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Tales from the Borderlands "Atlas Mugged" review for PC, PS4, Xbox One


Platform: PC
Also On: PS4, Xbox One
Publisher: Telltale Games / 2K Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: Yes
ESRB: M

Has it really been almost 4 months since we played the first episode of Telltale’s Tales from the Borderlands? Crazy. At least the long wait is over this month, and hopefully Telltale will have things on track for this series going forward, as just about every aspect of episode 2 seems improved in comparison to the first entry.

Thankfully, if you’re like me and have forgotten a good chunk of what happened in the first episode, the second catches you up with a quick “previously on” sequence. There’s also some fun tongue-in-cheek humor from the narrator, referencing just how long it’s been since we last revisited this story. That sense of humor keeps up throughout this episode, providing more laugh-out-loud moments in episode 2 than I can remember encountering in episode 1.

tales from the borderlands ep 2 001A lot of the humor this time around is thanks to the inclusion of Handsome Jack, whose appearance you may remember from the tail end of the last episode. I won’t go far into spoiler territory here, but that digitized version of Jack that sort of sprung up in the confines of the Atlas bunker in “Zer0 Sum” plays a pretty large role here, and there’s some surprising potential for how it affects the overall lore of the Borderlands series. Whether it ends up actually making any substantial impact remains to be seen, but this story element has certainly got me hooked and interested in the conclusion.

The overall structure of this episode, “Atlas Mugged”, is pretty similar to the way “Zer0 Sum” was presented. The framing still revolves around a captured Rhys and Fiona, being led to some undisclosed location by their captor, recounting the events that got them to this point. Gameplay switches between both perspectives, with the characters and their respective story partners getting separated early on. There’s still a bit of overlap, and during these points their individual perspectives get a bit skewed on how events played out, usually for comedic effect. It’s a storytelling hook that worked pretty well in the first episode, and continues to do so here.

As far as gameplay elements go, there’s not any sweeping changes present in this episode. I think the action elements are toned down just a bit, I seem to remember “Zer0 Sum” being a bit more QTE heavy than anything I found in “Atlas Mugged”. There’s a pretty fun chase sequence early on, a couple of cameos from Borderlands past, and some light puzzle solving to boot. And of course, you’ve still got your Telltale standard conversation decisions that map out future character reactions, and again Telltale uses their famous “Person will remember that” cue to deliver some subtle and not-so-subtle punchlines.

tales from the borderlands ep 2 002One thing worth mentioning from a technical standpoint is that any issues I had with cursor placement and visibility from the first episode is gone here. Whereas I had to switch to a controller at some point in “Zer0 Sum” because I kept losing track of where my mouse cursor was, that problem has definitely been fixed in “Atlas Shrugged”. Of course either control scheme is perfectly fine, but knowing that playing with a mouse and keyboard won’t be a hinderance this time through is worth noting.

Overall, I think “Atlas Mugged” is a better episode than the first, and has enough story related hooks to keep me intrigued for whatever might happen in episode 3. The story-to-action ratio is a bit more balanced here, the jokes are certainly improved, and the inclusion of a number of recognizable Borderlands characters provide ample reasons to revisit Telltale’s interpretation of Pandora. Despite the large delay between episodes, I wouldn’t suggest skipping out on the continuing adventures of Fiona and Rhys.

Grade: A-