Tiny Tina's Wonderlands Preview: "Familiarity Has Reigned Supreme"

Tiny Tina's Wonderlands Preview: "Familiarity Has Reigned Supreme"
Images via 2K

Written by 

Tarran Stockton


1st Mar 2022 11:54

Though it's probably no surprise to anyone who's been keeping up with this title, Tiny Tina's Wonderlands is more of the same; it feels, sounds, and looks like Borderlands through and through. For fans of this wacky series, repeating the decade-old formula with a Dungeons & Dragons twist might be enough, but it seems Borderlands is in real danger of stagnating further, despite some attempts to grow.

We've played through one area of the game called Mount Craw, which focused on a questline called Goblins Tired of Forced Oppression. As we set to free a workforce of goblins from a tyrannical dragon, it provided a solid backdrop to deliver Borderlands' typical irreverent and silly humour, parodying a socialist revolution as you stick up posters, free political prisoners, and seize the means of production for goblinkind.

Class And Style

Tiny Tina's Wonderlands preview: Class and style
Click to enlarge

Playing as the Stabbomancer class beckoned us, with their ability to turn invisible and strike from the shadows. Like in the previous games, your skills allow you to do new things with your kit and become more powerful, and each class has two main skills to select from when first levelling up.

The stats screen is a new implementation, and lets you put points into one of six stats: Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom, Constitution, and Attunement. These let you specify your character more and dictate whether they focus on spells, critical chance and critical damage, status effects, or being more resistant. This means even players with the same class can still veer into different directions in terms of playstyle, though it doesn't look like it will significantly change how a class acts.

A Game Within A Game

Tiny Tina's Wonderlands preview: A game within a game
Click to enlarge

During all this, the fact that you are playing a game within a game is always made abundantly clear. Although we had no way to access the overworld, which acts as the tabletop for the fantasy adventure, the characters at the table (played by Andy Samberg and Wanda Sykes) chip in during moments where players would realistically deliberate about their next moves or discuss previous ones.

A standout moment came during a quest where I had to visit an evil wizard and try to stop him terrorising the goblins - but the catch is that it has to be done peacefully. It presents you a choice of how to resolve the conflict, intimidation or seduction, and upon choosing the latter and making the wizard feel super awkward, he begged me to leave and promised to stop his shenanigans. Frette (Sykes), in bewilderment, asks if that was the best effort at seduction that the table could muster, before Tiny Tina goads them into trying again. It's unclear how much these choices can shape the experience, but it displays a real dedication to the Dungeons & Dragons gimmick that the game is constantly evoking.


Same Old Combat

Tiny Tina's Wonderlands preview: Same old combat
Click to enlarge

When you aren't talking to a character in Tiny Tina's Wonderlands, you're probably shooting them instead, and this is where it feels like the last ten years of gaming has flown by Gearbox. All of this is subject to change with a month of development time left, but the gunplay feels weak and undercooked. For a series predicated on having billions of gun combinations and constant action - this is a head scratcher.

It's not like the spells or new melee weapons take the spotlight instead, as you can only equip one of these spells at a time, and the melee weapon is limited to a single button press, instead of being a weapon you can switch to. The bullet-sponge nature of many of the enemies was also tiresome immediately, though this is likely down to the fact it's designed around being a cooperative experience. With all that said, the enemies themselves are well-designed, and the army of goblins was abundant with different types to fight that often had surprising tricks up their sleeves.

Dungeons And Borderlands

Tiny Tina's Wonderlands preview: Dungeons and Borderlands
Click to enlarge

The Dungeons & Dragons inspiration in this game is clear from every facet of its design, both from the preview build and trailers so far, and it shows some potential to mix things up for a series that lost its lustre years ago. Many of the typical Borderlands idiosyncrasies remain, such as its tone, gameplay loop, and loot-fuelled mayhem, so existing fans will find a lot to like. However, if you were hoping that Wonderlands would shake up the formula enough to carve out its own identity, familiarity has reigned supreme.


Tarran is a Senior Guides Writer at GGRecon. He previously wrote reviews for his college newspaper before studying Media and Communication at university. His favourite genres include role-playing games, strategy games, and boomer shooters - along with anything indie. You can also find him in the pit at local hardcore shows.