New Tales from the Borderlands was revealed at Gamescom last month, and I got to see the new extended gameplay reveal ahead of its announcement at PAX West. The spiritual successor to Tales from the Borderlands is headed up by Gearbox Studio Quebec and features an interactive story from head writer Dr Lin Joyce—who literally has a PhD in narrative system design.
Gearbox Quebec teamed up with Telltale veterans to create an experience Telltale and Tales fans will recognise, but with a few changes. The classic "X will remember that" function is gone, and the dialogue system will instead provide immediate reactions from characters. Naturally, the impact of some decisions won't be felt till further down the line, but at least you won't be muttering "VaUgHn WiLl ReMeMbEr ThAt" for the entirety of your playthrough.
QTEs, but not as we know them
During the demo, I saw New Tales' three new loveable losers decide how they were going to follow the heavily armed Tediore soldiers through the sewers to a vault entrance. Players can decide whether to take Octavio's advice and go in stealthily, fake army lingo in tow, or take Fran's windpipe-crushing approach. The demo showcased a section of the game where you'll be controlling the group through QTEs (quick-time events, for the uninitiated), and producer Frédéric Scheubel explained the improvements the Quebec team has made since the first Tales.
While most QTEs will result in a game over, there are certain QTEs in New Tales that will allow you to carry on should you fail. Of course, failing these means that the story is irreparably changed, and you'll only be able to see a difference in the narrative in your next playthrough. The other key feature with QTEs in New Tales is that you can adjust their difficulty. If you're more interested in the 'canon' story—i.e., running with the concept that passing every QTE is the right choice—you can turn down the difficulty so that the sequence is shorter. Alternatively, you can make them more difficult, especially if you want to try and see how many failed QTEs don't end your run.
Another wild choice that exists but was ultimately not recommended by Scheubel is the order you play the chapters in. All five chapters will be available from day one and you can play them in any order you like, but you'll obviously be missing key missions and decisions if you jump right to the end, so maybe don't.
Why are you people like this?
The classic humour you'd expect from a Borderlands and Telltale game is intact, with the demo showcasing a Metal Gear Solid reference complete with the "!" noise—you know the one I mean. There's also a ridiculously stupid yet brilliant minigame you can spend hours on if the story isn't gripping enough. Let me introduce you to Vaultlanders, collectible models of your favourite Borderlands characters. These plastic figurines can be used to fight against NPCs who wish to challenge you to a battle with their toys.
You'll enter into a battle arena where you'll use a mix of point-and-click and QTEs to damage your opponent's health in what's really a Mortal Kombat rip-off, complete with terrible one-liners. There's one non-negotiable match in New Tales but the rest are skippable, but who would want to miss this? You can also access Vaultlanders matches from the main menu, which lets you try out the new characters you've collected so you can pick a favourite for in-game battles.
While the demo focused heavily on the group, you'll have the opportunity to play as each character individually. Which path you take them down is up to you; while Anu begins the story relying on her Tech Glasses and shunning firearms, your decisions might lead to her becoming a gun nut. Similarly, you might be forced to choose between your friends and family or a spectacular rise to fame and glory as Octavio—it's up to you whether you want to lean into their desires or hold fast to their morals.
It turns out my eyesight is also fine, as it's been confirmed that I did indeed spot Rhys in the Gamescom trailer, and he'll be returning to New Tales, alongside Lor, Stapleface and more. New Tales from the Borderlands comes to PC on October 21.