Wasteland 2 To Receive ‘Significant’ Combat Improvements

By Nathan Grayson on January 14th, 2014 at 9:00 am.

Alec and I each had a go at Wasteland 2‘s Early Access beta, and we both came away whistling upbeat tunes while prepping our shotguns for more. A lot more, hopefully. inXile’s post-apocalyptic revival/alternate dimension vision of Fallout 3 is far from finished, and it needs viscous globs of spit ‘n’ shine in many areas. But those crafty developer types, they’ve been paying attention to every article, video, and sea shanty posted in reaction to their multi-million-dollar baby. They are watching. But that’s a good thing – at least, in this case. Next on the docket for Wasteland 2: vastly more interesting combat, a better UI, improved balance, bug fixes, and even more world reactivity. In other words, pretty much all the stuff Alec and I (and most other humans) asked for.

Brian Fargo laid out the roadmap in a post on Wasteland 2’s Kickstarter:

“We’re working on significant improvements to combat. Destructible cover was part of this last update as a first pass with more fine-tuning to come; we will likely add a crouching stance with a variety of tactical applications; we’re going over a lot of the encounter design to more carefully detail tactics-changing factors like ladders or destructible cover; and we’re in the first testing stages to explore adding a special attack system that’ll allow you to invest AP to make specific kinds of attacks based on your weapon types and the skill levels you’ve achieved in those weapons… things like spread shots or steady shots.”

Other focuses of the game’s ongoing development cycle will include interface enhancements, balance passes on pretty much everything, a minimap overhaul, improvements to the weapon modding system, better UIs, improved pathing, overhauls for field medic and surgeon, and “significant” increases in all-around reactivity based on what players have done thus far. Before anything else, however, expect bug fixes, optimization, and a new area in the beta build.

It’s a solid list, and I’m happy to see that inXile’s applying extra-strength gorilla glue to this one’s “beta” tag. Personally, I’m still hoping for more pre-battle planning and control options (the ability to drop into grid mode and position units before enemy units have noticed you, etc), but all indications seem to suggest a good direction for Wasteland 2 regardless.

What would you like to see added or changed before Wasteland 2 is “finished”?

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47 Comments »

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  1. Talon2000uk says:

    Just wanted to say. This is how you design games. Iterate, get feed back, iterate. I’m really liking this new approach to game funding and development. I’d love to see the big boys take a leaf from inXile’s book. I doubt they will but I’d love them to. :D

    • Anti-Skub says:

      Personally I’d prefer the good old days of just making a good game, releasing it when it’s done and then selling it for a box price, instead of the current trend of releasing a year before it’s done, bypassing QA altogether then asking customers to pay you test your broken product.

      I do like how Wasteland seems to be shaping up but I am absolutely not a fan of the direction the industry is taking. Indie developers are setting precedent for larger companies to not give a shit about stability, performance or bugs. 10 years ago if a game had bugs that made it unplayable on launch it would be an outrage, now it’s just the norm.

      And that’d be great if we were getting mind-blowing games out of the whole process, but were not. I mean name one Kickstarter project that has really blown people away? The Ouya bombed before it was even released, Double Fines efforts have been…fine. Godus is looking impressively bland, and barely anything else has even materialised.

      I honestly think Star Citizen is going to be the end of Kickstarter, when, after receiving a ludicrous amount of funding it turns out to be just another game and not the second coming of christ that everyone seems to expect it to be.

      • Diagoras says:

        FTL? DoubleFine is also looking great, and I’m not sure why you’re so hesitant – have you been watching the development videos?

        Not to mention that I’m unsure why the standard is “blow people away” – investment funded games often fail to do that, yet you don’t seem to demand this from them. Only the games made with patronage have that requirement.

        • PopeRatzo says:

          Once, we got “games”. Now, we get “development videos”.

