|Platforms||PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S|
|Release Date||March 25, 2022|
Things happen sometimes that have outcomes you would never expect. Sometimes you have to try the new to understand why the old is so good. And that’s what happened to me.
This is not just a review of Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, this is how the newest installment converted me into a Borderlands fan.
Language: The words “d*ck,” “pr*ck,” and “a*s” are heard in the game. There are lots of sexual suggestions and undertones throughout.
Violence: There’s no blood, but there’s a heck of a lot of gunplay: Explosions, assault rifles, shotguns, and more. There’s a beheading scene of a non-human character.
Other Things: Like the minions of the Despicable movies series, some of the toon creatures have exposed buttocks.
I’ll try and keep it brief. The first and only game in the series I tried was Borderlands 2. From what I get around the community, BL2 is the best in terms of just about everything. My first mistake was thinking the choices at the beginning were cosmetic, not integral. My second mistake was not doing my homework. After reaching the first big town, I came to realize a lot was going on that I wasn’t picking up. I’m not talking about just the story, I’m talking about the looting, the gun brands, the fighting, the element balances—a lot that was there that I wasn’t appreciating. So, instead of abandoning it, I should have put it down and picked it up for another day. And I mistakenly gave the impression I was against the series.
Which is why it was weird that I would cover Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands. A couple of things to mention: Tiny Tina’s promotional video was what gave me a reason to try the series. A Dungeons & Dragons-esque adventure shooter, with tons of loot, amazing voice-casting, and super colorful environments sprinkled with humor the entire time? It’s an ADHD flood, and I want to be right in the middle. Additionally, you don’t need to know anything about the series to enjoy this new game. I’ll even go far as to argue that this may be the pivotal entry point into Borderlands.
If you do know the series, you’ll appreciate the references, characters, and subtle undertones of Tiny Tina herself. While I’ll save the story, I want to talk about the phenomenon every DM or author faces when they inject every part of themselves into their work, either intentionally or unintentionally. After finally doing my homework, I appreciate all of the side quests, for the bits of Tiny Tina in them. Wonderlands is a great place to study her character and see what people find. I can think of a quest where an old man is looking for his son who is a wooden doll; players help him find pieces of his son, and eventually go into a dead whale and confront a fiend. The son is turned human, and the old man dies. The son continues to cry while we leave, and it hits me that Tina had to watch a very dear friend die. Although that was the plot covered in the stand-alone DLC Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep, it can be a reminder that wounds do not completely heal. Just ask Frodo Baggins.
Wonderlands is chock full of references, and humor to balance, or completely overshadow, the psychoanalysis if you wish. From the color palettes of the character choices, to the adjective-heavy names of every weapon and item, everything has me stopping to see what new name or thing I find.
Speaking of stopping, no game has me hanging on every snippet of dialogue like this one does. Will Arnet, Andy Samberg, Wanda Sykes, and Ashly Burch deliver their material effortlessly. BL3’s Tina seems forced, but with the nature of Wonderlands, it lends itself to great performances.
“Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is a great game that blends Dungeons and Dragons, and a good game series together to create a unique experience”
The gameplay has made me want to play more shooters, not just Borderlands games. The guns alone are wacky and satisfying. One minute, you’re blasting eight full auto ice bullets, the next a fiery concussive wave. The reloading animations are a Borderlands staple. I can still remember laughing or gawking at using a small water pistol to cool down an overheating gun. The guns you throw, for reloading purposes, are some of my favorite to use.
New to the series is magic. Wands, meteors, enchantment rings, and magic missiles are some of the things you’ll find, but my favorites include the infamous Dungeons & Dragons gelatinous cube, and the barrel explosion summon.
The areas and the overworld are huge. I was asked at GameStop if the game feels like a full game, to which I gave an astounding head nod. The overworld gives you a miniature version of your character with a big head and lets you traverse between maps. Here players can see Tina’s home-brew in full view. The soda river, cheese puff blockade, and dice bridge are just the cream on top of the map cake. The overworld and the maps also contain side activities. From parkour puzzles, to lucky dice collectibles, to shrines granting permanent stat boosts, there is plenty to do after the main and side quests.
But some of you just come for the post-game, which Borderlands always delivers. Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is no different. The Chaos Chambers give you rounds of fighting suped-up baddies for more gear and loot to gather. Some runs can be random, but the Chaos Trials are fixed missions. The difficulty increases, and there are curses and boosts to provide more risk and reward. There are even things to get after maxing everything. This is great since more content is on the way. Content I am legit excited to get my hands on.
Now is the best time to get into the series. Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is a great game that blends Dungeons & Dragons and Borderlands’ well-established shooter gameplay together to create a unique experience. If players are a fan of either, play it, and try to play it with friends or other people. Crossplay makes that easy to do, and the connections I’ve had with others were always good.
The Bottom Line
The best entry for the Borderlands series, and possibly (maybe) Dungeons and Dragons.