|The Walking Dead: A New Frontier|
|Series||The Walking Dead|
|Release date(s)||Nintendo Switch|
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier is an episodic graphic adventure game based on Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead comic book series developed by Telltale Games. It is Telltale's third season of its The Walking Dead series, with the first two episodes released on December 20, 2016, and a retail season pass disc edition released on February 7, 2017. The game employs the same narrative structure as the past seasons, where player choice in one episode will have a permanent impact on future story elements. The player choices recorded in save files from the first two seasons and the additional episode "400 Days" carry over into the third season. Clementine (voiced by Melissa Hutchison), who was the player's companion during the first season and the player-character in season two returns as a player-character along with another player-character, Javier "Javi" Garcia (voiced by Jeff Schine).
The game takes place in the same fictional world as the comic, with the zombie apocalypse having occurred. The main characters of the game are original characters; however, due to time skips in season two and between seasons two and three, the timeline is caught up to where the comics are.
Similar to the previous seasons, The Walking Dead: A New Frontier is a point-and-click adventure game. In contrast to previous seasons, there will be two playable characters: Clementine, the heroine from the previous games; and Javier, a new character introduced this season. Players can direct the current character under their control around the environment, examine and interact with various scenery elements and collect and use objects to advance the story. The player can also initiate conversations with non-player characters via conversation trees. Certain replies from other characters may offer the player multiple choices to select from, including the option to stay silent, with a limited amount of time to make the selection; if the player does not select an option, the conversation will continue as if they had stayed quiet. Such choices can affect how the other characters will later react to the player-character which can influence later events in the story. Other scenes are more action-oriented, requiring the player to complete quick time events to prevent the player-character or their allies from getting killed. If the player fails these events, the game will restart at the start of such scenes. Such action scenes may also require the player to make a key decision within a limited time frame, such as which of two characters to save from attacking walkers.
The player's choices and actions will impact story elements in later episodes; for example, a character that the player does not choose to be saved will not appear in later scenes. A New Frontier will incorporate player choices made in previous games in the series through existing save files; Telltale states they will offer multiple options for how players can bring in previous saves into the game, including for players that have switched their choice of platform prior to A New Frontier. A New Frontier will not be released on the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360, but players that have saves from Season Two on these platforms will be able to download a patch on those consoles as to upload their saved game to Telltale's servers, and then access that from their new choice of platform. Telltale will also provide a separate tool for players to "quick-create a tailored backstory" for Clementine to this point, with a possible 42 different variations, and create a save file from which to start the new season with. Players may also opt to use the default backstory that Telltale has created as the basis for the game.
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier follows on the first game, and coincides with events of the comic, in which a zombie apocalypse has occurred, turning humans that are bitten or die into zombies, or "walkers"; the only way to stop this conversion is to damage the brain. The game is primarily set four years after the apocalypse began.
The protagonist of A New Frontier is Javier "Javi" Garcia (Jeff Schine), a former professional baseball player. His group consists of Kate (Shelley Shenoy), the second wife of his brother David (Alex Hernandez), and David's children Gabe (Raymond Ochoa) and Mariana (Vale de la Maza). He later meets Clementine (Melissa Hutchison), a young teenager surviving on her own, and a major protagonist from the previous two seasons. She continues to look after the baby from last season, Alvin Jr. Also returning from the previous seasons are either Kenny (Gavin Hammon) or Jane (Christine Lakin), depending on the player's decisions from the previous season. Javi's group meets new characters from the idyllic town of Prescott, including their leader Tripp and town doctor Eleanor (Kelly Crowder). The first episode's trailer includes the group meeting Paul "Jesus" Monroe (Brandon Keener), the ambassador of the Hilltop community from the comic series. The trailer also describes "The New Frontier" as another group of survivors that have become twisted due to past events.
