Welcome to a dystopian future where bandits and worse plague the desolated remnants of a devastated civilization. From the Producer of the original Fallout, World of Wasteland 2: The Director’s Cut has been carefully crafted by the Desert Rangers at inXile Entertainment. The Director’s cut offers visual improvements, upgrading from the Unity 4.5 to the Unity 5 engine. In addition to this there’s over 8000 lines of newly recorded dialogue, extra quirks, perks and precision combat options.
You initially start with four Desert Ranger recruits that are sent out into the barren wastes to prove their worth. You get to fully customize each member of your group. There’s the choice of presets but I’d advise creating your own to get familiar with the upgrade system. First thing you will notice is there aren’t any skill trees. Instead you apply point to skills and perks directly. There are a wide variety of skills and you should design your team to be versatile. The type of weapon and equipment you will start with will orientate around your attributes. When choosing skills it pays off to designate a healer with ‘field medic’ and ‘surgeon’ ability in the party, as is tradition in RPGs. One fun thing is the optional individual quirk. They give a significant buff and yet come at a cost. For example, you can have random lightning strike enemies during combat segments. The catch is, they can also randomly hit your own characters too.
Tutorials pop up with a flood of new information that you really should read thoroughly. This game punishes you hard for not learning it various intricacies. Tread carefully when traversing areas as auto save only occurs when entering a new zone. Fortunately, you can quick save from the options menu. I suggest you do this regularly as not only are resources sparse, there’s perma-death in play. Take just one wrong turn and you could be facing enemies way above your level and lose your entire squad. Rushing into encounters will leave you exposed and since the enemy always moves and attacks first this can be problematic. Over time I learnt how to approach situations slowly, using cover at all times. If you click the analogue ‘R3’ you can select to move the camera around the area. This can be used to see threats ahead of you.
Once you engage the enemy you enter a combat mode. This is turn based strategy action almost identical to XCOM. However, there are a few issues. Rifles within melee range are useless with a 0% chance to hit, which made no sense. I can’t figure out exactly what affects the energy weapons chance to hit as I tried at various ranges on fully exposed targets and it seemed really random. That said, for the most part it plays on par with XCOM. The range modifiers keep you on your toes; falling back and flanking strategy are essential. You will face many random encounters with bandits and beast as you travel the world map. These aren’t the only dangers of traveling the desolate wastes. Dehydration will cause damage to your groups health over time so make note of the rare oasis you come across. Most facilities safe areas also have places you can acquire water from if you look hard enough.
As expected there’s crafting upgrades to weapons. Armour is a mixture of pure aesthetic pieces for customizing appearance and parts with actual defense value. Weapons and armour can be acquired from lock boxes that require the lockpick skill or from enemies. If a bandit is using a weapon in combat it’s likely you will pick them up off their still warm corpses.
Although there’s substantial amount of voiced over dialogue there are lines of conversation that aren’t. Fortunately your every interaction is typed out on your HUD typewriter. This reminded me of the RPG text adventures of old with amazing descriptions of your environment and the occasional humorous lines thrown in for good measure. You even get personality orientated chat options that can vary the outcome of some conversations. That may be a sticking point for some as there’s a lot to read and absorb. That said, it’s well worth reading as it’s extremely well penned which engrosses you in the adventure.
Many of your missions will come from distress calls while traveling from one location to the next on the World map. To accept missions you tap right on the D-pad when at locations this is also the way you level up outside of combat. Area missions are a series of quests that have decent variety eventually leading to a point where you will need a specific skill to go further. You get the impression that once you receive and incoming distress call a timer starts. The missions dynamically progress around the decisions you make. Go straight away and nip it in the bud or get sidetracked and the situation escalates and becomes entirely different mission with different outcomes. There are times where characters will join your team and can be a huge help or someone you need to protect as they buckle under fire.
I can’t state clearly enough that this game is the embodiment of old school RPGs from Yesteryear with a nice touch of modern turn based strategy. There are minor nit picks about the combat initiation leaving you exposed to attacks and the RNG being frustrating at times. Also there’s no fast travel system and a particularly battered party may not survive the journey back to base for supplies. Though the learning curve is fairly steep to start with, reading all those tutorials will eventually pay off. Once you get the hang of things the story and well-voiced characters do the rest. The dynamic missions potentially make each experience a new one adding genuine replay value.
With over 80 hours of gameplay, Wastelands 2: The Director’s cut is a challenging but ultimately rewarding adventure. It’s a pleasant blend of Baldur’s gate adventure and XCOM combat that actually works really well. Those who miss the intricacies of classic RPGs and also those looking for a bit more depth than the more contemporary RPGs should definitely check this out.
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