The Borderlands franchise has given gamers 4 mainline campaigns, a ton of downloadable content material, a number of spin-off video games, and even an upcoming feature film starring A-list Hollywood talent. However maybe paramount to these accomplishments are the series’ characters. Alongside the best way, gamers have met the likes of Claptrap, Lilith, and Good-looking Jack, who’ve captivated gamers, main them to surprise what might presumably occur subsequent within the wild world of Borderlands.
Nevertheless, few characters are as memorable as Tiny Tina, the 13-year-old explosives knowledgeable launched within the second recreation. Now, because the Borderlands franchise itself prepares to show 13 years outdated later this yr, Gearbox arms the reins of its bold new spin-off to the character that captured so many hearts (and certain stopped simply as many from beating). We went hands-on with Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands for hours and spoke with the staff to be taught why this distinctive path for the franchise is such an thrilling enterprise each for Gearbox and the series’ devoted fan base.
Tiny Tina, Huge Concepts
Tiny Tina, voiced by Ashly Burch, proved to be a direct hit with followers. She quickly obtained her personal downloadable content material marketing campaign for Borderlands 2, Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Hold. That DLC positioned gamers in a recreation of “Bunkers & Badasses,” an homage to Dungeons & Dragons, with Tiny Tina serving because the unpredictable “Bunker Grasp.” Because of Tina’s hilarious and unreliable narration, the high-fantasy themes, and comical references to fantasy video games and flicks, Assault on Dragon Hold is broadly thought of top-of-the-line items of DLC within the series’ historical past.
The staff at Gearbox observed that, along with latching onto Tiny Tina as a personality, the participant base additionally loved Assault on Dragon Hold’s tabletop trappings and the duality of a recreation inside a recreation. The staff felt it had solely scratched the floor of exploring what it might do in a fantasy setting with looter-shooter mechanics.
“It grew to become fairly apparent to us very, very early that it could possibly be a lot extra than simply an add-on to a different recreation,” artistic director Matt Cox says. “With the fantasy looter-shooter and the character of Tiny Tina, the ceiling was approach larger and simply actually deserved its personal standalone remedy.”
Gearbox desires this new effort to ship all of the distinctive experiences of the Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Hold DLC, however with a decrease barrier-to-entry. Since this can be a standalone story, gamers can enter Wonderlands with no data of Borderlands’ lore or backstory. Nevertheless, present followers might discover varied nods to established characters within the Borderlands world.
Regardless of being a standalone journey, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands retains most of the conventions and mechanics gamers have grown accustomed to, whereas increasing on them in a number of enjoyable methods. Wonderlands takes place in a D&D-like realm, however weapons are nonetheless entrance and middle. New gun sorts lean into the fantasy parts, with magic barrels you reload by sprinkling fairy mud and crossbow bolts that multiply their injury primarily based on what number of bolts you stick in an enemy.
Nevertheless, fight encounters are extra numerous affairs, as spells play a outstanding function. Spells change the best way you strategy encounters considerably and work along with the enjoyable gunplay and wild weaponry Borderlands followers are already accustomed to. Now, along with blasting enemies away with the newest and best loot you picked up, you’ll be able to open fissures within the floor, summon pets to struggle alongside you, and even forged safety enchantments for you and your allies. These spells act like the principle series’ grenades in that you’ve a devoted gear slot and button for them, however they function on a cooldown and have a wide selection of results.
“We knew we wished to replace that looter-shooter loop to one thing that’s somewhat bit extra distinctive to the concept of this fantasy world, and we thought these spells had been a completely nice method to transfer that ahead,” senior producer Kayla Belmore says. “We actually need them to really feel highly effective and like an motion talent. This allowed the weapons to nonetheless actually shine and be the celebrities of the present, however have an alternate a part of the fight that felt actually particular and distinctive. And you realize, who doesn’t love summoning big meteors from the sky and squishing your enemies?”
Melee additionally receives an improve in Wonderlands’ fight system. Not meant as a final resort if an enemy will get too shut, melee weapons now get their very own specialised gear slot. Melee weapons will be picked up as loot, and so they have completely different attributes that can help you synergize and tailor your fight model to the best way you need to play. I had the possibility to see all these grand ambitions come collectively in a cohesive approach after I fired up a pre-release construct of Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands.
The variations in gameplay in Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands go a lot deeper than spells and upgraded melee weapons. The gameplay construction combines the staff’s inspiration from RPGs and the tried-and-true Borderlands components.
Proper out of the gate, gamers will discover that they now create their very own characters reasonably than the Borderlands conference of supplying you with 4 established characters from which to decide on. Whereas I didn’t get the chance to create my very own, the 2 characters I performed regarded and sounded very completely different from each other.
On this new creator, gamers can select completely different personalities earlier than deciding on from two voiceprints and adjusting the pitch through a slider. As a result of the six character lessons are separate from appears to be like, Gearbox is worked up to present gamers the chance to not have the character’s identification be tied so tightly to their play model. This notion was carried over from inspirations like Dungeons & Dragons, different fantasy video games, and even JRPGs. However at its core, this shift from the principle series was the staff desirous to empower the participant to play who they need.
