From the Producer of the original Fallout comes Wasteland 2, the sequel to the first-ever post-apocalyptic computer RPG.
The Wasteland's hellish landscape is waiting for you to make your mark... or die trying. With over 80 hours of gameplay, you will deck out your Desert Ranger squad with the most devastating weaponry this side of the fallout zone, test the limits of your strategy skills, and bring justice to the wasteland.
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Five minutes into the game, I'm talking to a guy in the opening area base camp, he's guarding a door or something, then BAM we're in combat
One of my team is immediately killed, then I'm bombarded with tutorial popups (whose text formatting is all fucked up because I set text size to "very large" in a vain attempt to make it easier on the eye)
Another team member goes down, a few more popups, I half wonder if this is a scripted thing so I play along, the remaining two team members die
play Fallout 1/2 (for a better story and atmosphere) or play XCOM (for a better combat system). A boring game, with few original ideas and with a mediocre execution in every single thing it tries to do, not even the comedy of the game escapes from mediocrity.
I would detail much more, but I've wasted enough time on this game. Of the 60-70 hours it took me to complete the game, easily 20-30 could have been skipped. Between so much travel, repetitive exposure dialogues with cliché characters, combats that although passable are not a big deal (especially spoiled by an ineptitude of level design) in the end you end up not caring anything, you enter a mood in which even when there is something really interesting you don't end up caring about it.
I'm far from being a classic computer RPG player, but I've played a few. And this game is just the opposite side of what I find interesting about those games. Ending up in a game plagued by the evils of the past (nolstalgia they call it) but not being brave enough to bring back the mechanics, that although harder, made these games more interesting experiences. Or well, the will to want to innovate in something.
To sum up: playing Wasteland 2 you will realize that you will have played some other game that does the same thing, before and better.
Even so I'll play W3? YES
It's pretty common for your first time playing a game to be full of mistakes. Sometimes you don't fully grasp the system so you play sub-optimally. Or maybe you don't know what skills are going to be more valuable for the sort of playthrough you're going for and you spec in the wrong direction. But Wasteland 2 is the first time I made the mistake of using pre-generated characters instead of making my own characters (apparently by following a specific guide and not actually choosing things on my own, according to more veteran players). If you use the four preset characters, you'll not only be lacking on a lot of valuable skills you'll also have overlap on some only mildly useful ones! Hope you don't like opening doors, openings safes, hacking, disarming traps, or shutting off alarms because you'll run into all those things immediately and never get to interact with any of them! But don't worry, you've got multiple people with the same dialogue option skills (called "Hard Ass", "Smart Ass", and "Kiss Ass" which I guess is supposed to be funny/clever but only got a groan out of me). Oh, but those skills aren't high enough level to actually use, just high enough to see that there are things you could say if you leveled up more.
So it already felt the game was funneling me into a sort-of triage mode where I needed to spend my levels getting into the skills that I lacked to be able to interact with the world in the way that I wanted to. Unfortunately, everyone is so miserably poor at shooting things that speccing into combat felt like the much more vital thing. Every character seemed to have about a 70% chance to hit on every shot but in practice it seemed to be closer to 30-40% because, good god, these people couldn't hit the broad side of a barn.
On top of all that, the game feels very clumsy. This is an area that, within the CRPG genre, I'm willing to cut an awful lot of slack because a lot of these games are unwieldy to try and control. But this one is kind of incredible in just how bad it can get. As an example, I had my medic character go down in combat. Not the end of the world - or so I though. I'll use the second medic character that I picked up to heal them. But the first medic has all the healing supplies because they're the better healer so it'd be an inefficient waste to have the second person carrying a bunch as well. This becomes a problem because when someone is downed, you lose access to their inventory. So I had a group of five people standing around, watching their friend bleed to death, and no one would reach into her pockets to pull out the thing to save her life. So she died there, on the floor because, I dunno, I guess it'd be rude to rifle through her backpack. It didn't have to be like that. Just let me take an item from them, what the fuck.
I do have one half-compliment though. I think the idea that you have to radio back to Ranger HQ to get your "promotion" is a neat idea that could be used in an interesting way but in practice just adds a few extra clicks because there's absolutely no restriction on where you can radio from. I was in a cavern underneath a research facility and apparently my radio got absolutely perfect reception down there. If I had to choose between pushing forward in a dungeon or backing out so I could level up then that could be an interesting choice to make but instead it's just tedium. Wasted potential there.
Even with all that frustration and utter lack of interest or fun with the combat, I'd be able to put up with it if the writing in the game were strong. But it isn't. It's extremely rote post-apocalyse fiction. Have you seen or read any post-apocalyptic fiction about a guy in a cowboy hat and a duster surviving in the wasteland? Congrats, you've pretty much seen the level of writing this game is at. In the handful of hours I got through, there was absolutely nothing that made me think sticking with this game was going to be worth it. No intriguing plot lines, no likable characters, no interesting lore to the world. Maybe I didn't get far enough in. But in the opening hours, this game is impressively dull.
Overall, I don't think I had any real fun with this game at all. There are some cool ideas that I'd like to see reworked into anything that isn't as miserable as this but there is nothing in this game that really makes me want to engage with it any more than I already have.
