Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands tries very hard to convince you that the game is funny. Everything that we’ve seen thus far is designed to bombard the player with as many attempts at quirky and faux-unique humour as possible. It’s the same over-the-top humour that was present in Borderlands 2, then The Pre-Sequel, and then again in Borderlands 3. The problem is that by now, this attempt at humour is really stale, and honestly just comes across as really cringe-inducing and pitiful.
Borderlands 1 was an instant hit and is a classic for a few reasons. The first is that the gameplay is excellent as a couch and online co-op game. The party system worked really well, and the game was super enjoyable to play with friends. The second is that the writing and humour within the game were witty and placed well. It wasn’t over the top, and it wasn’t the key focal point of the game. It was sprinkled throughout, it was well-constructed, and it was written well. The third key point about Borderlands 1 was the game’s fundamentals. Gunplay felt really good, the classes were fun to play, and overall it worked really well as a co-op looter-shooter.
Now, let’s compare that game to the later releases like Borderlands 3 or The Pre-Sequel – it’s as though everything that made the first game charming and enjoyable to play was forgotten by the studio and they just tried to appeal to the lowest common denominator. It’s the same jokes, it’s the same bland over-the-top gameplay, it’s all just very stale now. They’ve taken the Butt Stallion joke and just tried to appeal to that demographic again, and again, resulting in a pathetic attempt to recapture the magic of the first two games. Yikes!
This is where Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands comes in. The series was in sore need of a refresh and a reinvigoration of the franchise after the catastrophic failure of Borderlands 3’s Epic Store-exclusive drama, and how bad of a game The Pre-Sequel was. Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands was that chance.
Imagine with me, if you will, a fantasy game such as Skyrim, or Dragon Age, in the Borderlands 1 style. Witty humour with loot-based gameplay in a fantasy setting. People love collecting different styles of swords, axes, spears, shields, and the like in those types of games, and the Borderlands formula seems to fit this really well. The combination of styles would seem to be a no-brainer. Play with your friends and earn loot like in a Diablo-style game, with the first-person perspective of something like Skyrim, blended in with the Borderlands universe.
You can already see how perfectly made for a fantasy-style game the Borderlands series is. The potential is there in a huge way and a dramatic shift like this is something that would really bring the series back to life. On paper, it seems foolproof.
There is one key problem though.
Wonderlands isn’t that game whatsoever. It’s just a reskin of Borderlands 3, and a faux-fantasy setting. It’s the same over-the-top gunplay. It’s all the same jokes. You are just in a really half-assed fantasy setting for Borderlands.
So, before the game even launches, it seems like it’s going to do just about as well as the last few entries in the series and might as well be just another Borderlands game. Why isn’t it? Because Tiny Tina herself has a following, and you can be certain the studio is going to cash in on that in any way possible. So, here we are. And the icing on this reskinned Borderlands 3 cake is that the game is again an Epic Store exclusive – because that went so well last time.
And in true Gearbox and 2K fashion, there are 413 different versions of the game that you can pre-order, each of which has a different level of content. You want to have everything the game has to give? Well, then you’re going to have to fork out much more dosh than you normally would for a video game because they’ve cut content from the base version so that there’s a reason for you to buy whatever they’re calling the deluxe edition.
Kidding aside, the apparent greed is so rampant that at the time of this writing, the home page for the game has the phrase ‘pre-order’ twelve times on a single page. Twelve!
Remember how earlier I said that it felt like the studio was just recycling the Butt Stalion joke from the second game over and over because they found the one thematic joke-line that resonated with the most number of people, and that now they just spam that repeatedly in order to try and convince people that their games are still funny?
Welp, that is literally the name of one of the pre-order bonuses for buying the most expensive of the three game editions. The ‘Chaotic Great’ edition includes the ‘Butt Stallion Pack’. It was when I saw this that I truly realised that nobody over at Gearbox or 2K are even trying anymore. Welcome to the neigh-borhood indeed.