Uh, I apologise to any Wasteland fans reading this, because I'm probably going to be saying crap like this about your game for the entire post. I mean I'm so bad at classic rpgs that there's a good chance I'll be whining about getting a game over on the character creation screen. Sorry.
I'll be sticking with the DOS game though, as it seems prettier and I can avoid a lot of messing around with save disks. Still doesn't have any music though. All three versions play out in near silence.
It seems that each of the attributes are rolled separately, so I could end up with a seriously underpowered character if I don't sit here pressing space for good stats. Not that I know what the good stats are in this game (I can't even guess at what SKP means), but I'd like double digits if possible.
Oh right, 'SKP' must be my available skill points. I figured it out 'cause I'm clever.
I exit the Ranger Center and immediately get into a fight with a... purple bear thing. Seriously, I haven't taken one step off the base yet and I'm already on my way onto the battle screen.
Well, my best plan of action seems pretty straightforward here. I keep choosing attack each turn until the bad thing goes away. I'm not sure why they've hidden 'Attack' so far down the list of commands. Even 'Hire' gets to go above it, and if I could use that to win fights I'd soon have an army behind me.
Without any better ideas, I journey west around the purple mountains to the next town.
It's great to not have to talk to the bloody king or village elder for once in an rpg, but it'd be nice to have some leads to follow up on. I'm guessing there's a story (or two) in this game somewhere, but I can't find the way into it.
I'm pretty sure he's got no work for me to do, so I left him to fidget in peace and ventured forth onto the world map. I continued to follow the mountains west until I reached the Agricultural Center.
Oh right it says 'read paragraph 56' at the bottom of the screen. Which I suppose means I have to open up the manual after all.
Hang on, there's over a hundred story paragraphs in this thing. It seems that half the game's text isn't even in the game itself. I've never seen a game do this before.
I used my normal tactic of pressing attack a few times on the creature, and that seemed to get the job done. Though I've noticed that bunnies don't drop any money or ammo, so I'm burning though resources here.
AFTER A FEW MINUTES OF VARMINT HUNTING.
My party are pretty low on health at this point so in the next fight I decided to make a run for it and come back later, and managed to accidentally split my team into two instead. It seems that the game IS actually playing out like an overhead 'tactics' style game, but it's hidden behind this battle screen.
I can flip back to the level map to check out how we're positioned, and move my units around using the 'Run' command. So I could put my melee character next to an enemy and keep the ranged units at a distance in every battle, but it's a hassle so I probably won't bother.
Oh wait, I can just use my 'lockpick' skill to open the gate. Duh.
Actually no, apparently the fruits do absolutely nothing. Still I'm out of the bunny zone now, so I suppose I can just wander around here while I regain my health.
I'm going back to the world map, where it's safe.
Fortunately it seems that my people are only getting knocked out when they run out of health, and can recover by themselves over time. If my entire party is knocked out, the game skips time until one of them wakes ups, and then we just start the fight up again where we left off.
It'd be nice if time skipped ahead in the game as fast as it does in this screenshot. Unfortunately I had to hold the button down for ages to get back to full 'con'. It makes me think that I'm not supposed to need to do this to recover health, but it's the best idea I've got.
You know, it's just occurred to me that I still don't know what that 'radio' button does.
Okay, I finally have full health again. Time to find out where these varmints are coming from, and kill their boss. Or whatever.
Okay, I think I get the message. I'll leave my bunny quest until I've gotten a couple of levels and some better equipment. Onto the next town.
There's a lot of manholes around, but they're actually instant shortcuts to other parts of the town. Wasteland earns 5 points for being smart enough to not have a sewer level. Though if I find one later I'll deduct 10 points for getting my hopes up only to crush them.
Whatever, Syd's the only one with pistol training so I'll give the gun to her. Even if the gun turns out to be crap, switching to a 9mm weapon means her .45 rounds can be split between the characters armed with M1911A1's.
