Thursday, 16 June 2016 00:00

Wasteland 2: A Solid Start

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It was Wasteland 2 free weekend on Steam this weekend. I haven't played this since back in 1988, so I covered up all the windows in the house and dug in deep. Twelve hours later, as usual, I'm seeing all the ways I could have made things a little better if I had known a bit more before I started. Now armed with 12 hours worth of hard-earned lessons, I decided it was time for me to build a custom party. Sadly there is no non-cheaty way to respec your characters, so here's how to get a solid start, without ruining all the fun.

I love utilizing every skill in these types of games, in order to see all the hidden dialogue, etc. However, each character can only handle so many skills, so a bit of balancing is required. To keep things organized and easier to visualize, I've invented archetypes. They are, Scout, Leader, Scientist and Technician/Bruiser. Bruiser is a good archetype, in it's own right, but everyone fights, so I decided to primarily focus on non-combat skills for my four core rangers.

Unlike the original Wasteland, in Wasteland 2 most skills are completely independent of attributes. Strangely enough, Barter, Hard Ass, Smart Ass and Kiss Ass are not affected by Charisma, for instance, and although it may seem to imply otherwise in it's skill description, Brute Force has nothing to do with your strength score. Whenever there is an attribute/skill relationship, I've done my best to mention it.

Unless stated otherwise, I suggest assigning a minimum of 7 ranks to your Primary Attribute, and at least 4 to intelligence. This makes each core ranger a specialist, and allows at least one extra skill point per level.

The primary combat skill recommendation is a bit flexible. The archetypes this matters most to are Leader and Scientist. The Leader's combat skill needs to be dynamic enough to allow them to set up near the other squad members in order to bestow their Leadership accuracy bonus. The Scientist should be able to use a long range weapon so they can stay out of harms way, since they are the squad's lifeline. It's probably a good idea for all characters to have both a ranged and melee skill eventually, just in case they get jumped, but I haven't had any trouble yet while playing on normal difficulty.

Ammunition comes in two varieties: scarce and expensive. Whichever combat skill you select, your character will get a starting weapon of that type. If each character has a different ammo requirement, your ammo will go a lot further. Keep in mind that heavy weapons and assault rifles (mostly) use the same ammo, as do handguns and submachine guns.



I placed this character in slot 1 for convenience. Hitting F1 is a little easier than hitting F2, etc, and your perception character will be the one you explore with most.

Primary Attribute:
Awareness - For perception range of view.

Non-combat Skills:

  • Perception – Range affected by Awareness attribute. This is the ranger you'll be doing most of your exploring with, so you won't have to switch between rangers quite as often if you pair with skills that are useful during exploration.
  • Lock Picking – Promotes less switching between rangers.
  • Demolitions – Promotes less switching between rangers.
  • Alarm Disarming
  • Brute Force – May want to leave this to a companion.

Primary Combat Skill:

  • Handguns or Submachine Guns – Uses .38 ammo.


Primary Attribute:
Charisma - Affects Leadership skill radius, non-combat XP rewards, and recruiting companions.

Recommended Non-combat Skills:

  • Leadership - Provides accuracy bonus to nearby teammates, shown by a blue flag above their picture. Charisma improves radius of effect. Leadership perks reduce the to hit chance of enemies within this radius.
  • Animal Whisperer
  • Hard Ass - You may want to leave this to a companion.

Primary Combat Skill:

  • Heavy Weapons
  • Energy Weapons

– Uses 5.56mm ammo, or Energy Cells. The medium range will allow you to keep your leader near your other squaddies to provide accuracy bonuses. Use energy on opponents wearing conductive armor, in order to conserve ammo.


Primary Attribute:
Intelligence - Provides maximum number of skill points, and dictates maximum surgeon skill. Because of the high intelligence, we can afford extra skills on this one, but if we set intelligence to 4-7, we still only get 3 skill points per level. We can either set it to 8, and sacrifice an attribute point elsewhere, or wait until we get an extra attribute point at level ten, while hoping for a +1 trinket in the mean time... I have yet to see a trinket like that.. Better to just set it to 8 now, imo which gives you 10 extra skill points all in all.

Non-combat Skills:

Surgeon - Maximum level dictated by Intelligence attribute.

  • Computer Science
  • Safe Cracking
  • Field Medic
  • Smart Ass
  • Outdoorsman - You may want to leave this to a companion.

Primary Combat Skill:

Sniper Rifles – Uses .30-06 ammo. You'll want to keep your surgeon safely tucked as far away as possible, so they can revive fallen rangers when the time comes. It might be wise to have at least one rank of Surgeon on another character as well, just in case one suddenly blows up. Blowing up your only surgeon is a bummer, man.


Primary Attribute:
Strength - For max carry weight and bonus melee damage.

Non-combat Skills:

  • Kiss Ass – When sweet talk fails, you can always just hit them with your wrench..
  • Mechanical Repair
  • Toaster Repair
  • Weapons Smithing – I ended up leaving this one to a companion.
  • Alarm Disarming – May want to leave to a companion as well.

Primary Combat Skill:

  • Melee – To take advantage of high strength.

Secondary Combat Skill:

  • Shotguns – Uses 12ga ammo.

A few notes:

  • When you reach lvl 10, increase your primary attribute to 8, if you haven't already. Min/maxing works well in this game, and the real attribute bonuses kick in at rank 8.
  • Notice I've left out barter. I find that when you can collect everything through the other skills, which I personally find to be more interesting, you have so much stuff to trade that money isn't a problem. If you do barter, couple it with the Kiss Ass skill, which at rank 7 unlocks Silver-Tongued, which gives a 5% discount on all purchases.
  • Smart Ass rank 5 unlocks the Radiant Personality perk, which doubles the Charisma sum for the purposes of recruiting followers. However, you can only ever have 7 total party members, so unless you've “misplaced” your rangers, this perk probably isn't worth getting.

Potential Spoiler:You will have an opportunity to hire Sergeant Major Angela Deth very early on, if you can find her. She's high level and has Assault Rifles, Brute Force, Blunt Weapons, Weapon Smithing, Hard Ass, and Outdoorsman skills.

-Kevin Riggs 6/12/2016

Around 12 hours of game play in Wasteland 2 © 2016 inXile entertainment.

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Kevin Riggs

Kevin Riggs is an analytical writer, dedicated to disc golf, cooking, and promoting science and critical thinking. But he also has a dark secret. At night, or whenever it's dark enough for dark secrets, he plays the shit out of video games on Steam under the dark, dark, pseudonym of, “Lazyface”. Kevin played his first video game at a Shakey's Pizza, back in 1977, when they cost two-bits each, and stood a good 5-8 feet taller than they do nowadays. It was called “Space Invaders”. Quaint, eh? He even remembers when pong still seemed like a pretty cool idea.