Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) has proven influential in the design of a multitude of video games over the years, but I wouldn’t consider Borderlands one of them. That hasn’t stopped the series from embracing fantasy-adventuring on the side though (albeit in its own affectionately named ‘Bunkers and Badasses’ form), first with a piece of Borderlands 2 DLC known as Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon’s Keep and now on a grander scale with Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands.
Basically, you take the Borderlands looter-shooter formula, a fantasy setting full of monsters, magical abilities for players to assault enemies with, and an outrageous Dungeon Master whose unpredictability makes for often bizarre scenarios – mix it all up together into one sweet little package, and voila, you’ve got Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands. As expected, it makes for a REALLY fun time too, with the change of stylings refreshing the typical Borderlands formula.
Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands utilises a formula that’ll feel very familiar to regular D&D players, with Tiny Tina getting a group of friends together to play Bunkers and Badasses. Of course, this is the world of Borderlands, so those friends are a kooky bunch that bring plenty of character to the experience with their eclectic personalities. Whether it’s Frette and her adherence to following the rules, Captain Valentine with his reckless yet highly emotional nature, or simply Tiny Tina’s brash but lovable unpredictably, there’s plenty of fun to be had during your adventure to stop the tyrannical Dragon Lord. There’s a fantastic voice cast leading the adventure too, with the likes of Will Arnett, Andy Samberg, and Ashley Burch bringing plenty of personality to the storytelling.
It’s hard to pinpoint the standout features of the narrative; not because it’s lacking in them, but rather because there are so many. The trademark humour of Borderlands carries over into Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands with players simply never quite knowing what they’ll come across next – a favourite moment of mine involved the Dragonlord and the Queen Butt Stallion, but I’ll leave that for players to discover. Tiny Tina constantly changes up the narrative on the fly and, given her lack of mental stability, she can throw outrageous antics into the mix at any given moment. It’s oozing with silliness, but it just makes the journey all the more enjoyable. It’s genuinely funny too, and whilst some jokes don’t always hit the mark, there were plenty of times where I was left laughing out loud.
“There’s a fantastic voice cast leading the adventure too, with the likes of Will Arnett, Andy Samberg, and Ashley Burch bringing plenty of personality to the storytelling.”
One big change that comes with Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is the fact that players get to create their own characters, with plenty of customization options in place for their appearance. I spent AGES modifying my look to begin with, especially since the game lets you make some ridiculous (and sometimes grotesque) designs, whilst simply picking from the six starting classes felt like a major decision. Did I want to be a bruiser that deals physical ice damage as a Brr-zerker? Or did I want to be a Clawbringer that deals ice and fire damage (and has a pet Wyvern)? Or should I be a Spellshot that mixes up an onslaught of spells with constant gunfire? There’s a lot to choose between and it really embraces the creative elements of D&D, especially when you’re choosing your character’s background to setup your initial stat allocation.
Each class has its own skill tree to follow, giving players the chance to fine-tune their capabilities as they progress and even unlock specialist Action Skills that can be equipped. These Action Skills are the stand-out abilities of each class, allowing players to do things like unleash a spinning attack that damages everything you touch, summon a trio of frost cyclones upon enemies, turn invisible to inflict stealth damage on enemies, or even turn foes into Skeep (the game’s form of sheep). They’re a lot of fun to use and give each class their own distinct sense of flair, whilst the passive skills and unlockable abilities all cater to that style of play.
Each class feels great to play and really give Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands an additional sense of uniqueness when compared to Borderlands. What makes them even more special though is the fact that players can eventually equip a second class, allowing them to use skills from both skill trees to become an even fiercer combatant. It gives players a lot of flexibility to assault foes in multiple ways – plus, it gives the game an extra sense of freshness that ensures you don’t get too used to your move set fast. Whilst I’ll admit that it can be guilty of making players feel a bit over-powered, it also makes it all the more fun to play.
“Sometimes you’ll utilise the elements to harm foes, sometimes you’ll inflict status ailments, sometimes you’ll summon creatures, whilst other times you might bring a meteor down to dish out some real hurt – there’s plenty of diversity with the spells and it adds another level of satisfying chaos to the game’s already manic action.”
When it comes to gunplay, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands will feel familiar to most with an overload of insane weaponry to use that come in different varieties. A lot of these weapons embrace fantasy elements too, so whilst guns might not be common in a D&D setting, the game does its best to make them feel like they belong. There’ll be plenty of melee weapon drops along the way including hammers, axes, and swords, whilst you’ll also grab additional accessories to further boost your stats. Want to know what the coolest new addition is? The spells. Whilst you don’t get to use grenades in Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, you will get to blast out an array of magical spells that bring with them all-sorts of devastating effects. Sometimes you’ll utilise the elements to harm foes, sometimes you’ll inflict status ailments, sometimes you’ll summon creatures, whilst other times you might bring a meteor down to dish out some real hurt – there’s plenty of diversity with the spells and it adds another level of satisfying chaos to the game’s already manic action.
I’ve always been a fan of the Borderlands series, but Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands really elevates the gameplay formula and makes it feel the most fresh and exciting that it has for years. Between the clever and funny narrative, the fantasy world, the engaging character building, and brilliant blend of guns, melee weapons, and magic, there’s just so much to love about the game. I was always excited to see what enemies the game would throw at me next, and whilst there were some repeated enemy types showing up, it was always entertaining to pulverise them. It’s just a very, very fun game.
I haven’t even mentioned the Overworld, which allows players to explore a world map-style environment to visit towns, tackle dungeons, and face off against enemies. It adds more structure to the adventure without hindering the game’s open-world vibe, whilst it also feels befitting of the game’s D&D stylings. It helps demonstrate that Gearbox Software have done a LOT more than adding a fantasy-spin to Borderlands with Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, but instead purposefully implemented all new ideas and mechanics to make it feel like a genuine love letter to fantasy-adventuring.
Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:
There was one thing that bugged me when playing: the overwhelming loot system. It might seem a weird thing to complain about, but Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is over-generous with loot and you can often find yourself spending a ton of time simply navigating menus to organise it all. It’s something I’ve found fiddly in the Borderlands series and that didn’t change here, with plenty of time spent comparing stats, ditching items you don’t need, and changing up your equipment. I just wish it could be a little bit more streamlined, just so I don’t have to spend so much time in menus.
There were a few occasions where the mission design could get a little bit formulaic too, especially after spending so much time with the four previous Borderlands games. Of course, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands does spice things up in its own little ways, but there was still a lot of the same when it came to objectives. It was also shorter than expected, with it beaten in around fourteen hours – that was after diving into a lot of the side content too, so it’s not a massive game.
Other than those issues? I had a great time with the game and would love to see more adventure in these worlds that Tiny Tina has crafted in that fantastic little mind of hers. It’s even more fun to play in co-op, so I’d definitely recommend getting a few friends along for the ride – you can even play four-player split-screen on the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, which I know will appeal to a lot of gamers.
Tiny Tina's Wonderlands Review
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is a wonderful adventure that freshens up the Borderlands looter-shooter formula with a creative fantasy twist. I loved creating my character, blasting out the myriad of spells to vanquish foes, and uncovering more of the fantasy world, whilst the excellent voice work and humorous writing ensured the narrative was just as fun.
It was guilty of being a little formulaic in places (especially if you’re a Borderlands veteran) and I found the loot system to be a bit overwhelming, but neither issue stopped me from having a brilliant time in dazzling world of Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands.
Developer: Gearbox Software
Platform(s): PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC