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Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands Hands-On Preview: Borderlands With A Touch Of D&D

The concept for Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands originally existed as a DLC pack for Borderlands 2, and was easily one of the best expansions the franchise had seen up to that point. Developer Gearbox saw how many people liked this expansion and has now fleshed it out into a full priced title. To that end, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands mixes the creative world of D&D with the colourful and artistic Borderlands franchise.

I spent roughly 20 hours during my time with the preview, and I was given access to Mount Craw. This is just one of many different locations that will be playable in the full game. Even so, this one area seemed to have an incredible amount of variety. The map starts with you on a beautiful cliff side with some snow here and there, but as you continue through the map, you will end up going through a maze of caves, which will then take you out to the snowy mountain top.

I often worry about having so many different biomes in one zone because it can often feel like they are just stuck together to make a map look bigger than it is, but here they all feel naturally connected together and it makes it a joy to explore the world. The game also rewards you for exploring too, as you can find lucky dice that have a chance to give bonus loot based on the roll you get.

There’s also Rune switches, which you activate then have to solve a puzzle to get your reward. Lost marbles and Poetry pages are scattered throughout the map that are fun to find and with the Poetry also extend the lore of the world you are in.

I often went off and just explored every different area I could, and with the 3D mini map returning from Borderlands 3, it makes the experience so much more fun and easier to do. Elsewhere, there were a few side quests in the preview, and it was so easy to track them and find the locations you had to visit because of how intuitive the mini map is.

Naturally, with all these different locations, you also find a wide variety of enemies, ranging from Goblins to Skeletons and even some Land Sharks. This helps with keeping fresh because you are not just killing the same creature over and over again but instead the location matters.

I also happened across a Loot Goblin running around in the volcano area, wearing a jester hat and was immune to basically all damage except melee. If you manage to hit it you receive gold but if you kill it, he drops different weapons and accessories. One of the new items in Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is the spell system, which gives you access to several different spells that you can find as drops. These include spells that cause earthquakes, fireballs, ice spikes and even giant domes of Ice.

They’re a pretty fun inclusion and feel like a true upgrade from the spells/grenades from the original DLC, and I look forward to seeing all the different combinations of spells I can do with friends. Elsewhere, Obelisks that spawn tough mini bosses, with several waves of enemies. This gives you a decent challenge and also rewards you with some solid drops when you beat it, as well as ample experience points.

A small observation I’d like to make, but one that contains a slight spoiler. Goblins are mostly found in caves as they prefer the dark and hate being in the fresh air. During one of the quests you have to free some of these creatures that have been captured by the Dragon God. However, when you go to free them, the main reason they dislike being captured is because they are forced to be outside and they would rather be back in the dark damp caves.

The traditional borderlands humour is everywhere in the experience I had, and I feel like it has been scaled back a bit. But I don’t think that is a bad thing, because the last game went a bit too far for me, so I am happy it’s back to a level that I really enjoy. Of course only able to rate this based on the short experience of the story I had access too.

I was able to access two different classes in the build I played, one of which already had points assigned to them, which was the Graveborn. This was my favourite of the two classes, and I would have put a lot of time in levelling up to unlock most of the skill tree during the preview. The Graveborn is a dark magic-based class that has a skill that sacrifices health to deal damage, with an arch Lich minion helping you out in this respect.

Not only does this Lich ‘pet’ look great, but as you level up the Graveborn class, you will gain access to skills that buff your companion or have the Lich bail you out if you take too much damage. Alternatively, f you really want to go crazy, you can unlock a skill that spawns small hydras when an enemy dies, and as you put points into that skill it will allow for more hydra on the field at the same time and extend the timers.

Stabbomancer was the other class that I was able to experience, which is more of a rogue type with melee skills. My only issue with this class is that it wants you to use melee and at low level it really feels like these attacks don’t inflict enough damage in regards to risk vs reward.

To be fair, this is really the only issue I had during my time in the game, and this could easily change in the full build when it launches. Speaking of damage, I also felt like the crossbow weapon type seemed to do the most amount of damage, though that’s not to say the other weapons weren’t decent.

Having said that, I often relied on the crossbow type for most of my hands-on. Again, just like the melee system, this could easily change with patches or even with builds as the full game will have access to many more weapons that were not available in the preview.

Meanwhile, there’s also a stat skill tree, called Hero Stats that will actually affect your health, critical chance, critical damage, spell recast and other base stats so you can build the character you want. Do you want a Mage that has a fast recast but lower critical chance? Or would you prefer a high critical for burst damage but low recast so you do a lot of damage but slower?

Talking about loot, customization is also back, but I was not able to access the character creation or the ability to change the look of my character. However, I was able to find them from enemy drops. From the look of things, you can now change the appearance of your character, add new emotes, change the banner design and much more, which is interesting as in the full game there is a full character creation tool unlike the previous games. D&D is all about character and storytelling, so it’s good to see that more effort is being put into this area for the Borderlands spin-off.

Based on my impressions of Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, players will have access to many different options keeping in with the spirit of its D&D DNA, while also encapsulating all the things that fans of the Borderlands franchise will want to see. Needless to say, I look forward to playing it a lot with friends come release date. From what I played, the game essentially is a charming wonderland of murderous mayhem.

Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is due out on PS5, PS4, PC, Xbox Series X/S, and Xbox One on March 25, 2022. Big thanks to the publisher, 2K, for inviting us for some hands-on time with the game.