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Role-playing Video Games

Wasteland 2: Post-apocalyptic fun

These days my time has been spent playing Wasteland 2 (official site) by InXile Entertainment. This is a post-apocalyptic role-playing video game for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, and the first official sequel to the 1988 video game, Wasteland (the inspiration behind the Fallout series).

To put it simply, Wasteland 2 features a semi-overhead view with a rotatable camera. It uses a turn-based and party-based system with tactical combat. The party itself has room for seven characters, including the four player-designed characters and up to three non-player characters (NPCs) that can tag along as followers. These followers will each have their own personality, motivations, opinions, and agendas, and are capable of taking actions on their own during combat if the initial four player characters don’t have enough Leadership skill.

Wasteland 2

Now, not only is Wasteland 2 pretty addictive, but it’s no pushover, either! I’ve been playing with the four Rangers that I start with and have decided to not take on any followers, even though experience per character is not harmed by allowing them. Also, the higher difficulties make combat much more challenging, so I can’t afford to spend too many points in other skills. Since I’ve been playing so much Wasteland 2, though, I thought I’d take this as an opportunity to present some information here about how the game works, more specifically in regards to character statistics, derived statistics, and skills – some of my favourite things.

All of this information can be obtained from within the game and game files themselves, which means that owners/players of Wasteland 2 will probably have learnt all of this pretty quickly. However, knowing what’s in a game can be useful for making a purchasing decision or, if anyone’s like me, when thinking about what kind of characters to make next.

Attributes

Each character/Ranger has seven basic attributes/base statistics which are Coordination, Luck, Awareness, Strength, Speed, Intelligence, and Charisma. This combination of attributes forms the C.L.A.S.S.I.C. system. By default, when creating a custom Ranger, we are given seven points to spend and our character will have a value of three in each of the aforementioned attributes. However, we can remove the already assigned points and reassign them ourselves. A value of one or two in an attribute is considered “poor”, between three and seven depict varying definitions of “average”, whilst eight and nine is “great”, and ten is “exceptional”. But what does all of this mean, anyway?

Well, as usual, attributes define a character’s basic, natural abilities, whilst Skills usually represent those that are trained in some way. Because attributes are natural abilities, they cannot be improved easily and so, whatever we decide on at the start is very important. Simple common sense is all that is needed here – a sniper would do well with a lot of coordination, whilst a blade master would benefit from a decent strength value.

How these attributes affect a Ranger’s performance in the game can be seen in the Derived Statistics list in the lower left-hand corner during character creation and, in the case of weapons, when a particular weapon Skill is hovered over. The Derived Statistics are based on our allocation of points and define the number of Action Points available per turn in combat, any bonus to critical chance, etc.

When determining any attributes, skills, chances, points, etc. in the following, remember to always round down. Always. Unless specifically stated otherwise.
Coordination

Coordination

Coordination defines a Rangers’ general motor skills, both fine hand-eye coordination and sense of balance. Coordination is the attribute of choice for any gunslinger, as it is a minimum required attribute for a variety of ranged weapons. Coordination influences: Action Points, and Ranged Hit Chance.

Coordination 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Action Points (base is 3) +0 +1 +1 +2 +2 +3 +3 +4 +4 +5
Bonus Ranged Hit Chance 1% 2% 3% 4% 5% 6% 7% 8% 9% 10%

Action Points compounds with the Intelligence attribute.

Base Ranged Critical Hit Chance = (Luck/2) + (Coordination/2) + [Ranged Weapon Skill Level]
Ranged Critical Hit Chance = Base Ranged Critical Hit Chance * Weapon Critical Hit Chance Multiplier
Action Points = 3 + (Coordination/2) + ((Awareness + Strength + Intelligence + Speed)/4)

Action Points compound with the Intelligence attribute.

Luck

Luck

Luck is that undefinable innate something that just makes life easier from some of us than for others. Luck is one of the more versatile attributes, giving a wide variety of small bonuses that might just give us the edge in combat. Luck influences: Critical Hit Chance, Chance to Evade, chance for bonus Action Points in a turn, and chance for bonus CON at level-up.

