So, let's get going with our first game.
First, some basic backstory. In 1998, a satellite is placed into orbit by the US. The Soviets accuse the US of placing a weapons platform into orbit, forcing NATO, Western Europe, and South American puppet governments to side with the US. In response, most other neutral countries side with the Soviets. Shortly before becoming operational, the station sends a distress signal, and most other satellites are mysteriously destroyed. In a panic, both sides launch their nukes, turning most of the world into a radioactive junk pile.
Meanwhile, after seeing the world around them destroyed, a unit of US Army Engineers invade an isolated high-security prison, forcing the inmates out into the desert. The descendants of these Engineers become the Desert Rangers, while the inmates either die or turn to raiding to survive. Several towns, including Las Vegas survive, but are no longer the same cities and towns we love.
One of the first things you'll notice about Wasteland when you start the game and go to create your own characters is that it works from a classless system, which I suspect was unusual for the time. There is no "Soldier" or "Engineer" classes, only a large number of skills and stats which will turn you into something along these lines if you select them carefully.
For my game, since I've played Wasteland more times than I can remember, I've chosen to go with a solo character. This isn't ideal if you're new to the game, since the early game will be extremely difficult. However, it does have some advantages. Firstly, it is an extremely cheap way to play in terms of in-game finances. You only have to buy one set of equipment. Secondly, you don't need to decide what to do with rare equipment, especially in one or two cases where there are only one or two pieces of a particular type in the entire game. Finally, once you get rolling, I suspect that your single character will be much more powerful than a group would be, since you're recieving all of the experience, and all of the skill checks, which have the possibility of actually raising the skill by one point on occasions where the check is successful.
Meet Nadezhda, the Russian Desert Ranger.
|So much for the clumsy, heavily-laboured plot. We move now to the clumsy, heavily-laboured hero.|
Nadija's stats aren't ideal, but they're decent, and most importantly, they add up to an even number, which is important, at least when you have number OCD. As for skills, I'll be taking all of the general skills, everything relating to melee, and one or two firearms. I won't actually be using firearms, but I'll have so many skill points that I can pretty much take as many as I want, up to the limit of 30 skills. If you want to see the skills available to a character, you can find them in the manual here. Probably half of them are functionally useless, since in the one or two instances you can actually use them, a stat or more useful skill can be substituted.
In my case, I'm taking all of these useless skills because I'm going to be using melee exclusively. The reason for this is that killing an opponent nets you double experience points. The downside is obviously that you need to close to melee range, which can be difficult against a powerful opponent who is using firearms. Also, while a melee opponent will leave combat if it flees and you're more than one square away and not wielding firearms, a ranged opponent sometimes needs to be chased across the entire map or backed into a corner before you can finally deliver the final blow.
So, there we have the basics of Wasteland and what I'll be doing with my game. Next time, we'll look at what the gameplay is actually like, as well as one or two of the locations in the game.