Finally after months of waiting, Kickstarter success and successor to the classic Wasteland PC game of the late 80’s, Wasteland 2, can finally has gameplay footage for public consumption:
The video starts with an array of sound clips from various factions and members of Wasteland’s setting. They give a great sense of how the setting will feel, and perfectly convey the despair of mixing a Western landscape with post-apocalyptic horrors and cult attempts to curb mass anarchy. Now, I was never lucky enough to play the first Wasteland. It was released in 1988, my birth year, and, though a true classic, has never been a game I have been willing to go back and discover. My experiences come more from its cousins: Fallout 1 and Fallout 2.
After the lead in, the first thing Chris Keenan shows off is the incredibly flexible UI. Most old games didn’t even try to have UI’s you could edit, but as more and more MMOs have embraced it was means to tailor the experience of playing the game to individual preference, it seems fair that other types of RPGs should follow suit. The addition of allowing players to easily upload pictures for character portraits isn’t new nor is it something I will probably take advantage of, but it is a nice touch. More importantly, I love the text box in the lower right corner throughout the demo video. It’s purpose is to maintain some of the flavor and feel of the original Wasteland.Again, I never played it, but I do think the extensive use of a single location for flavor text, background, and to further flesh out the immediate surroundings of your characters is a great way to go. I also love that reading it can give specific hints about what actions are available to you in the area. It’s another nice touch that gives the game more life and spirit than it may have otherwise had.
Moving on, the combat looks really fun. The most recent contemporary to the classic strategic pacing of older PC RPGs would probably be the recent XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Wasteland 2, however, looks much more my speed (which is to say slower and more methodical). While I enjoyed XCOM’s better cinematic appeal, I think the depth of Wasteland 2 will be far more fun. You have a far large oversight of the battle area. There is more flexibility. You can have your entire team start off a fight by targeting a single opponent, thus performing a type of ambush attack. More importantly however, Wasteland 2’s combat takes place with a continuous world, not a broken up series of extra large cells. That alone means that combat will never feel exactly the same from battle to battle, that the experience will require far more forethought as terrain and enemy types change quickly. The addition of far more RPG elements and objectives (like locked doors) to overcome, should guarantee that this should easily surpass the gameplay of XCOM. That alone would be amazing since not only did I love XCOM, but it got a lot of great press and acclaim for a wide number of individuals and publications as well.That impresses me even more, though, and has my excitement for Wasteland 2 at a new all-time high.
While I grew up and definitely love older RPGs, a lot of people I know who are serious PC gamers who never had a chance to play them when they were young, have still yet to see what they were missing. Those same people fell in love instantly with games like Dragon Age and XCOM. Despite seeing the obvious links to past RPGs, Wasteland 2 looks like a decidedly fresh game. Perhaps in some part because we rarely see its kind anymore, but also because I believe top down strategic action RPGs still have a place in current gaming hearts and minds.
After having seen the latest on Wasteland 2, I am even happier than before that I backed it. It looks like a lot of fun even though there is still a lot to go. Seeing is believing, however, and hopefully video will translate into a wider set of fans than just those who kickstarted the project. PC RPGs really deserve a comeback from the wasteland they’ve been hiding in. You can read the rest of their most recent update over at their Kickstarter page here. As with most other great kickstarter projects, this one has a team that are willing to listen to their audience.
If you want to share any of your feedback with the InXile Entertainment team, they are always listening on their Facebook page.