Wasteland 2 Review | MOUSE n JOYPAD

Wasteland 2 Review




Old RPGs of yorehad a special atmosphere to them. They were immense, deep and complicated – not to mention that a single mistake could have very well killed your characters off. Things are different these days with tutorials, walk-throughs and guides readily available to ease you into this new universe you’re trying to conquer. Now, Wasteland 2 does away with all that. The very first encounter may be your last if you’re not careful, and the first “real” combat mission will take a couple of hours of your time during your first play through. My first impression of this game was that it was simply too big, too expansive – because it throws you right into the fray with no holds barred. That is Wasteland 2 – a cheeky bastard of a game that isn’t afraid to punish you for making stupid decisions and values your intelligence. It’s brilliant.


The team – in its full glory.

As it was in the first game, Wasteland 2 has you leading a crew of Desert Rangers trying their best to bring hope and justice to the irradiated wastes of the post-apocalyptic US of A. This time around, the player has to create four rangers him/herself, before any real tutorial or preparation. If you’re not careful enough when choosing which skills to carry into the wastelands, you’re in for a lot of trouble. You’d do well to specialize each character in two to three skills, thus preparing their roles for when the game really gets going. I started my adventure with a powerhouse dude that talks to animals and collects herbs, a sniper that repairs toasters/humans, a firearms specialist and a spy/thief. A formidable team that I was able to create only because of my experience with the Early Access version – if I had no idea what I was doing, it might have been all too easy to select the wrong skills and end up with a group of weaksauce dudes with no specialization whatsoever. Being careful in your choices – especially the ones that concern skill points – is the key to survival.

The game begins in the Citadel, the ranger fortress and your future headquarters. Being a bunch of nobodies, you’re not allowed to enter the place just yet, so you’re gonna have to lead the team through their first assignment so that they can prove themselves as competent rangers. This is where the spoilers stop. I won’t be talking about the storyline anymore because it’s pretty cool and lots of unexpected things happen along the way. But to put things into perspective, it took me three hours to entirely finish up the first real mission in the agricultural centre. Yes, the rest of the game is just as massive and overarching as its beginning is, so I hope you took a vacation or something, because Wasteland 2 is going to steal every little bit of your time if you let it.

And oh how easy it is to get sucked into the wastes once more. Not from the get-go, mind you. It takes a while for this title to get its claws into you due to one reason and one reason only. In the beginning, you’re not really up to speed with how the systems work and how things happen. These things don’t really set in until you spend a couple of hours with the game. Learning, reading and clicking – only by being dedicated will you fully immerse yourself into the finer workings of Wasteland 2. And it definitely is worth it. Once you figure out how to position your team in combat, which weapons work the best for which situation – and maybe even how to win people over via dialogue – that’s when you’ll start having fun. Sadly, the fact that this process takes a while will probably put some people off. The good news is, those of you who have had experience with old RPG titles will feel at home in Wasteland 2, so knock yourself out, gaming veterans.


Now THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is a gun.

Booby traps, hidden enemies, raiders playing dead… the wastes are filled to the brim with dangerous things just waiting to get a jump on your crew of rangers, and you’ll quickly learn how to carefully explore your surroundings, which skill to use on what object and how to trade most efficiently. There’s a system to everything, again, and learning how to have things your way is just one of the many challenges you’ll face playing this game. However, regardless of how good you are, something will always go wrong. Maybe you’ll damage an object that you had no business firing wildly at. Maybe you’ll fail to protect an important NPC. Great thing about failing in Wasteland 2 is that doing so rarely locks you into a path to the infamous “game over” screen. It just sets a different path for your men to tread, and you’d better prepare for consequences further down the road.

Dialogues are almost as engaging as combat, which we will discuss a bit later. You can select which subject you want to talk about, but you can also manually type in ‘keywords’ that might turn the NPC to see things from your point of view or unlock different interactions later on. Also important are the skills that you can use during discussions to charm, intimidate or scare people into submission. Don’t forget that you can switch between your characters at any time to maximize the chances of you going out of the conversation as a “winner”. Sadly, most of the text has no voice-over, so you’ll have to read your way through a hefty part of the story.

Combat, on the other hand, has no problem with spoken word. Grunts, screaming and swearing come naturally and feel right at home in the wastes. Each encounter is turn based, with the real-time action fluently transferring into grid-divided playground of death. I was pleasantly surprised to see weaponry providing great hit feedback, whereas blood and gore gush out of wounds and scatter across the battlefields with unexpected grace. It all comes down to managing action points, but the process is very visceral and direct, making the game feel like a proper murder-fest when shit hits the fan. It is fairly difficult, too, with close-quarters attacks failing more often than they realistically should. But hey, that’s what happens when you implement a statistics-fueled combat system. It reminds greatly of Fallout 2 in the best way possible. I shouldn’t forget about the awesome selection of weaponry and the ability to modify them, either. In the end, it all depends on how your squad is built and how you want to play. Wasteland 2 is big on choices like that, as you’re bound to find out if you’re going to play the bugger. That is, as long as you don’t want to play stealthily. See, there’s no option for stealth and subterfuge in this game, which surprises me and limits the combat systems somewhat. Just a heads up if you were hoping to create a special forces kind of crew.

Visually speaking, Wasteland 2 looks great until you zoom in really close to the characters and maps. The textures are the game’s weakest point, I’d say, but look pretty good unless you’re planning to play from the perspective of a third-person shooter (not possible, thankfully). Great post-processing and shadows lend the game its inherent beauty, and all maps are built with logic in mind, thus feeling like proper locations instead of being simplistic virtual quest-pads. What isn’t all that good is the optimization, whereas Wasteland 2 requires a pretty hefty machine to run at 1080p with all options maxed out. I haven’t encountered any bugs, which is very nice. No crashes either, so expect a stable and immersive experience.

It really wouldn’t be difficult to write books about this game, but I think I’ve blubbered enough for You, the reader, to decide whether you’re interested in Wasteland 2 or not. It’s a vast, brilliantly huge game that might feel a little too big to wrestle with at times, but it’s totally worth it. It offers more gameplay hours than virtually any other new-ish RPG on the market. Not to mention the huge amounts of replayability one can draw out of than is game. It does require patience, however, to fully immerse the player into its world. If you’re proud of your RPG pedigree, having played the likes of Fallout 2 back in the day, there’s no better purchase. If you’re willing to learn to play a game that doesn’t cuddle you into safety, you really can’t do better than to get Wasteland 2. A hearty recommendation from yours truly.