Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands Review – Critical Hit

Gearbox Software and 2K is back again with another looter shooter. But this time it’s a Borderlands spin-off. Instead of the desolate wasteland and sci-fi vibes, Wonderlands took a step into high-fantasy, as depicted in tabletop roleplaying games, via its in-universe equivalent of Dungeons & Dragons.

So is this another looter-shooter? It definitely is. But it’s also making some tweaks and changes that Borderlands 3 wasn’t willing to make.


Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands retains that stylised cel-shaded look seen in Borderlands. The biggest praise I can give is that the change to a more traditional fantasy theming feels so natural. It fits so well that it feels like another Borderlands game with some fantasy trimmings. There are some twists and anachronisms to the theming. You do most of the combat with guns rather than medieval weaponry, after all.

To add to the tabletop RPG flavour, there will be parts of the story where the world changes abruptly as Tiny Tina ad-libs some changes to the campaign. But those are all pre-ordained story moments. Maps are for the most part are very static in how they look.

You won’t see gratuitous violence this time around, however. Wonderlands is rated T so you don’t see blood, gibs and other more gruesome vibes from the main series. It’s all sunshine and rainbows here.

The sound design is great all-around. The guns sound communicate to you with big booms and gratifying rat-ta-ta-tas. The explosions and elemental effects are pops of joy.

The music does get drowned out a lot from the constant gunshots and explosions during combat. But when you hit the downtime the music is… sort of there?

By being faithful to the fantasy themes, some aspects that are designed to be so can come off as a bit too generic. You’ve likely have seen this fantasy trope or heard this jaunty jolly jukes of tunes somewhere or other.
Not much of the fantasy world jumped out to me- well there’s one thing that happened that got me shouting “HECK YEAH”, yes in all caps, but that’s about it.

In a way, the developers understood the assignment: make a fantasy world borne out of tabletop RPGs. But maybe they recreated that vibe too well, that it comes off feeling nothing special, to me at least. Wonderlands doesn’t twist the theme enough to distinguish itself from other fantasy settings, unfortunately. And this is a high-fantasy world where guns are the primary weapons we’re talking about.

The voice performance is top-notch as always. Your created character is still chatty and quips like your typical Borderlands Vault Hunter. Skeleton enemies all have that nasally voice that will make Skeletor proud. You have a variety of English accents in the cast. A few, of course, have to do “ye-olde” medieval British accent. But there are some out-of-place American accents that help the game not be too monotonous with its voice variety. And Tina’s mix of kid spunk and unhinged behaviour likely from past traumas is as charming as always.


With the full commitment to the tabletop roleplaying theme, a lot of Borderlands’ core mechanics has been flavoured to suit the occasion. But there are proper changes to the established formula.

In Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, you’re a newbie that just happens to join a session of Bunkers & Badasses alongside two new characters, Valentine and Frette, with Tiny Tina as the Bunker Master. You create your character, a Fatemaker. And from there, you start your hero’s journey to defeat the evil Dragon Lord.

It’s a simple plot, purposefully so, and it’s actually for the better. With a smaller cast of characters (some are familiar faces from Borderlands, but most are new) and a tighter plot, the story only does what it needs to be. After Borderlands 3’s botched attempt at drama and character building, this is for the better. There’s some cool stuff if you try to dig deeper into it. It does get a bit meta and fourth-wall-breaking. But if you’re here just for the looting and shooting, it’s easy to ignore them all too.

Best In Slot

Looting and shooting have always been great in any game of Borderlands, and Wonderlands is no exception. Your array of randomly-generated guns has been expanded with new variants and properties. There are shotguns that fire a wide magical arc that reloads by sprinkling in magic dust. Pistols, SMGs and assault rifles that fire crossbow bolts that stack damage by piling more and more bolts on an enemy. Heavy weapons that operate in the short range like a flamethrower. The list goes on.

And your gear slots have been updated for the better as well. You can now equip melee weapons, and using the melee now feels much better than ever. It’s not just a simple bash to the front of the screen. Some melee weapons will take longer to swing, and some melee weapons have a large arc to the swings so they can hit more enemies. Melee attacks can even home into enemies to ensure the hit lands. These little tweaks add up to a more satisfying melee system. Enough to make you click the right stick over and over more than ever before.

The thematic change also switches out grenade slots for magic spells. You can equip a spellbook to cast spells, and like grenade mods that preceded it, there are a lot of different properties for magic spells. Some are the usual single-cast, fire-and-forget spells. Others require you to hold and release it, the longer you hold the stronger the spell is. And there are spells that affect an area-on-affect centred on you.

Magic spells feel good to use in Wonderlands, the explosions of colour and damage numbers really sell it. And you can shoot your gun while casting spells at the same time which is neat. Plus, unlike grenades, magic spells only have cooldowns to contend with. If you pick a mage class like the Graveborn or Spellshot, and invest in stat points to make those cooldowns shorter, you can be flinging magical miscellaneous projectiles in rapid successions.

