Tales From the Borderlands, Episode Three: Catch a Ride Review (PC)
Rhys and Fiona just can't stay out of trouble, though that's probably par for the course for a couple of wannabe Vault Hunters. In the last Tales from the Borderlands episode, the not-so-dynamic duo found themselves at odds with Vasquez and August after recovering the coveted orb in the depths of an Atlas bunker. The fates of all our characters were in Rhys' hands, and with everything on the line, we were asked to choose between Fiona or Handsome Jack to pull the collective of butts out of the fire. In true Borderlands fashion, everything goes exactly as planned. Except not really at all.
Light spoilers for "Catch a Ride" follow.
In our playthrough, we sided with Fiona because, as anyone with even a remote knowledge of the Borderlands universe knows, you never, never, never, never, never trust Handsome Jack. Never. No, seriously. Never. Even when the only other person in the room to trust is a con artist who has already tried to sell out on several occasions, that's still the better option over the madman who's implanted himself in your cybernetic augmentations, and wants to take over your body like he took over Hyperion and Pandora.
Fiona's plan to save everyone isn't very dramatic, or well thought-out, but it does get the job done, and all without you having to get all buddy-buddy with Handsome Jack. Have we stressed the importance of not ever listening to Jack enough? Good. Are you sure? It's important to us that you understand the significance of how terrible a decision that would be for you to do that. By "that," we mean listening to Jack. Okay, we'll stop. You probably get it by now. Right? Riiiiiight? Okay.
Anyway, after some escaping action, our heroes finally break out of the Atlas compound, only to be confronted by Vallory. While at first her motivations are unclear, once August and Vasquez make their way out of the Atlas bunker behind you, her true colors show. Vallory, unlike the base of her name, is not so cool, you guys. She's part of the mastermind plan that hoped to swindle would-be Vault Hunters with a faulty key, only now that everyone else has done the dirty work uncovering a real treasure, she's all too eager to punch your one-way ticket to Deadsville. It's fortunate then that you're in control of such a quick-thinking group of miscreants. And that Athena shows up in the nick of time to deflect all the bullets headed in the general direction of your face.
With Athena in tow, and the mysterious object from the Atlas labs leading the way, Rhys, Fiona, Loader Bot and the rest of the team head to locations unknown, somewhere in the far reaches of Pandora. You know it's far because the opening sequence montage (which have become a favorite part of the Tales From the Borderlands episodes) covers the travel time, and has so many cuts with different locales, you know the team had to go very far to find what they were seeking. It's also one of the last times we get to see Jack, as you get a few conversational options to either make amends with the despot, or have Rhys continue denying Jack. If you recall our conversation from earlier in this review, Jack is bad news. So, take that under advisement.
After a long trek, the group discovers they've been led to another secret Atlas installation. This one is filled with all manner of crazy flora and fauna, and that's saying something considering the wildlife on Pandora is about ridiculous as can possibly exist. Once inside, you meet a secretive old man, who you soon learn is one of the last Atlas scientists alive. You can also buy some new clothes at a vending machine, and give Fiona a much more dapper look and a new hat. That's probably not as important to know as what mysteries the elderly scientist knows, but sometimes a change of clothes can give you more confidence. You know, you stand a little taller when you've got some fancy duds.
After talking with the old man, it becomes clear that once again, Rhys and Fiona will have to split up to get the job the done. The objective inside requires one group to shut down security measures, while the other infiltrates a bunker inside the lab where the latest McGuffin lies. We won't spoil what happens next, as there's some good action and light-hearted moments during the final act of this episode. There aren't many twists and turns in this chapter, but we do see some solid plot advances, as well as getting a clearer picture of who the real bad guys are in this story.
It's not all good news for "Catch a Ride," however, as this episode did have some pacing issues. Previously, when the group was split up, we'd cut back and forth to see how everyone was doing. That still happens here, but the cuts are much more frequent this time around, and it gets a little jumpy towards the conclusion. Scenes don't get much time to breathe before you're whisked away to check in on the other characters. The writing is still strong, but it's not quite as tight an episode as the two previous entries merely due to the speed at which you bounce back and forth between Rhys' and Fiona's perspectives.
It's not quite as strong in every area as the preceding chapters were, but Tales From the Borderlands' third episode does a nice job keeping us invested, continuing to add new wrinkles to the adventure, and keeping us smiling. "Catch a Ride" is a solid mid-point, and leaves us in such a place that it's impossible to predict what could possibly happen next. All we know is we want to be there, side by side with Fiona and Rhys (and Loader Bot), for the next installment in this wild ride.
This review was completed with a download code of Tales From the Borderlands, Episode Three: Catch a Ride provided by the publisher for PC.