Luck 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Chance to Evade (round down) +.5 +1 +1.5 +2 +2.5 +3 +3.5 +4 +4.5 +5

Chance to Evade compounds with the Awareness attribute.

Each Luck point grants -1% to Critical Failure and +1% to Critical Success on non-combat skill rolls. Furthermore, in each combat turn, a Ranger can get an additional Action Point on a successful Luck roll of Luck versus a random number from 1 to 100, and there are two of these rolls.

Additional Hit Points on level up: 1 Hit Point per successful Luck roll consisting of Luck * 5 versus a random number from 1 to 100. The actual roll count depends on character level.

Luck roll count per level up:

  • 2: level < 11
  • 4: level >= 11
  • 6: level >= 16
Awareness

Awareness

Awareness refers not just to eyesight and whether or not a Ranger needs glasses, but also the Ranger’s general concentration and situational awareness, which allows them to get the jump on the enemy – or not. Awareness’ high influence on initiative and other combat stats makes it an important attribute for Rangers that we want to move early and often in combat, be it a bruiser needing to get into position, or a sniper getting a quick kill. Awareness influences: Combat Initiative, Chance to Evade, and Vision Range.

Awareness 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Melee Critical Hit Chance 1% 2% 3% 4% 5% 6% 7% 8% 9% 10%
Combat Initiative +1 +2 +3 +4 +5 +6 +7 +8 +9 +10
Chance to Evade (round down) +.5 +1 +1.5 +2 +2.5 +3 +3.5 +4 +4.5 +5

Combat Initiative compounds with the Speed attribute.

Combat Initiative = 5 + (Awareness) + (Speed/2)

Chance to Evade compounds with the Luck attribute. Also, don’t round down for the next two.

Chance to Evade = (Speed) + (Awareness/2) + (Luck/2)
Range of view = 25 + Perception + (Awareness/2)
Strength

Strength

Strength is the pure brute power of a Ranger. This does not mean the Ranger is knowledgeable or skilled in applying that brute force, or particularly smart about when to apply it, just that the Ranger has a lot of force to apply. Strength is a natural skill for combat-focused bruisers. Strength influences: Max Carry Weight, Action Points, Melee Critical Hit Damage, Base CON, and bonus CON per level-up.

Strength 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
CON 14 16 19 21 24 26 29 31 34 36
Max Carry Weight (Pounds) 57 69 81 93 105 117 129 141 153 165
CON Per Level 3 4 4 5 5 6 6 7 7 8
Max Carry Weight (Pounds) = 45 + Strength × 12
Speed

Speed

Speed is not just the ability to run fast, but also refers to the Ranger’s reaction speed and quickness in dodging in response to a threat. It is an easy to underestimate attribute that is of vital importance to tactical movement in the field. Speed influences: Combat Speed, Combat Initiative, Action Points, and Chance to Evade.

Speed 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Combat Speed (Metres Per AP) 2.2 2.4 2.6 2.8 2.9 3.1 3.3 3.5 3.6 3.8
Intelligence

Intelligence

Intelligence represents the Ranger’s ability to process and learn new information, and thus increase skills that much faster. Intelligence is of primary importance to “brainiac” support characters, whether they be techies or medics, but should not be forgotten lest we find our Ranger unable to keep up with the team’s progress. Intelligence influences: bonus Skill Points per level-up, Action Points, and increases one’s ability to read high-level Skill Books.

Intelligence 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Action Points (base is 3) +0 +0 +1 +1 +1 +1 +1 +1 +2 +2
Survival Points Per Level 2 2 3 3 3 4 4 4 5 5
Surgeon skill level cap 5 5 5 5 6 6 6 9 9 10

Action Points compounds with the Coordination attribute.

Charisma

Charisma

Charisma is a unique attribute that does not directly impact any Derived Statistics, but a party’s total Charisma as well as the charisma of individual Rangers will have a real impact out in the world. Some companion NPCs (CNPCs) may not be willing to join if we lack the required Charisma. Charisma influences: Leadership Skill Radius, and bonus Experience Point growth.

