I mentioned that I backed Wasteland 2 recently and as it happens an update arrived yesterday that was more than a bit awesome.

Before continuing it should be borne in mind that I love the Fallout series. It took me a long time to accept Fallout 3. I still consider it “Bethesda’s Fallout” rather than actual Fallout on account of how much it diverges from the pre existing universe. It’s not a bad game at all, it’s just that it doesn’t quite manage to be a Fallout game.

For example Fallout 1 has some old music (Maybe by The Inkspots) as its intro music. There’s a fair bit of retro futurism too. However instead of a world that’s stuck in the 1950s it’s more like the future as imagined by the 1950s. Apparently Bethesda didn’t get that memo and went more than a bit overboard on the concept. It still works but it feels they really tried a bit too hard.

Why is this relevant to Wasteland?

Well Fallout was the spiritual successor to it. The original Wasteland was released in 1988 and looked like this:wasteland

A bit too old school for me. I tried to play it but couldn’t get into it. Fallout and Fallout 2 still look good enough for me:

fallout3

Now Fallout 3 looks like this in game:335075-fallout-3-windows-screenshot-welcome-to-the-world-of-tomorrow

See any similarities between the interfaces?

What’s Fallout 3 missing?

The text box.

The choice of the first person perspective was supposed to make the game more immersive. For me it just allowed me to find fault in the world more easily. Repeated textures and bland re-used assets.

Fallout 1 (and 2 of course, they used virtually the same engine) had these problems too but that faded into the background for me because I was able to examine virtually everything. Looking at someone would give a description of them allowing me to imagine the specifics I couldn’t see. I hated that I had to take everything on face value in Fallout 3 because of this. The game felt so much shallower.

Then this video went out for Wasteland 2:

See that thing in the bottom corner?

Awesome.

I hear that the dialogue is going to be text only too. At the moment voice talent is costly and time consuming and as such dialogue is limited. In Fallout: New Vegas I must have heard the same three lines from every NCR trooper in the game hundreds of times. Ugh.

Text only allows for a much richer world at the moment. Hopefully in time we’ll either be able to synthesise speech or find a more time-effective way of working with sound but for now text seems to be the way to go if one is trying to build a rich world.

To me an RPG lives and dies on whether the world feels alive and interesting. I can overlook a lot of other failings if the world immerses me.

I’ll put it this way as a final thought: I enjoyed Fallout 2 (which I played first) so much that I dreamt about playing it. The ~200 hours of Fallout 3 I played didn’t have that effect.

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