Tiny Tina's Wonderlands fiery artwork and logo

Inspired by Borderlands 2's highly popular Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep DLC, Tiny Tina's Wonderlands is a charming and explosion fueled homage to the RPG genre. With some top notch action and an excellent cast doing their best to portray completely ridiculous characters as straight as possible, it's also a highly enjoyable game in its own right.

So if you're curious about just what all of this looks like in action, as well as how Wonderlands compares to its predecessor Borderlands 3, allow me to share my thoughts after a very explosion-filled adventure!

Video version of this review (~12 minutes)

Character creation

Like any RPG, Wonderlands starts you off with a detailed character creator. You can adjust everything from your stats to your appearance here, and even fine-tune your voice if you so wish. And trust me, you do, because your character has a surprising amount of dialogue throughout the game, many of which you will hear time and time again.

When it comes to gameplay customization there are six classes based on standard RPG archetypes you can choose as your base, and then further enhance later on by adding a second class into the mix. Combine this with the classic Borderlands style talent tree and a myriad of unique items, and you'll end up with the ability to create an assortment of fun and creative character builds.

I ended up going with the Clawbringer which is essentially Thor if he had a tiny dragon companion follow him around. That ended up being an amazing choice as my class abilities were so immensely fun to press that I based my entire build around being able to push them as often as possible. After all, throwing an axe that explodes into lightning or smashing someone into the ground with a gigantic molten hammer is far too enjoyable to be left at the mercy of long cooldowns!

Tiny Tina's Wonderlands screenshot of the hair customization options

As expected, some of the options are just silly to look at

Swords, sorcery and explosions

The combat in general is highly entertaining thanks to the satisfying combination of spells, abilities and guns. It doesn't matter if we're talking about a weapon that shoots out missiles that split into other missiles that then explode into even smaller misses or a classic rifle that just goes 'shoot-shoot', all of them feel great to use. If you've ever played Borderlands 3 the gunplay is pretty much the same here, just with a couple of bells and whistles added to make it stand out.

One of these exceptionally large bells is the new magic system, because even though the spells are a completely new addition to the series they are just as handy, just as random, and just as entertaining to use as the weapons themselves. Some spells simply freeze enemies in place so you can actually hit them, some unleash a shockwave that clears out all of the weaker enemies that like to swarm you, and some go way overboard by conjuring a miniature apocalypse over your target! But regardless of what type of magic you use, it'll be a great addition to your arsenal and something that will hopefully stick with the series moving forward.

The only aspect of the combat that I didn't particularly enjoy was the melee system. It didn't matter what type I was using or how many paragraphs of text it had, the melee weapons never felt satisfying to swing since the impacts just didn't give me that meaty sensation of a heavy object hitting someone's noggin. In a different game I might've been a lot more forgiving of this, but with the gunplay and magic being so well done, the melee combat just feels like an afterthought.

Tiny Tina's Wonderlands screenshot of spells being used

Why hit things with sticks when you can explode them with your mind instead!

Besides all of the glorious combat there's a fair bit of looting and exploring to be had, though thankfully it's kept tame enough that it doesn't break the pacing. I also appreciate how all of the collectibles are useful in some way and aren't just there to pad out the runtime.

The classic chests give you a variety of quality loot, the rarer golden dice offer much greater quantities of loot and permanently upgrade your magic find, while the extremely rare marbles (don't question it) and recordings give you some nicely voice acted lore to help flesh out the world. So as far as collectibles and secrets in an action-heavy game are concerned, these are pretty good ones!

Tiny Tina's Wonderlands screenshot of the golden dice collectibles

It's loot that gives you even more loot in the future, what's not to love?

Story, characters and humor

Much like in the original Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep, the story in Wonderlands is complete and utter nonsense, and the characters are well aware of it. However in a refreshing twist, instead of using this for a couple of cheap jokes, Wonderlands takes these moments of self-reflection as an opportunity to help build up the characters and give them some small emotional touches. So even though the whole thing is intentionally riddled with clichés from top to bottom, I actually found myself getting invested in Tina's bizarre mishmash of a world.

While this is obviously down to personal preference, the style of humor in Wonderlands was a lot more palatable for me than the one in Borderlands 3. I think the main reason for this is that Wonderlands is so insanely over-the-top that the writers never felt the need to force the characters to act wacky just for the sake of a joke. Instead, they just gave them a silly RPG-themed personality and let them do their own thing, which ended up working out great thanks to the excellent cast. That said, Wonderlands does still have some one-note characters that are just there for a lame gag, but they're thankfully few and far between, as well as much easier to ignore when the main crew is this solid.

