by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on PC
As you play, Wasteland 2’s story starts to unfold. What starts with a seemingly straightforward investigation into the death of a fellow ranger soon turns into a quest to find out what is lurking on the other side of the radiated mountains that line your territory. Fuelled by talk of a past war against robot invaders - barely won at great cost - the game invokes a sense of impending doom that spurs the player on to discover what it is that is coming for them. Being rangers, you feel singled out in a harsh and hostile land where you are barely able to protect even what few friends you have.
That things don’t feel right is made starker by some of the choices you are being asked to make. Early on, two calls for help force you come to the aid of one at the expense of the other. This devil’s choice sets the tone for much of what is to follow. While not all of your actions have such disastrous results, almost all of them have consequences and some only become apparent at a later stage. Helping a poor sod with his revenge against the raiders that killed his wife may seem like an easy enough task. It is, until you lose the monk that had been shepherding you during the fight. Suddenly it is open season on your little party and the area will feel a lot more hostile as a result.
As much fun as Wasteland 2 is, its oldschool roots shine through in more than its gameplay. It’s not a particularly pretty game for one thing. The aesthetical side of character creation looks like it was taken straight out of the 90’s with limited options in dress style and facial design. The campaign map is downright ugly, though some of that can be explained away by it being a post-nuclear desert.
Map design of areas of interest fares a little better. Graphically adequate, each area looks unique and interesting enough to want to explore and discover what lies hidden in its various nooks and crannies. More importantly, there are interesting characters to meet and interact with and the interaction changes depending on how you have developed your characters. Options that are unavailable now show up greyed-out so that you know which skill to bring along next time to get a different result.
Equally oldschool is the gruesome way in which players are confronted with more difficult enemies. The first three hours or so can be a real struggle, and just when you start to feel in control of your battles, the groups you encounter increase dramatically both in size and danger level. This happens again in later stages and each time the difference is so big that you’ll feel entirely out of your depth for quite some time. It is, of course, possible to survive and I do not want to give too much away, but just fighting - harder - is not the answer.
They don’t “make ‘m” like Wasteland 2 anymore, and I honestly do not understand why. Never have. I loved Fallout 3, but thought it was a completely different game from its predecessors. More of a spinoff, like Heroes of Might & Magic from Might & Magic. Nothing wrong with a spinoff, but the notion that some genres are too old-fashioned to be worth making has never struck a chord with me. Wasteland 2 proves that point magnificently. The game draws you in deeper with every new area that you explore. Even when you don’t take the time to read its extensive dialogue, the struggle to survive on the barren wasteland and the sometimes nail biting battles in which each bullet counts will make you want to devour this game from start to end.
If you weren’t around when they made “Wasteland’s” by the dozen but have heard sage (translate: slightly older, perhaps balding) gamers like myself speak about them with reverence bordering on religion, then play Wasteland 2 and you will understand why.
Nail biting tactical battles, deep role-playing
Visuals not up to scratch, pacing a little off at times