With Borderlands 3 out a good three plus years, back in 2019, it has been a while since we got a shooter that mixes in irreverent humour with the addictive chase for loot. Thankfully, that wait is going to end soon, as Gearbox Software and 2K Games are getting ready to unleash the latest spin-off in the Borderlands series, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, onto the unsuspecting masses, and if our early preview is any indication, fans will be quite satisfied come 25 March.
If you had previously enjoyed the DLC that was Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep, then you should already be familiar with this successor. However, if you have not, this is essentially a Dungeons & Dragons inspired spinoff of the main Borderlands franchise, albeit with plenty of Tiny Tina’s signature flair and mayhem thrown into the mix.
Jumping into the Mount Craw zone, we were given access to two of the classes – Graveborn and Stabbomancer – and dropped right into the thick of it. As one would expect out of Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, players can look forward to plenty of exploration, main and side missions, challenging enemies, and plenty of loot to grab.
Starting with the Graveborn, which was already kitted out with different skills and attributes, the experience felt instantly familiar. You shoot at enemies, you collect ammo and loot, and there is a constant stream of banter from the different characters involved. Of course, there less alien lifeforms and robots, and more fantasy creatures that stand in your way, with goblins being the main opposition in Mount Craw.
The Graveborn is quite the glass cannon, who can sacrifice health to unleash Dark magic attacks. Alongside the ever-loyal Dark Lich companion, players can count on fantasy variants of weapons to even the odds. Think pistols and rifles with a medieval slant, and you get a general idea, with gunplay feeling solid as ever in Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands.
The melee attacks are probably the biggest departure, replacing the good old gun smash with actual weapons like maces and swords. And to mix things up even more, skills can be activated easily using the bumpers, adding to the craziness on the battlefield.
Compared to the Stabbomancer, the Graveborn does seem to be a little brittle for our taste. Maybe it is the freedom to tweak the former whichever way we wanted, but the Stabbomancer definitely fared better against the goblin hordes. Being able to turn invisible and deal special damage is nice, as is the ability to summon magical whirling blades to make mincemeat of our foes.
Loot drops are also plentiful, although it can be overwhelming to try to figure out just which weapons are better for you in your current state. It does not take long for an inventory to fill up, so smart management is a skill players will have to pick up along the way in Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands.
As for the actual story content, as limited as we were during the preview, it is certainly in line with that of a tabletop campaign, but with a healthy dose of the world’s most dangerous 13-year-old. The writing is over the top, character interactions are often aiming for a laugh whether it makes sense or not, and the return of Butt Stallion is always going to be celebrated.
After a couple of hours with the game, it is hard to shake the feeling that Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands feels just a tad too similar to the base Borderlands experience. You are still getting the combat and loot loop, the same type of goofy humour and talking, and if you did not enjoy all of that previously, you likely won’t as well for this spinoff.
Perhaps the game is meant as a love letter to those that loved the DLC, with the titular character becoming a breakout star all her own. At its core, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is still going to be fun for anyone who lives and breathes for that formula, and if you can do it with friends, all the better. Unfortunately, for those that are not on this side of the table, not even the D&D theme is going to help.