The follow-up to an iconic and pioneering game, Wasteland 2 was first released in 2014, with a Director’s Cut and new console versions released shortly after in 2015. Now celebrating thirty years since the original Wasteland’s release, the sequel is one of only a handful of games that have been successfully funded and released via Kickstarter.
It is without a doubt a worthy successor to the original game.
Set in a timeline in which a nuclear war between the United States and Soviet Union ravaged the planet before the turn of the century, you play as a band of Desert Rangers tasked with keeping survivors safe.
Wasteland 2 is set fifteen years after its prequel. It opens with the death of an experienced Ranger who had recently been investigating mysterious radio signals. You meet your team of wonderfully written and beautifully designed characters and you set off in his footsteps to solve the puzzle of his death and complete his original mission.
All four characters in your team are brilliantly put together. They have excellent and believable back stories that tell you a lot about both their personalities and the world in which you find yourself.
However, if there is some other way you want to approach the game, you can edit their backstories to say anything you want them to. You can customise their looks and their skills and their choice of clothing and weapons. You have complete control over near enough every element of the game.
From the beginning, Wasteland 2 is rich and atmospheric. The music is stunningly ominous and perfectly matches the detail in the grim setting. The voice acting is very well done.
While the sound is excellent, you don’t need it to be able to the play the game. Even if you do use the sound, it’s well worth checking the written log on top of the visuals because it has a great sense of humour. It will describe in graphic detail exactly which bit of a mutant bug exploded, and how violently, when you shot it. The metaphors are simply magnificent.
That dry wit is evident throughout. Even in communication with NPCs, you are given the choice to respond as a ‘hard ass’, ‘smart ass’ or ‘kiss ass’.
The game is really easy to pick up and the instructions are clear as you progress through the early stages of the game. It makes very good use of all the Switch controls, without over-complicating things.
Wasteland 2 requires a lot of strategy and creative thinking to get through the full game with all your characters alive and safe. It also presents you with moral conundrums almost from the start, putting you in positions where you have to choose between equally devastating rescue missions, or decide whether it’s worth putting your team in danger to save a life.
The story is fantastically tropey when it comes to the post-apocalyptic genre, which is admittedly getting a bit over-saturated in the contemporary pop culture market. But it is still a lot of fun and the thirty year anniversary of the inspiration behind it is definitely worth celebrating.