Following up the excellent Borderlands 2 DLC (turned standalone one-shot) Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep was never going to be easy, but the team at Gearbox have delivered a new experience that builds on the excellent idea of the original content and expands it to a full game.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is exactly what you already think it is. A complete Borderlands game based around the question “What would Dungeons & Dragons be like if the energetic Tiny Tina was the dungeon master?” Yes, there are plenty of explosions, and yes, the game is full of fabulously weird stories, colourful characters and enough guns to arm two Arnold Schwarzenegger summer blockbusters.
If you’ve ever wanted to play a game of Dungeons & Dragons, this may very well be a good way to introduce you to the concept of the game, while taking out a lot of the legwork to make it happen. Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands does a wonderful job of walking you through the idea of D&D by playing their own game called “Bunkers & Badasses”. The story narration from Tiny Tina, the “adlibbed” responses to random items that have been left on the game table, and the spontaneous changes to the story are all beautifully crafted to suit a stylised experience of a tabletop game, while letting you explosively explore the magical world around you.
While it all sounds like an entirely weird premise for a game, at its core Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands brings the solid Borderlands-tinged FPS gunplay that we know and love. Weird and wonderful weaponry, combined with the special abilities of newly created character classes, are fantastically fun to play and meddle with. There’s any number of combinations of skills and special abilities to try out, so much so that you’ll be wanting to create multiple characters to try out the unique abilities to see what fits your personal style. Whatever you choose, you’re bound to be treated with a dazzling display of colourful combat which constantly delights.
We have to talk about the seriously excellent cast of voice talent that Gearbox have gathered together for Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands because they’re seriously excellent. Ashly Burch is back as the titular Tiny Tina, and joining her are superbly over-the-top stars Will Arnett, Andy Samberg and Wanda Sykes, along with a host of character actors from previous Borderlands games. While adding celebrity actors hasn’t always been a winning formula in video games, the crew here have almost been let off the chain, adding some sparkling conversation and really capturing the chaotic humour of Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands.
Now it wouldn’t be a Borderlands game without an overload of loot to sort through. Here you have guns, melee weapons, wards, magical powers, amulets, and rings which are all procedurally generated, so you’ll never have the same piece of kit showing up twice. And there’s genuinely more loot than you’ll know what to do with. The trick here is to try everything at least once, and after you find something that you like, sticking with it for the rest of the game. This arsenal is tailored to the magical Bunkers & Badasses aesthetic, so each item is a fascinating combination of future tech and medieval fantasy lore. How any of these weapons actually work is physically improbable, but it looks cool and makes things go boom in an incredibly satisfying way.
“Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is 100 per cent the Borderlands experience that you’d expect it to be from Gearbox”
The story is a complete hodgepodge of little pieces of everything. Broadly speaking, you’re tasked, as the resident newbie, to defeat the Dragonlord and free the land from his clutches. Along the way you’ll battle skeleton pirates, nuke the whales, and even settle grievances between rival bands of dark metal troubadours, in quests and side quests galore which all smoosh together in this chaotic blend of stories and deliciously silly quips. Every story drips with quippy humour and cultural references that bend IP rules to the sharp point of breaking, but are all worthy of a hearty chuckle or two.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is 100 per cent the Borderlands experience that you’d expect it to be from Gearbox, being both a spinoff and a fully-realised game in its own right. Explosive gunplay with a veritable cornucopia of devilishly designed firepower and a sharp, witty dialogue are ever present throughout the game, and with those signature Borderlands comic book meets cel shaded graphics, this experience is sure to please.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is available now on PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4 and Xbox One.