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inXile Entertainment's Wasteland 2 is at the forefront of a new generation of CRPGs that promises to bring back the classic styles of gameplay that have largely been missing for the last decade. Crowd-funded on Kickstarter and one of its earliest videogame successes, Wasteland 2 has now reached a state where inXile feel confident enough to release the game to its Kickstarter backers. Of course, if you're here on GameBanshee and haven't heard of Wasteland 2 by now, well, I'd be surprised.
Naturally, just about all of the GameBanshee crew has been able to check out Wasteland 2 over the last few days, but for those of you who didn't pledge or pre-purchase the game on Steam Early Access, we thought we'd share our thoughts on the game so far.
In the interest of full disclosure, I was part of a very limited group given pre-beta access to Wasteland 2 for the purposes of providing feedback to inXile and helping with getting the beta polished up for release. My experiences expressed in this preview only reflect the version that's now available to Kickstarter backers and on Steam, which itself is still not a finished product.
Back to Arizona
Right from the start, it's clear Wasteland 2 is a blend of old and new. Wasteland 2 is obviously heavily inspired by the original 1988 title, but it also draws quite a bit from its spiritual follow-ups, Fallout and Fallout 2. As a result, the game is in an interesting and rather strange position of being expected to appeal to both fans of Wasteland and those who have enjoyed Fallout but never touched the original game.
It's fortunate, then, that this merger has worked out. Many of the basic qualities of Wasteland remain in Wasteland 2 - party-based gameplay with customizable and NPC followers, the character system remains similar, and obviously, much of the world, story and lore is based on the original game's. But at the same time, those traits similar to Fallout - namely, turn-based combat that takes place on a grid, isometric camera perspective, a focus on skill use in the environment, and a reactive game world, also slot perfectly into Wasteland's gameplay as well (though of course, many of those features were part of the first Wasteland too).
You'll start out the game attending the funeral of a Desert Ranger, Ace, who was murdered under highly suspicious circumstances. As new recruits into the Desert Rangers, keepers of order in post-apocalyptic Arizona (whose power has largely faded over the years), your party is tasked with finding Ace's murder site, collecting his log book and some radio repeater units, and then installing those repeater units where they belong in order to triangulate some strange radio transmissions bouncing around the airwaves. Of course, that's just the basics - from there, the story develops in some interesting ways as your mission continues.
It's no secret that in games like Wasteland and Fallout, the story tends to be more of a setup for the adventures and missions you'll be undertaking, and that's also true in Wasteland 2. What's there is certainly functional, but what really makes the game is its well-written characters and the scenarios you'll encounter as you explore the world. Wasteland 2 has plenty of charm, interesting lore and lengthy dialogues to go around.
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