I was fortunate to get access to a hands-on preview of 2K Games’ upcoming Borderlands spin-off, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands.
Gearbox Software struck gold back in 2009 with their cel-shaded first-person shooter, Borderlands. It was a game full of larger-than-life characters and a plot that held its tongue firmly in its cheek. The game was genre-defining, if not the first of its type, Borderlands, popularised the looter-shooter gameplay whereby players are routinely rewarded with useful items as they play.
Two sequels and a prequel later and the series is just as popular as it’s ever been. A lot of that success has been driven by the seemingly endless release of DLC expansions for the games. It’s one of these expansions, for Borderlands 2, called Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon, that was the inspiration for the Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands spin-off.
Rather than the sci-fi setting of the Borderlands games, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands adapts the style and humour to a fantasy setting. The game riffs on table-top fantasy roleplaying games whilst preserving exactly what makes the Borderlands games fun.
The Borderlands character, Tiny Tina, acts as the dungeon master, influencing the world as she sees fit. Whilst the Borderlands games are hardly serious affairs, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is a lot more self-aware cranking the absurdity up to 11.
The preview dropped me right into the action. I never played the original Tiny Tina DLC and only dabbled with the standalone version released at the end of last year as Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep: A Wonderlands One-Shot Adventure. My familiarity with the Borderlands games was enough to grasp what was going on.
The mission, “Goblins Tired of Forced Oppression” had my character assaulting a goblin stronghold to free enslaved goblins. The quest put me up against both melee and ranged attackers. The game swaps out Borderlands’ sci-fi rifles for slightly more fantasy-inspired weaponry, that still feels like firing automatic guns. Add in magic and melee attacks and the combat feels quite a lot more frantic than in other Borderlands games.’
Loot is dropped in ridiculous quantities making the inventory screen an essential visit to shuffle load-outs and armour. Weapons are suitably powerful, as are those of your opponents. There is a puzzle aspect to the game, as well as exploration- the rewards being, of course, rare loot.
The visuals are the same cartoon-like cel-shaded style as the main Borderlands games and look fantastic. The animated creatures from the devious goblins to the lumbering trolls also look great.
My preview only scratched the surface of the game but made me excited to get hold of the full game. Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands launches on 25th March for Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Windows PC via the Epic Store.