Wasteland 2 is a turn-based and party-based top-down post-nuclear role-playing game. You start playing as a team of Desert Rangers but soon pick up other party members along the way. The game begins when a Desert Ranger, Ace, is found dead and you are tasked with finding out what happened.
There are two main game modes, the playing mode where you control each of your character's movement and actions, and the map mode in which your party is represented by an icon which you move around on to get between playable areas. Occasionally you get random encounters which doesn’t seem to add anything to the game. Movement on the map is limited by radiation, you get over this buy purchasing better radiation suits for your party. On the map mode I found a hidden cache of Atari games out in the desert which made me giggle (article).
Accepting all missions is not always an option and sometimes you have to choose between them; your choice will impact on the rest of the game. Near the beginning you have to pick which of two towns to save, one of them is having bandit problems and the other has mutant plants attacking the inhabitants. Whichever you choose will have an impact on the rest of the game. There was also a point when I had to leave one character behind to manage lighting and doors in an indoor area and have the rest of the party go further in to sort out the cockroach infestation. Leaving someone behind was particularly difficult to decide on as everyone in my party had a purpose and lead to me being unable to unlock certain things or disable traps causing me to use up more medical equipment. Generally you’ll spend your time doing missions or moving between them.
Thinking about your party setup for your first playthrough is pretty pointless because you will have no idea what is and isn’t going to be useful and the tooltips don’t give you any practical details to base your decisions on. It’s also easy to leave your character with wasted points in an attribute because some of them don’t have any real benefit. I recommend using a guide to setting up your party, at least for the first time. I found the lack of cosmetic character customizations and the minimal number of character portraits provided to be a bit disappointing.
If you’re into lots of dialog and backstory, you will not be left wanting, this game has plenty of it. Sometimes I felt the dialog was a bit excessive, there are lots of NPCs and the vast majority have a lot to say. This can wear you down or outright put you off playing if you’re in the mood for a more easily absorbed entertainment.
There are some niggles that could be improved upon, a lot of the actions could be automated to be less time consuming for the player. Instead of clicking on a lock and having the high lockpicking character run over and unlock it you have to remember what character it was, select him, find the skill, select the skill and then select the lock. Looting and inventory suffers from the usual problems, e.g. “do I need this?” and messing around balancing weight between your party. At one point I deleted some animal poo, thinking it was obviously junk and it later transpired that it was needed for a quest. Niggles like these, although minor do add up and caused me to have to take a breaks. Sometimes the idea of sorting out your parties inventory in order to loot the battlefield or enter into a battle when half your characters have the wrong ammo was just too much bother.
The graphics are pretty unsatisfying, especially the characters which look like they could have come from a game released in 2000. Audio wise the game is pretty average, weapons and explosives sound a bit dull. Most the dialog does not have voice over.
Unless you’re drowning in free time this game is going to be a huge commitment, this is not the type of game you can put thirty of even sixty minutes into a day and make progress on. I’ve put in twelve hours and feel like i’m only at the beginning.
Wasteland 2 isn’t for everyone, but if this is your thing you are going to love it. The graphics aren’t great and there are lots of little annoying niggles, but otherwise this game is absolutely fantastic and will provide hours upon hours of entertainment.