You may not know about the Wasteland series, and nobody will judge you if you don’t, but you may know of another similar game named Fallout. You see Wasteland 1 has been seen and praised as the inspiration for the Fallout series, and since I was the only one on the team who had ever played the first game it made sense that I checked out the second game in the series, mind you the first game released back in 1988 which automatically raises a question and proves a fact right off the bat, that a lot has changed in the gaming industry since then, and can a game with such a long span be relevant in todays fast evolving market and yes, I am old.
I am sure that if you check out gameplay videos of Wasteland 2 and you see how the game starts you off you will know within the first 5 minutes if this is the game for you or not. If you have no history with the earlier Fallout games, or the first Wasteland game, or even X-Com games for that matter the skill tree which is the first thing you will meet when you start a new game, might just scare you off. However, if you do choose to ignore this title based off of that you are truly missing out on something that might just have ended up on your game of the year list. If you are a fan of Fallout and that whole scene then there is no question as to if you would enjoy Wasteland 2 or not, but then again this isn’t Fallout 3, I am talking about Fallout 1 and 2, are you still with me? Good.
The first thing you are told to do in Wasteland 2, and maybe also the only thing you really need to do as told, is to create your team, or a squad made up of 4 characters in which you customize to your liking, or if you hate customization and just want to jump right into the game it also has pre-made characters that you can pick and choose from. However, I strongly suggest you try to set up your own team after a few hours of gameplay as you will notice soon enough that you can't do everything in this game without building a new team. And even when you do that there are things in this game that you will miss out on simply because your squad doesn’t currently have that specific skill to tackle a specific mission, item etc. And you are also bound to be put into situations where the missions will alter because of this.
And this is where the magic of Wasteland 2 really starts showing its true colours. You see the skill options you are set to put into your characters are so many and so diverse that you cannot create the perfect team on your first play through, neither your second, maybe you will get close with your third, and maybe you will go through the game numerous times and still miss out numerous events, but you will still reach places, items or people that you could interact better with had you chosen another skill over the ones you currently have available. Now this is not saying the game is broken in any way, it just a way to keep you focused and maybe call for situations which could have been avoided easily with certain skills but since you currently do not have that set of skills, needs a different and maybe even more strategic approach. It is simple but extremely smart, and sometimes unforgiving, and I love that side of the game.
For example, the conversation options when you customize your squad is in there, as you can choose to put points into your characters personality skill such as Hard Ass, Kick Ass, Smart Ass, these weird categories will repay you once you start interacting with people. The clue with setting up a good squad in Wasteland 2 is not to have experts in certain fields but to have a team made up of mediocre skills in almost every field, at least this was the tactics I chose to go with and even though it punished me multiple times it also rewarded me when needed to.
The only thing that is really clear to you as soon as you start the game is that you are apart of a Desert Rangers team and your mission is to find out what happened to veteran Ranger and how he died and who killed him. That is it, that is all the games demands of you to go out and search for, and as soon as you pack up your things and head out the entire map opens up to you and you are free to follow orders or just start wandering off.
I choose to wander off in my first play through and as a level 1 squad I got destroyed by some rats that I probably wasn’t supposed to egg on until later in the game. So I started following orders, and quickly found out the hard way that whenever you radio intercepts an emergency call it cannot wait if they are in trouble like most games do, if you are on a current mission and you hear on the radio that someone needs help you can not just let them wait until you finish your mission and then go see them as that will most likely result in you entering a slaughterhouse, which happened for me.
I was on a mission for someone else when all of the sudden I heard a female voice over the intercom yelling about needing help and being attacked. And I completely forgot about the real time aspect of the game and figured I could go over there once I finished up what I was currently doing. As time went by the calls got angrier and more intense from this person but I was about to finish up so I figured I would swing by in a few and save the day. Once I did finally finish off what I was currently doing I started heading over from where the calls came through, and after a few random encounters I made my way to this town, only to find blood, death and despair. The person who was alive was not happy about the fact that I had left them to fight for their own and getting this person to now help me would take a lot of effort on me and my teams part. So I figured I would check what would happen if I did answer the call once it was placed, so I started a new team, did the same thing and answered to the call as soon as I got it, entered the town and found a completely new scene playing out in front of me. So yes, the combat itself is time based, but the things going down all around you is all happening in real time which is amazing, and really the reason I love this game so much.
I ran into a few bugs here and there, NPCs that you couldn’t interact with which made some missions unplayable, like the one with the dog, but when you consider how huge this game is, and how much interaction possibilities are put into this game, and most importantly how much love and passion has been put into making this game a reality there is no question when I start working on my Game of the Year list that Wasteland 2 will be high on that list. Wasteland 2 is a game for fallout fans, it is an homage to the series and genre and it is one of the best sequels to a classic I have ever played in my 33 year long video game playing life.