Wasteland 2 Review by Honorabili
Overall Score: 8.5 out of 10
Wasteland 2 is the direct sequel to the original Wasteland, the game that Fallout was based on. Wasteland 2 takes the setting from the original game and updates it with isometric gameplay elements we love from similar games such as Fallout, Fallout 2, Fallout Tactics, Jagged Alliance, Jagged Alliance 2, the X-COM series, and Silent Storm 2, as well as the lost Amiga classic RPG Perihelion. In spirit, to me, this game is what Van Buren would have been like for Fallout 3 rather than the Fallout 3 Oblivion-like game that actually got made. The writing for Wasteland 2 is also a lot like the one in the games I previously mentioned as well as Fallout: New Vegas.
The game takes place in an alternate timeline. The nuclear apocalypse happened in 1998 (although if you play the game it feels like 1988, maybe even 1983 based on the computer technology you find in the game) and it’s now nearly a hundred years after the end of the world. The kind of destruction of civilization and barbarity that take place would be at home in the Mad Max universe. Out of the chaos of the apocalypse, some engineers and military personnel in the territory that used to be the United States of America organized itself in the shattered remains of Arizona to become a paramilitary organization that would police the wastes. They are called the Desert Rangers. Your party are new members of this group that are quickly sent to investigate the murder of Ace, one of the characters from Wasteland 1.
Not only must you contend with the surviving psychopaths of the Wasteland but you are also trying to survive in an environment where you are not only battling radiation, limited ammo, limited healing, but also the lack of water. This is an element that was also found in original Wasteland and it will make you feel a lot like playing a Dark Sun Dungeons & Dragons campaign.
Every location and they way you interact with the people in those locations affects the world in a large or limited way, depending on how relevant they are to the storyline of the game. Much like Fallout 2, this game is also filled with easter eggs, pop culture jokes, and inside jokes. Exploration is encouraged as the game will reward you with rare items which usually don’t seem useful but they may be useful to a character that you might meet after 10-20 hours of gameplay later. It’s this kind of depth that makes Wasteland 2 as enjoyable as playing all the RPGs I mentioned previously.
The game consists of making your characters explore and interact with locations (people and objects) as well as a LOT of combat. I would say this game is the polar opposite of Planescape: Torment (another favorite RPG of mine). Whereas Planescape: Torment had very little combat, the slaughter in Wasteland 2 is legendary! Combat happens very much in the same manner as Jagged Alliance, Fallout Tactics, and X-COM games. You position your crew in a square-system based grid and they move and shoot based on Action Points. These action points are based on your characters’ statistics as well as reduction in AP based on what armor you are wearing and also a bonus/penalty to AP based on whatever trinket you have equipped.
The game uses a hit point based system, much like most games do, which although is not the most realistic system is not as punishing to new RPG players as some other systems are (Vampire or Shadowrun proportionate health systems). Much like the original Wasteland, the game uses a very intricate healing system for which first aid and surgeon are two separate skills. First aid is mainly used to increase the efficiency of first aid kits in healing hit points, whereas surgeon is used to recover fallen soldiers and bring them back from the brink of death, as well help them recover from bleeding, and other status ailments.
Combat aside, the game has a very straight forward attribute and skill system. Most of the skills have a use which is self explanatory towards objects in the environments of locations. What’s interesting is that what is the speech skill in Fallout is implemented in this game instead as three separate kind of social skills: smart ass, kiss ass, and hard ass. Smart ass applies towards dialogue options in which logic is usually involved. Kiss ass involves towards stroking other people’s egos. Hard ass involves threatening (usually physically) some weak minded fools to bend to your will (basically intimidation). Much like many other games only social skills will open up special dialogue options that will lead to new plot lines.
Hectic combat is a lot of fun
Completely customizable player characters
Well written characters for NPCs (including party members and town NPCs)
Really well made audio (both sound effects and music)
Can run on most systems (even obsolete ones)
Very immersive environment
Many hours of game relative to the cost of purchase
Buying this game will continue to fund more games like this
Using the radio saves having to return to home base and that saves time
NO DEADLINE (aka gun to your head) like in Fallout 1 and 2
The funny, detailed combat log from the old Bard’s Tale games as well as the original Fallout games is implemented in this game too
This game is proof that really good games that people need can come out of crowd-funding projects
Single-player game only
No editor for making custom campaigns
AI is not that effective in combat (in fact, it’s pretty dumb)
Unity graphics engine looks dated
Unity engine is sluggish (latest updates have made it faster though)
Inventory management could be a little bit more polished
People who did not play 80s-90s-early 2000s RPG games will be not interested in playing it
Lots of loading and saving because of sometimes ridiculous skill tests (10-13% probability of passing with 45% critical failure rates)
Loading games on a hard drive can be slow and since loading happens often because of critically failed skill tests the game can get boring
I found some bugs/expoits (they have been patching the game every week or two since it came out so soon there will be none)
We finally got the Wasteland sequel that we needed. How much did we need this? Well, fans of the original game had reverse engineered that game in order to modify it. That was a project that took years and a lot of patience. It’s been years since an actually good science-fiction, especially post-apocalypse RPG has come out. The wait was worth it.
All fans of the original Wasteland and especially fans of Fallout 1, 2, and Tactics MUST play this game. I highly encourage you to BUY IT especially since inXile did such a great job and they will continue to make the RPGs we crave. Keep the dream alive! Now here’s to hoping they make Wasteland 3! 🙂