Wasteland 2: Director's Cut Review
Reviewed on Microsoft Xbox OneAlso available on PC and Sony PlayStation 4
Roughly a year ago, November 4th to be precise, the team here at TDF took a look at inXile Entertainment’s old school Fallout esque Kickstarter extravaganza, Wasteland 2, on PC. Hailed by our very own Rob Kershaw as a spiritual successor to the original Fallout in all but name, and greatly praised in his enthusiastic 9/10 review, the inXile team haven’t rested on the success and have jumped on the new trend of porting these traditionally PC only games across to this latest generation of consoles. This is damn fine news indeed for those of us who can no longer spend all evening slouched over a PC.
“There are between fifty and seventy hours of gameplay in Wasteland 2 for those willing to invest in its world, explore each new area fully and complete each available mission. That we were happy to do just that is testament to the brilliant design, engaging storyline and immersive combat of inXile’s world.”
Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut not only gives console players on Xbox one and PS4 a change to sample the delights it holds, it also adds a series of improvements over the original PC version. (Note, the Director’s Cut is a free upgrade for all existing PC version holders.) These improvements are minimal; the core of which include mapping the game to a game pad (version played was on Xbox One), the introduction of a new quirks system (essentially perks), the additional of precision strikes during combat the alleged fixing of a number of technical issues/bugs and a minor graphical upgrade.
The move across of a game that is very much at home with a mouse and keyboard to joypad is very much welcomed but not without its faults. From the get go it’s quite obvious the game wasn’t designed for a pad but for a game that is reasonably fiddly with a mouse and keyboard anyway, the pad does surprisingly well. The game remains quite fiddly but through the use of radial dials there are clear attempts to try to minimise this. It’s not all gone, sadly, and you will find yourself micromanaging your crew, their loadouts, their skill points, quirks etc for about ten to fifteen minutes for every hour you spend with Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut. Some may see this as off-putting, but if you come to the game knowing old school Fallout and the like, then that’s actually part of the experience, and to be fair at times lots of fun.
Graphically the game isn’t much to look at for the most part, but randomly, at times it looks fantastic - with all that said though it seems to help that the look is bare and bleak, feeding into the overall atmosphere of the Wastelands, giving them a real wrecked, ruined feel. Couple this with the always excellent voice acting which is littered throughout (you will be reading a lot in this game as it’s not all voice acted) and you have a game which oozes class, even if for the most part it doesn’t necessarily look like it is.
The introduction of precision targeting is a welcome addition, allowing you to make a point of hitting an enemy in a certain body part, particularly handy if the guy is carrying an immense handgun and has a lot of hit points, go for the gun! Along with this the new quirks do prove to be very helpful as your team wander through the wasteland. These range from the simple things like +1 base armour, all the way to the class-specific ones which make a sniper deadly even at short range, or an SMG user more accurate as they spray and pray. These stack too, so as your individual squad members level up it’s possible to really tailor them to their roles within the unit, in time making each of them a little badass in their own right. Such things really come in handy as Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut is a really unforgiving game - so much so that if you are new to the type of game, stick it on the easiest difficulty and ramp it up later or your time in the Wasteland will be both frustrating and short.
Unfortunately whilst the game is thoroughly enjoyable, it still isn’t without its problems. The micromanaging fiddly nature of the inventory and skills systems aren’t at all complemented by the laggy menus seen throughout. At times these can be excessively annoying when trying to access the player menu, changing stats, changing characters, and all of the micromanaging previously mentioned. It’s all terribly laggy, thus often making you feel like you could be doing more in your time with the game rather than the excessive faffing it forces. As well as this constant performance issue there are also a number of other technical issues which include random crashes, companion glitches, teeny tiny on screen text (patched but still ickle) and in some places, excessive loading times.
In the past console gamers have rarely had the pleasure of playing such a game, with XCOM being the only game which is remotely similar back in 2012 on the Xbox 360 and PS3. Porting over such titles as Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut and in a week or so Divinity: Original Sin, Xbox One and PS4 owners really are being spoiled. The performance is may not match that of a decent PC but as a trade off you do now have the convenience of playing it on the sofa - heavenly.
If, like many of us, you are really excited for Fallout 4 this November, Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut is a fabulous throwback to the earlier titles in that series, perfectly capturing the gritty, despair filled yet darkly amusing atmosphere that those games displayed. Whilst it’s absolutely not a looker, and technically has quite a few faults, the story, the writing and that atmosphere simultaneously highlight a rough gem - one that is not only a great game in its own right but also acts as the perfect hype generator for the aforementioned Fallout.