Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands review: Magic meets high-powered weaponry

2K Games
2K Games /

Title: Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands
Developer: Gearbox Software
Publisher: 2K Games
Platforms: PC (reviewed on), PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One
Release Date: March 25, 2022

As a spinoff of the Borderlands series, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands features many of the same mechanics. At its core, it’s a looter-shooter with RPG roots. But what sets this game apart from the mainline series is its fantasy reskin. And while it may not seem like much beyond the surface, the slight change in theme to the beloved franchise does just enough to keep fun alive.

For as much as I love the Borderlands franchise, the sci-fi setting had begun to feel a little stale for me. I still enjoy the looter-shooter aspect and glorious gunplay, but I’d sort of fallen off the mainline story.

Gearbox breathed new life into the franchise with Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep, DLC that essentially reskinned DLC with a fantasy theme. Given that Borderlands has always had RPG elements at its roots, it was both awesome and fitting to see it applied to a traditional tabletop RPG.

Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands takes this concept and runs with in glorious fashion. Everyone’s favorite Bunker Master is back for another riveting Bunkers and Badasses campaign. And this time, we’re going all in on the fantasy.

Tiny Tina's Wonderlands
2K Games /

Rather than play as a specific vault hunter, you begin by creating your own character — the Fatemaker, destined to defeat the Dragon Lord and save Wonderlands. In addition to customizing the look for your character, you pick from one of six classes: Stabbomancer, Clawbringer, Spellshot, Graveborne, Spore Warden and Brrr-Zerker. Each class has its own specific “Class Feat” that serves as the base concept along with two unique action skills that compliment it. As you progress and gain levels, you’ll gain skill points and hero points to further specialize your character class.

But this is still a Borderlands game and despite this extra level of customization, the gameplay still largely revolves around the series’ tried-and-true shooter looter mechanics. Combat is still very much focused on gunplay, but with a little fantasy sprinkle mixed in.  And, surprisingly, melee combat is quite effective, especially depending on the skills you choose to invest in. It’s enough to keep things feeling fresh, but still familiar to series veterans.

The weapons and items you’ll acquire still function similarly to their main Borderlands universe counterparts but have been given a fantasy facelift. Wards buff your shield rating and absorb specific damage, magic rings increase your armor’s capacity and recharge rates, and magic spells replace grenades. Weapons aren’t class-restricted although some of the better ones do provide buffs to specific class skills. You can still use them, but you won’t get the added benefit of the skill buff.

Tiny Tina's Wonderlands
2K Games /

That being said, there’s a ton of variety, especially with the increased melee weapon pool. All of the uniqueness and wackiness we’ve come to love from Borderlands is still there though, and you’ll definitely find some wild weapons and spells throughout your adventure.

Speaking of adventure, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands begins as a standard fantasy adventure as created by Tiny Tina. Of course, anyone familiar with Tiny Tina knows how quickly things can go off the rails. On your epic adventure to slay the Dragon Lord and save Wonderlands, you’ll experience all sorts of surprising twists and turns. It’s Tiny Tina’s unpredictable nature that will keep you on the edge of your seat in this D&D-inspired journey.

On this journey with you is a colorful cast of characters that gives off serious Summoner Geeks vibes. Their banter and interaction throughout the story, while sometimes distracting, provides plenty of humor. Delivering the jokes is a star-studded lineup that includes Ashly Burch as Tniy Tina, Andy Samberg as Captain Valentine, Wanda Sykes as Frette and Will Arnett as Dragon Lord. If you ever wondered what it would be like to play D&D with them, this is your chance.

Your adventure is divided into short but impactful quests. The main Overworld serves as your open-world hub, an interactive game board that you move around with a Chibi-esque character game piece in a third-person, bird’s-eye view. It’s filled with dungeons to explore, random encounters (both good and bad), loot to discover, and side quests to pick up. Despite the open world nature of this game board, Tiny Tina still very much directs you in the path you must follow. You’re given some free reign, but she’s ultimately calling the shots here.

There’s so much to see and explore in Wonderlands and the environment is truly what helps set this game apart from the core Borderlands franchise. The dreary, muted color palette of the dystopian Borderlands universe is replaced with a vibrant and whimsical land full of diverse environments and enemies.

Overworld connects all of these different fantastical locales and as you traverse across the tabletop map, you’ll enter specific instanced areas of the map. These are fully-fleshed out mini-maps of varying degree of scale. Some of massive areas tied into the main campaign, while others are just fun side quests or dungeons meant to help you grow stronger. This is where the gameplay returns to first-person and most of the combat is played out.

Tiny Tina's Wonderlands
2K Games /

For as creative and unpredictable as Tiny Tina is though, the quests that the world’s most dangerous 13-year-old cooks up are pretty straightforward. Go here, fight off waves of enemies, perform task and then go to the next area. While she’ll change the rules on a whim, perhaps spawning more enemies or opening up a new path, the missions are pretty much a straight-forward path. There are times when you’re given the choice of how to approach a situation, but this is more of a nod to tabletop RPGs aimed at poking fun at the genre and less about incorporating player decision.

Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands can be best summed up as a reskinned Borderlands — for better or worse. Aside from the fantasy makeover, it doesn’t do much different to break from the mold in terms of gameplay. There’s lots of combat, lots of goofy humor, lots of pew-pew shoot-shoot for big numbers and lots of (sometimes too much) banter between the characters. It’s everything you love (or hate) about Borderlands in a fantasy setting.

Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands (PC) Score: 8/10

Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is a fantastical reskin of Borderlands filled with charm, humor and lots of action. The fantasy theme is enough to keep things feeling fresh, but still familiar to series veterans. Gearbox delivers another solid looter-shooter RPG but with a more welcomed emphasis on the role-playing aspect.

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.