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Preview Wasteland 2 Beta Preview at GameBanshee

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Codex Year of the Donut Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
Tags: Eric Schwarz; InXile Entertainment; Wasteland 2

The indefatigable Eric Schwarz has written a three page preview of the Wasteland 2 beta for GameBanshee. His impressions of the game are mainly positive (see the second page), but since this is the RPG Codex, I'll quote the critical part of the preview:

Wasteland 2 is showing a lot of promise at this stage, but as it's still in active development, there is a lot that can and likely will change. I won't comment on things like the occasional crash or save corruption issue (though in general, the game is pretty stable for me), because those come with the territory and are expected at this stage in development. Rather, I'd like to talk more about where I think Wasteland 2 can be improved... in some places, more substantially than others.

To start, even though I really enjoy the combat, at this stage there is some room for improvement. Right now there is a general lack of unique enemies and special encounters, with a lot of combat that could be described as filler... I think that for a game with this much combat, more needs to be done with the encounter design to avoid unnecessary repetition. Furthermore, things like grenades aren't yet in, and there is no destructible cover in place, so battlefields remain feeling very static and ultimately, battles themselves are a little predictable in how they play out - when the game throws a monkey wrench at you in the form of a sudden instantly-downed party member, it's great, but such events that force you to immediately change gears don't happen often enough. Last, the lack of features like aimed shots and different melee attacks arguably leaves things a bit more simplistic than they should be.

Skill use also needs some work. Although most skills are valuable, several of them are not too well balanced at this stage, and many of them don't get used as often as they should. Combat skills vastly outweigh the benefits of everything else, since combat is mostly unavoidable in Wasteland 2, and therefore either those skills, or ones related to combat like Field Medic and Surgeon, are most important, followed by Lockpicking and Safecracking, which are used very frequently. I'm not saying that every skill needs to be equally valuable, but right now I feel the game rewards some skills too much compared to others. The same can be said of attributes - Coordination is by far the most important, since it affects firearm use, while Charisma fulfils its legacy as a dump stat due to how little use it sees throughout, and because dialogue skill checks seem entirely unaffected by it.

I also have some complaints about how the game's loot is handled. Right now, there appear to be only generic containers, with very little hand-placed loot to be found. The type of loot isn't affected enough by the type of container you find - other games with generated loot lists tend to feature different container categories, like weapon lockers or medicine cabinets, but in Wasteland 2 you find the same old loot distribution over and over. As a result, there's also an over-abundance of containers, with some rooms featuring four or five lootables, but all the loot is distributed across each of them, so looting can feel like busywork (doubly so when the containers are locked and need to be lockpicked or bashed). This could be iterated upon quite a bit, in order to make loot feel more unique and to improve that sense of scavenging for supplies.

My final, and probably nastiest bugbear, is in the lack of free exploration of the world map and the general lack of connective tissue between locations. Right now, most map locations don't open up until the plot has advanced sufficiently, which means that roaming the world in search of adventure just doesn't really exist, and this also diminishes the importance of world map travel. Additionally, although there are multiple solutions to a lot of problems, often the potential for quests and interesting multi-faceted scenarios is not quite realized. It's that question of "what happens after the crisis" that needs to be answered; I would love to see more world-spanning problems appear that require some tough choices, with both possibilities as well as outcomes depending on choices made earlier in the game - that would really help the choice and consequence factor, as well as give some more meaning to the world map travel system.
And in conclusion:

Even though Wasteland 2 has a long ways to go, at this stage in development I do feel it's very promising. The beta is not perfect by any means - graphics, user interface, and even quests, story and general gameplay are all subject to change - so that could turn some players off who expect a polished and bug-free time right out of the box, but at the same time, if you are interested in seeing a glimpse of what the game will offer as far as its overall gameplay experience goes, the beta is probably worth checking out.

Despite all the positives, it's worth pointing out that as-is, the game is not really in an acceptable state. When I preview titles, usually they are much further on in development, and if I hadn't done any game development myself before, it'd probably be pretty jarring to see a game like this. And, truthfully, there is nothing guaranteeing it will improve, so I'd rather not get too complacent with it and say the game's going to turn out perfect in the end, because that simply would not be honest or realistic. But that said, I do have faith in the talent at inXile and I expect them to make good on their promises as best they can.

All said, even at this fairly early stage, Wasteland 2 still brings back a lot of what I love about CRPGs from the mid-to-late 90s and early 2000s... it just needs more time in development and more suggestions from fans to really get it that final 25% of the way there, and right now that appears to be just what it's getting. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing how the beta evolves, as well as how the final product turns out.
As are we, Eric, as are we.
 

