Tales from the Borderlands Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Tales from the Borderlands RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network Borderlands Movie May Be Getting a Very Unexpected Director https://www.gameskinny.com/d7ds3/borderlands-movie-may-be-getting-a-very-unexpected-director https://www.gameskinny.com/d7ds3/borderlands-movie-may-be-getting-a-very-unexpected-director Thu, 20 Feb 2020 13:18:54 -0500 Ty Arthur

It looks like none other than Hostel and Green Inferno director Eli Roth may be helming the upcoming Borderlands movie. The news comes by way of a tweet from Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford.

The tweet was quickly deleted after coming online, indicating this info may not have been cleared for release until the Gearbox Pax East show later this month  or that Roth's hiring may not have been finalized yet.

While a director most well known for horror torture porn might raise some eyebrows, Roth's inclusion may not be so surprising to others considering violence and dark humor have always been central to the Borderlands series.

Here's a screenshot of Pitchford's tweet for posterity. 

Borderland's CEO Randy Pitchford's tweet about Eli Roth and the Borderlands movie.

Tiny Tina and her disturbingly amazing quotes could be a minefield to navigate when transferred to live-action, but other portions of the games would certainly translate well to the big screen.

We don't know many details on the story, characters, or filming date at this point, although we did already get something of an interactive Borderlands movie with Telltale's adaptation Tales From The Borderlands.

Video game movie adaptations have typically been panned, though we've seen a sudden resurgence in high-quality TV shows like Castlevania and The Witcher. The former is about to get a third season, while Season 2 of The Witcher is now in development and will include some unexpected new characters. 

Want to jump into the latest Borderlands game ahead of a potential theatrical release? The Live, Laugh, Loot experience of Borderlands 3 came to PC and consoles back in September of 2019. 

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3 Great Games at a Steal: Grab these 60%+ discounts before they disappear! https://www.gameskinny.com/vd1j6/3-great-games-at-a-steal-grab-these-60-discounts-before-they-disappear https://www.gameskinny.com/vd1j6/3-great-games-at-a-steal-grab-these-60-discounts-before-they-disappear Wed, 07 Sep 2016 09:15:58 -0400 Kat De Shields

Oh yeah, more sweet discounts headed your way. Today, we have three great games that you can buy for more than 60% off for the Xbox One. Whether you're buying it for yourself or as a gift, take joy in saving money.

Mortal Kombat X: Kollector's Edition

The price tag on this bad boy usually rings in at $104.78, so get giddy over the fact that you can snag this at a 70% discount. The Kollector's Edition includes the game, a figurine of Scorpion, a certificate of authenticity, a gold Scorpion skin and Kombat Pack DLC. 

Tales from the Borderlands 

If you haven't played a Telltale Game yet, this is a great one. Enter the Borderlands universe and follow a story where your decisions shape the outcome. This interactive adventure is a ton of fun-- even more so because it's 71% off

Assassin's Creed Chronicles 

I'll always be an Ezio/Renaissance Italy fan, but you can explore China, India and Russia as a legendary assassin in Assassin's Creed Chronicles. The price has been cut by 68%.

So go ahead and get your game on. We'll keep you posted with more great deals! 

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I’m always looking for new awesome products, so please send me your favorites at commerce@LaunchMediaNetwork.com.

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Why "Butterfly Effect" Games are Bullshit https://www.gameskinny.com/a58oi/why-butterfly-effect-games-are-bullshit https://www.gameskinny.com/a58oi/why-butterfly-effect-games-are-bullshit Mon, 08 Aug 2016 13:27:31 -0400 Donald Strohman

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Limited Replayability 

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If you're going to shell out $60 for a brand new game, you'd want to at least get your money's worth out of it's experience right? Well, despite providing some of the most captivating narratives offered in gaming today, you might still not be getting your money's worth.

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Heavy Rain's biggest problem was its limited replayability. No matter what decisions you made, no matter who lived and who died, the villain always stayed the same. Once you've played through the game once, there won't be as much of an appeal to go through the campaign all over again, especially since the mystery behind hunting for the "Origami Killer" will be long gone. And considering that's the entire point of this butterfly effect title, all you're left to do is to see how you can kill off your characters for fun.

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Once you've gotten that ending you were so desperately after, the appeal of "Choose your own adventure" games immediately wares off. Sure, you can pop in the game again and see what you could have done differently, but since it's essentially an interactive movie, things are still going to play out mostly the same. The majority of stories in games go from beginning to end, but they break up those moments with gameplay sections that give freedom to the player to play the game the way they want to. Butterfly effect games don't really do that.

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However, despite the limitations of butterfly effect games, I would love to see more pop up in the near future, so long as developers don't stick to a routine, and actually try to revolutionize the field with age. What once started out as unique and spectacular has slowly devolved into a gimmick thrown about to make it appear that the player is in control, when it's really just the developer jingling keys in front of your face for a few hours. 

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How do you feel about butterfly effect games? How do you think they can be improved in the near future? Be sure to comment and let us know your thoughts!

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There are choices you still can't make

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As mentioned before, endless possibilities aren't realistic for butterfly effect games, but the player should still be given some semblance of control in how they want a narrative to span out. And while Fallout 4 wasn't exactly like fellow butterfly effect titles, it still gave players the option to make choices that would effect the game's ending. At least, a select few options anyway...

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You, as the vault dweller, eventually had to choose a faction to side with. Whether that was the Railroad, The Institute, The Brotherhood of Steel or something else was entirely up to you, but for the sake of context in this argument,I will mention that I chose the Railroad. The final campaign mission involved us liberating synthetic slaves from the wasteland's Institute, which I thought was great. It brought up a valid question of "if a robotic life can think, act, and feel things for itself, does that constitute an individual life?" The Institute said no, but the Railroad said yes. So I was up and ready to take arms and liberate the slaves from their prison!

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However, my problem was when the Railroad suddenly decided to blow up the Institute and effectively kill everyone who happened to be living in it that wasn't a robot. I wanted to choose not to do that, but by that point, it was too late. I couldn't suddenly decide to rebel against the Railroad for wanting to kill innocent civilians who weren't synths, or for that matter, blow up a place that could bring the world back from the brink of the apocalypse. I was given no real free will to decide "I want to free the synthetics, but the Institute must also survive for the betterment of mankind." Nope, the best hope for mankind just blew up right in front of my face. Perfect. 

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This could be chalked up to oversight from Bethesda, but it perfectly showcases how there's still ultimately no free will to play the games however you see fit. You just get a few choices to make, which are ultimately met with a point of no return. And that's very disappointing. Does the Mass Effect 3 ending ring any bells?

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Encourages cheating

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Uh oh. Someone's about to die. It's all up to you, as the player, who gets to survive and who doesn't. Who to choose, who to choose, the timer's running out, you better think fast! Or, you can just pause the game, and look up the results online.

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Why bother making that rash decision yourself, when you can just Google the end results of either decision before choosing it for yourself? Perhaps this isn't always a problem for everyone, at least for the players who decide to live with the results of their actions, but humans are perfectionist creatures that can't handle loosing a dollar out of their pockets one day, you think most people are going to handle being responsible for killing off their favorite game character? 

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But that doesn't necessarily mean you'll get the results you want anyway from cheating. Some games like Infamous and Call of Duty: Black Ops II implement a sort of "choice-less choice" in their campaigns that especially encourage people to look up an action's result online. 

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Within Infamous, main character Cole had to choose between saving his girlfriend or several doctors who could help save the city. If you chose the doctors, your girlfriend died. If you chose your girlfriend, she still dies. You see, the game throws a curve-ball at the player depending on how you play that girlfriend Trish will be one of the seven doctors if you tried to save her, and the person you though was her being someone else entirely. If you save the doctors, Trish isn't among the doctors and dies from your lack of saving her. For lack of a better word, what a gut-punch Sucker Punch! 

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_360,q_80,w_640/v1/gameskinnyc/a/b/u/abutterfly4-bed24.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_85,q_80,w_97/v1/gameskinnyc/a/b/u/abutterfly4-bed24.jpg","type":"slide","id":"129231","description":"

Endless possibilities aren't realistic

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Development teams are only capable of so much. Sure, having endless possibilities to choose from would make for one of the most groundbreaking game experiences to date, but such a task is impossible. The decisions and the results that happen from them aren't left to chance like in the real world, these moments have to be programmed into a game.

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You can't throw caution to the wind and expect anything as a possibility, only so much is actually possible in the world of programming (at least nowadays.) If you make a certain decision in a game, it'll yield a specific result, you can't try the same thing over and over again expecting different things to happen.

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Butterfly effect games are just like a choose your own adventure book, you can only choose so many paths to take, and they're bound to yield similar results regardless of how you get there. It's like waiting in line at the DMV. Go ahead and talk to as many people as you want, but you're still gonna end up with some employee named Desiree who loves making life difficult to those who come her way. 

"},{"image":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_360,q_80,w_640/v1/gameskinnyc/a/b/u/abutterfly7-86dac.jpg","thumb":"http://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,e_sharpen:150,f_auto,fl_lossy,h_85,q_80,w_97/v1/gameskinnyc/a/b/u/abutterfly7-86dac.jpg","type":"slide","id":"129230","description":"

They're essentially "Interactive movies"

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Telltale Games has made a substantial collection of butterfly effect games over the past few years. And as they should, most of their titles showcase excellent storytelling with likable characters often spawned from our favorite franchises (Borderlands, Batman, etc.)  

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However, it's not like every new game they spawn out is absolutely unique in every ways, Telltale Games typically follows a pattern: Plenty of cut scenes and dialogue, with only sparse amount of actual gameplay (that doesn't revolve around choosing what you want your character to say.) Essentially, it's just like watching a movie that just so happens to let you walk do something every now and then. But it all ends up mostly the same towards the end. Your character will still have to face the villain at one point or another, very rarely do butterfly effect games give you any other alternative. 

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We still have yet to see a game that transforms based on the way you interact with the environment. Not by what you choose to say or who you choose to save, but by how you play. Yet, such an idea also leads us to the next big problem with butterfly effect games. 

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Don't let the title completely fool you. A lot of the games that encompass the format of butterfly effect games are quite excellent. Heavy Rain was the first game of this "your choices matter" experience I had ever played, and to this day it holds a nice place in my memory, thanks to it being such a unique of an experience in my earlier days of gaming. 

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But the idea that the player is given "complete control over how a game ends" is a complete bullshit statement. There's absolutely no way a gamer can decide to do something that breaks the boundaries of a game's narrative, as there's no real way to allow it. It's not like you can decide to say "screw it" in the Mass Effect trilogy and "nope" the hell out of there to find planet Earth. Narratives such as these can be a lucrative experience, without a doubt some have been groundbreaking for that matter, but let's explore some of the inherent problems in butterfly effect games that continue to exist within this booming genre.

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Visual Novels: What are they? https://www.gameskinny.com/kwu1u/visual-novels-what-are-they https://www.gameskinny.com/kwu1u/visual-novels-what-are-they Wed, 11 May 2016 09:44:03 -0400 Sagger Khraishi

If you remember the old Goosebumps choose-your-own-adventure books, you can probably think of Visual Novels as something like that. With interactive elements, they are closer to video games than e-books, but are still cut up into series. These novels can either be flat images put together or little interactive bits. But the general idea is that it is a halfway point between media.

An example of the Visual Novel Fate/Stay Night

One of the more notable companies that were built around Visual Novels would be Telltale Games. Known for games like Monkey Island, or Tales from the Borderlands, the company uses the storytelling of novels to create an episodic animated adventure that could be played in multiple ways.