“Permitting the participant to precise themselves was one thing crucial to lots of people on the staff,” Belmore says. “We actually need gamers to have the ability to symbolize themselves, their fantasy self, or one thing fully outlandish in the event that they really feel prefer it. It’s all as much as them and what they need to see and what they need to do. That’s actually particular for us.”
As you degree up, every character has talent timber and hero stats to improve. Talent timber play out very similar to customary Borderlands development. In the meantime, hero stats can help you improve typical RPG stats: power (vital hit injury), dexterity (vital hit likelihood), intelligence (spell cooldown), and extra. In my playthrough, I used to be touchdown a ton of headshots, so I poured plenty of my hero factors into power to spice up the injury.
My gameplay session takes place on Mount Craw, a snowy mountain stuffed with caves, cliffs, and critters. In the event you’re hoping for some goblins and trolls to struggle amid this recreation’s fantasy setting, my time in Mount Craw gives loads. I can select between two lessons on this construct, however there might be a complete of six within the last model. Whereas the Graveborn construct offers me some nice darkish magic and a Demi-Lich companion, I really like the Stabbomancer class, which permits me to summon magical whirling blades that deal persistent injury to enemies within the space.
No matter how essential spells and melee are to the general equation, I instantly see what the staff means when it says that weapons are nonetheless the star of the present. Blasting by way of goblins (who all have their very own bizarre weapons and powers) is a lot enjoyable, due to the attention-grabbing arsenal I decide up alongside the best way. From an automated scoped rifle that fires arrows to an SMG that launches area-of-effect bombs and restores a few of your well being with every profitable shot, the Borderlands pedigree is alive and properly, even in a fantasy setting.
Tales from the Wonderlands
Borderlands video games have at all times allowed gamers to see their co-op companions’ characters, however with extra customization choices out there to gamers, Gearbox offers you extra alternatives to marvel at your creation. One such alternative comes by way of an overworld, which helps you to stroll about in third-person view, an thought Cox says was taken from old-school JRPGs and classics like Zelda II: The Journey of Hyperlink.
That’s not the one distinction carried over by the use of the JRPG style, as gamers can enter the tall grass within the overworld and interact in random encounters that reward you with loot and expertise. When a random encounter happens, you’re pushed again into first-person view, and also you battle the enemies simply as you’d in an ordinary mission.
This overworld encourages exploration to can help you absolutely expertise the world of Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands. Along with overworld-specific quests, you’ll be able to even uncover fully new maps to discover and full missions. As an illustration, the Mount Craw map I play isn’t part of the principle plotline. As a substitute, you uncover that by way of the overworld. When you’re in Mount Craw, you’ve gotten a self-contained storyline linked to the atmosphere and its inhabitants. Mount Craw is only one instance of those aspect maps that supply main quests for gamers that complement the general story and lore of the Wonderlands however are standalone in nature.
As you discover these further maps, you’ll discover extra sidequests out there within the hub world. For instance, as you uncover Mount Craw, chances are you’ll begin seeing “wished” posters across the tavern for characters in that space. You can begin quests by exploring within the Wonderlands, speaking to NPCs, or by merely selecting up notes on the tavern, making it so gamers have many alternatives to search out this aspect content material, then have interaction with it if they need.
In my time exploring Mount Craw, I meet Jar, a small goblin combating to free her enslaved race. To assist her, I must free prisoners, safe bombs, blow up a gate, and defeat a frost skeleton. Then I’ve to plunge his coronary heart right into a forge to freeze it, defeat highly effective magic-wielding oracles, and eventually take down a mechanical dragon in a tense boss struggle. Whereas that’s the principle questline on this standalone map, I can even tackle sidequests, like serving to Claptrap (fabricated from wooden) gather ore to make use of in his forge. Aiding Jar and liberating her fellow goblins is definitely the spotlight, however this early construct offers me hope for the sheer breadth of quest-driven content material within the last recreation.
With a lot out there to gamers at any given time, Gearbox has applied a brand new system to make sure gamers can’t out-level quests. In Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, when you return to a quest you picked up within the recreation’s early levels, the problem ranges with you. This gives commensurate rewards, making it each partaking and worthwhile to the participant no matter how a lot stronger they grew to become within the time since accepting the search.
Rolling the Cube
After Borderlands 3 gave gamers one other Vault-hunting journey in 2019, a recreation that shakes up the components could possibly be an ideal alternative to energise the fan base. Tiny Tina has clearly demonstrated her endurance inside each the franchise and the group at giant, so thrusting her into the highlight in maybe probably the most chaotic and over-the-top recreation Gearbox has ever developed seems like a match made in heaven.
I had a blast exploring Mount Craw and experimenting with the assorted weapons, spells, and melee weapons. I can’t wait to see what else Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands has in retailer for me when the sport launches later this month.
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