Wasteland 2: New Gameplay Details On Depth, Writing & Permadeath

Adam Barnes


We chat to Brian Fargo about how Wasteland 2 is coming along, and grab a few details on the game itself.

Published on Sep 4, 2012

Brian Fargo - creator of popular Kickstarter project Wasteland 2 - was at Unite 2012, the annual event the celebrates all things Unity.

NowGamer's sister magazine 3D Artist managed to catch up with Brian Fargo to ask him about Wasteland 2, game development as a whole and even squeeze out a few details about the game.

"The main thing is that it’s a turn-based, squad-based RPG," said Fargo, "so you’re developing more than one character. If you want your team to be four Russian women, then you’ve got it."

The Importance Of Writing

Fargo then goes on to talk about the quality of Wasteland 2, and how it harks back to a more classic era of PC RPG. "The writing is mature. Part of what made Planescape Torment and Fallout and Wasteland great is that they had a literary vibe to them.

"There are some things that only words can describe," he added, "and we’re trying to bring back the power of the words."

There will be hundreds of hours of unnecessary cut-scenes though, like a Final Fantasy game, "That doesn’t mean that every time you step on a square you have to read a page. It’s not like that. But we fill things in, and that sets Wasteland 2 apart from some of the more modern RPGs."

Additionally Fargo then went on to reiterate the importance of cause and effect in Wasteland 2, "It all takes place in a super heavy cause and effect environment.

"The cause and effect for what you do and having a logical place in the world – you can play the game through all the way, and your friend will say what happened to him and you’re going to go, ‘I didn’t even see that.’"

Fargo adds, "You won’t even know why he saw what he saw. It’s so nuanced. Every time you play you’ll get a different experience. That’s part of the fun."

This is an early screenshot of Wasteland 2. It's not final, but representative are the art direction anyway.

Cause And Effect

This impact your character has on the world is reminscent of Fallout: New Vegas, which played around with cause and effect but was riddled with bugs through the graphically intensive open world environment.

When asked about whether the limited graphical side of Wasteland 2 means it can concentrate much more on this cause and effect, Fargo responds with "That’s what we’re doing. We don’t have cinematics and we don’t have audio issues. It’s all reading.

"So I can be making that change and that depth is there all the way to the last minute. So we’re taking that and going another level deep. We’re taking things to their natural, crazy conclusion. That’s what makes it great."

But this cause and effect isn't shortform, a decision you make might impact something five, or even ten, hours down the line. This, says Fargo, frees up Wasteland 2 to remove permadeath - a feature becoming popular once more with the likes of XCOM: Enemy Unknown.

One of the concept arts released during the Kickstarter project. We do not want to come up against that thing any time soon.

The Perils Of Permadeath

"You’re not just making a choice and have it go one level deep," said Fargo, "It’ll go deeper and deeper and affect something ten hours from there.

"One of the things people ask us about is permadeath, and the fact that if you can save a game anywhere it ruins the tension. However, if you do a deep game, it doesn’t matter."

What Fargo means is that permadeath isn't important if you're forced to live with your decisions, "If you do a bunch of stuff at one point, and it affects you five hours later, you can go restore that game but you’ve got to go back five hours.

"So it is permadeath," he adds, "because you’re stuck with the decisions you make. We never make it so you can’t win the game, but a whole group might be wiped out or you’ve made all these enemies or whatever, and you’re stuck with that decision."

All this plays into the fact that Wasteland 2 will be as deep as the classic PC RPGs you remember.

"So: depth, depth, depth." said Fargo, "That’s what people want. The design document looks insane. Thousands of pages of stuff. That’s only thousands of pages of changes – y’know, what happens if you talk to this person or that person, or go into this state, or that state; that’s where all the writing goes.

"It’s not thousands of pages of long written dialogue; it’s just the nuanced, different choices you make."

Wasteland 2 is due at some point in 2013 and broke records when it finished its Kickstarter project at just under million.



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