So I “broke down” and finally got myself an Xbox Series X console and an extra terabyte of storage and I’m not regretting buying it because, as Microsoft advertised, the difference in the graphics has been “startling” in most of my games and like I wasn’t really “seeing” them before.
I also broke down and bought Tiny Tina’s Wonderland (and all the extra stuff offered) but I wasn’t going to buy it even though the game was being seriously hyped on Twitter and what few preview clips being offered just didn’t wow me. For those who may not know, Tiny Tina is a Borderlands character, and she appears in a few of the games and she is, as one game described her, “Nuttier than squirrel shit.” Tina is the Bunker Master for the game, “Bunkers and Badasses” and it’s set in… medieval times and I play the role of the “Fatemaster” and get to go through a lot of shit so that I can defeat the Dragon Lord and in “typical” Borderlands’ style.
I didn’t think that I’d like the game but let’s say that I’m not jumping for joy over it and the one real shortcoming in the game is that you can only level your character up to Level 40. Once you defeat the Dragon Lord, there’s no playthrough and like the other Borderlands games has but I hope that Gearbox decides to add this at some point. One of the key things about playing any Borderlands game is… legendary weapons and this game is quite bereft of them – but I’m spoiled because the other games were updated to drop legendaries like flies on shit and to the point where in other games, I actually roll my eyes to get a stockpile of legendaries and more so when I have most of them already and rarely run across one that I don’t have.
And also typical for a Borderlands game, you have to do more with less. I had a rough time figuring out the Wards (aka shields) and the other enhancements still kinda confuse me because I often have to stop what I’m doing to look at which character attributes I’m playing with and more so when you can level up and add a second character attribute. It’s a good thing that I long ago adopted the habit of wiping out all of the bad guys before checking out the loot. And it’s kinda rare to say, have a decent Ward and find one that’s better and buying stuff from one of the four available machines is (a) sometimes confusing and (b) not better than the item you already have – and that includes the “Item of the Day.”
Still, it’s Borderlands. I get to kill shit. The game is better than I thought it would be but it could be better. As I also tend to do, I’m playing with all the characters available and just like when I play the other games, I keep finding stuff that I didn’t find, see, or even know about when playing it the very first time – then feeling kinda silly because I’m finding stuff that I just walked past the first time. Because I have three Xbox profiles, I am, of course, playing on all three of them… because why not? I try to take what I’ve learned from my primary profile and apply it to the other profiles and, often, with mixed results but, for me, that’s what makes playing a game like this fun.
Now the other game, “High on Life.” Xbox announced this game “a long time ago” and allowed GamePass subscribers to preload the game and… made us wait until a couple of days ago to download the rest of the game and play it. One of the highlights of this game are the weapons that… talk to you and, really, do all the talking for your character. I was telling one of my granddaughters, who I’ve been playing other games with, that I have never heard so much cursing in a game like I’m hearing in this one – and it’s not just the various characters you can run into. There’s this one weapon that cussed me out right after I acquired it! While the controls were rather intuitive, the “bad part” was loading the game and… trying to figure out what the hell I was supposed to be doing which, in this case, I was looking for a famous bounty hunter and I roamed around the “starting area” for a good forty-five minutes before the game told me that the bounty hunter I was looking for was on a bench. Wait, what? I mean, one of the reasons I had a hard time finding him was that I didn’t know what he looked like and – wait for it – it took a good part of that forty-five minutes before I happened to look up and there’s his ugly mug on a huge billboard.
Oh. But what bench is this motherfucker on? I know that before the bench was mentioned, I saw every bench in the area and at least five or six times but, okay, I’m running around and rechecking all the benches and, yep, there he is, camped out on a bench like a homeless person – and a bench I know I checked before.
Once I find him and get outfitted to do some bounty hunting, I’m off and running to different places, facing a lot of dastardly enemies while on the hunt for loot chests so I can stab them with the knife I acquired and a knife that… has issues. I decided that the knife isn’t just bloodthirsty, it’s a homicidal sociopath, too. I know that when I play such shooting games, I enjoy the killing, but this knife makes me look like I don’t like killing shit. When I kill the character for which the bounty is on, the knife goes to work to acquire the now-dead bad guy’s DNA and I can understand why the game doesn’t show what the knife is doing but my “vision” gets blurry with all the blood and gore the knife is producing.
