Wasteland 2 isn’t doing it for me

I picked up Wasteland 2 on a recent Steam sale, and I honestly can’t get into it, which is surprising and has me taking a step back and wondering what I want in a game these days.

I should like Wasteland 2. It’s an RPG, it has turn-based combat, and it’s a throwback to games like Fallout 1 and 2, and in some ways Baldur’s Gate. To make things even more complicated, I don’t hate the game. I can see the appeal, and sometimes it has its moment, but I feel like I’m working way too hard to get to those moments, and even when I do, half the time they don’t seem worth the effort.

Graphically the game is decent, but just that. The character models I’d say are below average, especially your player characters. Character creation immediately makes this painful, as you can select different faces but they all look like the same blurry mess. That’s not a huge deal, really none of the issues with the game are, but it’s a negative. The character models combined with the camera view also result in some encounters feeling too similar, as it’s difficult for any one character to stand out and really have a personality based on how they look. I’m also not a fan of the portrait art, but that is purely subjective.

The landscapes do look good, but become their own challenge when you spend a lot of your time playing “find the pixel” to spot a hidden safe or box. The overworld map is, honestly, horrible. Your party is a badge icon moving across a map that would have looked bad in 1995. The big problem with that map is every time you finish an area, you are reminded that you are a traveling badge on an ugly blur. It’s jarring and really kills what immersion you had going. I get that budgets are small, but damn.

The UI is another problematic area. A lot of the game is clicking something (safe, door, person) with the right skill (hacking, lockpick, etc), but in order to do that you must not only have the correct part member selected, but then also click that skill from the hotbar before clicking on whatever object you are interacting with. If this was only required a few times per map, no big deal, but as you have to repeat it over, and over, and over again, it quickly becomes a huge drain and motivation killer.

Combat is fine, but again nothing has jumped out at me as being awesome. I haven’t had a fight yet that felt like a tactical victory; everything so far has just been a slugfest where hopefully the dice are in my favor and things die. Much like the UI complaint, if combat was less of a factor, this again wouldn’t be a major problem, but the game is so combat heavy, it should be a highlight rather than something to get past to move things along.

So far the story has been above average, but it’s not blow-me-away quality to make everything else really worth plowing through. Some parts have been more interesting than others, but to make an unfair comparison, in Skyrim 90% of the content was great, with maybe 10% feeling meh or generic. In Wasteland I’d say 50% of all quest text has been pretty generic, and while that other 50% has my attention, it doesn’t grab it enough to justify more click-character->click-lockpick->click-box gameplay.

Maybe things get better? I’ve only just completed the two areas you are sent to put the repeater units down (went Ag Center), and I think I’m going to try and press on, but for a game that I thought I would really, really enjoy, so far Wasteland 2 has been somewhat disappointing.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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13 Responses to Wasteland 2 isn’t doing it for me

  1. Kobea Thris says:

    Have you played Divinity: Original Sin? Some of the UI complaints are similar, but I haven’t found a cause to really be using things like lockpicking so often that it gets that annoying. The combat, however, is great fun. I have been absolutely crushed in some fights, and reloaded, and come at them in a different way and destroyed the bad guys.

  2. maljjin says:

    That’s pretty much my feelings about Wasteland 2. I haven’t played much, but the game doesn’t create the feeling you need to play more. In theory, it should be my kind of game, but there’s something missing in the execution.

  3. Sjonnar says:

    Pretty much the same feeling here. I’m right where you are, except that i went to Highpool instead, reckoning that water was more important than food. Combat really does seem to be just rolling dice – no real tactics required – and long-range weaponry in particular is not very useful. Melee enemies close far too quickly, and a pipe wrench does as much damage as a rifle and more than a shotgun – awful design decision there – and shotguns in particular are basically useless in close quarters because of the possibility of hitting allies. Out of combat, a context-sensitive “shift-click to use the appropriate skill” button would be wonderful, and a “highlight all” button almost as good.

    • SynCaine says:

      V (or Z?) is highlight all, but at least in my experience, doesn’t quite highlight ‘all’, just most. Combine that with the camera being pretty meh, and you still end up pixel hunting a ton.

      • Sjonnar says:

        Took me about an hour to realize it, but you can use MMB+drag to rotate the camera freely instead of fixed distance rotations with Q and E. (if that’s a camera issue you’re having)

  4. The most annoying part of the game is the Ag Center, in my opinion. I regret going there for my latest replay as I find myself unmotivated to continue.

    • SynCaine says:

      Hmmm interesting, so future areas are outright better?

      • Dyssent says:

        I’ve got about 35+ hours in it, and it does get better. For some reason, which I can’t explain, I keep dropping the game and coming back to it every few weeks. I get what you are saying – how it kinda feels like a drag, but I’ve heard the late content gets a lot better.

        I’m currently in the part of the story where you start to move north (not a spoiler) and the game feels better. I’ve heard that once you get to LA the game really shines, but I’ve never made it there.

    • Sjonnar says:

      Honestly, what’s demotivating me right now is how crap the ranged weapon choices are compared to melee. Against any enemy that doesn’t blow up on death (hello pod people and your ridiculously high HP), pipe wrenches and machetes > shotguns and SSWs. And that’s just fucking dumb.

  5. Reaper says:

    I bought Wasteland during the christmas sale and had a similar experience.
    Played for 40 hours, waiting for my enjoyment to kick in as it should have, given what the game was, never really happened, so I dropped it.
    The story felt predictable, the characters more annoying than quirky (unlike Fallout for example), the UI was cumbersome, combat felt way too basic for such an important part of the game and the overworld map plain sucked.
    Plus, was it just me or were there alot of ugly, cowardly, incompetent, misogynistic men and beautiful, brave, competent scientist/warrior women?
    Maybe that’s the most disruptive part of the game for me: The characters all felt slightly off.
    I enjoyed D:OS a lot more, the story was better (though that’s subjective and I like the humor) and the combat felt more like a D&D compaign, fewer encounters but with higher impact.

    • SynCaine says:

      Thanks, I’m not close to 40 hours with it, but it doesn’t sound like things improve much.

    • Sjonnar says:

      I’ve encountered only the one incompetent misogynist so far, (the guy in highpool who wants the red skorpions to take over) along with a few hypercompetent chicks, (the redhead who joins you to get payback for Ace, that highpool guy’s competition for mayor) but if that is going to become a recurring theme with all dudes being morons or assholes and all women being perfect and above reproach, i’m dead certain i’m done here. And i’m going to demand a refund – i don’t pay good money to be preached at about the current SJW cause du jour.

      So my question is, was it really that bad?

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