I backed Wasteland 2 during the Kickstarter craze that emerged after Double Fine’s wildly successful campaign. Wasteland 2 was billed as the inspiration for the original Fallout game and since I didn’t have faith in Bethesda’s ability to deliver a post apocalyptic experience without jank, I backed Brian Fargo’s project.
Wasteland 2 played exactly as I imagined it would. It was a post-apocalyptic strategy role playing game that played like an open world X-COM: Enemy Unknown.
The combat kept me moving forward. The game wore its M rating proudly with its exaggerated display of gory deaths. I never got tired of watching little limbs fall off the bodies of wasteland scum after a powerful sniper shot ripped through their torsos. It was absurd but comical like a Mortal Kombat fatality.
I was also motivated to press forward by the allure of better weapons, new locales and characters. But this is where the studio’s limited resources was evident. The first half of the game yielded unique rewards in every manner while the latter left much to be desired.
Every corner of the Arizona desert was unique. The same couldn’t be said for California which showed a disgusting green mess for a world map and a lot of asset recycling. Te interesting towns and facilitates of Arizona were replaced by re-skinned neighborhoods.
I can handle recycled locales but I found it difficult to relate to new characters reusing the same portraits as the folks I met in Arizona.
Limited resources restricted their use voice acting and that’s understandable. But they shouldn’t have skimped on the character portraits. I match faces to characters and to “see” Arizonian characters reappear in California under a different name was jarring. Why would I care about this “new” face? It just makes an already disappointing California seem like more of an afterthought.
I also lost confidence in the game’s integrity at around the twenty hour mark. All it took were a couple of glitched quests to make me question every quest. Am I wasting my time or was there a solution that I overlooked? This kind of indecision is a cardinal sin in a complex role playing game like this. I enjoyed the ability to solve problems with an array of tools but when I exhaust all my choices and I’m left wandering aimlessly looking for a solution that will never materialize, I’m disappointed.
The lack of polish and numerous glitches helped balloon the game’s playtime beyond the 60 hour mark. I had to repeat actions numerous times because they didn’t reliably execute. The simple act of reloading weapons should be a single button push but I quickly learned that not everyone was reloading their weapons which lead to me having to inspect each and every character to ensure they were ready for the next battle. I also had to re-open the map to mark and remark my destination at least twice because the first action yielded nothing. These little glitches were a constant irritant throughout my time with the game.
Forging my own squad of characters from scratch was a welcomed freedom that could have lead me down a frustrating path. Experience with role playing games, helpful supporting followers and my own ability to quickly change course helped produce a well rounded squad. Also the ability to erase my mistakes helped tremendously.
There was a ridiculous amount of quicksaving and loading on my part. I didn’t treat this game like a hardcore “ironman” style game at all. I gamed the hacking, lockpicking and bomb defusing mini-games early on but eventually realized it was just a waste of time and was better off moving on and circling around if I needed more resources. I was bursting at the seams by the end of the game so I was ignoring chests left and right.
It’s not a good sign when I’m ignoring aspects of a game but by the fiftieth hour, I had my fill. I just wanted to get to the next decision making point and to the next battle. By that point, I was also knee deep in California and collecting cat litter. Tedium and annoyances are the take aways when I think back to the nitty gritty details of Wasteland 2. But as time passes and I think back on the 60 hours, I recall the cast of characters I made from scratch and all the bloody justice they brought to Arizona and California.
Worth a Try
For more information on Wasteland 2, visit the official site.