Borderlands games aren’t exactly known for being challenging. Even if you turned up the heat, you wouldn’t get a tougher game. You’d just get a more arduous one, the many bullet sponges simply becoming bullet-spongier. Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands does away with all that by including an actually interesting wrinkle to its highest difficulty tier.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, released last week for PC, Xbox, and PlayStation, is a fantasy-focused spinoff of Gearbox’s raucous, raunchy loot-shooting series. Set entirely in a round of Bunkers and Badasses—the Borderlands-universe version of Dungeons and Dragons—it redrafts the series’ blueprint, namely by doing away with vehicles and by adding legitimately viable melee weapons.
You can play Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands on one of three difficulty tiers: relaxed (easy): balanced (medium), and intense (hard). You can swap between them on the fly by opening up the gameplay menu. If you tone things down to relaxed, the change goes into effect right away. Kick it up to intense, though, and you won’t see anything change until you load into a new zone.
A recommendation: Play Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands on intense.
On intense, you take 15 percent more damage, while enemies have 15 percent more health, all in exchange for a 15 percent boost to how much gold you earn. (Yes, Wonderlands still plays by some of the same bullet-sponge rules as higher difficulty levels from Borderlands past.) But it also demands that you pay attention to elemental weaknesses. The game’s flavor text says paying attention to such things is “more important,” though it’s not entirely clear how far the damage values are tweaked. (Representatives for Gearbox did not immediately respond to a request for comment.) That said, I’ve found it’s way easier when I make sure the right gear is equipped. Enemies seem notably more resistant to ammo types that aren’t super effective.
As a result, since increasing the difficulty, I’ve found myself making more use of the game’s actual systems, rather than shooting blindly. I actually pay attention to the elements of guns I equip, equipping fire weapons to whittle down red health bars, electric weapons to take out blue shield bars, caustic weapons to demolish yellow armor bars, and ice weapons when going against the gray bone bars, a classification of health that’s new for Wonderlands.
At first, you can only equip three weapons—two guns and a melee item—so the intense difficulty setting is a bit more viable once you open up an additional weapon slot, negating the need to constantly pop into your inventory and shuffle gear around. Having four distinct slots pretty much covers all of your bases, in terms of which elements you’ll need to equip.
I started Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands on the standard balanced setting, seeing as that’s what the game recommends. But ever since turning the difficulty up to intense, I’ve found the firefights in Wonderlands are far more engaging. If you’re feeling the slog in the grind, give it a try. Plus, what’s the harm? You can always switch it back.