Source: Monkey Island 2: Le Chuck's Revenge

Something that is important to note is that while visual novels can count as point-and-click games, that does not mean all point-and-click games are visual novels. For games like Machinarium, there is little to no text in the game. Instead it relies on visuals that the player is used to, in order to explain the story.

While you can argue that the game would work as a visual novel (in some artsy way that it goes past the need for words to get the point across), the game itself is closer to a video game than an actual novel. But as American audiences for these games grow, we would be expecting a difference between visual novels from Asia and Western versions to grow.

If you are interested in learning more about these things, check out our top 5 Visual Novels on the Steam store here.

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Telltale Games get the Humble Bundle treatment https://www.gameskinny.com/rjqwd/telltale-games-get-the-humble-bundle-treatment https://www.gameskinny.com/rjqwd/telltale-games-get-the-humble-bundle-treatment Thu, 14 Apr 2016 03:52:01 -0400 Scott Simpson

The good folks over at Humble Bundle have served up their latest bundle, and this time they've teamed up with adventure game specialists Telltale Games to provide it. A selection of the company's best, including The Walking Dead series, The Wolf Among Us, Tales from the Borderlands, and Game of Thrones, among others, are all up for grabs. 

The full list of games available is as follows:

Pay $1 or more to unlock:
  • Back to the Future: The Game
  • Sam & Max: Devil's Playhouse
  • Poker Night at the Inventory
  • Puzzle Agent 1 & 2
  • The Walking Dead - Season 1
Pay more than the average ($8.19 at the time of writing) to also unlock:
  • The Walking Dead: 400 days Add-on
  • The Wolf Among Us
  • Poker Night 2
  • Tales from the Borderlands
  • More games coming soon!
Pay $12 or more to also unlock
  • Game of Thrones
  • The Walking Dead - Season 2

So if you want to get your hands on some Telltale goodness, head on over the Humble Bundle website. The bundle runs until April 26, so there's still 12 days left to get your hands on it, with more games still to be added (don't worry though, you won't miss out if you purchase before that happens).

For those unfamiliar with the Humble Bundle, here's how it works. You pay whatever you want (providing it's at least $1), and they throw a bunch of games at you. However, paying more unlocks higher tiers, which of course means more goodies. Not only that, proceeds get split between the developers, a charity of your choice, and Humble Bundle themselves, with you able to decide who gets what.

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Best Reviewed Games of 2015 https://www.gameskinny.com/99j17/best-reviewed-games-of-2015 https://www.gameskinny.com/99j17/best-reviewed-games-of-2015 Tue, 29 Dec 2015 06:21:02 -0500 Curtis Dillon

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There you have it, the very best 2015 had to offer! With each passing year the industry becomes more and more diverse, in both representations and game types. That list of 10 games includes 2D platformers, a physics engine, an interactive drama, a gothic action/adventure game whose soul (get it) purpose is to kill your spirit, and 5 RPGs of vastly varying styles, scopes, and mechanics. It's a very diverse list that shows how wonderfully varied the industry has become. There really is something for everyone.

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But as is customary, we must now look ahead to 2016 and become giddy with excitement, or, as is the case with too many people, bemoan and criticise everything.... whatever floats your boat. Regardless of how full your glass is, 2016 looks amazing. Truly. It looks like it has the potential to blow this year out of the water, and that is saying something. So be sure to check back soon for a list of the most anticipated games of 2016!

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What was your favourite game of 2015? Do you think Metal Gear Solid was a worthy winner? What is your most anticipated 2016 game? Let us know in the comments below, and stay tuned to GameSkinny! Happy new year!

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1. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

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Metacritic Score: 95% (User Score: 7.1)
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It's hard to disassociate Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain with the absolute disaster that is the Konami/Kojima break-up. Thankfully the drama that it was is all but over, although I dare say Konami's troubles are not, and we can get back to just focusing on the games. That being said, MGS V presents a challenge to us gamers, do we praise the game and celebrate its creator, therefore lining the pockets of the horrid Konami? Or do we shun the game, therefore snubbing Konami but also ignoring the lifetime accomplishment of one of the best creators ever? It's a conundrum, but given the love for the game and the impressive sales figures, I think it's the former.

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Regardless of all that crap, Metal Gear Solid V really is an incredible game. It might not have the insane story beats of the previous instalments, or the classic boss battles, but it marries gameplay, side stuff, and level design, like few others can. This isn't even really a Metal Gear game, it's a completely different kind of game that shows Hideo Kojima's growth as a game developer and an auteur.

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Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was a fantastic return for the series but also a fitting send-off to the man who started it all. Regardless of everything that went down with Konami, Kojima can rest easy knowing he put out the very best game of the year and one everyone will be talking about for years to come.

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There have certainly been sandbox action games that have given me a bigger world to roam, or more little icons to chase on my minimap, but none have pushed me to plan, adapt, and improvise the way this one does. Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain doesn’t just respect my intelligence as a player, it expects it of me, putting it in a league that few others occupy.

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                                                                                                      - IGN

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2. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

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Metacritic Score: 93% (User Score: 9.1)
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The Witcher series started life as a PC game. With the second instalment it found its way onto the Xbox 360 as well. The games had a ton of clout amongst those that played them, but that number was too few to make a big splash. For whatever reason then, when The Witcher 3 was revealed, and announced for PlayStation as well as Xbox and PC, all gamers suddenly turned their heads and stared wild-eyed at the insane-looking RPG.

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The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was all the talk when it was first shown off at E3 2013, winning Game of the Show from numerous outlets. Bear in mind, E3 2013 was just a few months after we were told PS4's and Xbox One's were even real, so when The Witcher demo was shown off, the visuals on display blew everyone away.

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Thankfully, the game actually lived up to, and exceeded, all of the lofty expectations we had. It is a gigantic, beautiful RPG, with colourful, believable characters, great story, and consistently enjoyable mechanics. The level of detail, the depth of content, and the overall quality of the package puts every other RPG to shame. The Witcher 3 is quite possibly the best role-playing game ever made. 

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One of the best role-playing games ever crafted, a titan among giants and the standard-setter for all such games going forward. Where the Witcher 2 sputtered to a halt, The Witcher 3 is always in a crescendo, crafting battle scenarios that constantly one-up the last, until you reach the explosive finale and recover in the glow of the game's quiet denouement.

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                                                                                          - GameSpot

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3. Undertale

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Metacritic Score: 93% (User Score: 8.3)
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An unabashed love-letter to Nintendo classic, Earthbound, Undertale is an amazing 8-bit RPG with real emotion, humour, and a memorable story. What starts off as a fairly standard game, which you think you've played before, turns out to be so much more and teaches you to love all over again.

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In a year when we got role-playing games like The Witcher 3, Fallout 4, and Pillars of Eternity, it would be very easy to overlook the somewhat childish looking Undertale, but that would be big mistake. The game plays with your expectations at almost every turn, and so keeps you on your toes throughout, while delivering a really heartfelt, memorable story.

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The gist is that you play as a young man who falls underground and must find his way out, to get away from the monsters that lurk there. Sounds fairly straightforward and familiar, but don't be fooled. There's not a whole lot I can say without spoiling elements of the game that are better left unsaid, so go play it for yourself and experience a very different type of RPG.

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You wouldn't know it with a passing glance, but it's one of the most progressive and innovative RPGs to come in a long time, breaking down tradition for the sake of invention, with great success.

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                                                                                      - GameSpot

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4. Bloodborne

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Metacritic Score: 92% (User Score: 8.6)
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Ahhhh Bloodborne, we had a very love/hate relationship didn't we? I never did finish Bloodborne, I played for around 30 hours and decided to call it quits for the sake of my psyche and my liking of the game. That's to say, Bloodborne is a crushingly-hard game that will punch you in the face until you think you can't get up. But then you do, and you kick its ass and there's few better feelings in all of gaming.

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I say that as someone who gave up, but I most certainly had those moments; be it beating Vicar Amelia, or the god-damn Blood-Starved Beast. My 30 hours with Bloodborne were very memorable and I will certainly return to the haunting streets of Yharnam someday, cause apparently I like abuse.

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In all seriousness though, Bloodborne is the absolute peak of the "Souls" formula, marrying it with more enjoyable mechanics and some of the best graphics/atmosphere you can find anywhere. If Dark Souls decided to procreate with CastleVania: Symphony of the Night, this would be the result, and holy crap is that one beautiful, albeit evil, baby.

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Bloodborne is one of those experiences that totally consumes you when you're involved in it and working to see all that it has to offer. In that sense it's the digital edition of a round-the-world trip to foreign continents, each turning of a corner providing equal helpings of excitement and trepidation. 

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                                                                                           - Telegraph

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5. Tales From The Borderlands

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Metacritic Score: 89% (User Score: 8.2)
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When Telltale Games revealed its partnership with Gearbox and Borderlands it was largely overshadowed by the announcement of a Game of Thrones game on the same dayFast forward to the end of 2015, both series' are finished and there's only one that people are talking about, and it isn't Game of Thrones.

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I won't waste time or space by stating why Game of Thrones was not good, and it really was not, I'd much rather spend that time gushing over how good Tales From The Borderlands was.

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Playing as both Ryhs and Fiona, gamers got a very different look into the world of Borderlands, and it was amazing from start to finish. Rhys, a scorn Hyperion stooge who sets out to screw over his new boss, and Fiona, a fast-talking con artist who aims to screw over Hyperion, come together in unlikely circumstances and set off on a hilarious, action-packed journey to find the treasures of a Vault. The voice-acting from Troy Baker, Ashley Johnson, Chris Hardwick, Laura Bailey, Erin Yvette, Patrick Warburton, and Nolan North, were all sublime, making the journey that much more fun and immersive.

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Every episode begins with an awesome musical intro that always sets the tone for what is to come, and throughout five episodes the pace never lets up. Without spoiling anything, Episode 5: The Vault of the Traveler, is one of the best episodes Telltale has ever done, and home to one of the very best fight scenes I've seen in years.

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I don't even care about Borderlands, but I cannot recommend this enough, to fans and non-fans alike. This is Telltale Games at its best.

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Tales from the Borderlands concludes with some series-defining moments and choices, solidifying it as one of Telltale’s best, if not the strongest offering the studio has put forth in several years.

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                                                                                     - Gaming Trend

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"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/7/4/4/7446448f09f6a4dc7012f51d50b5056d.jpg","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/7/4/4/tiny_7446448f09f6a4dc7012f51d50b5056d.jpg","type":"slide","id":"97400","description":"

6. Pillars of Eternity

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Metacritic Score: 89% (User Score: 8.4)
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A game that is very much a callback, and yet evolution of, classic RPGs like Baldur's Gate, Planescape Torment, and Neverwinter Nights, Pillars of Eternity is a fantastic isometric RPG that shows the genre still has a place in today's world.

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A huge, sprawling world, rich mythology, detailed graphics, and involving story, Pillars of Eternity is everything an old-school RPG lover could ask for, while being a great starting place for those looking to finally take the plunge. Developed by Obsidian Entertainment (Fallout: New Vegas, South Park: The Stick of Truth) made Pillars of Eternity with the love and influence of all the classics, while putting its stamp on the genre forever. Sadly, it seems the game will never find its way over to consoles, according to Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart.

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Pillars of Eternity is a masterclass in role-playing game development, recapturing the essence of the genre's past triumphs and repackaging them for a universal audience.

