It’s been four years already since Wasteland 2 originally released from InXile Entertainment. In that time, we’ve seen a bevy of new top-down RPGs come out, kick butt, take names, and suck away the hours of many gamers lives. But now, Wasteland 2 is on the Switch… and while the core of the game is essentially the same, the portability of such a deep post-apocalyptic RPG makes it a whole new kind of ballgame. This is our Wasteland 2 review for the Nintendo Switch. Parts of this review originally appeared on our 2014 review at MMORPG.com.
The premise is simple: You’re the next generation of Desert Ranger in the American Southwest. A nuclear war and meteor event in 1998 destroyed most of society, and it’s up to you to restore life to the barren desert survivors 15 years after the last band of rangers attempted the same thing. If this all sounds a bit too cliche, that’s part of the game’s charm. Wasteland 2 isn’t trying to reinvent the RPG, but it is trying to reignite what made the original game so great.
Although Wasteland 2’s visual style looks dated, that’s really the point. The game’s graphics closely mimic that of its younger siblings Fallout 1 and 2, but with a touch of modern flair. The UI is comprehensive and nostalgic, the WASD controls are simple, and manually rotating 3D camera allows for much more exploration than the early top-down RPGs afforded. Graphically, the game looks OK on the Switch in portable mode, but it fares much better in the docked mode with the higher resolution and more power afforded.
The storyline is really where the game shines the most to me. Straight away from the first NPC you meet, you’ll notice that connection to the original game. Although the sequel takes place 15 years after the original, many of the people you meet will be very familiar. I think creator Brian Fargo and his team at InXile did a fantastic job of catering to those of us who loved the original Wasteland.
Can we talk about difficulty? I appreciated the challenge in the original game because your resources were limited (there was a finite amount of ammo in the game world), there was real consequence for your actions, and you could royally screw up your game by making the wrong decisions. In Wasteland 2, you had better plan ahead with enough medkits, ammo, and skills, or you’re going to be remaking your party very soon. The enemies are challenging and the AI is unforgiving.
One thing about Wasteland 2 that most young gamers might not enjoy is its pace. The game is slow. Between the turn-based combat, the continuously branching dialogue, and the hidden loot, you may spend several hours just in one simple quest. I don’t consider that a bad thing, but you might want to throw out everything you know about twitch-based, hack n’ slash games and grab a sandwich and a drink for this one.
But that said, the slow burn is extremely rewarding. When you spend so much time preparing each party member’s next move, you really get a genuine sense of immersion into the task at hand. And when the battle’s over, you want to make sure you run your mouse cursor over every single inch of that room — while rotating the camera all the way around — to find every hidden bullet or merchant fodder you can hold.
As with the original Wasteland, loot is sacred, so you want to make sure you are grabbing everything you can in those first levels. This isn’t your Bethesda Fallout game, so you’re not going to get rich reselling scrap metal and coffee mugs. Every single bullet counts in this game, and that’s the way it should be in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
(Note: A copy was provided by PR for this review.)