Derived Statistics

Derived statistics are, as they say, based off your existing statistics/attributes. These mostly deal with combat, but there are some that don’t. They all are as follows:

Action Points limit how many actions a Ranger can take per turn. This value is the basic minimum value, which can increase with Luck bonuses or by carrying over extra Action Points in combat, or decrease if the Ranger is weakened.

Combat Initiative determines how fast a Ranger’s turn comes up, and how often that
Ranger has a turn if the combat encounter takes many turns to resolve. Each character in the game has an
Initiative score, determining overall turn order on the fly. Ignoring the attributes that buff up this stat will lead situations where that Ranger rarely contributes to combat.

Combat Speed is the distance in metres the Ranger can cover per Action Point available. A Ranger with high Combat Speed will be able to cover much more ground and still have enough Action Points left over to attack, while a slower Ranger may be unable to do the same.

Constitution (CON) or Hit Points refers to a Ranger’s health, also expressed as MAX CON (Maximum Constitution). This is the value of an unharmed, healthy Ranger. However, many threats in the world can decrease CON, such as thirst, radiation, traps, or good old fashioned bullets.

If CON hits 0, the Ranger falls into an injured state and will be unable to act both in and out of combat. There are several states of injury:

  • Unconscious
  • Seriously Wounded
  • Critically Wounded
  • Mortally Wounded
  • Comatose

When Unconscious, the Ranger will slowly recover and revive, but any more serious injuries will inflict the Bleeding Out status, causing the Ranger to gradually lose CON over time. Only a surgeon using a Trauma Kit will be able to heal off that damage. If enough CON is lost, the Ranger will slip into deeper states of injury, and eventually die. Once dead, a Ranger is gone for good – there’s no reviving from death once they have gone to meet their maker.

Tip: If excessive damage is inflicted, a Ranger can sometimes be killed instantly, without going into an injured state first. Be extra careful when taking on tough enemies!

CON per Level is the base amount added to the Ranger’s CON at every level. Luck will occasionally add to this amount, but only if they’re lucky!

Evasion Chance decreases the Chance to Hit for any enemies targeting this Ranger, regardless of if they’re attacking with melee or ranged weapons. Enemies can also have Evasion scores, with the same effect of decreasing Chance to Hit.

Maximum Carry Weight determines how much the Ranger can carry in their Inventory and have equipped on them at any time. The Inventory is not limited by space, but it is limited by weight. Rangers that take on too much weight are given the Encumbered status effect. This effect either slows the Ranger down at Light Encumbrance or makes the Ranger completely unable to move if heavily Encumbered.

Ranged Critical Hit Bonus and Melee Critical Hit Bonus set the base
value for a Ranger’s chance to score a Critical Hit on an enemy with either weapon type. The quality of the weapon the Ranger is using as well as their skill level in that weapon further increase this value. Critical hits deal more damage than normal, and landing Critical Hits with great frequency can give us a great edge in any combat situation.

Skill Points per Level represent the amount of Skill Points (SPs) a Ranger will get per level. Basically, the higher this value is, the quicker a learner the Ranger is.

Skills

There are a total of twenty-nine different skills available for our Rangers in the game. These skills are then divided into three categories: there are ten weapon skills, ten general skills, and nine knowledge skills. All Rangers start with twelve Skill Points to spend, and gain more each level depending on their skill points (SP) per level value.

Skills can have between zero and ten points allocated to them. How many skill points it takes to upgrade a skill costs depends on the skill level: levels 1-3 cost two points to increase, levels 4-6 cost four points to increase, levels 7-9 cost six points to increase, and level 9 10 costs eight points.

Lastly, each Ranger is outfitted with the type of weaponry and equipment that best suits their skills. So if we give our Ranger four ranks in Assault Rifles, they will start the game with an Assault Rifle.

Weapon Skills

Not every weapon is equally well-suited to the different challenges Rangers face. Each weapon skill covers a specific sub-set of weapons that range from the basic starting arms to the advanced weaponry looted from more dangerous enemies. Here is an outline of those skills, with an indication of what the pros and cons are:

Assault Rifles

Assault Rifles

Assault rifles are a favourite of the experienced Ranger: flexible, reliable, and useful in almost any situation. Assault rifles have good range, good Armour Penetration, good damage and multiple firing modes. However, they use up a significant amount of Action Points per shot, ammo is hard to find and expensive, and they lose accuracy in close quarters.

