Wasteland 2: Director's Cut Instruction Manual
If you're reading this, you're taking your first steps towards wearing the proud badge of the Desert Rangers, and upholding all the values and traditions that come with it.
Now, I know our drill sergeants have already shown you how to shoot, how to fight, how to deal with injuries, and generally given you all the tools you'll need to survive your journeys in the Wasteland. But there might be one thing they didn't tell you, and that is why you're doing what you're doing. And that's why I'm writing this introduction instead of having a beer and watching the sunset up on the helipad.
So, let me just assume you don't know your ass from a honey badger and start at the very beginning, or rather, the very end. Y'see, humanity hasn't always lived in this savage hell hole of a world. Once there were great civilizations spanning the globe, people living in warm luxurious houses, working in offices, and enjoying their day-to-day lives in peace and prosperity.
But tensions were building. The two continents of the Americas had recently come under control of the United States following a six-year period of hostilities known as the Drug Wars, which ended in 1993. In response to this, the Russians consolidated their power into one massive Soviet Bloc. Pretty soon the politicians and the generals were all playing an ever escalating game of "my gun is bigger than your gun." There was just no way it was gonna end well, and as you know just by looking at the world around you, it didn't.
The United States' Citadel Starstation was meant to be a final solution in this arms race, able to shoot down anything the Russians threw at us, but two weeks before it was to become fully operational, in March 1998, the Starstation sent us some kind of distress signal, and minutes after that the bombs started flying. There's no way for us to know what happened up there to start it all, but we know what happened down here. The old world ended, and we almost died with it.
Fortunately - or perhaps not - a few of us hung on, and among the survivors was a company of U.S. Army Engineers, working out in the desert repairing bridges and drainage ditches a hundred miles from anywhere, a hot and dusty task they most likely didn't care for, but being so far from the bombs when they dropped is what saved their lives.
Imagine what those men and women were feeling when they saw the mushroom clouds rising beyond the horizon and heard the radio chatter about an attack on the world's satellites and a war to end all wars. Then imagine how they felt as the voices on the radio fell silent one by one, and they knew everything was gone - their homes, their husbands, their wives, their children, the world they knew - everything but each other.
Other folks might have given up at that point, but the engineers had supplies, tools, army discipline, and, most important, the will to survive. They knew there was a maximum security federal prison not far to the south of them that would provide them with shelter, supplies, and light industrial manufacturing facilities. Of course, it also contained the most hardened, dangerous criminals in the United States, but beggars can't be choosers.
The Engineers took over the prison, joined forces with the prison guards, and freed all the prisoners. Why? We still don't know. Maybe it was an act of mercy. Maybe they figured the inmates would die out in that harsh new world. If so, they were sorely mistaken. The killers did not just survive in the madness of the wastes, they thrived in it, forming cults of cannibals and murderers who throughout the coming years would return again and again to attack the prison in an attempt to reclaim what they felt was "rightfully" theirs.
But the engineers and the prisoners weren't the only ones who survived the end of the world. There were also plenty of regular folks - ranchers, farmers, miners, prospectors, and poor lost souls who'd been travelling through the desert when the bombs fell and suddenly found themselves with no homes to return to. These folks had no fortified prison to hide in, nor no gang to run with. All they could do was huddle together and work the land as best they could.
Sadly, this made them easy prey for the cultists and criminals, who found it much easier to steal the hard raised fruits, vegetables and livestock of others, rather than to go to the bother of raising their own. Nor were they above making an example of any homesteader who dared to defend their property, and many a farm was left in flames with its people impaled on stakes in those first few months.
Now the engineers and the guards, safe inside their prison fortress, could have stayed behind their walls and done just fine for themselves, but they were good men and honorable women, sworn to protect the people of the United States from threats without and within, and they could not - would not - stand by and let these people be slaughtered and abused. So they gathered their weapons, stepped out of their fort, and with blood and bullets and bravery defended those survivors and their homes. And for that, the people of the wastes gave them a new name, a proud name - the Desert Rangers.
And no, everybody didn't live happily ever after. You wouldn't be reading this manual if they had. But things did get better. Under the watchful eyes of the Rangers, communities started banding together, trading with each other, and thinking beyond their next meal. Civilization was slowly starting to rebuild itself.
About seventy-five years later is where I come in. Me and three other snot-nosed recruits just like you, with names picked to make us sound tougher than we felt- Hell Razor, Angela Deth, Thrasher and me, Snake Vargas.
At first our missions were pretty routine - a problem with giant rabbits in the Ag Center, a broken-down water purification engine in Highpool, defeating a mob boss named Ugly John, and freeing a fellow by the name of Ace, which was probably the best decision any of us ever made.
But later in Needles, as we were dealing with the Servants of the Mushroom Cloud, whispers started reaching us that something bad was happening in the wastes north of Las Vegas, something so bad it was scaring the raiders.
So we headed into Vegas and met a crime lord by the name of Faran Brygo. Brygo asked us to find his right hand man, Max who was actually a synth, a robot made to look like a man. After we saved Max from a horde of hostile robots, he told us about Base Cochise, where a crazy computer with a grudge against the human race was pumping out a seemingly endless legion of death machines, and preparing to take over the world.
To destroy Cochise, we had to get the keys to Cochise's self-destruct mechanism from the Guardians of the Old Order, and to defeat the Guardians of the Old Order we had to arm ourselves with pseudo-chitin from Sleeper Base One, and to get into Sleeper Base One we had to find a security pass in Darwin Village, which brought us into conflict with another threat to humanity, the mad android doctor Finster, who wanted to wipe out humanity and repopulate the wastes with mutated monstrosities. With the help of a cloned Ranger who we never called anything but Ghost, we defeated Finster, armed up at Sleeper Base One, took the self-destruct keys from the Guardians, and flew a stolen attack helicopter to Base Cochise where the final battle began.
In our youthful arrogance, we figured that blowing up that base and killing that crazed computer had saved the world, and we were heroes. And okay, maybe we had and maybe we were - for a minute. But the Wasteland doesn't stand still, and there's never just one threat out there. The world keeps turning and assholes keep being born and trying to ruin it all for the rest of us.
But the fact that you're reading this field manual and getting ready to go out on your first assignment means that heroes keep being born too - brave men and women like yourself who want to save the world, no matter how many times it needs saving, and picking up the pieces no matter how many times the assholes break it again.
And for that I thank you. Thank you for loving the world enough to want to protect it. Thank you for having the courage to stand up and face injustice when others turn away, and most of all, thank you for joining our ranks and carrying the name, traditions and values of the Desert Rangers forward into a brighter, better future. You are the hope of the world.
- General Vargas
Next: Getting Started