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Wasteland 2
Wasteland 2

Apple iOS | PC
Genre: Role Playing
Developer: inXile Official Site: http://wasteland.inxile-ente...
Publisher: Online Distribution Only
Wasteland 2 Review
Review By @ 04:53pm 29/09/14
Fairly early on in Wasteland 2 -- about 14 hours in -- you'll wind up in an area defined by the prison it was before the bombs dropped. It's a shitty place controlled by extortionate warlords, full of beggars, slaves and people bombed out on their drug of choice. It's a depressing look at post-apocalyptic life; a snapshot of an area where might equals right. And inside this place, where you're probably already feeling that things are too depressing, is an out of the way hideout called the "Fuk Shak", a terrifying series of cages filled with unfortunate people. The owner of this den of depravity isn't present, but his victims are, and if you can pick the locks on their cages you can give them their freedom. If you can't you're forced to leave them in there, knowing what you're leaving them to.

In Wasteland 2, failure is an option. It's an option you'll take, knowingly and unknowingly, dozens of times. Hell, I failed before I even started the game at least four times, and I wouldn't know it until my first hilariously terrible attempt to live through a random encounter. This is because, coming to Wasteland 2 with a background in the Fallout games, I expected to be able to create a hero character and build a party around him. This doesn't work, and it took me some time to work that out.

Each character in your party needs to specialise, basically. And because there's a decent chance they'll die, you need to build a degree of redundancy into everything. If the only person who can shoot a gun just took a critical hit to the brain, you'll begin to find the rest of the game gets a lot tougher -- but the same can be said of any number of critical skills. Any puzzle you can solve by shooting is one you can ignore (at least put off for a while), provided you have the ammo, so you can shoot locks and landmines if push comes to shove. But you can't shoot your way past fixing up a downed party member if they're the only one with any skill in Surgery.

These aren't things Wasteland 2 explains to you. Hell, it doesn't even explain how to attach skills to your hotbar, which complicates things if you are trying to work it out under pressure. This is a bad layer of complexity, the sort of thing easily sorted out by a quick (skippable) tutorial. It's in areas like this that Wasteland 2 missteps, where the game learns so much from nearly three decades of innovation in gaming but screws up some basic things.

Another area some won't be able to swallow is in the graphics department. It's not that Wasteland 2 is particularly ugly -- I've definitely seen uglier games, and they do a good job of creating visually interesting environments on the Unity engine. But the character models in the game are too often repeated, the animations are too goofy. They often look like action figures being shifted around the game-world which, in another game (one about action figures in a post-apocalyptic wasteland) would look great... but here it just looks shoddy. All too often the character models don't represent the portraits of the characters when you talk to them, and I saw the same character model for different "named" NPCs multiple times.

It's a shame, because it mildly detracts from Wasteland 2's real strength. Once you find yourself lost in Wasteland 2's world, hours slip by without your noticing. You'll become enamoured in the good complexity the game brings, experimenting with creative ways around traps or inventive ways to murder baddies.

At one point I found myself in a fight with a group of people I probably should have left alone, determined to triumph over them. Instead of reverting to a previous save and running off to somewhere more my tempo until I could get better gear, I spent at least an hour setting up the perfect ambush. I set up my best long-ranged fighters behind some cover well, well away from the action, and then I sent my speediest fighter in to trigger combat. He shot one of them, combat started and he ran all the way back, carefully navigating his way through a minefield. The dozen or so bad guys chased after him as he hid, and while he took a few shots in the back he made it to cover and the rest of my team went to work. Any time someone stood near a mine I'd shoot it, causing massive splash damage. Anyone who didn't come into the killing area took a sniper bullet to the head. As a team, we created a corridor of death and eventually we triumphed. I felt like a genius. And then I had to leave the next fight alone, because it was well above my team's capabilities.

Wasteland 2 definitely feels quite combat heavy, but that's the nature of turn-based combat systems. There's no rush for you to make a move (except when someone is bleeding out), so you can sit and analyse and make sure you take the best course of action. The non-combat stuff plays out at lightning pace by comparison.

