WASTELAND 2: DIRECTOR'S CUTOVERVIEW:
First of all, I wanted to mention that the staff review on the site does really well to define this game. So if you're looking for multiple opinions, I would definitely suggest reading it. Wasteland 2 is a title that I grabbed from Game Pass for a bean dive and ended up really loving it. It's smart, tactical, and really reaches out to the original roots of the series. That does not mean it's perfect, however, as many people will find faults in the gameplay or overall presentation. But I did enjoy my time with the title. STORY AND AESTHETICS: 4.5/5
The story begins fifteen years after the events of the original Wasteland. As a squad of newly trained recruits, players will greet General Vargas as they attend the funeral of a fellow comrade, Ace. From here, they are tasked on the mission to finish what he started, discovering a mysterious radio signal and exploring the wasteland in search of his attacker. The journey will take you through both Arizona and California, and multiple little settlements along the way. Along the way, you'll likely run into some new companions, and you can have a party of 7 at any time (including your own set of rangers.) Who you bring on and how you interact with the world is up to you.
What's remarkable about Wasteland 2 is just how much is really there. It's an incredibly vast world to explore, and every movement from your squad causes the script below to update. A narrative adventure told by your actions. And that's specifically what I loved about the title as I played. It wasn't just exploring. Everything you walk beside has a little piece of a story with it. There's very little dialogue in the game, but there's always plenty to read about.
In addition to the expansive environment, the game also has a certain sense of crude humor. Using perks for an example, I gave one of my rangers the "animal husbandry background." This perk has no description for its downside, so it's a mystery until you're in the game. It turns out that side effect happens to be that any animal you get to follow you will eventually explode.
Cruel indeed. But this is just one of many examples where Wasteland 2 beats you up a bit as the protagonist, and although it certainly sounds rough, it's quite a fun time if you enjoy the darker side of things.
There's plenty more to say about the game, but for the most part, it's simply your classic apocalyptic title. You traverse the wastes, slaying raiders and mutated animals, seeking out your next mission. It stays true to the environment, and the NPCs are unique and varied, even if the voice acting is slightly lackluster.
My only real complaint here is that it seems to rely heavily on the past. The story and concepts are different, naturally, but not quite unique, as the story (and both the companions and locations) are repeated from the first game. That makes it nostalgic, but not exactly exciting for returning players. Furthermore, it's hard to forget New Vegas and other titles of the Fallout series when you are once again in the place of desert rangers, traveling the wasteland. They are different, sure. But they are still bound to one another, and it's very clear as you play. It consistently develops on what has already been established in the previous series, and much less upon something new. While this doesn't make it bad, by any means, it does take away a bit of potential.CUSTOMIZATION AND RPG ASPECTS: 4/5
What's very different about Wasteland 2, as mentioned, is that you have an entire squad to customize. You can have four total, each a different gender, ethnicity, and you can even decide their favorite type of smokes. Various outfits and character cards are also available to choose from as well, though it's difficult to find one to match perfectly.
After that, you have free reign on what skills to invest in. This includes perks as well, similar to Fallout: New Vegas where there's an upside and a downside to each one (don't pick animal husbandry and lose your cute little goats). Of course, your points are also limited, so it's crucial to develop each character with a squad in mind. Still, there's plenty to choose from: lockpicking, safecracking, kiss ass, surgeon, and alarm disarming. Each perk can be upgraded to unlock more abilities from it as well.
One of my favorite elements of the game is that who you take with you can really change how your missions conclude. Bring a certain companion, and they might give valuable information. Bring a different one, and they might shoot that guy you were just talking to. There's always a decision to make with your squad and how you handle each situation. Whether it be talking your way out of a fight, or sneaking through the hordes of enemies.
The downside is naturally that not every NPC can be voiced. Your squad, despite being customized and fit for battle, will never really speak or make individual decisions. You control almost every aspect of them. So sometimes it often feels better to use the pre-made companions over your own. To add to that point, making your own squad can be a disaster in terms of combat, as the pre-sets have far better balance in place. There's also not much in terms of replay value. With 7 rangers for one squad, you can take nearly every companion at once. And the massive amount of playtime makes it unlikely that you'll complete the game a for a second round.GAMEPLAY AND BUGS: 3/5
This is where most of my complaints come into play. The most obvious comment gamers seem to have about the sequel is "wow, it looks kind of old." And it does, although that isn't specifically a bad thing in my opinion. Take a glance at the first game and it's clear that this is a big change. What bothers me is that Wasteland 2 seems to struggle on how to impliment the mechanics of the game. The skills, for example, are assigned to both triggers, and are entirely filled with commands. It makes it a bit awkward to find your way around what to do next, or how to access each one. Some skills also work differently in combat than they do out of it. This is something that the a tutorial could have covered more thoroughly. Like many in its genre, the controls are much more fitting for PC than Xbox One.
The biggest issue though, is how unforgiving it can be to new players. I don't mean in terms of difficulty, but in terms of learning. The skills and combat itself are a big leap. But when you jump into the game with your own squad, you're practically screwing yourself over in the long run. Wasteland 2 is still much like the original in which there is no easy fix to your mistakes. Many players will either mismanage their squad, pass important events in the story, or have to reload for various achievements. It's very difficult to jump in without guidance. This might be a plus to many players, especially those who enjoy the risk of development. But it can also be quite the turn off when you're looking to enjoy every aspect of the game.
It's not all bad though. The turn-based combat, although somewhat slow, is still fairly solid and detailed. Action points are still implimented so that your turns must be used wisely, and how you customized your character effects how they perform in combat. Although sometimes it feels as though your character misses one too many hits. There's also a sense of danger as you explore. Traveling in the wastes will often cause random events to appear that force you into combat. You'll also need to stop by locations peridocially for water. Simple survival mechanics at first glance, but combined, they can definitely be a challenge to manage.
As for bugs or glitches, I didn't run into anything game-breaking. In fact, rarely did I stumble on anything that wasn't meant to appear. So I wouldn't worry about any lost saves or broken quests.CONCLUSION: 3.5/5
In short, Wasteland 2 is a fairly solid game. it appeals to nostalgic players and remains consistent throughout. But the learning curve is quite a bend, and the apocalyptic wasteland hasn't changed too much over the years. If you're a fan of turn-based combat and a lover of the retro, sci-fi atmosphere, then there's no reason not to give it a try on Game Pass. Just be aware that it's a long ride, and far from an easy completion. It requires focus and attention to details, and it certainly isn't quick to complete. High Points:
Points that are generally regarded as good
-A wide-open world that's full of details to discover and missions to complete
-Customization is generally diverse and enjoyable to explore
-Improves upon much of the original game while staying true to its rootsMedium Points:
Points that are good or bad based on the player
-Little direction in terms of missions, besides the quest log itself
-Achievements are incredibly specific, and completion is difficult without a guide
-The overall playtime required is likely around 60 to 120 hours
-Original players will notice small changes with RPG aspects (Percent victory or failure/Random roll)Low Points:
Points that are generally regarded as bad
-Lacks explanation for how to use skills that are outside of combat
-Controls better suited for PC, with too many commands for single buttons
-Combat can become strenuous or just plain dull after the first few hours