To key(board) or not to key(board) – Wasteland 2 Director’s Cut (Console) Review

October 24, 2015 by

Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut brings the RPG classic to consoles. But how does it translate to a controller?

Developer: inXile Entertainment
PublisherinXile Entertainment
Review Platform: PlayStation 4
Review Copy Provided By: inXile Entertainment
Release Date: October 13, 2015

GIZORAMA previously reviewed the original release on PC in September 2014. You can read that review in it’s entirety here.

There are few things that can turn a good game into a bad one more so than poor controls. It is, after all, one of – if not the – most important aspects of any game. If a car handles poorly, it doesn’t matter if it has heated leather seats. When Wasteland 2, and several other similar games, were announced to be coming to consoles, it was fair that many – myself included – were concerned. But Diablo 3 on consoles proved that a PC centric genre could perform well on consoles and – gasp – perhaps even better?

So here we are with Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and let’s get everyone’s concern out of the way: the controls work well enough, though there is clearly some room for improvement.

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The argument generally goes “You just can’t get the precision with a controller that you can with a mouse and keyboard,” and for the most part, that’s totally correct. Wasteland 2: Directors Cut, unfortunately, is evidence of this. While general movement works well, once I needed to be more precise with my movement, I was struck by just how clumsy some moments were. If I wanted to open a chest, for example, I’d have to stand in front of it. About half of the time, the game failed to register it as in front of me and I’d have to run away, then run back and try again. This sounds like a minor gripe, but as I had to do this numerous times throughout the game, it became more and more annoying, which is hugely unfortunate, because everything else about Wasteland 2 is fantastic.

Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut comes with a set of improvements over the original release. The graphics engine has been upgraded from Unity 4.5 to Unity 5. More lines of spoken dialogue have been added (over 8,000, to be precise), along with new perks and quirks. Wholly new to the game is the inclusion of Precision Strikes, giving players a Fallout 3-like ability to target specific parts of an enemy’s body, along with a new and improved (not to mention, console friendly) UI. All of the additions are welcome, but none are necessarily game changing, which is perfectly fine when you have such a strong core RPG experience.

The RPG mechanics found in Wasteland 2 are an ocean in terms of depth and variety. You begin by choosing or creating four Wasteland survivors – rookies in the Desert Rangers. These Rangers feature a variety of options of which you can adjust. These go beyond the simplicity of choosing a male or female, sniper or brawler… those are there, but there are options that help you build characters with personalities, despite the lack of voice-acted dialogue. The way in which you adjust your characters allows you to build a backstory in your mind about how these characters act around each other, or interact with each other, or their personalities. Wasteland 2 is clever in it’s ability to craft narrative-based choices without giving you a ton of details about the central characters.

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While navigating the world is done in real-time, combat is handled in a traditional turn-based manner. This is when the game handles particularly well on consoles. The battlefields are littered with junk behind which you can take cover. This means that enemies, too, can take cover and keep safe from your attacks. The turn-based nature of Wasteland 2‘s combat means the game moves at whatever speed you want it to. It allows for more strategic approaches to difficult encounters, meaning while you’re in a stalemate exchanging pot shots from behind dumpsters, your sniper can sneak his or her way around to take aim and make a kill. It’s incredibly rewarding to get through a half-hour long encounter with all of the members of your crew thanks to clever planning and execution.

And that’s kind of the meat and potatoes of Wasteland 2. Explore an environment, interacting with other survivors and taking on tasks, while occasionally entering some incredibly tense and rewarding fights. A few control issues aside, Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut is absolutely worth the time of anyone seeking out a deep role playing experience. Though, they would be best served on a mouse and keyboard.

Review Overview

3.5/5

Wasteland 2 is absolutely fantastic, there's little doubt about that. It's deep and rewarding and engaging throughout. Unfortunately the transition to consoles is somewhat problematic. It's still a great time, but the game would perform better on PC.

About Tyler Nope

Tyler lives in the Portland, OR area with his wife and cat. He loves pizza, comic books, and video games.