

Choosing not to set New Tales from the Borderlands in another place far from Pandora is, in fact, a choice that I absolutely support because it follows the line already drawn in the past with Borderlands 3, which saw Zane - in this the character among the four selectable that I chose for my adventure - go from one part of the Universe to another with the aim of stopping the evil Calypso. While things get simpler in New Tales from the Borderlands, there's never a lack of that wonderful tone that has always distinguished the series. Also on this occasion, and it could not have been otherwise, it returns preponderant, projecting the player into an increasingly fascinating as well as unmissable universe.

Strong, therefore, of a narrative built around the characters main, which in this case far exceed Rhys and Fiona both in context and through writing, New Tales from the Borderlands from the point of view of the plot reaches the goal, transmitting in the end a sense of bewilderment that, even now, I perceive as I type these words on the keyboard. What did not convince me, however, are the compositions chosen for the opera. Unlike Tales from the Borderlands, where I fell in love with My Silver Lining by First Aid Kit, it must be said that the musical compositions are somewhat forgettable. Despite the lack of noteworthy soundtracks, this new story will make you cry, reflect and, above all, laugh out loud, especially for certain situations that also pay homage to the same medium, which however it is better not to reveal.

New Tales from the Borderlands is even more interactive than in the past

For those unfamiliar with graphic adventures, you should know that it is a genre in which the plot is the real protagonist of the events that are lived in the inside. In the case of New Tales from the Borderlands, just as happened in the past with Tales from the Borderlands, interaction and cutscene phases alternate, with the possibility of choosing what response to give to a character, and so on, discovering further facets. Some of them can even turn the tide of a bond or ending, and New Tales from the Borderlands stays true to the classic formula of other productions like Life is Strange, although Gearbox Software's new video game is better developed from this point of view. We do not give up the classic formula with the typical quick time events, which by now distinguish every narrative adventure and which, in New Tales from the Borderlands, are implemented in an intelligent way and positioned where it is needed, especially when experiencing complicated situations as well as to the limit.

In New Tales from the Borderlands we do not give up on exploration but, above all, on the three objects of the protagonists. Anu wears glasses capable of scanning any surface, while Octavio an Echodex able to let him know everything about a person, and Fran sits on a chair that flutters five centimeters from the surface, the only way she has to move and reach a point of interest, and which defends it from any threat. If you don't believe me, know that she is even able to freeze someone without too many complications. Over the course of the episodes, just like in Borderlands, it will even be possible to change clothes and hairstyle, an addition that will please the beauty maniacs.

Another pleasant addition, which, however, loses its bite once the videogame with all its endings is over, is the fight between the Vaultanders, a sort of challenge between silhouettes inspired by Dungeons and Dragons in which you choose models to fight in an arena that is however uninspired. . In fact, it will be possible to often solve situations thanks to this game, which however will not push you to live it in its entirety outside the main story. In case of victory, it will be possible to acquire the opposing Vaultlander. Yes, if you were wondering, there is also the possibility of finding the late but never forgotten Jack the Handsome. Net of some criticalities, the gameplay of New Tales from the Borderlands therefore remains faithful to the past and to many other narrative adventures, preferring in this sense not to take any risk, although the playful and narrative parts manage to blend well, convincing and entertaining.

The end is just a great, unpredictable beginning

Promethea, as I mentioned before, is an exaggerated and luxurious place, as well as full of shops of all kinds. It is impossible, in fact, to remain indifferent to what is around, while exploring its streets strewn with corpses and cybernetic systems scattered on the asphalt, with the hope perhaps of realizing a dream of any kind. The artistic direction of Gearbox Software's work, in fact, does not betray what good has been done in the past and has once again produced a wonderful test of aesthetic performance.

Borderlands 3's cel-shaded graphics engine returns in dazzling form, while not giving up on an approach closer to Telltale Games video games, even if the finishing in the textures is closer to the third installment of the Gearbox Software franchise. The polygonal models, a concern, recall the excellent work done in the past with Borderlands 3 and are aesthetically more in line with Zane and Fl4k, compared to Zer0 or Brick.

On the technical side, however, we do not have nothing to complain, so much so that New Tales from the Borderlands is well optimized and guarantees a stable frame rate even on a mid-range PC. We found no bugs of any kind, if not some longer loading in the excited moments. Net of this, at times we have noticed some slowdowns during quick time events due to the many objects on the screen.

The end, they say, is just a big, unpredictable beginning. New Tales from the Borderlands is a work that comes at a time that is somewhat saturated with productions, but which could carve out its own space without too many complications. Not just for the name it bears, not just for its excellently blended storyline and gameplay, but above all for its personality, which was something Gearbox Software absolutely had to include. It's Borderlands in its purest form, with its ironic, iconic, heartbreaking and sad moments. It is a new chapter, and we are sure it will not be the last.

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