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                                                                                          - Digital Spy

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"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/4/7/a/47a9ae846f1c62b009efb7adbc3ad1fd.png","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/4/7/a/tiny_47a9ae846f1c62b009efb7adbc3ad1fd.png","type":"slide","id":"97401","description":"

7. Fallout 4

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Metacritic Score: 88% (User Score: 6.0)
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To say Fallout 4 was a highly anticipated game is, like saying people enjoy Star Wars, a gross understatement. This time last year we didn't even know if Fallout 4 was a thing but here we are, almost two months after the game released and, despite some warranted and unwarranted backlash, it was a resounding success.

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Fallout 4 brought back that familiar style of gameplay, zany characters, massive world that begs to be explored, and yes, the glitches. Everything that made the previous games great were abundant in Fallout 4, but Bethesda also added settlement building - making use of all the junk you incur in the wasteland - far better shooting mechanics, vastly upgraded power armour, weapon and armour mods, a lot more verticality to the map, and much better visuals. All in all, Fallout 4 was more Fallout but with fantastic additions to the formula. More please!

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Fallout 4 has all the ambiance and history that made its predecessors such wonderful places to get lost for hours at a time, with a much more coherent set of stories within it. That Bethesda has integrated a major building and crafting tool while finally building a great-playing game almost feels like a bonus.

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                                                                                               - Polygon

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"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/2/1/5/215936a932410bfc5f705455d10f33bd.jpg","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/2/1/5/tiny_215936a932410bfc5f705455d10f33bd.jpg","type":"slide","id":"97402","description":"

8. Super Mario Maker

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Metacritic Score: 88% (User Score: 8.7)
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2015 was not a great year for Nintendo; mediocre games, uncharacteristic delays, and the sad passing of a legend. But 2015 was also the 30th anniversary of the company mascot, Mario. It was with this anniversary in mind that Nintendo gave us its most creative and unexpected game to date, Super Mario Maker.

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In Super Mario Maker, you are the creator. Nintendo have given you the reigns to create your very own Mario levels, with a tool-bag that expands over the course of 9 days. You'll start by creating fairly straightforward levels based on what you've known of Mario but after a short while you'll be throwing Goomba's into blocks, putting wings onto Boo's, and generally making life hell for whoever is foolish enough to step into your twisted vision of Super Mario. This is an addictive experience that showcases the zany creations of players worldwide, it's just a pity it comes out on a system that is likely to bite the dust next year.

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Brimming with positivity and encouragement, Super Mario Maker's brilliant toy box gives you everything you need to easily create and share some truly fantastic levels.

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                                                                                  - GamesRadar

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"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/2/d/f/2dfb55c259ad71c41ea0be8386dd973f.jpg","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/2/d/f/tiny_2dfb55c259ad71c41ea0be8386dd973f.jpg","type":"slide","id":"97404","description":"

9. Ori and the Blind Forest

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Metacritic Score: 88% (User Score: 8.6)
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Ori and the Blind Forest was a highly anticipated Xbox One game coming into 2015, but I don't think anyone knew just what they were getting into. Ori looked like a fun, charming platformer that you'd breeze through in an hour, maybe two. However, it turned out to be a heart-breaking game with soul-crushing difficulty.

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The first few minutes of Ori and the Blind Forest are truly very sad, and done so in a way that isn't ham-fisted or overtly tugging on those heartstrings. Then the game begins and it's a straightforward 2D platformer. A couple of hours later though you're still playing and the gameplay has gotten significantly deeper to reflect the increasingly complex level design. Simply put, Ori is a very hard game that lures you in with its cuteness.

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A terrific blend of story, gameplay, and graphics, Ori and the Blind Forest is an unforgettable debut for indie developer Moon Studios.

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                                                                                              - EGM

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"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/0/1/4/0145f39a85e42345758fee1c0dc14179.png","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/0/1/4/tiny_0145f39a85e42345758fee1c0dc14179.png","type":"slide","id":"97403","description":"

10. Kerbal Space Program

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Metacritic Score: 88% (User Score 8.0)
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Who would have thought a silly little game about rocket physics would have been so dang fun? Kerbal Space Program was presumed to be another I Am Bread, Octodad, or Goat Simulator, but where those games wore out their welcome pretty quickly, KSP just became more addictive.

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Building a rocket ship out of random parts proves to be a tricky hurdle at the start of the game, but the first time you get it off the ground it makes it worthwhile. Of course, it comes crashing down in a blaze of horror just seconds later, but that fleeting sensation of hope and accomplishment make you start all over again.

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A perfect blend of science and slapstick, and a robust and compelling sandbox of possibility. Simply outstanding.

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                                                                                           - PC Gamer

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"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/5/8/5/5858d6c352940ad1007483f48e10412f.jpg","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/5/8/5/tiny_5858d6c352940ad1007483f48e10412f.jpg","type":"slide","id":"97405","description":"

2015 is the year the PS4 and Xbox One really matured. There have been excellent games on both systems this year, far eclipsing everything from 2014.

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We got the long-awaited finales to blockbuster series' like Batman and The Witcher, we got impressive debuts with Bloodborne and Life Is Strange, and we got highly anticipated returns in the form of Fallout and Metal gear Solid.

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All in all 2015 was a seminal year for gaming.

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At this time year of year we're all looking to 2016 and impatiently awaiting the likes of Uncharted 4 and Gears 4, but it's also the time of year to look back on what made 2015 great. And this list compiles the very best of the year in question.

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The following 10 games are the highest rated games in 2015, as per Metacritic. The list will not contain remasters, ports, or re-releases, so don't expect to see GTA V on PC, or Shovel Knight on PS4/Xbox One. Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's jump in and reveal the crème de la crème.

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Why Telltale needs to start reworking its formula for games https://www.gameskinny.com/tt1x8/why-telltale-needs-to-start-reworking-its-formula-for-games https://www.gameskinny.com/tt1x8/why-telltale-needs-to-start-reworking-its-formula-for-games Sun, 29 Nov 2015 13:14:54 -0500 Samantha Wright

Telltale is known for its stories between The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among, Tales from the Borderlands, Game of Thrones, and its latest series, Minecraft. But I'm honestly sick and tired of Telltale at this point with only one of the games on this list making even an impact on me. Their games are just starting to get repetitive and need a new formula.

Story has become predictable and, often, forced

I've played the majority of Telltale's games. I'm only missing a couple of the older ones and the Minecraft one. Even so, I know that most of their storylines have gotten predictable, or at least have painfully predictable moments.

One of the most predictable moments in a Telltale game was basically the entirety of Tales from the Borderlands. The game is told primarily as flashbacks, so, the two characters that tell the story have to stay alive throughout the game. (It's blatantly obvious they're telling it as flashbacks too, because their captor is specifically asking them things and the characters argue about how the events played out).

Thus, most of the "intense" moments throughout the game were laughable. You already knew who was going to live or die. You knew that a certain item or part of a character wasn't there in the present day, so it would leave the flashbacks. So many things just thus didn't work and it was annoying. 

The same thing happened with Game of Thrones. Some of the characters have blatantly obvious backstories and Telltale just danced around it, trying to add suspense that didn't need to be there. In episode five of the first season, I was fed up with it. You meet a new character and I'm like, okay. I know who he/she is. Then Telltale refused to tell me until it later.

Illusion of Choice

You have branching dialogue options in Telltale games, but they don't really matter. Of course they don't matter. The endings are going to be the same, or extremely similar, or the follow-up season will disregard all your choices.

In the second season of The Walking Dead, there were multiple endings you could get. There were different characters you could have with you, if any character at all, and with all the different dialogue options, your character's personality could have been drastically different. 

But, except for the differing personalities that have no impact on what dialogue options will be present in the future or the story itself, nothing matters. I highly doubt (I'm 100% certain that they won't), make a separate storyline based upon each of those endings. That would be too much work and would just be too confusing for fans. Thus, when season three comes out, chances are the game will just finish up the loose ends from each different storyline and have them all tie in together in the same plot line that everyone else has.

Granted, they could have a different storyline for each ending, but with how complicated that would be and how big season three would have to be as a result... I couldn't picture Telltale putting that much effort in. Fans would probably be mad about having to replay both season two and season three to get different storylines too. Too much effort am I right?

Not to mention Telltale would also have to tie it all in with the Michonne mini-series they are planning to release soon. Yeah. I just can't picture them doing it.

All the forced moments

Some moments in Telltale's games are just pushed into the game at this point, for no reason other for them just to be there. This hasn't become too prolific just yet, but, since it has happened before, I'm honestly expecting it to happen again.

For instance, in Tales from the Borderlands, there was a romance between two characters (I'll keep their names to myself to avoid any chance of spoilers). This romance was so out of place that it annoyed me to the ends of the earth. Sure there were a couple of quips here and there between the characters, but it came across more as platonic, not romantic. 

Then, all of a sudden, there's this weirdly romantic scene between them. Then they're basically telling each other how much they like one another and they're suddenly a couple. Not to mention, there was a "wonderful" (I use that word sarcastically.) scene where a friend of the couple dropped everything to ask about one of the partner's intention. When I say dropped everything, I literally mean they stopped the plot to talk about the romance. It pained me. It was a moment where I'm sure Telltale took a figurative knife to my heart just to hurt me.

Forcing romances and characters to be into each other and then pushing that romance further and further when it doesn't fit to begin with is not what I expect from a video game.

Forcing romance and characters to be into each other and then pushing that romance further and further when it doesn't fit to being with is not what I expect from a video game.

Not to mention, I still call bull on Kenny in the second season of The Walking Dead. He was surrounded by zombies in an alley with Ben impaled on a pole. There was no way he survived that, no matter what explanation you decide to give. 

So please Telltale, stop. Just stop.

Gameplay is the exact same thing every time

Branching dialogue options, as I've already established, have little impact. Some painfully easy quick time events. Some click-and-point exploration. That's all there is to Telltale's formula in terms of gameplay.

I will admit simple gameplay can sometimes be very effective, especially when trying to focus more on the storyline as Telltale has been doing, but too much simple gameplay and it gets boring and repetitive. 

It doesn't have to be anything complicated, like a full on RPG or shooter, but can't they add in something else every once in a while? Add in some RPG elements. Add in some hack n' slash elements. Add in a little turn-based combat. Maybe add some typical shooting elements. Maybe add some full fledged exploration instead of having a linear story with no backtracking. There are plenty of things they could do to spice it up a little and I'm asking for just one of those things, or even something completely different as long as it is different and adds some spice to their gameplay.

Graphical problems are beginning to rise

This one is mostly a problem with Game of Thrones. Those graphics made me want to tear my hair out and made me lose so much respect for the company as a whole. You couldn't even spend some time fixing your graphical errors before releasing the new game? Really??

But don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining about the art style for Game of Thrones. I actually liked the oil-panting feel of it. It was quite beautiful, especially when looking over scenery in the game. However, many different parts were blurry and the characters just didn't look right half the time. It got worse when comparing the characters to the backgrounds. It was almost as if they choice two different art styles to use in-game.

Look at the picture above. The characters look so refined and then you notice the glaringly obvious tree in the background. It can't just be me when I say that tree looks so ugly when compared to everything else. The buildings and characters look beautiful and refined, but the tree just looks like it was slapped on there. It looks awful, but it's far from the only example:

The line to the right of Mira's face is blurred and the left side of Mira's face just looks awful. Her eye is messed up and the side of her face just looks squiggly, almost abstract even. Basically, even though it's supposed to resemble oil painting, that does not mean that that is a free excuse to just slouch and have characters and backgrounds be sub par.

How can Telltale fix the problem?

