The Nintendo Switch is really becoming an amazing platform for people to try older games once again. Take Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut. The game originally released on PC back in 2014 and consoles the following year. Now in 2018, it’s making its way to Switch for a new audience, or the on-the-go audience, to experience. Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut wastes no time throwing you into a world that you can get lost in for hours. Its results on Switch are a bit mixed though. While the game itself is a lot of fun with plenty of content to enjoy, there are many small issues that make it the weakest version of Wasteland 2.
In Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut, you play as a group called the Desert Rangers, a rag-tag group of people that serve as the justice in the post-apocalyptic USA. When one of your fellow Desert Rangers is murdered, it’s up to you and your party to find the murderer and investigate suspicious radio broadcasts that occur. This game is an old school RPG, so if you’re a fan of the original Fallout games or the original Wasteland game, then this is totally your game to play.
One of the things that impresses me the most right away is how well the game’s story and dialogue is written. Right after the opening moments where the Desert Rangers bury their murdered friend, the game throws you into a world with so many questions. Yet to discover what has gone on, you need to talk to people. These conversations with characters in the game are extremely well written. They feel like normal conversation I’d have in real life. These conversations are the only way to reveal more about the world and the characters. Unlike some games where talking a lot to other characters can bring down your experience, in Wasteland 2 it’s compelling enough to make you want to talk to every character.
The game also does something I really love in RPGs: It forces you to make difficult decisions that impact your game. This makes the game feel more like MY story and less of a generic “here’s a story you play through” type of experience. The decisions I make have consequences, so I have to really think about what I’m doing. Do I steal weapons from an allied camp to help me out, knowing that it’ll likely ruin that ally’s relationship with me? And what happens if they get attacked and have no weapons? The decisions are mine, as are the consequences I have to live with. Even more remarkable is that there isn’t a correct choice in the game. Every decision has its pros and definitely its cons, so there’s no correct path to take. With some decisions I make, the consequences make themselves known really soon afterwards. Other decisions take some time before they make you feel their repercussions. So because the game is well over 50 hours long to play, my decision might not affect me now, but towards the endgame it will.
Most of the issues I have with the Switch port of Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut are issues that can be fixed. Reading the text in this game is incredibly difficult. Even throwing the text size to “Very Large” still makes it hard to read, and for a game with A LOT of things to read, that’s a problem. The game also runs…well, not the best. The frame-rate gets choppy when you open doors or talk to NPCs. It’s not a massive problem, and the frame-rate never dropped to unplayable levels, but it’s still a noticeable issue. Again, this game has plenty of doors to open and a lot of NPCs to talk to, so it’s not a minor thing you won’t ever notice. The real miss is that there was no touchscreen support implemented. With all the different menus and options you go through while playing the game, it would have been nice to be able to use the touchscreen to navigate the menus and choose those options.
Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut is also not the prettiest game to look at. Even though this game isn’t that old (2014/2015), somehow it looks much older on Switch. The brown, browner, or rust-colored worlds don’t look the greatest on the Switch screen. I realize the color palette is a choice tied to the world they’ve made, namely post-apocalypse America, but it does leave you thinking about how old the game is many times when playing. Wasteland 2 is also not a game I’d recommend if you’re looking for a game with good, quick “pick up and play” gameplay. Wasteland 2 is meant to be a deep, methodical RPG that you spend hours playing at a time. While this isn’t a problem for me and I got sucked into the game for hours in handheld mode, it might be an issue for people who want a quicker experience.
Developer: InXile Entertainment
Publisher: InXile Entertainment
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (also PC, PS4, Xbox One)
Release Date: 13th September 2018 (Nintendo Switch), 19th September 2014 (PC), 16th October 2015 (PS4, Xbox One)