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Wasteland 2 gameplay video of 18minutes released by InXile

Friday, 30 August 2013

The lads in InXile Entertainment have put out new long-awaited gameplay video of Wasteland 2, consisting middle-way lengthy 18minutes of gameplay, presented by Chris Keenan of InXile Entertainment!

"team has been hard at work for last couple of months, going through the entire build, getting for feature complete, and we've also put together this demo for you, and I'm pretty excited about it" (Chris Keenan. InXile Entertainment.)

The video is set to, and showing off, fourth or fifth level of Wasteland 2. The area is called 'Prison', being originally Desert Ranger's headquarters, now taken over by Red Scorpion Militia.

Keenan shows and discusses about the game's long and short-term reactivity towards your actions and discussions with NPCs (while showing off a conversation with man called "Fred", first NPC you will encounter in Prison area). While short-term reactivity will take it's action directly or within the few minutes after a conversation or encounter, some of your actions will have long-time affection, even through the whole game play, and affect differently towards different NPCs. Both, long-term and short-term reactions are much needed and welcomed, expanding the game-play experience of Wasteland 2. It still remains to be seen by what level of quality InXile can perform when making these choices and creating these stories with the reactivity. If the reactions make sense, are interesting, and there are plenty to play with, it will greatly expand re-play-value of the game.

Keenan also demonstrates a scenario about helping Fred with his cart, which is stuck in the mud. First ranger (one of our four characters) doesn't succeed with the deed, while the second with more 'brute force' does it with ease. The system to find out whether your character is capable of interacting with an object or not (the cart), has been slightly streamlined, whereas player can see a text hovering over an object in gameplay-screen telling broadly, how easy or hard it is to interact with a certain character with a certain object. Keenan explains that they did not want player having to check out character-stat-screen every time with each character, to find out what their skills for the specific taste (brute force etc.) are. This is called "a relative difficulty system" and will display tag either for easy, medium, or hard interaction with an object, for the selecter character.

A "short time reactivity" with helping Fred has now made him friendly enough with the player, which opens up 'trade' option with Fred in the conversation system. A "long term reactivity with Fred is that after helping him out, he will show up couple of levels later in totally different circumstances with different gear to sell, and with couple of bodyguards, as he's been harassed along the way (The other options, such as not helping, weren't presented). How the story with Fred continues will be revealed eventually in the full version.

On the bartering screen with Fred you will notice, that along the money, you may also use items scavenged for bartering and trading. The radio also plays significant role in Wasteland 2 driving the story and side-quests forward, as you will receive signals and recorded messages with the radio at certain areas, linking new stories to areas and creating new mysteries for you to solve. One of such takes place shortly after the meeting with Fred, whereas rangers receive radio signal with haunting message with woman's voice saying:

"Please if you can hear me, please come back... don't let me die alone... I can't take the pain any longer...P..p..please Elroy. Oh, Elroy."

Leading the rangers to adventure deeper within the canyons in the area, discovering badly a sick woman, who tells that The Scorpions have killed the doctor of the village/area, and medicine is too expensive. The woman then asks Rangers to kill her, for she is in pain. Keenan demonstrates a few possible ways to solve the situation: firstly, if you have a ranger with high enough healing skills (surgeon), you might try to heal the woman, secondly you could head out to the wasteland and find out Elroy (mentioned in the radio signal), or thirdly you could try to find the medicine out yourself, or finally you could respond to her plea and put her out of her misery. The way to solve presented here is to kill the woman, after which Elroy arrives to the scene yelling that he has the medicine, leading into a fight with him, as you obviously nailed the poor woman with some lead (in this particular scenario). Again, possibility to solve problems differently with a different outcomes does enchance re-play value greatly. Sadly, at this point the other possible outcomes weren't presented more in-depth way, which would had been interesting. But, knowing that many actions of yours will affect also in a long-term way towards the world around is one of the promising things to create illusion of fully reacting game world.

Getting back to "long-term reactivity", another interesting thing with major affection on your current play-through is, certain areas and stories might get completely locked out for you in that specific whole play-through, while the others may open up. This depends of your actions, and once again, sounds brilliant! Keenan tells, that for example, during the first 30minutes of the gameplay, you will have to make a choice, which will cut out "an entire level". This, according to Keenan, is about 1h30mins to 2hours of gameplay, based on single decision. Personally, I never liked much of the cRPGs, where you could achieve and complete everything with a single play-through, as playing your "role" and considering your "actions" falls totally flat, if no taken action really matters. A game world that changes and opens up different stories on a different play-through makes the world feel reactive and alive, even if you missed a certain quest or area, but unlocked another, or were punished by something your did. You're heading towards great direction Mr. Fargo (& co.)!

Which warms my heart is that there will be around 20 NPC companions (according to Keenan) that join to your party, scattered throughout the entire game world, thus making exploration and playing with different conversation-options more fun. Some of the companions will join right away, but the others you may have to convince first in a way or another, while some may not even want to join your party (perhaps, depending of your actions). Keenan puts emphasise on the fact, that your actions will reflect with the gameworld, and will be judged by other NPCs, so choose wisely.

Conversation-system with NPCs based on keywords has been overhauled from the initial plans a bit. In the first gameplay demo some months ago, you were only able to see single keywords (your party's own dialogue) like (Demand, Guns, Quest) etc. in a conversation with an NPC - while only NPCs responses were shown as full sentences. There were not full sentences you could select and view as for your party's respond towards an NPC. Now, however, while the keywords still present your options in dialogue/conversation-screen, hovering over a keyword with mouse will now show you a whole sentence behind the keyword such as: Gun -> Why do you care about the guns? New keywords will also become available and pop up during conversation, depending of your path of conversation you take with an NPC. Some choices may unlock the others and branch into a new direction!

After the incident with Elroy and the dying woman, The Rangers bump into a group of Red Scorpion Militia, torturing a woman and harassing your rangers, and...

Find out the rest by watching the gameplay video below!

Criticism: the criticism towards the gameplay video of Wasteland 2 by me is rather, minor. As for one thing, I could go on forever how animated 2D sprites and drawn 2D-graphics look artistically far better than 3D. But once again, even if 3D artistically isn't perhaps the best, most vivid choice, it doesn't matter as far as there's enough depth of game-play behind the whole core system of the game, with great narrative style of story, and much reactivity. One minor thing I noticed personally was, that the four characters (at least in the gameplay demo) didn't have their own unique "feel" of personality. The small character portraits didn't just "do it for me". There's much that can be achieved in party-based games by small things, making characters more alive and feel individual. Just take a look into Jagged Alliance 2 with the spoken, funny dialogue with good one-liners, or Baldur's Gate with with top-notch interaction between the characters and different reactions to unique situations by each. Well, I guess we'll just have to wait and see how unique the individual characters within the party turn out to be in the final Wasteland 2 version.

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