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Saturday, May 8, 2021

Games Galore: Wasteland 2

A sequel 25 years in the making.

Given that we’ve already covered a Fallout game with Fallout Shelter, it seems an appropriate time to turn to a “spiritual relative,” of the Fallout franchise. Wasteland was an RPG, released in 1988 for a variety of platforms, including the Amiga, Commodore 64, the Apple II and MS-DOS.

Wasteland put the player in control of a group of adventurers in post-apocalypse wasteland in the middle of Arizona. You create a party of characters, each with their own skills and set out across the area fighting mutants, rogue robots and cannibals. The original is packed-in with Wasteland 2 for free.

Wasteland 2 is much the same at its core, with updated graphics and an overhead, isometric view. The camera can rotate and zoom in, but it still is very much 2D field of play.

The combat is turn-based, with each characters statistics determining when their turn comes up. One thing that adds a layer of strategy is that ammunition is something of a rarity, especially on the higher difficulty settings. Thus, while a player might be tempted to make their party entirely proficient with firearms, this is not necessarily the best course of action.

If Wasteland 2 seems familiar, it’s because it borrows a lot from the original Fallout and Fallout 2. In fact, Wasteland 2’s developer, inXile entertainment, is made up of a lot of the same people who not only developed the original Wasteland, but also the first two Fallout games. In fact, the original Fallout was considered a “spiritual successor,” to the original Wasteland when it was released in 1997.

Wasteland 2 is a fantastic recall to an era long since passed by the big, AAA developers. The game was funded through the website, Kickstarter, something that the pitch video explains in depth.

Although the game is generally faithful to its predecessors, both actual and spiritual, there are some design issues that nag. Biggest amongst these is that “primary,” stats, like Strength, Charm, Perception and so on, do not have a direct effect on skills, like guns or lock picking. This makes the primary stats much less important in the long run, as they do not seem to affect what your character can actually do. This is in contradiction to its predecessors, and is an example of redundant game design.

Note: As this entry was being written, I found out that there will be a director’s cut of the game is being released later in the summer that will address these issues.

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