Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands: The First Hands-On Preview – IGN First

The melding of tabletop RPG and Borderlands in Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands almost feels like a Pimp My Ride meme. “You like RPGs, in your RPG-based looter shooters?” Borderlands is heavily influenced by both tabletop and video games. You can see damage counters when you launch a clip or three-hundred on your enemies. This is a direct reference to damage counters found in Final Fantasy. The Gearbox Texas main offices have an entire room dedicated to what may be the most impressive TTRPG setup I've ever seen. Giving Tiny Tina her own Borderlands 2 DLC (which is standalone as of last November) as well as a spin-off game with Wonderlands feels like the perfect encapsulation of the DNA of Borderlands as a whole… and then they added spells and melee attacks.

Cast a spell on you

Your arsenal now includes spells, which is the biggest difference to an ordinary Borderlands campaign. They can be used in some ways to replace the mainline series grenades, but they have a distinctive look and feel that makes them stand out from the grenades you are used to throwing at psychos. One, they come with a cool-down time and not a predetermined inventory. You can cast spells at your leisure and do not need to replenish your ammo as with grenades. Weapons and items can reduce the cooldown time and can be linked together to create chaos. Spells are a great way to add combat. There are no healing spells, but there are Dark Magic spells that you can cast to feed your Fatemaker and give him hit points. You can also do damage to any fanciful foe.

Tiny Tina's Wonderlands Official Films

On my playthrough, I was equipped with a meteor spell which did as much damage as it looked. A portal was opened above the head and a torrent flaming meteors fell to their destruction. While I was loading clip after clip into them, this would occur. It felt amazing, is all I am saying.

Hack n'Slash

It doesn't end with the spells. In Wonderlands, melee attacks are more important than ever. These melee attacks are not last-ditch attempts to cause damage up close, like they are in first-person shooters. The RNG modular system used by melee weapons is the same as guns. This means that you will get different bonuses and buffs depending on which melee weapon you have. There are two-handed swords like claymores. You also have single-handed swords, blunt weapons, such as hammers or morning stars. The exception to the two-handed swords that have an extended reach, triggering melee attacks “glides” you towards your enemy. You can also attack them before they are within range. This allows you to approach multiple enemies at once and link your attacks together, while gliding between them with incredible precision. You may get bonus effects like a reduced spell cool-down, depending on the amount of melee weapons you have. This puts Bunkers and Badasses to shame.

Although none of the attacks seemed to be more important than the others, Borderlands' guns remain the main draw. Instead, they all worked together to make combat feel tight and fast. There's not a lot of clunkiness. At least not in my loadout. It should be noted that I was given an OP character to use, which Creative Director Matt Cox explained was in the interest of allowing me to try more types of attacks. The mission I played in the final version was too early to receive the weapons I received. Despite this, I look forward to building the same level of fluidity that I had during my preview. It was exciting to face a large group of enemies. This was a far different feeling than the fear I felt in Borderlands 2 where I was concerned about my weapons. Even facing overwhelming odds can feel exciting when you can shoot magical grenades at enemy targets while simultaneously firing your ice imbued rifle at them. Once they freeze solid, you can then glide quickly towards them and use melee attack to shatter them. It's all about how you get there.

Combine spells and guns to create a fast and tight combat environment.

I had the opportunity to explore the overworld. This was something new to Borderlands, and something I didn’t realize I needed in my daily life. It's a JRPG-style overworld with random encounters. You can avoid the encounters, so you can just send the Chibi version your character to the next area. But something magical happens when you enter the tall grass… OK I guess it's not really magical, it's expected behavior, an unexpected nod to Pokemon. You can fight until your face is blue by entering the tall grass. The encounters add a familiar RPG feel to the overworld. You can also grind a few level if you feel weak, which makes them both useful AND true the RPG theme. These are separate levels, and you have to eliminate them by using the judicial method of murder. The gameplay in the Overworld encounters is identical to the rest of the game. However, this level is just an additional “arena”, and not a fully realized level. It's cool. It's fun. It's totally optional!

It would have been so much more fun to explore the other levels I was able to complete during my time in Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands. It was great combat. I look forward to the final game, where I can match melee weapons with spells and guns and open delicious chests. Did I mention that melee chests can be opened now? Well, you can. You can.

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