A good storyline doesn't have to mean minimal gameplay

I mentioned this early, but it's important enough to mention again. Telltale can add something more substantial than some basic click-and-point elements and some simple quick time events. There can be shooting like a traditional shooter. There can be hack n' slash elements. There can be turned based elements. There can be open world, exploration elements. There can even just be slightly more skilled and harder quick time events. None of these would take away from the storyline if integrated properly and, as a gaming company, they should be able to institute these elements in properly.

There are plenty of examples of good storyline games with more in-depth gameplay elements as well. Mass Effect was pure bliss. It had good characters and a good story, but it also was an RPG, shooter mix. It was also very much an open world experience.

The Last of Us was amazing and that was a shooter with stealth elements. Then look at Metal Gear, BioShock, and maybe even Assassin's Creed depending upon which one in the series you're looking at. And these are just AAA titles. If you look into indie games, you'll find plenty more to offer up as examples.

Really plan out the characters and plot, so it's new and fresh

Storyboards, or some kind of note system, are often a writer's best friend. They help plan out characters and plot to keep it on track. But I feel like Telltale is neglecting this step. As an established company, I don't doubt that they are making some kind of storyboard, but they're not making it detailed enough.

Think about how characters differ from one another and if that is actually coming through in the game or not. Think about cliches that occur within stories and make sure using those so the story isn't predictable. Think about how the characters interact with one another and make sure you're not forcing characters into situations that just don't fit. Think about your plot and make sure it is the best as it can possibly be and that it won't be boring or that people won't guess the right conclusion straight out. 

I know writing can be hard, especially when it comes to fiction with plots and characters, but you guys are supposed to be professional writers, and I expect nothing less of you. 

After all, for most of your games, something has already been planned out for you, whether it is characters, the universe, or the plot. Something has been done for you, so can't you take some time to make the elements you actually do the best they can be?

All it would take is a little more time to plan out this character or that plot element and I believe you can do it. After all, for most of your games, something has already been planned out for you, whether it is characters, the universe, or the plot. Something has been done for you, so can't you take some time to make the elements you actually do the best they can be?

Stop cranking out games so quickly!

Telltale has released a wide array of games in the past couple of months to year, including Tales from the Borderlands, Games of Thrones, and Minecraft. Season two of The Walking Dead wasn't released that long ago either.

That's a lot of games that Telltale is cranking out a little too quickly. Every TV show has a period where they gather their thoughts to make a new season or another half of a season. Sequels to movies don't come out months apart (even if you look at The Hunger Games for instance, which seems to be releasing its parts pretty quickly, you have to take into account that the books already have the entirety of the plot and all the characters written down). Even other video games will usually take their time to get a sequel out. While there are some exceptions to the rule, such as Ubisoft releasing a new Assassin's Creed every year, most do wait a while before releasing a sequel. Many often delay a game if it's not their best work.

Thus, Telltale really needs a break. Instead of trying to release brand new game after brand new game, they need to give themselves time to rest and make sure the game is as good as it can get. If they need to take an extra couple of months between episodes, that's fine. I'd rather wait the extra time for a good game with differing gameplay and better plots and characters then play a game that isn't worthy of anyone's time.

Conclusion

I thought Telltale had a lot of potential when I first played The Walking Dead, but now I'm not so sure. Their formula has become so repetitive that it bores me to tears and their plots, characters, and graphics are beginning to dwindle. There are many things they can do to help spice up their style. They just need to take their time and stop trying to release games quickly. Maybe they'll take some advice and take their time with the next one.

But hey. They could also ignore me and continue cranking out game after game. It's their choice after all.

Do you agree with me about Telltale's problems or do you like Telltale's formula just the way it is? Be sure to let me know in the comments below!

[Image source 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]

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"The Vault of the Traveler": Tales from the Borderlands Episode 5 Review https://www.gameskinny.com/2560r/the-vault-of-the-traveler-tales-from-the-borderlands-episode-5-review https://www.gameskinny.com/2560r/the-vault-of-the-traveler-tales-from-the-borderlands-episode-5-review Thu, 22 Oct 2015 04:01:08 -0400 Samantha Wright

"The Vault of the Traveler", episode five of Tales from the Borderlands, had some ups and downs. But this conclusion to the series was not as epic as it could have been, or should have been, and made me feel as if the series had not been done proper justice. 

Story: Way too predictable

I had the same problem with this episode as I did the previous episodes: most of the storyline we get to play is told through flashbacks. This winds up taking away a lot of the suspense for the episode. I know there are some characters that won’t die. I know that certain things have to happen to get to the future I’ve already seen. Thus, a lot of the high-intensity situations weren’t very intense at all. This made the beginning of the episode feel very underwhelming/

Oftentimes, I found myself wishing the game would just get on with it, because what was about to happen was so obvious that I just didn’t want to deal with Telltale and Gearbox dragging it out any more. Moments like the reveal of Fiona and Rhys’s capturer, the psycho, and the mysterious gift from Felix all felt flat and longer than they needed to be.

Forcing the story along

Some parts of the episode felt very forced, particularly in regard to to all the deaths that occurred throughout the episode. Pandora and Hyperion are messed up planets, so people are bound to die. But it all happened at once in this final chapter. Honestly, it felt as if characters were being killed off just so there wouldn’t have to be any sort of conclusion or ending to them; you don’t have to finalize the story for a character if they’re dead.

I can’t forget the “digi-adapting” aspect of this episode either (you’ll know it when you get to it). As cool as the concept is, it makes the entirety of the last fight a little extreme and over-the-the top. I couldn’t help but just put down my controller and sigh, because I knew that it was cheap way to make all the characters useful for the final fight.

Another big issue is the “romance” between Rhys and Sasha.

I still don’t understand it; it stills feels forced to me, and it got worse in this episode. There are quite a few moments where everything stops to add this romance into the mix. This was even more frustrating right at the end. Fiona seriously dropped everything and held up the entire story, to wonder about their romance. It was really frustrating for me. I’m not sure why it was necessary for Telltale and Gearbox to throw that wrench in there right at the end; it didn’t hold any significance to what happened afterwards.

Pushing endless sadness doesn't work in a game centered around comedy

There was a lot of sadness in this episode due to all the tragedies. Once I got past the fact that these were annoying because of the predictable and forced nature of them, I realized they were supposed to be sad.

All the sadness was packed into this one episode, pushing out most of the comedy and quips the series is known for.

However, it was too much sadness all at once. The game was meant to be funny, and while there are still funny quips here and there throughout the episode, there wasn’t much compared to the rest of the episodes. That made this episode feel out of place. I understand that the sadness is necessary, but pushing it all to the end just didn't work. Where's the comic relief?

There were positives....

Like some awesome comedic quips here and there. Though the last chapter was extremely long compared to the previous five, the pacing felt good overall.

Choices I made in the previous episodes had actual impact on what choices I could make in this episode.

Your choices actually mattered quite a lot, as well. There’s still an illusion of choice. because no matter what happens, you’re still going to get the exact same ending as everyone else (there’s only one ending, so what’s the point of choices?), but at least they mattered more. Choices I made in the previous episodes had actual impact on what choices I could make in this episode. The consequences of these choices weren’t super important, but at least they were more important than the consequences I've received in previous Telltale games.

Graphics

Overall, the graphics were very good. The characters looked nice and the game flowed smoothly. Some of the new character designs were absolutely amazing too (The Guardians looked absolutely beautiful).

There was one moment, however, where there was a graphical problem. When Rhys pulls out his cybernetic eye (his left eye), the string connecting it to the socket suddenly switches from his left to his right. It was very strange to say the least.

Audio

Tales from the Borderlands never fails to disappoint me in terms of audio. The soundtrack is flawless, with the best songs playing at the best of times.

Although Zero’s voice sounded weirdly high-pitched this time around, the rest of the characters were flawlessly voice-acted, with good portrayal of the character’s emotions and thoughts.

Gameplay

As is standard in Telltale's style, the episode consisted of quick-time events, branching dialogue options, and click-and-point exploration. There is also an option to use the money in this chapter as well.

However, this episode was particularly awesome in terms of gameplay. At the end, there was a huge fight that was reminiscent of a fighter style game. This made the QTEs more difficult and more engaging. It wasn’t quite the simplistic style gameplay that has been used previously. It took at least a little bit of skill to get through the QTEs this time around.

Final Comments

This chapter was not as dark as the previous one, which was a little depressing if you’re into that sort of thing like I am. However, if you’ve made it this far into Tales from the Borderlands, you should finish the series. It does conclude everything quite nicely, leaving only a few loose ends and weird plot holes here and there (mainly how Athena magically came back without a problem).

With the ending as it was, there will most likely be a season two for Tales from the Borderlands, or the events in this game will directly affect what happens in the expected Borderlands 3.

What did you think of "The Vault of the Traveler?" Do you agree with me or not? Be sure to let me know in the comments below!

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Tales from the Borderlands Episode 5: The Vault of the Traveler Review https://www.gameskinny.com/frvua/tales-from-the-borderlands-episode-5-the-vault-of-the-traveler-review https://www.gameskinny.com/frvua/tales-from-the-borderlands-episode-5-the-vault-of-the-traveler-review Wed, 21 Oct 2015 11:25:18 -0400 Robert Sgotto

When Telltale Games announced that they were doing a Tales from the Borderlands series, I'll admit I was skeptical at first.

Not only did they prove me wrong, episodes 1-4 were fantastic, but episode 5 knocked it out of the park.

The Vault of the Traveler is a perfect example of how a Telltale game should end. Choices you make actually matter and the story doesn't give you a chance to catch a breath. It was one heck of a roller coaster and I'm sad that the journey with Rhys and Fiona has ended.

You will feel the consequences of your actions

It is an amazing feeling when the choices you've made in the previous episodes actually have an impact on the story.

If you were a jerk in the other episodes, you won't find yourself with many friends. If you didn't save your money, you'll wish you had. People you had the option of saving will return the favor, or they might not. It all depends on your actions.

The Vault of the Traveler made me want to go back and play the earlier episodes again, so that I could see the different outcomes of my choices.

An epic conclusion that will hit you right in the feels

Episode 5 ties everything together in a way few stories ever do.

Character arcs were relatable and superbly written. Characters that I had disliked in previous episodes stepped up to the plate when things mattered, and I found myself rooting for those people that I previously wouldn't have.

Everybody from Loader Bot to August gets a chance to shine, and those end up being some of the coolest moments in the episode.

When the dust settles and Rhys and Fiona see what's left, they have to ask themselves, "Was it all worth it?" The game starts to become heavy with emotion and the voice acting is so well done that it's hard not to sympathize.

For a series that was able to make me laugh so much, it was surprising to see that it could make me fight back tears.

Unexpected twists were shocking but managed to connect everything in a way that seems so obvious after you have all the pieces of the puzzle.

The conclusion for Tales from the Borderlands was more than satisfying.

Is it worth your time?

Yes! If you've played the previous episodes, the Vault of the Traveler is a must have. A nearly perfect conclusion to an epic series, episode 5 will not let you down. 

If you haven't played any episodes yet, and you're skeptical like I was about Tales from the Borderlands, at least check out the first episode. Telltale might surprise you with how interesting a Borderlands story can be.

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Borderlands sale happening on Humble Store as companion app "LootTheWorld" is shut down https://www.gameskinny.com/pdhop/borderlands-sale-happening-on-humble-store-as-companion-app-loottheworld-is-shut-down https://www.gameskinny.com/pdhop/borderlands-sale-happening-on-humble-store-as-companion-app-loottheworld-is-shut-down Fri, 16 Oct 2015 20:26:35 -0400 Courtney Gamache

There's some really neat Borderlands news happening this weekend; including a huge weekend sale on the Humble Store, and Gearbox officially removing the "LootTheWorld" companion app for Borderlands 2.