Javi is living with his parents and extended family in Baltimore at the onset of the walker epidemic. This includes his brother David, David's second wife Kate, and David's children Gabe and Mariana. When Javi and David's father dies of cancer, he turns and bites their mother. When David takes her to the hospital but does not return, Javi and Kate eventually move on and set off on the road with Gabe and Mariana. Four years later, while scavenging for supplies, the four have a run-in with a group led by Max and Badger. Javi is separated but is rescued by Clementine, who offers help in exchange for their family truck. Clementine takes Javi to Prescott—a fortified community within an old airfield—where he is introduced to Tripp, Conrad, Francine, and Eleanor. Tripp and Eleanor agree to help rescue Javi's family.
In the rescue attempt, Mariana is killed by Max and Badger's men and Kate is critically wounded. Clementine identifies one of the attackers as a member of The New Frontier—a large group of survivors she had once met—claiming they were once good people but have since turned corrupt. The group return to Prescott to heal Kate when Max and Badger appear at the gates—having taken Francine hostage—and demand Javi turn himself over. Regardless of Javi's response, Badger kills Francine and unleashes a horde of walkers into Prescott. Only Javi, Clementine, Tripp, Conrad, Eleanor, Kate, and Gabe survive. After regrouping, Clementine suggests they go to Richmond, Virginia, where a sizable survivor camp can be found. A walker horde separates the group: Eleanor stays with Kate while the others meet Paul "Jesus" Monroe, who takes them through a tunnel shortcut. After Jesus reveals that the New Frontier controls Richmond, Clementine warns Javi that she used to be a member of the New Frontier and will leave before reaching Richmond.
The group reaches Richmond and demand to be let in for Kate's sake. The town's chief of security arrives, revealed to be David. David takes Kate and Gabe to Dr. Lingard for medical care and keeps the others in quarantine. David later escorts Javi around Richmond, explaining that he became the New Frontier's head of security after being unable to return to Baltimore. He then introduces Javi to his second-in-command, Ava, and the two meet a recovering Kate, whose relationship with David is deteriorating. Javi then meets with David and two of the other three New Frontier leaders—Clint and Joan—to argue his case for staying in Richmond. Max arrives and accuses Javi of stealing New Frontier supplies and killing his men at the junkyard. While David supports Javi, Joan and Clint refuse and exile Javi and his group.
As David returns, Clementine accuses him of being responsible for the death of the infant AJ; flashbacks reveal that Clementine and AJ were forced to travel alone until they met Ava, who invited them into the New Frontier. When AJ became deathly ill, Clementine attempted to steal medicine from Lingard to save his life, which caused David to exile her. David admits AJ is alive and safe in Richmond with Lingard. The group then overhears Max, Badger, and Lonnie in the warehouse, which is full of supplies raided from other communities. Badger is killed in retribution while an interrogated Max admits that Joan had ordered the raids. Jesus takes his leave to warn his own group about Joan while the others return to Richmond to confront Joan and rescue Kate, Gabe, Eleanor, and AJ. Joan turns on David by labelling him as a conspirator alongside Javi, and prepares to hang David the next day at the town square.
Javi escapes confinement and organizes his group, aiming to expose Joan and escape in a truck after rescuing David. He and Clementine meet up at the hospital, where Lingard, no longer able to cope with the New Frontier's actions, demands being killed by injection in exchange for information on the whereabouts of AJ. Kate also admits her love for Javi, who has the option of reciprocating. At the hanging, Joan makes accusations against Javi and reveals she has captured Ava and Tripp, demanding Javi determine who to spare. Regardless, Joan betrays Javi and kills the one he chooses. Clint offers Javi's group a deal to leave Richmond peacefully, which Javi can accept or refuse by killing Joan. Either choice leads to a firefight where David is freed. Kate races into the square with the truck, but crashes into a fence after being struck by a molotov cocktail, which opens a breech and allows walkers to pour through.
