Wasteland 2 (inXile Entertainment)
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Ask anyone to mention a role-playing game set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, and chances are they will reply Fallout. In truth, the original Wasteland came out more than ten years before the first Fallout title, and set a new standard for the genre. The Fallout games were great in their own right, but when the series ventured into first/third person territory with the release of Fallout 3, it left many gamers hankering for the isometric games of old.
What better game to fill that void, than the true sequel to original Wasteland from 1988. The amount of money that Kickstarter backers threw at the game proved that the world was ready for a return to the wasteland. Needless to say, expectations are sky-high, but with Brian Fargo at the helm, we were confident that inXile would be able to deliver on their promises. The Early Access version hit Steam late last year, and after a few substantial updates is already shaping up to be the game that over 70 000 Kickstarter backers couldn’t wait to throw their money at.
The Early Access beta opens with your team of rookie “Desert Rangers” attending the funeral of a fallen comrade. You get to select your squad of four from a list of preset characters, or jump straight in and create your own. The character creation already showcases how in-depth the game is, with no less than three different specializations for speech checks alone. Not many other games allow you to choose between being a kiss ass, hard ass or smart ass when it comes to talking to people!
Your first quest is to recover some vital equipment that was stolen from the fallen ranger, and then continue his mission if possible. After some chit-chat, it’s out into the wasteland, where you get to explore a chunk of Arizona. As this is an Early Access beta, only about 30% of the levels are available, but it is already enough to see that things are moving in the right direction. The game is viewed from an isometric perspective, and you can rotate and zoom the camera to your liking. Combat is turn-based, once initiated, and you can take cover instead of just standing out in the open. Cover is destructible, so it takes careful maneuvering and teamwork to take down groups of enemies. Party members can get killed, so saving is recommended, unless you want to watch someone in your group bleed out before your eyes.
The game already has a lot of well written dialogue, and the voice acting so far is superb. Conversations are in-depth, and keyword based, so if you are feeling old-school you can even type specific keywords to get answers. A printout at the bottom of the screen keeps you updated at all times about what your characters are observing, and what is going on in the gameworld. The game also has quite a dark sense of humor, which fans of Wasteland and Fallout will enjoy.
There are still a lot of things I could praise about the game, such as the original music by Mark Morgan, and the crisp sound effects, but suffice to say the game is shaping up great. The storyline is already looking good, and the game isn’t afraid spring some moral choices on you. The most recent update alone included over 2000 fixes, including changes to the inventory, UI, animations and some optimization so the developers are definitely hard at work.
The final release of the game will be priced lower than the Early Access, but if you want to play right now there are some extras to sweeten the deal. You will receive the original Wasteland, which was recently re-released on Steam, two digital novellas, an original soundtrack and concept art book. Some of these are still being added, but they will all be Early Access exclusives as far as we know. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, 2014 is going to be a great year for role playing games, and Wasteland 2 is definitely not going to disappoint.