Continuing adventures in the beta (i.e. unfinished, thus everything I mention is subject to change) of inXile's post-apocalyptic RPG Wasteland 2. Part 1 is here.
And so our merry band of four - wait, suddenly we're a merry band of five. Angela, a grizzled but approachable senior Ranger, requests to join us just as we prepare to step into the irradiated desert sands proper, as we're on the trail of a mysterious killer, someone or something that murdered Ace, a comrade of hers. She speaks of experience and adventures past, of how something ain't right and how we look like the stuff that stories are made from. She speaks suspiciously as though we might have heard of her before, a long time ago. Nah, can't be.
Also she's apparently a 15-year veteran of the Desert Rangers, but lists her current age as 20.
Come now, Angela, nobody enjoys ageing, but unless the wasteland boasts some especially skilled plastic surgeons you're not fooling anyone with that big of a lie.
Before we leave camp, we also get given orders and repeatedly admonished by a man who is a drill sergeant in all but name, get refused entry into the main ranger base despite attempts at sycophancy towards the door guard, and we get beaten up by a goat. The goat, you see had a cruel friend (who was human, not a goat) who set us up for capra-based conflict by asking us to collect a water can lying near this enraged, yet somehow domesticated, beast. What I'm saying is, should you ever find yourself in a ranger camp, ignore anyone who asks you to pick up a water can. All they really want is to see horn-shaped bruises on your backside.
We decide not to wreak bloody vengeance on the goat, though the option is there. If our first blood was an ill-tempered but otherwise innocent farm animal, we'd be setting a humiliating and ignoble precedent for our adventures. Let's try and kill someone with a mohawk and too much metal in his face instead.
Soon enough we're in luck, but first it's a trek across the desert, keeping a wary eye on our water supply. Not much to worry about for this first, short hop to the last known location of Angel's missing chum. An oasis crops up en route, and after idly wondering why people are living in the dry bits of the world rather than the lovely shady damp bits, we refill our water cans and proceed to a bandit-guarded radio mast.
Now, we'd resolved to be goodly, heroic, co-operative sorts, but when some mad-eyed bugger immediately demands a toll without so much as a hello first, our distress at the lack of basic human courtesy gets the better of us. And as luck would have it, one of the three oiks in our way has a big purple mohawk. Can't get close enough to tell if there's a bunch of metal in his face too, but close enough. This was meant to be, I tell you.
It's a good thing Angela joined us. She knows what she's doing. She can fire her own gun and people fall over when she does. We band of four greenhorns in assorted headgear don't fare quite so well. Slick and Fade both take hits without doling out any damage, Resident medic Pills fails to heal Slick, and Bear... actually, Bear does OK.
But we make it. We've killed someone with a Mohawk, and thus gain our Stereotypical Post-Apocalyptic Bandit Slaying scout badge.
The next pack of bandits, just around the corner, are cheerfully oblivious to the fact that their pointy-haired mates are currently dripping the last of their gravy into the parched ground, and wave us through, presuming we've paid the toll. Two of them have mohawks. Our hands hover over our gun holsters.
No, no - let it lie. A haircut doesn't say everything about a man's character. Perhaps they're nice bandits? Just because they demand money off strangers at gunpoint doesn't mean they're bad people. At any rate, we're here to find out who or what killed Ace, fellow ranger and old chum of the impressively competent Angela. He was out here delivering repeaters, radio gizmos to help the non-evil wasteland denizens communicate from afar, but there's no sign of his missing logbook or the repeater units.
We do, however, find a metal leg in a nearby cave. No one seems willing to wield it as a weapon, which is deeply disappointing, but it does prompt excited chatter about robo-people. Exciting! I wonder if they've got chrome mohawks? (Too much metal in their faces is, I suspect, a given).
Other than for the leg, the cave contains only one other sign of life:
A toaster. A toaster! In a cave. Someone, at some point, has been in this cave, making toast. Man, I envy them. I could really go for some cave-toast right now. Was it whoever owned the metal leg? Or maybe someone just used a metal leg to fish out pieces of bread which got stuck, or perhaps as a butter knife? Perhaps a mysterious Breakfast Cult are even now undertaking a great and dangerous journey to the fabled Cave Of Toast. But has this toaster ever made toast? Has this cave ever known the comforting tang of gently burned bread? More to the point, can we have some toast now?
No, because none of our team is qualified in toaster repair. We leave the cave, looking sadly over our shoulders and imagining the crumpets and muffins that might have been.
Spirits are lifted when the next cave turns out to contain a giant toad. While we passed on beating up animals earlier on, this is after all a giant animal, and also it's attacking us with a ferocity which suggests we will die in no short order unless we strike back. To arms, rangers!
Everyone turns out to be pretty good at toad killing, though the so far useless, knife-sporting Slick comes within an inch of death. The toad's corpse yields a toad's eye, which is apparently worth an impressive $22. Note to self: steal toads' eyes whenever possible.
Behind the toad we find a metal man who just so happens to be missing one metal leg. Well, that's one mystery solved. We also find some pages from Ace's logbook, and the repeater units. Hey, that was quick. We're pretty good at this ranger business.
Better still, we're granted a promotion for our fine efforts in toad-slaying, mohawk-murdering and repeater-collecting. This means skill boosts or additions for everyone, and that means one very high priority - training someone in toaster repair. Fade, you're our most reliable member - this means you shall bear our greatest responsibility. You, brave frontier lawman, shall learn how to repair kitchen electronics.
Quivering with excitment, we head back to The Cave Of Toast. Just think of what will be possible once we have a working toaster! Does anywhere round here sell poptarts?
The toaster explodes when Fade tries to fix it.
I am inconsolable.
Part 3 soon. The Wasteland 2 beta is available on Steam Early Access now.