Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands Review

 

 
Overview
 

Genre: Shlooter
 
Release Date: Available Now
 
Overall
 
 
 
 
 
3.5/5


 

Positives


- Fantasy setting helps the game feel fresh
- New overworld style and smaller areas help tighten the experience

Negatives


- Fantasy setting feels underutilised, especially from a gameplay perspective
- Humour and characters can be grating


Posted April 8, 2022 by

 
Full Article
 
 

After over a decade of Borderlands games out there, it’s plain to see that Gearbox Software have nailed down their Looter Shooter formula. With many millions of copies sold and billions in revenue brought in, it’s also plain to see that the series resonates with plenty of people. While there have been tweaks and slight changes over the years, the general formula of the series hasn’t really changed much; Fight your way across large open areas, annihilate everything that stands before you and collect as much loot as possible, all while having a snarky robot (or another NPC) shout at you over an audio link. After almost 13 years we’ve got our biggest shake up to the formula yet in Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, a fantasy-based Looter Shooter that, for better or worse, ultimately feels like more of the same.

The changes are apparent from the get-go in Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, as the game opens to the revelation that you’re playing Bunkers and Badasses, the Borderlands in-world equivalent of Dungeon’s and Dragons. Unlike in the past where you play as one of four named characters, who ostensibly serve as the game’s different ‘classes’, now your class choice is disconnected from the selection of a character. In practice, this means you get to use an actual character creator, designing your choice of character before picking a class and assigning points to your stats. Having that extra control over my character was appreciated.

Once your character is created, its on to your adventure: completing innumerable quests on your way to destroying the Dragon Lord (our BBEG in this story). It’s a relatively simple story but gives you just enough content to keep you engaged as you make your way through the game. If you’ve played a Borderlands game before, the writing style and humour of the game will be instantly familiar to you, as the same style of relatively low-brow jokes get flung around with abandon. It does feel a little more restrained than past games, likely due to not having Claptrap following you constantly, but Tiny Tina’s manic energy can be grating at points.

The biggest difference compared to games-past comes with the trappings around the world in Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands. Instead of Psychos and Skags you’re fighting skeletons, trolls, goblins and dragons. Instead of modern buildings and sci-fi accoutrements, the world is littered with medieval styled buildings and magical accents. It helps the game look and feel different, which is great, because the art style and textures, which look incredibly similar to past games, work against that.

From a functional perspective, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands basically is Borderlands. You’re still shooting guns which mostly look and feel like the same weapons you’ve used before; you’re still using the same slow and terrible feeling melee attack; you’re still using the same style of trigger special ability; you’re now using ‘wards’ instead of shields, but they work exactly the same; and the only real change comes that spells replace the slot previously housed by grenades. The gameplay here feels like a complete lift and shift from Borderlands, with the fantasy basing of the game feeling lost here. A few more fantasy-based (even just visually) weapons would have gone a long way to making the game feel more unique, instead of more of the same.

The one real change to the game’s formula comes in the form of the new overworld map, which is presented like a D&D miniature traversing the world. You’ll move across the map, triggering random encounters (which shunt you into an arena-based encounter), and finding side quests to complete. Combined with smaller maps, this tightens the experience compared to the past, which is something I appreciated coming from just how big the game’s had become.

In the end, if you love Borderlands you’re probably going to love Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands. The game is nearly identical in function to past games in the series, while the fantasy trappings help it feel a bit fresh at the same time. On the other hand, if you weren’t a fan of the Borderlands style humour or gameplay, this game isn’t going to change your mind.


Andrew Cathie

 
Rocket Chainsaw's premier Fantasy-loving Editor. I basically play anything and everything that looks like it could be fun or interesting.