Title: Wasteland 2
Platform: Steam, Windows, Mac, Linux

Reviewed on: Windows
Genre: Tactical RPG
Players: Single player

Written by Whistler 21st June 2014










Over 25 years after the creation of what is considered (at least one of) the grandfathers of post apocalypse Role Play Gaming Wasteland comes one of inXile’s latest projects, Wastelands 2.

While Wasteland has a particularly over convoluted family tree of successors, W2 is as much of a spiritual successor to Wasteland as the old school Fallout series, and as such Wasteland 2 is post-apocalypse turn based RPG played from an semi-overhead view.


Set in an alternative timeline you take control of 1-4 rookie Desert Rangers where a nuclear holocaust known as the ‘cataclysm’ took place in 1998 reducing the world to a cluster f*ck of kill or be killed.
Based in the South Western United States your team is handed their first mission in which is to track down a fellow ranger’s murderer and finish his mission to attach a bunch of repeater units to the local radio towers. Besides that it becomes your own story, much like other traditional rpgs while the game isn’t completely free roam it does come down to your choice with who to save, and who to be a jerk to.


Along with the story the gameplay is also pretty unforgiving at first; Wasteland 2 sports a tile based combat system that somewhat lacks depth compared to other games of the genre as there is no special type of stances or skills and the cover system is a bit hit and miss.

Combat is still enjoyable though as you plan your path to victory along with taking your action points into account especially since if you tried to balance your character stats, in fact I recommend having a test run of the game before throwing yourself in as sadly for one I didn’t realize that healing and reviving require separate skills (Field Medic and Surgeon) which made certain deaths in which if you don’t revive your teammate in time they will be forever lost really frustrating and I didn’t allocate enough points into the speed stat for my characters which rendered two of them as long ranged turtles in most combat scenarios due to the high amount of AP required to fire with specific guns (assault rifles taking 5AP and sniper rifles taking a whopping 7AP). Combat also takes friendly fire into account a lot more than I would like, while I enjoy the added difficulty and the ton of tension stacked on, I often found myself getting really frustrated as my characters fumbled their aim more than often hitting a valuable team member or missing an enemy target with odds like 90%.
























Now as mentioned this is particularly due to how I picked my team, while it is good that you’re given complete freedom to pick your starting stats as you see fit, screwing up here by not putting enough points into XYZ or spreading out your points across too many skills will severely gimp your character in most scenarios. This is a complaint, but a small one compared to how much I love the customization available with 7 Attributes and roughly 30 skills to allocate your points across ranging from the usual suspects like lock picking, specific weapon specialisations or animal whisperer and charisma skills being broken into kiss, hard and smart ass respectively. Being able to craft my ideal team right from the start is a much loved element that I rather missed in squad based rpgs that tend to focus more on a singular character with predetermined allies; in fact you can actually roleplay your entire team ranging from a 4 man team of uniquely specialized soldiers, to a 2 man bromance with one providing the brains the other the brawns or perhaps even a tale of a lone wolf with only a rifle as his companion (though for the love of god go with a 4 man squad for your first playthrough).


In fact it is a very strong element in Wasteland 2, while I personally prefer the storytelling and freedom of choice in Harebrained Schemes’ Shadowrun Returns, the amount of choice and freedom to go about things your way in Wasteland 2 allows for some amazing replayability. Now this isn’t to say it’s like say the Elder Scrolls series where after the start you can just wonder off in whatever direction you please (well you can just you’ll find the emptiness rather boring after a while), but you will often find that your choices have weight to them.


After completing the first set of tasks you’ll have to decide to rush to the aid of two separate radio distress signals; one telling of sort of little shop of horrors-esque shenanigans going down at the region’s Agricultural Centre with plants and oversized flies killing the populace, and the other coming from the town of Highpool who are under attack from raiders that if you couldn’t tell from the name deals with purifying the region’s water. Seeing as it was the closest I headed for the AG centre to do a bit of hardcore gardening and very quickly I realized something, Wasteland 2 is brutal.

Early into the quest I was trapped there as my entire team was infected with the virus that was causing others to explode so it was imperative that I solve this issue asap, whether due to how long I took or the game just wanted to guilt trip me, I had to listen as the residents of Highpool breathe their last breath while bullets and screams can be heard from the crackling radio call.
This is frighteningly spectacular, while it’s a small thing, this and other events really make the game world feel alive and I really hope it’s implemented more in the final release.

























Along with the story the gameplay is also pretty unforgiving at first; Wasteland 2 sports a tile based combat system that somewhat lacks depth compared to other games of the genre as there is no special type of stances or skills and the cover system is a bit hit and miss.

Combat is still enjoyable though as you plan your path to victory along with taking your action points into account especially since if you tried to balance your character stats, in fact I recommend having a test run of the game before throwing yourself in as sadly for one I didn’t realize that healing and reviving require separate skills (Field Medic and Surgeon) which made certain deaths in which if you don’t revive your teammate in time they will be forever lost really frustrating and I didn’t allocate enough points into the speed stat for my characters which rendered two of them as long ranged turtles in most combat scenarios due to the high amount of AP required to fire with specific guns (assault rifles taking 5AP and sniper rifles taking a whopping 7AP). Combat also takes friendly fire into account a lot more than I would like, while I enjoy the added difficulty and the ton of tension stacked on, I often found myself getting really frustrated as my characters fumbled their aim more than often hitting a valuable team member or missing an enemy target with odds like 90%.


Now as mentioned this is particularly due to how I picked my team, while it is good that you’re given complete freedom to pick your starting stats as you see fit, screwing up here by not putting enough points into XYZ or spreading out your points across too many skills will severely gimp your character in most scenarios. This is a complaint, but a small one compared to how much I love the customization available with 7 Attributes and roughly 30 skills to allocate your points across ranging from the usual suspects like lock picking, specific weapon specialisations or animal whisperer and charisma skills being broken into kiss, hard and smart ass respectively. Being able to craft my ideal team right from the start is a much loved element that I rather missed in squad based rpgs that tend to focus more on a singular character with predetermined allies; in fact you can actually roleplay your entire team ranging from a 4 man team of uniquely specialized soldiers, to a 2 man bromance with one providing the brains the other the brawns or perhaps even a tale of a lone wolf with only a rifle as his companion (though for the love of god go with a 4 man squad for your first playthrough).

























Probably one of the biggest flaws at the moment for Wasteland 2 is it’s visuals which are sadly on the ugly side of the spectrum for a game being made in 2014, it is but a small flaw however and considering Wasteland 2 has already consumed 21 hours of my time where I feel I’ve maybe touched upon 40% or so of the game’s overall content it could be said that inXile could have easily tore off the early access label, call it a day and I couldn’t really complain. Instead Wasteland 2 is well underway on the right track as inXile get knee deep in bug reports, patches whilst withstanding constant player feedback bombardments and is definitely showing some true potential (even more so than it has already proved) that will see me playing it over and over again from time to time probably before it’s even finished.


Pros:    

Fully customisable squad based RPG elements,

Freedom of choice,

Plenty of dialogue options,

High replay value,

Challenging difficulty.


Cons:   

Somewhat under whelming visuals,

Certain empty sections make exploration tedious at times,

Team mates don’t interact with each other as much as I would like,
Combat can be unfair at times.


Written by,

Whistler































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