by William Thompson
previewed on PC
Borderlands meets D&D
Tiny Tina has been a recurring character in the Borderlands series, first appearing in Borderlands 2 and has since been a friend to vault hunters in the ensuing chapters of the series. In a DLC for Borderlands 2, Tiny Tina had created a game for the vault hunters known as 'Bunkers & Badasses'. With a dash of Dungeons and Dragons sprinkled onto the Borderlands meal, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands has taken that concept and turned it into a full-blown spin-off, with players taking the role of the Fatemaker.
Unlike in Borderlands where players chose from several characters with which to play, players start Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands with a clean slate. Our Fatemaster’s look can be customised, but then players can select a class from the six available options. With the game releasing at the end of March, we at Hooked Gamers had the opportunity to play through a portion of the game, but we only had the option to choose from two – Graveborn and Stabbomancer.
Stabbomancers are a sneaky ninja type of character – one that can also conjure up some cool ethereal effects including a whirling blade to deal with opponents before sneaking off into the shadows. The Stabbomancer is quite a jack of all trades in Wonderlands, as they are handy up close with a blade, are effective with a weapon and can still conjure up some powerful magic.
My usual go-to class would be the Stabbomancer type, as I often like to keep out of harm’s way and attack from a distance, but the Graveborn class has been a heap of fun. Apart from the weapons that we’ve come to know and love from the Borderlands series, the Graveborn have the use of some pretty powerful dark magic. Using the magic will sacrifice a portion of their health, but that health can be gained again quickly by hitting and killing enemies. Doing so draws out the enemy souls which then converts to health. Graveborn also have a companion (similar to FL4K in Borderlands 3) which attacks enemies and draws out their souls as well.
As well as customizing the Fatemaker’s look and class at the beginning of your journey, players will also allocate points towards the six attributes that are common among D&D style games. As players level up, more points can be allocated, although certain classes will benefit more from the different attributes more than others. Along with the increasing attributes, players will be able to further customise their character throughout their journey via Loot Drops.
It wouldn’t be a Borderlands spin-off without the loot – and in particular – the weapons. Defeated enemies – particularly the bosses - drop heaps of loot, whilst loot boxes are plentiful and provide an ample top-up of ammunition and health. The weapons that players can collect will be from six different categories and from several weapons manufacturers – each with their own specialty. If you’ve played Borderlands, then some of them will sound familiar, but most are newcomers to the series.
An introduction to spellcasting
One change that players will notice however, is that there are no grenades in Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands. Instead, the medieval fantasy theme of magic takes its place. Players will be able to acquire a range of spells that can be cast at foes (or at teammates in the case of protection circles). Like the weapons, spells have a range of manufacturers that focus on a particular damage trait. Some spells involve fireballs or ice spikes, while others provide a circle of protection around the player or their allies. It is fun to play around with each until you find one that matches your play type. There is no mana system, but the spells require a cooldown before they can be used again.
The sights and sound of the Wonderlands
The cel-shaded style of Borderlands continues, but from the sections of the game that we had access to, the locations have a medieval atmosphere. This flows through to the weapons, which have a steampunk vibe, and to the enemy characters and bosses you face. Goblins, trolls, pirates, and a skeleton army are just some of the characters that players must defeat throughout their journey within the Wonderlands. Spells provide for a burst of colour - which depends on the type of spell cast – but can also cause environmental effects with their own visual and audio cues.
As well as the sound effects featured in the explosions and discharging of weapons, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands looks to continue the superb quality of the Borderlands series. Characters are fully voiced, and there is quite a range of accents across the main characters. Each has a personality of their own, with the Andy Samberg-voiced Captain Valentine having a hilarious ‘I shoot at it, I hit it, that’s all I do’ mentality.
From what we’ve seen in the preview, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands will be a comfortable transition for Borderlands fans. The Borderlands spin-off retains much of what makes the series great – the plethora of weapons, the humorous dialogue, and the wonderful cel-shaded visuals with their exaggerated black lines. But the medieval setting, the D&D style attributes and class system, and the use of magic will give the game a greater fantasy setting and opens the game to a new set of players.
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