I overhear that the mayor is being held hostage, but nothing about where. I think I'm getting an idea why the game doesn't have a journal.
Quest: Varmint Troubles (Incomplete)
The farmers need you to sort out their bunny infestation. But don't bother trying to kill the bunnies, that solves nothing.
Quest: Save the Mayor (Incomplete)
Apparently the mayor of Quartz is being held hostage by someone somewhere, and the townspeople are concerned. So, good luck with that.
You know, I have no idea if any of this miscellaneous junk I'm dragging around has any point to it. Can I actually use the canteen, or the rope? There's no description for any of it.
I'm going to assume that for the weapons higher cost equals better stats, because the shop ain't giving me any other clues.
Most of the other buildings in Quartz were entirely deserted, but this (unmarked) house seems like it might be interesting.
Or we could just fight, if that works better for you.
A SHOOT-OUT OR TWO LATER.
This screenshot was actually taken in the middle of a battle turn. Right now I'm moving my melee character up to one of the enemy groups so I'm close enough to hit them. The others can just keep shooting from where they are, they should have the range to hit anyone in the room.
Unfortunately my roaring rampage of destruction was brought to an anticlimactic end when I found a guard standing at the next door that didn't want to kill me on sight. I'm not going to murder the one potentially decent bloke in the wasteland just to find out what's in the last few rooms of this house I broke into for no reason.
Wait, I just took out an entire house of enemies didn't I? Surely that's enough to get me a level up now.
I get some extra points of health, and two shiny new attribute points are mine to spend. I upgraded each of their IQ stats to get extra skill points, but it won't let me upgrade my skills yet for some reason.
Somehow I feel like all that time and effort I've spent killing enemies so far could have been better spent just hitting the space bar a few more times during character creation to roll better base stats.
But anyway. After a couple of trips to the shop to sell the loot, I left Quartz and continued north until I finally reached the city of LAS VEGAS!
Okay, Las Vegas didn't work out but I have a new plan. Now I've got the armour and rifles from Quartz (and an actual level up!) it's time to go back to the farm and sort out those evil bunnies. I'm not quitting this game until I finish at least one bloody job for someone.
EVENTUALLY, IN A ROOM HIDDEN BENEATH THE FARM.
So, I wonder what else there is in this wasteland for a heroic team of bored Desert Rangers to do.
Though I did meet a guy living out of a train car who offered me information in exchange for a drink. I went all the way back to the shop in Quartz to buy him one, then brought it all the way back to the Nomad camp.
"Beware the man who has lived longer than the Wasteland" is all I got out of him. The git.
I'm finding these random encounters more annoying than in most rpgs, because there's no feeling that I'm getting stronger from them. It takes forever to level up, and each fight eats up a little more of my precious ammo supply, without giving me anything back if I win.
But the police decided they didn't much like me either, so nine of them got together to beat the shit out of me as well. And they did it wearing diving suits while posing in a puddle, to confuse me.
You know, this game actually reminds me a little of EarthBound, weirdly. The gameplay's not that dissimilar, neither game takes themselves seriously, and in both I spent most of my time wandering around lost, getting beaten into unconsciousness by street punks.
BUT I AM NOT DONE YET. I refuse to give up on this game until I find a main quest, or some kind of storyline, anything. I don't care how long it takes me, or how many bunnies have to die.
As a big surprise to absolutely no one, it turns out that I was really bad at playing Wasteland. I came out of almost every battle with most of my team unconscious, I barely got my characters to level 2, and I never did find out what the game is actually about.
I didn't enjoy it much at all, but I know for a fact that the game isn't unloveable, because people don't give millions on kickstarter to fund the sequel to a game they didn't enjoy. So I'm going to assume that I just didn't get it, that I wandered right past the good parts without even seeing them. But you know, I actually still kind of want to, which means I guess I have to give the game my slightly misleading 'gold star' award.