Hopes are sky high
I don’t think I’m alone in saying that Tales from the Borderlands was far and away my favorite Telltale game. The quality of the writing and characters was amazing, and it set the standard for choice-based adventures for years to come. When the news dropped this week that Gearbox is working on another Tales game internally, everyone kind of freaked out, myself included. But even with the bare-bones information we have right now, I have a lot of thoughts about the game. I’ve had enough time to think about it, haven’t I?
The original Tales from the Borderlands came out in five episodes over the course of 2014-2015, and without giving away too much, the game ended on an ambiguous note, leaving room for a potential sequel in the future. My automatic assumption was that they’d be picking up right where the first game left off, but after thinking it through a bit more, I’m apprehensive.
— JayShockblast @ PAX East (@JayShockblast) April 21, 2022
The game’s publisher, 2K, said itself that the game will feature “new characters and new stories.” That kind of makes me nervous.
So much of what made the first game so great were its characters, their relationships to each other, and the performances the actors gave. Starting over from scratch when it comes to character is by no means impossible, but it would mean Gearbox putting themselves in a situation where they have even bigger shoes to fill.
Of course, that may not have been a conscious decision on their part — it’s possible that they couldn’t get some of the cast back for another game all these years later (Laura Bailey and Troy Baker are in high demand, after all). Legal stuff also got pretty screwy given the way Telltale shut down, so it’s possible they weren’t allowed to use some of the same characters from the first game due to logistics (although Rhys was a fairly prominent character in Borderlands 3).
As our very own Jordan Devore pointed out, we also have no idea if anyone from the original Tales team will be working on the new title, so there’s no saying whether it will have nearly the same quality when it comes to its tone and humor.
One potential upside that shines through this haze of uncertainty is that the game will likely be developed on a brand new engine, which would be a huge upgrade considering how rickety Telltale’s old one was. Players have been complaining for years about the outdated systems, and former Telltale developers expressed their desire to update the engine so they could update how the games feel to play and add all-new features to the tried and true Telltale formula.
The devs at the newly-revived Telltale Games discussed ditching the old engine to make way for Unity all the way back in 2018. Of course, the “new” Telltale is a very different case than however Gearbox is working on the game in-house, but either way, it’s pretty safe to assume Tales is being developed on a new engine. So regardless of how the game turns out, hopefully we have that to look forward to, right? …right?
My take is that if for any reason, Rhys and co. are nowhere to be found in the new game, I’m okay with that. As much of a bummer it would be to not see that story continued when I was so invested, I’d rather see a whole new cast of characters than nothing at all.
I will say that above all else, my biggest wish is to keep the awesome musical intros for each episode, because those are honestly my favorite uses of licensed music in any piece of media ever.
In the end, I really have no idea what to expect. I’m doing my best to keep my hopes as low as possible so as not to be disappointed, but Tales from the Borderlands really meant a lot to me when I first played it back in like 2016, and regardless of what Gearbox does, there will be no escape from fan expectations. Now here’s to hoping they can deliver.