At first glance, the new Gearbox game looks like a Borderlands reskin. But behind the facade there are enough innovations to give Tina’s tabletop adventure a raison d’être.
All screenshots are from GamersGlobal, the 4K60 test video will follow on Friday
The history of Borderlandsseries is quite interesting. The first part of Gearbox was designed as a mixture of Diablo and Halo, a first-person shooter with tons of loot to collect. This approach was retained, although the team initially opted for a realistic look. When the game was about 75 percent complete, the developers noticed that the fantasy influences didn’t go with such a look, which, thanks to the end-time setting, relied on dreary brown and gray tones. So they decided to take a drastic step and put the now iconic cel shading look on the game.
This admittedly courageous step paid off in the end, Borderlands (in the test, grade: 7.5) was a respectable success and was able to sell more than two million units from its release in October 2009 to the end of the same year. Numerous DLCs as well as some successors were the economic result of the popularity.
Last but not least, thanks to the wacky and recurring characters, the game series was able to build a loyal fan base. One of the best-known characters is probably the explosives-loving Tiny Tina, to whom several expansions have already been dedicated. But apparently the Gearbox isn’t enough as a tribute to the crazy resident of Pandora and so she gets it Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands now donated its own complete spin-off. At first glance, this looks like another Borderlands part in the new setting, which is not entirely wrong. But a look under the hood reveals that Gearbox has woven in some new ideas that give the game a right to exist.
|You actually sit at Tina’s table for the whole game. Luckily you can also go to the Wonderlands.|
Everything on the table
At the center of the story is (at least in part) Tiny Tina herself. However, you don’t control her, rather you act out a story that she tells. You are part of a tabletop round in which she acts as the game master. The underlying set of rules has the sonorous name “Bunkers and Badasses” and is set in a fantasy world in which there is everything you would expect. Wyverns, wizards, skeletons, pirates, four-legged sharks and much more. You could really see that Gearbox was having a lot of fun throwing off all the thematic ties and just making the game they wanted to make.
But how do you fit into this colorful world? Very simple: You are the Destinybringer, a legendary hero who is supposed to protect the world from the Dragon Lord. He is not a German YouTuber, but a powerful magician who has reappeared on the scene after a long time and supposedly wants evil for the kingdom, ruled by Queen Asshorse. Before you ask, yes, ass horse is Handsome Jack’s diamond horse. And it’s far from the only familiar face from the Borderlands world, as Tina keeps weaving in well-known characters as NPCs. A festival for fans, which I definitely count myself among.
|An example of the noble humor of Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands: You open this train gate by bewitching it.|
Humor is written larger
One reason Borderlands should have so many fans (or enemies) is because of its completely stupid humor. While I understand anyone who wants to iron out all the circuitry on the Claptrap one-wheeled babble, I often find the little guy and the overall tone of the line hilariously hilarious. It’s all the nicer that Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands keeps the well-known tone and even ups the ante. How many stupid ideas are built into this game, that has already earned its own award.
Let’s take a side quest as an example: You are called by an alchemist to cleanse her garden of goblins. Of course, you do this diligently, complete the task and receive your debit. But the story doesn’t end there, because you notice a crying farmer who complains to you why you did it. Because she had placed the nasty contemporaries there to catch the alchemist’s attention because she is in love with her. In return, she’s filthy rich and doesn’t want to marry beneath her dignity – unless you can provide a poet-reading goblin. And that’s exactly what you do as the quest progresses.
Of course, not everyone likes this humor. I often couldn’t stop grinning, which is also due to the very good speakers. And you shouldn’t ignore the side quests of Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands in general, because they not only bring wonderful stupid stories, but also tons of loot. So even if you rarely really have to grind during the course of the story, the extra trips are definitely worth it. In addition, with a stubborn focus on the main story, the trip to the wonderlands is already over after 15 hours if you only take the most necessary side quests with you.
|With two classes comes two skill trees, giving plenty of scope for builds.|
You must be six heroes
Before you can really make the wonderlands unsafe, you must of course decide on a class. There are a total of six types to choose from, each suited to a different playstyle. The Killomancer specializes in critical hits and melee, the Clawbringer I chose gives you a wyvern helper and deals a lot of fire and lightning damage. Spellshot, on the other hand, unsurprisingly focuses on magic, while Gravespawn focuses on dark magic. This exchanges damage caused into life energy.
If you want a little mushroom by your side that deals poison damage, then the Spore Keeper is for you. For Frost builds, on the other hand, the BRR Serker is a good starting point, especially since it hits hard in close combat. However, you don’t have to worry if you like a certain character’s skills, even though they don’t quite suit your playstyle: thanks to the extensive skill trees, you can adapt the classes very freely to your needs. You can also choose a second class in the course of the story, whose skills you can also use. And if you don’t like the combo, you can even change it very late in the game.
What helps even more are the twists of fate: As with other role-playing games, you now choose an origin for your character. Village idiot, elf pupil, failed monk, they all have differently distributed figure values. With strength, dexterity, intelligence, wisdom, constitution and attunement you define the strength and probability of your critical hits, your maximum life energy or the spell cooldown time. With each level-up you also earn more points. These possibilities can seem overwhelming at first, but in my opinion, skilling them up is almost impossible. I just expanded the values that sounded good to me and had no problems.
|Matching the look of my hero, I had no choice but to declare him a village idiot.|