Bladed Weapons

Bladed Weapons

Bladed Weapons are excellent for getting in close and personal with low-armoured enemies, such as the various mutated animals in the wastes. The Critical Hit rate is high, but Armour Penetration and damage of non-Critical Hits are not very good. Bladed weapons do not consume ammo.

Blunt Weapons

Blunt Weapons

Blunt Weapons offer a close range alternative that is a bit more dependable than bladed weapons, and better suited against armoured enemies. The Armour Penetration is good and, if we do land a Critical Hit, the damage multiplier is high, but the Critical Hit Chance is significantly lower than for bladed weapons. Blunt weapons do not consume ammo.

Brawling

Brawling

Brawling is the final fall-back if all our ammo is gone or our weapons have been lost. Brawling has a very low Action Point requirement, allowing for many attacks per turn for fast characters, and the hit rate is high, but overall damage is very low. Fists do not consume ammo.

Energy Weapons

Energy Weapons

Energy Weapons have a unique inverse relation to the enemy’s armour: the bigger and thicker the armour, the more it amplifies the heating and melting effects of the energy weapon’s blasts, doing more and more damage – picture that metal-plated enemy getting boiled alive in his armour. Energy weapon damage scales very quickly with enemy armour. The downside is that energy weapons do very little damage against unarmoured enemies, and as energy ammo is pretty uncommon, we may find it advisable not to waste it on unarmoured foes.

Handguns

Handguns

Handguns are useful as a primary weapon and also a prime choice as a secondary weapon, because handguns and handgun ammo are quite common. Handguns have a high Critical Hit rate, cheap ammo and cost relatively little Action Point to use, but they suffer from low Armour Penetration and range.

Heavy Weapons

Heavy Weapons

Heavy Weapons are extremely powerful armaments, dangerous to both our enemies and – if they’re not positioned well – our allies. Heavy weapons all have Area of Effect (AoE) attacks, covering a radius or cone of area and potentially affecting everyone in that area. Heavy weapons do very high damage and have good Armour Penetration, but a single shot takes a lot of Action Points, so using them can slow down the Ranger and offer bonus Melee Critical Hit Chance to opponents due to the Ranger s’ limited mobility. Heavy weapons are also expensive and sometimes hard to find ammo for. That said, a single opportune use of a heavy weapon may swing a seemingly hopeless fight in our favour.

Shotguns

Shotguns

Shotguns are ideal crowd-clearing weapons. All shotguns have an AoE cone inside which any characters – friendly or enemy – will be damaged. This makes shotguns tricky to use, but there’s little that beats the joy of clearing a group of foolishly clustered enemies with a single shot. Shotguns use medium Action Points, meaning a well-balanced Ranger could take multiple shots per turn, but they do not have great range or Armour Penetration and shots lose effectiveness the farther away an enemy is.

Sniper Rifles

Sniper Rifles

Sniper Rifles have an extremely high damage output per shot. A good sniper can start off combat by taking out an enemy with a single shot, and remain deadly throughout the fight. But despite their damage, and long range, their high Action Point cost per shot means we generally can take only one shot per turn and do little else. Also, sniper bullets are very expensive and hard to find, and the weapon loses all effectiveness if enemies come within close range.

Sub-machine Guns

Sub-machine Guns

Sub-machine Guns are cheap and easy-to-find weapons for the Ranger that prefers the spray-and-pray approach to combat. SMGs fire multiple rounds per shot, have very cheap ammo, and bonus accuracy at close range. However, they have low Critical Hit Chances, low Armour Penetration and are only effective up to medium range.

General Skills

General Skills are a hodge-podge of practical skills we may find useful in the wastes. This includes a variety of dialogue or negotiation-based skills, but also survivalist skills such as Outdoorsman and Weaponsmithing and others. Here is an overview:

Animal Whisperer

Animal Whisperer

Animal Whisperer does not just represent a fondness of talking to puzzled animals in one’s spare time. No, the whispering actually works. Animals are pacified by this skill, and sometimes even made to follow the party around which can sometimes result in various bonuses. Maybe someone out there in the wastes that’s lost his dog will even reward us for leading her back home.

Barter

Barter

Barter represents the ability to get a better deal from merchants and vendors. Each point in Barter represents a bonus in trading situations, reducing the cost of items we buy. Barter works for the entire group as long as the Ranger with the skill is in range, and the bonus does not stack between multiple Rangers.

Brute Force

Brute Force

Brute Force is the Ranger’s capacity to kick down, push over and smash through things. Doors, walls, pillars, even cows – whatever we see upright and think “that should be down”, make it so! This skill can also occasionally be used on locked doors or containers, but the results can sometimes be less than ideal – for example, we might destroy some of the contents of the container.

Hard Ass

Hard Ass

Hard Ass is the ability to talk tough and intimidate people, with the purpose of getting them to abandon a fight or simply let us pass. Each of the conversation (“Ass”) skills can be used at the Conversation Screen by selecting the Ranger with the skill and clicking the corresponding keyword – which is unlocked if their skill level is sufficient. Each conversation skill is situational, and once the opportunity is missed, it usually won’t come back again for that specific conversation.

Kiss Ass

Kiss Ass

Kiss Ass represents the ability to persuade people using flattery and general sweet talking. It tends towards the deceptive. It works in conversations in a similar way to Hard Ass and Smart Ass.

Leadership

Leadership

Leadership is the ability to command others and inspire confidence through one’s commands. It has two major effects: one is that recruits will be less likely to ignore our commands and go rogue in combat. Additionally, the Leadership skill “inspires confidence”, giving an increase in Chance to Hit to nearby team members (the range of this effect is determined by the Ranger’s Charisma attribute).

Outdoorsman

Outdoorsman

Outdoorsman is used mostly while travelling on the World Map. It reduces the rate of water consumption, and makes it possible to avoid random encounters, potentially keeping us out of dangerous unexpected fire-fights.

Perception

Perception

Perception indicates a keen eye for small details. It can be used actively to highlight interactive objects in the area, but is also frequently used when simply moving the pointer over something; the game will check for Perception scores and offer the ability to inspect the object further. Perception is also occasionally used in conversations to reveal special information about a character that less attentive Rangers might miss out on.

Smart Ass

Smart Ass

Smart Ass is the manipulative end of the conversation skills, turning people to our way of thinking either with honest logic, or by simply outsmarting and confusing them. It works in conversations in a similar way to Hard Ass and Kiss Ass.

Weaponsmithing

Weaponsmithing

Weaponsmithing allows a Ranger to strip useless weapons down for parts. These parts can be good for nothing but selling, but they will also occasionally produce a modification which can then be applied to any weapon to increase its performance. Modifications have a minimum Weaponsmithing skill level required to install them on weapons, so it’s good to have one person in our party with at least a few points in Weaponsmithing.

Knowledge Skills

Knowledge Skills are those that require a combination of intelligence, cleverness and experience. This can be purely “smart” skills like Computer Science, or quick-fingered ones like Lockpicking, or those that require a little of both, like Alarm Disarming.

Alarm Disarming

Alarm Disarming

Alarm Disarming allows a Ranger to safely disable detection systems and alarms on doors, tripwires, and other alarm devices. This is often the only way to get through some areas peaceably, or open certain electronically sealed doors and safes. It combines well with Perception, which gives the ability to notice all these traps by other methods than just walking into them.

Computer Science

Computer Science

Computer Science gives the knowledge and ability to use computers and similar electronic devices, allowing the Ranger to interface, hack and repair them. Experienced hackers may even be able to sway robots and synths to join their side in combat.

Demolitions

Demolitions

Demolitions is used to arm and disarm explosives, though the most common “in the field” purpose is to disarm mines and booby traps others have left for us. It pairs well with the Perception skill, as even if we know how to disarm a bomb, it won’t do us much good if we can’t find it.

Field Medic

Field Medic

Field Medic represents the ability to apply quick, effective but limited medical treatment, making it a life-saver in combat situations. Field medics restore CON and can remove some status effects using various items.

Lockpicking

Lockpicking

Lockpicking is the skill of unlocking simple, reinforced locks on doors and chests, without the use of a key.

Mechanical Repair

Mechanical Repair

Mechanical Repair gives a Ranger the skill to repair engines, appliances, and other machines. This is a situational skill that might help us solve a mechanical problem or open up a new path to get where we’re going.

Safecracking

Safecracking

Safecracking is high tech lockpicking, allowing a Ranger to open safe doors and vaults. Containers and doors with these high tech locks generally can’t be easily opened with gunfire or conventional explosives.

Surgeon

Surgeon

Surgeon teaches a Ranger how to save the lives of the grievously wounded. This kind of surgery generally takes more time and effort than the quick work of a field medic. If a Ranger goes down, a surgeon is the only one who can get them back on their feet, and they will also fix any status effects the Ranger gained from injury.

Toaster Repair

Toaster Repair

Toaster Repair is a highly specialized skill focusing purely on the repair and maintenance of toasters. Repairing a toaster allows one access to its contents, and we’ll be surprised: people leave the darnedest stuff inside those things!

Skill Use

So now that we’ve seen what all of the attributes and skills are about, it’s time to use them. Skills can be used by adding them to the Ranger’s skill bar at the bottom of the screen. The skill can then be clicked (or the appropriate hot key pressed) and then the person/object which is the be the target of the skill may be clicked. However, some skills are passive or may require consumable items, such as Field Medic and Surgeon, before they can be used. Either way, we can see the success chance of the skill before we try using it so we can decide whether or not it is worth the risk or simply too difficult for our Rangers.

Critical Success & Failure

Each time we use a skill, there is usually a small chance of critical success or critical failure. Critical success may mean that our Rangers succeed at low odds and complete the action more quickly, whilst critical failure may come with a penalty such as breaking the object that the Ranger is interacting with or even causing a trap to be triggered, exploding it and damaging all nearby. However, we can often try to recouperate or losses through the use of another skill – using Mechanical Repair to mend a broken lock so that our Rangers may try again at unlocking it, for example.

Levelling Up

When a Ranger has gained enough experience points (XP), we need to use the Call button on the Radio to check in with Citadel Base and Report in order to get a field promotion (i.e. gain a level).

Levelling up grants the following bonuses:

  • Increased maximum Constitution as determined by Strength and Luck.
  • Additional skill points to spend as determined by Intelligence.

To assign new skill points, all we have to do is open up the Character screen and go to the Skills tab. The rest works basically the same as it did during character creation

Recruitment

While the number of Rangers we can have is four, it’s possible to recruit some of the people we meet on our journey until we meet a total of seven individuals. For most purposes, recruits or companion NPCs (CNPCs) are treated exactly the same as regular Rangers: they level up the same, they can be equipped with new items, they can speak up in conversation, and they are controlled by us in combat.

However, sometimes an NPC will act according to their own values and desires. For example, this may cause them to “go rogue” in combat, making them act independently of our control for one turn. In the case that this does happen, the NPC will generally still attack the enemy and engage in combat to our benefit, but they may not always make the wisest decisions. In other cases, they’ll just comment, sometimes they’ll like what we do, but if the wrong thing to the wrong people, our NPCs may turn on us or leave us.

We can dismiss an NPC from their Character screen by clicking the Dismiss button. The dismissed NPC will make their way to Ranger Citadel or another base of operations, waiting for us in rooms such as the Museum or Mess Hall. We can re-recruit dismissed party members there if we so wish.

Wrapping up Wasteland 2

Well, I think I’ve gone a little overboard in how descriptive I initially planned to be, but this amount of detail isn’t a bad thing either. I think. Anyway, if anyone is interested in finding out more about the game or obtaining a copy, check out the Wasteland 2 official site. And that will be all from me for now. Enjoy!

Sources used: PDF manual from Wasteland 2 game

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