I’ve spend some time standing in a place and asking myself, “Where am I supposed to be going?” or “How the hell am I supposed to get up there?” and other such things. The game has a pitiful radar and its scanner is more than pitiful because while it will let you know what direction your objective is, I’ve found myself turning in circles while triggering the scanner and not seeing shit or I’ll see it and it doesn’t “stay put,” which makes me move and scan and… it sucks.
Despite these things, I really got into playing it because these deficiencies were challenging to work through. You don’t get much in the way of “loot” from killing characters and not all of them will drop something that’ll recharge your shield and/or health and just as I learned playing “Journey to a Strange Planet,” I wind up dying. A lot. And “stupidly” most of the time. Like, in the early parts of the game, there’s not the expected “double jump” that a lot of games have – and the game tells you that there is one but, nope, there isn’t one so I spent a lot of time dying while trying to jump to the places I had to be until I finally was able to buy the jetpack and, well, that suffices for the double jump but it’s seriously limited in duration and how high you can go and having it run out of fuel while trying to reach a place resulted in me dying. A lot.
SMH. The game has one segment where there’s the one thing I can’t stand in a game: Puzzles. A couple of them had me just standing in place trying to make sense of it. But I figured them out just the same. The one part that gave me the most trouble was trying slow down time so that I could slow down an aircar enough for me to jump on it and, from there, to the platform I needed to be on. Timing it was a bitch and, yep, died a few times and being cussed out by the weapon I’d just gotten that does the slowing down of time. By the time I got it figured out, shit, I must’ve died five or six times and not because I missed the jump: A couple of times, the slowing down effect “wore off” before I could make the jump and the aircar just sped away from under me.
I made it but, damn. This game really makes you work for it. It’s fun. It’s delightfully raunchy and to the point where if I had young children, I wouldn’t allow them to play this game or be around when I’m playing it because I wouldn’t want them asking me, “Dad, what’s a bagful of dicks and why was she helping him to get them in his mouth?” Or seeing the battle with the final boss and in order to kill it, I had to stuff a bomb… way up its ass. Twice. The dialog in the game alone makes this an adult kind of game despite the “cartoony” nature of things.
I’d gone into the store to see if there was anything I could buy but didn’t see anything and the “kid” running the store told me to get the fuck out since I wasn’t buying anything. I had a great urge to shoot him in the face – and couldn’t.
If you like Borderlands, yeah, I’d recommend Tiny Tina’s Wonderland and despite my difficulties with High on Life, if you can get it, do so and give it a try – and I hope you do better at it than I did.
I almost forgot the one thing in TTW that still drives me nuts: Actually being in the Wonderlands. Why? Because you can’t look around in the Wonderlands. There’s a bit of a targeting problem in the game and I find myself moving around a whole lot trying to find the thingy that says “hit X” so I can open a chest or interact with one of the characters. For me, it’s annoying because I’m running to places and I can’t see where I’m going and there are spots when a bad guy will appear and if you don’t kill it with a punch fast enough, it’ll grab you and now you have a battle on your hands. Normally, I’d not say that this is a problem, but the problem is trying to turn your character in the right direction before you get snatched into a fight.
And these “side fights” are intense. Last night, I was going after an item I needed and the battle to get it was so intense that it took me almost twenty minutes of fighting – and almost dying – before I won and could get the item I needed. I was getting seriously swarmed by the “sub-bad guys” that I couldn’t keep my attention on the boss I had to kill – and one that kept hitting me with its “transfusion” weapon that stole energy from me to increase its own triple level of energy. It was so bad that I had to put it on pause for a moment to get the kinks out of my hands and fingers, drink some water, eat a piece of chocolate, and right back to the fight.
Oh, and when you’re going for the piece that I needed, if you die, you have to start over from the beginning and make it through all of the fights again. Good thing I like killing shit.
When Microsoft announced the Series X, they said it was going to be a beast… and they weren’t lying.