You'll love it if:
- You want a fantasy looter shooter.
- You like some smart and good humor.
- Crazy build diversity and multiple characters are your thing.
- Want a good story and a ton of side-quests.
Not for you if:
- Doing some math to determine a good roll is scary for you.
- Can't stand the signature Borderlands humor.
- You hate picking up hundreds of pieces of loot and selling it for insane profits.
Our Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands review tl;dr is as follows: Better than Borderlands 3 but not as good as Borderlands 2… Yet.
Gearbox and 2K did a fantastic job with this spin-off in the Borderlands universe. If you can still consider it the Borderlands universe. Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands are so lush with locations, enemies and loot. You could really consider it the start of a new series. At least that’s what I hope. Because it blew my mind and I’m going right back in after I finish this Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands review.
Before reading on I would like to say that this Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands review is spoiler free. But be wary of some screenshots featuring bosses and zones later in the game. In galleries I will put these screenshots lasts so scroll at your own caution.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands review – Gameplay
So Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands takes an awesome spin within the Borderlands universe. If you played the Bunkers and Badasses DLC of Borderlands 2; you might have a clue what you are up for. Because it really comes down to what Gearbox did in that DLC, but so much better. I cannot emphasize this enough, this is more than just an enhanced DLC within the Borderlands series. It is an amazing adventure you and your party undertake, bonds are formed and Tiny Tina’s mood swings are endured.
An adventure of fantasy and chaos – Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands review – story
A quick summary for this Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands review: The opening scene of Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is the exposition intro of the campaign she wants us to play. Valentine and Frette are veteran Bunkers and Badasses players while you are the newbie.
You are selected as the Fatemaker after an amazing intro cut-scene that switches between the table-top and in-game world fluently. Like a necromancer summoning the undead, the intro cut-scene is full of Borderlands humor that has you giggling at the ingenuity. After Tiny Tina shows off her amazing Bunkermaster storytelling skills and figurines you get to make a character.
Character Creation is like making a real DnD character
This menu almost blew me off the sofa. The options you get to fully customize every detail of your character are stunning. Already people are recreating Shrek and Game of Throne Characters. Further in the game you will start collecting cosmetic drops that increase your options even more. And you can change everything, for free, in the capital city whenever you like. Get ready to spend thirty minutes AFK as your significant other is changing their character; simply because they found a new blush to try out.
Are we the god roll?
Not only guns have stats in Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands. Yes, just like a real DnD game Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands has stats for your character. Like intelligence decreases the cooldown of your spells, strength increases your crit damage and so on. It really feels like you are setting up a character to a real tabletop RPG. Even so you get to pick a perk card that will enhance or decrease some stats. It also gives you a very Borderlands backstory that is a really good short read.
Enter the Fatemaker
As you magically appear in the Snoring Valley aka the Glade of Helpful Tutorials. You are directed through the basics of Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands gameplay. Like jumping over trees that are called Jumpus Tutoriales and beat crabs to steal their life savings. A little ways into the tutorial the Dragon Lord does escape and sets siege to the capital of the Wonderlands, Brighthoof. You take back the city and set out to imprison the Dragon Lord once more. Along the way you will meet old characters of the Borderlands series. Each with their own unique fantasy Wonderlands character.
Some of the greatest voices in the franchise
The voice acting is fantastic all-round. From the voice options you get to choose for your own character to the skeletons and goblins you fight. The written one-liners they throw at you are so good. You will be laughing mid combat at lines like “The fungus is no longer Among Us” or “Should have stayed in the character creator hero”. The sublime writing is covered by a superb voice actor cast.
Without spoiling anything here are some examples. Ashley Burch once again as the amazing Tiny Tina and nailing it. Then we have the advisors of the Fatemaker Valentine and Frette, voiced by Andy Samberg and Wanda Sykes. Over the whole course of the game I never got bored by their dialog or voicing. And last but definitely not least Will Arnett as our villain the Dragon Lord. I hung on every word and enjoyed the passion of villainy he put into his role. He’s not Awesome Jack but really comes close.
A journal full of side quests
I have to admit that I skipped most of the side content for my Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands review. Only because I was so invested in the main campaign and there was barely any level gating that prevented me from finishing it. The side quests that I did felt like a whole different story that opened up new locations and had its own fleshed out narrative and mini story. Some are even so elaborate that they take up an hour to complete.
Side Quests can be divided into two categories, the ones with a normal ! mark are sort of minor quests, and the ones with more elaborate ! are longer and feel like mini campaigns. That’s why I didn’t feel obligated to do them as I encountered them. Now that I finished the main story I have a ton of mini stories to dive into and they all scale to my character. Which I am getting into the moment this Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands review is published.