Humble's Giant Borderlands Sale

The Humble Store is doing a weekend long sale featuring Gearbox's Borderlands games. Maxing out at 75% off, there are five Borderlands games available including:

  • Borderlands 2 - 75% off - now $4.99
  • Borderlands 2: Game of the Year - 75% off - now $9.99
  • Borderlands: Game of the Year - 75% off - now $7.49
  • Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel - 50% off - now $19.99
  • Borderlands Triple Pack - 75% off - now $22.48

Although Humble Store does have Tales from the Borderlands available for purchase, they didn't include it in the sale - making it full price at $24.99. 

Gearbox Decides to Remove Borderlands 2 App

The developers behind Gearbox have officially decided to pull the plug on their Borderlands 2 companion Google Play app, "LootTheWorld", which will officially be removed during the week of Monday October 19th.

While Gearbox just posted this information to their support site, they gave no reasoning behind the app's removal. Just simply saying to make sure all loot from the app has been moved over to your Borderlands 2 game before the removal, or it will be lost forever.

"LootTheWorld will be shutting down the week of October 18, 2015. After the app shuts down, you will no longer be able to send loot from the app to Borderlands 2. Send over any loot you’re hanging on to as soon as possible.

We will update this article with a firm shut-down date as soon as we have more information."

-Gearbox

What do you believe the intentions are behind removing the LootTheWorld app? Will you be picking up Borderlands from the Humble Store this weekend? Share your thoughts below on this awesome FPS game!

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Tales from the Borderlands' episode 5 trailer live, episode drops Oct. 21 https://www.gameskinny.com/xeu08/tales-from-the-borderlands-episode-5-trailer-live-episode-drops-oct-21 https://www.gameskinny.com/xeu08/tales-from-the-borderlands-episode-5-trailer-live-episode-drops-oct-21 Fri, 16 Oct 2015 07:28:09 -0400 GameSkinny Staff

This is it, the final episode of Telltale's critically acclaimed Tales from the Borderlands series goes live on October 21st and this trailer is our first glimpse of what's to come.

Telltale has been knocking it out of the park with this series so far with smart writing and fantastic characters. It's been a journey, and we can only hope that the ending is as climactic and memorable as Telltale's finale to Walking Dead Season One (we cried, a lot).

What are you expecting from this season finale?

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What Makes a Classic: How the Borderlands franchise nails it https://www.gameskinny.com/5na8z/what-makes-a-classic-how-the-borderlands-franchise-nails-it https://www.gameskinny.com/5na8z/what-makes-a-classic-how-the-borderlands-franchise-nails-it Mon, 05 Oct 2015 06:24:04 -0400 Mr. Frank

Okay, class raise your hand if you can tell me the greatest RPG of all time.

No, it isn't Gex: Enter the Gecko.

That's right it's the Borderlands Franchise you did it you've won a gold star.

This horse is so proud you answered correctly.

Time for School

I have no idea what the best RPG is, primarily because there are now different sorts of RPGs. Some are 3rd-person, looting adventures into underground caves or something. I think one of them has dragons also. Umm.. a lot of them have like swords and fire-hands and stuff like that. Oh and Borderlands has, like, a lot of guns. At least 15.

But they all share something in common: they simulate an immersive experience. And that's really the goal of any game. Whether you're exploring a story, or just destroying stimulated people's lives, video games are about placing yourself in another dimension where ragdolls are possible.

Oh and Borderlands has, like, a lot of guns.

They're about experiencing a world that is made to feel real, but is ultimately a bunch of 1s and 0s. And RPGs do the best job at this because they nearly all give you customization options out of the ol' WAZOO. I mean, I love giving my Fallout character a green afro and naming him, "I'm a lizardman." It's what makes me, me.

But unlike the ultra-immersive RPGs like the Fallout series, Borderlands reaches a new level of badassery. This franchise has the greatest model for the "Role-Playing Game Experience," and it does this by combining the best features of the genre into one game.

LOOTSAPALOOZA

Firstly, Borderlands outdoes itself in capturing the best features of any RPG. It's configuration of incessant loot gathering, trill-ass level up trees, and special ability perks, are all stylistically reminiscent of fan-favorite games like Torchlight. The kicker is, is that while it's expansive, you don't feel bogged down my over-complicated options. Other RPGs have so much filler and so much to choose from:A delicious goat-cheese wheel from Jarl Balgruuf, just for you.

  • Should I upgrade my lock-pick ability?
  • Maybe I need the potion-making perk...
  • What's the primary damage of this cheese-wheel?

There's nothing wrong with playing your game differently; that's what makes games like Skyrim so replayable. But in Borderlands, everything is contributing to the action. I don't have to think about what will be most useful for my quests. I know that whatever I choose is going to help me destroy as many shotgun-midgets as possible:

  • Looks like I found another gun in this pile of money.
  • Should I improve my Ballbuster Bazooka-3000, or increase my turret ammo my 3 trillion percent?
  • Oh wow, this grenade mod is incendiary AND shoots lasers!

The first step to a great RPG was nailing these factors, and Gearbox nailed it harder than a roofer nailing a roof. Have you ever nailed a roof? It takes some effort; they don't get paid nothing.

Schmirst Schmerson

This second reason may not seem like a reason at all, being that nearly all games are played in first person, but from someone who enjoys 3rd-person dungeon RPGs, this is a key element.

Screenshot from Torchlight II

I have to be honest. Sometimes, I just get bored playing some RPGs. I think it's because I played Fate as a kid. You know that game you get that already comes on your computer? I played it for a while, but the magic eventually died. It just seemed so pointless. Dungeon after dungeon. Boss after boss. It was just getting boring and pointless. I loved the thrill of leveling up and finding the next best weapon, but the monotony of the system took its toll on my little gamer heart.

FLASH-FORWARD TO BORDERLANDS
And we're right in the action. BOOM. Shooting Skags. BOOM. Driving around the wasteland. BOOM. Fighting tentacle monsters. ALL in the first person. I was intimately participating in the action. I was following and engaging a story through my very eyes. And I was leveling up and getting dat treasure. The RPG experience I enjoyed from games like Fate, was suddenly beefed up into a first person, immersive, non-stop action, shooting range, and I was the main character.

Putting an RPG into this real-time, FPS made all the difference. 

Action-Paction Screen shot from Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

It engaged me in a way that a 3rd person version couldn't. There was more involvement than just clicking or having the right ultra-staff of wizard powers. In Borderlands, I could sometimes even get by with a super low pistol against a Bad-Ass Boss and manage to walk away with his shotgun, if I played my cards right. I had more opportunity to use my skill to my advantage, rather than relying on my stats. But in the end, this level of immersion, simply with it being FPS, was enough for me to continue playing and want more.

Multipass

The third, and simplest, reason is that Borderlands opens up to cooperative multiplayer. Sure I could pal around with a bud playing WoW, but I couldn't while playing Bioshock, could I? There's really not much else to say than that Borderlands totally gets their audience when they have this option. I want to be able to take on the world of Pandora, with a friend. I mean, isn't that what some self-deluded lunatics wanted from the Elder Scrolls Online? A co-op Skyrim?

But instead, ESO is another MMORPG with average graphics, a semi-immersive world, and tons of people we don't know. I'm not bashing the Edler Scrolls Online, because MMORPGs are fun in their own way, but I wanted something greater. I wanted to really share my first-person experience. I wanted to lose my friendship from arguing over an ultra-rare sniper rifle. I wanted to face death and defeat,  only to be saved by a shotgun blast to the enemy at the last-minute from my faithful buddy.

I wanted Borderlands.

These are all my friends.

We played it and it was fun.

So what did we learn today, class? We learned about shapes and stuff.

Also, we learned why the Borderlands franchise is so successful. It combines elements from our favorite RPGs and arranges them in a way that kicks so much ass that we couldn't handle the sheer force of enjoying the game itself. But we played it anyway and it was fun. Gearbox has shown that they really know the player and the audience and made a game just for you.

That's right. Just for you. Wasn't that nice of Gearbox? You didn't even ask.

I'm dancing! I'M DANCING!

The final reason is Clap-Trap.

D'ya like dubstep?

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5 of the funniest scenes in gaming (NSFW) https://www.gameskinny.com/6z7sy/5-of-the-funniest-scenes-in-gaming-nsfw https://www.gameskinny.com/6z7sy/5-of-the-funniest-scenes-in-gaming-nsfw Tue, 01 Sep 2015 09:24:01 -0400 Samantha Wright

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Did you die of laughter yet?

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What were some of your favorite funny video game scenes? What games did I miss? Were there scenes from the games I chose that appealed to you more? Let us know in the comments below!

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[Gif source]

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Honorable Mention: South Park: The Stick of Truth

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Everything about South Park: The Stick of Truth was hilarious. I was laughing for days, but I felt it couldn't compare to some of the other scenes on this list. Considering the subject matter, it is also very subjective.

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It remains in the noble runner-up spot. 

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[Image source]

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1. Deadpool

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I love Deadpool. I love Deadpool and would have been happy just posting a video of the entirety of the game. That would defeat the purpose of making this a list of scenes, though, wouldn't it? Thus, I stuck to Deadpool's origins and picked a moment where he really breaks the fourth wall.

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Deadpool's gone a bit over budget with his game and he is determined to have High Moon Studios give him more money. The usual antics ensue. Check out the NSFW video above to see how. 

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/e951b423cfc138ee2a58a3c87ec80176.jpg","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/e951b423cfc138ee2a58a3c87ec80176.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"6726","description":"

2. Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time

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Murray dancing as Madame Geisha killed me. Rioichi Cooper's clearly confused. Murray struts his stuff with impeccable dance moves and flirts with all of the boars. The music clearly fits into Feudal Japan. I was hysterical. It became very hard to focus on the buttons when I was too busy laughing at the level of ridiculousness. 

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/06afed3231ddce972caed9ec0b2cb82b.jpg","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/06afed3231ddce972caed9ec0b2cb82b.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"6716","description":"

3. Tales from the Borderlands

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There are plenty of killer comedic moments throughout the Borderlands franchise from the witty comments of Handsome Jack to the continuous sass from Claptrap. With the recent release of Episode 4: Escape Plan Bravo of Tales from the Borderlands, I couldn't help but include the crazy action scene that was finger-guns. 

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I still don't understand how this scene was approved, but it was hilarious nonetheless and I was impressed. Click on the NSFW video to figure out exactly what goes down.

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/0b68dd775dbe3bc83b62dc2ecc7b362b.jpg","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/0b68dd775dbe3bc83b62dc2ecc7b362b.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"6718","description":"

4. Portal 2

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If someone out there expected a turret opera at the end of Portal 2, please let me know. I definitely did a double-take. It was funny, unexpected, and even a tad bit creepy. How can you not laugh at the turrets that spent the whole game trying to kill you now singing at you? If only there was cake to go with it...

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/f1997164043977ef1a7f49fe716a9080.jpg","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/f1997164043977ef1a7f49fe716a9080.jpg","type":"youtube","id":"6720","description":"

5. LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham Arrow DLC Pack

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Despite having so many installments, the LEGO franchise has continuously dished out hilarious scene after hilarious scene that appeals to a wide age range.

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The opening of the Arrow DLC pack for LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is my favorite, though. Not only does it satire the backstory for Arrow, it calls out the "continuity police." Even if you're unfamiliar with Arrow as a character, you can't help but laugh. 

