In this Wasteland 3 Review we will be discussing the new RPG title developed by InXile Entertainment and published by Deep Silver. Taking a similar approach as the first Fallout Series, the game exploration mechanics are very similar to Baldur’s Gate 2, while the combat resembles the X-COM series. Wasteland 3 focuses around RPG elements, providing the player with a wide variety of options when deciding how to handle each and every situation they encounter. Each action the player takes may have a deep impact on both the history, and the world, making each playthrough unique.
Wasteland 3 Review: Baldur’s Gate Meets X-Com
Developed by: InXile Entertainment
Published by: Deep Silver
Release date: August 28th
Platforms: Xbox One/PC/Playstation 4
Price: $59.99 Standard Edition
Wasteland 3 Review: Story & Setting
Wasteland 3 is set in a post-apocalyptic USA that now freezes under a nuclear winter. As a newcomer to the series (I know, the horror!), the game does a very good job of introducing you to the world, and to the Rangers, the faction that you will be working with throughout the game.
The Rangers were originally a group of US Army Engineers based in Arizona. Their base survived the nuclear apocalypse and since then they have been trying to help out the different outposts located across the Wasteland. In Wasteland 2, a group of Synths attacked the Rangers base and they were forced to destroy it in order to achieve victory, leaving them without resources and supplies.
Wasteland 3 begins with an offer from “The Patriarch”, the current ruler of Colorado, who offers to provide supplies and resources to the Rangers in Arizona in exchange for their services as law enforcers. He wants you to help him bring his children Victory, Valor and Liberty into custody, because they conspired to overthrow him.
- Victory is a psychopath that loves to torture other people.
- Valor is a computer nerd that lacks a personality of his own and who easily manipulated.
- Liberty is the favorite daughter of the Patriarch. She is the most fit of the three, but she lacks heart, and would most likely become a dictator if she were to rise to power.
As soon as the Rangers arrive in Colorado, their forces are greatly diminished by an ambush leaving only two of them alive to build a new base and recruit new members. As the story progresses, players will uncover the current state of Colorado and will be able to decide if they want to remain loyal to the Patriarch, if they want to support another Faction, or if they want to rule Colorado by themselves. There are many different Factions in Colorado, each of them with their unique backgrounds and objectives.
Wasteland 3 Review: Gameplay
The post-apocalyptic setting, the grim humor, old music and the icons that the Synths used for the Attributes and Stats (which are very similar to the Pip Boy), they all resemble what I like most about the original Fallout games (Fallout 1 and Fallout 2). The game provides a deep RPG experience where players have complete freedom when deciding how to react to any given situation.
When it comes to character customization players will have the possibility to both create their own Rangers, and choose between a set of pre-made ones, and players will a lot of options when it comes to the appearance of their Rangers. Additional outfits can also be found across the Wasteland that can be used to further customize the appearance of the Rangers. There are also 7 different Attributes, 22 Skills, more than 30 Backgrounds, and more than 20 Quirks so each ranger will feel and look unique.
Exploration & RPG Elements
While exploring the different locations, players will have the expected isometric view, similar to RPG games such as Baldur’s Gate, Fallout and Wasteland 2. The RPG mechanics is where Wasteland 3 really shines, offering a wide variety of dialogue options and deep customization. There are so many interactions taking place with each encounter such as Fame, Attributes, Skills, Companions, and previous events that players will feel each play through is unique.
Each interaction will offer different ways to solve it. For example, you want to open a locked door, you can use your Lockpicking Skill, or if you don’t have enough points you could also blast it open using your guns alerting nearby enemies. The same goes with a safe, but you might break the contents inside. Do you want to convince someone to do something for you? You can use your Kiss Ass skill to persuade, or the Hard Ass skill to intimidate.
All these interactions are limited by your party’s Attributes and Skills, forcing the player to make tough choices about how to invest their points when leveling up, while also distributing their points across their combat skills. This encourages creating new Rangers, Builds and traveling with different companions providing tons of diversity each play through.
Another core aspect related to player actions is how they will impact your endgame. You will be free to kill, arrest or forgive most of the main characters that you confront. Your early game choices might have a big impact on late game events, even if you don’t notice it at first, making you wonder what might have happened if you had chosen another route.
The biggest single complaint I have here is the inventory management, which is very poorly implemented. Players can sort their inventory by categories but there are not any additional options. Later in the game, when you have lot of equipment to handle, you’ll be spending a lot of time managing your inventory, when you’d rather be playing. Simple actions such as dismantling a weapon or armor must be done by hand, which takes a lot of time and becomes tedious very quickly. I think that InXile should revamp how the inventory is being managed, like for example adding the option to sort weapons by Damage, Type, Name, Etc.
World Map & Base Building
During the first act players will have to set up their base, which is located inside an abandoned military airport. The base acts as a hub where players can manage their party, acquire new Quests and access different facilities that are unlocked as the players recruit different NPCs across the world. These NPCs can act as merchants or set up different areas such as the Jail or even a Museum where your achievements are displayed to remember all the deeds you performed during your playthrough. Facilities can be unlocked in more than one way providing you with even more Role Playing options.