Adding the RPG to FPSRPG – Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands review – gameplay
Having the character creator and extra stats on your character already adds more flavor for the Bunkers and Badasses setting. This isn’t the only feature that has been added to make Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands more fantasy and rpg-like. I’ll cover most of it below in this Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands review.
Professions of the Wonderlands
Or classes, unlike the usual four that we get in a Borderlands game. You can choose one out of six options. That sounds like a lot but. Yes there is a but, each class only has one skill tree. Unlike other Borderlands games where each class has three skill trees. And four if you have Borderlands 3 and the DLC that gives you that extra skill tree.
Fear not, like DnD you have the option to multi class in Bunkers and Badasses. After reaching a certain story point you can choose your second class. This opens up a second passive ability and the choice between 2 new action skills to switch around. And a second skill tree to invest points in, if you want to of course.
Fantasy Guns and Magical Spells
Borderlands games and tabletop RPG’s have something in common. The driving factor for the players is always the deep narrative that drives the story. Who am I kidding, everyone is in it for the sweet sweet loot and murder parties.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands has a huge array of items to play around with. These allow you to create the ultimate power house and rain devastation on the denizens of the Wonderlands. For my Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands review I barely scratched the surface of all the possibilities.
A magical looter shooter
Guns have that fantasy touch with glowing runes on them or shooting blasts of magic. Grenades have become spells that can drop meteors or lightning. And our melee slot is no longer a meager punch. But an array of weapons are available to bonk your opponents on the head. Your assault rifles or snipers are a mutation between a crossbow and gun and it’s simply amazing to see.
The pets and action skills are straight from the fantasy lore that we all love. The enemies you fight have gotten that same Borderlands fantasy mix up. Goblins with shotguns and explosives, skeletons with bows and cyberpunk style hairstyles. It’s that fine line between fantasy and Borderlands sci-fi fashion. The art team pulled it off perfectly.
The Wonderlands Overworld
The Borderlands series all have vehicles as your main way of transportation. Borderlands 3 went as far as customizable vehicles and unlocks to collect in the world. When I started playing for my Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands review I was looking forward to pimping my horse with cannons. But Gearbox decided to dump the whole riding around part and they created the Overworld.
Tiny Tina’s custom made table top map
When you leave an area you enter the Overworld. A huge map Tiny Tina created for her campaign. Using a figurine of your character you move past fallen cans of coke and erasers to get to the next location.
But the Overworld has its own set of side quests and characters for you to seek out and complete. And even better, shrines to complete that give you permanent passive buffs throughout the game. You can enter dungeons or bandit camps to clear them out for exp or loot. And when you walk in the tall grass a bandit jumps out and attacks you. Or you slap him in the face to avoid the random encounter.
As I mentioned earlier, I followed most of the main campaign for this Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands review. So I missed some of the content the Overworld has to offer. But I’m keen on getting out there again and dive in every nook and cranny of the map.
Diverse fantasy sightings
While the Overworld starts off in the green lush forests like most fantasy worlds. The map takes you through several biomes. For spoiler reasons I can’t elaborate that much. But let’s just say you won’t be fighting in the forest all the time. From the lush forests to desert- like cities inspired by Egyptian culture. There is enough variation that you won’t feel like it’s the same thing over and over.
Bunkers And Badasses is better with friends – Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands review – Co-op
Like any looter shooter, the more the merrier. The enemies get a tad harder but the loot also gets a bit better. Unfortunately there was only a short window in which I could test multiplayer. At launch Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands had some issues with the Shift service and ran pretty poorly. Although I was able to play with Romy in the beginning and test it out a bit. It ran very poorly and laggy.
After their first hotfix any form of online play was just impossible. Don’t get me wrong, it does work right now. 2K software support is currently doing their best to help me. As there is no clear solution or cause to why I can’t play multiplayer. It does work when I use a VPN but at the cost of terrible lag.
Yeah the problems with multiplayer took me back to the Outriders launch (read my review of Outriders here). Trying to connect and failing or having huge issues with rubber banding when it does work.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands runs on the Shift service that allows cross play between all platforms. Through the service you can join a friend and go shooting and looting across the Wonderlands. Doing so improves your loot quality and makes for an even bigger chaotic battlefield. It’s pure chaotic fun that never gets old. Progression carries over to your single player game. So any side quests you complete with friends count as completed for you.
