Playing the Wasteland PC game in modern times can only elicit feelings of appreciation.
Appreciation not only for how far video games have gotten, but also for how innovative and difficult of an endeavor, game development had to be back in those dark-dark days when RAM memory was counted in kilobytes and game storage in a few megs.
The game is also a testament to how much imagination and honestly, time, gamers had back in the day when you didn’t have anywhere between 7 to 10 games installed on your hard-drive competing for your time. Not to mention multiplayer stuff.
Playing the Wasteland video game reminded me fondly of MUDs. Because if you want to do anything with any relevant speed, you’ll have to do it by typing commands on your keyboard.
Wasteland 1 is hardcore
The Wasteland video game itself is pretty hardcore, much like other cRPGs of the era, like the Ultima titles.
You randomly roll your stats, granted you can re-roll as many times as you like, but you have to re-roll ALL of them. and I super LOVE that. I’m not a big fan of min-maxing characters. Healing is also a bit weird, especially from a modern cRPG perspective. And while there’s no insta-death, death is permanent.
Members gain experience when and if they give the kill-shot, participating to a kill doesn’t result in them getting any XP rewards. All of them need to participate though, because the enemies are not necessarily difficult by their lonesome. On the other hand, you tend to fight two or three of the same thing during the same encounter and have several encounters one after the other. The damage will add up quickly. This, combined with the dubious healing means that you need to be rather tactical in regards to where you fight and how much fighting you actually do.
Wasteland 1 features some interesting, original and very thematic enemies and I have to say, the animations aren’t half-bad either, considering the spatial limitations I mentioned earlier.
Another thing that is different with playing an old game such as Wasteland 1, mostly because of the “pixels are anything and everything” aesthetic capabilities of the time is the exploration aspect. Exploring every square of the map is important because you won’t “see” things located there until you are on top of them. Also, there are no actual minimap or journal features to speak of, so you’ll have to either write stuff down or remember names and places.
Wasteland managed to give me a new experience related to video gaming: I had to read most of the world’s descriptions from a separate document, because there was no space to store these 24 pages of descriptions on ye olde floppies. Sometimes you have to go to the past in order to try new things.
Sound and soundtrack
Wasteland 1 comes from the prehistoric age in terms of computer game sound effects. When you move, there’s a bunch of really annoying beeps and clicks produced by your speakers, it can get quite grating on the ears after a while, especially when you want to move faster.
But the current version of Wasteland 1 available on Steam comes with a great, modern soundtrack created initially as a fan tribute, by Edwin Montgomery. After hearing it, the guys over at inXile decided to use it for their re-release of Wasteland 1.
The soundtrack will start playing in the background the moment you start up Wasteland and it is a very nice atmosphere builder, populated with moody tracks that subtly reflect the desolation of the game world.
Nowadays, besides the hardcore nature and uber-nostalgic/retro appeal, Wasteland still has a major word to say in terms of the post-apocalyptic RPG genre.
The mind would obviously jump to the Wasteland 2 video game that got successfully crowd-funded and is not only out, but even a Director’s Cut version was recently released. Which i’ll review once I get to play it.
But Wasteland’s legacy is a bit richer than that.
From Wasteland to Fallout
Wasteland lead to the creation of the Fallout franchise.
Fallout came to be when the original creators of Wasteland wanted to make a sequel for it, but couldn’t get the property back from EA. References to Wasteland, the game, can be found all throughout the entirety of the Fallout franchise, but mostly in the first two.
So if you consider yourself a Fallout completionist, you cannot skip the game that spawned it all, you need to venture into the Wasteland.