I am certain many of you have had a busy weekend. With Ghostwire Tokyo, Kirby and the Forgotten Land and Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands all releasing on the same day. It’s been a bit hectic, but a lot of fun. For the last three days I have been quickly running through the world and quests of the Wonderlands, and now feel quite good to give a review.
If you are unaware of what Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is, it is a standalone game in the Borderlands series. It is not connected to the main game at all, but you can certainly see the similarities.
Gameplay Packed With Variety
I want to start off with what is certainly the best part of this game. The gameplay. The Borderlands gameplay over many years and entries has been very enjoyable, and Wonderlands delivers an experience that is just as strong. And in my opinion, one of the most entertaining entries in the series yet.
Praises definitely go to the variety in combat and abilities. If you have played a Borderlands game before, you will know what I mean. The number of weapons, abilities and new additions that are here are simply excellent. When I say additions, more specifically I mean the spells and melee weapons that were added to the game.
Spells and Weapons
We haven’t seen these in a Borderlands game before and I think they work really well here. The spells have some really epic effects and there is a huge variety to get your hands on. These drop randomly from enemies like normal weapons and gear, which is fine. You will find plenty as you go along. Ranging from spells like meteor strikes to huge damage fields. It’s just really fun and they add a level of usefulness in terms of damage, healing and other effects as well.
And the melee weapons you get are quite good for the most part. Again, these randomly drop through the world, like swords, axes, hammers and all of that good stuff. The only thing I am slightly disappointed with the melee weapons is that you cannot actually pull them out and use them. They are all assigned to the melee assigned button just like previous entries. It’s not a huge complaint as I still found a lot of entertainment in it, but it’s just an option I would have liked to have.
There are weapon parts like crossbows as well which I do think are quite effective and a welcome addition. The crossbow part you can get on pistols, rifles and snipers as I have seen so far. And for the most part they work quite well. I found that a blackpowder (Jakobs) pistol with the crossbow part was very strong and even when under levelled was incredibly reliable. So, if you see one, I recommend getting it.
There are some other new additions like rings, armour and other stat focused gear. These all essentially act like your artefacts from previous games. Granting you stat bonuses and additional levels on perks. Nothing that I thought was too special. In fact, I thought these caused a bit more of a mess when it came to the menu. But I will speak more on this further on.
A New Take to Classes
I really appreciate the approach they have taken with the classes. There are up to 6 classes you can pick from, and you can get up to two at once through your playthrough. You will get one at the beginning, and you can get a second part way through the game. And this really mixes up the class system and boosts the variety of this game even further. The build potential that you get is brilliant, and the abilities here are very enjoyable.
What is also worth mentioning is that at the end of the game you gain the ability to change your second class whenever you want. Which is a really nice touch as it gives you instant access to any class that you want to try out, instead of having to play through the whole game again.
For my playthrough I picked spellshot and spore warden. The enhanced magic use with the spellshot I found was very effective. Though at times I felt the survivability was a bit lacking. And the spore warden was a huge laugh as you get a little mushroom companion who fights with you. But also proved more powerful the further down the tree. Again, just a lot of fun. I haven’t tried out all of the classes yet, but I am sure they will all be just as good.
Enemies and Bosses
I want to quickly mention the enemies and bosses here as well. I think the design of them is great. Each enemy looks and feel unique to face, and it rarely felt like I was facing ordinary people or mobs. The bosses have some interesting mechanic, though they were not too difficult to overcome. Design-wise, this game is great. You won’t find any enemies here from previous games, it’s all new and very unique.
But with all of this loot and variety comes my first main complaint, and that is the menu. I just feel that it is very messy, especially when you consider the amount of loot available in this game. This is essentially the same menu that they have been using for years, except they have added more categories to it for all of the gear. And it becomes a real pain to sort through it all. Especially when a lot of the gear you get a hold of has similar names and parts, it may sometimes be a bit difficult to determine what is what. The menu is just something that I feel needs a real rework and update, as Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands really only displays how messy and out of date it feels.
Another thing, farming dedicated drops is an absolute nightmare. The drop rates of boss drop legendries are super low and a huge pain. The only way you can increase the drop rates is by getting all of the hidden dice. It takes a lot of time to find these hidden dice and there are so many that the process of getting the best weapons is simply horrible. This definitely needs changing and is a huge time consumer if you want a specific legendary.