The group barricade themselves in an apartment building and plan on how to save Richmond. However, David views Richmond as a lost cause and suggests leaving the city, which Gabe agrees with. Having grown aggressive over suspicion of Javi and Kate's closeness, David fights his brother until walkers begin to close in on them. As David leaves in a truck with Gabe, Kate decides to man a bulldozer to help save Richmond; Javi must decide whether to pursue David or help Kate. Depending on the choices she made in her flashbacks, Clementine will decide to either choose one of the two, follow Javi's lead, or split up from him. Their choices result in Javi losing David, Gabe, and/or Kate. Jesus returns with reinforcements and helps the survivors round up the walkers and lead them out of Richmond, saving the town.
Days later, Javi memorializes the ones lost and meets Jesus, who suggests that he becomes Richmond's new leader. Having learned from Lingard, that AJ is being kept at a ranch outside of town, Clementine decides to leave Richmond to find him. After Javi gives Clementine a haircut, they bid goodbye and she departs.
The game is separated into five episodes, like the first and second seasons.
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|11||1||"Ties That Bind - Part One"||Jason Latino||Brad Kane|
Adam Esquenazi Douglas
|December 20, 2016|
|12||2||"Ties That Bind - Part Two"||Rebekah Gamin Arcovitch||Brad Kane|
Adam Esquenazi Douglas
|December 20, 2016|
|13||3||"Above the Law"||Chris Rebbert||James Windeler|
Patrick Kevin Day
Adam Esquenazi Douglas
|March 28, 2017|
|14||4||"Thicker Than Water"||Chris Rieser||Luke McMullen|
Patrick Kevin Day
|April 25, 2017|
|15||5||"From the Gallows"||Jason Pyke||Adam Esquenazi Douglas||May 30, 2017|
When Telltale Games acquired the right to make video games based on The Walking Dead comics, they signed a contract for a "multi-year, multi-platform, multi-title" license. This license went into effect after the success of the first season of The Walking Dead, when Telltale commissioned a second series of games based on the franchise. The first season was considered highly successful, helping to revitalize the adventure game genre which had been in decline since the mid-1990s, with Telltale being recognized as one of the top development studios in 2012.
During an interview on IGN's Up at Noon, writer Gary Whitta teased more The Walking Dead from Telltale sooner than later. "You won't have to wait for season two to play more Walking Dead", he claimed. "I can tell you what you already know, which is season two is coming. There's not much to say because it really is very early... it's a way off", said Whitta. "But, knowing that it's a way off, and knowing that people are hungry for more Walking Dead there may very well be more Walking Dead from Telltale before season two. We may have a little something extra for you between season one and two". Whitta continued to tease that something is in the works right now "that will make the wait for season two slightly less agonizing". This was revealed at the 2013 Electronic Entertainment Expo in June 2013 to be an additional episode called The Walking Dead: 400 Days that is available as downloadable content for the first season. It introduces five new characters that journalists expect to carry into Season Two. 400 Days will use data about the player's decisions in season one, and decisions made in 400 Days will carry into Season Two.
Telltale's Sean Ainsworth and Dennis Lenart stated that the third season features a "new angle" from the story. It was confirmed by Robert Kirkman that Clementine would return for Season 3. Robert Kirkman also said the game would almost be at the same point as the current comic timeline. He also said more comic-related events would happen. During a 2015 E3 Discussion with Greg Miller and Job Stauffer, Stauffer implied that Season 3 was "a long ways off" and "considerably larger" than previous games. Stauffer hinted that some Comic Series characters would appear in Season 3.
Season 3 was planned to tie in all the possible endings that players from previous seasons may have taken, but as well as to draw in new players to the series. With the planned influx of new players and those that have transitioned off older consoles and do not have access to save games, Telltale provided a story generator tool that asks the player several questions as to customize a starting point for A New Frontier. These questions were developed by evaluating around 40,000 playthroughs that covered Season One and Two, and grouping the general pattern of choices made by players into a total of 42 distinct scenarios, from which they derived questions that would help guide a new player to fall in one of these sets. Bruner said they were more looking at patterns of behavior rather than specific decisions that had been made; for example, the decision whether to kill Lee at his request before he turns or leave him at the end of Season One was found to be "representative of some pretty complicated motivations" of the sum of players' choices in the game, and thus wanted this story generator to capture the motivation rather than the result.
