I really shouldn’t have been surprised to see Tiny Tina get her own spin-off games, first Assault on Dragon’s Keep getting turned into a standalone, then followed up by the very simply named, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands. Launching 25 March 2022 on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X | S and as a timed Epic Games Store PC exclusive, 2K Games provided me the opportunity to try out a demo build! As such, there will be disclaimers with the assets and contents you see here are subject to change.
Full review here!
BEFORE WE BEGIN…
There will be six classes in the full game, with the demo only having two: the Graveborn, and Stabbomancer. The recommended specifications to run the game were given as follows:
|TINY TINA'S WONDERLANDS
|DEMO MINIMUM RECOMMENDATIONS
|AMD Ryzen 5 2600 / Intel i7-4770
|AMD Radeon RX 590 8GB / NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB
With that out of the way, I as usual, fiddled with the options. Some of the things that stood out to me was that you’re allowed to select the Graphics API, with other things like a default monitor, resolution scaling, frame rate cap and field of view hardly uncommon, but things I like to see anyway. I turned on the stat display for FPS, CPU and GPU just to see how my PC runs it on the High preset. These are at the top right corner, fairly discreet.
For the console / controller user, you have your deadzone sliders and the hotkey presents, which can also be customized! Amazing! Other things I thought worth pointing out include choosing your reticle position, whether you’d prefer to see more environment or more gun. The reticle colour can also be adjusted to colour presets. Subtitle text and background colours can’t be adjusted but size is, though you can’t see how big the text actually looks like. Accessibility wise, it’s not much.
I had to whack the brightness slider way up because some places are too dark by default. Outside of that, Wonderlands hardly looks any different from the other games in the Borderlands series. The icons and interface get their tweaks to fit the setting, and the cel-shaded models look cleaner. The series has always had a problem with visual clarity when the legendary weapons start pouring in, but without knowing what they are, I’ll save my judgment till I see how they look like. I also got a little motion sick, but turning the FOV slider to max resolved that issue.
The menus have this gold and font choice to give it the Fantasy™ look. Customization wasn’t in the demo, so all I can say is that the Graveborn sure reminds me of a Dragon Age character. As usual, you’re able to see at a glance an item’s stats, looks, brand, power level, element, and the like, with any more necessary details provided when you mouse over the actual item. Nice stat up green arrows and red arrows for worse stats are kept, as is the rarity colours from least to most rare from white, green, blue, purple, and orange. The skill trees get appropriately designed icons for the setting, so admire the art some. I’d say the text is a little on the small side for now.
The Graveborn has a Demi-Lich companion you can interact with, and the player character can trade quips with it. This is currently not subtitled, which I expect to change in the full release. There’s only a small slice of the overarching story here, but it’s enough to tell that the Borderlands series Meme™ and Pop Culture™ humour and writing style has been retained. If you’ve never really liked how it was done in the previous games, I can understand if that alone might turn you off.
Veterans will be able to recognize many of the series returning equipment brands, their names and logos tweaked to give them that fantasy flavour. I’d say this is a more subtle touch; after playing all of the other games (besides Tales), I can instinctively guess what they can do besides the new additions.
Well, it’s the looter shooter you know and love. Get gun, kill or whatever, get better gun, repeat. I don’t find anything different with the general gunplay and combat. There’s only so many times I can reiterate that plenty of it feels brought over wholesale from the previous games, just with additional polish.
You have 5 weapon slots instead of 4, with melee getting a dedicated weapon slot. I like this change, seeing as how melee was often an afterthought unless your class actually had any kind of spec for it. I never used anything with melee override effects myself. Now that you can slap on more stats to your melee in different flavours and effects, it might actually be worthwhile!
Shields, or Wards as they’re known here, along with the “class mods” (now appearing as armour pieces) and 3 accessory slots (like relics), these are pretty simple to grasp. The “grenades” see the next biggest change, as they are now spells. These spells may have multiple charges, and have different ways to “cast” (e.g. one tap, hold and charge, etc.). Additionally, where in the previous games, you can throw a vanilla grenade without any mods, Wonderlands REQUIRES you to have one of these “mods” equipped before you can start spell-slinging. Another notable change is that these spells may have multiple charges before they go on cooldown. No more collecting grenades!
I’m more interested in the spells over the guns in this game, for what it’s worth.
With only one skill tree (out of 3 minimum in the other games) for the two available classes in the demo, I can’t talk much about the builds. From what I’ve tried out, here’s wot I think:
This class works around HP manipulation, either sacrificing health for one burst or continuously depleting your HP as you go Rambo. I quite prefer the second option as it feels more active, since you also get invulnerable once the skill fully depletes your HP. Its duration scales off your Max HP too, so I can see this being quite fun to manage. Time to pack those Anshin shields, everyone.
You’re also capable of spawning minions on kill, but I won’t consider this a true minion class at present. Your Demi-Lich companion can fire off another spell bolt that is the same element as your own cast spell, but outside of that, I don’t think it’s very useful if you don’t make it your meatshield. For now.
Get very easy stat modifiers, and play with status effects, in essence. My preferred skill is the Ghost Blade, where you can drop a Beyblade to chop things up in an area, and summon it to your current location at the cost of its remaining duration. Alternatively, you can stealth for guaranteed critical hits, which reminds me of Zer0 from Borderlands 2. The crits do come at the cost of lower crit damage, which can be offset with more investment in the skill tree.
You want to debuff enemies, deal more damage when you apply status effects and extend those effects? This is your guy.
These skill trees are pretty basic at this stage, so wait for the full release. On top of the skill tree, you have Hero Points to distribute, which work closer to your traditional RPG stat points. You can see that there are also modifiers based on your “archetype”, with bonus points or demerits based on the class.
The characters have different menu animations depending on what active skill you have equipped, for that extra flavour.
Outside of the quests, the collect-a-thon and side activities are back! Hope you know how to parkour to some of these, as I miserably fail to try reach one of them shinies. They can increase stats too, like how the Golden Dice drops some bonus goodies on finding them, and increases your loot drop rate. I had to chase down one of the Rune Switch puzzles, requiring me to tag them in order within a time limit.
When it comes to fighting enemies, the series has traditionally had problems with damage sponges as the difficulty ramps up. Early game hell is still very much possible, when the action becomes frantic and you don’t have all the upgrades you prefer. I fell into a bottomless lava pit trying to backstep, so there’s that too.
Myth Rank is accessible only at level 40, so can’t say anything on that now.
So yeah. From the demo, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands very much feels like a reiteration of the other games, with things shuffled and refreshed to keep it interesting. Can’t blame them for not wanting to fix a broken formula. That said, I still had plenty of fun with what I got, so I’ll look forward to the full release. If you liked the previous games, there’s no reason not to get this one either.