Jun 11, 2014
Borderlands' Pandora is a weird place, filled with slag-spewing skags, cyborg ninjas, sarcastic robots and psychotic midgets. After watching the first 30 minutes of Telltale Games' next series Tales from the Borderlands in an E3 demo, I think Pandora's about to get even weirder. But not because Telltale is introducing an alien zoo of new creatures rather, because the combination of Telltale storytelling and Gearbox insanity is 100% as bizarre as everyone thought it would be.
In established Telltale fashion, Tales will be a five-part episodic story. It runs on the same engine as The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, and older Telltale adventures, with familiar dialogue choices (mapped to A, B, X, Y on a gamepad) and quicktime event action scenes. Unlike Telltale's two current series, though, there are few agonizing moral-based decisions to make on Pandora. Greed is expected with a side of slapstick, hold the logic.
As Telltale's president Kevin Bruner pointed out to me after my demo, Telltale's history is rooted in comedic games like Sam & Max and Strongbad. They can do funny. But the 30 minutes of Tales from the Borderlands didn't quite convince me that Telltale has Gearbox's sense of humor completely dialed in.
The surface-level elements are there. Characters are introduced with Borderlands' signature stylish freeze-frame and witty description. There are skags and bandits and cartoony cel-shaded wastelands. But most of the dialogue in the 30 minutes of Tales I saw (probably a 60/40 cutscene/game split) was clever without really being funny. Some of the other dialogue tried hard for for funny, but fell flat. Only a few lines and visual gags really made me laugh. There was a lot of exposition, which didn't help I can see the game doling out jokes at a more comfortable pace once its main cast of characters are established.
Despite how much this looks like Borderlands, Tales doesn't much feel like Borderlands, because the jokes and gags come at Telltale's measured pace, without the manic speed of Gearbox's kid-in-a-joke-store delivery. Surprisingly for a game set on Pandora, I think storytelling, and not comedy, will be the real strength of Tales from the Borderlands. I shouldn't be surprised by that at this point it's Telltale but I was anyway, because this is a very different type of storytelling for them.
Tales will divide its time between two protagonists: Fiona, a grifter I didn't see much of, and Rhys, a cocksure Hyperion suit working his way up the corporate ladder. The "Tales" in the title are actually tall tales, as Fiona and Rhys prove to be unreliable narrators talking up their past adventures. At one point, Rhys punches a man in the chest and rips out his heart, only to have Fiona interject with a sarcastic "That's totally not what happened." Then she provides her point of view.
This is where player choice plays a big role. In this scene, Fiona's perspective brings up four dialogue options, and each one will affect how the overarching story plays out. The idea that both characters are making up embellished stories, none of which are the proper "truth," is an absolutely perfect approach to the Borderlands world.
Instead of brawling like Bigby Wolf, Rhys can call in a Hyperion robot to fight for him.
The QTE action scenes are as minimally interactive as ever, and the comedy doesn't feel quite on, but the storytelling is as good as ever. Telltale also seems deeply devoted to mining the Borderlands lore for cool characters and backstory, which is something I didn't know I cared about until today. Gearbox throws out so many jokes, it's easy to forget that there's a pretty cool sci-fi world underneath the pile of screaming psycho midgets. Tales is a reminder that there's more to Borderlands than guns and humor.
Telltale aims to release Tales from the Borderlands this Autumn at the same $25 per season, with new episodes coming out "roughly monthly."
Stay up to date with the very latest PC gaming news from E3 2014
When Irrational Games closed earlier this year many assumed it would mark the end of the BioShock series. While critically adored, 2013 s BioShock Infinite did not attract the astronomical sales figures video game publishers expect nowadays. But according to Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick, a future for the series has not been ruled out. In fact, during an address at the Cowen and Company analyst conference last week, attended by Gamespot, he explicitly stated that the future of the series lay in the hands of 2K Marin.
"We haven't given any colour on how you should think about yet except we do believe it's beloved. We think it's important certainly something that we're focused on; something 2K Marin will be responsible for shepherding going forward.
I think there's a lot of upside in that franchise," Zelnick continued. "It hasn't necessarily been realised yet. And the question for the future, assuming we decide to answer the question, would be 'How do you stay true to that creatively?'; 'How do you do something exciting?'; and 'How do you do expand the market?'. That would be the natural drill. We're starting from a good point on it. And certainly it's been a great piece of business for us; it's been a profitable piece of business."
Zelnick also commented on Take-Two s strongest performing IPs: Red Dead Redemption, Grand Theft Auto and Borderlands. While there s still no news on whether Rockstar will release PC editions of Red Dead Redemption or Grand Theft Auto 5, Zelnick did say that both were permanent franchises: evidence enough that a Red Dead Redemption sequel will appear one of these days.
He also took an opportunity to engage in one of the video game world s favourite pastimes: sledging Duke Nukem Forever. Noting that Take-Two s success rate is unusually high due to their careful approach to nurturing IPs, Zelnick admitted that Duke Nukem Forever was a mistake.
"We have a really high hit ratio. It's probably not realistic to believe it could be much higher than it is, he said.
We've had precious few flops. And at least, of the few I can think of - and I can think of a few, sadly - at least one of them was just a misguided decision on my part, which was Duke Nukem.
These new screenshots of Telltale's Tales from the Borderlands are so Telltale, and so Gearbox, it's as if someone copy-pasted the former's timed dialogue boxes onto the latter's chunky cel-shaded action. In the new screens, we see a robot do robot things, TftB's two heroes argue about something or other, and Borderlands 2's Zero make a guest appearance in order to chop off some dude's arm. Hey, I'm sure the arm had it coming. Click through to see the whole lot.
Previously on Tales from the Borderlands: the series was announced, and details spilled out of SXSW. These are the first screenshots of the game that have appeared in the wild; we've yet to see anything of Telltale's other recently announced project, based on Game of Thrones.
Online matchmaking client GameSpy is shutting down on May 31, which means that the games that still rely on it will have to either transition to a new solution or go offline. It looked pretty grim for a long list of games when we first heard the news, but since then most of the popular games announced that they will not go silently into the night. Today, we got the great news from 2K that there might be bit of downtime, but that Borderlands and the Civilization series will be transitioning to Steamworks.
Beginning May 31, 2014, select legacy titles from the Borderlands and Civilization catalogs will temporarily go offline while service is transitioned to Steamworks, 2K said on its website. During the transition, players will experience interruption of several features, including online play, matchmaking and voice over Internet protocol (VOIP). Players will not experience interruptions to offline play.
Here s 2K s full list of games that are switching to Steamworks:
Civilization III: Conquests
Civilization III: Play the World
Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword
Civilization IV: Colonization
Civilization IV: Warlords
As we ve previously reported, Electronic Arts, Activision, Epic Games, and Bohemia Interactive all announced that some or all of their games will survive the GameSpy shutdown.
So far, the biggest casualties seem to be the online multiplayer modes for Crysis and Crysis 2. If you re really upset by that, there s even an online petition you can sign.
Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia
With GameSpy's online services set to shut down on May 31, 2K Games has stepped forward and announced which of its online-enabled multiplayer games will survive the closure. Borderlands, Civilization III, and Civilization IV, and their respective expansions will all begin making the transition from GameSpy servers to Steamworks in the coming days, while several other games will see their multiplayer servers go down with the GameSpy ship.
Jan 30, 2014
I couldn't quite bear the thought of watching VGX (formerly the Spike Video Game Awards) live, but thankfully I didn't have to: its assorted trailers and reveals have now spilled out into the wild. One of the most interesting announcements was really two announcements: the reveal of a duo of new Telltale series based on Game of Thrones and, er, Borderlands. Wait, what? Click on for teaser trailers and morsels of information.
Firstly, and most excitingly, that Game of Thrones game. Nothing was revealed in the following word-filled trailer apart from the fact that a) it exists and b) it features the famous swordy chair in some form, but as VG247 note, Telltale are saying that it will be "similar to other Telltale games" and feature "large battles", just like the HBO series regularly doesn't for budgeting reasons.
