Tales from the Borderlands was revealed at the 2013 VGX Awards as one of Telltale’s many current projects. While both Telltale Games and Gearbox Software have been tight-lipped about the upcoming title, more information was revealed over the weekend at SXSW.
South by Southwest is a lengthy music, movie, art and gaming convention held every year in the “weird” city of Austin, TX. The gaming portion of the convention is held during the first few days; previously featured developers and publishers have included Activision Blizzard, Gearbox, and Devolver Digital. The “Two Sides to Every Story: Tales from the Borderlands Unveiled at SXSW” was hosted by both Gearbox and Telltale, where they discussed some of the new story that players would experience in this new adventure on Pandora. In typical Borderlands fashion, the depicted protagonists may not necessarily be considered “heroes”; Fiona is a skilled, “well-dressed con artists”, and Rhys is a cybernetically-enhanced member of the Hyperion Corporation.
According to Telltale’s Kevin Bruner, the story of Tales from the Borderlands is actually more of a recollected “fish tale”, or an exaggeration of actual events as told by the future versions of Fiona and Rhys. As the player progresses with both characters, he/she will find that the actual events, and those told by the characters, don’t necessarily add up. While this will be a canonical sequel to Borderlands 2, Bruner states that the player will “never really play what actually happened”, and that it’s more of the “Big Fish version of what happened”. Much like other citizens of Pandora, and some of the Vault Hunters themselves in Borderlands, Rhys and Fiona are “greed-driven” characters, and their personalities will play into the core decision-making moments in Tales from the Borderlands. Harrison Pink of Telltale compares those crucial decision making moments to those of The Walking Dead series; where The Walking Dead had moments where the player had to choose between the the least depressing of two choices, Tales from the Borderlands leans on choosing between two extremely desirable outcomes. Unlike most of Telltale’s recent games, the decision-based Pandoran adventure is a more humorous experience, retaining the essence of the Borderlands franchise.
No gameplay was shown during the SXSW panel, nor were actual mechanics brought up, but it’s likely that Tales from the Borderlands will play much like a combination of The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us. As the core gameplay of Borderlands is focused on shooting-and-looting, Pink stated that there will be “shooter” areas in the game, but done “just in a Telltale kind of way”…perhaps as seen in The Walking Dead. Rhys and Fiona also have their own abilities, as Rhys is capable of hacking electronics with his robotic arm, and Fiona could possibly use her “hypnotic, snake oil-selling fast talk” to potentially bribe or persuade other characters.
Gearbox Writer and “Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin?” star Anthony Burch compares the relationship between Tales from the Borderlands and previous Borderlands titles to that of the Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina short-story compilation:
“The cool think about Mos Eisley, or any kind of expanded universe stuff like that, is, ‘Let’s tell a story in this universe that’s not specifically about the world savers, it’s not about the badasses doing badass things — it’s about schmos trying to get by,’ and that makes the world feel much more real…Borderlands can be more than just shooting people in the face repeatedly…That it could be shooting people in the face repeatedly and then talking to them is a cool possibility for us.”
Telltale may be working on several projects at once- Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead: Season Two, The Wolf Among Us- but Tales from the Borderlands has the potential to be a promising title from the studio.
Image courtesy of Telltale Games, Gearbox Software, 2K Games