In an interview with IGN, Kirkman stated that the third season would bring the video game closer to the comic book's current time frame at the time of its planned release. This season takes place a few years after the second season, and includes a somewhat older Clementine along with AJ, the infant she rescues at the end of Season 2 and now a toddler. Clementine is a playable character along with a new character, Javier. Telltale adapted its previous data about player choices from the first two seasons, which were saved locally to a player's computer or console, to work with their new cloud-based saving approach, so that these previous choices will affect how the story in the third season will play out. The game uses the updated Telltale game engine that it is using for its Batman game.
During the 2016 PAX Expo, Telltale revealed the third season would be released in November 2016, with the subtitle A New Frontier. Telltale later had to delay the first episode's release until December 20, 2016. Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment published retail versions of Season 3 as part of a deal with Telltale for Batman that was released in August 2016. The physical edition was expected to release on February 24, 2017 in North America and March 3, 2017 in Europe; it contained the first two episodes on disc and through digital codes to redeem the other episodes once they were available.
|Episode 1: Ties That Bind Part One||(PC) 81|
|Episode 2: Ties That Bind Part Two||(PC) 80|
|Episode 3: Above the Law||(PC) 75|
|Episode 4: Thicker Than Water||(PC) 72|
|Episode 5: From The Gallows||(PC) 74|
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier received mixed-to-positive reviews from critics with particular praise aimed at its new cast of characters, updated engine, pathos, and overall new direction. However, the short episode lengths and the treatment of the Season Two endings were both subjects of criticism. The game's story and Clementine's shift to a supporting role have both been met with a mixed response.
Episode 1: Ties That Bind Part One
Aggregating review website Metacritic gave the Microsoft Windows version 81/100 based on 35 reviews, the PlayStation 4 version 80/100 based on 10 reviews and the Xbox One version 78/100 based on 14 reviews.
Episode 2: Ties That Bind Part Two
Aggregating review website Metacritic gave the Microsoft Windows version 80/100 based on 33 reviews, the PlayStation 4 version 80/100 based on 9 reviews and the Xbox One version 78/100 based on 13 reviews.
Episode 3: Above the Law
Aggregating review website Metacritic gave the Microsoft Windows version 75/100 based on 29 reviews, the PlayStation 4 version 69/100 based on 8 reviews and the Xbox One version 73/100 based on 6 reviews.
Episode 4: Thicker Than Water
Aggregating review website Metacritic gave the Microsoft Windows version 72/100 based on 28 reviews, the PlayStation 4 version 65/100 based on 5 reviews and the Xbox One version 73/100 based on 4 reviews.
Episode 5: From the Gallows
Aggregating review website Metacritic gave the Microsoft Windows version 74/100 based on 23 reviews, the PlayStation 4 version 71/100 based on 5 reviews and the Xbox One version 64/100 based on 6 reviews.
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- "The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series - A New Frontier Episode 4: Thicker Than Water Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. http://www.metacritic.com/game/playstation-4/the-walking-dead-the-telltale-series---a-new-frontier-episode-4-thicker-than-water. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
- "The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series - A New Frontier Episode 4: Thicker Than Water Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. http://www.metacritic.com/game/xbox-one/the-walking-dead-the-telltale-series---a-new-frontier-episode-4-thicker-than-water. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
- "The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series - A New Frontier Episode 5: From The Gallows Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. http://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/the-walking-dead-the-telltale-series---a-new-frontier-episode-5-from-the-gallows. Retrieved May 30, 2017.
- "The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series - A New Frontier Episode 5: From The Gallows Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. http://www.metacritic.com/game/playstation-4/the-walking-dead-the-telltale-series---a-new-frontier-episode-5-from-the-gallows. Retrieved May 30, 2017.
- "The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series - A New Frontier Episode 5: From The Gallows Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. http://www.metacritic.com/game/xbox-one/the-walking-dead-the-telltale-series---a-new-frontier-episode-5-from-the-gallows. Retrieved May 30, 2017.