We may have had to wait 20 years for Wasteland 2, but fortunately it has only taken a year for developer inXile Entertainment to come out with an updated version of their old-school post-apocalyptic RPG. Wasteland 2: Directors Cut brings the game from PC to console – PlayStation 4 and Xbox One – and boasts a range of new and updated features. Some of these boasts it lives up to, others... not so much.
A quick primer: Wasteland 2 is a post-apocalyptic turn-based RPG that has you assemble a four rangers of potentially disparate abilities into a squad to investigate the death of another ranger in the dusty desert. Three non-player characters may join your party, and each has his or her own personality, skills, and motivations. Combat is a tactical affair, and there are plenty of quests and kooky NPCs, and tough decisions to be made in this dying world that’s nonetheless sprinkled with black humour.
Though the game was well recieved upon its release last year – with the PC version earning an 8/10 here at Gameplanet – one of the common complaints was how dated it looked graphically. Among the new features advertised for Directors Cut was a graphical overhaul with the game moving from the Unity 4.5 engine to Unity 5.
Unfortunately, this graphical overhaul is negligible at best. Upon close inspection, there is very little difference between the original version on PC and the updated versions, with textures, locations and character models all maintaining the same percievable level of graphical fidelity.
Granted, this review is for Xbox One, so this could be due to the resolution differences between PC monitors and a TV. It should also be noted that the gripe here is regarding how inXile mis-represented the graphical upgrade rather than a concern for how graphics effect the game. Despite the rough around the edges it looks, the graphics are perfectly servicable in building the world and creating an atmospheric experience. And fortunately, the other updates inXile implemented in Directors Cut are more effective.
Most evident is the expanded voice acting. One of the strongest aspects of Wasteland 2 is its dialogue system, which consistently provides interesting and pertinent information while forcing you to make some tricky and gripping choices.
The voiceovers too are consistently well executed, and the Director’s Cut includes an additional 8000 lines of recorded dialogue, significantly adding to the scope and effect of the dialogue system by highlighting more characters around the wasteland.
Among the more minor additions are a new perks system and a precision strike mechanic. If you have played a Fallout game, you will be very familiar with these mechanics as perks and V.A.T.S respectively. But, seeing as Fallout was the spiritual successor to Wasteland, its probably more appropriate to say, “Look what Fallout learned from Wasteland!” These mechanics add more variety to combat and exploration, creating deeper tactical situations and allowing you to further personalise each of your Rangers.
The key difference between Director’s Cut and the vanilla version is the port to console and the implementation of controller support. It almost goes without saying that with a tactical-turn based RPG, the optimal way to play is with the mouse and keyboard. However, inXile has done an admirable job with the controller scheme. Although camera controls at first feel a little rigid and unintuitive, only a couple hours in I mostly forgot about input completely.
Wasteland 2: Directors Cut is not the overhaul that inXile suggested it would be. However, it is a better experience considering that it includes new mechanics and content which simply add more of what made this game great to begin with. Although the lack of graphical progress is a let down, considering that it remains basically unchanged it is not actually a negative but rather just the lack of a positive.
Of course, Wasteland 2 was a game that was absolutely worth playing in its vanilla state, so any additions are just icing on a particularly tasty cake. Those who already own it on PC don't lose out by getting in earlier either, as the vanilla game upgrades automatically for free. But now we can also definitively say that Wasteland 2 on console is also terrific: a deep, engaging, old-school RPG that will satisfy fans of the earlier, more complex Fallout games and newcomers alike. If you are a console player and want to know why some are finding Fallout 4 slightly shallow and disappointing, this game might give you some clues.