Survival Skills: Wasteland 2 Console Preview

We’ve reached a point within the game industry where it’s hard to find experiences on one platform that aren’t replicated or ported to another. PC gamers are playing the same games as console gamers and if exclusivity exists, it’s either temporary or will be copied in some way. Back in the 90s, would you have ever thought that JRPGs would be most prominent on PC nowadays? Or that strategy games and top-down RPGs are finding their ways to consoles? You can put me in the “nope” column for both of those and Wasteland 2 on consoles is just another game out there proving me wrong.

Wasteland 2 was a huge Kickstarter success story, surpassing their goal of $900,000 to the tune of a whopping $2.9 million. As planned, it made its way to PC, receiving praise from fans and critics alike, and is now undergoing the customary enhancements and re-release that seem to now be standard practice. In reaching this point, Wasteland 2 will not only see big graphical overhauls and gameplay enhancements, but it will also be making its way over the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. During E3, I got to sit down and play the Xbox One version of the game during a hands-on session.
wasteland2insert1Since this was an early build of the game, load times were long, framerates were low, and visuals were jaggy, but I’ve been told all of that will be fixed in due time. Still, it was worth mentioning nevertheless. I decided to roll out with a default party so I could spend my time actually playing the game rather than agonizing over character creation in a convention setting.

The game started with my group gathered around a fire pit with orders coming in from someone standing near me. I needed to make my way up to where some bandits were located and clear them out. For the most part, it was standard apocalyptic fare with rundown towns, wasteland survivors, bandits and the like. Some of that is forgiven though, since this is a sequel to one of the original games in the genre and the writing and art direction are top notch.

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After I got my bearings with the controls, the developer pointed out how many options there are in the game for interaction. After finding a shovel, that opened up possibilities for me to dig up loot and interact with other objects. I could cut off people and end conversations abruptly, ask about key topics or choose not to, invite people to join me, or not. It was very much a roleplaying game right down to the core and everything translated over to a console interface very naturally.

The cursor’s selection was still a bit off as it was hard to really point my character in the direction of what I wanted to use or interact with if there were multiple things clustered together, but that’s another thing they promise to iron out in due time. When choosing actions, a nice selection wheel pops up since controllers don’t exactly have right mouse buttons – so some new interface design choices had to be accommodated.
wasteland2insert4Combat though, was definitely the highlight. The closest thing to compare it to for console gamers would definitely be XCOM: Enemy Unknown, as it features similar turn-based combat, although in Wasteland 2, everything happens within the same game map as the rest of the game and there’s no base management. You run around completing quests and engage in combat immediately in the same area. Objects are scattered around for cover, AP is utilized to perform actions or move, and everyone has different abilities and specialties. On PC, Shadowrun Returns has an awfully similar system as well, if you’re not familiar with the existing game.

It seems like a great port and the new additions will be welcome to fans of the existing PC version. The small issues that cropped up were mostly technical and should be figured out by release, so no worries there. InXile Entertainment is planning to launch the console version of Wasteland 2 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One later this summer.