For a while now, the mechanical scorpion and the title Wasteland 2 have intriguingly smirked at me from the steam store. Knowing quite a bit about its predecessor, the original Wasteland, I really wanted to get my hands on this title.
Well ladies and gentleman, it seems my ship has sailed in, and I was lucky enough to get a copy to review. However, before I retell the tale of the epic ranger Million, I shall first set the scene a bit: The original wasteland was released back in 1988. Revolving around a band of US soldiers, called the Desert Rangers as they persevered in a post-apocalyptic world that had been ravaged by a nuclear holocaust. This RPG was quite successful, setting a standard for future games and in fact inspiring the Fallout series! Several sequels were planned, but never released. Until now. A super successful kickstarter campaign has led to the development and upcoming release of Wasteland 2 by inXile Entertainment and Obsidian Entertainment. Building on the universe created by its predecessor as well as utilising the technology available today, this is most RPG/turn-based strategy fans ultimate wet dream. After playing it for a good few hours, I can tell you it does not disappoint in any way!
The game is built up as a real time strategy game, similar to XCOM: Enemy Unknown, with your characters, who have certain stats that determine their abilities, having turns and only limited number of actions in said turn. The environment becomes incredibly important, with you needing to master your surroundings to win encounters. Outside of the combat you have the RPG element, which includes problem solving, doing quests and talking to NPCs in a “diplomatic” manner to achieve success. All of this takes place in the ravaged south of the USA as you control a band of desert rangers fighting for survival.
When I started my first game, I was initially overwhelmed with all the choices in my character creation, as well as all the companions (all with extensive backstories!) that you can choose. Given my relative inexperience, I just went for the “balanced” build, and chose my companions on the basis of who sounded like the biggest bad ass. Then I jumped into the game, and was immediately greeted with a funeral of a fallen desert ranger. Even though the dialogue went on for about 5 minutes, I did not find it tedious at all and read it all! Then came the actual playing. It was soon clear that I had no clue what was going on, but even then it was incredibly fun. I manage to bungle my way around, occasionally being helped by the helpful hints the game provided, to finally being absolutely rekt by a bunch of mutated rabbits at a farm (on rookie difficulty, no less!).
Hmm, that didn’t go very well did it? The thing is, the game was so fun that even though I had been mercilessly destroyed by a bunch of bunnies, I still wanted to play, and thats exactly what I did. I created a new character, this time knowing exactly what I needed to pick and companions that actually were useful. Even though I had done the whole introduction thing before, I still didn’t find it boring, and in fact managed to find little hidden tidbits I had missed before. Furthermore, the story branched off really quickly, so I soon was able to discover things I hadn’t seen before. Equipped with my previous knowledge I was now able to have fun and do the pwning! The one thing you should read out of the paragraph above is how much fun I had playing this game. The story was really intriguing and fun to play, the dialogue was witty, funny and entertaining and there were so many things to explore that I usually couldn’t stop myself going through a level one last time just to make sure I had found everything! Furthermore the branching of the story, as well as the different customizations and all the hidden easter eggs means that this game has a lot of replay value, which will definitely make you want to return to this post-apocalyptic world.
There is one that I can criticise, which to be honest is kind of petty but I think needs to be said. Firstly, while it was fun having all the customizations and options in the game it did get very confusing and at first I never really knew what was important and what wasn’t. I was often afraid that I would miss out vital things if I chose one skill over another. This made me somewhat reluctant to actually level up my characters! I think a tutorial would have been a great addition, because the learning curve for new players is quite high, and some may not have the patience to start all over again. Note that this isn’t to be confused with the game being difficult. I don’t mind difficult games, in fact I thrive on them, but if you have no clue whats going on, then that is not the fun kind of difficult. I think a little tutorial, would not be difficult to implement and would really help out.
All in all I have to say this is one of the more enjoyable games I have played. While the price of the game itself seems a bit steep at £40, if you are a fan of RPGs, a fan of turn-based strategies, a fan of post-apocalyptic games or a fan of the earlier Wasteland I would definitely tell you to consider this game. The game is currently available with early-access on Steam and runs on Windows, Mac and Linux. Come on Ranger, what are you waiting for?