Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Platform: PC [Reviewed], Mac, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Android, iOS
Release Date: October 20th, 2015 for PC, Mac, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, October 21st, 2015 for Xbox 360 and Xbox One, October 22nd, 2015 for Android and iOS
The Vault of the Traveler is the fifth and final episode from Telltale’s Tales from the Borderlands. I reviewed the fourth episode a couple of months back, and waited patiently for this last episode to see if this could live up to my expectations after playing through the first four episodes.
I don’t think it needs to be said at this point, but I’ll still preface my review with a warning:
This is a review for the fifth episode from the Tales from the Borderlands episodic series. It will contain spoilers from past episodes, so read on with caution if you have yet to play this series.
In the penultimate episode of Tales from the Borderlands, everything seemed to go from bad to worse. You were being forced to work for Vallory, you had to go back to Hyperion, traveling up to Helios, our favorite mechanic slightly lacking in brains wished us an emotional farewell, and after an exciting round of finger guns, everything started to suck. Handsome Jack was unleashed from Rhys’s brain into the Helios computer system, and Fiona, Sasha, and Gortys had been cornered by the traitorous Yvette.
Although not a lot of climactic situations arose in the previous episode, it did set things up so that the final episode, The Vault of the Traveler, would be a great finish.
Starting right where Escape Plan Bravo ended, you find yourself in the middle of a pretty terrible situation. Some quick thinking and a punch or two gets you free from Handsome Jack and Yvette, as the face of Handsome Jack begins appearing all over Helios, hunting for your good pal Rhys. You’ll gain a new appreciation for Loader Bot as you make your exciting exit from Helios back towards the surface of Pandora.
Now let me take a moment to remind you of a particular quote:
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
If you’ve played any other Borderlands games, you may be familiar with the fact that part of Vault hunting is dealing with the giant monsters of doom that happen to come out of each of these Vaults. It was true in Borderlands where you were assaulted by a tentacled monster dubbed the Destroyer. It was true in Borderlands 2 when you faced The Warrior. It was true in the Pre-Sequel when you faced the Sentinel.
Although the trailer gave a taste of it, actually playing through The Vault of the Traveler will give you a good look at the next giant Vault monster to grace your screen, dubbed the Traveler. You would think knowing that giant monsters are the natural equipment of a given Vault, people wouldn’t be so eager about this one. You would be very wrong. Everybody might be slightly insane.
Without delving into it too much, there is a combat situation between your group and the Traveler, and it is easily the best part of the series so far. It was involved, and unlike previous episodes, it wasn’t just mostly mashing Q and hitting a direction periodically. It was sequences of buttons that actually made me pay close attention from start to end to make sure I got every input right.
The action looked good, was highly varied, and all of it felt like a great use of gameplay, even better than the other four episodes, which I adored. I was extremely satisfied as I played through the final episode, and felt that Telltale pulled off some great work with their relatively limited gameplay system.
The Vault of the Traveler is a roller coaster from start to finish, climactic, and only slowing down long enough for the episode to catch its breath before diving into the next big event. There is good humor, great action, and enough drama to keep everything in check.
On top of it, this is one of the best uses of your decisions from the start to the end of the game I’ve seen. Once again, I won’t say too much to avoid spoilers, but do know that every action you’ve taken that people have remembered will matter here. Who did you lay the blame on at a critical time? Did you lie to someone or tell them the truth? Did you spread your name as an up and coming Vault Hunter, or did you stay quiet?
Even your spending habits matter. You’ll find out if your fancy paint job or preferred psycho mask was worth the cost or not. It finally becomes apparent what purpose there truly was behind the bits of money you pick up from start to end.
When I saw the credits roll, I was completely satisfied with the ending. Character relationships concluded nicely, and nothing about the weird nature of Pandora was altered for the sake of a particular ending. Considering the ending can be the hardest thing to get right, I can safely say that the Vault of the Traveler finishes things out perfectly.
As a Telltale game, from start to finish, it is well done. Easily one of their best games to date. As a Borderlands game, it actually feels more like Borderlands than the Pre-Sequel did. The characters, world, and interactions all feel like an authentic Borderlands experience from the first to the last minute. I was worried when I started that it would feel somewhat generic. That the original protagonists wouldn’t measure up.
All my worries were unfounded as the series progressed well and concluded with a bang with The Vault of the Traveler.
The Bottom Line
If you’ve been waiting on Tales from the Borderlands because you were unsure if it would be a genuine Borderlands experience, if you were worried it would just be a lackluster Telltale title, or because the lengthy release schedule pushed you away, I assure you, now is the time to pick this game up.
Now I just want to know how Tales from the Borderlands will impact the next Borderlands game. The best thing might be that the events were big enough that you know they’ll have an impact in the next game. This didn’t just feel like a one-off side-story.
If you’ve been keeping up with Tales from the Borderlands, be sure to play through the Vault of the Traveler yourself as soon as possible. As a standalone episode, it is very well done and certainly worth the time.