While February has been absolutely stacked with releases this year, that doesn’t mean it’s completely radio silent for the coming months. While Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands might not be the most high profile game of 2022, a new Borderlands game – spin off or otherwise – is always something to look forward to. We were lucky enough to get hands on with a portion of the game ahead of its release and here’s what stood out to us the most.
The New Classes are Incredibly Unique
One of the most exciting things about starting a new Borderlands game for me, is choosing a class and working out what kind of build I want to craft across my playthrough and into the endgame. Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands looks to be no different, encouraging even more customization and options than previous games. The two classes we could choose from in this preview build were Graveborn and the aptly named Stabbomancer.
The former is a sort of dark mage that sacrifices their own health to unleash powerful attacks, as well as having a Demi-Lich companion that fights alongside you. The Stabbomancer is a stealth based class with a primary focus on high damaging crits, and summoning magic blades to damage enemies. The Graveborn came prebuilt, whereas the Stabbomancer allowed us to put points into the trees and abilities we wanted to. It’s clear to me that this is some of the most expansive build-crafting we’ve seen in a Borderlands game yet, and that’s without even touching the ability to multi-class.
The Guns Feel Appropriately Archaic
If there’s one thing that Borderlands is synonymous with, it’s chasing after guns – lots of guns. While Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is no different in this regard, it stands out in a big way when it comes to how its weapons actually function. Noting here is quite as it seems, submachine guns that fire dark magic orbs that life steal, shotguns that blast slashes of pure energy, and all new melee weapons that are as brutal as they are fantastical. One thing I noticed, especially on the Graveborn class, was that a lot of the weapons you can get lean a little more into your build, and will compliment playstyles if you consider what’s going to work and what won’t.
The melee weapons are a particular highlight. While they aren’t full-blown weapons like the guns are, they simply modify your melee attack with elemental or stat boosting properties, again leaning into what each of the classes specialize in. They’re fun to spam on a downed enemy, but can’t be relied on as a crutch against big groups of bad guys. They add that little bit of extra depth that push Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands further into RPG territory, and I suspect players who love to min-max their builds and damage output are going to have a lot to play around with, especially when it comes to post game content.
The Wonderlands are a Fantasy Setting Combined with Borderlands Hallmarks
The zone that we were dropped in for our hands on demo was called Mount Craw, a snowy and mountainous cliff zone that weaves in and out of caves, home to the goblins. The main quest I got to play had me helping a goblin named Jar as you work together to push back against the oppression his species faces. It’s a weird and whacky situation to be thrown into, but weirdly suits the tone that Gearbox seems to be going for here.
It all leads to the exploration of a forge area, flowing with molten lava and decorated with cave shacks. This culminates in a boss fight with Vorcanar, a robot dragon head that certainly subverted my expectations when I first encountered him. It feels like this world is taking the concept of Assault On Dragon Keep to the extreme, which is a very high extreme considering Tiny Tina is in charge of the world.
It Has an All Star Cast of Voice Talent
While Borderlands has always had excellent voice work that brings the universe to life, none of them are quite comparable to what Wonderlands has to offer. Ashly Burch reprises her role as Tiny Tina, while Will Arnett plays the titular Dragon Lord, serving as the main antagonist to the story. While I didn’t get to see much of Tina or the Dragon Lord during my hands on, I have no doubt they’ll both bring a charismatic energy to the writing and narrative that only Borderlands is capable of.
One of the characters I did get to spend a lot of time with was Andy Samberg’s Captain Valentine. Known best as Jake Peralta in Brooklyn 99, Samberg brings a blunt, deadpan nature to the comedy and his line deliveries that we haven’t quite seen in Borderlands before, and it goes a long way to reinvigorate the humor that can sometimes feel like it’s stuck in the 2010s.