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REVIEW: ‘Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands’ is better than ‘Borderlands’

Game add-on turned stand-alone game, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is the magical next step in the Borderlands universe.

Yeah, that’s a relatively controversial title to start a final first impression. Still, after getting my hands on the retail copy of Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands early, I’m pretty comfortable saying that it’s better than Borderlands.

My confidence in such a statement stems from my love for all things fantasy RPG like Dragon Age, Fable, and The Witcher. Not to say that Borderlands was bad by any means, just that I prefer magic; it’s the best!

As mentioned previously, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is a new spin-off from the Borderlands universe that is its own game. It has been built to be that, and its existence was birthed from the immensely successful expansion Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep DLC from Borderlands 2.

Tiny Tina's Wonderlands battlefield
Image: Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands battlefield

The hype for the title is nowhere near as high as I think it should be. The launch of Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is, to a degree, being drowned out by a large portion of the gaming community that is still satisfying their masochist itch by continuing to grind at Elden Ring, which is understandable in some regards.

The quirks of the game that I have been able to experience in the couple of hours I have played have been a lot of fun, and more should be keen to get their hands on it upon release.

Transversing between worlds

Some of the promotional content that accompanied the earlier impression confused me, but now that I have played it, it all makes perfect sense. The part of the game that I refer to is the top-down map where you control your bobble-headed self to explore different areas.

This represents the D&D adventure grid, and it comes with an array of unique features. Unlock paths to quickly transverse the map, find loot and golden dice, complete side quest for fellow bobblehead NPCs, and experience Pokemon-like battle encounters in the tall grass. Bandits are hiding everywhere!

Each region of the adventure grid also shows a super valuable completion progress bar that allows you to monitor the percentage of an area you have completed efficiently. As mentioned in the previous impressions, there is plenty to do and explore.

Tiny Tina's Wonderlands adventure grid
Image: Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands adventure grid

Is it wrong to love the bad guy?

The dialogue in the game is a classic copy from existing titles, but it’s not of a nature that I found repetitive and cumbersome. The jokes, banter, euphemisms, and timing was fantastic. It reminded me of the playful conversations I would have with friends in person in a time before COVID, making it feel like I genuinely was with a group of friends gaming in real life.

As the world is set in a spin-off of Dungeons and Dragons, depth was added when characters broke away from their usual character persona to bicker, argue or complain. It broke the fourth wall.

I know we’re not supposed to like the bad guy, but hearing them complain about employee recruitment when you defeat wave after wave of the undead made me giggle and feel bad for them.

Tiny Tina's Wonderlands Dragon Lord
Image: Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands Dragon Lord

 

I found it surprising how little hearing the main voice actors for this title took me out of the experience because, even though they’re very recognisable, this game is a role-playing game, and that’s how I imagined them being when reading the lines.

I essentially sat at the table with Ashly Burch (Aloy – Horizon Zero Dawn), Will Arnet (Batman – LEGO series), Andy Samberg (Jake Peralta – Brooklyn 99), and Wanda Sykes (writer – The Chris Rock Show) as a newbie on my very first campaign as they played a character playing a character.

Tiny Tina's Wonderlands first campaign
Image: Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands opening

The gun goes pew pew pew

The gunplay and fighting within the Borderlands universe are tried and tested; it never doesn’t work. The said gunplay has also had a magic wand waved over it to mechanically and aesthetically better fit within the game.

Automatic or bolt action arrow shooting weapons have a significant drop off at a distance. There are varying magic abilities from self-cast to summon and forget. Some characters also have a magical companion that aids in their decimation on the battlefield.

Tiny Tina's Wonderlands Spore Warden
Image: Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands Spore Warden

Though I had some new shiny things to play with, so did the enemies that, at times, I found troublesome while learning the unique ways in which they fight and how to counter them.

I was not too fond of the invisible goblins that suddenly came into existence moments before blowing up. They suck.

Tiny Tina's Wonderlands boss battle
Image: Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands Zomboss battle

The final verdict

In conclusion, Tiny Tiny’s Wonderlands has hit the mark. If you’re a fan of Dungeons and Dragons, you can say that it has rolled a nat 20.

I enjoyed every character interaction, the world was beautiful, exploring was fun, side quests weren’t dull, and the fighting, while being Borderlands at its core, was unique enough to the title that it felt different.

Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands comes out March 25th on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S, and Steam. I can’t wait.