Just when I had clawed my way out of one apocalypse, bloody, bruised and slightly more insane than when I started my journey with Mad Max, I’m thrown straight back into the unpredictable mayhem and crazy world of Wasteland 2. Now if you had doubts this would be a good game, the fact that Brian Fargo, one of the producers from the original Fallout had a hand in it should speak for itself. Developed by inXile Entertainment, which is founded by Fargo and published by Deep Silver, Wasteland 2 has quickly become the best tactical RPG I never knew I wanted.
Previously released on PC in September 2014, the game received a very positive response. The console edition has had a complete visual overhaul to improve the lighting, textures and environments and all the NPC’s have received new voiceovers. You can tell a lot of love and work has gone into making Wasteland 2: The Director’s Cut and the developers want gamers to experience it the best it can be.
Wasteland 2: Directors Cut: Xbox One [Reviewed] , PlayStation 4, PC
Developer: inXile Entertainment
Publisher: Deep Silver
Release Date: 13 October 2015
Price: £31.99 [Disclosure: Game copy supplied by PR Company]
The best thing about games set in an apocalypse is that anything can happen, a once civilised land now completely lawless, with death literally around every corner, whether it be from radiation poisoning, getting mauled to death by a Nuke Dog, or becoming the unfortunate victim of the many gangs that banded together after the shit hit the fan, life will never be boring when it’s that unpredictable and brutal.
That’s where you come in, the Desert Rangers, on a mission to help out wherever they can and dispense justice wherever necessary, either that or herd up cows and some weird goats that scream instead of baah, now I’m not one for slaughtering innocent animals, infact I’m downright against it, virtual or not but these guys following me around for five minutes screaming made me want to put my morals to the side and massacre the lot of them.
The game starts with you being able to either create your rangers, or choose from a collection of ready made ones. The problem with this is, when creating you’re presented with quite a lot of information to take in and if you’re new to the game, will have to work out where you think your stats should go. It won’t be until later on where you think, damn I should have put a bunch of skill points in this but the loading screen said I should invest in Toaster repair because everything I’ve ever dreamed of in life will be inside them.
Even the ready made rangers are fully customizable with both female and male recruits available and a variety of clothes to choose from, some which will make your character look like a force to be reckoned with and others which expose parts that no soldier who wanted anyone to take them seriously should expose. After you’ve decided on the group you want to take, the fun really begins. You’re introduced to General Vargas and told you need to intercept a radio broadcast, the same mission a previous ranger, Ace, died attempting to complete. The broadcast warns that man and machine will soon be one and a threat is coming for the Desert Rangers and it’s down to you to figure out what’s coming and try to take down the bad guy.
As soon as you leave the Citadel, an emergency broadcast will come out on your radio, two bases are in trouble and being attacked, you’ll have to make a choice on which to save but your choice will have consequences later on, it wouldn’t be the apocalypse without consequences right? Travelling from place to place is done on a map, you move a cursor across to discover new areas and will randomly encounter enemies which you can avoid fighting if your skills are high enough. You’ll also encounter vendors which will relieve you of a lot of the junk you’ll find yourself lugging around.
Being a tactical, turn based RPG, Wasteland 2 can be extremely frustrating when you are finding your feet, even on the lowest difficulties. One of the most infuriating things can be the fact that early on your whole group will probably miss over 60% of hits. You’ll be standing so close to the enemy you can feel their breath on your face and you go to attack only for your character to throw a punch and knock the air right back into him. This will happen a lot, spending more points on your chosen weapon speciality will lower the chances of this, it can tip the balance of battles, especially ones where you’re hanging on by a thread and you only need one more shot to finish the bad guy off, you’ll then go through all of your groups turns and completely miss with them all.
On higher difficulties you will also hit your team mates frequently, you are recruits after all. If you are sneaky you can switch to single person mode and strategically position your group around the battlefield making it easier when the fight begins, but that only works when the enemy isn’t expecting you to attack. Your turn consists of Action points and different weapons use different amounts, they can also be spent moving into position, using computer science or animal whisper to tame enemies or healing and reviving fallen teammates. Using your action points wisely is pivotal to winning the battle.