"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/4/f/3/4f3816fb47865e47b3de6758dc88518e.gif","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/4/f/3/tiny_4f3816fb47865e47b3de6758dc88518e.gif","type":"slide","id":"81657","description":"

Some scenes are scary. Some scenes are depressing. Some scenes make you want to laugh until your sides hurt. Actually, there are quite a few scenes in games that make you want to laugh that hard. Here's five of them.

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All choices are based upon games I've played. 

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[Gif source]

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Fourth episode in Tales from the Borderlands, "Escape Plan Bravo" SNEAK PEEK https://www.gameskinny.com/j6jnz/fourth-episode-in-tales-from-the-borderlands-escape-plan-bravo-sneak-peek https://www.gameskinny.com/j6jnz/fourth-episode-in-tales-from-the-borderlands-escape-plan-bravo-sneak-peek Mon, 17 Aug 2015 11:52:20 -0400 Courtney Gamache

The fourth episode in the series, Tales from the Borderlands: A Telltale Games Series is set to release tomorrow, August 18th, under the episode name "Escape Plan Bravo."

Telltale Games is doing a staggering release, having the episode available tomorrow on Windows PC, Mac, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4; while Xbox 360 and Xbox One will be August 19th, and lastly Android and iOS dated for August 20th. 

Beware: Spoilers for Escape Plan Bravo

In anticipation for the public release of the episode, Telltale Games has divulged a small synopsis on what the episode contains.

Beware, spoilers.

The whole plot behind "Escape Plan Bravo" is that the Vault beacon is being sought out by Vallory, who has captured Rhys and Fiona - who are trying to find their way onto the Hyperion Moon Base, which coincidentally has the Vault beacon.

"In this penultimate episode of the season, captured by Vallory and her goons, Rhys and Fiona are forced to continue the search for the Vault beacon — at gunpoint. The beacon is on the Hyperion moon base — Helios — while our heroes are on Pandora... so there's the pesky cold void of death known as 'space' to overcome. Even with assistance from a familiar face, and with a worryingly helpful Handsome Jack hitching a ride in Rhys' head, getting on board the ominous 'H' is going to take every drop of guile, and quite possibly all the spunk you've got. Sacrifices will be made — can you make the tough choices needed to succeed?"

Telltale Games

While there are bound to be many unanswered questions at the end of "Escape Plan Bravo", the concluding fifth episode in the series should shed some light on what will happen to the beloved characters of Hyperion and Pandora. 

What fate do you believe Rhys and Fiona will have? Will Vallory gain access to the Vault beacon?

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Tales From The Borderlands Ep. 4 releases next week https://www.gameskinny.com/t41mr/tales-from-the-borderlands-ep-4-releases-next-week https://www.gameskinny.com/t41mr/tales-from-the-borderlands-ep-4-releases-next-week Wed, 12 Aug 2015 10:11:34 -0400 Curtis Dillon

Episode 4 of Telltale's Tales From The Borderlands releases next week on PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC, Mac, and Linux. The episode releases on August 18, except for Xbox consoles, where it will release a day later on the 19th.

Titled Escape Plan Bravo, Episode 4 is the penultimate episode in the series and carries on the story of Rhys and Fiona as they remained captured by Vallory. Telltale Games released a synopsis for the episode:

In this penultimate episode of the season, captured by Vallory and her goons, Rhys and Fiona are forced to continue the search for the Vault beacon - at gunpoint. The beacon is on the Hyperion moon base - Helios - while our heroes are on Pandora... so there's the pesky cold void of death known as 'space' to overcome. Even with assistance from a familiar face, and with a worryingly helpful Handsome Jack hitching a ride in Rhys' head, getting on board the ominous 'H' is going to take every drop of guile, and quite possibly all the spunk you've got. Sacrifices will be made - can you make the tough choices needed to succeed?

While you wait for the next adventure from Telltale's Borderlands series, you can read our reviews of Episode 1 and Episode 2.

In other news, at E3 Telltale Games announced a new The Walking Dead spin-off, based on Michonne - this adds to the studio's already stacked line-up including Minecraft: Story Mode, an original IP, a yet-untitled Marvel game, and a probable season 3 of The Walking Dead. In the meantime, you can see how we rank Telltale's games thus far, to quench that thirst!

For more on Tales From The Borderlands and all things Telltale Games, stay tuned to GameSkinny.

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Top 10 Stories in Video Games https://www.gameskinny.com/05u7y/top-10-stories-in-video-games https://www.gameskinny.com/05u7y/top-10-stories-in-video-games Fri, 12 Jun 2015 20:23:21 -0400 Daniel R. Miller

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1.) Half-life series
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There isn't a game in the world that more people are clamoring for than Half-Life 3.  A lot of that has to do with just how good the world and its narrative are.  One of the most fascinating aspects about the story is how much of a passive rider the player character, Gordon Freeman is.  The entire video game medium is centered around the idea of control, and most of the time, game characters are in control and/or the center of attention.  Gordon Freeman is the exact opposite of those things, and the result is refreshing.  In fact, the story isn't even about Gordon Freeman, but rather about the world around him, and he is simply the vessel that the player experiences the world through.

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What is also compelling about the Half-life experience is how naturally everything unfolds.  There are no interruptions for cut scenes as the story unfolds in front of the player, and Half-life was the one of the first games to really let the player have the freedom to move about the environment as the story unfolded in front of the player. 

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Subtle audio cues also helped to enhance parts of the narrative as well and the biggest example of this is the Combine Soldiers.  The game frequently let the player hear their enemy before seeing them, which worked to further imprint the enemy's importance both in terms gameplay mechanics and what they meant to the world.  Because the game was challenging in its combat, the player became conditioned to feel a sense of dread every time one of these audio cues played.

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What do you think? What are your favorite examples of narrative in games? 

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2.) The Last of Us
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The driving force behind the entire experience of The Last of Us is its narrative.  The game is a character-driven narrative that is quite a linear affair but the all of the extra nooks and crannies keep it from feeling too straight forward.  When the player uncovers these hidden places, the game provides some poignant moments between Joel and Ellie that provide context and insight of the state of the world that really drive the generational differences between someone who lived in the world before (Joel) and one who grew up in the current state of affairs (Ellie).  

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Speaking of Joel and Ellie, they are the very foundation of the game itself, both narratively and mechanically.  The loneliness of the journey, the forced cooperation, and the ugliness of the people and the world around you helps to create an authentic sense of protectiveness over Ellie.  It is very much a journey of you against the world, and every time Ellie is forced to leave the safety of your side for the sake of cooperation, it is an authentically uneasy feeling.  

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While the post-apocalyptic zombie-esque world isn't particularly unique when factoring in The Walking Dead's immense popularity, it is the journey and the interactive delivery of Joel and Ellie's journey across the country that helps set it apart.  The Last of Us is an ever lasting example of the evolution of interactive story telling and will always hold a significant place in gaming history.

"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/2/5/0/250268857bda824b82cbf3545aa1ff81.jpg","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/2/5/0/tiny_250268857bda824b82cbf3545aa1ff81.jpg","type":"slide","id":"69287","description":"
3.) The Walking Dead (Telltale Series) 
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Telltale Games has made an entire business around being able to tell quality stories.  But they really didn't take off until they released their first season of their episodic Walking Dead series.  Its popularity isn't derived from the AMC blockbuster series, but employs a style that is closer to the comic books.

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The journey of Lee Everett and Clementine is one of the most compelling arcs ever crafted in interactive narratives.  Despite the fact that there isn't much of a challenge (or game depending on who you talk to), the narrative drives a satisfying set of in game prompts that mean the difference between life and death.  In this zombie apocalypse, death rears its head around every corner and isn't afraid to take your heart strings, rip them out, and throw them in the dirt before stomping them into submission.

"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/5/e/6/5e6226a50cf06e1a1ddeb86f38073561.jpg","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/5/e/6/tiny_5e6226a50cf06e1a1ddeb86f38073561.jpg","type":"slide","id":"69283","description":"
4.) The Witcher Series
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The Witcher series can be tough to get into if you haven't read the books and/or choose to skip the first game.  The series' second entry, Assassin's of Kings more or less assumes you know what is going on from the start and is unapologetic about it.  However, it doesn't take too long to realize that you are dealing with one of the most unique video game narratives around.  Most stories clearly state who is good and who is bad at every turn, but in this universe, it's not that simple.

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It's said that there are two sides to every story and that ideal is the foundation of The Witcher's narrative.  Almost nothing follows the path of "this side is good, this side is bad". In fact almost all of it is bad on some level.  The world operates in shades of grey rather than light versus dark.  Villains are not representations of the Evil Railway Baron trope, instead having legitimate goals that you, yourself might be trying to accomplish had things been different.  

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In fact, Assassin's of Kings offers up a choice between following two different leaders, a murderer fighting for the rights of non-humans and a human trying to uphold the peace, but whose actions are perceived as racist by some.  Neither are good, neither are evil, it all just depends on the player's perspective, much like the world we live in now.  The result is a very believable and grounded story in a high fantasy world.

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5.) BioShock series
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Yes, in many ways, BioShock is basically System Shock 2, but that doesn't stop it from being one of the most compelling and hotly debated stories in the history of interactive narrative.  I mean, would you kindly take a look at that insane timeline of BioShock Infinite.  

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The original BioShock was a master class of its own in balancing functional level design, with a believably lived in space and the events that lead to Rapture's undoing let the combat mechanics fit the story like a glove.  It can be debated that despite its critical appeal, BioShock Infinite never quite achieved the same heights as the original, but it doesn't exclude the fact that the series as a whole tells one of the best stories that video games have ever seen.

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6.) Final Fantasy VII
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It wouldn't be a list of narratively focused games if the semi-divisive Final Fantasy VII wasn't on the list.  

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Of course, this entry is more or less on the "it's cool to hate" spectrum by a lot of Final Fantasy purists.  However, its impact both as a game and as a narrative cannot be denied in terms of its ever lasting legacy.  A lot of that has to do with "the death."  On the outside, it seems kind of silly that one event could make an entire narrative that famous, however it has done just that.  That death of course is everyone's favorite flower girl, Aeris.

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Never have I seen so many gamers live in such denial about one death in a video game.  Even now, coming up on 20 years after the game's initial release, there is a sect of players that are still convinced that there is a legitimate way to bring her back from the dead.  *Spoilers* there isn't.  As much as I love this game and its story, I admit Aeris' death is a bit illogical given the fact that Cloud and Co. should have had at least one Phoenix Down in their back pocket.  Bah, details.

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7.) Metal Gear Solid (PS1)
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Metal Gear Solid on the original PlayStation is widely recognized as one of the greatest games of all time and for good reason.  Despite its relatively short length of 12 hours, it has great story pacing and tight gameplay.  At the time, Metal Gear Solid was renowned for being one of the most cinematic experiences and it was obvious that a lot of care went into trying to be accurate with smaller details, which is a bit ironic considering how super natural many elements of the game are.

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David Hayter's performance as Solid Snake was revolutionary at the time for how good it was, and his voice has since become arguably the most iconic in the industry.  The story humanized a couple of the supposed villains in the game like Sniper Wolf and Psycho Mantis upon their deaths which effectively blurred the lines between the player's side and the antagonist's.  

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Despite the fact that the series has become quite convoluted in its logic over the years, Metal Gear Solid's emphasis and delivery on story telling is in in some ways unmatched even today.  With Hideo Kojima's tenure at Konami looking like it's end is near, it's important to appreciate the impact that the Metal Gear series has had on interactive narrative.