          Who wants to bet that next year’s Advent Calendar will include at least one development video. It’s almost starting to seem as if releasing the game is an afterthought to all the kickstarter campaigns, dev videos, trailers announcing the release of trailers and post-mortems on what went wrong.

          Here’s what went wrong: Kickstarter. The new way of taking the risk out of developing a game. Get the money up front, make a big party out of it, give people a warm feeling and hope that when it’s all over they forget that they never really got a game out of it.

          It’s the 21st century game developer version of a participation trophy.

          • zacharai says:

            I’m having a hard time following this. Kickstarter takes the risk out of developing a game? We must have Kickstarted different games.

            There’s still LOTS of games coming out the traditional way, with publishers. We only hear about them maybe six months before release, and the marketing hype ratchets up near release. Go buy those! It’s not like they’re getting crowded out by indie games.

            Kickstarter is at its finest when it funds a game that wouldn’t exist otherwise. Sometimes, it’s not so good. Other times, it’s awesome. I’m really glad I Kickstarted Knock-Knock. I’m sad I didn’t Kickstart FTL. But I don’t think that Kickstarter is the problem.

          • Tacroy says:

            You could always ignore the Kickstarter nonsense and just buy the games when they come out. I’m not sure why you’d bother getting worked up about it.

          • Shuck says:

            It was interesting to see, in Steam’s latest winter sale, how many games had been in early access long enough that they were now being sold for deep discounts, and they weren’t even finished or released yet. In fact, many were still in a fairly early alpha stage. So that seems to have become a fairly standard part of indie development, a trend that started with games that didn’t rely on Kickstarter, such as Minecraft.

            Unfortunately, Kickstarter doesn’t remove the risk of development – quite the opposite, it makes it worse in many ways, compared to the publisher model, anyways. If Kickstarter worked the way it superficially seems to work, then it very well could remove development risk, but it doesn’t. The problem is that no one is raising the full amount of money they need to develop the game, so most developers are digging into their personal savings to develop games, even with successful Kickstarters. Which means they’re personally on the hook for either the promised rewards (which nowadays almost always involves the game itself) or the funds people pledged. If anything goes wrong, they’ll likely be financially destroyed, or at best their reputation will be in tatters, making future development difficult if not impossible.

          • PegasusOrgans says:

            I’m glad your opinion means nothing because I wouldn’t be getting a slew of amazing RPGs and Graphic Adventures if you had your way. The absolute mind numbing hate some people express for Kickstarter is beyond my ability to understand. Did Kickstarter rape your grandmother?! I’ll go back to playing Banner Saga, Broken Age, FTL, Shadowrun Returns mods, Wasteland 2 Beta, Divinity: Original Sin alpha, Consortium, and all the other great games that wouldn’t exist if people like you ran things. BTW, enjoy your always-on DRM riddled triple A games, chumP.

          • tetracycloide says:

            If kickstarter is wrong I don’t want to be right. And yes, that tired cliche is all the response that inane little tantrum deserves.

        • JFS says:

          FTL was basically finished before the Kickstarter.

      • Asurmen says:

        The industry has been going that way long before Indies made it big. Not only that, but it’s somewhat unfair to blame Indies true betas such Wasteland’s to a week long demo ‘beta’ *cough* Battlefield 4 *cough* whose feedback and bug reports are completely ignored.

      • Runs With Foxes says:

        But Wasteland 2 hasn’t ‘launched’. It’s still an outrage when games are declared finished but still don’t work properly, like Battlefield 4, Sim City, X Rebirth.

        The point about free QA testers is fair enough, but if the developer was never going to have the funds for a QA team anyway, who cares. ‘Setting a precedent’ for AAA developers to release buggy games seems like a fallacious argument to me.

        Bottom line is that these new ways of funding development are allowing a whole bunch of really interesting games to be made that would never have emerged from the big budget low risk environment of the games industry a few years ago. There will be some duds and some gems. That’s what it’s all about.

