With Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands just a few months away, Gearbox has decided to rerelease the DLC that started this wacky concept with Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep: A Wonderlands One-Shot Adventure. This is a Borderlands 2 DLC that was quite risky if you think about it. They moved a sci-fi game into a fantasy setting. Not only did they pull it off, they also managed to convey how wonderfully weird it is to play a Homebrew Dungeons and Dragons campaign.
Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep starts inside the Vault Hunter’s Head Quarters in Sanctuary where Tina is introducing the vault hunters from Borderlands 1 to Bunkers and Badasses, this world’s equivalent of Dungeons and Dragons. After a short argument, the game starts with Tina as Bunker Master narrating an epic fantasy adventure that sets your character out on a quest to save the Queen from an evil sorcerer.
It is immediately apparent from the opening minutes of playing this game that this is not your typical Borderlands game. As the world is narrated by Tiny Tina, the game changes in interesting ways such as her changing the color of the sky, making a difficult boss easier, changing buildings and NPCs. Instead of aliens, the creatures you fight are now standard fantasy monsters such us skeletons and golems. There are also new guns, shields, and class mods that lean heavy towards the fantasy genre as well as grenades mods that basically function like spells.
The humor in Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep can feel a little dated. As Borderlands as a franchise rely heavily on pop culture references, playing through the game almost a decade later means that some of the jokes just won’t land. The good thing is that compared to 2013, more people are interested in Dungeons and Dragons now. Even if you roll your eyes or cringe at some of the dated humor, you will still come out with a net positive experience with the way Dragon Keep perfectly convey how playing a DnD game can feel like.
Since this is a rerelease of end game DLC for Borderlands 2, it does spoil the main game immediately in a form of a new narration cutscene. There have also been significant changes to the game such as making Crazy Earl’s shop, an important store for improving your inventory space, available in the rerelease as it was only accessible in the base game. Adding an easy mode and redesigning the main menu to show off a Flamerock Refuge instead of the Highlands of Borderlands 2.
The biggest change I noticed was in the difficulty. As this is technically endgame content, gearbox had to overhaul a huge portion of the game such as having the level cap at 35 instead of 60. Vault hunters also get their active skill at level 2 now instead of level 5. Even with all those changes, you can still feel that your character is under leveled especially at the beginning. The problem is that the encounters are designed for characters with better stats and equipment. Even with the level scaling, it still thinks your character should have the aiming, recoil reduction, magazine size, and inventory space of a higher-level character.
The issue is that when you start the game, you have a beginner gun that has massive sway by default with recoil that is difficult to manage, a magazine size that is honestly laughable, and a total ammo count that just isn’t enough. It doesn’t help that the first creatures type you fight are skeletons. Since skeletons are just skeletons and don’t have any actual flesh, they tend to have smaller target profiles and some of them also come with protective armor. This means that at level 1, you are facing an enemy that is not only difficult to hit, but when you do hit, they can just shrug it off. I found myself mostly relying on my character’s active skill and grenades instead of the guns for a huge chunk of the game.
Since the game had to go through a number of drastic changes, this means that the stand alone one-shot is not compatible with your existing Borderlands 2 characters. I would have loved to have been able to import my character from BL2 into the One Shot but I had to start from scratch. This also means that co-op with someone on Borderlands 2 is not possible as they need to also purchase the One-shot adventure if you want to play with your friends online.