The Borderlands series is famous for a lot of things, but the signature feature that comes immediately to mind is its vast collection of guns, ranging from simple revolvers you might see in a Western all the way up to fanciful and ridiculous creations like the The Eridian Fabricator, the legendary “Gun Gun” that shoots guns. This incredible variety is attributed in equal parts to the imagination of the Gearbox weapons team and the modular weapon system they’ve developed.
By giving each gun its own system of parts and pieces, and through the modern alchemy known as “random number generation,” or RNG, the number of weapons in the Borderlands series is almost impossible to count. And yet with Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, Gearbox has added more than just guns and launchers to the formula with the introduction of melee weapons and wands.
Rhymes With “Hey-Lay”
Yes, there are guns in Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands. Lots of them. But one of its most exciting new additions are melee weapons based on the same modular weapons system as the rest of Borderlands. It’s a somewhat complicated system that’s been so finely tuned as to make it practically unnoticeable, but its effects are easy to see in the variety of melee weapons you can pick up in your travels.
It’s not just variety of weapons, its the variety within the classes of weapons. Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands melee weapons come in four different flavors: two-handed blades, swords, axes, and blunt weapons like hammers and morningstars. Within each weapon class are dozens of different options. Lead Weapons Artist Asia Hawkins said there are 12 different types of blades in the sword weapons class alone, and the modular system for the melee weapons is completely new, making it separate from the system used for guns (I’ll get to guns later). It’s “ridiculous stuff, in the best way,” Hawkins said.
Swords, for example, have mods on the hilt and the blade. The hilt mods offer bonuses to your character while you have the sword equipped. One example Hawkins shared was a mod to gather ammo during melee attacks, so while you’re dealing close-range damage you can also replenish your munitions. Blade mods come with stat modifications, and “look cooler.” These numerous modifications all draw from the same pool of assets, and you can imagine how quickly those possible combinations can add up to massive amounts of variety.
Just like the guns of Borderlands, the melee weapons also have manufacturers. Valora makes Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands’ two-handed swords, Swift makes the one-handed swords, Kleave is in the go-to company for axes and BONK is your one-stop shopping choice for blunt weapons. It’s another cool touch that adds to the richness of the Wonderlands’ universe.
Melee weapons, with the exception of the two-handed blades, have a “glide” to their attack, meaning you can strike an enemy with a melee attack before they’re close enough to do the same to you. What’s better is how this opens up combo attacks. Creative Director Matt Cox gave an example. “Melee toward an enemy, stagger them, then hit them with a spell and then a gun.” Add the aforementioned bonuses to your melee weapon and you can end up doling out a heap of hurt while filling up your ammo reserves, or whatever other bonus mods you might have at the time. It opens up some very cool gameplay possibilities. Oh, and chests. You can melee to open chests now, too.
A Gun By Any Other Name…
Guns are still part of Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands. A big part. Cox said “Guns are the spine of the looter shooter,” and they’ve made the jump from the mainline series to Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands in a way that’s both novel and fits entirely within both the world of Borderlands and the world within a world of Wonderlands.
Hawkins said the team asked “What would Tiny Tina dream up on the spot?” They had to put themselves inside the fictional head of a character creating hertheir own fictional world, which is what colored the weapon design. First and foremost, the feel and variety of the Borderlands weapons are still here, they’re just Tina-ized. For example, you can wield crossbows now, and they have their own look and feel that makes them more than just a reskinned rifle. “Bolts stick into enemies,” Cox told me. While they’re there, “you might get a buff,” for example.
Borderlands has elemental weapons, like acid and fire for example, and Wonderlands throws magic into the mix. They’re functionally similar, but have that fantasy-world Wonderlands spin on them. The inclusion of magic types into the mix was the answer to the team asking itself “What would Tiny Tina bring to the Borderlands weapon system?”
Ultimately the exercise in imagining a world of imagination led to some pretty wild creations. “How do we contain it?” Hawkins asked, saying the ideas they came up with “get real crazy.”
One example I was shown, which Hawkins said was her favorite thing to design, is a positively beastly shotgun barrel. It’s an almost unwieldy piece of weaponry, practically a hand cannon –, brutish, savage and uncouth, both in appearance and the damage it deals. And to reload this monument to violence… you delicately sprinkle fairy dust into a cup of crystals sitting near the hilt. It’s such a perfect encapsulation of the vision of the weapons design team, it’s no wonder it’s Hawkins’ favorite.
The legendary tier is where they were able to really flex, Hawkins said. It’s classic, wacky Tiny Tina stuff, something the team approached by deciding “let’s just get all of our ideas out there.” As far as other rarity levels, the Wonderlands team didn’t say, but they did tell me there are enchantments which affect different levels of rarity. So if you’re one of those Borderlands players who obsesses over finding that perfect combination of RNG, Wonderlands has your back.
“Nothing is more exciting than finding that roll,” Hawkins said.
Source: IGN Video Games All