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          AngelTear says:

          I’m with Anti-Skub on this: I don’t like this flood of Early Access games. Being able to patch games is great, but this feels like an abuse of the model.
          I can see why companies do it, especially small companies who probably wouldn’t be able to afford QA and extensive testing, but while I can understand the material reasons why, it still doesn’t feel right. I also don’t like having excessive customer feedback, I fear it’ll limit innovation and creativity coming from good devs, and replace it with the indie equivalent of AAA marketing research.

          These games are not “interesting” in the sense of innovative, they’re just “solid” because they are shaped by public opinion (and good devs); I mean, Wasteland, after all, is just a modernized version of 90s RPGs – sure, better than many other games, but hardly anything new. Nothing truly original can come out of this model of development, unless the feedback is limited to just some very late stage of refinement of the game, and when betas really are just made in order to fix bugs.

          • Keyrock says:

            I have no problem with Early Access. No one is putting a gun to anyone’s head and forcing them to buy and play Early Access games. Those that want to can, those that don’t want to can ignore Early Access and buy the game when it releases fully, just like they would have before. Especially in the case of smaller-ish studios working on limited budgets, getting some essentially free testing and feedback from those that want to help test the game seems to be a cost effective way to help release a more bug-free and polished game.

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            Rizlar says:

            It did feel like a bit of a con seeing Godus as a bestseller on steam, when by all accounts it is an incomplete skeleton of a poor game.

            But early access and crowd-funding are different things. There have always been good, bad and mediocre games, it’s just that with crowd-funding people are now monetarily and emotionally invested in games that haven’t been made yet, so are understandably pissed off when they turn out to be bad or mediocre ones.

          • Baines says:

            Aliens: Colonial Marines was probably a best seller on Steam as well.

            Early Access is in some ways a pre-order that you can play, but with a longer period before its official full release. You could argue that a Kickstarter/Early Access title might never see release, but Early Access does tend to give you access to something that runs, and honestly the traditional release model doesn’t actually guarantee that you get a truly finished game anyway.

            Regardless, you are going to see some who twist or exploit Early Access, just as you see some abuse the traditional model. Though there will probably be more accidental screw-ups via Kickstarter just from developers getting in over their heads.

          • PegasusOrgans says:

            Here’s an idea, DON’T BUY THEM. Honestly, you sound like the video game version of a racist. They don’t affect you, they don’t impact the games you buy in any way, yet you hate them for even existing. The hate you guys have for crowd funding and “early access” is insane. No one is forcing you to spend a penny on anything, yet you feel you have a right to dictate whether they have a right to even get money from other people. How would you like it if people started deciding the things you’re allowed or not allowed to do? My god.

            BTW, if you think Wasteland 2 is just a “modernized version of a 90’s game” you are completely wrong and have not played the original. In fact, Wasteland is a late 80’s game, not 90’s. And Wasteland 2 is drastically different from its predecessor in every way. Not only all that, but we do not get RPGs like this anymore. Best we can hope for is a Dragon’s Age 2 or Kingdom of Amalur, sad and terrible attempts to please everyone. The reason Wsteland 2 and others have raised what they did is because no one was filling this niche and, yeah, there are new features and elements in them all. Problem is the small time devs don’t have the cash to buy reviews to make you people believe they’re the best games ever. Or to buy them Game of the Year awards.

      • Drake Sigar says:

        FTL was fantastic (and aggravating as all hell).

        There are always going to be new ways to make games, and these ways will always be hijacked by some larger studios who completely twist the original purpose because they can no more connect with their own audience than a 56k modem can connect with an elephant’s snout. They see stuff like DLC, Kickstarter, and the Indi label, then jump on board despite having no idea why those things are/were popular. I don’t see why Indi developers should bare responsibility for others taking their ideas and abusing them.

      • PAK-9 says:

        > Indie developers are setting precedent for larger companies to not give a shit about stability, performance or bugs. 10 years ago if a game had bugs that made it unplayable on launch it would be an outrage, now it’s just the norm.

