Even in the world of episodic content, four months is a long time to wait for the next installment. While it’s worth mentioning Telltale has their Game of Thrones series running concurrently with their Borderlands series, I’d dare argue fans have been clamoring more for the latter. Coming off first episode Zer0 Sum, it was looking like Telltale was ready to deliver a comedic powerhouse of a story that would impress even Gearbox. Substantially shorter than any other episode of any series, Tales from the Borderlands: Atlas Mugged slows down the action elements to a crawl in favor of even more hilarious dialogue and some unexpected emotional moments.
Episode 2 has the two protagonists separating and reuniting again and it continues to be a solid narrative device. Seeing from one perspective and then from the other gives extra insight to events, though this episode lacks some of the punchier revelatory moments that Zer0 Sum had. There are still some secrets set up for later, which will continue to wet the conspirators trying to anticipate the ending before we all get to the final episode.
Without surprise, Handsome Jack steals the spotlight, and it’s every bit as delightful as one would hope. Rhys, Fiona, and the rest of the gang have some good lines, but Telltale’s treatment of Jack is completely on point; he is hilarious and awful, which serves Telltale’s concept of adventure games well. In Borderlands 2 he was a likable villain; in The Pre-Sequel he was a detestable hero. Here, he can be either, allowing the player to choose.
Past that, the main gameplay is exactly what we all expect from Telltale. Dialogue trees, quick-time events, and the occasional big choice to make. Keeping consistent with the first episode, the writing is sharp, the jokes are plentiful, the plot is intriguing, and the action is over-the-top. What it lacks is easily forgiven because what it contains is polished, rhythmic, and generously funny.
When all is said and done, second episode Atlas Mugged will probably be seen as a set-up episode for a more plot-heavy third or fourth installment, but nevertheless is still a worthy reintroduction into the Borderlands universe. If there is a major complaint to take away from it, I would hope we don’t have to sit with this excitement for another four months. Bring on Episode Three!