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Tales from the Borderlands and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel stick to what Borderlands is all about

Hayden Dingman | June 13, 2014
I'm walking around E3 looking for boxes with little green lights on them. This fever dream is what I get for daring to take on both of the new Borderlands games back-to-back during E3. Both 2K's Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel and Telltale Game's story-centric Tales from the Borderlands are on display at the show, and both launch by the end of this year.

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is not a bad-looking game by any means. It's merely uninspiring. I walked away from my demo feeling a bit empty — there was no feature I wanted to rush home and talk about, no character I cared about, no amazing story I wanted to tell. It's another Borderlands game, and as someone who'd tired of the franchise's schtick by the mid-point of Borderlands 2, I'm not terribly excited to get on that merry-go-round again, especially for a game that's filler instead of a proper next-gen Borderlands.

On that note, I do want to raise some concerns about platforms. The game is coming only to PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. I don't know how the final product will turn out, but I'm going to assume the PC version is the one to get. There's still some time for optimization, but I think the demo I saw was running on an Xbox, and boy did it stutter. During especially chaotic firefights the framerate plummeted consistently. A bit of stutter isn't uncommon in pre-release demos, but it would be enough to give me pause before preordering — there's a reason we've left those old machines behind.

Hit the next page for my impressions of Tales from the Borderlands. Does the Borderlands universe mesh well with Telltale Games' vaunted story-telling chops?

Tales from the Borderlands

Away from the bustle of the E3 show floor I saw a demo for a much different Borderlands game: Telltale's upcoming adventure game Tales from the Borderlands. Yes, an story-first adventure game a la The Walking Dead or Wolf Among Us — this is Telltale doing what it does best, and "what Telltale does best" does not include first-person shooters.

Tales from the Borderlands attempts to take the franchise's silly-but-consistent lore and transform it into a meaningful, character-driven story. There are two protagonists driving the action: arrogant Hyperion company man Rhys and sardonic grifter Fiona.

The demo we watched (no hands-on yet) followed Rhys primarily, as he attempted to purchase a Vault Key on the surface of Pandora. Only at the end did we get a brief glimpse of Fiona's story.

It...doesn't really matter. Telltale seems convinced that underneath all the meme humor, the silly voices, and the midgets, there's a legitimately poignant story to explore in the Borderlands universe. Hell, Gearbox believes this too.

I don't buy it, and maybe that's my own failing. I've never found anything that resonated in the Borderlands universe, though — it's too obsessed with keeping the pace moving, with hitting that next joke before you've stopped paying attention. It's loud and flashy and (luckily) tied to a fairly addictive loot system.


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