By Alec Meer on March 21st, 2014 at 9:00 pm.
Continuing adventures in the beta (i.e. unfinished, thus everything I mention is subject to change) of inXile’s post-apocalyptic RPG Wasteland 2. Previous instalments are here.
Things I have: an android’s leg; a giant toad’s eye; enough painkillers to keep an entire Oscars ceremony’s worth of celebrities calm for at least a weekend; a dirty, torn shirt of unknown origin.
Things I do not have: much of a clue as to what I’m doing.
There’s no gleaming arrow to show me where to go and what to do. Instead, I (by which I mean a team of five Rangers) leave the bandit camp and head off into the open wasteland. There are objectives, mostly involving fixing assorted radio transmitters, but nothing seems pressing, somehow.
That changes when a sudden distress signal sounds from the distant settlement of a Highpool – a civilian town claiming to be under attack from more pesky bandits. So far I’ve shot an amphibian to death and displayed rampant mohawkism, so an opportunity to be an honest-to-god here is not before time. To Highpool!
But first, straight through a patch of deadly radiation. Er.
This seems like a rookie error. I’m sure we’ll pass through it in seconds though.
Well, that took a while. A long and near-fatal while. Lucky we’ve got all those pills, eh? Sorry, everyone. To Highpool?
A second distress signal suddenly sounds, from another town suffering another bandit raid. Me, I just presume that sort of thing happens all the time around here, but our CO cuts in over the radio to declare that there’s something fishy going on, that clearly someone’s trying to distract us from whatever our real purpose is. We had a real purpose? Oh yeah, something to do with radios. Nuts to that – trap or no, people need saving. To Highpool!
It’s a trap, of course. Albeit an obtuse one – we are attacked by some bandits whilst on our way to attack some bandits. Guys, you really should talk to each other.
No mohawks this time, at least not visibly so. Instead, these desert thugs bear that other great head-mounted hallmark of post-apocalyptic villainy – scary metal helmets made from scrap.
I’m worried that the combination of the bandits’ armour and my team being mostly irradiated will prove an unhappy one, but the increasingly impressive Angela takes out two in her first assault. She might fib about her age, but she sure can handle an assault rifle. My remanining half-dead newbies manage to polish off the other three bandits between them, and we’re rewarded with improved guns for Angela and Bear, and enough machetes and spiked clubs to ensure none of the team need ever risk a split knuckle. Perhaps these bandits just meant to offer us some lovely gifts? Have I horribly misjudged them, just because they wear masks which look like steel skulls? Seems unlikely.
And so, at last, to Highpool!
Highpool isn’t a happy place. Perhaps it’s the bloodied corpse near the entrance which, upon investigation, prompts the observation that “”It looks like this woman was killed with power tools.” Jesus Christ.
Or perhaps it’s the fact that some nutjob somewhere is firing mortars at fleeing civilians.
Or perhaps it’s the other nutjob in a now-familiar metal mask who immediately sets upon us with what looks suspiciously like a power tool. All told, I’m going with the whole driller killer thing as the main reason for Highpool being so unpleasant.
Highpool becomes an ongoing battle. Not a particularly challenging one perhaps, but a drawn-out one because these bandits have an irritating tendency to run away and hide in lofts or behind boulders. They must have heard about what we did their mates just outside town. There’s a farcical quality to sending all five of our team up a big ladder to confront one guy cowering in an attic, but at least we get ourselves a fine harvest of replacement painkillers for our trouble. Better yet, it turns out that Angela’s able to punch loot-filled boxes open. Is there no limit to her abilities?
Right, sod these bandits, we’re roaming around town in search of more boxes to punch. It feels like the most heroic thing we’ve done to date. Punch the boxes! Punch all of the boxes! Leave no box untouched! Highpool shall never forget us.
More bandits are found and defeated, more boxes are punched, more pills are stockpiled and eventually we find the nutjobs with a mortar. They don’t last long either, which leaves us with the overwhelming temptation to lob a mortar at whatever’s left of Highpool to see what happens. Our decision not to is based more upon worry that this would destroy a bunch of boxes which would otherwise be ripe for a punching than it is heroism.
Fortunately for all concerned, a recent promotion has granted Bear a basic level of expertise in Demolitions, and we’re thus able to redirect the the mortar to fire at an unseen cluster of bandits instead. Not as satisfying as punching a box, but it’s close.
Another pack of bandits lurks at the bottom of a cliff, atop which seems to be the main town. We sort ‘em out sharpish, but rather than gratitude we’re met with grumpiness and accusations by a local politician, of sorts, who keeps banging on about how the last Rangers who visited killed a kid and a dog. This feels deeply unfair – why presume all Rangers are like that? I mean, just because one Russian leader turned out to be a power-crazed despot doesn’t mean any of them since will be, does it?
We stomp off into town. Someone shouts ‘dog-killer!’ as we pass. We manage to put out a fire in somebody’s mortar-struck house, which prompts more grumbling about how he didn’t expect Rangers to help. Then, in the distance, we see it.
Oh, no. Oh please, no. This is some terrible test, isn’t it? If we go anywhere near that dog, it’s going to attack us and we’re going to have to shoot it then everyone’s going to be so damned smug that they were right.
Please don’t make me kill a dog.