Tales from the Borderlands 'Atlas Mugged' impressions - of greatness and immortality

Tales from the Borderlands started off as the story of two con artists, but if "Atlas Mugged" is any indication, it's about to become the next big chapter of Pandora's greatest despot.

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It's been four long months since Telltale Games last checked in on Rhys and Fiona. But now, Tales from the Borderlands is set to continue and the latest episode dives a little further into the duo's fish story. While the first episode served as a competent introduction into the post-Handsome Jack world, the second episode, "Atlas Mugged," offers a more intriguing look into how this story is set to affect the Borderlands universe as a whole.

As expected, based on the events of the first chapter, there are a lot of people chasing after Rhys, Fiona, Vaughn, and Sasha. They crossed a lot of the wrong paths during the first part of the story and a bounty placed on Fiona's head only ensures that there will be more pursuers on the way. But first and foremost, the crew realizes they have something potentially big with the Gortys Project, something that stands to affect Rhys more than anyone else.

Much of the conflict in "Atlas Mugged" centers around the major reveal of the first episode's conclusion. Handsome Jack is still around, albeit in an unexpected fashion. Jack appears as an apparition, one that only Rhys can see. It's a turn of events that arguably has the biggest impact on Jack himself. The Hyperion despot's ego was so massive that the thought of mortality never crossed his mind, which is why he initially has a lot of trouble accepting his current state. Jack's presence is also a source of one of this game's greatest mysteries. It's not just the question of why Jack is still around, but also, why is Rhys the only one that can see him?

Beyond being one of the main focuses of the story, Jack also provides some moments of levity with his casual callousness. His quips towards many of the game's characters, as well as his stories about his past greatness, serve as a reminder of why the villain has been such a staple of the Borderlands franchise.

The action sequences in "Atlas Mugged" appear to be toned down somewhat, with only a few chase sequences and pushing around a few objects. There's an early sequence before the credits that actually does turn into a shooting gallery, somewhat reminiscent of the traditional Borderlands experience. This sequence that saw Fiona shooting at incoming Skags is one that felt all-too-brief. Unlike a similar sequence in the first season of The Walking Dead, these shooting controls felt noticeably crisper, possibly because Skags at a windshield felt like a bigger target.

The dialogue choices look to push the story towards a single path in various ways, as has been the Telltale formula for some time. However, the loot mechanic is starting to fall a little flat. Picking up cash in this episode allowed for some cosmetic changes to Fiona's busted caravan, but did little else to affect anything else in the story. Meanwhile, those worried about any sort of fallout from the single bullet that Fiona received in the first episode is likely to come out disappointed, as there's no real opportunity to see a consequence from that development. The impression I got from the first episode was that Fiona would have multiple opportunities to use the single bullet throughout the story, but that does not appear to be the case.

Of course, those looking for the light-hearted Borderlands humor will find plenty of that in "Atlas Mugged." The fish story motif carries forward and is just as funny this time around, although there are a few reaches where one character is exaggerating a part of the story that they weren't even present for. There is a gross-out gag at the start that's a little cringe-inducing, so that's something that should be noted by anyone that's squeamish. There's also ample fan service, as more pieces of the Borderlands series make appearances, including another major cameo making their presence felt in a big way.

While it's still too early to see where some of the story elements, like the mysterious Gortys Project, are going, "Atlas Mugged" makes it clear that Tales from the Borderlands is rapidly becoming a Handsome Jack story. Those looking to see what becomes of the dastardly villain may find their curiosity piqued. As for Rhys and Fiona, the peril surrounding them and their friends is only growing bigger and, judging by the ending, it doesn't look like the third episode will go any easier on them.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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