Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is set to burst into the hands of gamers everywhere on March 25th, and thanks to 2K Australia I got the chance to get a piece of the action a little early. After spending a few hours in an optional area called ‘Mount Craw’ freeing goblins and taking down wyverns, I feel pretty confident saying that this game is going to be the raucous entertaining romp we’ve all been hoping it would be – and I’m already looking forward to more.
For those unfamiliar with the premise, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is basically one big game of D&D run by the somewhat unpredictable (and genuinely impressively creative) Tiny Tina, a character from the main Borderlands series. It looks like Borderlands, it plays like Borderlands, and it has that Borderlands feel of chaotic combat and non-stop looting. But of course, it’s like Borderlands for fantasy nerds, and the fact that it’s a game being made up on the fly, a fantasy world within a fantasy world, the narrative and the world can sometimes shift and change on a whim. Tina’s whim, obviously, and she seems to revel in switching things up as you go through her (to be fair, mostly) pre-constructed world.
This isn’t the first time fans of the series have done some Tina-led tabletop role-playing. The concept first arose in DLC for Borderlands 2 called ‘Assault on Dragon Keep’, and if you haven’t played it before but have access to Playstation Plus, you can currently download the DLC standalone for free. If you have played it before, you’ll be pretty well-prepared for what’s coming in Wonderlands. Everything I played in the demo was basically a polished, expanded version of the world created in that DLC, and I mean that as a compliment. Personally, I’m more than ready for a full game-length experience in that world.
The classic, slightly offbeat, unapologetic humour of the series is very present here, and there are a few familiar faces (voices?) along for the ride to give it some extra flair. During the demo I was privy to some conversations between Tina and her players, including the combat-focused leader Valentine (Andy Samberg) and rule-loving Frette (Wanda Sykes), who clearly have different approaches to the game. I barely had any time with her, but I personally already deeply relate to Frette, who is rallying for a more puzzle-focused experience and less violence. Tina, who tells Frette that there can be plenty of non-combat encounters when it’s her turn to run a game, clearly has different priorities. But I’m excited to see how the party continues to clash and gel. These voice actors are perfect for getting in some good quality banter.
Because this optional section presumably takes place partway through the game, I didn’t get a chance to experience the character creator that the full game will include, but I did get a choice of two new classes – both of which I took for a spin. There’s ‘The Stabbomancer’, who is “a sneaky, critical-hit-focused assassin” who can summon a powerful ghost-blade that does huge amounts of damage to enemies on the field or disappear into a state of invisibility to make themselves less of target, and who was good fun. But for me, the standout was ‘The Graveborn’, a “death-touched acolyte who sacrifices health to unleash devastating Dark Magic attacks”, and who requires you to keep a really close eye on your health before you make any big moves. The Graveborn also has a companion, a Demi-Lich who will fight alongside you and occasionally yell war cries or offer commentary, or just generally provide more of that banter, which was a highlight for me. Keen to see what else that little friend can do.
While most of my time in the demo was spent doing a quest called ‘Goblins Tired of Forced Oppression’ (or G.T.F.O, who had their slogan painted on many signs which obviously brought me joy), I also got a chance to take on some side quests. They’ll have you deviating slightly from your main path to do things like help iconic characters on their journey to becoming blacksmiths by collecting ore, or retrieving ancient pieces of armor from long-standing protectors (who may or may not be happy about giving up their post), and there’s usually more than one way to complete a quest. So whether you want to intimidate, fight, or seduce your way to victory, you will have the chance. No, it won’t always work, but hey – with enough commitment, you can continue to try. Surely your approach will pay off eventually (I say, desperately hoping that one day my attempts at worldwide seduction will get me somewhere).
It’s obvious that as much fun as I had in the Wonderlands, I’d have more with friends, so I can’t wait to check this out in co-op. Laughing together about whether or not we want to equip Bonksticks of Mirth (the best weapon) or taking down wyverns or mimics (genuinely kind of frightening to encounter) doesn’t feel like it’ll get old quickly. My short time with this game definitely whet my appetite, and it certainly feels like it’s going to deliver on all its promises. A whimsical, ridiculous adventure with tight combat, plenty of loot, and the promise of fighting alongside friends (both real and fictional)? I’m ready.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands will release on March 25th on PC, PlayStation®5, PlayStation®4, Xbox Series X|S, and Xbox One., and you can preorder it now. If you are in Australia or New Zealand, you can also enter our 7th birthday celebration competition for a chance to win the game when it releases!
Time Until Launch (March 25, 2022)
Player 2 was kindly given access to this hands-on demo by 2K Australia.