As someone who considers Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep to be one of my all-time favorite pieces of DLC, I had pretty high expectations from Tiny Tina’s Wonderland. It was marketed as a successor to the highly-rated expansion, and that was more than enough to get me invested.
But I also don’t blame fans who weren’t particularly hyped about this new title either, especially after the release of the extremely average Borderlands 3. The game wasn’t bad in any way, but it also wasn’t particularly different or unique from previous games in the series either. It also had some of the absolute worst writing we’ve seen from the series by far. So I suppose I and a lot of other Borderlands fans were unsure about how Tiny Tina’s Wonderland would turn out.
And you know what, I regret doubting this title as much as I did. Because this is an excellent return to form for the franchise, even if I personally have some issues with it.
Setting And Story
So first things first, let’s clarify one tiny little detail. Tiny Tina’s Wonderland is not exactly a Borderlands title, it’s actually a fictional tabletop game set within the universe of those other games. Now, why is this distinction important to make? Well, because even though this adventure shares the same DNA as the rest of the series, it is pretty much its own thing story-wise and does not follow the rules established by the rest.
Bunkers & Badasses as it is known is the in-universe equivalent of the actual real-life tabletop game Dungeons & Dragons. But unlike real D&D, this one happens to have guns in it, alongside some absolutely ludicrous abilities and some of the best starting classes that let it stand apart from any regular fantasy RPG.
And although there is some semblance of rules in Bunkers & Badasses, the setting is mostly an excuse to throw some extremely creative and wacky scenarios at the player, using the delightfully unhinged Tiny Tina as your ‘Bunker Master.’ So don’t expect it to adhere to any sort of logic, not even the one it pretends to adhere to. The goal here is creativity and comedy, not lore consistency.
You take on the role of the newbie at Tiny Tina’s table and jump into her adventure with a brand new character alongside her existing group of players. You are accompanied on your journey by this stellar new cast of NPCs, who are not only expertly voice acted by some big-name celebrities like Will Arnett, but are also extremely hilarious to boot. They had me laughing along with them all the way through my playthrough, thanks to some incredibly funny jokes and impeccable line delivery.
The writing on display in Tiny Tina’s Wonderland is generally excellent, but there is a slight catch. The game relies on the same sort of crass humor that has come to define the Borderlands franchise, alongside all the vulgar references and innuendoes that fans expected from it. Now this works for me and millions of fans, but I fully understand why it won’t for a lot of others. So keep this in mind while jumping into the game or else the constant banter will get on your nerves.
Gameplay And Combat
If you’re someone who really enjoys the gameplay of the Borderlands series, then boy are you in luck. Because apart from a few new additions and changes, Tiny Tina’s Wonderland’s core gameplay is more or less the same as it’s ever been.
The shooting and looting are all here, that has not changed a single bit. Players can find and use weapons from a selection of millions upon millions of variations of guns, that range all the way from standard pistols to rapid-fire crossbows. Sometimes you might find a weapon that looks exactly the same as the one you’re using at the moment, but there might be slight variations to its stats that are worth taking into consideration. No two are ever the same.
A bunch of new animations have also been added in terms of how weapons actually behave, like a shotgun that fires an arc of light or an assault rifle with magical homing bullets, but these are all still standard fare. You knew that stuff like this would be in the game, and it’s nice to see a bunch of new effects, even if they’re not surprising.
The really big new addition for guns is the ‘Dark Magic’ element, which allows wielders to sap life from enemies and then use it to replenish their own health pool. This obviously adds a new layer to combat, allowing you to jump into the heat of battle knowing that you have a tool that can heal you. Apart from this, staples elements like Incendiary, Poison, Lightning, and Frost are also here and they function exactly the same as they always have.
An interesting new change is the Spell system, which replaces Grenades as a type of tool in the game. These range all the way from simple fireballs and Ice Spikes, all the way to summoning spells that can call forth a hydra to assist you or a Circle of Protection that can shield you and your allies. Unlike Grenades, these spells are much more flashy but they also work on a cooldown timer. You no longer have limited uses, but the recharge timer also varies for each spell.
Melee attacks are also a bit more complex now as well, seeing as how you actually have a choice in the type of physical weapon you equip. Players can now find and collect swords, axes, and other blunt armaments in much the same way as guns, and they each have their own randomized stats as well. They have special abilities and they can be equipped with mods to change the way they behave, but at the end of the day, they’re still playing second fiddle to the guns.
Another new change is the fact that players no longer have to choose from a selection of pre-made classes when starting their game. They can now fully customize their own unique character, including choosing which of the six different classes they want to play as. They choose a primary class at the start of the game, and after a handful of hours into the campaign, they can choose another one to multi-class into. And for the rest of the game, they’ll have access to the abilities of two different classes.
