Wasteland 2 is a great game made even better with the director’s cut that enhanced many core aspects of the original release. After it was announced that Wasteland 2 was heading to the Nintendo Switch, I was anxious to see how it will turn out considering the scope of it, and the relatively modest power of the hardware next to the current generation consoles. This port has turned out exactly what I expected it to be, mildly disappointing, but still a fun game that requires some patience.
Don’t get me wrong. Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut is an excellent game that shows us a very grim image of the post-apocalyptic world full of nuclear waste and all kinds of mutated creatures. But the transition to a portable hasn’t indeed worked out that well for it. The biggest and perhaps the most annoying change is for the load times, which are so long that it becomes a game of patience. I can ignore the sacrifices to the visuals which were needed for a stable frame rate, but this never actually works as intended. The frame rate will drop, and this will happen often until you get used to it.
Wasteland 2 is an adventure that is entirely shaped by your choices. You can make your own group of custom rangers in the start, or roll with a pre-defined set of them. This is your first choice and just one of the many that you will make across the course of the game. Everything, from the story to the battle outcomes, will depend on your choice, and the experience is shaped by how you address each situation. This leads to an incredibly ambitious game that in addition offers plenty of replay value if you want to return to this world.
Wasteland 2 is a traditional CRPG that has a complex control scheme. Even in every battle, you experience so many things to keep track of constantly, and this is where the portable nature of the Nintendo Switch doesn’t work as effectively. It is possible to enlarge the text displayed, but despite that, the UI captures a vast portion of the screen and it is a bit hard to make it all out in the beginning. You can get used to it, but this is an unfortunate side-effect of the game and immediately noticeable when switching between the Docked and Portable mode. The game provides a rather terrible tutorial which relies more on your reading skills than teaching anything meaningful. It makes it harder to learn the ropes at the start leading to trial and error moments.
Staying true to its name, the game relies on a permadeath mechanic requiring the player to keep their game saves handy since if your party member dies, they will be gone forever. As you start with an intimate group of rangers, you will continue to expand the group and gain new followers that will join it. It is possible for them to get killed, so you will need to make sure they are kept in an excellent shape. Sooner or later, you will usually end up making a choice that will determine the fate of a character so there are many moral obligations to deal with here.
The most fun part of the game is undoubtedly its combat system. Not only it offers plenty of depth and strategy, despite being turn-based in nature, but there is also so much to customize for the combat that it will take a significant chunk of your time. The first thing to take note of is how you can perform multiple actions in a turn. This is because the battle system relies on AP or action points allocated to each character. Each action that you perform utilizes a specific amount of AP and if your character still has some AP left after executing the move, they can continue with their turn until it runs out for them.
This can be a challenging game so if you are unfamiliar with the genre, there is the choice to pick an easy mode. Honestly, I often felt helpless in the world of Wasteland 2.There is a unique sense of dread and desolation with the way the atmosphere gets presented in Wasteland 2, which is hard to find in other games. The game doesn’t expect mercy for your character at all, by just throwing your party out there. Exploring the world map, you can find out outposts, an oasis to fill out water or expose yourself in combat situations. This is where the Nintendo Switch version completely falls apart.
The thing is, Wasteland 2 uses the Unity game engine which is not that well optimized on consoles. This can lead to long load times on the Nintendo Switch, and with the game constantly encouraging you to enter various areas or search for unknown locations, it is consistently a chore to go through a long loading screen. The frame rate and general performance are also similarly poor and there is stuttering when exploring some locations that can be distracting. Combat itself seems to work better though, but the visuals are barely achieving anything extraordinary and can look terrible. Exploration with the default camera controls doesn’t feel that great with the level-of-detail pared back so low. It is noticeable if you have played on either PC or other consoles.
Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut Review (Switch)
Game Reviewed on: Switch
Game description: Wasteland 2 is a post-apocalyptic role-playing video game developed by inXile Entertainment and published by Deep Silver. It is the sequel to 1988's Wasteland, and was successfully crowdfunded through Kickstarter. An enhanced version of the game, named Wasteland 2: Director's Cut, was released in October 2015, including versions for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
Final Score - 7/10
Wasteland 2: Director's Cut places a tremendous emphasis on your choices and offers a thrilling adventure set in a completely unjust world. When it comes to the Nintendo Switch version, there are technical issues, ranging from the load times to the frame rate, that it is not the smoothest experience out of all the platforms.