I don’t know if I ever want to go back to lobbing grenades after this.

Instead of class mods, you get to equip armour in Wonderlands. This gives you normal bonuses as well as class bonuses. There’s no class restriction so if you want to put the Spore Warden armour on your Clawbringer build, you can do so just for the fashion and still the normal bonuses. It’s not optimal, but hey, more choices are always good. And yes, armours do change your appearance in this game.

And also, the relics slot has been turned into the necklace slot. Plus, there are two more accessories slots in the form of rings. These slots give you more opportunities to further customise your build.

The only complaint in this aspect is that I feel there’s a need to overhaul the gear UI. It’s a bit cumbersome to navigate- especially now with more gear slots. Comparing gear stats within this menu also feel awkward. I wish for a faster way to mark gear as junk for faster inventory cleaning. And I can’t get to see my lovely created character without navigating down to an empty slot where the stats don’t show up.

Meet Your Fatemaker

You get to make your own character in Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands. And it’s surprisingly good with options. You get a lot of freedom in morphing facial features- but only the eyes, mouth, nose and ears. The head and body shape in comparison have more limited options. Still, it’s enough to make cursed-looking characters only a mother would love, or a catboy, so it’s decent.

More cosmetic customisation can be unlocked as random loot drops. Plus, photo mode is available right at launch so you can take some sweet pics of your character, though it’s a bit buggy right now (character arms and clothing can misalign for some reason).

Wonderlands have also rejigged how classes and skill trees work. Since you’re building your own character, the Fatemaker, you can select one of six classes as your main (which cannot be changed). And later on, you’ll get access to a second class (which you can change once you complete the campaign). Feel free to mix and match any of the two classes for your build.

Unlike previous Borderlands games where you have access to three skill trees (or four) per character, Wonderlands will let you have access to two skill trees- one for each class. But it’s not really a downgrade. Good builds in Borderlands will have you pick two of the three skill trees anyways. So fundamentally not much has changed. But within that one skill tree, each class can be built for different and complementary play styles.

There are definitely some combinations that synergise well for some over-the-top specialised builds. And also class combos to cover a weakness of certain builds. I build a glass cannon of a Spellshot that dips into Brr-Zerker for the survivability bonuses so it can take more hits, and have a longer down-but-not-out period, for example.

You can pick between two different action skills per class, so four once you get into multiclassing. The action skills can vary from cool moves that throw you into the third-person perspective (because doing a whirling attack in the first-person will likely make us puke), to simple but game-changing tweaks like letting you equip a second magic spell.
And each class has a class feat- a passive that’s always on. This is how some classes get a companion (or two) that’s always on their side.

Plus, to match the tabletop theme, your character can put points into stats- hero. You get to choose your initial bonus based on your origin story (it’s all flavour- so pick what bonus you fancy), and on each level up you get one stat point, on top of the usual one skill point reward, to spend on stats which gives different passive boosts.

Random Encounter

Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands still provide excellent gunplay. There are plenty of combat encounters- that’s the main gameplay- and it’s always a blast mowing down enemies. The enemy variety is fine, you now have to fight against skeletons that are weak to frost damage – there’s a new health colour, grey, to indicate this weakness. But the usual humanoids, monsters and flying monsters are here, with a Wonderlands twist.

The places where you do combat are excellently designed. There’s plenty of high ground to mantle over, barrels (some that can be used multiple times) to be shot and explode, and spaces to run away and take cover to. When it all kicks off, there are explosions everywhere, multiple types of elemental damage just splatter the screen with colours, and health bars ticking down, enemies and your Fatemaker all shouting barks and quip. The combat is a beautiful, bubbling pot of chaos that you want to keep stirring and throw more ingredients into. Add more bullets and magic until it all settles down into piles of colourful loot drops.

For most of the time I played, there’s not too much feeling of an enemy being too bullet spongey, the worst enemy of any looter-shooter. The game has effectively disguised it via its amazing presentation. Guns and spells feel so good to use you don’t mind shooting and blasting a bit extra. It’s easy enough to find ways to be situationally overpowered, by switching to the right weapon or having skills and gear that buffs your damage with the right weapons or spells.
A Spellshot/Brr-Zerker with boosts to Frost damage and access to Frost spells makes short work against the skelly-men, but will not be as strong against enemies with weaknesses to other elemental damage, for example.

The balance between the combat challenge and the loot rewards for beating them, at least right now at launch, is at a good place. You don’t see orange Legendaries popping that often, not until the endgame, but the rate in which numbers go up is just nice. Not too long where you’re stuck with the same loadout that will make you bored of the gameplay loop. But not too often enough to make you always be in analysis paralysis over which purple gun is better for your build right now.

Enemies will also scale to your level as well. They will always be either of the same level or a couple levels higher than you. So you don’t need to worry about needing to complete some sidequests while its level requirement remains relevant. Go do those whenever you feel like it.

