Wasteland 2 Review

Let’s start with what this isn’t. This isn’t the third top-down Fallout that never was. Sure, it shares some similarities with Interplay’s post-apocalyptic masterpieces  the skeletal landscape of west coast USA, the isometric viewpoint but in the 25 years since the original, Wasteland 2 has mutated into a wholly different beast.

For one thing, there’s no central hero no Vault Dweller, no chosen One on which to hang the narrative. Instead, this kicks off by asking you to pick or build your squad of four Desert rangers. Where Fallouts old and new force you to specialise, picking traits and skills to suit a particular playstyle, this demands that you pick a broad range of abilities for your squad. It’s a challenging balancing act but the attachment we felt to any given ranger is lessened as a result.

Diversity is very much the watch word in combat. As your squad levels up, you’ll be able to start plugging spare skill points into a range of proficiencies, but in the early game your rangers will each need to find a niche and scrounge for equipment. This being post-armageddon USA, there are plenty of loud and explosive answers to the question ‘who are you and what are you doing with my belongings?’ Handguns and shotguns use cheap and plentiful ammo but offer poor range, while assault rifles, machine guns and sniper rifles are costlier investments in long-range death-dealing that suffer penalties if an enemy gets up in your grill.

Personal space

And get up in your grill they will. An unwelcome quirk of the turn-based system is that melee enemies can use their action points to clear some immense distances while you’re forced to sit back and watch. It results in a kind of awkward hopscotch using two points to step backwards, firing, then repeating until somebody falls over. but while the combat is only okay, the writing is exemplary. Your Desert rangers’ overarching mission is to investigate some sinister radio transmissions from a mystery villain seeking to borg-ify the wasteland with a robot army. Along the way you might take on a cult that worships a nuclear missile, a group that’s murderously obsessed with courtesy and if you make the right choices giant angry bunnies.
“It’s absurd, But the dIalogue makes even mutant rabbits seem like they’re PlausIBle”
It’s absurd, but the dialogue through which each new element is introduced makes even mutant rabbits seem like just another plausible side effect of a nuclear holocaust. And if the thought of popping one between Thumper’s eyes unsettles you, know that there are almost always ways around encounters conversational choices, secret passages and so on.

When we met the game’s director, brian Fargo, a few months back, he stressed the pressure that InXile was under to make this game work both from the Kickstarter backers who funded it to the tune of $2.9 million, and from other developers who see it as the poster child for crowdfunded development.

They needn’t worry. Wasteland 2 isn’t a flawless game, but it’s a breed of lovingly crafted throwback we thought we’d never see again: an old-school Pc RPG full of moral choice and twisting, complex writing and very much the one we wanted.

Post a Comment