Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands
“Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is the freshest that Borderlands has felt in years.”
Fun, assorted environments
Lots of RPG customization
Tons of loot
Great spellcasting and melee fight
Polarizing character personalities
Weak emotional beats
About a month in the past, I had the privilege of previewing Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, the newest Borderlands spinoff from Gearbox Software and 2K. What I skilled was a wholly new tackle Borderlands, one thing that mixed the looter-shooter gameplay everyone knows and love with RPG-like stats, lessons, gear, and extra. While the gameplay was enjoyable, the characters and story within the facet space I explored weren’t, and I used to be fearful that this is able to be consultant of the sport as a complete.
I’m glad to say that after experiencing a lot, far more of the sport, I can say with certainty that Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is sweet. In reality, it’s actually good. It doesn’t have the emotional resonance of Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep, the Borderlands 2 DLC that holds an virtually legendary standing and that Wonderlands pulls its inspiration from, however that’s OK. It’s dumb, foolish enjoyable, and that has its personal intrinsic worth.
I’ve stopped anticipating the flash-in-the-pan brilliance of Assault on Dragon Keep, and Wonderlands is best for it.
The most speedy distinction between Wonderlands and different Borderlands titles is the quantity of character customization gamers are given. Right at first of the sport, gamers can select from a wide range of bodily seems to be for his or her character, which go as miniscule as selecting the colour of their blush and the sample on their tunic.
Wonderlands actually does really feel like an RPG, and it’s introduced a number of the finest traits of the style alongside for the experience.
Players are prompted to decide on one in every of six lessons and one in every of a number of traits for his or her character earlier than allocating a set variety of factors right into a Dungeons and Dragons-like stat system. I selected the Spore Warden class, which gave me a wide range of gun injury and ranged expertise to select from and a mushroom companion to comply with me into battle, and I named my character Muffin Top. This may be very indicative of the humor to return.
I discovered that my class, stats, and expertise had an actual affect on the stream of fight within the recreation. Once I unlocked the mushroom companion, he was an enormous assist in fights — the companion A.I. is superb, and it’s an actual assist in case you’re enjoying solo quite than with a bunch of associates (I can also’t recover from how completely lovable he’s).
The stat will increase and ability factors granted at every stage are additionally extraordinarily useful. Oftentimes, I might run into a brand new zone and get walloped, solely to comprehend that I’d forgotten to allocate the factors I’d gained from my previous few stage will increase. Wonderlands actually does really feel like an RPG, and it’s introduced a number of the finest traits of the style alongside for the experience.
That’s to not say that the standard FPS fight is ignored. Shooting feels virtually precisely the identical as Borderlands 3: Slower than many different shooters, however smoother and simpler to get a deal with on for newer gamers. The new melee weapons are helpful for while you get overwhelmed with close by enemies, since most melee assaults knock enemies again and stagger them. I didn’t discover that melee weapons made a lot of a distinction in fight, however I used to be additionally enjoying a ranged and gun-focused class, so your expertise with a extra melee-oriented construct just like the Brr-zerker is perhaps completely different.
One factor that feels persistently nice is spells, which change grenades in Wonderlands. They have a wide range of results, together with the standard elemental hazards, well being steal, and extra. Some will be solid immediately, whereas others require gamers to carry down the suitable button for a short while whereas the spell prices. My spells at all times landed the place I anticipated them to, and so they’re a good way to combine up the standard gunplay. I very a lot loved blasting enemies again with bursts of fireplace or pointed icicle items.
A motley crew
While the gameplay is persistently fulfilling and fascinating, the story is a bit more uneven. Though Wonderlands brings again a handful of characters, a lot of the focus is on the brand new solid, who’re enjoying the tabletop recreation Bunkers and Badassess with Tina within the “real world” whereas the participant adventures within the recreation world. I benefit from the voiceovers a bit of extra within the full recreation than I did within the preview, however they swap between humorous and grating a bit of too incessantly. If you’re not into the trademark Borderlands rest room humor and meme jokes, you would possibly discover them extra annoying than something. I used to be a bit of extra within the Dragon Lord, the brand new antagonist, however he doesn’t play an excessive amount of of a task till nearer to the top of the marketing campaign.
While the gameplay is persistently fulfilling and fascinating, the story is a bit more uneven.
As traditional, the funniest elements of the sport are within the tooltips, enemy quips, and participant character strains. I laughed extra whereas making my character and studying the humorous class descriptions than I did throughout the entirety of my unique preview — fortunately it looks like the facet zone featured within the preview is an exception quite than the rule. You can customise the kind of strains your participant character says throughout fights and whereas exploring, and so they’re fairly humorous.
