And do you remember stats? Brian and co definitely do. Akin to Fallout's S.P.E.C.I.A.L attribute mechanic, everything you do in Wasteland corresponds to a governing skill check, with abilities having their own niche within the numbers game. Think D&D with technology and you're somewhere near the mark.
So far so nostalgic, and yet that is the biggest catching point with this next excursion into the Wasteland mythos. Everything on offer here is an open-mouthed kiss to the past with added tongue. It's a DeLorean piece of software that covets nostalgia, and at this point, shows little of its own sparkle or its developer's punts at 'the next step'.
But, as a scrawl of text reminds the player even in-game, this is a beta. A working build that uses the term 'working' in the most vague sense. Perhaps in a bid to stave off some of the latent aggression shown to Double Fine for their perceived tardiness, InXile have opened up the public entry, but the performance clearly isn't ready for show time.
While the software just about trundles along, the game itself is only around 30% complete. Features are missing, the narrative only runs around 10 hours, and the UI is about to be replaced. It's a work in progress that is clear to see. The ambition is here, but the labourers are still in, pounding in the nails and putting it all together.
The problem with this is a price tag that runs at $60 or £35. It's a steep entry fee and one that comes with the distinct disclaimer "NOT FINISHED. ETA: 2XXX". Make no mistake, if you're thumbing in your credit card details, it isn't to play but to support: unless you adore filling in bug reports, then by all means this is your own Game Design Tycoon.
Understanding that this is an ongoing project soothes the mind, but a laundry list of wishes and desires do creep up. The aforementioned turn-based combat, while serviceable, fails to muster a greater sense of excitement. AC points can be boring at the best of times, so special attention is needed. The new masters of XCOM, Firaxis, got it so right with a mix of tactics and spectacle - a spot of 'borrowing' might be in order.
Another concern is that while Wasteland is patient zero for nuclear apocolyptia, it doesn't have the same charm as Fallout. The rich world of the Vault Dweller series is comic, tragic, adventurous, and terrifying all at the same time. As a spiritual successor it succeeded in building on the charred landscape of the Desert Rangers. I worry where do InXile go without falling into parody and copy?
But that is all by-the-by at this point. For the most part Wasteland 2 excites me. What is on offer is enjoyable and returns to a particular brand of gaming that I am increasingly fond of. It's a classic CRPG awoken from cryosleep in the year 2014. It isn't finished, and it is costly, but here's to hoping Brian Fargo and his excellent team of veterans manage to pull this one off.
A comprehensive review of the finished game to come in the future.
Adam Tingle / Adam Tingle is a writer who dreamt he was a dancer. And loved it. But now the dream is over, and the slightly podgy, goofy, fool of a writer is awake. Bother him at @adamtingle.