Tiny Tina's Wonderlands Preview: A Cautious, Refreshing Spin-Off
Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep was regarded as one of the best DLCs not only for Borderlands 2 but for the Borderlands games overall, so it's no wonder that the concept would be transformed into an entire game set around Tiny Tina's storytelling. That's exactly what we've gotten from Tiny Tina's Wonderlands, a game which, after spending a few hours with it during a hands-on preview, doesn't deviate too much from the Borderlands formula but keeps things interesting with some clever ideas.
The game sees players creating their own characters – "Fatemakers," in this case – as part of Tiny Tina's latest "Bunkers & Badasses" campaign, a Borderlands take on Dungeons & Dragons. You've got a couple of different classes to choose from with the ability to multiclass later on as you complete main and optional quests while Tiny Tina and her two friends provide commentary over the whole experience.
That's the setup anyway, but as far as gameplay goes, it's almost strictly Borderlands through and through. You'll amass overwhelming amounts of loot and will keep a fraction of it as you sell off all the rest of the junk at vending machines, and you've got unique class-based abilities to either harden yourself into a stalwart solo fighter or to bolster your teammates.
During the first few skirmishes and even throughout the first mission, it became apparent that this wasn't going to be a huge departure from the Borderlands formula, so any avid tabletop RPG players looking for a Borderlands twist will find that it's much more Borderlands than it is Dungeons & Dragons. The quips and the characters like goblins and skeletons remind you that this isn't normal Borderlands, but your moment-to-moment interactions with everything else should feel comfortable enough to returning players. It's got the signature Borderlands humor as well with Tiny Tina's relentless commentary ensuring there's hardly a quiet moment to be had.
Some of the clever changes made in Tiny Tina's Wonderlands to bring it more in line with its fantasy world include the spellcasting system which replaces grenades. These spells, just like the guns, still use traditional elemental effects like fire and ice with the addition of "Dark Energy" and plenty of different ways to achieve that damage. These spells feel quick and snappy in the form of fireballs, bolts of energy, AOE auras, and hydra companions, so there's rarely a moment where something isn't being set on fire or exploding. Shields become "Wards" with similar familiar yet different adjustments.
The class actions are back with two apiece for the different starting classes, but it was hard to get a feel for them since only two classes – the Graveborn and the Stabbomancer – were playable in the hands-on preview. These make up just two of the six classes and came in the form of pre-made characters, so that means we didn't get to try out the character creation system where you put points into different attributes like dexterity and other attributes. Multiclassing where you pick a second class to further diversify your build also wasn't present, and neither was the "Overworld" feature where you view the whole Wonderlands experience as a game board and can move about in the form of bobbleheads modeled after your Fatemaker.
All that goes to say that there were several key elements of Tiny Tina's Wonderlands which weren't accessible in the build we played, and many of those omissions honestly sounded like the more interesting parts of the new game. The base experience, however, works well as a continuation of what made Tina Tiny's previous DLC so popular, and it's a pleasant, more whimsical change of pace after the more mainline Borderlands 3.
Tiny Tina's Wonderlands is scheduled to release on March 25th for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC platforms. A preview code was provided by the publisher and used on PC.0comments