After four years in development, a successful crowd-funding campaign, multiple delays and the developer being acquired by Microsoft, Wasteland 3 is nearly here. It releases on August 28th for Xbox One, PS4 and PC along with Xbox Game Pass and will offer a much more expansive experience than its predecessors. Let’s take a look at 15 things you should know before buying.
Taking place one hundred years after the world suffered nuclear devastation, Wasteland 3 once again sees you playing as a Desert Ranger. This time, however, you’re starting from scratch as the lone survivor of Team November. Things are already pretty dire but then the Patriarch of Colorado promises to aid you in exchange for taking out his children. Thus do you venture out into the wasteland once more, braving harsh conditions and psychopaths.
Creating one’s character is an extensive task and Wasteland 3 offers a strong amount of customization for all of your squad members. You can tinker with their cosmetics, faces, physiques, portraits and whatnot along with choosing from dozens of different skills, perks, backgrounds and quirks. Essentially, this is your squad and you’ll have plenty of freedom when it comes to outfitting them.
Of course, if all of this is just too overwhelming for you, there are Character Duos. These are two premade characters which have their own backstory and responses, not unlike Divinity: Original Sin. It’s a good way to hop into the action immediately and familiarize yourself with how certain backgrounds, skills and perks will work throughout the story.
World Map and Hubs
There are two major hubs that define the world – Colorado Springs and the Ranger Base, the latter serving as a location to recruit new squad members along with being a key spot for quests and events. However, Colorado as a whole will be much larger than Arizona from Wasteland 2. Brian Fargo promises that players will “experience new events and enemies all the way to the end,” while giving players the freedom to “try to take on challenges earlier than they should.”
Throughout one’s journey in post-apocalyptic Colorado, you’ll encounter a number of different factions, each with their own ideologies and motives. The Hundred Families are descended from the survivalist families and are all about rebuilding the nation. The Patriarch’s Marshals, on the other hand, are the law in Colorado Springs. Then there’s the Monster Army which used to rule Colorado before being driven to the off-kilter area of Bizarre. Depending on who you work with and the choices made, the story can change significantly.
Choices and Consequences
In fact, the impact of certain choices may only manifest 10 to 20 hours into the game. InXile founder Brian Fargo told GameSpot that “true consequence, meaningful consequence, is what makes these worlds super immersive” and that the team “leaned into” these long term decisions. There are hundreds of different options available – taking down a random quest NPC could result in an entire quest line being closed, as one example. Wasteland 3’s writing team are going for a “far deeper game in the way it pays off player choice” as per Fargo.
Also, while new players can jump into the game without having played previous titles, veteran players can expect some familiar faces and Easter eggs. As Fargo notes, there’s “a lot of inside humor, there are things that only you would get. There are some parts that will feel more meaningful.”
Dialogue Flow and Tools
As you’d expect, dialogue becomes very important when so many choices are concerned. The flow of dialogue will be somewhat similar to Torment: Tides of Numenera, which means that different options open up depending on what you say. Another nice touch is that important conversations will switch to an over-the-shoulder perspective, placing the key NPC front and center for a more immersive exchange.
Fully Voiced Dialogue
InXile Entertainment was acquired by Microsoft in 2018 and this provide more time and resources, along with more testing, to polish Wasteland 3. In fact, those resources helped in implementing fully voiced dialogue, which is no easy task in a production like this. We’ll judge the quality of the voice-acting at launch for ourselves but as Brian Fargo noted in a previous interview with GamingBolt: “’More resources’ and ‘more time’ are the sweetest words any developer can hear.”
Combat is once again turn-based and isometric. Command up to six squad members and take cover, use AP points to move and attack, and so on and so forth to win. Some of the new additions include environmental hazards – like explosive barrels that can be targeted to damage nearby foes – and a first person mode for targeting specific body parts. Squad members draw on the same ammo pool, necessitating the need for different weapon types, and you leverage new team abilities to buff the squad or debuff foes. The “Down-But-Not-Out” system hasn’t been detailed but it allows for squad members to defy death and fight another day.
New to the series is co-op – two players can run through the entire campaign, each having their own squad. While they can quest together, things get more interesting if they split up since choices made by one player can impact the other (like betraying a previous arraignment that the other player had made, for example). This applies even if someone is offline – co-op supports drop-in, drop-out gameplay with one player capable of continuing the campaign (though certain points will require both). Friend has stopped playing enitrely? Turn the campaign into a solo affair and continue playing on your own, hurt feelings be damned.
Another major new addition to the core gameplay loop are vehicles. You can explore the world in the Kodiak and upgrade it with new parts, customizing it to your needs. During combat, its weapon can be unleashed on foes and squad members can also use it for cover. Perhaps the best use of this pseudo-mobile base is storing items and equipment, ensuring nothing is left behind.
In terms of how long Wasteland 3 will be, game director Tim Campbell told WCCFTech that the team is “aiming for 50 hours.” However, he made sure to clarify that it’s “horribly tough to estimate” due to the different choices, approaches and so on. It all depends on one’s play-style but if you’re expecting Wasteland 3 to be as large as the second game, Campbell thinks it will wind up “being longer.” Be prepared for the long haul either way.
10 Major Ending Points
Multiple endings in a game like Wasteland 3 shouldn’t be surprising but as lead level designer Jeremy Kopman told PCGamesN, there are at least 10 “major ending points”. In addition to this, many of your choices can result in smaller changes for an ending, especially when it comes to the impressions of different factions. How that will manifest remains to be seen but even if the different changes end up being superficial, 10 ending points is another good incentive to replay the game.
Xbox One X and PS4 Pro Features
Wasteland 3 will support the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro in some way. InXile hasn’t revealed how and whether or not we can expect 4K resolution and/or 60 FPS support. But there will be some advantage to playing on upgraded consoles – expect more details before launch.
Post-launch DLC is currently planned for the game, though again, in what shape and form is unknown. Wasteland 2 received a Director’s Cut after launch which added new game features, a revamped UI and encounters, new perks and whatnot so perhaps inXile will take the same approach with Wasteland 3. As always, however, time will tell.