Wasteland 2 Preview: Next generation of Desert Rangers

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wasteland 2 logoIt’s been nearly 15 years since the original Wasteland brought players into the wide open post-apocalyptic Arizona Territory and some great RPG gameplay even for its time. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, inXile Entertainment has successfully released the Wasteland 2 early beta. Let’s just say everything players loved about the original is still here, but the updated technology and graphics brings the already great gameplay to our current generation.

I began by creating my squad. I choose to create at least one character for myself, a female named Ghost, and customized her skills to turn her into a rogue character of sorts. The remainder of my squad was selected from the premade roster characters on the left side of the screen. I make sure to bring along a combat medic, a sniper and a negotiator.

wasteland 2 character creation screen

My Wasteland 2 adventure started by talking with General Vargas. That’s right, it’s the same Snake Vargas from the original Wasteland. The now aging leader of the Desert Rangers is burying another member of the Desert Ranger crew, Ace. While investigating a radio disturbance on the outskirts of the Arizona territory, it seems like Ace was attacked and killed by someone or something. Judging by the radio messages, this something has been talking about a future where man and machines will merge. This new race of cyborgs have the Desert Rangers in their sights, with the intent of destroying them.

Right off the bat, I’m given my first chance to use Wasteland 2’s conversation system. Unlike the first Wasteland, you now have dialogue choices instead of personally typing in your own messages. Typing your own message is still an option, however the streamlined dialogue choices make it easier than guessing what the person wants to hear. I find out a little bit more about what has happened to Ace and, after some condolences, Vargas informs us that we’ll be the ones looking into his death and wrapping up his mission. This is the only way for us to gain access to the Ranger Citadel.

outside citadel

Before we set out, I grab a shovel not far from Ace’s grave. This comes in handy as I explore the area finding a patch of dirt holding some bandages. I continue to explore the area, but with this being an early build the exploration is moving at a snail’s pace. The initial frame rate had some issues making exploring boring and tedious, but a recent update has resolved the problem.

I eventually ran into another former squad member from the original Wasteland, Angela Deth. My squad found her in mourning over Ace’s death, and she’s looking to come with my squad to get some vengeance on whomever or whatever killed Ace. I decide to let her join our party and we head towards the exit of the Citadel.

It was then that I reached the wider wasteland. Wasteland 2 allowed me to travel the wasteland, but not at my leisure. I could certainly explore, but each movement used up water, making searching the wasteland a cautious one of survival. Luckily, an oasis can replenish water supplies, which allowed me to continue my exploration. Thankfully these areas remain on the map and are permanent, so I know where to go should I need more water. I also had to avoid some noxious radiation clouds as my squad and I traveled. Thankfully, I had a Geiger counter that detected how close the clouds were and how dangerous they are.

fighting raiders

After some exploration, I found the radio tower where Ace’s body was killed. My squad began searching the area. I found a trail of blood, followed it, and discovered Ace’s Ranger Badge. I then continued following the trail. My group soon came across some raiders who demanded we pay a toll to reach the radio tower. It was only 15 scrap to get through and explore, I decided to fight the raiders.

Combat works in the same, turn based manner as the original Wasteland, but with updated graphics. Wasteland 2’s combat also has visual representation, as opposed to the text based combat of the original. I’m happy I chose a well-balanced squad group. Combat can be tough, and these raiders were no different. We eventually killed all of them and continued to explore the area. That’s when I made a jarring discovery: the remains of a human leg. But the fact that it was dismembered isn’t the only reason it was disturbing. The leg appeared to be made of metal and mechanized. Whatever got to Ace, it seemed like the message received from the radio tower isn’t so far-fetched and this unknown force is already making moves to destroy the rangers.

radio tower fight

From what I’ve played thus far of Wasteland 2 I can’t wait to see how the full build is going to play out. The low frame rate made things excruciatingly slow at times, but every other part has played out so beautifully that I still found myself having a blast. It will definitely be worth the wait to fully enjoy this post-apocalyptic epic in its entirety.  If you’re looking to get in on the beta action you can buy it on Steam now for $59.99.

Site [inXile Entertainment]

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