Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is a spin-off title from the Borderlands series of first-person shooter RPGs. Based on the Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep DLC of Borderlands 2, Wonderlands has Tiny Tina heading up a fantasy RPG campaign for new characters, including yours.
You create your own character. The creator has a good range of options, with six unique character classes to choose from. But you don’t have to fret about those choices too much, as you unlock the ability to use a subclass early on and can respec entirely by the game’s end.
The story occurs within the tabletop RPG Bunkers and Badasses. Since it’s all make-believe, Tiny Tina can change and manipulate the settings or characters in the world at any time. It’s used sparingly as context for a few cool set pieces but she constructs a fairly basic plot where you and two new characters, Valentine and Frett, voiced by Andy Samberg and Wanda Sykes, must stop the Dragon Lord, voiced by Will Arnett, from taking over a fantasy kingdom ruled by lovable diamond unicorn Butt Stallion.
The Dragon Lord knows you’re actually playing a game, and he attempts to lure you into siding with him against the oppressive power that Tiny Tina wields as the game master. However, none of it ultimately matters because the game won’t let you choose his side. There are loads of smaller side stories throughout the world though that are far more entertaining. I helped a pirate captain regain his crew and mend things with an ex that ended in an adorable sea shanty, for example. So while the main plot mostly meanders, the offbeat side stories repeatedly stole the show.
Gameplay-wise, Wonderlands is much more similar to Borderlands than it first appears. The emphasis on whacky gunplay is toned down for more of a balance between that and magic spells, which replace grenades, so for most of my playthrough I was seeing a lot of the same weapons and magic, just in different elemental flavors. The most impactful magic and weapons don’t arrive until near the endgame, and the same can be said for your character’s progression. Aside from a few favorite action skills you’ll obtain, leveling up mostly yields increases to the power of things like critical hits or damage by small percentages, so you won’t feel like you’re really getting more powerful until you’ve invested a lot of skill points.
Sadly, even after your build comes into its own, there are no interesting enemy encounters to test it on. The pool of enemies is diverse but just plain boring to fight against. Different-colored health bars denote what elements are most effective on certain enemies, and tougher ones will stack multiple bars. Spending the time to level up accordingly will get you through any engagement regardless of your specs. Boss battles are the only change of pace, but most of them heavily rely on mobs of normal enemies to fill out the encounters.
The main plot takes you through only a handful of fantasy-themed locations that are separated by a top-down overworld hub that lets you travel between them. The overworld has its own share of secrets and side quests. There are awesome-looking areas like a town taken over by an evil beanstalk that aren’t mandatory to visit but are heavily encouraged if you’re under level for story missions. These big locations are visually distinct but don’t do much to differentiate from one another mechanically.
I rolled credits after about 20 hours, but there was a lot more to see and a new rogue-like activity unlocks at endgame to keep players busy. If the Borderlands formula hasn’t gotten old for you, there’s a lot more of it to enjoy in Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands. Its new fantasy coat of paint looks great, but it’s still the same old shooter underneath. The game is out March 25 for $59.99 on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC via Epic Games Store.
Watch the Review in 3 Minutes for Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands.