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Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands from Gearbox Studios, most known as the creators of the Borderlands franchise and, most recently, Borderlands 3, which was my GOTY for 2019. It’s an entire spinoff inspired by the fan-favorite Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep DLC from Borderlands 2, which was more swords and sorcery than crazy gunplay. I got the chance to play a vertical slice of Wonderlands this past week. Does it capture the same magic from its inspiration?
For the demo, there were only two classes available – the Graveborne and Stabbomancer – but in the full game, there will be a total of six playable classes. For my initial run, I chose the Graveborne first. It plays kind of like a pet class and has a little Demi-Lich companion as its Class Feat that follows around and helps attack enemies. It also specializes in Dark Magic, which seems to be a new element type introduced in Wonderlands, and a lot of the support skills in the tree are designed around this. There are two main Action Skills to pick from: Dire Sacrifice, which sacrifices health to deal area damage to all nearby enemies, and Reaper of Bones, which heals and buffs the player but takes an ever-increasing amount of damage until the effects wear off.
Both classes start at level 9 in the demo, but the Graveborn comes pre-built with all of the skill points allocated into the tree already, so I wasn’t able to cater it towards any playstyle. During my playthrough, I managed to get to level 12 by the end – thanks to choosing to complete all of the available side quests. I wish I could have explored the skill tree a bit more, or at a higher level, because there is a support skill in the Graveborn tree called Lord of Edges that looks like it would pair perfectly with the Reaper of Bones action skill. The lower the health, the more damage dealt and damage reduction you have. Combined with a strong life leech, which many skills and weapons both include as modifiers, it could be possible to always have Reaper of Bones active to where you’re constantly buffed. Am I already theorycrafting? Maybe. But isn’t that one of the joys in the Borderlands games anyways?
The gameplay is almost exactly like Borderlands 3, but with one major change: the grenade slot is replaced with spells. Spells can range from casting magic missiles to summoning hydras to even calling down an ice storm. The nice thing about the spells is that they don’t take up ammo like grenades did, and they can be cast simultaneously even while firing your gun or reloading. This just adds a new, more versatile tool to your arsenal and will help lessen the TTK, or Time To Kill, while you’re fighting through hordes of goblins or shooting down flying wyverns. Unfortunately, it seems that health pools have also been increased for enemies. Compared to Borderlands 3, it felt like enemies were more bullet-sponges (or arrow-sponges) than before.
For my second run I chose the Stabbomancer, which acts as a rogue-ish type class. Its two main action skills are Ghost Blade, which summons a giant spinning blade, and From The Shadows, that turns you invisible and turns every hit into a critical. At first I wanted to use the stealth/crit skill because it works very similarly to how FL4K’s does in Borderlands 3, which was my main character to play. But after playing more with the spinning Ghost Blade skill, I had more fun with summoning a giant, purple, twirling blade of death. It’s damage is also affected by the melee weapon you have equipped which prompted me to actually care about what weapon I had equipped, unlike my Graveborne. Melee isn’t something I tend to do in Borderlands, but it looks like it will be more prominent in Wonderlands, at least with the Stabbomancer.