Having played the original PC release of Wasteland 2
, I worried about this part. Nearly all of the mechanics and systems seemed incredibly difficult (if not impossible) to carry over to the limitations of a gamepad. In some cases, my worries were well-founded; but there are a number of pleasant surprises that make the game surprisingly accessible.
Number one on my list of worries was the user interface. A common staple of many old-school Western role-playing games, that giant, clunky interface is about the most impossible-to-adapt mechanic in all of gaming. Wasteland 2 shoulders that burden and presents it as a badge of honor; it is unwilling to compromise its vision for the sake of streamlining. That being said, the team at inXile obviously did their absolute best to keep the frustration to a minimum. Games like these were common in the 1990s, before we realized that heads-up displays were obtrusive screen hogs. And Wasteland 2 does have a fairly sizable one. It turns out, thereís no substitute for a mouse and keyboard to manipulate the windows within windows and multitude of random icons scattered across the bottom fourth of the screen. But I have to give inXile credit for at least mitigating this problem. Shifting between in-game action and HUD action with analog stick clicks isnít ideal or intuitive at first, but with time and practice, it gets easier to use. All told, I get the sense that they did the best with what they had.
I didnít really worry about the combat; XCOM: Enemy Unknownís console versions are more than competent, and if anything, Wasteland 2ís combat system most closely resembles that one. Itís a grid-based, turn-based strategy system that takes into account distance and assorted statistics (skills, cover, weapons, etc.) to deliver an algorithmically sound but admittedly challenging combat experience. There are a lot of nasty creatures out in the wastes, and learning how to properly put each one down is one of the many delights of Wasteland 2. And choosing which skills to use (in combat or exploration) is as simple as pulling a trigger to open the specific radial wheel.
For those who have played the original release to death already, here's what you're getting in the Director's Cut: the aforementioned extra voice over work, new perks, redesigned enemy encounters, and the Precision Strike system, which is similar to the V.A.T.S. targeting system of the last two Fallout games.
With Fallout 4 weeks away, Wasteland 2: Directorís Cut is admittedly a hard sell by default. The comparisons will be drawn (though technically, its predecessor came first) and it will inevitably be dismissed by some. But they do themselves a serious disservice. It may lack the bombast of a triple-A release, but what Wasteland 2 lacks in budget and polish, it more than makes up for in heart and ambition.