Wasteland 2 has roots that go deep into gaming’s history. Developer inXile was founded by longtime members of Interplay games – known for the original Fallout games. The game was the product of a successful Kickstarter in 2012 that boasted most of the original game’s development team – and was released in 2014 on PC to lots of critical acclaims. Ports on Xbox and Playstation were released in 2015, and now a Switch port comes to us as of September 2018.
Set in a post-apocalyptic future, Wasteland 2 tells the story of a group of Rangers who uphold order and help the downtrodden. The story starts with a burial, a fellow Ranger has been murdered and you’re tasked with getting to the bottom of the mystery. As you progress, you will uncover a plot to destroy the Rangers and push what’s left of civilization to the brink of existence.
The game takes place over the fallout riddled deserts of Arizona and the ruins of Los Angeles; as you progress through the story you encounter junkies, raiders, militias, and humanlike synths. Wasteland 2 has a very deep story, and a number of side missions that add to the main narrative, it will definitely appeal to those who like getting into a deep world much like a good book.
Wasteland 2 is a turn-based role playing game. The console port has done a good job at simplifying the control scheme, originally designed for a PC. While Wasteland 2 definitely fills a need on the Switch, I found it a little disheartening that the game doesn’t make use of the Switch’s touch screen at all. While not necessarily a need to have, it would have been a nice to have – and certainly a puzzling decision on inXile’s part.
There’s a lot to get a grasp in the world of Wasteland 2, not only in the story but also the game’s combat systems. Wasteland 2 does a good job of introducing players to their combat systems as the game begins, but it will take hours of play to master. You control a squad of four characters, each of which is fully customizable, or can be selected from a pre-loaded list. Your party can also host three nonplayer characters, and these characters usually have special abilities that will aid you during the game.
Combat can happen when you’re traversing the world through the map, or within a level. When you’ve engaged an enemy, the turn-based system is triggered, and the game’s tactical experience comes to the forefront. Anyone familiar with the original Fallout, or more a more recent tactical games like X-Com or Shadowrun will experience a sense of familiarity when playing Wasteland. Movement and attacks use action points, however ending turn early allow you to bank some of these points. In addition to basic attacks, characters have special abilities which can boost attacks, heal or deal heavy damage to enemies.
Progressing through the story also requires a lot of interacting with NPC characters, and this means dialogue windows. There is a lot of dialogue to get through in Wasteland 2, and playing on the small screen of the Switch found me squinting to read some of the text. Again, this is a design choice that was a little puzzling.
Graphics and Sound
Wasteland 2 does a good job at recreating the look and feel of a classic PC RPG with a modern flair. The game runs smoothly on Switch, even during some of the larger encounters. While resolution certainly was turned down for the Switch port, the game still looks reasonably good, and true to form.
Wasteland 2 also sports a nice desert themed soundtrack which will help set the tone through the game.
While it’s certainly nice to see an under-served genre hit the Switch, especially such a critically acclaimed title, I found this port to be underwhelming. The Switch will never match the graphical output of its counterparts, but it does boast features that should be incorporated into the games that are developed for it. The lack of touchscreen integration and optimization for portable play make this a difficult port to recommend.
Wasteland 2: Director's Cut Switch
- Good to see an underserved genre make its way to Switch.
- The game itself is a deep one - and will give those who chance it a lot to play.
- Lots of depth in all facets of the game, including character creation.
- Poorly executed port doesn't use Switch to its full potential
- Difficult to navigate menus.
- No use of touch controls.