One thing I loved about the conversations in Wasteland 2 was the ability for players to type out commands that aren't presented to the player. When you talk to an NPC you're presented with keywords on the bottom of the screen, each option taken from prompting text spoken by the NPC themselves. If they say "Somebody's poisoned the waterhole" you might get a prompt for poisoned and waterhole, for example. Once you ask both those questions, though, you can also type in "Somebody" and there's a chance the NPC will give you more information. It's a brilliant conversational system, something you can't really get anywhere else, and it compels you to really pay attention to the game's story.

If you can navigate the minefield of inconsistent tooltips and ugly character models, Wasteland 2 provides an old-school experience with new-school tweaks. It's set in a dark world full of bad people, and you get to do your very best to make it a little brighter. And then you're forced to realise that no matter how hard you try, you can't save everyone. It's a wonderfully old-school RPG, something fans of a bygone era can use to scratch that nostalgic itch and new gamers can use to acquaint themselves with how things once were.
What we liked
  • Fantastic writing drags players into the world
  • Keyword system has you pouring over all dialogue
  • Combat is a perfect balance between punishing and fair
  • Inventive use of skills is often rewarded
  • Complex party system forces you to know your characters
What we didn't like
  • Character models are a tad ugly
  • Doesn't explain things as well as it could
  • Might be a little too confronting for some
We gave it:
Latest Comments
Posted 05:33pm 29/9/14
I give it an 7.5/10

There are some pretty heavy flaws that hold it back.

In combat, enemies cover extreme amounts of distance in 1 turn, often resulting in everyone being within melee range in 1 maybe 2 turns. The enemy AI has a tendency to rush you. It makes positioning your riflemen and snipers a bit redundant.
Going for 'Headshots' is totally not worth doing, ever.

There are at least 2 dump stats out of 7 stats. One of the remaining stats being absolutely superior to the others.

Grenades are perfectly accurate despite the game having a demolition skill.

The absolutely poorly implemented Jaming system. Basically you have a RNG event before a RNG to-hit event to do a RNG damage. Have two RNG moments for failure for every bullet fired to hit is just plain poor design.

Apart from the dodgy, dodgy player models and no display of armour on models (only cloths), the rest of the game is quite good.
Dialog options and ways to complete various quests are varied. Most of the game is well written.

You can make a goat army...

edit: Oh yeah, I'm one of the rabid Fallout 1/2 fans. The game does a pretty good job of post-apocalyptic setting.

last edited by Tollaz0r! at 17:33:14 29/Sep/14
Posted 06:26pm 29/9/14
The melee thing was why I have my runner and my ambush strat, although it doesn't always work. I dunno man, I don't agree with you about weapon jamming. I do think the game deliberately increases jamming for no reason in some fights, which is definitely s*****, but most of the time I've found I've got less than a 4% chance to fail on all my guns, which to me represents a critical fail (something they don't otherwise appear to represent in combat).

I agree with you about the grenades though, they're hella OP. Especially when the AI chases you down and sorta clumps up around you.
Posted 06:39pm 29/9/14

which to me represents a critical fail (something they don't otherwise appear to represent in combat).

That's how it should have been. Chance to hit is calculated, then if it misses. lookup a table of 'miss' results and apply accordingly. Weapon jamming would be in that table according the weapon.

As it is, it is a check for each bullet fired, regardless of the 'to hit' calculation (that comes after).

I wish people could about half the distance they could, that would make the combat so much more interesting. It may even be bugged at the moment, I've had plenty of cases where a guy has shot at me and then run about a full screens distance into melee range of my snipers lol.

Also the range of the sniper rifles seems to be less than what most people can run. So it really only takes 1 turn to close the distance of the most ranged weapons in the game. Hopefully it gets addressed with a patch, many people over at RPG Codex are calling out the same problem.

The game is so close to being a great example of RPG goodness, it just falls short in some areas.

