‘Wasteland 2’ is brutally nostalgic

Wasteland 2

Game: “Wasteland 2”

Developer: inXile Entertainment

Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux

Release Date: Sept. 19, 2014

Rating: 4/5

+ Plenty of RPG nostalgia
+ Combat is accessible and deep
– Quests are sometimes obtuse

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Back in the stone age of 1988, a developer by the name of Brian Fargo and his fledgling team at Interplay developed a post-apocalyptic role-playing game by the name of “Wasteland.” While it’s incredibly primitive by today’s standards — the game’s “plot” was a pamphlet that was included with the disk — it was still a pioneer for the RPG genre, and it inspired further games to come, like “Fallout.”

Now, Brian Fargo seeks to make his return with “Wasteland 2,” the first official sequel to the 1988 classic. So is it worth the over-25-year wait?

Oh, yes. Yes, it is.
It is many years after the great nuclear war that devastated the Earth. Four player-controlled, customized party members are members of an organization known as the Desert Rangers. One of their own, named Ace, has been mysteriously killed off, and it’s up to the player to figure out why, and to finish what he started.

While there’s a lot of “Wasteland” DNA in “Wasteland 2,” it actually more closely resembles the first two “Fallout” titles, especially when it comes to combat. The combat, like “Fallout,” is very tactical and easy to understand, while still being deep.

It’s also unrelentingly brutal. “Wasteland 2” doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to difficulty, and players who don’t manage resources very carefully are going to find themselves in pretty terrible situations. But then again, it is the post-apocalypse, and the emphasis on survival makes this RPG stick out.

Unfortunately, that difficulty expands into the quest design as well, and that presents some problems. Quests are often obtuse. Objectives are difficult to understand, and players will often run out of resources before they can figure out what to do. That aspect of the game’s difficulty can sometimes be really infuriating.

However, a lot of the quests also do really interesting things when it comes to character development and storytelling, so perhaps some players will let “Wasteland 2” off the hook on that.

“Wasteland 2” revels in old-school RPG design, and while some will be put off by the difficulty, players who are demanding a more difficult RPG experience will really get something great out of this title. It’s a pure role-playing experience, and there’s not enough of that in the gaming space nowadays. It doesn’t do a lot new, but sometimes audiences need less new and more comforting nostalgia. Players who are yearning for a return to the days of Interplay need to give “Wasteland 2” a try.