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HawK-EyE

Wasteland 2 Beta Preview Roundup #3

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Superviseur

A lot of coverage for the Wasteland 2 beta came in during the holiday break. As per usual, we’ll quote the English-language ones and link the others for you here.

 

IGN.

Wasteland 2 immediately opens with both: you’re asked to put together a party of four characters, but those characters all have the complexity of a Fallout main character. This is, honestly, overwhelming. Fallout or Deus Ex games are manageable because you know that however your one characters specializes, he or she will have options to smooth-talk, shoot, or sneak past obstacles. Games like Dragon Age, built around multiple party members, have supplements to whatever weaknesses—if you don’t create a rogue, you can make sure to have Leliana in your party to do whatever rogue things need to be done. Wasteland 2 just puts all of that in front of you at once—by attempting to combine the party creation of old games with the customizations of newer RPGs, it becomes exponentially more complex almost inadvertently.

PCGamesN.

Seeing my choices pay off was empowering, even when it felt like I was scrabbling around in the dark. The leader of my Ranger group was a tough guy, a bit of a bully. I wasn’t really sure how people would react to that, and truth be told, they all act a bit differently. Before I’d left the first area, I’d impressed a guard so much by demanding that he let me into the compound (which he never did) that he gave me a brand spanking new gun for being such a bad ass. I didn’t get what I wanted, but my decision to be a complete arse was still rewarded.

Fortune wasn’t always on my side, though. My medic wasn’t up to snuff, for example, so we just had to watch as one of our comrades bled out after a particularly brutal encounter with a bunch of gun-toting bandits. My bad.

These difficult decisions reach a crescendo, at least in the beta, when two outposts need help, but only one can be saved. The result of ignoring one of these distress calls isn’t immediately apparent, so when I left the settlement I’d saved, on a high note, and visited the forsaken second option, the weight of this off-the-cuff choice I made hit me like a sledgehammer. Everyone dead or dying, the whole place trashed, all because I had made a split-second call.

Strategy Informer.

If you haven’t noticed so far Wasteland 2 like the Fallout series has a vein of humour running through it. Those rabbits come as standard with a Monty Python reference. Narrative comments appear as you explore and are regularly amusing, such as “the Junkies are armed only with syringes and unsettling facial tics” and “you can’t tell if you’re supposed to eat the fruits or they’re going to eat you”. Character customisation includes the usual attribute “Toaster Repair” and gives you the option of choosing what brand cigarettes your character prefers. The main menu has a button for “Red Boots DLC - $49.95” which makes fun of you if you click it. I even found a hidden cache in the desert of thousands of E.T. game cartridges which were worth absolutely nothing. While serious and unsettling things happen in the Wasteland it’s lovely to have these amusing moments now and again, and they turn a good RPG into an additively entertaining one.

As mentioned earlier, combat is entirely turn-based and is more than a little reminiscent of XCOM (or even fellow Kickstarter RPG Shadowrun Returns), just with the classic Action Points stuck back in. Movement in combat works similar, as in you have one box you can move within and still shoot and a larger box you can also move within but you won’t be able to do anything afterwards. Taking cover makes you harder to hit, a percentage chance of hitting an enemy shows when you’re ready to shoot (helpfully here appearing over every enemy at once unlike XCOM), reloading probably costs you your shooting privileges in that turn, and if someone falls they can sometimes be stabilised or they’ll just die. Where it differs from XCOM is that combat isn’t the entire game, and you can initiate it at any time. You can get the drop on most enemies if you’re clever, or if you just fancy attacking a random innocent civilian you can do that too.

OmniGamer.

I was surprised at just how pretty and detailed the maps of Wasteland 2 were. The first level I played showcased the arid, desolate desert that you’d expect from a post-apocalyptic game set in the Midwest. While this is a setting frequently visited by the Fallout series and even the original Wasteland, inXile made it interesting with hidden caves, safes, and toasters to find. The Ag Center, the second level I played, stood out in sharp contrast with a vibrant green color palette. Underneath the base was a cave system lit with a luminescent, blue color tone. It’s quite apparent that inXile is working hard to counter the bland grey and brown settings that populate many AAA titles these days with dynamic, colorful settings.

GamerTell.

It’s been nearly 15 years since the original Wasteland brought players into the wide open post-apocalyptic Arizona Territory and some great RPG gameplay even for its time. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, inXile Entertainment has successfully released the Wasteland 2 early beta. Let’s just say everything players loved about the original is still here, but the updated technology and graphics brings the already great gameplay to our current generation.

I began by creating my squad. I choose to create at least one character for myself, a female named Ghost, and customized her skills to turn her into a rogue character of sorts. The remainder of my squad was selected from the premade roster characters on the left side of the screen. I make sure to bring along a combat medic, a sniper and a negotiator.

iGame Responsibly.

Then something bad happened; one of my characters was felled in combat. The interface told me he was bleeding, and would be dead in 100 turns. That’s an eternity in this turn-based combat game, so I wasn’t too concerned. I’d finish off the bandits, then tend to my wounded. Once combat ended however, my comatose patient began spurting blood. I was now informed he would be dead in 37 seconds. So began my infuriating struggle with the interface of Wasteland 2. Using skills is overly complex and doesn’t always work the first time you click. With no tutorial to explain things, it is difficult for the player to know that bandages and blood packs do nothing to help a dying friend. Only a character with the surgery skill is capable of helping. Even then, the success rate of surgery is poor early in the game and the clock is ticking. Furthermore, a success is no guarantee of returning your comrade to the land of the living, as it may only improve him from almost dead to only mostly dead. In one instance, I performed surgery 33 times before finally reviving my sniper.

Hardcore Gamer.

Beginning with the character creation — as tradition would have it — is quite the task in itself. There’s a confusingly wide range of skills to choose from; overwhelming, even, if true RPG boldness isn’t in your blood. Skills are broken down into categories so very specific, they have their own categories within their general class. Xzibit himself would be proud of such overabundance. With a team of four, it’s still quite unlikely that you’d be able to accomplish a fragment of the available choices in a single run. Even I found myself experimenting with different character builds across multiple saves before coming to grips with the fact that, when it came to skills, I couldn’t have my Action Points and use them too. From the very start, it’s clear that tough decisions and sacrifice are staples in the Wasteland 2 experience.

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