        I simply do not believe this. Public alphas/betas etc… are not an insidious force that creeps into mainstream game development, developers make a concious choice to use that model against more traditional development methods. Both approaches can, and do, coexist – there is no widespread deterioration in the quality of games made using traditional methods.

        • Tacroy says:

          But don’t you understand, everything we have these days is terrible and things were better back when I were a wee lad. Games never had bugs then, not at all, and we never saw hide nor hair of them ’till release day, when we would unwrap the boxed game and see its glowing perfection, immaculate in every detail.

      • Turkey says:

        Calm down, you’re still going to get your allotted handful of PC-ports from the big publishers every year no matter what happens with Kickstarter or Early Access.

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        xao says:

        Who’s bypassing QA? I can’t recall any of the video game Kickstarters I backed opting for that. It’s also a little premature to be demanding results and declaring a referendum on the quality of Kickstarted content. So far, the only games I’ve backed that have been released have been Shadowrun, Paper Sorcerer, and Expeditions. Each of them have met the expectations I had going in to the campaign. We still have Project Eternity, Wasteland 2, Tides of …, Star Citizen, and Elite upcoming. No, they won’t all be amazing. That’s because not all games are amazing, so it’s unrealistic to expect a subset of games to all be amazing. If we get one amazing game and a handful of solid, entertaining games out of the melange, I figure we’ll be doing all right.

        EDIT: I’m curious what you mean by “good old days”. The days of Fallout and Fallout 2? Oblivion? Baldur’s Gate? KOTOR2? It’s easy to look back at some of our favorite games through the lens of years and patches and idealize them, but some of the best games in history released as buggy, crash-ridden messes (fuck the fucking car in Fallout 2). This isn’t some new phenomenon caused by Kickstarter.

      • PegasusOrgans says:

        Well, if it was the way you want it, there would be no Wasteland 2. Everyone playing the beta knows it’s a beta and plays it despite that. Oh, and another thing is the game will cost a lot less than “box price”.

    • PopeRatzo says:

      Just wanted to say. This is how you design games. Iterate, get feed back, iterate. I’m really liking this new approach to game funding and development.

      Actually, I’m starting to believe this is about the worst way possible to design games. I’m going to go out on a very short limb here and say that Wasteland 2 will almost certainly suck, that without another round of funding the “significant improvements” to combat will not be significant and we will be talking about what a missed opportunity this was when the game is finally released in Q4, 2014.

      • The Random One says:

        I’d take that bet.

      • Talon2000uk says:

        My that escalated quickly. :D

        I think some of the anti-kickstarters and anti-early access people forget what the game development scene was like just two short years ago.

        From a purely personal point of view I couldn’t but any games in my favourite genres. No Space flight Sims, no main stream adventure games. Hell finding a decent PC game that wasn’t a port was hard.

        Now look at the development scene, lots of titles in multiple genres are being developed because people want then. Will they all be perfect. No, but if just some of them are good games I will be happy. I’ve backed 12 games over the last two years for about the price of two AAA games and the ones that have launched so far have all been excellent or at least good. They wouldn’t have existed without Kickstarter and early access. I say more power to it.

      • Dances to Podcasts says:

        Subjective predictions are never wrong.

  2. Themadcow says:

    I’m sure the purists won’t like the idea of special attacks but if it adds more depth (and more importantly fun) to combat then I’m all for it. Height and destructable cover sounds a bit X-Com like which is also great, especially if more like the 90’s game than the recent remake.

    So, on that basis I’d like to see Chryssalid’s added. Yes.

    • mouton says:

      Purists can go play their pure games from the nineties and never come back.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Lars Westergren says:

    > inXile’s post-apocalyptic revival/alternate dimension vision of Fallout 3

    You dangle that juicy bait in front of me, but no. I refuse to bite.

    • Wizardry says:

      Yeah. It’s not “inXile’s post-apocalyptic revival/alternate dimension vision of Fallout 3″. It’s “inXile’s post-apocalyptic revival of Wasteland”.

