The looter shooter genre is probably the most enjoyable party-based game around. A big claim I know, but I find MMO-type titles too much of a time sink. Consequently, I want something that I can play casually while still enjoying depth, destruction, and a fascinating story. Luckily, the Borderlands franchise ticks all these boxes and more. Therefore, when I was offered Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, I jumped at the chance.
Developed by Gearbox Software and published by 2K Games, this is a looter shooter adventure title. It is a spinoff of the main Borderlands theme and reignites the DLC from Borderlands 2. Subsequently, you’ll experience a familiar game with lashings of weapons, armies of enemies, massive bosses, and an amusing story. What’s more, the characters are endearing and hilarious and work brilliantly to keep the plot flowing.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands mirrors Borderlands 3.
Now, fans of the series may or may not be disappointed with my next statement. For the most part, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is a reimagining of Borderlands 3. It utilises the best from that title but adds a massive fantasy twist. Accordingly, you’ll loot to your heart’s content, kill masses of monsters, level up your character, complete quests, and genuinely cause mayhem. On top of this, you can play it solo or with friends using the Cross-Play feature.
However you tackle the main story, you will instantly fall for its fantasy charms. Set in a Dungeon and Dragons type world known as Bunkers and Badasses, you’ll enjoy a tabletop experience. You control a newbie who must help Butt Stallion prevent The Dragon Lord from rising and taking over the world. FYI, Butt Stallion is a beautiful diamond-encrusted rainbow-loving unicorn who is the Queen of this fantasy land. Tina, the crazy explosive-loving girl, plays the part of the dungeon master. She, alongside Valentine and Frette, set the rules of engagement and helps to create a deeply amusing and dangerous adventure.
As you can tell, the scene is set for a bizarre, absurd, and downright stupid affair. However, I cared not! I quickly became swept up in the madness as I gathered up every weapon insight and shot flaming bolts from my crossbow. Like the rest of the franchise, the action grabs your attention immediately, and it’s tough to put down.
A few changes keep things fresh.
Now, sticking so closely to a brilliant franchise isn’t a bad thing. Borderlands 3 was fantastic and consequently, I didn’t mind revisiting its wonderful mechanics. Fortunately, though, there have been some distinct gameplay changes that make this stand out. Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands splits the core action between FPS madness and an isometric overworld. What’s more, there are combat encounters, a new way to level your character, and a fun but grindy endgame element.
Overworld or FPS madness.
I absolutely adored this change of pace as it breaks up the gameplay nicely. Whenever you are traversing this large world, the viewpoint reflects the tabletop experience. Here you may explore, search for goods, or take on multiple side quests. Alongside this, there are camps to clear and shortcuts to open. However, this led to the combat encounters and these claustrophobic moments weren’t great.
For unknown reasons, the developers stifled their open-world and fast-paced ideas with an arena-based deathmatch. If you are unlucky enough to stumble into this element, you’ll have to annihilate a set amount of monsters before you can carry on. This wouldn’t be so bad if each encounter was more interesting. Sadly, though, it screams “rinse and repeat”, is of little interest, and stagnates the momentum. Now, I understand why it was introduced, but more objectives, new and unique enemies, and a quicker pace would improve it vastly. Annoyingly, this never materialised, and it’s something you simply have to accept.
One hero, multiple classes.
Unlike its predecessors, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands has addressed the limited notion of a set hero class. Instead, levelling up feels more fluid and unique to the player. Yes, there are some skills that overlay one another, but this can’t be helped. You may select from 6 classes that each have a primary skill set. As you progress, a second skill tree unlocks, and this expands your options. This was great, as your character development matches your game style. What’s more, when playing with a familiar group, you can develop a more rounded approach.
Alongside this, there is the introduction of melee weapons, and grenades have been thrown out. Instead, you are now armed with a magic wand and an array of spells. Furthermore, you have a magic shield to keep you protected and an amulet to increase your stats. I adored the madness of the magic, and using it, never got old. Whether you were freezing your foes, stealing their health, or turning them into sheep, it was always enjoyable.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands looks fantastic.
If you love the franchise, you’ll know exactly what to expect. Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands nails the striking and clean-cut comic book imagery. Its vast open-world is incredible to explore and the developers have a wicked imagination. Furthermore, the fantasy theme explodes with an array of colours, horrific monsters, and interesting landscapes. Even though the action is fast-paced and hectic, I never experienced a problem. The frame rate never drops and there were minimal glitches and bugs. Sadly, though, the aforementioned isometric viewpoint is a little understated in comparison. Though it matches the theme and is vivid and interesting, it isn’t as polished and it somewhat lacks finesse. This isn’t a problem, however, it is noticeable compared to the familiar franchise style.
Where this title excels is its phenomenal audio. With incredible music, loud and crazy sound effects, and excellent acting, you won’t be disappointed. The hilarious plot is brilliantly narrated by each of the characters. The well-paced delivery, D&D tropes, and witty one-liners will have you chuckling for hours. Furthermore, you’ll cherish how the relationships develop, the overarching good vs evil ideas, and the stupidity of it all.
Excellent controls and a brilliant UI.
With so much going on, the controls needed to be tight and responsive. Fortunately, this is exactly what I experienced. An excellent tutorial talks you through the fundamentals and soon you’ll have things mastered. This is helped in part by the brilliant and user-friendly UI. No matter how hectic things get, you always feel in control. Whether you are flitting between weapons, casting spells, sliding or crouching, it’s never a problem. Then there is the well-designed menu system, easy-to-handle inventory, and everything that goes with it. Tiny Tina’s Wonderland is extremely user-friendly and is great for newcomers and veterans.
Now, I touched upon endgame content, but I failed to elaborate. So, let’s look at it now. Once you’ve ploughed through around 25 hours of gameplay, you’ll unlock the Chaos Chamber. This option is effectively a more advanced combat encounter that will push you to your limits. Furthermore, it is great for grinding XP and loot and has some rogue-like elements to make it tougher. Now, you may think, what’s the point of returning? Well, Gearbox Software has announced 4 upcoming DLCs that will ensure you want to keep playing.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands has rekindled my love of the franchise.
I’m not sure if it was the crazy theme, the colourful and loud aesthetics, or the insane dialogue. No matter the reason, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands has rekindled my love of the franchise. Yes, the combat encounters could and should have been better, but perfection is hard to come by. I adored nearly every element and I can’t wait to see how the DLC develops the action further. Consequently, I recommend you to buy it here! Can you help Butt Stallion defeat the Dragon Lord? Shoot, loot, and become a badass hero.