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.