Tiny Tina's Wonderlands screenshot of the main bad guy and butt stalion

Even the main baddie seems to be having a great time with the story

My personal favorite out of the bunch is easily Mr. Torgue, an explosives obsessed Bard-barian that has absolutely no musical talent, yet more than makes up for it with sheer enthusiasm. Since Tina is trying to run a 'family friendly' game Mr. Torgue is not allowed to swear, and so every time he wants to yell out something inappropriate he strums his lute, with the resulting dialogue being a pure delight to listen to.

I sadly can't tell you the specifics due to spoilers, but there's one moment near the halfway point where Mr. Torgue brings a perfectly normal situation to such an absurdly ridiculous conclusion that I was left laughing for a good few minutes afterwards. So if you liked some of his dialogue in Borderlands 2's Campaign of Carnage DLC, you'll be happy to hear that he's somehow even better in Wonderlands!

Tiny Tina's Wonderlands screenshot of Mr. Torgue's intro

He even gets his own over-the-top intro!

Overworld and style

In fact, some of these scripted events are so well paced and pack so much of a punch that I'm genuinely not sure why Wonderlands even has an overworld that you can explore and mess around in. Most of the stuff you can find there is essentially filler, just a bunch of random items to collect and straightforward arenas filled with nameless goons to fight. So to pull you away from the amusing stories in order to show you what amounts of basically nothing just seems like a strange misstep for Wonderlands.

A real shame too because the overworld map is remarkably well crafted. You move around in it by using a miniature bobblehead of your hero, the bridges are made out of matches and ice cream sticks, there's random rule books floating ominously in the distance, while some of the obstacles you can encounter are just random things Tina had lying around. The whole map has a very 'impromptu D&D set' sort of vibe, and as someone that has made his own playgrounds back in the day, I found it all to be straight up adorable.

The overworld also has one feature that I would like to see present in every single RPG ever - the ability to smack a random encounter monster over the head and continue on your merry way without being harassed! If you want to fight everything for experience and loot, you have the ability to do that, and if you just want to explore the world without interruption all you have to do is slap your troubles away. It's the perfect solution!

Tiny Tina's Wonderlands screenshot of the overworld map

Just so you know, bamboo sticks make for a far sturdier bridge

Presentation, performance and problems

Unsurprisingly, the rest of Wonderlands is just as lovely to look at. It might not be the most graphically advanced game around, but none of that really matters when Wonderlands' environments are this outlandish, colorful and goofy. I'm also a big sucker for that classic Borderlands-style cel-shaded look, which in Wonderlands' case works especially well since it fits the whole RPG aesthetic.

The monsters are quite engaging themselves, with many of them being parodies of classic RPG monsters like skeletons, goblins and wyvrens. While they could definitely use some more jokes to add a bit of variety, I can't deny that I loved listening to the skeletons rattle off some of the lamest bone jokes around. So outside of some of the overworld maps repeating far too often, I feel like Wonderlands has done a wonderful job of parodying RPGs without actually being mean-spirited about it.

Performance has also been solid for me throughout my adventure, with only the occasional dip below 60 FPS when there was a ton of explosions and enemies on the screen. In terms of bugs, however, I did ran into a whole bunch of small annoyances. The most aggravating of these was a reoccurring bug that would make my quest log invisible for a seemingly undetermined amount of time after loading into a new area.

These types of issues weren't serious enough to make me properly angry with Wonderlands, but they did get pretty close on occasion. So if you decide to dive in yourself, do be prepared to power through some bugs in order to get back to the fun task of smashing skeleton skulls.

Tiny Tina's Wonderlands screenshot of skeleton hordes

Closing Thoughts

While Tiny Tina's Wonderlands doesn't really shake up the Borderlands 3 formula in a major way, it really doesn't need to. With a highly satisfying gameplay loop and writing that manages to give both humor and serious moments a chance to shine, Wonderlands is a refreshing homage to RPGs and a jolly good time in general.

So if you're a fan of the Borderlands series, or the looter shooter genre in general, I have absolutely no qualms with recommending Tiny Tina's Wonderlands. And if you're not, I'm afraid this isn't going to be the game that turns you around. As for me, I certainly had a lot of fun playing as store brand Thor!

[Note]: To help you out on your adventure, I've also created a brief beginner's guide covering some of the basics and trickier concepts. So if you would like your first experience with Wonderlands to be a nice and pleasant one, give it a look.