Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is a fun fantasy game – Review

Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon’s Keep, the Borderlands 2 DLC that inspired Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, surprised me with a heartfelt story about grief. Maybe this experience changed my expectations for the worse, but Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is a game that’s on the verge of telling an emotional story but never quite commits. The story revolves around Tiny’s latest campaign through Bunkers and Badasses with her new found friends Valentine, Frette and you.

The setup is simple, the dragon lord has been revived and trying to absorb all soul energy in wonderland because that is what evil villains do. While the quest’s narrative never really changes during the campaign, the game constantly hints at more emotional beats for Tina without ever letting her breathe. The emotional revelation comes late in the campaign and when it does arrive it isn’t given the space it needs to really land. There are so many moments towards the end of the game that are almost about Tina’s grief, almost Tina’s fear of being alone, and almost Tina’s guilt, but instead all that background noise is left for the game’s blockheads to play in the campaign. While it’s narratively underwhelming, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands breathes new life into the Borderlands formula.

gamification of the game

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Borderlands is a series about absurd humor, bad jokes, and finding as much loot as possible. Because Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands takes place in a tabletop role-playing game, many of these aspects are revealed and enhanced in ways that wouldn’t be possible in the “real” world of Borderlands. This manifests in the Wonderlands overworld, which exists like a tabletop, with a big-headed version of your character exploring it. This reduces the number of intermediate areas in the game, making the actual dungeons and maps larger and more elaborate. It also introduces other mechanics, like small turn-based dungeons and random encounters that give you short bursts of action and a chance for quick loot.

You can also find tons of characters that give side quests in this open area, and provides a way to find some of the side areas naturally. Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands’ main quest is shorter than other Borderlands games, but this is more than made up for by having several huge areas dedicated solely to side quests. The game also has several types of collectibles, with a focus on Lucky Dice, which grant better loot luck, and Shrine Pieces, which activate shrines that offer permanent bonuses. The only downside to this Overworld map is that your character moves far too slowly, which discourages exploration. There is a shrine that increases the speed at which you move around the world map, but it’s still not very fast.

Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands manifests its tabletop setting in other smaller ways, such as: B. through constant commentary, both in the campaign and in the meta, from your trusted advisors and Tina. All three keep the story going and make sure it doesn’t get boring with plenty of jokes and comments. Unfortunately, in some side quests and Chamber of Chaos runs, all three have nothing to say, making for a quiet and sometimes boring experience.

Exploring the Wonderlands

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The environments of Wonderlands, which take place in Tina’s fantasy world, are far more colorful than the terrifying planet Pandora. The forest, seabed and desert environments are all bright and vibrant environments full of fun characters and great adventures. While the environments featured in the game all hit different fantasy biomes, it feels like there isn’t as much variety as I would have hoped. Each area is much larger than some of the maps in previous Borderlands games, but in a world where Tina could dream up anything, it feels a bit boring. The biggest contributor to this is that there are two ocean floor sections back-to-back, followed by back-to-back desert areas. Although these areas have some aesthetic differences, they still feel too similar.

The other downside to the main quest is that you’re never really surprised at what needs to be done. There is evidence that the Dragonlord has more impact on the game than it should, but that never manifests in any meaningful way. Tiny gives you the objective of reaching his stronghold and defeating him early in the game, and once you do that the mission is over. Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands misses several opportunities for twists and disclosures, instead maintaining a fairly straight-forward storyline.

However, the game hits the mark in many places. The gunplay feels incredibly smooth, especially with the added focus on melee attacks and the addition of spells. Spells take over the role of grenades in previous games, but there’s a far greater variety of element types and effects. I always wanted to try different spells to see how they worked. Some weapons are given a fantasy twist, with some pistols and rifles taking the form of crossbows or shotguns that fire magical waves. These are mixed in with some normal weapons, but appear in a way that doesn’t leave you feeling ripped from the fantasy world.

The new class system allows you to acquire a second class after progressing through a few levels, and gives you the ability to combine abilities together to create powerful combos. I combined the Spellshot and Stabbomancer classes to create a build where I was constantly casting spells that consistently dealt bonus critical damage.

The Chaos Chamber

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Rather than having a final raid boss or a new game plus mode, Tiny Tina’s Wonderland endgame mode is the Chaos Chambers, which features a series of dungeons, some random, some not, where you can earn special rewards. These dungeons also allow you to increase your Chaos level, which increases the difficulty of enemies both in the Chaos Chambers and in the rest of the game, allowing you to drop better loot.

The Chambers of Chaos are entertaining enough, but suffer from some of the same problems as the overworld dungeons. You’ll quickly realize which of the set maps you’re on, taking away the sense of randomness the Vault is meant to have. Another problem is that sometimes the enemies don’t behave the way you want them to or don’t attack fast enough. In a room, you can be constantly attacked without a moment to breathe. Other rooms have you constantly running around trying to find enemies because they either don’t spawn fast enough or don’t seem to know where you are. These issues make for an uneven experience in an already exhausting and quickly tedious endgame.

The judgment

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Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is without question the best Borderlands game yet. The shooting feels precise and the fantasy weapons and gear feel more like D&D than Borderlands, really leaning into the game’s environment. Given a focused setting and a theme to riff on, the jokes feel more consistent than in previous games, especially some of the more meta or off-the-wall bits. The Wonderlands are colorful and full of interesting and fun characters.

Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is also a shorter experience, one that feels like it has to rush to a conclusion and never quite fulfill the big moments it sets itself for. There are hints of a more emotional story, one that explores Tina’s mistakes and regrets but chooses to let those things hang in the background. For a fantasy world that could be anything Tina can dream up, the environments could use more variety and locations. In short, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is a fun entry into the Borderlands series, but it never quite reaches the heights it aspires to.

+ Gunplay is the best of the series, blending seamlessly with fantasy elements.
+ Making big changes to the Borderlands formula while it’s still scratching the itch.
+ Uses the tabletop game setting to consistently deliver powerful jokes and moments.
Sets up several emotional character beats, but doesn’t quite deliver.
Feels a bit rushed towards the end, both for the Dragonlord’s story and for the campaign as a whole.
Chaos Chambers does not provide enough experience to progress through the endgame. Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is a fun fantasy game – Review

Curtis Crabtree

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