by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on PC
There is a certain honour in the monk that is trying to blow me up. His sense of duty is beyond question; sworn to protect his quarry, he will do whatever it takes to keep me from laying harm on those who are with him - including laying down his own life. Things would be less dire if those with him weren’t raiders, and the green goo spilling from his backpack didn’t indicate he had a miniature nuke strapped to his back.
Wasteland 2 is the product of a successful Kickstarter campaign by Brian Fargo-led inXile. With 3 million and change in the pocket, the company set out to recreate the “godfather of post-apocalyptic RPGs”. Confident that there was a place for oldschool tactical RPGs, inXile opted to stay true to the genre and not follow Fallout into becoming a first-person shooter. From the party-based user-created characters to deep tactical turn-based battles, everything you would expect from a 1990’s RPG is there. Thank God.
Despite being a post-nuclear version of itself, Arizona isn’t nearly as deserted as you’d expect. The suicidal monk is one of many dangerous... species that roam the land and you are never quite sure whether those you encounter are friend or foe. More often than not, things aren’t even that black and white and many of Arizona’s inhabitants can’t be immediately lumped into either the for or against categories. The monks, for instance, are part of a somewhat misguided group that enforces the “Titan’s Peace” through dirty nuclear bombs. You are free to travel their territory as long as you have paid tribute and are accompanied by one of their brothers. They’re not looking for fights, but they sure know how to end them.
Others are clearer in their behaviour towards your group of rangers and despite all your good intentions, you are far from universally loved. Many conversations with faction representatives boil down to “Pay up, or die” with no guarantee that paying avoids another shakedown by the same faction further down the road.
Hating bullies and overestimating the strengths of my party got me in trouble more than once. When that trouble starts, the game switches from real time to turn-based and this is where Wasteland 2 comes into its own.
Whether you have created your own characters or opted to use pre-made ones, you will have to play to their individual strengths while paying attention to your supplies. You could equip all six of your party with assault rifles and rip your way through a fight or two, but then you’re out of ammo and almost guaranteed to lose the third. Putting a little thought into where to spend experience points goes a long way into stretching ammo supplies and adds variation to your team to boot.
Gunmen are great at short range, characters specialised in shotguns potentially hit more than one target and snipers can pick off enemies before they even get close. But each of those have a drawback too. Finding high-powered shotguns with low AP requirements is tough and their range is limited as well. Snipers are fantastic at long range combat, but when they’re rubbing shoulders with raiders they can’t hit jack. So you move your party members around like a master puppeteer, always keeping track of weapon range and occasionally switching to a secondary weapon when creating enough distance is simply not an option.
Technically there is nothing stopping you from piling all points into weapon skills, but I can almost guarantee you that you will find life in the wastelands very hard indeed. Weapons, ammo and armour need to be found or bought. Without perception, you are less likely to find hidden treasures, without lockpicking skills you won’t be opening doors or crates and without computer science and safecracking skills, safes will be unwieldy lumps of steel instead of promising supply caches. Almost every skill is useful in some form or another and with over thirty skills to choose from, that is quite an achievement.
Nail biting tactical battles, deep role-playing
Visuals not up to scratch, pacing a little off at times