Wasteland 2 - Switch Review

Wasteland 2 has come a long way since its original release back in 2014 on the PC and 2015 onto both the Xbox and PlayStation platforms. This interesting take on a squad based RPG through a wasteland starts off with a funeral in which you are tasked with finding communication repeaters of a fellow fallen ranger, the law enforcement of the wastelands. Setting out with your newly created squad, you'd better be a quick learner as this wasteland is out for both your water and your blood.

After many, many hours, I'm at an impasse with Wasteland 2. On one hand it's a brilliantly designed and presented title. On the other? I just can't seem to get into it and a lot of the little issues that have come out to me mechanically have stopped me from enjoying what could have been a contender to hold the same podium as others in its genre that I absolutely love.

Starting off, you'll be able to either take the default party that the developers deemed worthy for the upcoming adventure or start from absolute scratch and design them yourself. The default party? It felt rather solid and I honestly only tweaked a few cosmetic elements to make it more of my own since I liked the versatility that it was promising with all aspects covered from your snipers to your Close Quarter Combat specialists.

Once out into the field you can choose which of your party of four will be the one to start off conversations. What I really appreciated is that even if you throw your most charismatic character forward, the others can chime in for snarky comments if you decide to go their route instead of being diplomatic. Each of these options distinctly lets you know who's going to be the one saying the words that could lead a peaceful encounter into a violent one or the other way around.

When things turn violent is about where I'm also uncertain about Wasteland 2 as there are various elements that make up the combat that I just couldn't seem to get behind. Combat is both Turned and Action Point (AP) based. Whenever it becomes one of your characters or enemy's turns, they can either move or attack within the limit of points that they currently have access to. This style has been around for a long time with my earliest being the original Fallout back when it was still owned by Interplay and worked on by Black Isles. It's not here that I have issues as the basics of battle are as solid as they could be.

Where my issues lie is when it becomes your character's turn. You can either move around the map in which varying distances cost varying AP. You can pull the trigger on your weapons if your enemy is in range in which a pistol requires less AP than a Sniper Rifle for example. Or you can do a combination of both or save up for the next turn. It's up to what makes the most strategic sense.

The above sounds solid doesn't it? Where my issues come into play is that you have to move your cursor around in order to find out exactly how far you can move and how much it'll cost. There are no outlines detailing in an increment of two for example which would give quick visual queues that would save on time. Another issue is that the range of weapons felt off. The closer you were to an enemy the chance you had to hit them. With a weapon such as a shotgun? Having to step back as far as your sniper to maybe get a 46% chance at hitting something? I lost a lot of ammo and most fights went to my CQC specialist because he was the only one that could hit something. It made little to no sense to me as even pistols needed to be closer ranged than a shotgun in order to hit something even remotely close to 50%.

On this note though, the battlefields and the environments that you will be facing off in are brilliant. Out in the wastelands there's sand with nothing to use for cover, broken down houses to use for cover from both frontal and aerial attacks. Add in some crates that can be destroyed into the mix and there are plenty of options for both you and those wise enough to use them. Monsters like bugs will just spit and fly at you so using cover is only as useful as it can be when acid is being launched vertically in an arc towards your party.

Once you've hopefully survived an encounter and patched up your squad, you'll be gaining experience in order to level up to learn new abilities or improve on the ones that you already have. It's a solid system that works on points gained once you've leveled up. Do you want someone else to be able to heal up your party? Someone to pick locks because you oops starting off without one? What about improving upon their firearms accuracy? It's there and you'll want to pass through all of the options because if you simply buy new abilities without really thinking about it? Your character may not end up useless, but just somewhat “ok” as they can't support the rest of the squad.

There is one thing that I have to mention and that is that Wasteland 2 is way too hard to play in a handheld mode as the text is damned tiny. No scaling has been done which means that if you really want to sit down to and enjoy, you'll need your Switch in its cradle and a controller in hand with a large enough screen which made me grateful for the projector and the 103” it projects onto. While there is some voice acting, there isn't enough to get by without having to read and even then that wouldn't even include the menus and the character customizations that are left to go through.

Porting titles to consoles is either a super hit, or a miss. To me, with the way that the controls felt while trying to navigate my menus, I constantly felt like I could have gone for a keyboard and a mouse because the controllers just were not doing it for me. Divinity Original Sin, Pillars of Eternity, even Diablo 3 and a few others have spent time crafting the transition and kept in mind that a controller only has so many buttons to pull off what one on a PC would have. Menus felt clunky and navigating through, especially my inventory, often had be doing things that I never even meant to do. Add in that the combat would often freeze on me having to restart an entire encounter sometimes five or ten minutes down the line? Wasteland 2 is something that I would need to re-visit on my PC.

Overall, at least on the Switch, I could not get into Wasteland 2. Clunky controls combined with performance issues kept holding me back from even getting pasts the oddness that ranged combat could often have. I hope to revisit this soon upon a PC, but in the meantime, I'm feeling disappointed because it has been a title that I've been looking forward to for a long while and after reading Nick and especially Robert's reviews, I had expected to be blown away.

Game Information

Nintendo Switch
inXile Entertainment
inXile Entertainment
Single Player
Other Platform(s):
Sony PlayStation 4
Microsoft Xbox One

Provided by Publisher

Article by Pierre-Yves