inXile Entertainment have been among the frontrunners of the cRPG genre for years now, and one of their most beloved and well-respected properties – Wasteland, which they have referred to as their Fallout – will be making a return soon. Wasteland 3 is looking like the ideal sequel, as it improves on its predecessors in significant ways and carries on with their biggest strengths, and in spite of the recent delay, anticipation surrounding the game is high. Recently, we sent across some of our most burning questions about the game to its developers- you can read our conversation with studio head Brian Fargo below.
"Aside from combat, the deep RPG decisions and narrative choices are a hallmark for the series, so we’ve spent a lot of time on them."
Meaningful choice and consequence mechanics are often among the most important aspect of any cRPG, and that’s an area where inXile games – Wasteland 2 included – have been very successful. Can players expect the same kind of reactivity from Wasteland 3, or perhaps something at an even larger scale?
Absolutely. Aside from combat, the deep RPG decisions and narrative choices are a hallmark for the series, so we’ve spent a lot of time on them. Our close relationship with the guys at Obsidian mean that we have access to their dialogue tools that they used for The Outer Worlds, and we’re using that to create a much deeper and interwoven story than we’d been able to in the past. We also have a team of writers on this project, where for Wasteland 2 it was essentially just one guy—Wasteland 3 is a far deeper game in the way it pays off player choice.
Wasteland 3’s multiplayer promises a lot of exciting ideas, but the fact that players playing together can affect each other’s playthroughs through their own actions is perhaps the most exciting. How far does the game let players go with that, and how much work was it for you as developers to just keep all of that straight, given how many more variables you have to deal with when it’s more than just one player?
It’s probably the biggest hurdle for us right now because, you’re absolutely right, in a game where you can make any decision and we have a response to it—including outright murdering quest NPCs—we have to figure out the additional complexity of how that plays out when there are two players in there, and they may have different objectives or ways they want to play. We need to handle quite a number of edge case scenarios.
How much impact does the addition of full voice acting and the new camera angles during dialog impact the game from a storytelling perspective?
Having our first fully voiced game is extremely exciting because it increases immersion and delivers greater emotional impact. Bringing the camera in for the first-person cinematic conversations ups that even further, and our animation team is continuing to add and refine those to ensure we’re pushing our visuals further than we’ve ever been able to before. All of these things together are hopefully going to create a more engaging story.
Can you talk about vehicles, how they function, and what areas of the experience they’re going to have the most impact on?
The Kodiak is your vehicle throughout the game, and you use it to drive between locations on the world map, and in combats you might come across or through key boss fights—and there’s a whole customization and upgrade system that goes along with it. We see the Kodiak as the 7th member of your Ranger squad, and so we have some pretty fun ways it integrates in the story and the gameplay we hope players discover and enjoy.
"The world map for Colorado is much larger than that of Arizona from Wasteland 2 and the story and characters are denser than the previous games."
How large is the world of Wasteland 3?
The world map for Colorado is much larger than that of Arizona from Wasteland 2 and the story and characters are denser than the previous games. We know players want to be able to wander the Wasteland and try to take on challenges earlier than they should, and we of course support that kind of gaming. I’m especially pleased that the content never gets repetitive, and that player are going to experience new events and enemies all the way to the end.
Can you talk to us about the hub locations, especially the Rangers’ base of operations, and how in-depth the system of slowly building up that hub throughout the course of the game is?
The Ranger HQ is your place to come back to in-between missions, or when you feel like swapping out squad members, fixing up your Kodiak, and engaging with the story there. It’s one of the more satisfying parts of the game, rather than customize walls or drapes, the player decides who comes back to the base and a social fabric develops at Ranger HQ. You’ll find some groups that don’t’ get along, which forces the player to make more choices based on the dynamic. It was a fun new aspect to dive into.
Did Microsoft’s acquisition of inXile have an impact on Wasteland 3 in any way?
More resources and more time are the sweetest words any developer can hear. We’re a small studio and so we cherish every week and day we can have on a milestone or deadline. They’ve also been a huge benefit in offering us additional testing and user research, as well as allowing us to expand and increase the quality across the board. Fully voiced dialogue being one of those.
Of late, we’ve heard some XGS studios talking about how their game being released day and date on Xbox Game Pass has changed their approach to development in terms of things like accessibility. Is that true for Wasteland 3 as well?
We definitely look at how Game Pass players engage with games there, and specifically how important the first few minutes of a game are. When you can download and dip into and out of a game almost instantly, it’s even more important to ensure those first few minutes of gameplay are welcoming and captivating.
"We’ve been able to ramp up the talent here in a big way, the future is very exciting."
How has your acquisition by Microsoft allowed you to grow as a studio?
We’ve been able to ramp up the talent here in a big way, the future is very exciting.
Roughly how long will an average playthrough of Wasteland 3 be?
We estimate the average playthrough is going to be around 50-60 hours.
Will the game will feature Xbox One X and PS4 Pro-specific enhancements? Is 4K/60 FPS on the cards?
We’re still working on optimization, but yes, we’ll be taking some advantage of the Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 Pro.