Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Wasteland 3 ★★★★☆



Welcome to our review of Wasteland 3, available on PC, PS4 and Xbox One. The Wasteland series has an interesting history. The post-apocalyptic isometric tactical RPG started life in 1988, released by Interplay Studios, headed by Brian Fargo. When Fargo couldn’t get the rights to make a sequel, he would go on to make a spiritual successor - a little known game called Fallout. That’s why it was all very cyclical when his new company inXile developed Wasteland 2 in 2014, citing it as ‘their Fallout’. Now in 2020, they’re releasing Wasteland 3, the sequel to the spiritual successor to Fallout, which was the spiritual successor to Wasteland. Yeah, I’m confused too.

Anyway, Wasteland 3 picks up where its predecessor left off, starring you as the last survivor of a Ranger Squad. Set in the frozen wasteland of Colorado, it’s a brand new setting for the series, and promises to introduce plenty of new role playing and action encounters. But with a rich (albeit confusing pedigree), and a tonne of hype behind it, is Wasteland 3 any good? Read on to find out...


Firstly, you don’t need to have any previous knowledge of the series to dive into Wasteland 3. Unlike many supposed modern RPGs, that give you the illusion of choice while still guiding you down a fixed path, this is a true role playing experience. You make up the story as you go along, with a level of freedom just not seen nowadays.

There’s a lot of emphasis on game altering decisions. You often have to choose if someone lives or dies, and rich, deep conversation trees can throw your campaign in wildly different directions. In fact, the developers claim that certain choices will mean you miss thousands of lines of dialogue, which I’m all for; role playing is all about getting in the mindset of your characters, not being a completionist. It just adds to the sense that this is a living, breathing world. And this immersion begins when you make your character. Although there aren’t an exceptionally great deal of cosmetic options, there’s a lot of choice and variation when it comes to attributes and skills. Interestingly these can have both positive and negative effects, and go a long way in making your character feel like your own. 

This immersion begins when you make your character, and although there aren’t a great deal of cosmetic options, there’s lots of choice of attributes and skills. These provide both positive and negative effects and help to make the character feel like your own. It’s also worth noting that like the Fallout and Wasteland games of old, there’s some hilariously dark comedy littered throughout the game. It’s deftly weaved into the experience, adding some levity to the snowy hellscape without descending into parody. 

Now, depending on the way you approach the game, a lot of your playtime may be in combat. If you’ve played a game of this ilk before, you’ll know what to expect. Everything is set into rounds and phases, meaning you have to be smart, rather than gungho. Most of the action is ranged, so finding cover is essential, although you will have a few close quarter options at your disposal when things get more personal. But the combat gets really fun once you get to know your enemies. You’ll have to get crafty to exploit their weaknesses and surroundings, and there’s fewer things more satisfying than when a plan all comes together. 

What’s more, it’s vital you get acquainted with your squad to make sure they’re used effectively. Each member will have their own perks and abilities to help you out, and when they work as a unit, it’s a thing of beauty. You don’t have to go it alone this time either, this is the first game in the series to feature multiplayer. I really liked that you can drop in and out, swapping between single and multiplayer whenever it suits, meaning you don’t always have to align schedules to keep the story going. 


But with a game this deep, it can be hard enough remembering all your own stats, let alone your team’s. Fortunately, if you select your whole squad and ask them to complete a task, the game will automatically select the best member for the job. A nice touch meaning you don’t have to remember everyone’s skillset. Beyond the gameplay, this is one pretty game, something that can’t be said for a lot of other titles in the genre. It makes good use of lighting to add depth and character to what might otherwise be an ugly world, and it achieves it all without distracting from the action on screen. 

To wrap up, Wasteland 3 most certainly lives up to the hype. It offers a deep, old school roleplaying experience with enough modern updates to keep it feeling fresh and vital. There’s so much choice and variation that it warrants plenty of replays, and I’m already looking forward to trying it out again to see what I missed the first time around. Of course, it’s going to be niche, but for people looking for a little bit more meat to their experience, Wasteland remains the OG king.

★★★★☆
Tom Baker




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