Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is the next step in the Borderlands franchise. It sticks to its first person shooter roots but has a few new and different tricks up it’s sleeves. Wonderlands is based on a game called Bunkers and Badasses which is really just D&D.
The player is a new member of the game so Tina forces a new game to be started. There’s a cutscene that introduces the Dragon Lord (main villain) and Queen Butt Stallion from Borderlands 2 before we get a character creator that lets us choose race and outfit design as well as our starting class. Then we’re thrown into a grassland in first person view where the game’s slow tutorial plays out.
Levels are split up by a tabletop board style overworld with long grass, obstacles and other interactable objects. Long grass does handle Pokemon style with random encounters but they feel like Dragon Age Origins encounters with their own little areas. This would explain why large extra content would be hard to implement as the board is set.
The plot is a mix of Tina’s loneliness as she attempts to make friends and the Dragon Lord’s motivations as he tries to destroy the Wonderlands. It doesn’t work as well as Attack On Dragon Keep did but it uses Tina’s wacky character to good effect with her two new friends and the player.
Exploration happens in two ways: The tabletop board which connects all the stages that players need to travel across to progress, the board features small locations that last only a few minutes but allow for short combat encounters that keep the player busy; And big maps which act as story stages that carry a lot of the plot. There are extra replayable battle sections called Chaos Chambers which act as the endgame but they don’t really interest me, they’re supposed to be harder but they’re also fairly pointless.
An example of a map would be The Weepwild Dankness level which is awesome, it has Murph killing, King Archer and the sword Extra-Caliber, Lord of the Rings references and just feels so packed. The whole game is packed with references to other things with some story arcs based on other things like The Secret Of Monkey Island or The Witcher. Wonderlands also takes a lot from Borderlands 2 and it’s DLC such as Mr Torgue finally getting what he wants.
Combat is standard Borderlands style First Person Shooter with new additions. We have melee weapons that pack a punch, sending enemies flying as they are now as strong as guns. We get spells which basically replace grenades and function in a similar way of casting at a target before watching the effects. The enemies are fresh with Cyclopses, Dogsharks, Snakewomen and more joining the expected bandits and skeleton enemies.
Characters are even different in this game as there are now more than four to choose from. Each one has a choice of Action Skill (activated abilities) and a Class Feat which is a passive extra that the player gets after a certain point in the game, this could be companions or stat boosts. I used the Clawbringer class which has a melee and elemental focus which suited my play style well before it let me use a second class of Stabbomancer which added stat boosts from its skill tree.
The one big letdown was that the enemies died really quickly. (There was a difficulty selection which meant I played on normal). The bosses also died really fast, including the Dragon Lord which left them feeling underwhelming.
Collectibles. We have marbles and poems to look out for which have dialogue attached to them. There’re shrines on the board which require pieces to activate for a stat boost. Obelisks provide mini-bosses as extra challenges, and there’s some timed platforming things that I ignored because they just weren’t fun. There’s also the new Golden Dice system which is tied to Loot Luck, with this players will see an effect on how good or rare dropped weapons are as the Loot Luck score goes up meaning by the end of the story some really good weapons should show up (which I think is better than totally random loot lol in older games (the Luck Loot is account wide so applies to all your characters).
The biggest problems with this game are that money of the voices are so annoying that it’s like they’re trying to annoy players (Claptrap managed to be one the least annoying ones). There was a graphic issue where pop-ups on screen would stay until something forced it off (such as reload reminders or level up). The game also got so chaotic at one point that the frame rate started to struggle. I even got a full on back-to-dashboard crash.
Although the game had a slow start, it quickly gained pace once the tutorial was over and became a fun, flashy pit of chaotic explosions that used the Borderlands history as well as pop culture references to its advantage. Wonderlands is a mishmash of a few different ideas which are interesting and different, I really started to like it gameplay wise and I’d put it on the quality of Borderlands 1 for how much I’d want a more polished or expanded sequel. I can’t bring myself to do a second playthrough though and the endgame is lacklustre.