Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our
review process here.
We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
Lifewire / Kelsey Simon
Minimal automatic save points
The Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut is a top-down third-person role playing game with tactical turn-based combat. It offers players looking for an intense gaming experience a difficult yet fulfilling post-apocalyptic adventure.
The Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut is the second title in the Wasteland role-playing series. It focuses on offering players a detailed storyline into a post-apocalyptic world where a group of rangers try to bring stability back to the wasteland. The game combines open-world exploration with tactical turn-based combat. We played The Wasteland 2 for roughly 15 hours, sometimes getting aggravated at its difficult combat system, but still enjoying the experience. Read on to see how it stacked up compared to the best PC RPGs on our roundup.
The first step to starting your adventure in Wasteland 2 is building your team. You can start by using a premade team, or you can build the team yourself, picking, and choosing your characters. You can even change their looks and names. Once you pick your team, you’ll be asked what difficulty you want to play at (which thankfully can be changed at any time if things feel too hard).
From there, you’ll begin at a ranger base within the Wasteland. You control a team of four Desert Rangers, and General Vargas will give you your mission. Your first mission will be to investigate what happened with Ace, another Ranger. He died at a nearby radio tower, and your team will need to go and figure out what happened. You’ll learn how Ace died and that further investigation will need to be done. Then you set out again across the wasteland and come across either Highpool or Ag Center, depending on which direction you take.
I stumbled upon the Ag Center and decided to start the mission there. The Ag Center is a research facility with farms and livestock. Some type of virus has spread through the plants and animals and turned them crazy. With help from the researchers, you’ll need to figure out how to stop the infection, and save the researchers that have been captured before you’re able to move on to Highpool. Overall, the plot will follow your team of rangers as they bring stability back to the Wasteland, helping the others who survive there solve their various problems.
Wasteland 2 is a third-person role-playing game with turn-based tactical combat. A camera will follow you overhead, although you can scroll in if you want a closer up feel. You’ll command your team all at once, or you can break them apart and only command a single character. There are specific weapon focuses for each of your characters and the game will start you off with a breakdown of two long-ranged, and two short-ranged fighters. You’ll set out to investigate the first radio tower and engage in your first fight (although if you’re savvy, it is possible to talk your way out of the fight).
Fight initiates one of two ways: you can take the first short, or get close enough to draw the attention of your enemies. When a fight begins, the game will switch from open-world exploration to turn-based combat. You’ll have to position your team wisely to effectively kill enemies and dodge attacks. Even on the easier setting, some of these fights can be difficult. I was shocked how much harder the first boss fight was, and had to quickly adjust my playstyle to overcome him.
Don’t be afraid to save before important fights, because Wasteland is not forgiving when it comes to reloading. If you die, you could reload farther back than you’d expect. Also, be aware that should you want to start a second game for any reason, you will overwrite the data of any other save, giving up that playthrough.
Don’t be afraid to save before important fights, because Wasteland is not forgiving when it comes to reloading.
As you go along your characters will level, and you’ll be able to level specific skills for each. These include weapon-specific leveling so your characters will handle their specific weapon of choice better, but they also include ability skills, such as lock-picking and computer-hacking. These side skills will be very important as you play, allowing you to find new weapons, armor, ammo, and other items, but also in unlocking areas you wouldn’t have access to otherwise. Important items can go unnoticed on the floor in corners, so it’s important that you check everywhere.
Side skills will be very important as you play, allowing you to find new weapons, armor, ammo, and other items, but also in unlocking areas you wouldn’t have access to otherwise.
This actually brings up my least favorite thing about the game―the moments where you weren’t sure what to do, and needed a specific item to move forward but hadn’t yet found it, or didn’t yet know what it was. Sometimes this got very aggravating, and maybe won’t be an issue for all, but sometimes I wanted a touch more direction.
Wasteland 2 has a lot of gameplay mechanics, and at first, this can be very overwhelming if you aren’t used to RPGs. While the game does offer simple tutorials that pop-up along the right side of the screen, introducing the different game elements, most probably won’t read them. I certainly didn’t. A lot of figuring out the game will be making the occasional error and learning as you go, and as long as you have an open mind, Wasteland 2 has a lot to offer.
A lot of figuring out the game will be making the occasional error and learning as you go, and as long as you have an open mind, Wasteland 2 has a lot to offer.
Wasteland 2 doesn’t attempt to do anything artistic with its graphics. Its visuals are reminiscent of older RPGs such as Neverwinter Nights (view on Steam), with simple character models and the top-down camera view. Obviously, Wasteland does have updated textures and far more details than older RPGs but everything is pretty simple.
The HUD is another important visual of the game. The game developers definitely chose to give the HUD and menus a post-apocalyptic feel, with gears and dated coloring. However, there are elements about the HUD that don’t feel smooth. For instance, when I got into fights, I instinctively wanted to use the HUD to flip between characters, as in other turn-based games this is usually possible. This is not the case with Wasteland 2. Thankfully, once you get used to the weird quirks of the menu system and the HUD, its slight design issues won’t be a problem.
Wasteland 2: Directors Cut costs $30, which is a reasonable price for the amount of content the game has to offer. The RPG style lends itself to allow one to dive deep into the game, which means hours of gameplay. You can follow the story missions or you can really dig in and explore all the areas of the map. You can probably catch the game on sale too, especially if you wait until Wasteland 3 is released. Overall, for the price Wasteland 2 has a lot to offer and is an enjoyable, well-designed adventure RPG.
Wasteland 2 is the second RPG in a three-game series. There is a remastered original Wasteland, that can be purchased for $15 (view online). Wasteland 3 (view on Amazon) is available for preorder. So if you played through Wasteland 2 and enjoyed it, then it’s worth considering the other two games in the series. The developer, inXile Entertainment also has other RPG games that are worth looking into, as the structure of the game will be the same but the story and theme will be different.
Torment: Tides of Numenera (view on Amazon) is a sword and sorcery themed RPG also created by inXile. The Bard’s Tale (view on Amazon) is another more traditional RPG with a Dungeon and Dragons feel that is also very well known and loved, also created by inXile. Basically, if you enjoy Wasteland, the first place to go to find similar titles will be to the developer themselves, as they’ve been making strong and fun RPGs for years, and have won various awards for doing so as well as they do.
A well-made tactical RPG.
Wasteland 2 is a well written and smartly designed role-playing game. The post-apocalyptic setting makes for a great variety of enemies and storylines. If you’re willing to put in the time to learn all the game’s controls and quirks, there’s a lot of gameplay to enjoy. While sometimes difficult, Wasteland 2 is a solid game any serious RPG fan will enjoy.