I feel the ammo level is about right, not enough to severely gimp you (unless you take lots of 30% chance to hit shots), but enough to make you have to scrounge for it. Sniper bullets are pretty expensive.
Posted 10:22pm 29/9/14
I always feel like I have enough 308 ammo. I don't use my sniper much though, my original sniper copped a lead pipe to the head and I had to sorta make do so my shots are low chance to hit unless they're in pistol range pretty much. Constantly scrounging for 5.56 though. Got two assault rifles on my team and it just ruins me. Might have to go back to the Uzi until I get more money.
Posted 12:29am 30/9/14
I agree about the jamming issue, a lot of my weapons only have a 2-3% chance yet just about every encounter I have a jam at least twice. Oh and the NPC moves, they move too far in a round.
Posted 10:55am 30/9/14
For the most part I agree with Tollaz0r. I am a good 30 hours in but I find combat so boring in this game that I try and avoid it at all cost. I don't know why they bothered to make it turn based because compared to Xcom, Xenonauts or Divinity OS there are barely any tactics involved. They may have well made it real-time just to speed it along.

The character development is also lacking. As there is a little incentive for levelling up other than a slight usage score improvement on some weapon usage or skill modifier.

I think these issues plus the repetitive enemy tactics and lack of enemy variety makes the combat and skill usage more of a grind.
Posted 08:15am 01/10/14
2/10, not worth the words.
Posted 01:56pm 06/10/14
Even with the latest patch, I still get freezes on some movie scenes (like in the Temple of the Titan when I finish with giving the evidence), AND the NPC moves, my god! I wish my party could move that far in 1 move! They said in the patch notes that weapon jams are less - well I got 5 characters get weapon jams in 1 round, and they only had 1%-3% chance. Still I am enjoying it. One of my characters had a 113% chance to hit, in 5 shots he missed 4 times!
Posted 02:20pm 06/10/14
Pix of goat army? holy s***. please
Posted 10:35am 07/10/14
I can't play it currently, with that huge movement range battle are just plain boring.

For instance the spot I'm at, I take the time to setup my team. Take the surprise shot. Than within the very first round 3/4's of the enemy team (most of which were far enough away to be out of sight) are standing in melee range of my team members, it doesn't seem to matter much where I position, it always ends up the same.

It is totally dumb.
Posted 01:51pm 07/10/14
I disagree Tollaz0r
If they are getting that close to you it might be because you don't have enough melee. i.e. you should always place your melee in front of your ranged, that way the enemy always go for them first. Just don't put them directly in front or you will friendly fire.
I have a blunt, blade, and brawler in my squad and each one of them can crit for about 50+ damage.

There are some fights which are just completely unfair, like the honey badgers at the mine, but once you learn how to take them down its easy. (i.e. 1 shot then retreat with remaining AP. Sometimes you need all AP to retreat).

Also re jamming… get someone in your squad to + weaponsmithing, so you can add the -4% to jam modification. All my weapons have a 0% chance to jam. Also the weaponsmithing trait is one of the most beneficial skills to have. I'm about 20 hours in and it has made me soooo much money from stripping all the weapons I pick up. Now I don't have to worry about ammo because I've got so much money.
Posted 07:42pm 07/10/14
They still have spastic amounts of movement regardless of if you have melee or not. They shouldn't be able to consistently close the distance from the start of a fight to your characters within the first round of the fight.
This is just forcing you to have 'melee' characters, giving you less choice in a game that is supposed to be about lots of choice.
Posted 02:55am 08/10/14
re the jamming: One of my characters had to get to 9 skill to stop jamming on weapons, the amount of ammo needed is stupid, tooling up to finish the last battle I had less than 15 money left. Also found one the second mission area you need such high skills to do anything, even with 10 in some skills I still only had 13% to open/hack anything.

Those who find a computer screen (in act 1), you will can use it once you find a broken battleship (in act 2), but even after using it, the machine still barely worked.
Posted 07:37am 08/10/14
To be fair, honey badgers are the ultimate badasses.
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