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Wasteland 2 preview: When deeply branching gameplay meets pistol-packing post-apocalyptic priests

Hayden Dingman | Aug. 6, 2014
"Interplay had the crown in roleplaying, I'd love to get that crown back," says Brian Fargo. He pauses, laughs. "Me and Obsidian, we'll battle it out."

"Interplay had the crown in roleplaying, I'd love to get that crown back," says Brian Fargo. He pauses, laughs. "Me and Obsidian, we'll battle it out."

Fargo is in town to show me Wasteland 2, the second part of this year's CRPG trifecta (Divinity: Original Sin, Wasteland 2, and Pillars of Eternity). Wasteland 2 is helmed by Fargo's development studio, inXile, and like the other two games mentioned was funded by Kickstarter.

Further reading: In-depth interview: Pillars of Eternity's Josh Sawyer talks character creation, cloaks, and ten-foot poles

"I pitched Wasteland 2 for eight years. I kept trying. Then when Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas came out, they're selling millions of copies, I was like 'This is the perfect pitch!'" says Fargo. "I had the creative guys from Fallout on the team, I had the creative guys from Wasteland on the team, I worked on both the products, there's a demand for it! Nowhere. Nothing. Crickets."

"If it wasn't for Kickstarter, I wouldn't be able to make this type of game," he continues. "We ended up spending twice as much money as what we raised on Kickstarter on this game. A lot of people don't know that. Because I wanted to over-deliver with this thing. We're high profile, my personal reputation is on the line, everything about it meant we were betting the farm on this thing."

Twenty-five years in the making

Wasteland 2 is a follow-up to the 1988 Apple II/Commodore 64/DOS classic Wasteland. And, according to Fargo, it's "the opposite of Call of Duty."

"They're about the Michael Bay set-piece with a linear experience, and we're all about the non-linear detail-oriented experience," says Fargo. "We've got more words in this game than the Lord of the Rings trilogy — over 500,000 words. It's absolutely massive, and there's tons of content the user will never see."

Not just "will never see" but can't see — at least in one playthrough. If you've played The Witcher 2, you might remember that you make a decision at the end of the first act that totally locks you out from half of the game's content — you either follow path A or path B, and ne'er shall the two meet.

Wasteland 2 takes this idea to extremes. From the hour-long demo Fargo gave me, it seems like you're constantly opening and closing side-paths without even realizing it.

For instance, Fargo loads up a brief sequence from the second half of the game, which takes place in Los Angeles. My party has just arrived in LA, and as we walk up the street we see two groups of people — one set bound and gagged, another standing a few feet away acting as executioners.

 

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