Developer: Gearbox Software Publisher: 2K Games Audio: Joshua Carro Platforms: Playstation 4 & 5, Xbox One, Series S &X, Epic Store on PC. Release Date: 25/3/22 Genre: Action, Adventure, RPG, FPS, Looter Shooter.
Before sitting down to write this review of Tiny Tina’s Wonderland I checked my playtime of this new instalment of the Borderlands Franchise. Nearly 80 hours, which beats most Borderlands games I’ve played in the past… So, what makes this game my pick as one of the best Borderlands games released? The game, for those Borderlands aficionados, takes place between the last good game and the bad one you probably invested too many hours into, where Tiny Tina is still thirteen, your drinks are non-alcoholic, and the innuendo is masked.
So… umm… You play as the noobie, a creature of your own surmise (genderless options included – plus click that slider override button, you monster), in the tangled web of Tiny Tina’s Wonderland, and the world she has … created? Spoiler free review here, the dynamic between Tina and the Dragon Lord is… TASTY? And confusing. Halfway through my second playthrough with my cousin, he asked what the actual dynamic was, and all I could say was “yes” without spoiling anything.
And you are stuck playing the game because you’re trapped under a mountain with these people? So, 4th wall breaks are in, and disbelief is suspended as you are lead through a story of Tina’s imaginings/traumas. And I sure hope you’re ready, because it follows all the machinations of Dungeons and dragons and Tabletop enthusiasts out there, calling back to retcons, Fantasy reimagining, and a heap more…
But what exactly is the bunkers and badasses world in the imaginings of Tiny Tina’s Wonderland? At it’s core it’s just a reskin of borderlands 3. Same mechanics, renamed loot, grenades are now OP and reclassed as spells… but the core difference is the beautiful new settings, removal of cars and in its place a game board (much wow, many happy) and the new class mechanics. In Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands you get to choose between different classes that with an expanding list as the DLC’s are released, PLUS, new to the franchise, is the real RPG hard-line, BASE STATS. Wisdom, intelligence, strength, dexterity, constitution, and affinity? I guess because we all have excellent charisma… SEDUCE THE DRAWBRIDGE!
Later into the game classes can be miss matched aka multi-classed to create nearly anything that fits your play style. I tend toward face smashing and machine gunning badasses, or minion hoarding necro-druids… all of which tendencies I can indulge with relative ease in the base multiclassing Wonderlands affords me. And should you prefer to spell sling while invisible… you are covered as well…
Outside of that it’s a similar looter shooter you know borderlands to be, follow quest markers, listen to quest voice actors quip and joke, kill the big bad at the end and then get overwhelming numbers of stuff pop from their corpse in pretty lights only to be underwhelmed that none of it fits your playstyle… but fear not, when you roll that nat 20 you can go from offhandedly fish slapping to ultimate badassery… if you have any backpack space left to carry it… So, max out those carrying slots because you’re gonna need them. Like most games in the borderlands series I do find I spend about 20% of my playtime fiddling with my inventory… those numbers can be damned confusing, especially with even more interactions now taking place with spells, companions, arrows and more taking even more slots in the lottery of stat boosts on weapon and armour. So take your time, shoot some targets out the back of Izzy’s Fizzies and figure out what you have… and play what feels good.
While the audio created by Joshua Carro is good, it can get either repetitive in the Overworld or can very much fade so far into the background it forgets to loop and you sit there in silence… well as much silence as you can be while voice actors repeat death lines ad- infinitum/ad nauseum over the top of the sound effects of your arsenal and spells assaulting not only the enemies but your ears. I only noticed the music when it was a feature of a quest, or I heard the same riff, repeatedly. Good or bad, your choice. However, the voice acting was superb with Andy Samberg and Wanda Sykes cast as your narrative friends, the big bad Dragon Lord by Will Arnett and then further layered with veteran voice actors quipping their way throughout the game.
This is a game with more than a healthy stuffing of tabletop humour with SNL skit comedy styling. Should that not be your cup’o’tea guvnar then you will nope out fairly quickly crying cringe to the winds of suffering and the goddess annoya. But should you chuckle, giggle and gaffaw in merry mirth, you will be blessed by the table top gods with tongue in cheek humour, references to the insanity of tabletop RPG DM madness, as well as the dreaded “popular culture” references as one must in this day and age.
There is an ugly to this tale, there are glitches where inventory sprites do not load, and journals of quests disappear, but none game breaking enough that won’t be fixed by a quick reload back to the main screen (load this on the SSD should you have one). And load up with friends, not online weirdos, or you may find your characters stats maxed out and all the joy of any challenge in this game gone.
So, after finishing the final quest in Tiny Tina’s Wonderland I am left grinding for better weapons in the end game rogue lite chaos chambers, researching current metas and builds all while trying desperately to find friends to replay the side quests and main story like some junky trying to get their next fix. Desperately I start to create characters, new looks, new weapons, synergies, only to drop them the next time I load up the game to try another… only to resolve to replay the game with harder mobs, same skillset, and a grinding meta mindset.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderland was developed by Gearbox, produced by 2K Games, and is currently available on Xbox, Playstation and through the Epic Store on Windows. I bought and played through Epic on PC.
I’m a not quite Atari old school, but definitely a 5½ inch floppy, anti-piracy Code Books/Wheel, hooking up the Nintendo Entertainment system via the Aux Cable attachment and turning the TV knob to channel 4, kind of Old School gamer. I grew up in Melbourne but have couch/console surfed most of the east coast of Australia with a laptop, hard drive and a Nintendo device in tow. I was indoctrinated into the gamer world at a young age with Sierra’s Mother Goose and Super Mario Bros. Now I’ll play on anything I can get my hands on; clickers and puzzle games on mobile, PC MMO’s, FPS’s and anything that will turn my PC tower into a wind tunnel. I’m working at getting more into consoles, but I still can’t play a twin-stick shooter to save my life. In my heart of hearts, I am a social gamer. My best memories of gaming are from playing games with friends, battling together in an MMO like World of Warcraft or Destiny 2, chatting about tips, tricks and trades in Animal Crossing or just sitting together while swapping controllers in Super Smash Brothers. That, or a puzzle/management sim game like Factorio, those can make me zone out for hours. My favourite game? Let’s find out together.