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Wasteland 2: The post-apocalyptic role-playing game you've been waiting for

Hayden Dingman | Sept. 22, 2014
I'm listening to a woman die, and it's my fault.

Creating a character is a nightmare. You're confronted with a big ol' menu full of numbers, and you click those numbers until you think that you've created a viable character. And then you do that three more times. And then, five hours in, you realize you screwed everything up and are stuck with half-useless characters. Or twenty hours in you hit the difficulty spike and realize the same thing.

Granted, other recent CRPGs (notably, Shadowrun Returns) have had this same problem. There are so many skills, and outside of a handful they're mostly useless. You'll end up using some of your skills a bare handful of times over the course of the entire game, but you'll keep investing points because "What if I miss out on something important by not investing?"

Wasteland 2 also reveals how likely you are to succeed at a skillcheck, and in doing so encourages save-scumming. Behind-the-scenes dice rolls are always done on the fly, so if you come to a locked door and it says you have a 10% chance to succeed? Just save and reload a dozen or so times until you finally get it! "Well just don't save scum, Hayden." Yeah, yeah, thanks for the advice Mister/Miss Morality. Let's see if your tune changes when you lock yourself out of an entire side-mission because you accidentally broke a door you were lockpicking.

And finally, the main scenarios in Wasteland 2 are so extensive, so full of depth, that it makes the rest of the content feel like awkward filler. It's basically the opposite of Bethesda's "weak main story, strong side-content" problem — exploration in Wasteland 2 is a disappointment. All you're liable to find are linear maps full of generic fodder enemies, the occasional weapons cache or attribute-boosting shrine, and none of the breadth of choice or depth of the "real" story.

Luckily there's plenty of main content — there are three primary scenarios in the Arizona half of the game, and as I said I played that part for over thirty hours. Plus, the main maps are chock full of interesting diversions for those who stray from the beaten path: Side-stories, hidden items, and hilarious bursts of world-enhancing environmental text abound. But it's still a shame to explore the actual wasteland part of Wasteland only to find... nothing.

Bottom line

But those are such minor complaints. I'm almost annoyed putting them to paper because I'd feel awful on the off chance someone read them and decided to skip Wasteland 2.

Instead, I want to be the post-nuclear version of Uncle Sam — to point, stare straight into your soul, and say "I want you for Desert Rangers." Even with its flaws, Wasteland 2 is nothing short of outstanding.

 

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