Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands Has Dragon-Sized Footwear to Fill
When Gearbox Studios introduced Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, a fantasy-themed Borderlands spinoff, throughout this week’s Summer season Recreation Fest, it anticipated followers’ comparisons to the Borderlands 2 DLC Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Preserve. However Gearbox clarified that whereas Wonderlands would hold the identical conceit – Tiny Tina is the dungeon grasp of a sport of “Bunkers and Badasses” and is continually altering the sport across the gamers — Wonderlands takes place in a completely new world with new characters (apart from Tiny Tina) and incorporates new battle mechanics, like spellcasting.
With Wonderlands so clearly taking cues from Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Preserve, among the finest and most impactful DLCs of all time, I’m fearful that Gearbox is doomed to repeat the identical errors it made with Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel and Borderlands 3.
Gearbox tends to reuse and recycle the identical Borderlands ideas and characters that beforehand resonated with gamers. Good-looking Jack, the baddie within the extraordinarily well-received Borderlands 2, is taken into account to be one of many best online game villains; realizing this, Gearbox constructed the less-well-received Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel round Jack’s origin story.
Although The Pre-Sequel arrived after Borderlands 2, it wasn’t the third main-series sport that followers had been on the lookout for. That arrived in 2019 beneath the (apt) title Borderlands 3, which confronted the titanic process of dwelling as much as the narrative and gameplay heights of Borderlands 2, to not point out virtually seven years of participant anticipation. Certain, the sport was high-quality, however that was the issue — it was simply high-quality, not wonderful.
Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Preserve was a unique story, although; there’s nothing fairly prefer it within the franchise. For many of Borderlands 2, gamers are caught on Pandora, which has very similar-looking landscapes and enemies. By the point you end the bottom sport and all the opposite DLCs – Assault on Dragon Preserve is designed to be performed final – you’re on the lookout for one thing new. The Dragon Preserve DLC not solely gives all-new enemies, places, and weapons (spells as an alternative of grenades!), it presents one thing that the Borderlands collection doesn’t have a number of: Real emotion.
In addition to giving gamers extra of the humor and loopy antics that they’ve turn into accustomed to over the course of the sport, Assault on Dragon Preserve explores Tina’s grief over the loss of life of Roland, a playable character within the first Borderlands and a central nonplayable character in Borderlands 2. Tina, refusing to consider that Roland is absolutely gone, makes him a personality within the DLC’s universe. The opposite NPCs, who’re enjoying the sport as Tina DMs, are on the lookout for a solution to inform her that Roland isn’t coming again … however after all, that is Borderlands, and what needs to be easy simply isn’t.
The storytelling is foolish and inane, however there’s one thing way more highly effective and profound lurking simply beneath the floor. In contrast to virtually the whole lot else within the franchise, this facet of the story isn’t overdone – it’s quiet and understated, a meditation somewhat than an explosion.
Although it takes place in a brand new world with new characters, Wonderlands appears to be like to take sturdy cues from the extremely optimistic participant response to Assault on Dragon Preserve. Although I used to be initially excited on the alternative to return to a fantasy Borderlands setting, the extra I thought of it, the extra involved I turned. One of many causes Assault on Dragon Preserve works is as a result of it’s actually two totally different tales merged collectively – the story of a gaggle of mates enjoying a tabletop sport collectively and the story of a younger woman processing grief. When you take away Tina’s story, the DLC would merely be one other reskinned Borderlands journey – albeit a particularly artistic and enjoyable one. What gave the story energy was its emotional resonance and the tough actuality it forces Tina to face.
Gearbox doubtless selected to spin Assault on Dragon Preserve into its personal sport due to its vital reception and acclaim from gamers. If Wonderlands needs to rise to the extent of its DLC predecessor, it has to recollect what made the unique nice within the first place – and it’s not dragons and weapons.