Tales from the Borderlands: Seen at E3 2014

Tales From The Borderlands is arguably one of Telltale's most unusual games. It's hard to imagine making a decision-based adventure on what's traditionally been a first-person shooter. But after getting a chance to check out the game's opening 30 minutes at E3, it's evident what makes this game a divine mash-up of Telltale's gameplay and Gearbox's IP. Yes, the dialogue choices and consequences of a Telltale game are there, along with a number of interesting new wrinkles. But it also has the Borderlands penchant for interesting characters set in an engaging world, even if those characters just happen to be big fat liars. The theater demo began by introducing both Rhys and Fiona, who are seeking a Vault Key from a bandit. When held at gunpoint, the duo (who clearly don't like each other) are forced to tell the tale of why exactly they want the Key in the first place. For this demo, we got to see the story from Rhys' perspective. Rhys is an employee of Hyperion, shortly after the fall of Handsome Jack. Working for an equally-ruthless superior named Vasquez (voiced by Venture Bros.' Patrick Warburton with a surprisingly ruthless candor), Rhys begins hatching a plot to take over the company (or more, depending on how the character is played) with the aid of his friends Vaughn and Yvette. The plot involves recovering a Vault Key on Pandora that Vasquez had been planning to take for himself. The idea is to have Vaughn embezzle a million dollars and take a briefcase filled with cash to Pandora with Rhys to meet with the Vault Key seller themselves. As one might imagine, the trip doesn't entirely go well. The duo is quickly confronted by bandits, causing Rhys to call Yvette for backup. She promptly sends down a Loader robot for assistance, where Rhys is prompted to arm the machine with different weapons. Equipping the robot with different weapons will affect the outcome of the subsequent scene. Rhys' decision of what to do with the robot at the end of their fight with the bandits will likewise play into how the story unfolds.

Equip the Loader robot with different weapons for a different outcome

Rhys eventually finds the Vault Key seller, August, and his girlfriend at the designated meeting place. The deal quickly goes south, but this is where things take a decidedly humorous and very "Borderlands" twist. As Rhys sees his Vault Key potentially getting away, the player must decide to take swift action by either having him plead for a last-second negotiation or stop August by force. In this case, the latter is chosen, which leads to a completely absurd scenario that involves heart-ripping and making it rain, to which Fiona cuts into the story and promptly calls 'shenanigans.' Fiona is then asked what her account of the story was and whatever decision the player makes at this point will swiftly change the direction of where the story goes next. Tales From The Borderlands appears to toss in more story-related variables than any of Telltale's previous games, just by virtue of using different Borderlands aesthetics. Whether it's the scumbag characters, the Pandora setting, the Loader robots, or the loot system (which can affect what dialogue choices even become present), it's clear that this will be different than Telltale's previous efforts. While it may be difficult for Borderlands fans to conceive of a series entry without direct shooting, it should come as a pleasant surprise for fans of the series' lore. Tales From The Borderlands is expected to release later this year, after The Wolf Among Us and The Walking Dead: Season 2 both wrap up their stories this summer.