Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands will have you riding your Butt Stallion all the way to Brighthoof
I HAVEN’T had this much fun in a video game for a very long time.
A continuation of Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep: A Wonderlands One-Shot Adventure which was DLC for Borderlands 2, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is a mix of looter-shooter and tabletop board game. The game Tiny Tina is hosting is called Bunkers and Badasses, a fantasy RPG in the style of Dungeons and Dragons where Tiny Tina is the Dungeon Master. With Ashly Burch reprising her role as Tiny Tina and an all star cast featuring the likes of Andy Samberg, Wanda Sykes and Will Arnett, this over the top undertaking will have you riding your Butt Stallion all the way to Brighthoof.
The game’s blurb really sums the basic idea pretty well: Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands features the journey of the Fatemaker through an extraordinary tabletop realm where rules rarely apply. Players can create and customize their own multiclass heroes as they loot, shoot, slash, and cast their way through outlandish monsters and treasure-filled dungeons on a quest to stop the tyrannical Dragon Lord. The chaotic fantasy world is brought to life by the utterly unpredictable and lets say psychotic Tiny Tina, who makes the rules, changes the world on the fly, and guides players on their respective journeys.
I initially didn’t have high expectations for Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands as I thought it was going to be just a reskin of Borderlands 3 – but I was clearly mistaken. Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is a game within a game. The vastness of Overworld, which is a top down map taking you from location to location, then jumping straight into a barrage of bullets, battles and bones is a wonderful mix. I found that once you enter Overworld after the tutorial stage, it added a sense of depth to the game. Overworld is delightful and simple, but also kept the game focused.
There are a good amount of side quests built in to Overworld and Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands as a whole, although I found the encounters in Overworld very much a bit tedious. The side quests themselves are very well written, thought out and very involved. There’s so much variety and humour to them, I couldnt stop laughing. I mean I found myself on a mission called The Ditcher featuring Gerritt of Trivia as well as taking on a horde of Smurfs!
Gameplay overall is brilliant. It feels very much updated and faster than previous Borderlands style shooting games. Being a Borderlands-esque game there’s a big focus on guns, but by adding the fantasy elements to the weapons like having crossbows instead of pistols and magic replacing grenades is a nice touch. The magic and casting is phenomenal. The different magic abilities are impressive and its easy to lean into those abilities for your character build, picking up new spells to try out. This is very much encouraged in game with very generous cooldowns for abilities and spells.
It’s like Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands doesn’t want you to be shooting all the time; the developers were clearly conscious of the different skills available to the players and wanted them to use them pretty consistently throughout the game. Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands really took advantage of the Playstation 5 DualSense controller’s haptic triggers, too – I could feel the haptic feedback while using some of the firearms.
Despite the fantasy theming, I was disappointed you can’t make melee weapons a primary focus. There is a single melee weapon slot, and a large range of melee weapons to go in it, but you can only equip one at a time and the melee weapon is only ever a secondary option, activated via a thumbstick press.
The character builder is extremely detailed and on point. You start as an unpainted model and create from there. It’s nice that there are so many options and not just character presets. It has just the right amount of modifications without going overboard. The variety of the six character classes is brilliant, each with their own strengths, abilities and playstyles. I had found a lot of enjoyment playing with each however i kept going back to Clawbringer as I enjoyed having a little wyvern companion aiding me in battles. Choosing a character background I found to be a nice touch included from fantasy tabletops, including stat presets for strength, dexterity etc which you add points to, then translates to percentage critical damage or percentage max HP and so on in-game really nicely.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is definitely a looter-shooter in every aspect, but the new presentation and spin on the tabletop game really helped with selling me back into it. Scrounging for weapons, spells and even armour is pretty good; I wish the armour was a little more in-depth but there’s still customisation there.
The Inventory and menu feels very cluttered and bulky, even more so if you’re playing two-player couch co-op. It’s definitely a missed opportunity not streamlining the menu and making it a bit more intuitive to navigate, especially considering you spend a lot of time in the inventory sorting weapons and looking over stats.
The main story and missions are all narrated by Tiny Tina which I found fantastic. The missions themselves kept things interesting, considering all you’re really doing is shooting and casting spells. I loved that Tina is improvising the whole time which means the world changes on the fly to accommodate whatever her inclination might be. You’re told the city is under siege but looks eerily calm until somebody mentions that it should look a little more forboding. All of a sudden enemies appear and the sky starts raining fire. It all comes together extremely well.
The comedy has definitely been improved in Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, I found myself laughing out loud on more than one occasion with the fourth wall breaks and inside jokes; the game definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously. As well as the main and side missions there’s on offer and to explore in Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands including bounties to collect and towns with vendors and blacksmiths to visit, although it feels much more linear than other titles in the Borderlands franchise.
A game like this is improved on when played with friends and while I can appreciated what the developers were trying to do, the local split screen multiplayer offering had some shortcomings. I found the screens were cluttered and the inventory looked like a mess in split-screen mode; I had to scroll to see the lower third of the inventory because it didn’t all fit on the the one page like it did when playing solo. From the get go I did have pretty consistent disconnects to Gearbox’s servers although Shift and Gearbox seem to be aware and are attempting to rectify this according to their Twitter post on March 27.
Overall Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is fantastic game with a few minor hiccups. It’s a tried and true formula for Gearbox Software and 2K – If it ain’t broke, don’t try and fix it. This is definitely a solid Borderlands spin off which I think will have a great cult following; I thoroughly enjoyed playing this game and laughed all the way to Brighthoof – and I’m anxiously anticipating news of a hopeful sequel.
Written by: @Blustreak81