An often forgotten feature in games these days is couch co-op. Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands delivers. Thank you Gearbox software for not forgetting this feature. As multiplayer didn’t work I simply sat my ass down on the sofa, grabbed a controller, and magically appeared as a BRR-zerker into Romy’s party.
Split-screen ran so smoothly that I was shocked at how well it did in comparison to Borderlands 3. Switching menus and selling items went without any hiccups. Battles with all the elements popping off and explosions across the arena barely made a dent in the frame rate. But what made it a huge annoyance and eyesore is my next topic.
UI issues – the biggest negative in this Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands review
The UI is horrendous in its use. Not aesthetically but in its practicality. You are fighting a battle to keep your inventory sorted and clean as the design is clearly getting old. I have sold numerous equipped items by accident as icons failed to load in or the small green V was barely visible.
In split-screen co-op the text is so small it even hurt my eyes because I had to squint so hard. But the worst part is that not all information of your loot is visible. You have to inspect each item individually to see the full list of stats. In a looter shooter that drops hundreds of items for a single short run. The split screen UI took several steps backwards and is pure hell.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands review – The technical analysis
Our sponsored key came for the Xbox Series X and the one I personally bought was for the Epic Games store. On both platforms Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands ran good enough that it was playable. I’m not saying it’s perfect though, because on PC I had some zones that suffered from FPS drops and Xbox sometimes had a small stutter too. PC has a bench-marking tool that you can use to fine-tune all your settings to your liking. Xbox has the option between performance and quality mode.
As always: frames over quality. Both systems were set up for the smoothest gameplay possible. While it does look even better on all max and 4K settings, the drawback isn’t worth it for an intense looter shooter like Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands. Overall the performance at launch is amazing in comparison to Borderlands 3. It’s a rare thing that I don’t have to advise to wait a bit until the issues are fixed, you can really pick it up now and have a good experience.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands review – Design
As I mentioned before in this Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands review. Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands takes the best of the Borderlands series and goes over it with a magical wand to make it a hybrid of Borderlands and fantasy. And they did a fabulous job at that.
Upgraded Cell Shading – Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands review – graphics
The graphics in Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands feel like an upgraded version of those in Borderlands 3. A little more shine and better light reflection really makes it stand out. It could also be that the world has so much more color in it compared to the Borderlands series. Where color was an outlier on some locations. Some dungeons or maps are so beautifully designed that I stopped and admired the detail that was put into it. How unique it looked and fitting in the setting they wanted to create. The diverse world of the Wonderlands will certainly awe you at certain points.
It’s hard to compare the graphics on the Xbox Series X as Borderlands 3 was not made for this generation. So the comparison in this Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands review is based mostly on PC graphics comparison.
Written by role-play fans for role-play fans – Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands review – writing
The dialogue and mechanics in Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands are full of DnD puns, references to DnD memes and jokes. Some conversations mimic discussions I had in my roleplay groups. The archetype players on the table make for a combination of real roleplay parties.
The murder barbarian and role-playing paladin, or the Dungeon Master getting angry and throwing the party a super hard boss fight for no reason. It’s all there and adds value to your experience if you are a roleplay fan. During my Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands review game time I laughed out loud at certain interactions and some scenes I will never forget, like romancing a bridge so it will open and we can cross.
The symphony of the murder party tools – Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands review – sound
Sound will be a fairly short topic in this Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands review. The chaos during battle makes it hard to discern the beauty or details of a lot of things. The sounds of the crossbow guns is that sweet mix of arrow launching and the click of a gun. The spells sound bombastic and heavy hitting, the effects of freezing make you want to crawl into a blanket.
Sure there are reused sound assets from the Borderlands series. Some normal guns really sound the same like they always have and activating a signature skill didn’t wow me that much. The ward breaking sound is the same as the shield breaking sound in borderlands 3. But as I mentioned earlier in this Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands review; the dialogue and one liners really steal the show.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands review – conclusion
The score in this Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands review is between Borderlands 2 (10 yes Borderlands 2 is a 10 for me) and Borderlands 3 (7). It takes the technical progression Borderlands 3 has with the better writing and story of Borderlands 2. But it’s a whole lot shorter in comparison. We haven’t even started the DLC cycle that I’m super excited about. If the DLC quality is up to par and my multiplayer issues and split screen UI issues are fixed; I will gladly add a point and update this Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands review. But right now I can already tell you to go out and get Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands.
I guess I should thank my day job for paying me and thus giving me a key on PC for this Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands review.
But mostly thank you CD Media for supplying us with a key for this magical adventure in the Wonderlands and the opportunity to write an amazing Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands review. It helped us test cross-play, well a bit at least. And do a Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands review on two separate platforms.