Wasteland 2 Review – Great Plot, Unimpressive Gameplay
Wasteland 2 is the latest installment in the post-apocalyptic RPG franchise that offers classic turn-based role-playing gameplay. The refreshing live-action cut scene introduces players to a colorful and diverse cast of grizzly-bearded bikers and hard-eyed women.
Our ensemble of characters, which can only be described as Antiheroes, have to navigate the rough terrain they find themselves in and deal with the repercussions of their previous and upcoming actions.
In this Wasteland 2 review, we dive into what we like and don’t like about this traditional post-apocalyptic computer RPG.
The Ultimate Wasteland 2 Review
- Amazing plot
- Consequential choices
- Rich party design
- Occasionally vague objectives
- Heavily specialized gameplay
The cut scene, typically a movie trope, is one of the best bits of design incorporated by the creators into Wasteland 2’s gameplay. The game design is controlled to make the player seek their entertainment in the game’s interactive universe. For example, the game departs from the common trend of rich voice acting for quests in favor of reams of text.
If you’re in a hurry, you’ll notice only the highlighted words and objectives necessary to complete the mission. However, I appreciated how the game went out of its way to reward me for taking the time. Also, attention to reading the text carefully with not only a refreshingly welcome dose of dark humor and rich descriptive depth and character building but also an array of choices that depend on the passive skills of your party members.
A character with the “hard ass” trait can expect to take what they need from scared townsfolk without any resistance. Thanks to good writing, we have a world that often feels gritty and real. Despite the high praise, Wasteland 2’s quest objectives are often frustratingly unclear, a trait it shares with Divinity: Original Sin. I encountered the occasional bug here and there that impeded my quest progress if I went too out of the box with my gameplay.
The Wasteland world offers you the chance 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 on this side of the fallout zone.
Remarkable Voice Work
The sparse voice work in Wasteland 2 review is used masterfully. A special early quest forces you to save either the inhabitants of Hightown or the Ag Center, and you’ll have to listen to the result of your choice over the radio. The voice work in such cases is phenomenally good, leaving you with the intended unsettling feeling.
It’s also just a preamble to the snippets of information you’ll be given as your group advances to places inhabited by the other factions like the “Mannerites” in California, and they help to remind you the player that your choices have meaning and consequence in a world that is much faster than your immediate interactions.
Something always needs to be done, and it always feels like someone got the short end of the stick in this world as a consequence. When your 50-hour journey is over, the choices you made while playing Wasteland 2 are what stay with you for a long time.
Wasteland 2 Teamwork
Another way Wasteland2’s RPG distinguishes itself from other offerings is by emphasizing an initial four-person team instead of an individual hero. You could start with in-game characters bearing creative and innovative monikers like Big Bert and Pills. Still, the character models tend to fall short in the personality department, especially when compared to the supporting cast in other games like Dragon Age: Origins, and their skills might occasionally overlap.
You might therefore be better off creating your party. You’ll still find yourself limited by; the sparse points made available for the skill trees. This means you will inevitably have to leave some skills unable to develop certain skills which may have the unnecessary side effect to make your journey much easier. Depending on your preferences, this might not be a bad thing.
This design aspect sign complements the harsh world that the game is based on. However, the developer often goes to unnecessary lengths to give skilled characters a task. Most chests bear a thoughtful gift, explosives.
Who doesn’t love predictable albeit explosive surprises, right? Although this immediately means that every time you encounter one, you’ll have to switch to your teammate with Perception to avoid a wily coyote situation. This might start fun but soon becomes a bit of a chore.
Wasteland 2 review comes into its own with player-specific skills like precision strikes once the combat starts. It’s turn-based, following the vein of the old Fallout games (The legitimate Heirs, the original 1988 Wasteland). A handy tutorial ensures that younger RPG fans who weren’t around when this game enjoyed its heyday can pick up the gameplay and rules.
True to form, ammo is scarce, and the rust bucket armaments you are to have an almost reliable tendency to jam and incur action points to repair. This makes it advisable to have each party member specialize in a different type of weaponry. This means guns, while powerful, are just not as reliable as a good, old-fashioned stick, and a well-placed thwack will often outperform powerful albeit unreliable assault rifles.
Gaps in party member skill sheets often result in huge handicaps. However, Wasteland 2 allows you to fill in the blanks with additional characters you meet and pick up across the 50-hour journey. Be wary. These allies are prone to ditching or turning on you and even attacking other NPCs out of turn if they do not agree with your decisions.
Other Things to Know
That should typically not be a problem. However, the roster of 15ish available companions is so meager that each death at the hands of a rogue party member almost certainly necessitates a reload. You cannot save in combat, which I appreciate from an anti-cheating standpoint, but also partly loathe because of the difficulty.
This dynamic system makes fights more interesting and can change the fate of players in an instant, even though long stretches of play can make the game feel monotonous. You will have only two options; sweet-talking or bluffing your way out of trouble or fighting it out.
The most common strategy will involve hiding behind crates jerry-rigged to explode (much fun) or mild property damage. The introduction of random luck means you could either score a glorious long-range kill with a gun, have an unfortunate misfire, or weapon malfunction. So the gameplay never really reaches the heights found in Divinity: Original Sin’s flamboyant magic shows.
Likewise, if you like pretty graphics, this is not the game for you. Put bluntly. The Wasteland 2 review looks like it was of the design with much care and intent sometime after Fallout 2 in 1998. Then given a facelift similar to what Overhaul Games recently did with Baldur’s Gate.
Even the game’s maps seem deficient, with little being impressive about it; you’re to move a Desert Ranger’s badge across a pretty sparse landscape with only green clouds of fallout filling the scenery.
But the graphic quality and modern features aren’t a priority for this game and its developers. To its credit, its strengths are such that great graphics don’t feel necessary.
Wasteland creator Brian Fargo and his new studio had set out to make a CRPG that could stand as a true heir to not just the 26-year-old Wasteland legacy but also the two original Fallout games that followed, and they succeeded at that goal. If you have a 26-year wasteland itch to scratch, this game might help with that.
Wasteland 2 is not the best CRPG to hit digital shelves this year or this century. Still, it successfully captures the difficult reality one would likely face in a hypothetical post-apocalyptic American Southwest. This embodies excellent writing, decisions with very real consequences, and background voice work that reinforce the human suffering that results from them.
This is a great game about the power of choices and the few remaining glitches. The issues with its combat do little to diminish its message. Hopefully, Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut offers better gameplay than the original wasteland. But for now, the Wasteland hellish landscape is waiting to see what you’ve got.
Disclaimer: This article is the author’s personal opinion, which may differ from the “official” statements or facts.
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