by Mitchell “Moe” Long
[dropcap]A[/dropcap] few months ago, I was privileged enough to review the early access version of Wasteland 2, inXile Entertainment’s inventive turn-based role-playing game. At the time, I was quite pleased, and kept forgetting that what I was playing wasn’t a finished game. Recently, the final version dropped. The verdict? I’ve been blown away.
For those unfamiliar with the series, Wasteland 2 is the sequel to 1988’s Wasteland. A post-apocalyptic rpg, it retains elements from the original game as well as early “Fallout” titles, with a retro-modern western vibe. The setting is 15 years after a nuclear holocaust, and you control a group of four Desert Rangers (no, Chuck Norris is not among them, though there are plenty of opportunities to kick ass). Ace, a seasoned Ranger, doesn’t return from a mission, and you spearhead a search team.
Mechanics feel generally the same, with intuitive party and inventory management. Difficulty, however, appears drastically improved. During my first romp through “Wasteland 2,” early adversaries bested my party with ease. Whether my newfound pleasure at trouncing enemies (translation: not dying during each encounter) was due to luck, skill, improved difficulty, or a combination, I’m not positive. I’d warrant a guess it’s largely owing to inXile’s substantially calibrated gameplay. Hey, I never said I was good.
Clearly, the greatest tweaks are the improved look and feel. My laptop, previously struggling to run Wasteland 2 on medium and low settings, now handled the highest graphics like a champ. Movement was notably more fluid, and the backdrop, beautiful before, seemed richer. A gradient of oranges and purples popped from the desert sand, while an array of greens oozed from vegetation-infested regions. Coupled with increasingly smooth movement, I found myself totally immersed in the gameplay. Contributing to my absorption were strong script writing and a compelling narrative. What can I say; I’m a sucker for a good story.
Movement between locales, however, can be at times challenging. Unlike Oblivion’s quick travel feature, traversing spaces on the map in Wasteland 2 drains your party of water. You’ll need to be mindful of how much you’ve used, and luckily there’s a sizable tank of water which you can see drain in real-time. Additionally, hovering your mouse over a spot on the map indicates how much water is required to move your team. Refilling is pretty simple once an oasis is found, so once you’ve discovered one, be sure to top up frequently. Radiation patches further complicate travel, often encouraging roundabout paths. While initially frustrating, I actually grew to appreciate, even love, these hurdles. Reaching a destination therefore felt much more rewarding than unthinkingly pressing a travel button.
Although there wasn’t any doubt, I can now attest that inXile followed through with their Kickstarter promises. Recently, while browsing my obnoxiously large Steam library (I suspect my games are mating while I’m away, thus the ever-expanding list), I noticed a copy of The Bard’s Tale. Pleasantly surprised, as I didn’t remember purchasing the game, I assumed it must have hopped into my cart during the last Steam holiday sale. Then I saw the original Wasteland, and sure enough a quick Google search revealed that I’d received both titles free with my Digital Deluxe Edition. Thanks, inXile. Wasteland 2 feels much refreshed, and is sure to offer hours of entertainment, meaning it’s certainly no waste of time.
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[author image=”http://cliqist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/moe.jpg” ]Mitchell “Moe” Long is a North Carolina writer with a passion for all things pop culture. Besides gaming, Moe enjoys cult classic films, listening to vinyl, and drinking far too much coffee. In addition to Cliqist, Moe writes about music and movies, and is currently composing what he hopes will one day be a novel about the universally awkward period of life known as high school. Feel free to check out and subscribe to his Examiner page as well as connect with him on Twitter. [/author]