Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut ★★★ Platform: Switch
It’s not all doom and gloom in Nintendo’s neck of the woods these days. True, the Switch now has a paid subscription service it can barely justify to play games online and its release schedule still consists of cheap, throwaway indie titles and ports of old games with nary an exclusive killer app in sight — but at least some of the ports are really good.
So if you’re in need of a salve to soothe the burn of your expensive hybrid machine still not quite living up to its potential, you could do worse than Wasteland 2. It’s been on PC and other consoles for a while, and I’m quite surprised it came to the Switch.
But the fact is that Wasteland 2 is great. It comes to us from Brian Fargo, one of the creators of the celebrated original Fallout games of the late ’90s, and is a spiritual successor to these games. Set in a postnuclear-apocalypse, Wasteland 2 tasks the player with creating a team of four wannabe Desert Rangers who are keen to prove themselves to the only organisation trying to maintain law and order.
Your first assignment — investigating the death of another ranger — leads to a far bigger story with plenty of side missions and distractions along the way. The world is huge, filled with enemies to fight, hidden items to find and plenty of characters to talk to, recruit, rob, whatever.
Like its spiritual predecessors, the combat is of the top-down, turn-based variety, where both the player and their enemies spend action points to move around the battlefield, use weapons, take cover, heal themselves, etc.
It’s pretty damn merciless too. This is no JRPG where you can tank 20 hits before needing to heal — in the wasteland, you die fast. So fight smart.
The control scheme is a bit on the clunky side, especially when it comes to directing a character to use a particular skill on a particular item. But once you get the hang of it, it becomes second nature. Games of this breadth and depth are what the Switch sorely needs. Now it just needs a few original ones.