Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands Is a Magnificently Bizarre Romp for Borderlands Fans

Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands takes the loot-driven, gun-hoarding gameplay of Borderlands and slaps on a loving dash of Dungeons & Dragons paint.

When Gearbox dropped the Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon’s Keep expansion for Borderlands 2, it wasn’t hard to see the potential for something greater. The transition to a fantastical setting inspired by Dungeons & Dragons worked a treat, meshing intense loot-driven gunplay with a metatextual story that had a surprising amount of heart for a franchise so obsessed with meat bicycles. While the blueprint was established back in 2013, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands Takes that original concept and runs screaming into the hills, resulting in a game that will both appeal to long-time Borderlands fans and players looking for something a little different from the franchise.

While many elements of Wonderlands are familiar, there are enough tweaks under the hood that demonstrate that this isn’t just another numbered Borderlands. The minute-to-minute gameplay is recognizable from the start: Travel across a variety of hubs, kill a staggering amount of enemies, discover randomly-generated loot in the form of weapons and level up your character. At this point, players will know if they mesh with the established formula; Wonderlands isn’t about to convince you that you were wrong if you disliked any of the other entries in the franchise.

Related: The Biggest Video Games Releasing in March 2022

While the gameplay remains largely unchanged, how gamers experience it has received a major overhaul. Wonderlands doesn’t force players to select from one of four pre-made characters, instead tasking them to create their own Fatemaker, an avatar that’s fully customizable. This level of personalization isn’t just on a cosmetic level either. There are six classes that can be selected from the start, each one tailored to a different playstyle. Initially, it seems restrictive given the small number of skills on offer, yet as players progress, they’ll be able to multiclass and select attributes and traits from other classes.

While the actual world of Wonderlands feels rigid with how it responds to your character, this level of customization feels liberating. Borderlands often feels constrictive with how it boxes in players to specific archetypes, but Wonderlands allows for a sense of expression freedom the franchise desperately needed. It may be simple to fall into the routine of simply picking up and using the best gun available, speccing characters effectively feels player-driven and constructive rather than simply checking off a list of skills that steadily accumulate down one of three pre-selected trees. One course, one just wishes that their character’s voice lines were a little less repetitive.

Wonderlands‘ loot has also experienced an overhaul, both mechanically and thematically. Despite the game’s fantasy setting, guns will still explode out of enemies like fountains of steel and bullets. While conventional firearms are still commonplace, there are twists on the standard weapons. Crossbows and magic-spewing shotguns fill out a standard arsenal alongside melee weapons, an entirely new class for the franchise. How much value you get from these swinging death machines depends entirely on your build but the game does try to incentivize players to use their close-range swipe more frequently with some powerful buffs built into a character’s stat sheet.

Related: Dungeons & Dragons: Why Your Next Character Should Be a Hexblood

Yet while the shift to the mystical, magical setting of Bunkers & Badasses is a breath of fresh air, perhaps one of the more divisive aspects of Wonderlands is Tiny Tina herself. A character as flamboyant and (for want of a better word) obnoxious as the explosion mad DM works best in small doses. Used sparingly, Tina is an endearingly entertaining character, yet having her constantly present wears thin quickly. No doubt this is highly subjective; Tina has become one of Borderlands‘ most beloved personalities. But her eccentric attitude eventually becomes an annoying one-note joke that loses its shine after several dozen hours of gameplay.

Having said that, Wonderlands‘ supporting cast is fantastic. It could be easy to write off the inclusion of Will Arnett, Andy Samberg, and Wanda Sykes as stunt-casting but their performances are pitch-perfect throughout the game. Arnett’s villainous Dragonlord pokes fun at the typical D&D Big Bad Evil Guy while Sykes’ Frette is a typical loot-hungry RPG player looking for the next kill rather than paying any attention to the story. Samberg’s Captain Valentine oozes the energy of a classic fantasy himbo, a nerd who so desperately wants to be a hero but can only live out the dream through a tabletop RPG. The result is a sprawling fantasy adventure that is constantly throwing unique (if sometimes repetitive) stories at players who do care for a spot of narrative in their gun-driven looter-shooter.

Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands doesn’t reinvent the wheel that is Borderlands. Instead, it throws on a coat of paint, a selection of sparkly charms, and a couple of bedazzled stickers to create something that’s not wholly unique but different enough to stand apart from the original. While it may not convert those gamers who never clicked with Borderlandsit offers up enough changes to appeal to long-time fans and players desperately looking for a compelling action RPG.

Keep Reading: 5 Elden Ring Side-Quests You Can’t Afford to Miss

Vivienne from Blood and Wine

How to Find The Witcher 3’s Most Obscure Easter Egg

About The Author

Leave a Comment