As traditional, it’s additionally nice listening to enemies’ strains, notably their loss of life strains. Some of the very best one-liners are reserved for generic enemies as they’re on their deathbeds.
The one place the place the sport actually stumbles is when it tries to tug on heartstrings. There are just a few moments throughout the marketing campaign and in sidequests which are presupposed to be heavy and considerate quite than quick and quippy. Though they’re pretty unfold out, these moments are incessantly sudden and unsatisfying. During one sidequest a couple of man whose son had been become a wood puppet, I stored ready for the punch line to fall, but it surely by no means did. It was simply presupposed to be unhappy, which is one thing you don’t actually see from Borderlands titles.
The primary quest additionally has just a few moments like this, however they don’t make you suppose practically as a lot as Assault on Dragon Keep did. I’m not saying a Borderlands recreation can’t cope with severe themes; I’m simply saying this one doesn’t actually know what to do when these emotions come up within the script.
Loot and loot and loot, oh my!
Thankfully, Wonderlands is aware of precisely what to do with loot. There is a mind-bogglingly huge quantity of loot on this recreation, enhanced not solely by the brand new melee weapons and spells, but additionally by the enormously elevated variety of equipables discovered throughout the journey. Players can discover and equip weapons, spells, melee weapons, wards (which work the identical as shields in earlier Borderlands video games), rings, class mods, amulets, and extra.
It’s a dizzyingly big quantity of issues to choose up, and it turns each defeated enemy right into a veritable fountain of loot. While most of it’s nugatory, half the enjoyable of Borderlands is sifting by means of the junk to seek out one thing that’s actually invaluable. The merchandise rating, one of many sequence’ highest quality of life options, makes a return in Wonderlands, and it’s a good way to shortly evaluate loot with out having to manually evaluate each single stat worth.
Thankfully, Wonderlands is aware of precisely what to do with loot.
Quests aren’t the one place you could find loot. Instead of fast-traveling to completely different ranges and places from a hub world, Wonderlands provides the participant entry to a big world map that’s completely chock-full of random encounter zones, sidequests, loot alternatives, cube rolls, robust battles, and extra. The recreation actively encourages gamers to hunt out these further experiences, dangling loot and stat bonuses in entrance of them like a golden carrot.
Traveling to different places manually is cute and makes the world really feel extra expansive than earlier video games, however motion on the map is pretty sluggish and clunky. The precise environments themselves are assorted, and so they actually make you’re feeling such as you’re in a fantasy world. Enemies are fairly normal, and managers really feel like little greater than bullet sponges, however that’s much less vital when there’s loads of cool stuff to take a look at as you shoot and loot. One of Assault on Dragon Keep‘s funniest features — Tina’s on-the-fly manipulation of the sport world — is on full show right here.
Unfortunately, Wonderlands‘ decision to incorporate RPG mechanics means that one of the genre’s worst traits is on show alongside its higher ones. This recreation is grindy — extra grindy than any Borderlands recreation earlier than it. While you don’t essentially must grind for good loot except you’re in search of one thing specifically, you do must grind for XP. The recreation’s sidequests and different actions are ostensibly “optional”, however if you wish to actually have a snowball’s likelihood in hell of being leveled sufficient to tackle the following primary story space, you actually should do them. These facet zones are enjoyable, however they’re extra of the identical fight because the marketing campaign, so in case you’re in search of one thing fully completely different, you’ll be dissatisfied.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is a much-welcomed breath of recent air for the Borderlands sequence. It takes on a brand new identification of its personal and isn’t afraid to shed previous associations to push the sequence in a brand new course — a path I hope it stays on, notably for a franchise that some consider rehashes the identical previous themes too many instances. “Endearing” is one of the simplest ways to explain Wonderlands: it continually laughs at itself and needs you to smile and snort together with it, and more often than not, I did. Borderlands followers and tabletop recreation fans specifically will discover so much to like right here. Even in case you’re not a longtime fan, there actually is one thing for everybody to take pleasure in in Tina’s newest journey.
Is there a greater different?
If you’re in search of the very best that the sequence has to supply, Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep continues to be absolutely the cream of the crop. It’s out there as a stand-alone recreation on the Epic Games Store. Borderlands 2 can also be a standout title within the sequence, although it lacks a number of the high quality of life options of Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands.
How lengthy will it take?
The primary story isn’t too lengthy, however there are tens of hours of additional content material, sidequests, and puzzles so as to add extra to the expertise. The endgame Chaos Chamber characteristic additionally provides further replay worth.
Should you purchase it?
Yes. If you take pleasure in looter-shooters, Borderlands titles, or RPG hybrids, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is completely definitely worth the cash. It’s an ideal jumping-off level for sequence newcomers and those that’ve averted the franchise beforehand.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands was examined on PC.