Tiny Tina's Wonderlands proves in the test how a theme can significantly upgrade a well-known video game. The playful differences between the fantasy tabletop offshoot and Borderlands are marginal, but the medieval setting pulls it out in the end. Anyone who has recently sunk hour after hour into Gearbox and 2K's loot shooter Borderlands 3 should certainly not miss Tiny Tina's Wonderlands. 

Tiny Tina's Wonderlands has made a giant leap: from a Borderlands DLC to a full price game. For fans of the series, three years after the release of Borderlands 3, this finally means supplies again. Basically, not much has changed: game concept, gameplay, humor, the degree of craziness of the characters - everything is reminiscent of Borderlands 2 and thus the game from which the Tiny Tina adventure was decoupled. And yet there is a huge difference that not only catches the eye, but also significantly enhances the video game - at least depending on your taste: the medieval setting.

Tiny Tina's Wonderlands: Psycho Dungeon Adventure

The story is like a story within a story: it's a classic fantasy tale about an evil boss and a group of heroes, but embedded in Borderlands' version of a Dungeons & Dragons RPG that you can play Bunkers and Badasses baptized - and that is no longer just a video game gimmick, but actually a real tabletop RPG. The characters are just as crazy as the plot, above all the unicorn queen with the euphonious name “ass horse”. The rest is typical of the genre: fairies, skeletons, evil dragons, lots of magic - some of it appears casually, others are staged, then often with the well-known humor à la Borderlands, which lies somewhere between funny and cool and stupid as fuck. 

Test Tiny Tina's Wonderlands

Tiny Tina's Wonderlands is a multi-world game - and an offshoot of a Borderlands idea. Source: Spielpunkt

The craziest character of all is of course Tiny Tina and of all people she is the dungeon master who sets the "rules". And who explains the world and its dangers. Serious? none. Horst? As a player, you usually do this during character creation. In any case, the danger is great to use the crazy stuff in the hero construction kit. True to the motto: If a game is stupid, then my character must be too.

But the tinkering isn't just pure waste, because it determines the style of play: choose a class, determine appearance and voice, select origin and thus start bonuses, and then distribute skill points. Here it is classic: More life? Or do you prefer maximum damage? Players can actually build their character pretty freely after snout. Arguably the most important choice falls to the character class, each of which is a “real world” version of Borderlands. Rogue, warrior, caster classes - including weird names - are basically available, each modified in details for more variety.

Review Tiny Tina's Wonderlands

On the "game board" you wander around with a bobblehead figure. Source: Spielpunkt

At this point, the rock-solid and serious gameplay framework is also indicated for the first time: players can adapt their heroes to their own style by distributing points and leveling up. Various combinations are possible, which of course invites you to experiment. The fun factor is great, you already knew that from Borderlands, it works just as well in Tiny Tina's Wonderlands.

Tina, let's play a game

However, Tiny Tina's Wonderlands gets really good when the story finally starts. Again and again you come across small swipes at pen & paper classics and modern pop culture, so many times you catch yourself actually finding the sometimes absurd joke of the game funny. The story is told coolly and enriched with surprising twists anyway – the quality is high. Tiny Tina's Wonderlands clearly exceeds the expectations of the presentation. At one point or another, previous knowledge from the Borderlands universe is helpful, because only then can you really understand every gag. By the way, everything is localized in German, including the mostly excellent synchro.

As in a real tabletop board game, you wander around the playmat with your character in chibi style and solve quests. It's less in-depth than role-playing games, because the typical Borderlands gameplay comes to the fore. So wave after wave is shot at opponents, equipment and weapons are looted and leveled up. Anyone familiar with Borderlands will immediately feel at home with Tiny Tina's Wonderlands. The enemy AI is not particularly smart, but the minions turn up in large numbers. On the one hand, players have to keep moving, position themselves cleverly and avoid projectiles in order not to take damage. On the other hand, it's about dishing out as much damage as possible, or at least as accurately as possible. In addition, there is shooting and magic, and depending on the class selected, there is also beating due to the revised post-combat system. Often you also have to pay attention to the strengths and weaknesses of the opponents, who are rarely really dangerous, but sometimes get a lot if you're not careful. 

Tiny Tina's Wonderlands Review

Tiny Tina's Wonderlands has the same look as Borderlands. Only the setting is new and the level of detail is a bit higher. Source: Spielpunkt

So the little game continues task by task and player level by player level. Tiny Tina's Wonderlands does not prove to be particularly innovative at this point. This is forgivable, however, because the playful core, i.e. the hunt for ever better equipment, is extremely motivating. Sometimes you are so overwhelmed with loot and boxes that it almost seems overwhelming. Ultimately, less would have been more here. Nevertheless: the joy is usually great when an item can actually be found among all the collected clutter that makes the character stronger or more efficient, for example by improving status damage. 