Wasteland 2 is a turn based strategy and RPG game that allows you to create a team of four rangers to play as, and to recruit up to three other NPCs to fight with you. Character creation gives you a very limited number of portraits to use, but you can use your own images, and a lot of terrible options for the game's models, luckily with the top down camera you won't be seeing them that close. Attributes decide how many action points your rangers get each turn, their number of skill points gained when they level up, how far they can move with each action point, health, evade, view distance, and their combat initiative. The attribute system works well enough for created rangers but because of the importance of skill points gained each level, which is tied to intelligence, it ends up making a lot of the NPCs you can recruit almost useless. You do gain an attribute point every 10 levels and this helps make two early game characters a lot more useful. Luck and Charisma (unless you make a character with leadership which is influenced by Charisma) are clearly dump stats and when NPC have a high value in either one they are most likely going to be much worse in combat. Additional negatives about attributes is that certain levels can give your characters no bonuses or +.5 to a skill which is only going to add the +1 when the attribute is raised twice, making some NPC builds even worse. The directors cut adds quirks to the game which can give each ranger a positive and negative passive effect, most are pretty uninteresting but there are two that are clearly the most powerful, one of them causing you to gain one less skill point a level for the first nine level ups but then one more for any future levels (I gave this to 3 of my 4 rangers, I finished the game at levels 44-47, the extra points almost allowing me to max one skill) and another which increases your action points per turn by two but cuts your movement in half (making it great for sniper or assault rifle users).
Wasteland 2 has good skill variety that can give you different ways to solve problems, you may be able to open doors, safes, or chests with brute force, explosives, computer, lockpicking, or safecracking skills. A computer and animal whisperer skill allow you to turn animals or robots to your side to fight for you in battle or can give you bonuses in battle. Three different dialogue skills can give you more conversation options. Skills can be used to avoid certain fights, find items, or to obtain quests resolutions that can only be reached with their correct use. Unfortunately, skills can become somewhat annoying in the later parts of the game where even simple seeming towns may have the highest level locks or computers, where even a ranked nine or the fully maxed out rank 10 skill user may only have a 25%-65% chance to do something, which ends up wasting a lot of time.
Combat is simple but enjoyable, the guns and melee attacks feel powerful with cover being destroyed, kills having the ability to blow off heads, torsos, legs, melt enemies, etc, and critical hits giving loud satisfying hit noise and knocking the target over. Unlike a lot of turn based games you don't have any skills to use in battle, with the exception of using your medical skills to heal your allies or your computer and animal skills to turn or scare enemies. You will manage your teams AP, which is what they will need to move, crouch, stand, throw grenades, and attack with either single or burst fire weapons. While you won't be using a variety of combat skills, the directors cut version of Wasteland 2 allows most of the weapons to aim at different parts of an opponents body to do more damage, inflict negative statuses, or damage armor but at a cost of reduced accuracy. These are useful during late game but the penalty is so high that you probably won't use it for the first half of the game. The new perk system also allows your characters to gain a variety of useful passive abilities, with some perks chaining really well together, such as a ranger skilled in brute force for breaking objects in the environment gaining access to perks that allow their melee attacks to stun enemies. Perks have also made a lot of the games weapons more useful and they feel more balanced now, though the sniper and assault rifles are still easily the best choice. The game also gives you a wide variety of weapons, and while most are clearly better than others, the different AP attack values may mean that you want a ranger to have a weaker weapon if they can shoot it more often.
The quests in Wasteland 2 tend to have more logical conclusions, there might not be happy endings or to get the happiest ending you might have to work with unlikable people, taking away one sides only bargaining chip may lead to them all being killed even though you were promised otherwise. Following your quest book and turning in everything might not be a good idea until you look into a situation more closely.
Dialogue and item descriptions in the game has good detail, and can be pretty funny. As you enter areas, look at people, examine objects, or as you fight amusing descriptions of what happens or what you see are written out for you to read. You can't start conversations with your allied NPCs and I only saw one occasion where they said anything to each other and it was only when I first recruited one so your companions likely won't be talking to each other much, or ever, but they will comment on areas, people, and have battle lines. The three characters I had with me were all amusing (Vulture, Ralphy, and Pizepi). There are stock lines that are written above all the characters when they use a skill with the environment and it would have been nice if the game created different personality types to pick from, it was always really out of character when the little naive kid Ralphy tells someone to, "step aside and daddy will make it better," when he uses a skill.
The overworld map has some great radio transmissions that can either be funny or just give you an idea of what other people or ranger teams are doing in the world. Travelling over the map itself is poorly done though, you run into random encounters and can choose to fight or run, with your running chance being based on whoever has the highest outdoorsman skill in the party. The encounters are stock boring enemies in a few uninteresting custom areas for random fights that you will see repeated fast, you have a chance to run into a merchant who sells some very overpowered weapons for the early game but it is always the same merchant who will keep the same inventory and never restock. The only unique encounter I got was with an arrogant and annoying merchant selling some explosive items who tries to start a fight with you if you don't buy anything, more encounters like this would have made travelling the map entertaining but as it is the entire travel mechanic has very little place in the game and only wastes time.
The game can get tedious with slow movement through areas and needing to go back and fourth to complete things, but the enjoyable combat, good quests design, and entertaining characters all made me enjoy the game. A nice ending montage lets you know what happened to towns, factions, and your party members at the end of the game.