It’s hard to believe these days, but back in the 80s your average boomer honestly believed that Dungeons & Dragons was the first step toward Satan worship. There was even a movie about it called Mazes & Monsters starring Tom Hanks! It’s hard to say how, exactly, they got this into their wrinkly old heads, but it was definitely an issue at the time. These days D&D’s not so threatening since, well, pretty much everyone plays it. You can even watch ongoing campaigns on streaming sites! Truly it’s a new age for tabletop gaming.
If you enjoy casting Magic Missile and rolling critical misses, it might be worth your while to take a look at Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, the latest entry in Gearbox Software’s shooter series that puts a Borderlands spin on roleplaying.
Borderlands 2 was a pretty fantastic game back in the day, and it had some pretty fantastic DLC to go along with it. In particular, Assault on Dragon Keep offered a madcap take on Dungeons & Dragons that really shook up the game’s post-apocalyptic setting by taking you to psycho child Tiny Tina’s take on a fantasy world. Well, someone decided that we can make a whole game out of that! You’ll take control of the newest player in Tina’s campaign as you battle the villainous Dragon Lord. With the help of the noble Queen Butt Stallion, a magical unicorn made of diamonds, you’ll fight to save the realm from an army of the undead.
Did you play Borderlands? Any of them, really, though let’s say Borderlands 3 in particular? You’ll probably have a good time with Wonderlands in that case. It’s the same idea, really – pick a character, kill some baddies, find some guns, hope the guns you find are good, use them to kill more baddies, repeat until satisfied. If you love it, you love it. If you don’t, Wonderlands isn’t going to change your mind.
Now, if you’re fond of the Borderlands formula, Wonderlands has some nice additions to sweeten the deal just a bit more. You’re able to create your own character now, for instance, choosing from one of six bizarre classes and eventually multiclassing it with another to make a combination that’s all your own. There’s options for every playstyle, from sniping to spraying to melee combat to pets, so you’re bound to come up with something that suits your needs.
Want to be a stealthy assassin? Try the Stabbomancer. Prefer to run in screaming? The Brr-Zerker might do it for you. If you’re the finger-waggling type you might want to give the Spellshot a spell shot.
On top of that, you can fully customize your appearance, so you’re not stuck playing as one of the prefab character options like in previous Borderlands games. You’ll find plenty of additional customization options as you play so you can further tweak your hero as your journey progresses. This is both a blessing and a curse, since the customization options tend to drop as fancy purple loot which might get you a little excited about a new gun that isn’t there. C’est la vie.
What about those times you do find guns, though? Wonderlands does a great job of keeping your arsenal feeling fresh, as it turns out. We’re playing a fantasy game, so there’s plenty of crossbows (that act like guns) to go around…as well as plenty of, well, actual guns. As Tina says, it’s her game, so you’re playing by her rules, which means you’re going to find AKs alongside your magic spellbooks and battleaxes. You’ve got arrow-shooting guns, sticky bombs, shotguns, sawblades, pretty much any sort of implement of destruction you might want is available in Wonderlands.
Oh, and those spellbooks and melee weapons are new, with the spellbooks replacing grenades with more bombastic effects and the melee weapons enhancing your basic slap into something more heroic. You won’t be hurting for loot if that’s your thing.
You also won’t be hurting for laughs, but that really depends on you. Your Games-are-Serious-Business types tend to get a little emotional about Borderlands’ humor and that’s in full effect here. Personally, I got a chuckle when chuckles were merited and generally found the experience pleasant and enjoyable throughout. That includes Wonderlands’ graphics, which are absolutely gorgeous, and voice acting, which includes top-tier names like Wanda Sykes. Naturally, if you’ve got gun-loving friends, you can have them drop in and out of Wonderlands’ multiplayer as well. You can even turn off instanced loot if you hate your gun-loving friends! Those devs think of everything.
The bottom line is that, despite the genre shift, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is really just more Borderlands, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s not going to change anyone’s mind when it comes to Gearbox’s colorful series – but, well, I can’t imagine many people need their minds changed. Borderlands is pretty great. Wonderlands, by association, is also pretty great. Grab your D20 and some spare mags and hop on in.