Wasteland 2

The famous RPG from 1988 is back with its sequel from a kickstarter campaign. Wasteland 2 from InXile Entertainment brings the gaming industry a post-apocalyptic RPG, with the essence of Fallout, and bringing the dark ambience of turn-based action in an almost horror-survival scenario. Brian Fargo (inXile Entertainment founder) has made this possible after 26 years, making dreams from many gamers come true.

The game takes place in alternate universe 1998, a nuclear holocaust and a cluster of meteors generated a global nuclear war. The U.S. Army Engineers and surviving communities were the only human organization that was merely stable, having cannibals and rebels outside their borders. Later, the Desert Rangers, a group of skilled survivalist were formed in honor of the Arizona Rangers, they bring order and protect more survivors from dangers.

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You can either start playing the game, or go in safe and read a long PDF manual, which is actually pretty elaborate and detailed. But as you start, you will be asked to form a squad of 4 members. The game provides a wide variety of premade characters, each with unique skills, abilities, designs and looks. You also have the tool to make a custom character(s), which you can set the points to whatever skills and abilities you want. It is extremely recommended to avoid making a Jack-of-all-trades. Why? Because your skill points are very limited, so better of making 4 really unique characters that will complement each other.

Not every character is great in a fist fight, some are better with snipers than on close combat, some can be better at lock picking, alarm disarming, bomb disarming, or hacking. Not to mention you can always use a medic in your team, a brawler and can take down doors instead of unlocking them, a professional shooter and a charismatic character that can be a hard, kiss, or smart ass. Yeap! You can also set what type of morality your characters have, either be ruthless and frighten NPCs, be gentle and convince them to not fight and give you stuff, or be a smart ass and trick people at your will. You also have a decent amount of cosmetic changes when creating a character, as different heads, hairstyles, faces, upper and lower clothes, and backpacks. You can set the age of the character, name, portrait and back-story.

Finding the appropriate team build is difficult, its almost a trial and error situation were you simply just need to adapt. Character management is essential as you need to check each of their inventories and stack them with the corresponding ammo of the weapon they use, either way, they will be bare handed in the middle of a fight. Fortunately, during an encounter you can switch items! Making it a bit more reasonable and not just have to reload a game after noticing you screwed up and sent your team to their demise.

Combat time!

When you enter an encounter, you start the turn-based action fight, similar to the XCOM games. The games UI is extremely elaborate. You can choose from commanding one to every character, check the order of actions in an encounter, call or end the radio signal which allows the player to communicate with the base, reporting quest progression and leveling up. You have all your controlled characters and below a hot bar for each one if selected, next, we have what weapon the selected character is using, its magazine situation, special abilities, crouching, headshot, ambush, changing from primary to secondary weapon, etc… These special actions, shooting and general map movement require points, each showing clearly how many they cost until the end of your character’s turn, so choose wisely or get eaten by giant insects!

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Interacting with NPCs

As I mentioned before, morality is a huge factor. The hard, kiss, and smartass skills require a lot of points, and since you have 4 different characters you can choose which one could be the jerk, the wise, and the Paragon (heh…). As you communicate with an NPC, a paper will start writing his lines and highlight with colors special words, you can respond to their lines by asking about these words and obtain the most information of a character, this will allow you to know more about the lore, what is happening around the area, or even obtain main quests and side missions with decent rewards. There are special NPCs like vendors which you can sell them junk and buy from them whatever they have in stock, either consumables, weapons or gear, from a very simple drag and drop window with many buttons that make your gameplay easier, like selling all junk, or sorting the inventory.

Gameplay

As for the rest of gameplay, when you exit a main area you get sent to this wide map movement screen, as you move you consume water to check for oasis to fill up again, sometimes you will find random encounters and fight Pokémon… I’m kidding, but you will fight enemies like bandits that you can either confront or run from them. You can check your map and simply check the destination and click travel. Once again, as you’re now in an area, pathing can be tricky, sometimes its very intelligent, sometimes its just dreadful. The engine of the game brings us a lot of imagery and great mechanics, but pathing could be better. Triggering encounters is very easy, you would almost want to have some sort of stealth feeling, but hey, your team is of 4 characters minimum, anyone can see you, even if you only send out one. Any who, the game also offers a loot system, basically just loot crates and containers for supplies, trust me, ammo is essential so save it as much as you can. There are special containers which require lockpicking, repairing or simply bashing, their success rate gets tougher as you progress, so keep those points up. You would find all these quite amazing, but at a first glance it may be a bit too much info being thrown at you and way too many tasks to do, fortunately you can skip side missions.

The game has a lot to explore, from deserts, to more vegetation environments and small cities with camps. Particles are decent enough to satisfy your eye candy parameters as well as lightning and shadows. As for the character models, I would prefer not to zoom in on them; they are quite detailed but that as great as their 2D amazingly illustrated portraits. Graphics are pretty good, unless you prefer a faster type of gameplay, lowering the specs can really change the game, almost feels like playing an oldschool RPG again.

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The original soundtrack is very peculiar in this game. It’s not exactly the type of music you would remember, but the one that-s unique purpose is to create an atmospheric dark ambience. Works great! Decently balanced and mixed. Special FX sound real and voice acting is quite decent. As a game with this density of lore, voice acting is crucial, which in my opinion, they succeeded with the casting. Also, if I’m not mistaken, Razer Surround can provide you this ambience in at least 5.1, if you have this set.

Wasteland 2 is simply outstanding. Enormous amounts of gameplay mechanics, which are easy to learn, adapt and… mostly enjoy. A great and interesting story, good visuals and a well executed soundtrack. Now go and show how good of a Desert Ranger you can be!

4

In Short

  • + Interesting story with an essence of the Fallout universe.
    + Gameplay mechanics that resemble what a true turn-based action RPG should be like.
    + Great isometric visuals that can be appreciated in every spec and angle.
    + Appropriate proposal for the soundtrack.

  • - Can be a bit too much for new players. Can be felt more tedious rather than fun if experienced after a long time.

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