Wizfall

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My final, and probably nastiest bugbear, is in the lack of free exploration of the world map and the general lack of connective tissue between locations. Right now, most map locations don't open up until the plot has advanced sufficiently, which means that roaming the world in search of adventure just doesn't really exist, and this also diminishes the importance of world map travel. Additionally, although there are multiple solutions to a lot of problems, often the potential for quests and interesting multi-faceted scenarios is not quite realized. It's that question of "what happens after the crisis" that needs to be answered; I would love to see more world-spanning problems appear that require some tough choices, with both possibilities as well as outcomes depending on choices made earlier in the game - that would really help the choice and consequence factor, as well as give some more meaning to the world map travel system.
I have not played the demo but this is really worrying because it seems quite hard to change.
Free exploration was the strong point of both W1 and Fallout.
Also connectivity and coherence between locations (and the need to revisiting the same locations), quests involving multiple locations were what make Fallout 1/2 so great and make it feel like a complete, very "immersive" game.
 

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Codex Year of the Donut Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
Well, I don't know that there was that much need to revisit early areas in Fallout or Fallout 2. I think people may be exaggerating that aspect a bit.
 

Loriac

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Free exploration however was definitely a feature of Wasteland - you could hit Vegas early on, and if you really knew what you were doing you could even beeline to power armor from the citadel for a hilariously overpowered run.
 

Wizfall

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Well, I don't know that there was that much need to revisit early areas in Fallout or Fallout 2. I think people may be exaggerating that aspect a bit.
You need it in Fallout 2 (don't remember fallout 1 so well) , the design of the maps and a good amounts of quests involving different maps require it.
I'm not exaggerating anything.
 

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Codex Year of the Donut Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
You need it in Fallout 2 (don't remember fallout 1 so well) , the design of the maps and a good amounts of quests involving different maps require it.
I'm not exaggerating anything.

You returned to Klamath and the Den? I remember going back there in the late game to check if there was something new and NOPE, same old.
 
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You returned to Klamath and the Den? I remember going back there in the late game to check if there was something new and NOPE, same old.

Not sure why you're restricting it to the late game only, but even in that case you return to the Den for the guy you forwarded some of the money to pay off his debt and get some late game gear.
 

skuphundaku

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Well, I don't know that there was that much need to revisit early areas in Fallout or Fallout 2. I think people may be exaggerating that aspect a bit.
In FO1 no... FO1 was rather linear. But FO2 was much better in this respect. I know that many people consider FO1 the best and FO2 too lulzy and lacking in focus, but they are wrong. FO2 was the best exactly because that lack of focus actually meant the player had a lot of freedom to tackle the game however he saw fit, which is something that FO1 didn't allow for.
 
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Not sure why you're restricting it to the late game only

Cause W2 beta is early game.

Okay, but the W2 beta is, what, 15% of the final game? Not sure if a lot of FO2 players, especially if they focus on developing non-combat skills first (which I think most did before replaying it), would have cleaned out Metzger's gang, returned to the Den for the Ghost Farm quest, or maybe even cleared out the klamath rat stuff by that stage.
 

Roguey

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Also connectivity and coherence between locations (and the need to revisiting the same locations), quests involving multiple locations were what make Fallout 1/2 so great and make it feel like a complete, very "immersive" game.
http://www.ign.com/articles/2010/07/21/ign-presents-the-history-of-fallout?page=4
Between resignations and other projects on Black Isle's plate, virtually none of Fallout's original crew came in on the sequel. Development was split up into teams, each team taking a different corner of the game world as their own, with little or no knowledge on what the other teams were doing. With less than two weeks before it was scheduled to ship for disc duplication, nobody had put all the pieces together. Miraculously, when they did, it actually fit. Mostly.
So I'm not too concerned about that particular aspect. It has bigger problems.
 

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Fair analysis of the current state of WL2. I can't help but wonder what we'd be saying about this game if it wasn't WL2, though.
 

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Wasn't it said a couple of times that first maps are quite linear (as you get thrown from one map to another) and after that (which may not be in the early beta or somwhere closer to the end) the world is opening and you can travel to different locations? Like LA is not in the beta at all, right?
 