South By Southwest

The Wonderlands have no vehicles, as all the lands can be travelled on foot. Levels aren’t too big as a result.
This time around, the levels are connected via an Overworld. Think of how Final Fantasy’s world map traversal, but your character’s head is oversized like a bobblehead and you’re not far off. And yes, it even has random encounters. Not JRPG levels of annoying, but when you walk into a tall grass, there’s a likelihood an enemy (also with an oversized head) will spawn to hunt you down. You can bonk them or run away to skip the fight. Otherwise, you’ll load into what is called a random encounter.

These encounters take place in open-ended arena maps. It has all the design cues as your typical open area that you see in the actual levels where you do most of the combat. Enemies will keep pouring in, slay enough and they’ll stop. A reward chest and an exit portal will appear afterwards.

There are optional encounters that you can partake in as part of quests or findings sacred runes that will give you buffs. Alongside finding shortcuts and other collectibles, the Overworld is a cool addition that lets you go and explore a bit, if the constant looting and shooting wear you down.

Wonderlands delivers an amazing looter-shooter gameplay loop that will keep you going. And there are smaller distractions should you need to take a break.


Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is relatively short, compared to the other Gearbox looter-shooters. I reached the end of the campaign in under 20 hours, at level 30 (the level cap right now is 40). And it could be shorter if I decided to beeline the critical path and ignore the side locations. There are a good amount of levels and locations that are entirely optional.

The fat in your usual Borderlands campaign has been trimmed out, the shorter runtime is a good change. If you want to get a character with a different main class to the endgame, you have to start a new one still. It’s annoying these days that it feels like an artificial way to prolong a game’s life (though I can see why it’s there- you invest that time replaying the campaign to learn how to play and spec that new class). But at least this time around, if you need to that, it’s a less time-consuming endeavour.

Plus with its simple story, designed on purpose for story reasons, stretching the main path longer would just be for the worse. So it’s good that it is this way.

Thankfully, the devs have included a way to keep you still playing, Wonderlands have a proper endgame mode right here at launch. It’s called the Chaos Chamber, and what is essentially a dungeon run where you go to a random encounter (yes, featuring those same arena maps from the overworld random encounters), slay enemies and survive until you reach the boss fight where big loot drops await you at the end.

It has roguelike elements in the way that most of the encounters, the order of maps you go, the enemies you fight, the different curses you can get, are randomised.

There are options for a specific, non-randomised Chaos Chamber run so you can compare high scores. But most of the fun is doing random runs and just rolling with whatever the game throws at you.

The Chaos Chamber is really good fun! It can be tough but the rewards you can get is definitely worth doing it over and over. It’s definitely more fun than farming bosses in past games. Though I do feel that in order to keep it feeling fresh, it needs to have enough of those arenas in the pool and enough variations of side-objectives. It remains to be seen how many hours you need to spend before the endgame dungeon become repetitive or stale.

Personal Enjoyment

I enjoyed my time with Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, but that’s not surprising given I’ve enjoyed all of the Borderlands game before this.

If you’re like me, who is so accustomed to Gearbox’s brand of looter-shooters, Wonderlands is another one of those, and I can assure you that it’s another fun romp, especially with friends.

Now if you’re new to looter-shooters, or played other looter-shooters but never touch the Borderlands series, well, this is a good place to start the series with. Though you do have to just roll with its silly antics and wonky jokes.

The story’s not as bad this time, but just brace yourself for a lot of referential humour (hey remember Monkey Island?), puns, and jokes that may not last the test of time. I personally have just learned to roll with its brand of silliness. But beware of possible cringe. And if you were not sold on Borderlands because of its tone, well, this game won’t change your mind.

But what it does good is what it does best. The looting and shooting gameplay loop is arguably best-in-class. Weapons that are fun and satisfying to use, enemies of various varieties to keep you on your toes, many ways to build your character and play your way, and satisfying and well-measured loot drops have kept me playing this game still after the credits roll.

My lizard brain is happy seeing numbers go up, and if you have the same tendencies, you’ll definitely get a good time with Wonderlands.


Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is a wonderful game, and delivers some much-needed shake-ups to the Borderlands formula. The fantasy theme fits well with the core looter-shooter experience, though it’s not as wild of a change as you’d first expect.

The looting and shooting have continued to be one of the best the genre has to offer, and some neat changes to its mechanics and features bring new depth to the gameplay.

A proper endgame mode that is as rewarding as it is challenging. It is a decent trade-off for what is a shorter campaign compared to previous Borderlands games.

Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands shows that Gearbox can make changes to the established Borderlands formula without taking any of the good bits away. Let’s hope that trend continues, they’re on a good roll here.

Played on PC, review copy provided by the publisher


Tiny Tina's Wonderlands

Tiny Tina's Wonderlands is a wonderful game, and delivers some much-needed shake-ups to the Borderlands formula.

Tiny Tina's Wonderlands shows that Gearbox can make changes to the established Borderlands formula without taking any of the good bits away. Let's hope that trend continues, they're on a good roll here.

  • Presentation 8.5
  • Gameplay 9
  • Content 8.5
  • Personal Enjoyment 9.5

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