The latest Borderlands game Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands has had an incredibly low-key launch compared to previous “mainline” entries in the series and a lot of other games this year. While it’s technically a spin-off – acting as a follow-up to the Borderlands 2 DLC, Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep, Wonderlands breathes some new life into the long-running series that’s been going for over a decade now.
Instead of the usual Borderlands setting, Tiny Tina’s game takes place within the fictional table-top fantasy game “Bunkers & Badasses” (a game within a game as such), where you must put a stop to the tyrannical Dragon Lord. This whole concept draws on the real-life table-top fantasy RPG, Dungeons & Dragons, while making reference to all sorts of fantasy tropes through story, dialogue and more. In saying this, it doesn’t bother to make up any excuses for the inclusion of guns…these weapons are just there because Tina said so.
And this leads us to the character creator – the first noticeable difference in this spin-off. You’re no longer playing as a Vault Hunter. Now, you’re crafting a hero from the ground up in terms of appearance, character background, stats and class – ranging from a “Brr-Zerker” to a Spellshot magic-user (eventually, you unlock the multiclass system - allowing for even more choice). Many of them would look right at home as a D&D character sheet…well, kind of. The new overworld is another homage to D&D’s tabletop gameplay. In between key moments, you’ll now guide a bobblehead-like character across this map (in the style of old-school JRPG overworld maps) to reach your next destination, landmark or battle. There are also random encounters along the way. As fitting as it is, it's still a bit jarring.
As for the gunplay in Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, it's arguably better than ever. There are a lot of guns (as you might expect), plenty of new melee weapons ranging from swords to battle axes, and magic – allowing you to cast all sorts of spells on enemies in the heat of battle. The combination of all this along with the RNG loot loop should have most heroes hooked. Bringing this together are quests and side quests. Be warned though, the main characters will talk your ears off, so if you weren’t a fan of Tina previously or Borderlands' sense of humour, you may not have much patience in this case, either.
Even if you’ve been looting and shooting in the Borderlands for the past decade, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is still well worth a look. It’s got fantastic and addictive gameplay, the pacing feels quite good as well, and there are enough new features, enemies, and bosses that will keep you and your friends coming back for more adventures. Tina's fantasy spin-off proves it's more than worthy alongside the mainline entries.