“Come on Mike, let’s go butter up some cucumbers”.
Old-school turn-based RPG Wasteland 2 is the sequel to 1988's DOS game Wasteland, which went to become the setting for the Fallout series. The story centres around a group of four desert rangers in a post-apocalyptic world, whose “job” is pretty much to police it, help people out, murder them... whatever floats your boat, really.
Its charm lies within the characters you meet, the situations you come across and how your choices - accidental or intentional - affect the course of the game. Make a few wrong moves and you could end up destroying one vital game area and be required to go find your key items elsewhere. Press a button on a nuclear bomb to see what’ll happen, and suddenly the credits are rolling.
Like most D&D-inspired games, you get a lot of options, stats and skills such as lockpicking, safecracking and, of course, toaster repair. You’ll need to balance your squad's skills and attributes to cope with the situations ahead, as well as looting for armour and weapons.
The combat itself is average, and not quite as tactical as other grid-based games. The animations are slow, extending the length of battles longer than necessary. When you’re up against a pack of wolves or some alligators it just drags on, not helped by inaccurate weapons, the occasional weapon jam, or having to reload.
The graphics look very dated. The animations are generic and lack character, and the world itself is bare bones and repetitive. This makes navigating some areas in handheld mode tricky, but not impossible. The controls haven’t been ported to the Switch very well - often clicking on a simple item in the wild is much hard than it should be, selecting an enemy to get the jump on them without giving away your advantage is tough, and navigating the menus to manage your inventory is a real chore. Load times can be intrusive too, especially if you’re wanting to play on the go.
Wasteland 2 isn't for everybody. It's an easy game to fault. Its graphics, combat, level design, UI, accessibility and controls... all of it flawed. However, the deep character progression system, witty dialogue, and consequences to your choices and mistakes could well be enough to keep you coming back for more.
WASTELAND 2: DIRECTOR'S CUT / DEVELOPER: INXILE ENTERTAINMENT / PUBLISHER: DEEP SILVER / PLATFORM: NINTENDO SWITCH / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW