Wasteland 2: Director's Cut

Game review by
Michael Lafferty, Common Sense Media
Wasteland 2: Director's Cut Game Poster Image
Face hard choices in brutal post-apocalyptic RPG adventure.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Virtually anything goes in the game's bleak, brutal post-apocalyptic landscape. Moral choices are a key element of the game, but due to the dire circumstances that the player is in, as well as the fact that hope is fleeting (at best), there are few, if any, positive messages.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Each adventurer has his or her own back story, but all rely on their willingness to kill virtually everything in their way. Good intentions -- as in trying to maintain a sense of peace and order -- may be the underlying motive, but players must be able to downplay those good intentions to achieve the mission goals.

Ease of Play

Easy-to-control interface, and several difficulty levels allow players to customize the game experience. Gameplay is rather intuitive overall. Battles spring up without notice, but players are often given the choice of engaging in the combat (to earn experience and level the four-man team) or running away.

Violence

The game is played from an top-down, three-quarter camera vantage point, and players really can't zoom in to see the graphic depictions of the violence. But enemies are blown apart by explosives, decapitated or dismembered by blades, and -- occasionally -- die with blood spraying everywhere.

Sex

The player's team can visit a brothel. While the sex scenes aren't shown, there's audio that suggests precisely what's going on. The game also doesn't pull punches in regards to sexually transmitted diseases, and there are references to them. 

Language

Frequent language includes "f--k" and "s--t," plus derogatory female terms like "c--t" and "whore."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

References in dialogue to drug dealers. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Wasteland 2: Director's Cut is a role-playing game for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PCs. The plot is a gritty, violent sojourn into a post-apocalyptic world where lawlessness reigns in an almost "anything goes" environment filled with traps and enemies. The game has tons of violence, with explosives, firearms, and bladed weapons. There's also lots of strong language (including "f--k" and "s--t") and derogatory terms for women (such as "whore"), as well as implied sexual activity because of audio clues and sequences set within brothels. There are references to drug dealing and sexually transmitted diseases, which seem to reflect and capture the feeling of this new dangerous world without limits.

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What's it about?

WASTELAND 2: DIRECTOR'S CUT is directly tied to the events of Wasteland (which is included in the deluxe edition for those who may not have played the original). Wasteland 2: Director's Cut takes place 15 years later and focuses on a ragtag band of desert rangers who are investigating the death of a fellow ranger at the hands of locals. The dead veteran, Ace, had been sent to investigate a strange radio signal that hinted at "man and machine becoming one," which, of course, is a omen of cyborgs. The player controls a team of four -- which can be created from scratch or chosen from pre-built characters -- and begins to unravel the homicide and mystery surrounding the ranger's death. 

Is it any good?

This adventure takes a classic approach to its gameplay, while tossing in a lot of moral choices and violence to indicate this rough new world. Wasteland 2: Director's Cut's tactical gameplay and storytelling elements come from classic role-playing game (RPG) mechanics that have been refined over decades. Those who've played RPGs like Baldur's Gate will recognize the group-and-move style of tactics, as well as the ability to select a team member and give individual attack orders. The look and sound are solid, but that's not where the hook lies -- Wasteland 2: Director's Cut has a strong, evolving storyline that pulls players deeper into the less-than-perfect desert rangers and drives the game home with a story that lures and rewards players as they uncover the truth behind the innocuous radio signal.

The downside to the game is also one of the draws -- it's a dark tale that requires players to put aside notions of good to accomplish the mission goals. That the developers chose to integrate foul language and put in real-world elements, such as brothels, to underscore the feel of the game's desolate world seems a bit unnecessary and likely could have been discarded. Character creation also feels a little thin when it comes to character looks. Additionally, the camera, which is so zoomed out for a top-down perspective, is so removed from on-screen action that it can be extremely difficult to read text. Switch owners are better served docking their system to read words on a TV than its screen. But overall, the story and the classic gameplay of Wasteland 2: Director's Cut are what will keep RPG fans coming back hour after hour to play this adventure.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in video games, like the kind found in Wasteland 2: Director's Cut. Is the impact of the violence in Wasteland 2: Director's Cut affected by the amount of combat and gore that's shown? Is the impact lessened by the camera angles for the game, which aren't nearly as focused on the action?

  • Is it necessary for the game to include frequent swearing? What about the derogatory terms for women? Could these ideas have been presented in a different way that conveyed the same message?

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