      • Premium User Badge

        Lars Westergren says:

        I have it on good authority from Alec’s early impressions article that this is in fact “the alternate-universe Fallout 3 that Wasteland 2′s Kickstarter backers so craved”.

        DANGEROUS AND WRONG, RPS!

      • The Random One says:

        A post-apocalyptic revival of Wasteland? Unless inXile intends to release the game only after a real apocalypse, I don’t get what you mean.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Everyone knows that it’s a revival of Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel.

    • Kubrick Stare Nun says:

      Personally I think of it more as the ‘Xcom Enemy Unknown’ of the Fallout series.

    • Bulrathi says:

      I think they might be talking about the “Van Buren” Black Isle Fallout 3 instead of Bethesda’s Fallout 3.

  4. CedaVelja says:

    So when is this thing getting released?
    Seems it has a long way yet to go……

  5. coppernaut says:

    I want to play this, but still having a hard time with that $60 price tag. Not many games are worth $60 to me anymore since I’ve been having such a blast with indie titles that stay around $20 to $30.

    • shadow9d9 says:

      It was $15 for the full game on the kickstarter. The price right now is simply to get into the beta as well, which costs way more.

      • RProxyOnly says:

        The high price is so that the backers who donated at a higher tire, specifically for beta inclusion, don’t feel screwed over.

        True or false, that’s a hell of justification they have for screwing people up the chufter. I doubt anyone could argue over the reasoning.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Hanban says:

    I had two huge gripes with the beta.

    1. When you attacked in combat the feedback was terrible. Felt like they were shooting air at each other.
    2. The guns were weirdly big which looked a bit silly.

    If they address those two things I’m sure I’ll be able to enjoy it more.

    • Strangerator says:

      I played some iteration of Xenonauts a while back, and the lack of audio feedback was an issue there as well. I think the current trend in game design is to make weapons oversized to help them register visually, as was the case in XCOM EU.

      Fallout 1 and 2, by contrast, were absolutely superb about providing audio feedback in combat. The gun types were all distinguishable by sound alone and had a nice oomph to them. “Normal” guns seemed to be in the right proportions to characters, which gave those special oversized weapons more a more significant feel. I guess some of the sounds might have been exaggerated, but it was less jarring than cartoonishly oversized weapons.

    • Upper Class Twit says:

      How did the combat actually play out?

      One problem I’ve always had with this type of turn-based ranged combat is that you tend to just shoot as much as you can in one turn and then end it. This is the problem that Fallout 2 had, where you’d just stand out in the open and take turns shooting until someone got lucky with a critical. I’m hoping that the inclusion of cover would make things more interesting, but much of the gameplay strikes me as, “get behind a piece of cover, and take turns firing until someone gets lucky”.

  7. Ghoulie says:

    “inXile’s post-apocalyptic revival/alternate dimension vision of Fallout 3″

    Seriously?

  8. Enkinan says:

    I paid my $15 back on first announcement, and will now wait until the actual release. If you don’t want to be a beta tester, don’t. I’m trusting inXile to deliver an enjoyable final product.

    People aren’t being abused in this case. This was a game a large number of people wanted to be made and have a say in. Beta is giving them that say and the team is listening.

    I do wish they would have cut it at beta start instead of still selling beta access after start, because even with the massive disclaimer on Steam, people ignore it, spend the money, and then bitch. Even worse, most of these people can now provide feedback to a game they just now became invested in, not as a fan of the original.

    • Frank says:

      Yup, I’m in the same boat, having paid $15 in the Kickstarter. It’s interesting and not at all worrisome to hear about their progress towards the project that I backed (…not that I “bought”).

      Beta or alpha access can be fun for my favorite genres (particularly TBS, e.g., in Rebuild 3), but isn’t obligatory. I don’t see why folks are making a big deal out of it. The more paths available for funding, making and distributing games, the better.