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Coordination is by far the most useful? Bullshit, A party of all gun users isn't as effective as you think, I don't know how late games pans out, but right now there is balance( I hope it stays that way.).In my experience ammo is not very plentiful, whereas enemies are, we've seen enemies that are resistant to gun damage, as well as some areas simply being littered with them. Guns are useful in ag center for sure, because of the
exploding pod people
but who honestly still has full ammo after going through that path?? Mix of melee and range is good, and melee isn't heavily affected by coordination, as well, my diplomat: medic/surgeon/leader isn't very effective in combat, and most of their turns are used to position them close to allies or heal people.

This is why awareness is the god attribute, because every archetype needs it, and without it they will literally stand still as the enemies tear them to shreds. With it you can take turn after turn after turn. This is the stat that needs to be fixed, as long as ammo stays scarce and some enemies stay melee resistant, I see no reason to nerf coordination. The abundance of enemies alone nerfs it, and makes outdoorsman useful for avoiding ammunition draining random encounters.

Edit: accidentally posted instead of editing. :hearnoevil:
 

Wizfall

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You need it in Fallout 2 (don't remember fallout 1 so well) , the design of the maps and a good amounts of quests involving different maps require it.
I'm not exaggerating anything.

You returned to Klamath and the Den? I remember going back there in the late game to check if there was something new and NOPE, same old.
You have to return to the Den at least for two things and possibly four :
- for the car
- for the Modoc quest
- maybe for killing the slaver latter
- maybe to get Vic
And that just what is on the top of my head.
Klamath that is more true, i can only remember maybe for Vic and latter to finish the Toxic Cave quest (great that you need to revisit the Toxic Cave latter for the elevator). But come on...
The most important is the connection between the maps/quests, especially NCR/New Reno/Vault City/Redding.
A lot of quests needed you to go on other maps or to be completed much latter and that's great.
 

DragoFireheart

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wait i have to CONSERVE ammo man this game is gonna suck i wanna just shoot everything as one of my play-throughs.
 

Tigranes

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Good to know the leads read it, because if I had 5 minutes on a pulpit with inXile in the audience I'd have said much the same things. Combat neesd to be a bit more complex, more usage of some skills, and greater cross-location linkages would be great. I have faith that loot will be rebalanced, since they are not yet fully implemented.
 

ksaun

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I guess Brother None is taking notes?
Always. But sea did a multi-page feedback doc based on his early testing that contains much the same points. I read it and so did the leads, it was good stuff.

(Torment is also carefully observing the feedback on Wasteland 2's early beta. The two games have some significant differences in design and even in their development processes, but there are enough similarities. We can learn many things from Wasteland 2 that we can use to refine our approach on Torment.

It's really quite fascinating. While I worked on MMOs in my distant past, releasing a single player CRPG into the wild in this state is an experience I haven't had yet. Between this, the crowdfunding, the freedom from publishers, the return to ancient design sensibilities (i.e., the Incline), etc., we're in a new and exciting place in video game development.)
 

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Codex Year of the Donut Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
I guess Brother None is taking notes?
Always. But sea did a multi-page feedback doc based on his early testing that contains much the same points. I read it and so did the leads, it was good stuff.

(Torment is also carefully observing the feedback on Wasteland 2's early beta. The two games have some significant differences in design and even in their development processes, but there are enough similarities. We can learn many things from Wasteland 2 that we can use to refine our approach on Torment.

It's really quite fascinating. While I worked on MMOs in my distant past, releasing a single player CRPG into the wild in this state is an experience I haven't had yet. Between this, the crowdfunding, the freedom from publishers, the return to ancient design sensibilities (i.e., the Incline), etc., we're in a new and exciting place in video game development.)

(why did you post that like this?)
 

CMcC

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I guess Brother None is taking notes?
Always. But sea did a multi-page feedback doc based on his early testing that contains much the same points. I read it and so did the leads, it was good stuff.

(Torment is also carefully observing the feedback on Wasteland 2's early beta. The two games have some significant differences in design and even in their development processes, but there are enough similarities. We can learn many things from Wasteland 2 that we can use to refine our approach on Torment.

It's really quite fascinating. While I worked on MMOs in my distant past, releasing a single player CRPG into the wild in this state is an experience I haven't had yet. Between this, the crowdfunding, the freedom from publishers, the return to ancient design sensibilities (i.e., the Incline), etc., we're in a new and exciting place in video game development.)

(why did you post that like this?)

Kevin posts in parentheticals when it's not directly germane to the conversation - he's making it an aside. It makes the thread of the conversation very easy to follow, especially in email.
 

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