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Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut Review

by Dean James

Sequels are a pretty common occurrence in gaming, but decades after the initial release, all hopes are typically gone for a followup. Wasteland 2 went against the grain however, with its release on PC last year, more than 26 years after its initial release. While the trend in gaming is to move to more action oriented RPG gameplay, the man behind the original Fallout has now brought Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut to consoles with tactical based gameplay that feels like a wonderful trip to the past.

The RPG genre has drastically evolved over the years, with games like the upcoming Fallout 4 not even thought to ever be a possibility back in the early days of gaming. The focus on action oriented gameplay is something that has become all too prevalent, making something like Wasteland 2 all the more intriguing in the current gaming landscape.

The setting found in Wasteland 2 is quite different from the typical post-apocalyptic world, as it feels like a game set in the Wild West, albeit with modern weaponry. Taking place across the southwestern United States, the game does a great job at meshing together what feels like two very different time periods into one in a way that really propels forward the notion that history repeats itself.

The game is split up between a large world map full of different towns and other locations, with those individual locales having their own mini-maps. The big problem here is just how irritating it can become to read the mini-maps due to the camera style.

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Wasteland 2: Directors Cut offers the ability to switch between three camera angles, with the best one being the free-moving camera. However, the map that has to be pulled up each time stays static, which can lead to much confusion when trying to navigate through these various towns and such. This is not helped with the somewhat awkward controls, which seem to be a result of the transition to consoles.

The method of travel in Wasteland 2 is actually quite unique, as the world map offers you the choice to travel manually to any location or use the actual map to speed up the process. Considering the game’s desert setting, dehydration is also a big concern, so there are Oasis located to replenish canteens that are used up while navigating. The world map is not only about travel, as that is also where random enemy encounters can occur.

The gameplay found in Wasteland 2 maintains the classic feel of the past with grid-based gameplay that is very team-oriented. This is actually the style of gameplay that more recent titles like Code Name S.T.E.A.M. have tried to replicate in some ways, though it is much more effective here in its original form.

The turn-based gameplay requires a lot of strategy to be successful, as each character starts their turn with a set number of AP at their disposal, which can be used to move around or attack. Depending on the style weapon that character is using, attacks range can vary, which does require some trial and error upon changing up weapons.

Wasteland 2 really does a good job at turning the 3D landscapes into these boxed grids, complete with utilizing obstacles on the map as shields from attack. This really does add another layer to the strategy, which will be necessary the deeper you get into the game, especially depending on the types of characters you are using.

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To start off in Wasteland 2, you have the option to choose how to make up your starting team of four characters. There is the option to go with a default roster that is fairly balanced, but for those that want to customize their experience from the start, there is also the ability to create a custom party from the start.

The custom option offers a rather detailed character creator for a game where actual character design does not matter that much aesthetically, considering the camera is constantly zoomed out from a top-down perspective. This also includes choices of religion, whether they smoke, but most importantly stat building.

The leveling up system found in Wasteland 2 is very important, though a little too involved in many ways, as it plays a major role in pretty much every aspect of the game. Not only are there character attributes like Strength, Speed, Intelligence, and Charisma, but also nearly 30 skills to worry about as well. This can take a long time to effectively level up, making this a very confusing venture, especially in the early game.

Just how ingrained some of these abilities are in certain aspects of the game can become a little bit of a problem at times, as there are just so many to deal with. Obviously, the combat-based skills are vital for being able to become stronger and stay alive, but the knowledge and general skills may be just as important. Leveling up stats like Computer Science, Alarm Disarming, and even Toaster Repair open up so much more in the game, which play a really big role in game’s numerous sidequests.

The general skills really help to build upon one of the game’s most interesting components, the ability to have choice in conversations. Conversations with various people in the game can go many different ways, which largely depend on just how you handle them, which is based upon the Hard Ass, Kiss Ass, and Smart Ass skills.

Rather than simply affecting how someone may think of you in the future, akin to Mass Effect, the engaging conversations can go many different ways in Wasteland 2. If utilized correctly, these can be very effective in helping you get what you want in conversations. However, trying to use Hard Ass dialogue when you are not a high enough level in that department can turn a simple conversation into a fight.

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Similar to Fallout, Wasteland 2 offers players an abundance of game saves, which really is a major help in not only the in-game conversations, but also the leveling up system. This allows you to test out which skills are the most useful in the short-term, with the ability to go back and change if you realize you have made a mistake. The quick save and quick load may be a little too easy to accidentally hit on the menu, but this is executed pretty well otherwise.

The Verdict

While the RPG genre considers to more away from the turn-based style of gameplay, Wasteland 2 wisely decides to try something different. Strategy is key within the game’s grid-based gameplay, which is very well integrated into the existing 3D landscapes. The leveling up system is vast, but at the same time can get a little confusing and overwhelming for players. Wasteland 2: Directors Cut brings the series to consoles for the first time with the definitive version that proves classic style gameplay still has some life in this rapidly evolving genre.

 

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Wasteland 2: Director's Cut

  • Available On: Xbox One, PS4, PC
  • Published By: Deep Silver
  • Developed By: inXile Entertainment
  • Genre: Strategy, RPG
  • US Release Date: October 13th, 2015
  • Reviewed On: Xbox One
  • Quote: "Wasteland 2: Directors Cut brings the series to consoles for the first time with the definitive version that proves classic style gameplay still has some life in this rapidly evolving genre."
Review Policy

The Good

  • Classic grid-based gameplay
  • Wild West-like setting
  • Abundance of content

The Bad

  • Overwhelming leveling system
  • Confusing mini-maps
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