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8.) Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
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Before Mass Effect and Dragon Age's enormous impact on the Western Role Playing game market, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was BioWare's flagship role-playing franchise.  KOTOR, as it is known, released back in 2003 during the early days of the original Xbox and took place 4,000 years before the Original Star Wars trilogy where a Sith Lord, Darth Malak, the former apprentice of the feared Darth Revan, has commenced a fierce attack on the Jedi Knights with a large armada, forcing them to scatter across the galaxy.  

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Its narrative formula would build the foundation that both the Mass Effect and Dragon Age franchises would come to lean heavily on.  KOTOR featured teams of three allies in combat and had the player travel from planet to planet, finding new allies on each one that represented a different class or class combination.  

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Arguably the biggest reason that KOTOR's narrative is so fondly remembered is the big twist around the halfway point in the game that takes its inspiration from Darth Vader's infamous "I am your father" reveal.  YOU are the villain, Darth Revan.  Before the big reveal, Revan's role is little more than a reference to give context to present events, much like Luke Skywalker's references to his father were.  But once the cat's out of the bag, it revolutionizes the way the player views the entire story in the same way Vader being Luke's father did in Empire Strikes Back.

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9. ) Minecraft
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Sometimes the best stories in video games aren't directly told to you, but rather the story you tell yourself.  Minecraft accomplishes just that with the personalization, tools and authentic sense of discovery that lies at the heart of the experience.  Imagination is the name of the game, and Minecraft's formula is built to appeal to ours.

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There are so many different ways to play the game, and it all depends on what kind of character the player wants to role play as.  Are you a survivor that washed up on a mysterious land?  Are you a farmer that wants to herd the land's animals?  What about the threats that befall the land?  Do you hide from them at night while planning for the next day? Do you brave the night to slay the monsters for their resources?  How do you deal with hunger?

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Minecraft is the poster child for individual story telling, spawning a whole host of survival adventures that permeate Steam's Early Access page that have evolved on Minecraft's principles.

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10.) Portal Series
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Portal's narrative begins simply enough.  You awaken inside your room in the Aperture Science labs, and are instructed to begin testing by the soft, robotic voice of GLaDOS.  Like the character we inhabit, we follow the instructions without question.  The player has no concept of what is going on outside of the casually comedic tone, the task that is laid out before us and that there's cake at the end (Yum!).  This setup allows us to effortlessly step into the shoes of Chell, the Aperture lab rat.  But as the player progresses, we quickly find out that "The Cake" is a lie. 

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Portal is especially good at tying dialogue into in game accomplishments.  As the player masters more and more puzzles, GLaDOS in turn becomes more and more talkative and goes from being mockingly hilarious to being mockingly cold and murderous (while still being hilarious).  It is this dark comedy that really helps make Portal stand out on its own from the Half-life series in terms of its tone.

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Not everybody plays games for story.  And as a result, ludology vs narratology is one of the hottest debates in gaming.  And to be fair, a lot of games tell some pretty crappy and/or cliched stories, and sadly a lot of them are actually trying.  However, there have been some legitimately great stories that have come from the interactive entertainment medium and in many ways their impact is best felt as a video game.  

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These games were chosen on the basis, of not only the quality of the narrative, but how well the story utilizes the mechanics of the interactive medium.  I think it goes without saying that massive story-ruining spoilers follow.  Here are the Top 10 stories in video games.

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How to Review Episodic Games: A New Hope https://www.gameskinny.com/7cd7o/how-to-review-episodic-games-a-new-hope https://www.gameskinny.com/7cd7o/how-to-review-episodic-games-a-new-hope Tue, 07 Apr 2015 17:52:25 -0400 The Soapbox Lord

Episodic gaming has been around in some form as early as the late 70’s. However, it had largely been neglected for more standard forms of development and release. This thinking changed with the release of Half-Life 2: Episode 1 and the rise of Telltale Games. Telltale has almost exclusively used the episodic format for their titles, and it has worked to their success.

Telltale has proven great games can be delivered in an episodic format. Despite having years to develop a system for reviewing episodic games, games media has stayed with the traditional review format for these titles. This traditional format does a disservice to readers and the games. So is there a better way to review these titles? There most certainly is!

The Audience

There are two major player bases for the episodic genre. The first player always buys the entire season. The second waits to see how the season as a whole shapes up and decides whether or not to purchase. The people who intend to buy the entire season do not benefit from reviews, so reviews should be tailored towards the players waiting to see how the proceedings pan out.

The Problem

The current review system evaluates each episode individually upon release, but it rarely evaluates the season as a whole. Why is this problematic? Well if you want to see how the entire season of The Walking Dead turned out, you have to research each episode’s review individually. Not only does this take a lot of time, but it rarely gives you a cohesive image of the season as a whole. Some seasons have lulls or slower episodes to either build tension or set up major events for future episodes.

For instance, the first episode of Tales from the Borderlands was zany. There were a lot of crazy and exciting things which occurred in the episode. Compared to Episode 1, Episode 2 is more restrained and a plateau episode. It is still good and some zaniness occurs, but it is obvious the episode is more reserved to further set the stage for future episodes. This is perfectly fine, and it is a great tactic to space out your water cooler moments with character and world building. Looking at the score differential between Episode One and Two, you might think there is a drop in quality. This is not the case. The second episode is simply a stage prep episode for what’s to come.

 They deserve to be treated as a singular game instead of multiple entries in a franchise. Your perception of the entire season can change on a whim, depending on how the rest of the season turns out.

So why is this a problem? If the second episode is not as good as the first it deserves a lower score right? Not exactly. While each episode is released individually and sold individually (although I have yet to meet anyone who purchases them this way), they are all part of a cohesive whole: a single game divided into easily digestible chapters. As such, they deserve to be treated as a singular game instead of multiple entries in a franchise. Your perception of the entire season can change on a whim, depending on how the rest of the season turns out.

Remember The Walking Dead: Season Two? It had some highs and lows, which would be easy to overlook as a whole if the final episode knocked it out of the park like Season One did. In the end, I found myself disappointed with Season TwoOn the other hand, The Wolf Among Us also had some issues. However, after playing through the season, I immediately recommended it to several friends. Sure it had awkward pacing at times, some strange character behavior, and under-utilized characters, but it was easy to overlook those flaws when evaluating the game as whole.

Depending on the rest of the season, my glowing opinion of Tales from the Borderlands and my negative opinion of Game of Thrones may change. The beauty of episodic games is how they are smaller portions of a whole. The way they are evaluated should reflect this.

A New Approach

I think the solution is a rather easy one, but it seems no one is doing it. When I reviewed The Wolf Among Us, I reviewed the season as a whole. Since I had just played through the entire season, it was easy to assess the game as a single meal instead of individual courses at a meal. But what about when sites need to keep up with each new episode’s release? Rather than simply reviewing the episodes in a traditional format, write an impressions post. In comparison to a review, an impressions post is more personal and less concerned with delivering a score. Being an impressions post, these posts should also eschew the beloved review score.

In comparison to a review, an impressions post is more personal and less concerned with delivering a score. Being an impressions post, these posts should also eschew the beloved review score. 

I know. I know. Blasphemy right? However, along with writing a more impressions style post and abandoning reviews scores, the posts should evaluate the episodes as they relate to the entire season. Instead of simply appraising each individual episode as separate entities, the posts would detail how the entire season is coming along. How are things shaping up as a whole and paint of picture of the impressions of the season with each release instead of a definite review. As I mentioned before, one episode or moment can ruin an entire season of solid content in the same way a stupid twist can ruin an otherwise solid or decent (stretching that definition there, I know) film.  

TL;DR
  • Stop reviewing each episode as a singular game
  • Refrain from assigning a score to episodes
  • Write more impression-based posts instead of definite reviews
  • Evaluate the episodes as they relate to the season as a whole
  • Keep the consumer in mind

By altering the way we cover these games, we better assist the consumers who did not purchase the season beforehand. After all, aren’t we in the games media covering these games to help the consumer decide what is worth their hard-earned money? If there is a way we can better enlighten the player, should we not change the way we cover these games?

The suggestions I have outlined here are by no means the definitive way to cover these titles, I am sure someone more intelligent than me could devise something more appropriate. But we should rethink the way we cover these games to paint a better picture for consumers and also to do more justice to the games themselves. 

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Tales from the Borderlands Episode 2: Atlas Mugged Review [Placeholder, Please!] https://www.gameskinny.com/qgzv0/tales-from-the-borderlands-episode-2-atlas-mugged-review-placeholder-please https://www.gameskinny.com/qgzv0/tales-from-the-borderlands-episode-2-atlas-mugged-review-placeholder-please Fri, 27 Mar 2015 17:55:49 -0400 Stephanie Tang

Check out the review for Tales from the Borderlands Episode 1: Zer0 Sum here!

Once again Tales from the Borderlands slam-dunks the player directly back into the occasionally silly narrative of our intrepid heroes: Rhys, Handsome Jack groupie, and Fiona, practiced Scooter-charmer. 

As these two cordially snarky friends-turned-emphatic-question-mark continue to snipe at each other in between fragments of backstory, they are herded along to places unknown by the same stoic stranger in a gas mask and voice changer.

Thankfully for those of us who started in on Episode 1 as it was released, the narrative does a decent job of catching you up without deliberately spoon-feeding you all the details. 

(Just in case you forgot any of these crazy faces.)

In any multi-episode narrative, there's bound to be some downtime - and in all honesty, the majority of this episode feels a little like one long segment of downtime before what is hopefully another round of crazy hijinks in Episode 3Sure, there are several run-ins with some neighborhood Psychos who wouldn't mind digging the eyes out of your fleshy meatsack with a spork, but these altercations are brief and the quick-time events (QTE) actions are somewhat unoriginal and forced.

They make sense in context of what's going on... but compared to controlling and aiming your friendly neighborhood Loader Bot and his mini-arsenal of body-squelching rocket launchers in Episode 1, mashing Q to watch Rhys pull his foot out of a completely obvious gaping hole in a dumpster lid so he can reach one last powerbox just feels a little flat. 

To their credit, it kept me keyed to attention and my hand ready at the mouse at all times - not always the case in the midst of long cutscene segments.

It's also important to note that "not as exciting" does not necessarily equate to "boring."

This episode was far from boring. 

In fact, it felt like it ended far too quickly - faster even than going through Episode 1. I finished it in about 2 hours where I finished the first one after approximately 2.5. (Steam tells me 2.9, but I distinctly remember some deep technological derping on my part getting it to run properly at first.) 

Time count aside, this game felt faster because it also played through faster - fewer instances of crawling around in slow motion and walking painfully slowly around single enclosed spaces. Sure, you can still walk around, point and click, but it does not have the same sense of a snail oozing along at a glacial pace to take a look at all the things you need to - a definite increase in this aspect of fun factor compared to Episode 1.


And just as before, you have the same eclectic mix of sassy fun and over-the-top weird of the Borderlands franchise tempered to the perfect degree of funny.

The game does not hold back from poking fun at itself - and in fact, poor Scooter's big Borderlands-typical entrance gets shot down a little by Fiona's oh-so-eloquent attitudes of ".................wtf are you doing."


(Yeah, she sassy.)

It also pulls no punches when it comes to making snap decisions on what kind of person you want your characters to be - the Telltale comes out to play as you take the reins on just how big of a jerk you're willing to be and to whom. (Not to mention how you deal with the size of your best friend's pipes.) 

This may not be The Walking Dead where your decisions can have tragic consequences, but it's always interesting to see how your choices can make a difference. 

