“I despise turn based video games.”
“How could he miss a stationary target from 3 yards away?! Damn turn based games.”
“I’ll play for a little bit more, and then I’m done with this game.”
“If I just save this town, I’ll get another follower, then I’ll be unstoppable- Oh yes, a new pistol! Come at me, ya overgrown mutant bunnies!”
Wasteland 2’s combat is turn based, and it’s a great and addictive game. There, I’ve said it.
Wasteland 2 comes with a history. It’s a sequel to the 1988 game, Wasteland, and a spiritual successor to Fallout 1 and 2. Remarkably, most of the developer team has reunited a quarter of a century after the original, to bring light to Wasteland 2. And light it has seen. Their Kickstarter campaign, with one of the most entertaining Kickstarter video’s to date, supplied them with almost 3 million dollars. Two years later, Wasteland 2 is a fact, and it doesn’t disappoint.
Wasteland 2 takes some getting used to for the ones not at home with turn based, tactical combat. In the first couple of hours, frustration may transcend your satisfaction. On top of that, textures look undetailed, characters are low-poly and the world in general doesn’t immediately feel lively and vibrant. But hey, that didn’t stop us from loving games in 2000. After a while, the somewhat aged graphics are forgotten, and replaced by the itch to discover, upgrade and quest. It all just takes some acclimatization. Take the time to work through the period of confusion, learn the rules of the game, and then Wasteland 2’s true value emerges.
From the beginning
You start off with four lads or lasses at your command with a shared dream; to become rangers and leave a mark on the post-apocalyptic world. To earn the right to call themselves rangers, the squad wil have to prove itself in a journey across the raider riddled desert. During that lengthy journey, the squad will meet people to save, kill or let die. This is the hefty decision making that most will recognize from Fallout 3. Nobody is immortal in Wasteland. Two clicks can mean the tragic demise of an entire village. If you feel like it, you can even let your squad members decapitate each other (though that isn’t a very profitable choice). The desert is hard enough to survive without any screwing around. Every fight feels just doable, and occasionally, you will have to admit your inferiority and bounce back to a place where the critters don’t endure five bullets through the brain.
Like Fallout 1 and 2, combat in Wasteland 2 is very turn-based. You don’t embody the squad members, you direct them. The player can be seen as a commander, shouting directions from the sky at the poor cross eyed fighters below. For the first half of the game, your squad’s aim will be shit, and their weapons will jam like Marley. The sky-commander (you) will definitely be yelling some naughty words at the squad before they grow into respected rangers. Acceptance of their impotence slowly sinks in, and after a lot of swearing, you might be happily surprised when a shotgun shell reaches its fleshy destination, 3 yards from the barrel.
When the fighting is done, you return to the real-time clicking. And there is a lot of that. You move your squad around by clicking on the map. Either alone, or the whole group, they wil follow your lead. There are NPC’s to click on, conversations to click through, (or read through, if you want to triple the length of this already massive game), loot crates to click on – and get blown up by, and lots, (and I mean LOTS) of items and objects that push your mouse buttons to their limits.
What makes Wasteland 2 great, is that with each click, there is a feeling of accomplishment. It throws rewards at you, and you will eagerly rake them in, even when the reward just consists of cow dung and a bag of marbles. Inventory management is not an issue for the most part of the game, so you will happily grab and sell everything on your path to afford those rare and precious bullets.
Whenever you aren’t busy rushing for loot, there are levels to gain and skill points to spend on a large variety of skills, reaching from toaster fixing to animal whispering. These all come in handy at some point in the game, but it is to be advised to have your squad complement each other in that aspect. The only reason to have two lock-pickers in your squad would be in case one of them dies, and that would toughen your journey a lot.
Your squad members will be conversing with a lot of NPC’s in their journey, but only a few of them are voiced. , Human voices can break the the silence in the desolate world, which is now only broken by grunts and explosions. With 3 million dollar to work with, I’d believe there was enough to hire the voice actors for longer than one afternoon.
You know a game is good, when your real-life concerns morph into worries of how well your squad is equipped for their next encounter. And Wasteland 2 does that the best. Gone are the thoughts about the next day of work or school. You have more pressing concerns now. The water pumps of a post-apocalyptic town are about to explode!