I personally find the base building a great mechanic, as it gives players a sense of progression, and helps them find all the services they need in a single location. And, once players finish the starting area, they will be able to use the Kodiak (an armored vehicle) to go outside and explore the World Map. On the World Map the party will travel as a single unit inside the Kodiak.
Players will be able to visit different locations and interact with various Random Encounters, some completely random, while other are triggered by the previous Events of your play through. When a Random Encounter leads to a battle, a location will spawn and players will engage in combat, and the Kodiak will spawn as an extra unit. Using the Kodiak in combat is a ton of fun, as players can use it both to decimate the enemy, and as cover from enemy attacks.
There is no fast travel between major locations on the World Map, but players can right click on the desired location on the map and the Kodiak will move there using the fastest route. There are some areas of the World Map that are covered with radiation, and players will need to upgrade the Kodiak radiation resistance level to be able to pass through those location unharmed and reach higher level areas. I found it very fun to explore the World Map using the Kodiak, but even though there were many random encounters, I think that the world Map could have been a little larger.
The Combat System in Wasteland 3 is very similar to the XCOM franchise, but its implementation is far from perfect. Combat is turn based and players will find similar mechanics such as Cover, Actions Points, Downed Time, Overwatch, Low and High Ground, etc.
Depending on the situation, players might be able to place their Rangers before the fight. I personally find this feature interesting but not well implemented, as the enemies move across the battlefield and will quickly spot your Rangers before you are able to individually place them where you want them. Perhaps adding a time stop for placing all your Rangers before a fight might have been a better approach.
As soon as the combat starts, the battlefield will be divided into a grid full of squares and turns will be divided between Enemies, Friendly and your own. The amount and type of action a character can perform is based on their Attributes, Weapons and Perks.
Even with many mechanics taking place such as Weapon Abilities, Perks, Weapons and Utility Items, the combat is rather dull and predictable. You’ll find yourself trying to take cover at the beginning of each fight and then moving forward as you defeat your enemies. Turns are quiet long as you have to manage each Ranger and then wait for all the enemies to take their individual actions. After a couple of combats, and especially in fights against multiple enemies, this can become a little tedious and repetitive. I won’t say the combat is bad, but I find it much less interesting than I thought it would be given all the different mechanics taking place.
Wasteland 3 Review: Audio, Visuals and Performance
When it comes to performance, this is where I had the most problems with Wasteland 3. For a game with so many locations, where players are expected to quick load often, each loading screen took between 30 to 50 seconds on an M.2 SSD, which felt like an eternity. There were also many areas where I had significant frame drops and even some stuttering. My computer is more than capable to run the game at full setting and the video card never used more than 50% of its max load. This made some areas a pain to handle, especially when I clicked somewhere I didn’t want to only to move a Ranger to his death.
The graphics are kind of outdated, but the scenarios and levels are very well designed providing a good atmosphere and a great Post-Apocalyptic feeling. I can’t help but feel the Unity engine is reaching the end of its life span, and I would expect future games of this nature to use a different engine entirely.
The audio effects are average, and the same goes for voice acting for most NPCs, except for the main Characters, which are on-point for what you would expect from their personalities. It is worth mentioning tough that even secondary NPCs include a voice over of their dialogue options, which adds a lot of atmosphere and avoids that weird silence that you often get when talking to a secondary NPC in a game of this genre.
The music is good, and you will often hear old music being played on the radio (just like Fallout) that fits very well with the different scenarios and events.
Pricepoint and Replayability
Wasteland 3 is priced at 60 USD, which is a very good price point considering the amount of replayability that players can obtain from it. The developers have mentioned that it would take you between 80-100 hours to do and see everything in Wasteland 3, which is outstanding. That said, I think your typical playthrough will be about half that amount of time, but that is still a good number of hours for the price.
The replayability is the best feature of Wasteland 3, and players will find themselves wanting to start a new campaign as soon as they finish the first one just to see all the different alternative endings, and all the possibilities that the wasteland have to offer. This has always been one of the stronger points of games like Fallout and Wasteland, as there are just so many things to do and see, that you are compelled to play again, and Wasteland 3 is no exception.
Wasteland 3 is as much of an RPG as there can be, and it does a very good at delivering freedom of choice to the player, which is something that is much less common in gaming these days. Players will be able to spend countless hours unlocking all content, and discovering all the possibilities that the Wasteland has to offer, which they are all but sure to do.
I would personally like to see an improvement in both combat and performance, but I think that those issues can be tweaked or fixed by InXile in future patches, and they are not so much of blemish that I didn’t enjoy my time with the game. If you are a fan of the original Fallout games, or if you are looking for an RPG game to invest a ton of hours into, I would definitively recommend Wasteland 3.