While this episode may feel a little like filler in the grand scheme of things to come, the robot-laced ending is still likely to have you chomping at the bit for more.

Thinking of buying in?

Once again, for those of you who haven't gotten into this franchise before, I highly recommend you having played at least Borderlands 2 (which will fill you in reasonably well the events that occurred in the first Borderlands). Starting this on its own will inevitably cheat you of the sly humor and the generous helping of backstory you won't get by going "dude, who's the dead guy?"

If you're still keen to jump right on in, you can find this title easiest from the Telltale Store which will lead you in the right direction for your particular platform. 

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The Top 5 Pieces of Borderlands Merch | Gaming Gear, Ep. 2 https://www.gameskinny.com/t8ozz/the-top-5-pieces-of-borderlands-merch-gaming-gear-ep-2 https://www.gameskinny.com/t8ozz/the-top-5-pieces-of-borderlands-merch-gaming-gear-ep-2 Sat, 17 Jan 2015 14:50:40 -0500 Amanda Erickson

This week on Gaming Gear, I'll be rounding up the top 5 pieces of merch from the Borderlands series!

I absolutely love Borderlands - the characters, the game design, the setting…everything. It’s one of those games that really sucks you into its immersive world and doesn’t let go. Since Borderlands has such a unique and quirky vibe, I’ve scoured the interwebs for the top 5 pieces of merch that really embody what the game is all about.

First up is the "Danger My Ally” T-shirt from Look Human.

The t-shirt features Sir Hammerlock, one of my personal favorite characters in Borderlands 2. The tee is $23 and comes in a variety of sizes and styles. I really love how it’s got a monochromatic color scheme, because you could easily pair it with a bright cardigan or hoodie to finish the outfit.

Next is the Hyperion Varsity Hoodie from the official Gearbox Store.

I grabbed one of these jackets for my husband during the C2C Gift Guide and was really impressed with the overall quality and design of the jacket. It features a subtle Borderlands branding with the Hyperion logo on the chest, but is styled to look like a varsity jacket - which is really trendy right now for men. So you get to rep a game and look good? Perfect. The jacket is $60 and is available only in mens sizes - But fear not lady fans, simply go down a size to achieve the same look! 

For my all my lady Borderlands fans, I’ve got these amazing Vault Hunter earrings from Etsy.

They feature the iconic Vault Hunter logo and are versatile enough to wear for a night out or to a gaming convention. The earrings are $10 and available to order now. 

Get your drink on with these Dahl branded shot glasses from the official Gearbox Store.

The shot glasses are a heavy design that are great for a party or drinking alone while playing Borderlands.

And last, but certainly not least, is the Butt Stallion Tee from Gearbox.

This tee is the visual embodiment of all Borderlands represents. Seriously. It’s $20 and is available in both mens and women’s sizes. 

So what’s been your favorite item we featured?

Comment, and let's freak out over cool Borderlands stuff together. I’d also love to know which games you’d like featured on Gaming Gear! Don’t forget to subscribe to the Console to Closet YouTube channel for more gaming fashion videos and check out last week’s episode if you’re a Dragon Age fan!

Gaming Gear is a bi-weekly show rounding up the top 5 pieces of merch from a particular game franchise. The show is hosted by Amanda Erickson from Console to Closet, the gaming fashion blog.

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Top 10 Games I Played in 2014 https://www.gameskinny.com/7eoke/top-10-games-i-played-in-2014 https://www.gameskinny.com/7eoke/top-10-games-i-played-in-2014 Sat, 10 Jan 2015 07:57:57 -0500 Elijah Beahm

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Tales from the Borderlands/The Walking Dead Season 2. Really, I can't pick between these two. It's amazing what Telltale pulled off in both an entire season with Clementine and a single episode in Borderlands. The storytelling was top notch, and the ending of The Walking Dead Season 2 still blows me away. You did good this year, Telltale. You did damn good.

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Telltale's games can be found on anything electronic. Your PC? Telltale. Your console? Telltale? Your toaster? Telltale! Buy it on one of them.

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I know, I know. One of my most popular articles on this site is about how Titanfall failed to meet the challenge. But hey, at least by the end of the year, it finally did. It took way too long, but with the addition of co-op, an in-game store (with only in-game currency, no real world money), and optimized matchmaking, the game is finally worth noting.

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The soundtrack is amazing, the game design is some of the slickest in the industry. It remains one of the best PC games I can think of. I usually forget about it for weeks at a time, but whenever I play it, I am satisfied in a way few multiplayer games can satisfy me. Titanfall isn't a great leap into the future of multiplayer gaming, but it is a fitting bridge between the games of old and the new games on the horizon. 

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There's a free 48-hour trial on Origin, and it's on sale for chump change right now. The Complete Edition is available as well, but it only contains the three DLC map packs, which almost no one is playing on PC. You may have better luck on 360 and Xbox One, but it's best just to get the core game. The new modes and all other content are free - and with twenty maps, you won't miss the nine new ones.

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/d7dc3001bb6a77d27202768c38159498.jpg","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/tiny_d7dc3001bb6a77d27202768c38159498.jpg","type":"slide","id":"57691","description":"

My review for this one is nearly finished, but I just can't keep it off this list. As flawed and gritty as its protagonist, WET is an action game I just cannot put down. The mix of flowing gun-ballet, brutal sword-slashing, and gonzo moments keeps me coming back. WET may not objectively be the best game on this list, but it tops as one of my favorite experiences this year.

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The story is wonky, the graphics are badly aged for the year it released, and there certainly are some rough spots. But with a core as solid as WET's combat, I just can't help but come back every now and then. The added bonus of a score-hunting mode for every level in the game helps put a little spice in each replay as well. For more of my thoughts, keep an eye out for my review.

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WET is available on PS3 and Xbox 360. It's cheap enough to look past the flaws, and strong enough at its core to show you why it's yet another cult-classic of the seventh console generation.

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There's a free demo of Gunpoint on Steam right now. GO! Download it! Play it! Do it now!

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Okay, back? So you see why Gunpoint is awesome, yes?! This puzzle-platformer defies indie conventions by being more like an elaborate set of dominos you must manipulate until you achieve your objective - with hilarious dialogue trees and a deep unlock system to boot. Plus there's user-generated levels now. It hardly can get better than this!

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Gunpoint is on PC, Mac, and Linux. So unless you have absolutely no personal computer (in which case, how on earth are you reading this?), play Gunpoint now! If I had to rank these for GOTY, this would be in the top three at least.

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You know, the first review I ever wrote for GameSkinny was for the Tomb Raider reboot. Man, I did not like that. So when I booted up Tomb Raider: Anniversary, I did NOT expect how much better it would be. It boasted platforming that required thought, with large open-ended levels that further enticed you to explore and figure things out on your own. Lara's journal does not tell you the exact answer you need; it only gives vague hints. Combat is not at the forefront, but it keeps the pacing fresh.

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I haven't finished Anniversary yet, but I don't care. Any game fun enough to keep me going for five hours, without a break or much complaint, gets the seal of approval regardless. I also had the added benefit of playing it on PC, where the graphics are incredibly crisp compared to its Wii and PS2 versions. 

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Not since Portal has an adventure game treated me with so much respect as a gamer, and trusted me to handle playing without a constant guiding hand. I may never know how Crystal Dynamics got from this to the Tomb Raider reboot, but I sincerely hope they bring the more realistic Lara back to her roots soon. This is the action-adventure game I've been waiting years for.

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It's available on PC, PS2, PS3 (via Tomb Raider Collection), Xbox 360, Wii, and PSP. Whatever platform you can play it on, get it. Even if you never touch Legend or Underworld, you should play Anniversary.

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/4198e6b01f6064852bea077ab2acf404.jpg","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/tiny_4198e6b01f6064852bea077ab2acf404.jpg","type":"slide","id":"57688","description":"

Yes, one of the best games I played in 2014 was a mobile game. Badland is an amazing, almost spellbinding remix of Jetpack Joyride's "one press to do everything" mentality. Except instead of being about a crazed scientist or a flappy bird, this is about you guiding a species of flying animals through hell and back in one of the most beautiful and dark mobile games out there.

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It's available on iOS/Android, with the first campaign now available for free. Play it, and experience one of the best mobile games out there that isn't an Infinity Blade clone.

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/8b7a742837a1a60a57165aa45c0234ea.jpg","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/tiny_8b7a742837a1a60a57165aa45c0234ea.jpg","type":"slide","id":"57686","description":"

Normally I sigh at Ubisoft for their frustrating development practices and questionable DRM choices. Then there are moments when I remember why I enjoy their games. Assassin's Creed: Rogue was one of those times. It received almost no fanfare, and most people acted as if it never existed. Very few, if any, review copies were sent out. Yet somehow, I had a hunch, this was going to be the real next step in the series. Equal parts a fitting conclusion to the America Saga and a step forward into the realm of Unity's new storyline, AC: Rogue is an all-around solid sandbox game.

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It cuts out a lot of the fluff in AC3-4, and combines almost all the best ideas of AC4 into an AC3 framework. I'm not sure if this is the largest world Ubisoft has ever made, but it is the most content-rich one that I've experienced. Reconstructing a Viking sword, intercepting Assassins, and capturing all manner of fortresses makes this one of the most enjoyable games in the series. I truly wish we'd seen some invasion-style multiplayer a la Dark Souls, but even without any kind of multiplayer, this title is well-worth the asking price. I can hardly say that of most AAA 2014 releases. It seems protagonist Shay managed to defy the odds in the real world, just as much as in his fictional realm.

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It's available on Xbox 360 and PS3 right now, but it's coming to Steam, PS4, and Xbox One later this year. Wait for the price to drop around $40 or less, and you're in for a treat.

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Whenever you want to know what I think a linear shooter should be like, just look at Wolfenstein: The New Order. The developer, Machinegames, is primarily made up of developers from Starbreeze, who made the under-appreciated gem that is the Syndicate reboot, so I already knew to expect good things. This is better than anything I'd anticipated.

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Wolfenstein: The New Order one of those rare games that can satisfy you with answers to all your questions, but still leave you wanting more. A fantastic mix of camp, seriousness, and retro sci-fi charm, this alternative-history 1960s world is a one worth fighting for. Few single-player games are created with as much competence as Wolfenstein, and other developers (looking at you, Naughty Dog) should take note.

It's available on PC via Steam, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. I played it on 360, and so long as you don't mind low-res textures and 30 FPS, there's absolutely no reason for you to not get it now on whatever console you have.

"},{"image":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/c7ab34d2ca37e2bb0443978f844d0d2b.jpg","thumb":"http://images.gameskinny.com/gameskinny/tiny_c7ab34d2ca37e2bb0443978f844d0d2b.jpg","type":"slide","id":"57684","description":"

Endless Legend is the first strategy game to grab my attention in years. It's not since Civilization 3 that I've been this interested in a strategy game. When I reviewed it, it felt like I was experiencing a perfect blend of Tolkien and George R.R. Martin, purely through mechanics and the game's dynamic design. Endless Legend is deceptively simple, but so deep that I fear it'll be years before I truly have a handle on it. That's fine with me though, that should keep me busy until the next big strategy game comes to scratch that itch.

It's available on PC/Mac on Steam, and the developers have both mod support and work with the community through their GAMES2GETHER initiative. Seriously, give it a look.

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So, a little late to the pitcher's mound, but here's a list for ALL the games I played in 2014 (not just the ones released in 2014). In no particular order, these are the best, most enjoyable, and most enriching games I played in 2014. 

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