Wasteland 3 is a post-apocalyptic RPG with turn-based strategy combat and is developed by InXile and published by Deep Silver. The game is available on PC, Xbox One and PS4. The game begins shortly after the events of Wasteland 2 where the Arizona Rangers are in tatters after defeating the Cochise AI and setting off a nuke. At the beginning of the game, a character called The Patriarch, who is the leader of Colorado, reaches out to you. Upon meeting him in person, he requests your help regarding his 3 children, who want to take over ruling. By using the conversation options, you find out that each one of them is an…interesting character.
Before the game begins you’re tasked with choosing your characters. There’s a fair selection of ready-made characters, or you can go for the fully customised RPG experience. I went for some punk-rocker pre-sets, cos why wouldn’t you? Upon completing this, the game drops you right into the thick of it during a gunfight against a number of marauders, where you’re taught turn-based strategy combat. One of the criticisms of Wasteland 2 was the difficulty of the turn-based combat, particularly at lower levels. For this title, it has been dialed down a notch and is much easier for people less experienced with this gameplay to get a handle of, myself included. The tutorials make it easy to learn, and this is coming from someone who is generally awful at this style of game. You are also provided with plenty of cover to exploit to your advantage and conveniently placed explosive barrels. I found the combat to be challenging yet balanced, and I didn’t feel hindered by my ineptitude for turn-based strategy.
To move around the map simply click where you want to go, or drag the mouse. Move the cursor to the edge of the screen to move the camera. I did however find this to be a little clunky and unresponsive at times unfortunately. An aspect from previous games that has been streamlined for this edition, is the merging of your character’s inventory into a single, shared inventory. I found this easy to navigate and it was helpful to see the whole squad’s attributes instead of just my own. Spending points to build up your skill tree is also a mechanic any RPG fan will be familiar with.
The narrative system in this game really shines and was my personal highlight that managed to keep me engaged. Right from the very beginning of the game, you realise that each of your decisions have serious consequences. Even a wrong turn during a conversation is the difference between life and death for unsuspecting NPC’s. You’re also faced with moral choices, which is fairly common in games now. Given the brutal, post-apocalyptic setting, a lot of choices are very much within a moral grey area. But there are plenty of instances where it’s pretty obvious what the ‘right’ choice is. Still, it makes for an engaging experience when you have two sides to weigh up, and both can be empathised with. The decisions you make carry real weight and are used to build the world around you, making this game unpredictable and original.
A new edition to this game is the voiced dialogue, which really elevates Wasteland 3 above it’s predecessors. The dialogue is well-acted throughout the game and really helps to immerse you into the world. There is dark humour throughout, which I feel wouldn’t land as well with just written dialogue. I do enjoy having a good range of dialogue options to use too, which are particularly helpful for gaining more information before going into a quest. Or you can just go in blind!
Previous Wasteland games have all been low-budget so including the voiced dialogue gives the feel of a much higher production value. Speaking of production value, InXile chose to fund this game using crowdsourcing, as they have done with previous games. Using an equity crowding funding service, which was launched in October 2016, they were able to raise $3m in just one month. The game was scheduled to launch in late 2019, but after Xbox Games Studios acquired the company, they hired more staff to work on the game’s development and delayed the release date until 2020. In the end, the game’s budget ended up being 3 times that of Wasteland 2 with the additional budget mostly being spent on the hiring of voice actors and implementing the conversational scenes. This, I feel, was money well spent and could definitely serve to hook players new to the franchise.
I played this game using an AMD Ryzen 7 3700X processor, a 1660Ti strix GPU and a 144Hz monitor.The game resolution was set to 1080p at 144Hz and consistently returning a frame rate of around 90 during combat. Saying that, the game isn’t particularly graphically challenging and has out-dated visuals. I found that the game generally ran smoothly and I didn’t experience any issues with the performance.