Wonderful news from the tweet-o-dodecagon today: Wasteland 2's beta finally has a release date. After it slipped from October into daaaaaaaates unknown (woooooooooo), inXile CEO Brian Fargo has claimed the Kickstarter darling is only two-and-a-half weeks out. That in mind, I got in touch with Fargo to find out what took so long, how much of the game will be available in the beta, whether it'll expand over time, and what all of this means for the final game. Read on for the full thing.
RPS: What, specifically, caused you to take longer than you initially expected? Were there any major sticking points, or was it just a general polish type of thing?
Fargo: There is no one particular thing that pushed us out this last 6 weeks, we just wanted to have the minimum number of systems in place so that our backers could have a reasonable play experience. To achieve that we needed to have 95% of the final game's systems working but of course the good news is that we now have most of the underpinnings complete. We certainly did have some technical issues in that we are pushing what Unity can accomplish and their 64 bit version isn’t ready yet.
A game of this size has a lot of moving parts which has the inevitable breaking of code when checking a fix in for an issue. I still have a long list of things I’d like to see done but it’s time to get it out and work with the fans on shaping it from here. It's certainly a tightrope we walk between releasing it to ravenous backers who want to see it and us wanting to make sure it’s in a form we’re proud of.
RPS: How much of the game are you planning to include in the early beta? Which areas, systems, and elements of progression?
Fargo: We are going to give away a part of the Arizona area for players to explore. I’d rather not spoil which areas they are but I expect a good 6-10 hours of gameplay for a non speed run approach. There is a lot to do, and it is a virtual impossibility to see some major events in a single play through, as some are mutually exclusive. In addition, you are likely to miss some nice moments as we don't guide you strictly on what you do. Of course this sets its up for some nice re-playability.
RPS: Have you had to cut anything from the beta in the interest of time? If so, will it make its way back in before the testing phase ends?
Fargo: There are some skills that we have not implemented - like Silent Move and Salvaging for example - and we intend to increase the size of the beta as time goes by. We will continually update Wasteland 2 with new areas, skills and options and players will get to experience seeing the current levels get an added boost of reactivity and choice based on the feedback and observations of play. We will have a relatively short roll out to our beta backers so we can get it into the people’s hands who paid early for it.
Our plan was always to make Arizona be the beta test bed but for us to keep Los Angeles for the final release so the gamers can still be surprised and to minimize spoilers. There might be a few other features and surprises that the players are going to quite like too.
RPS: Will beta progress be able to carry over into the final game, or will players have to start fresh?
Fargo: Because of the nature of the save games and that we are keeping track of a world with so many save states there isn’t practical way for us to have them keep their games. We had some ideas for allowing them to keep their characters but no promises.
RPS: What's the new timeframe for launch of the final game? Are you playing it by ear based on how the beta goes?
Fargo: I’ve been pushing to get this game made for 20 years so I certainly want to make sure I get it right. It sounds cliché but we really are making this game with the fans and backers so we need to go through this beta phase and get a sense of how well we have achieved what we set out to do. I’d like to see Wasteland 2 treated like a classic in the way Fallout, Bard’s Tale, and other great RPGs I have been associated with.
RPS: Is it at all weird to you that your early beta's going to drop right around the same time Bethesda (might) announce Fallout 4?
Fargo: Well I’m certainly glad our game isn’t finalizing the same time as Fallout 4. But it is an interesting turn that I would be shipping a sequel 20 years after the first game into the same time frame as the franchise that began as the spiritual successor to Wasteland. Wasteland and Fallout are like brothers separated at birth.