The original Wasteland, released by Electronic Arts in 1988, was made in a time when games were trying to allow as much freedom as possible. Some of the games of that time had a scale that would even put modern games like Skyrim to shame (The map in Daggerfall was close to 62,000 square miles), and with a strong focus on letting the players decide what kind of person they wanted to be, and what role they wanted to play in these vast and sprawling worlds.
Wasteland 2 set out to rekindle the same feel as some of those original games, and it succeeded to a large extent. To me, it felt a lot like playing the first two Fallout games, with isometric maps, quirky encounters, moral choice, and deep dialogue.
Of course, this would also lead to some mild criticisms of the game—people saying it didn’t try enough that was new—but for a lot of old-school open world RPG fans, it was exactly what we wanted. The game retains a 9/10 rating on Steam and, in my opinion, it’s well deserved.
Among my few complaints was I would have enjoyed some larger cities. Wasteland 2 does have some very large maps, but most of the towns are relatively small. The big cities, filled with NPCs and odd side quests, were always among my favorite parts of the older games. They were the type of games where you never felt like you’d met every NPC or went into every building. It made the world feel bigger than your character—that sense of the unknown.
Of course, this isn’t a strong complaint. Wasteland 2 did a great job giving you choices between saving one area at the cost of another, or choosing to side with one side in a conflict that would inevitably lead to another’s destruction.
It also had a great combat system. It works almost identical to the turn-based system in the original Fallout games, but the developers took it a step further by adding a cover system reminiscent of the XCOM reboot. And since enemies will often use cover—and since the cover systems work so well—the game forces you to try to outflank your enemies, which adds another layer of strategy.
Wasteland 2 is a great RPG on its own, and its one of the few games that has managed to capture the feel of games like the original Wasteland and Fallout, while managing to not feel stale or outdated. Add to it an old-west undercurrent, good voice acting, entertaining dialogue, and a solid combat system, and you’re looking at a solid RPG.