Spanking the Dragon Lord

You spend around 25 to 30 hours chasing the nasty dragon lord, and you can extend the fun a bit with the side missions that can be found on the “game board”. By the way, this is designed quite funny, because Tiny Tina is not stingy with objects from the “real world” in order to offer video gamers with an affinity for board games an attractive tabletop setting. A river of lemonade flows through the lands, bottle caps serve as bridges, snack items block the way - and as if that wasn't all crazy enough, you also have to endure the comments of your "fellow players" who accompany every happening with anecdotes. In the long grass you will encounter random encounters like you know it from Pokemon, among other things. 

Tiny Tina's Wonderlands game test

Tiny Tinas, ruler of chaos and cause of even more chaos. Source: Spielpunkt

Despite plenty of action, it takes time for Tiny Tina's Wonderlands to actually pick up speed. Especially the start is sometimes monotonous because the variety of opponents leaves a lot to be desired. And at some point you got fed up with the game environments. Everything is technically terrific and implemented in the well-known cel-shading look, but you can't shake the feeling that the developers have deliberately put on the brakes - by the way, this also applies to Tina Tina's degree of stupidity. This time the dungeon master is not quite as mentally cracked as we know her to be. This is nagging at a high level, after all, because Tiny Tina's Wonderlands is entertaining, funny, and motivating. And thanks to the magic, a clear further development to Borderlands 3 can also be felt in terms of play. The fantasy loot shooter shows its strengths especially in the fast fights: the already action-packed process gains more dynamic through the magical skills. Because you can change the action skills and choose a second class later in the game, variety comes into play. 

The weapons provide the necessary variety. There are many of them - from the ax to the sniper rifle. By choosing the gun, you refine your play style, perfecting your hero's class performance. The penetrating power is great and you can feel that, especially with the melee weapons. The blows seem powerful, absurdly the damage sometimes leaves a lot to be desired. Overall, however, the melee system is a great addition. Legendary weapons give you even more power, but it takes a while to find the first one. In any case, the wait is worth it, because the bonus effects not only look good, but also cause a lot of damage or provide additional utility. The gameplay sometimes makes this necessary, because some boss fights are actually tricky. 

Playtest Tiny Tina's Wonderlands

Funny idea: The hidden RPG dice contain loot and grant bonuses. Source: Spielpunkt

Overall, the gameplay of story campaign and subsequent grind provides a lot of fun. The humor hits the mark, if not always. And optically, Tiny Tina's Wonderlands looks confusingly similar to the basic framework of Borderlands, but nevertheless reinvents itself through the fantasy setting. In the end, the developers of the loot shooter did well because they cleverly mixed the familiar and the new. 

Infobox

Number of players: single player/multiplayer
Age: from 16 years (USK)
Difficulty: medium
Long-term motivation: medium
Genre: Action
Subgenre: Loot Shooter

Developer: Gearbox
Publisher: 2K
Official Website: Link
Year of publication: 2022
Platforms (Test system): PC, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Language: German
Costs: from 59.99 euros

 

Summary

First of all, if you like Borderlands, you will also like Tiny Tina's Wonderlands. Why? Because the game isn't a 1:1 copy of Borderlands, but it's still similar to the original. With the fantasy role-playing game Gearbox's new loot shooter has also been given a strong unique selling point. The campaign, which lasts up to 30 hours, is entertaining and the gameplay is fun. Not least because the combination of good gunplay and magic is successful. The fights against masses of opponents become even more motivating the more you have adapted your character to your personal needs. The tabletop satire comes with just the right ideas to be taken seriously as a full-priced title. 

Tiny Tina's Wonderlands is also strong if you leave the trodden paths - i.e. the main quest line - and complete the sometimes extremely funny side tasks. All in all, the humor, along with its digs at role-playing games and role-playing endings, is a guarantee for laughs. 

Tiny Tina's Wonderlands isn't a sham or a trick, because Gearbox only put a hand on the gameplay where it was necessary for the game concept: for example, in close combat or in magic attacks. Overall, the changes compared to Borderlands are marginal - perhaps because it wasn't necessary to completely revamp a very good shooter. Ultimately, Tiny Tina's Wonderlands is at least very good, even terrific in some sections - in any case better than Borderlands 3 overall. The advantages and disadvantages of the loot shooter series are also combined in the full-price spin-off. The opponents are often just cannon fodder; the loot is plentiful but mostly junk; the story is funny and twisty, but scratches the surface; the fights are fast and dynamic, but also too easy; Random encounters stretch playtime, but eventually feel redundant. Three levels of difficulty are available to players so that they can also improve the level of challenge aside from the boss fights, which is low overall. 

Nevertheless: Tiny Tina's Wonderlands unfolds the usual spiral of addiction after you have gotten over the somewhat tough start. As soon as you can start equipping and shaping your hero according to your personal taste, the entertainment value skyrockets. 


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Last updated on 30.11.2022/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API