The wonders of Tiny Tina revitalizes Borderlands, thanks to a fantasy-inspired repaint and increased focus on melee attacks. A quieter but perhaps no less significant change is how the loot shooter handles side quests. For me, this triggered an optional first mission called “Goblins Tired of Forced Oppression”.
Released last week on Xbox, PlayStation and PC, The wonders of Tiny Tina is a Borderlands spinoff structured as a game within a game. You, as a custom-created character, play a part of Bunkers and badass-fundamentally, Borderlands– speak for Dungeons and Dragons– hosted by sometimes fan-favorite character, Tiny Tina. which serves as a framework Wonderlandwhich allows it to shed the show’s sci-fi trappings for something closer to your local ren faire.
A little short of the dozen hours, I found myself impressed by Wonderland‘ long-standing upheaval Borderlands formula, especially with its side quests. For the majority, Borderlands side quests aren’t much more than vehicles for dumb one-liners and that endless loot. But so far almost every side quest I’ve found in Wonderland had some meat: an unexpected twist, a compelling plot, lengthy dungeon crawling. In some cases, like with “Goblins Fated of Forced Oppression” – or “GTFO” (get it?) – these optional missions are the start of a multi-chapter quest chain.
“GTFO” becomes available after completing the campaign mission “Hard Day’s Knight”, a few hours later Wonderlandmain story. You can start it by interacting with the bounty board in the main Brighthoof hub. (Look for the yellow exclamation marks.) Or you can pick it up by talking to NPCs immediately across the bridge near Brighthoof, once you’ve rebuilt it. The mission itself is simple: head to the nearby area of Mount Craw and help the goblins overthrow their oppressors.
Structurally, “GTFO” plays pretty much the same as any other Borderlands mission, advancing you on a predetermined path and basically shooting anything that moves. Along the way, you are accompanied by a goblin named Jar, who is a pacifist at heart but realizes there is no path to freedom without violence.
“GTFO” and its immediate follow-up mission, “the Slayer of Vorcanar”, are indeed not lacking in violence, but include a number of other tasks, all of which are akin to “solidarity bingo”. You stick GTFO propaganda posters as the mission progresses. You “seize the means of production” under the direction of Jar. “GTFO” itself ends with the release of a group of political prisoners. You are helping to lead a rally. (No spoilers, but there’s also a moment of real character development for Jar that had me and my co-op partner cheering.) Every step of the way, the mission chain absolutely rules.
All of this, to me, is so rich when you consider how badly the goblin revolutions were handled, say, Harry Potter cannon. (Short version: The depiction of goblins in Harry Potter played into anti-Semitic stereotypes. Enough ink has been spilled on the subject that we don’t need to rehash it all here, but if you’re interested, folks at CBR.com have a solid writing.)
Borderlands the games, after all, get a lot of flak for their surface-level writing, which tends to prioritize superficial banter and easy one-liners over storytelling with genuine depth. “GTFO” is as funny as anything else in the series, the jokes fly fast and furious, but it also has the level of depth you’d expect from a main quest, and it includes a fundamental truth that, apparently, is lost in other fiction: if you are next vs rebellion, you are almost certainly on the wrong side.