Your journey through the vast world will see you recruiting an array of interesting followers each with their own skills and tale to tell. There are also hours upon hours of side missions and secrets to find, you’ll be faced with many decisions with very different outcomes and explore places long forgotten. I really enjoyed not knowing what to expect when entering new areas and uncovering things on the map, making sure I spoke to everyone in case their conversation led to a well hidden cache or they wanted to join my party.
Visually Wasteland 2: Directors Cut epitomises the very essence of what surviving the aftermath of a long forgotten world would look like. Destroyed and burnout cars line many of the roads throughout the journey, smaller buildings lay in complete ruin while the larger ones appear to have survived the brunt of the nuclear blast that tore the surrounding land to shreds, these particular buildings house a lot of the games friendlies and enemies. Although Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut has undergone a visual overhaul of sorts it still remains true to the 2014 version. The game’s lighting has been improved greatly with the textures touched up to make the game look more cleaner, it’s better for it.
As I pushed my way further into the game I found the landscape and surroundings forever changing with my every turn. Working my way through the harsh and unforgiving desert plains of Arizona to the overgrown green streets of LA. The changes to the game’s graphics were very apparent and pleasing to see. When playing a game of this nature, you want to be drawn in, you want to feel like you are in the centre at the end of the world and with Directors Cut, you most certainly are.
The enemies within the game are beautifully crafted while at the same time pose a very daunting threat, it’s apocalyptic land after all and so the game wouldn’t be complete without Robots, Mutants and Bandits, Fargo was one of the two producers on the original Wasteland and the 1997 debut of Fallout, being the director for Wasteland 2 it’s quite apparent that he wanted to bring a wealth of those traits with him into the follow up and why not, it’s a winning formula…so why mess with it.
Developers such as Tim Cain and Brian Fargo are what the gaming world needs, they are visionaries, true pioneers at what they do.What they create has the uncanny ability to take you up and out of your comfort zone and throw you knee deep into a life without any real meaning, inside worlds that have been for a better sense of the word, obliterated. That is true survival and long may these kind of games continue to be made.
I suffered slight problems with Wasteland 2 during the 65 hours I spent with the game, sometimes my interface would flicker and all the pictures would disappear, my characters would get stuck a lot if I looked at an object then decided not to use it, I would then be unable to move them which wasn’t overly annoying as switching to another character unstuck me. The biggest let down in my opinion and something which I probably spent more time doing than I would have liked to, was the fact that there was no mini-map to show me where to go. I’d have to bring the big map up and even then I found it extremely difficult to go in the direction I wanted with just a cluster of arrows as my guide.
The quest givers weren’t highlighted or shown in a way I would know to speak to them, meaning I’d try to talk to everyone I came across afraid I’d miss something and there was no fast travel option at all, instead having to again bring my map up a million times to find the floating ranger star used as the only exit out back to the world map. If those issues had been fixed this would have been a perfect game for me, unfortunately this made some things a struggle when it didn’t really need to be with standard RPG features to make life a little easier.
Overall Wasteland 2: Directors Cut has all the staple elements of a great RPG, with a wide variety of skills and weapons available to the player as you earn XP and level up to become better, more powerful rangers, how you want to play is up to you. The missions are diverse and interesting and just like real life, you’ll find that you can’t save everyone. Although frustrating while you’re learning the ropes, if you stick with it, it can be a very rewarding game which does a great job of immersing you in it’s surroundings. Gamers that aren’t very good at turn based games shouldn’t put off such a great experience as the lowest difficulty while at times a struggle, is forgiving enough to help you make it through. Any RPG fan would be a fool to miss out on another adventure in the wasteland.
Wasteland 2 Directors Cut
- All new voiceovers
- Game has had a complete visual overhaul and looks better than ever
- hours upon hours of gameplay
- Variety of skills, guns, perks and missions
- No mini-map making getting around a massive pain
- Slight issues with the game, characters becoming stuck and interface flickering or disappearing