Game Review: Tiny Tina's Wonderlands
Really bored people who actually plumbed the depths of my blog will have noted that I posted a fairly esoteric post a while ago that dealt with the economic model of Borderlands 2. Specifically, I was talking about arbitrage between the slot machines in Sanctuary vs. those in Tiny Tina's "Assault on Dragon Keep" DLC. That is, I'm a Borderlands geek.
Tiny Tina's DLC was so popular that they started selling it as a standalone game. People didn't want to have to buy Borderlands to get that DLC. It's a testament to what a great job they did with that DLC.
So when 2K announced that they were coming out with a game designed around that DLC in Borderlands 2, I was very excited. I spent months waiting. I pre-ordered the game on Amazon. Three days after I received it, I sent it back for a refund.
Wonderlands is a train wreck before you even get to the content. They made all the technical mistakes they made in Borderlands 3. Said another way, they never fixed all the things they broke in Borderlands 3. Let's review those mistakes. First of all, Borderlands 3 is unplayable for the simple reason that the user interface is unusable. In couch-coop mode, I couldn't read the screen. At times, I would walk up to my 50-inch plasma screen, put my eyes right up to the screen, and I still couldn't make out some of the text. So, in technical terms, 2K has given the middle finger to all the co-op players out there.
It also didn't help that Wonderlands doesn't have a way to calibrate screen position, so I found certain things on-screen clipped at the edges.
If those two technical problems don't sway you, there's also the issue of the vending machine interface. Since Borderlands 1, the vending machines have been a sink hole for computing cycles. You go into a vending machine and the rest of the game--often your partner sitting next to you on the couch--starts to stutter. It is so bad that sometimes my girlfriend and I take turns going into the vending machine interfaces because otherwise it brings the console to its knees.
Let's say none of that sways you. Let's say you only use single-player mode and have phenomenal eyesight. What's wrong?
Answer: everything else.
The game has no story. The game has no characters. The game has no objective. It has only the barest skeins of missions which aren't compelling because they don't tie into any story. If you're used to the Borderlands model, it's bizarre to navigate.
When I first started playing Wonderlands, I was dropped into a mission. Disoriented and annoyed with the interface, I played on in the hopes that things would get better. When I finished that mission I was transported to her "Overlands" area which is the weirdest gaming thing I've run into in a professionally produced game. In Overlands, they change the animation style so that your character becomes a little anime bobble-head figure walking around what looks like an old fashioned board game. Different spots in Overlands give you access to different areas with local missions.
So, once in Overlands, you might wonder, "Where should I go next?"
I didn't know. After a few days I didn't care. The entire game is an incoherent mess.
The only good in all of this is that Amazon let me send the game back. I didn't have the presence of mind to do that for Borderlands 3, so now it's a coaster.
My message to you is: DO NOT BUY TINY TINA'S WONDERLANDS.
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