While I really enjoy Wasteland 2, my recommendation would have to come with a huge dose of "your mileage may vary". It's a long, slow, burn, and if you like to jump straight into things, or find yourself easily losing concentration or focus, you may find yourself giving up on Wasteland 2 before it really begins to shine. But some patience will pay off, if the genre interests you. Of course, if you don't like turn-based strategy games, then you should be giving this a pass. The writing is really top-notch in this game, and I found it both enjoyable and rewarding to play through.
Focused on a team of 4 rangers (which you can create yourself, or use several pre-built characters), and using very detailed attributes and skills - the CLASSIC system (Coordination, Luck, Awareness, Strength, Speed, Intelligence, Charisma), it took me a while before I realised that some attributes and stats were extremely important, while others... could be passed over, especially depending on the followers (NPCs) you decided to acquire. Unfortunately, it can take some trial and error before you realise what you should be doing with your characters and what is important for them to have. Or... you could just forge ahead anyway! I quite liked that there were no classes, giving you the freedom to do whatever you wanted with your characters. You could have a guy carrying heavy weapons, while being a melee tank and also healing... for example. Though this can also be a negative, if you wanted to see class specialisation, perks, and so on.
And so, I was introduced to the fun (???) of character creation. And uhh... naming my characters, which proved to be a disaster... after an embarrassingly long time, I settled on "One", "Two", "Three", and "Four". Original, right. The vast array of skills can be intimidating at first, and leveling them up (especially at later levels) can become quite frustrating and very grindy, but it does add a lot of depth to the game. One thing I did not like as much though... how much time it took, and the animation, whenever you wanted to use a skill. Using a skill meant that your Ranger (or follower) would have to move to the location (clumping up your Rangers if you moved them all as a group makes this an exhausting chore), before an animation begins. With the vast amount of skill checks in this game, the checks do add up and can become very time consuming and therefore annoying.
Additionally, there is quite a lot of travel involved in this game, both in the larger world map, and also within smaller exploreable areas. Even if you're not in a rush, the travel can quickly become aggravating. I wished for quicker travel myself, despite the fact I don't mind slower paced games.
While you are limited to Arizona and California, one after the other, the world map is still pretty expansive, with secret areas to discover dotted around the place. Travelling isn't worry free though - not only are there standard enemy encounters (which can become annoying quite quickly), but also some more welcome encounters, which is a bit different and somewhat refreshing in comparison to the usual fare where encounters in the wild just end up being endless fights. There are also two unique mechanics: water and radiation. Your team carries canteens, which can, and should be refilled at any well and oasis you find. Once you run out of water, your team starts to dehydrate and can die. Similarly, in the post-apocalyptic wasteland, nukes have left lingering radiation in various areas - so you also have to watch out for contamination... or again, you'll find your team dropping like flies.
The musical score, sound effects, and even the voice acting is all done quite well, and combines well with the graphics to provide a smooth and enjoyable spectacle. The graphics are not the best in the world, but they do set the tone of the game well, and are very appropriate to the game's setting - harsh, gritty, and unforgiving.
Combat is generally quite straight forward, with the standard turn-based combat fare reappearing here, though more in-depth compared to some other games due to the more extensive attribute and skill system. Your attributes and skills will determine in what order your characters go, and how much they can do in their turn. There are also crouch and cover mechanics, though some weapons can destroy cover. However... there is not much else. There are no real special combat moves, or combat specific skills - they increase your damage and hit percentage, and that's it. No executes, no cloak, etc. While there is headshot and ambush... they are honestly not that great. It's just point, click, hope to hit (the RNG seems to be a bit odd, with a lot of misses even on shots with a high hit percentage), rinse and repeat. There is no cover, no flush, no interesting and genuinely unique abilities.
Additionally, RNG can always turn around and give you a hard time. Or... adversely affect the enemies. Critical hits, critical misses, weapon effects, and weapon jams can all have a surprisingly large affect on the outcome of an encounter. I also like the emphasis on scarcity and the need for careful management of your resources, which is quite fitting for a game like this, especially the ammo. If you just blaze away, you'll be out of ammo before you know it, so you do need to think before you act. Vendors are limited too... The combat is decent, and I enjoyed it, but I will admit there could have been more to it.
While your team revolves around 4 characters, you are able to recruit a number of NPCs to join your team (3 followers for a maximum team size of 7). While you are nominally in control of them, leadership is important here as there is the chance your "follower" (only if they are in a good mood) will just decide to do their own thing in combat - running into cover, shooting something you didn't want shot, etc. Overall, the combat is fun and challenging, with a variety of enemies to conquer - both man and animal.
Despite there only being two areas to explore, Wasteland 2 boasts a wide variety of quests, many of which have a variety of ways to finish - but be careful, your choices do have serious and lasting consequences. Which is something else I really enjoy about the game - your choices DO matter. And have a ripple effect. This is not just limited to quests, there are some actions while just generally playing and moving around which could have an affect, especially based on which followers are with you. Do you dig up some graves? Do you disarm the alarm? Do you deliberately trip it off? Do you use strength or a grenade to break a wall? Do you help this faction, or the other faction? Mediate a ceasefire or shoot everybody up? The variety of ways to overcome things in your way is definitely a highlight of the game. I really enjoyed the varying options available, and weighing them up, based on what you want your team to do. Your decisions may cause followers to leave your party, or even turn on you. Not only does this create an interesting in-game dynamic where what you do will affect how other in-game characters interact with your party, but this also allows for extensive replayability, if you so choose. "What if" questions are plentiful in this game.
Finally, I particularly loved the odd references and humour. The Wasteland 1 disc was a particular highlight. While not particularly game-making, or breaking, it was something that I enjoyed. The grand adventure that plays out, in addition to the continued support and patching by inXile, make me give this game two thumbs up.