A New World to Explore
Next, I want to talk about the locations you get to explore. Starting with a new feature/location they have added, the Overworld. Unlike previous entries, Wonderlands introduces a new Overworld location for travelling between areas. In this area you will be in the bird's eye perspective controlling your character. You’ll mostly be using it for navigation and travelling. But it does also open up new activities and opportunities. Like a series of shrines that you can get rewards from for gathering shrine pieces, a huge number of encounters and dungeons that are fast and rewarding, and a lot more.
The Overworld, as a whole, I feel is a decent addition. It’s nothing amazing but at times I found it to be useful. Travelling from area to area is easy (the fast travel system is still here as well). The only complaint I have is that you can’t choose really where you want to spawn in the Overworld. Say you finish a side quest and you need to go back to the Overworld, if you fast travel it will spawn you right near the main base (Brighthoof). Meaning you have to walk all the way to the area you want to get to.
To get around this I would fast travel to the closest area to where I would want to go to and exit to the Overworld through the normal travel. But I think a sort of fast travel for Overworld would be nice.
When it comes to your traditional areas, I think they are all well done. Some of the visuals and area themes are wicked all around. My personal favourite is Tangledrift. Which a small town that is been torn apart by a giant beanstalk. And you get to ascend and descend the stalk and town using a series of vines and huge slides. The entire world fits the fantasy theme extremely well, and it’s just great.
And I think it is the perfect number of locations for the game. The previous games I felt really suffered because they had just way too many locations. Way more than what was needed, and as a result a lot of the areas felt a bit dull. And I didn’t feel like Wonderlands suffered from this problem, each area is just great.
An Improved Story?
The story is something I haven’t particular enjoyed in any of the Borderland's games. I think Borderlands 2 was the best they had made in terms of a story. But even then, it still had a lot of problems. The main issues that I had with the story over the years is that they were very obnoxious and that the amount of dialogue was way over the top.
With Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands I found it was a lot better in this area. Though the story wasn’t amazing by any means, I do think it is an improvement. It no longer floods you with objectives of having to talk to characters and listening to dialogue that feels like it drags on for an eternity. There isn’t a massive abundance of characters who you need to meet. And I am happy that they avoided these mistakes. The story keeps at a steady pace that keeps you quite interested throughout. No spoilers of course. The plot I feel is decent all around.
Obviously you have your main quest, but there are a series of side quests that you can do as well. If you are familiar with the series you will know the sheer amount of side quests that are present. And it is the same here. There are a lot of side quests to jump into. Some that tell you a neat little story with a cool boss at the end, and others that have you fetching items and completing encounters.
A lot of these are just very repetitive, go to place X and do this. Complete this dungeon to get this item. Get me 10 of this item. Many of the objectives are a bit bland and uninteresting, but you do get your occasional gems that tell something unique and have you do something entertaining. But for the most part, it's just your simple, straightforward side quests.
Performance and Graphics
When it comes to performance, the game itself felt very stable and I rarely encountered any bugs or massive frame drops. But the main problem in terms of performance has come from the Shift servers. On launch they were constantly going on and off and it causes some major pauses and temporary freezes that became quite frustrating. These disconnects did continue regularly over the weekend. I don’t know if that was the same for everyone else, but server stability was quite a mess.
Graphically I think the game is superb. The art style has always been a great part of the game series for me, and when it comes to visuals, I think this is one of the best yet. Not only because of the power of the PS5 and Xbox Series X. But as mentioned, the areas all look fantastic and the themes associated with them create a great visual experience.
In terms of glitches and bugs, I haven’t experienced many on PS5. But I have heard of a few issues on PC tied to controls. Most of what I experienced in terms of problems were weapon display images in the menu. For example, I had a legendary axe equipped in my melee slot but the image showed a sniper rifle. Other than that, the game was relatively stable (apart from Shift servers). Playing on performance mode on PS5 I had a stable 60fps, so no complaints there.
Overall, I had a very pleasant experience with Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands. The game throughout its duration remained very entertaining and offered a great variety when it came to gameplay. There was some enjoyment to be found in the story, and provided some strong improvements over previous entries.
My biggest problems with the game are tied to quality of life. Including an outdated and messy menu that proved tedious throughout the duration. A time-consuming farming system that heavily relies on hidden dices and luck. And some heavy server issues that caused regular performance issues.
I am going to give Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands an 8/10. This game is a load of fun that I would recommend for any player looking for a good first-person shooter.