Wasteland 2 is an interesting study in nostalgia. While the original was revolutionary and inspired other series, this game is an intentional throwback. The intention of this article is to provide a detailed Wasteland 2 review so players can determine how successfully that was done.
|Type of game:||Role Playing Game|
|Developer:||inXile Entertainment, Obsidian Entertainment|
|Total Play Time:||65.5 hours|
|System Requirements:||CPU: Intel Core Duo or Equivalent
GPU: NVIDIA GTX 260 or Equivalent
RAM: 4 GB
OS: 64-bit Windows Vista or newer
HDD Space: 25 GB
The World of Wasteland 2
Wasteland 2 packs quite a bit into a relatively small game. In this review, we’ll take a deeper look at what makes the game tick, including its atmosphere, characters, story line, and even the enhanced version of the game. Wasteland 2 was well-regarded by critics and players and we will attempt to see if the game’s parts really come together into a cohesive whole
Atmosphere & Location
Wasteland 2 is set in a version of American stricken by nuclear war in the late 1990s. In the original game, players helped to pull together a society built from those who remained, including survivalists, Army engineers, and former convicts. The sequel picks up fifteen years after those characters succeeded in their mission, showing players a version of the post-nuclear Southwest that is slightly more civilized than that which they last visited.
This is a game that absolutely wears its influences on its sleeve. While the obvious go-to influence here is the original game, it cribs quite a bit from the films of the 1980s. There are clear nods to many works of post-apocalyptic literature and film in the game, with a few shout-outs that are sure to please fans. The game’s aesthetic also clings tightly to a purposefully outdated view of the then-future, one that helps to cement the feeling that the game takes place in another world.
It’s almost impossible to discuss Wasteland 2 without discussing Fallout. There’s a bit of a loop here, as Wasteland was a primary influence on Fallout. Given that the latter series has had a resurgence, it’s not surprising to see some of the elements from that game cribbed for this release. It’s almost impossible to say if some of the events in the game homage Fallout or if the Fallout games are still relying heavily on the events of the original Wasteland game. Regardless of which is true, gamers will find a great deal of similarity between the two worlds.
Wasteland 2 takes an interesting approach to its main characters. Rather than giving players either a developed pre-made character or a single cipher, the game puts the player in control of a squad of four player-made characters. This allows for a great deal of customization when it comes to the characters, of course, but it does so at the expense of a player’s connection. There are certainly differences in the story depending on how you portray the characters, but the game ultimately relies on them more as stand-ins for the player. This is a decidedly old-school RPG approach and one that is in line with the original game – but it might turn off some players.
Fortunately, these characters are not the only ones with which you will travel. The game features a robust number of NPCs that can be recruited to your party of seven, some of whom are more memorable than others. There was clearly a great deal of love that went into writing these party members, with some of them feeling like they’re in the league of the companions in games like Fallout or Baldur’s Gate. The only unfortunate thing about these characters is that you can’t bring them all with you as you follow the story.
It should be noticed that the game features a few appearances by the characters of the original Wasteland game. These characters have grown and changed in the intervening years and they don’t necessarily feel like older versions of the same characters from the original. A great deal of this surrounds the changes in writing styles between the two games, but it might be hard for some players to accept these new versions as being the same characters in the old game. It might be better to look at these returning characters with fresh eyes, as they are interesting additions to the cast in their own right.
Wasteland 2’s story is a true sequel to the original game, one that takes place around fifteen years after the original. Players are still attempting to bring something close to civilization to the post-nuclear Southwest, now with the backing of a rather more organized and effective Desert Ranger force. It’s a murder that sets off the story of this game, though that’s only the first mystery that players will have to solve. There are many familiar faces for players of the first game, but much of what is developed across the story feels new. It’s not necessary to have played the first game to understand the story, but it does help.
The game’s story will take players to a number of communities in the post-nuclear Southwest. There are only two main regions, but each of them offer a series of unique encounters and challenges. In terms of question, players are really looking at throwbacks to the computer RPGs of the 1990s – relatively simple quests that give player choice a great deal of weight. As is traditional with the series, every choice has an impact on the ultimate end of the game. While you might not necessarily see the endgame of every choice you make while playing, the ending cinematic does sum up most of the stories.
Most of the story’s charm comes from the side quests. The main story is nothing to sneeze at, but it’s nothing new. Wasteland 2 is treading very familiar ground, lacking some of the trailblazing spirit of the original. This is perhaps unavoidable, as the post-apocalyptic RPG genre has grown significantly since the release of the original game. As such, there will be times that the game feels like a throwback to an earlier age of gaming even when it’s trying to do something new and different.
DLC & Expansion Packs
While Wasteland 2 doesn’t have traditional DLC, there is an enhanced version of the game. Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut is an upgraded version of the game that is free to anyone who bought the original copy. This version of the game features enhanced visuals, a few minor gameplay tweaks, and thousands of new lines of voice-over dialog. It’s a major improvement over the base game and one that players should absolutely track down. Fortunately, most digital stores sell the Director’s Cut by default and this cut is also available on consoles. It’s not necessarily a true remake of the game, but the enhancements in the game engine and the dialog do make the Director’s Cut feel like a remarkably different game experience.
Wasteland 2 is a game that was made for a very specific audience. Fortunately, it hits all the notes necessary to please those for whom it was made. It’s not the kind of game that will get widespread attention from the gaming public at large, but it’s a fantastic look back at the glory days of CRPGs. If you’re looking for the best of the past with a bit of modern flavor, this is the game for you.
How did you like Wasteland 2? Do you think it stands up to the original? Let us know about your experiences with the game by leaving a comment or question.