And while this is all great, don’t let all this talk of multi-classing confuse you. At the core of it all, this all still acts to determine the perks and action skills you’ll have access to. They now have a more fantasy-themed flavor to them, but they work more or less the same as they did in previous games.
Combine all of these pieces together, the new Guns, Spells, Melee Weapons, and Classes, and what you get is a fairly standard Borderlands gameplay experience. You kill enemies, you get new gear, fight the occasional boss, unlock new abilities, and then rinse and repeat for hours on end.
This is all great if what you’re looking for is more Borderlands. But don’t expect it to introduce a revolutionary new type of gameplay loop that will help redefine the series or the Looter Shooter genre. It’s simply the best of the genre condensed into one extremely charming package.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderland is an extremely specific type of game, and I enjoyed it for exactly that reason. But I’m also not going to ignore the faults of the game simply because I liked it.
By the time I was halfway through the title, the game started to feel a bit repetitive. I could chalk this up to the fact that I had completed a playthrough of Borderlands 3 at the start of this year and the entire thing was a bit too familiar, but that’s not quite it. The truth is that even though I thoroughly enjoyed this game, at the end of the day it’s simply more Borderlands.
And this feeling is only facilitated by the fact that a lot of the enemies you encounter in the game are clearly re-skinned versions of older foes. I obviously don’t expect the studio to make a game filled with nothing but unique new animations, weapon models, and enemy types, but It would have been nice to see a bit more diversity.
The point I’m trying to make is that I do genuinely love this franchise, but the entire formula has gotten a bit stale for players like me who play through these games multiple times and level up each class to the maximum level cap. At this point in time, I have around 1200+ hours in total across the three mainline entries in the series, and another 200+ hours in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel.
So nothing I did in this game felt all that new or unique to me. There were a lot of fantastic locations to see and explore, a number of fun new quests to partake in and hilarious NPCs to meet, but at the end of the day, the shooting and looting have gotten a bit old. It is still fun, no doubt about it, but maybe I’m simply getting tired of it all.
Newer players will have a completely different experience compared to someone like me who’s been playing these games for over 12 years. And I don’t want to give off the impression that this game is a bad product.
Visuals And Performance
With a little over 2 years in between the release of Borderlands 3 and this game, you might not think that there would be a massive leap in visuals between these two games, and you’d be mostly right. But this game was still made with the current generation of consoles in mind and the results are fairly noticeable.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands makes use of a much more striking and vibrant color palette than its predecessor, which makes it look like a completely different game a lot of the time. All of the mainline games in the series have had this gritty filter over them that makes a lot of the edges look sharper and all the dark-colored surfaces look muddier.
This time around, everything is a lot more colorful and brighter, owing to the sheer variety of the locations you’ll visit in the game. For the first time in the series’ history, the scenery and maps are actually not inspired by science fiction, and that has allowed the artists working on it to showcase their creativity.
And I have to say, the lighting, in particular, is a noticeable step up. From the bright light of the morning sun streaking through the trees to the glow of open flames, this game truly looks next-gen. I know people might dismiss the title as simply a DLC for Borderlands 3, but that is not the case here at all.
In terms of performance, the game was easily able to stay at around 70 – 80 FPS with an RTX 3080 at the highest possible settings at 1440p. This framerate was maintained for the vast majority of my playtime, and the only noticeable dips occurred either when I entered a large hub area or engaged in a firefight with dozens of enemies at a time.
If I had to guess, I would say that the performance drops mostly occurred when an incredible amount of particle effects were taking place all around me, and even then I was easily staying at around 60FPS. I also never actually encountered a situation where my game stuttered or even crashed, but your experience will of course vary depending on what hardware you have.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands Verdict
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is a fantastic return to form for Gearbox Software. Many fans, including myself, were a bit disappointed by their last game, but the developer has proven that they still have the chops to create engaging experiences. The writing is laugh-out-loud funny, the character dialogue is witty, and the Dungeons & Dragons references kept me entertained throughout.
The new additions to the combat like spells and melee weapons are great, but the core gameplay loop is the same as it’s always been, And that’s fine, because this is a game that was made for Borderlands fans, and that’s exactly what the developers were aiming for. My personal grievances about the repetitiveness aside, I still thoroughly enjoyed my time with the title.
It also helped that the locations on display here are some of the most creative and colorful we’ve seen from the series in a long time. They’re truly beautiful and awe-inspiring, in the way that a good fantasy setting should be.
- Same Phenomenal Gameplay Loop.
- Spells And Melee Weapons Add New Layers To Combat.
- Laugh Out Loud Funny.
- Fantastic Voice Acting And Line Delivery.
- Great Lighting And Visuals.
- The Combat Loop Can Get Repetitive For Veteran Borderlands Fans.
- Reskinned Enemies.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands Rating – 4/5
Thanks! Do share your feedback with us. ⚡
How could we improve this post? Please Help us. ✍