Game of ThronesGet More: Comedy Central
Of course, we already sorta knew that Telltale were working on a Game of Thrones title, but the news that they're making a Borderlands tie-in was brand new information. It's called Tales from the Borderlands, and it will concern a bunch of - according to Gearbox's Randy Pitchford - "wannabe vault hunters". Telltale's Kevin Bruner elaborated at the event, revealing that "you get to shoot stuff, but in a different way. It's gonna play like a Telltale game you're going to be engaging characters and developing relationships, but it's very much in the Borderlands world. It's this great hybrid of everything that's great about Borderlands and everything that's great about Telltale." (Thanks Kotaku.)
You can find the debut trailer below. Both games - or their first episodes, at least - will be out in 2014. They'll be joined by season 2 of The Walking Dead and the rest of The Wolf Among Us's first season - Telltale sure have a lot of on their plate at the moment.
Tales from the BorderlandsGet More: Comedy Central
Gearbox, the developer behind the Borderlands series, has been putting out great behind-the-scenes content via its Inside the Box blog. The blog’s newest post dives deep into field of view, and what it means for players prone to motion sickness or players using extra widescreen settings.
User Interface programmer Kyle Pittman is apparently the guy to thank for Borderlands 2’s adjustable FOV slider, as he championed the change after Borderlands 1’s 70 degree field of view was a big complaint from gamers.
“An FOV that feels appropriate when sitting several feet away from a TV probably isn’t going to feel right when seated directly in front of a monitor,” Pittman writes. “This discrepancy is what can cause motion sickness or a feeling of tunnel vision.”
This also explains why sometimes the most vomit-inducing thing in gaming is to stand over someone’s shoulder watching them play a first-person game. The field of view is meant for them, not for you, and the difference in the angles is like being stuck in the vomit comet without a seatbelt.
Pittman also discusses the various bugs introduced to the game when the FOV slider was first implemented, then has some fun with the math involved—though I barely understood a word of it.
If you’ve ever wondered about the ideal FOV for gaming or how difficult varying FOV is to implement in games with cut-rate PC ports, check out the full post at Inside the Box.
Telltale has dusted off its green, felt battlefield of chips and difficult-to-remember card combinations for Poker Night 2, and it's calling up another quirky cast hailing from games and TV/film to humorously overreact whenever you're dealt a superior hand. You'll practice your poker face against Borderlands' Clatrap, Brock Samson from The Venture Bros. show, the beady-eyed Sam from Sam & Max, and the always-groovy Ash Williams from Army of Darkness.
Telltale explains the stakes: "Poker Night 2 will offer the chance to win Bounty Unlocks: rewards for use within other games when special goals are achieved. With cunning and skill, players will unlock prizes, including exclusive skins and heads for use within Borderlands 2 and character accessories for Team Fortress 2."
I'd also advise against any shady movements, because Portal's very own GLaDOS is Poker Night 2's dealer, and she has a tendency to fire up a flamethrower or two for dishonesty. And for possessing flesh. In any case, you'll be able to grab the game near the end of this month.
Mar 24, 2013
There were plenty of delicious Borderlands announcements at PAX East today, but those who weren't present for the revelry may be feeling left out. Thus, a treat is in order! Gearbox was apparently handing out SHiFT codes, which give players access to special golden keys. Predictably, golden keys open golden loot chests. Also predictably, golden loot chests have rare loot inside. Seeing a pattern?
The nice thing about these codes is that they can be used by an unlimited number of players until they expire, so when someone posts a code online—like Redditor TripleRPD did this afternoon—they can be shared throughout the community. These codes (one for each platform) seem to be active still, but just in case, it's best not to delay.
- PC/Mac: W3WJ3-3JXTT-6RW5T-SB53B-XJBX9
- 360: K3KJT-6HRT5-BHRTT-3BBTJ-RBWJ9
- PS3: 5JKBJ-H5WCF-KWST6-K6BJB-FZ9BJ