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Wasteland 3

Posted by GG Goblin On September - 1 - 2020

Exploding pigs, frozen ferrets and faulty toasters. All in a days work for a Ranger.

While there will be many gamers out there who have played through both Wasteland and Wasteland 2, the new involvement of Microsoft in Wasteland 3 from inXile Entertainment, along with the fact that the game is offered as part of Game Pass on both Xbox One and PC, will mean many new players stepping into the now snow-covered boots of the Desert Rangers. Wasteland 3 is a post-apocalyptic RPG with turn-based combat, and it is a wild ride.


Despite this being the third entry in the Wasteland series and following on almost directly from the previous game, new players will have no problems getting into Wasteland 3. Basically, after the events of Wasteland 2, the Rangers organisation are in a spot of bother, running low on resources and manpower in their Arizona home. Help comes in the form of a request from the Patriarch of Colorado, offering up what the Rangers need to survive in exchange for some help. Thus a team of Rangers swap the sand for snow and head to Colorado. However, before reaching the Patriarch in Colorado Springs, the Rangers are ambushed by a rival faction, and this is where the game begins for the player.

The ambush proves the perfect opportunity to introduce the player to the turn-based combat, and then with the two remaining members of the team, they will finally meet up with the Patriarch. In exchange for the supplies that the Rangers need, the Patriarch will require the player to track down and capture his three offspring, all of which have allied with different factions intent on taking control of Colorado. That’s the long term goal, and there are plenty of twists and turns on that journey. However, it is not all down to business as the player will have plenty of time to build up their new Colorado base, improve their squad of Rangers, and meet up with the wide variety of odd characters.

Wasteland 3 is a fairly by the numbers isometric RPG for the most part, but what really makes it shine is the variety of choices that the player will have to make along the way. This is a post-apocalyptic setting and, as such, is inhabited by all manner of blood-thirsty factions, from cannibals and murder clowns, to those who worship former president Ronald Reagan as a god, and the player will have to face off against all of them through the course of the game. However, that doesn’t mean that they will have to fight, and some of the factions can even become allies. This is all down to player choice and the game doesn’t shy away from really making the player sweat with their decisions, with many carrying through the entirety of the game. Some decisions have obvious consequences, while others may be more subtle, but be sure that the game is taking note and things will likely come back to bite the player at the worst possible time.


These choices and decisions give the game a real sense of being alive. For example, there is a moment of sadness on visiting the home of a family that have been murdered due to the players decision, and then of further sadness when a surviving family member swears revenge against the Rangers. Which mission to take, which faction to help, fight or negotiate, help the slavers, each decision will have a consequence that gives Wasteland 3 a massive depth.

Alongside the difficult decisions that will have players stepping back from the game to think, there is plenty of humour to lighten things up. From odd characters and foul-mouthed parrots, to strange situations and Easter eggs, barely a moment will pass without something to make the player smile. This is a gritty post-apocalyptic world, and without the levity it would be a difficult grind, so it is surely welcome.

The mechanics of the game are fairly easy to understand. The player will control a group of six, and will have the chance to create their own characters from scratch or use pre-made. As they progress, each member of the team will level up and earn points to be spent on improving their attributes, points to spend on skills, and perk points to unlock some new abilities. The skills are probably the most important, as they dictate what the team can actually do. While it may be a good idea to have two members of the team able to heal others, many of the actions that become available to the player rely on only one member having the skill at the appropriate le3vel. For example, finding a safe that requires lock picking level 5 to open will only need to be clicked on and the member of the team with that skill at that level or higher will come forward and open the safe. Yay!


But there are a large number of skills available, and the most successful players will be those who spread as many skills as possible among their team. While it makes sense to have a team member who can pick locks, or is good with explosives, or who can repair toasters for their sweet loot, the same can be said for the weapon skills. New weapons come thick and fast, but ammunition will always be in short supply, so ensuring the team is able to effectively use a variety of different weapons will prevent those awkward moments of running out of ammo. And let’s not forget to have someone who can mod weapons and armour, as that also needs the appropriate skill.

Players will be introduced to the turn-based combat right at the very beginning of the game. Once combat begins, a grid overlay appears across the combat area to allow the player to plot their movement and pick their targets. As the game makes the change to turn-based as soon as combat begins, the player does have the chance to manoeuvrer members of their team into cover or advantageous positions before it all kicks off. There are also objects that can be used, such as exploding barrels. Each member of the team will have a number of action points that can be used to move, fire a weapon, or do whatever they wish to do during their turn.

Wasteland 3 is a long game, but the battles never got boring. Very few of the battles came across easy, with many of them resulting in one or more of the Rangers being downed. Fortunately, this isn’t as final as some games, as the downed Ranger can be brought back to the battle, albeit with less health and a debuff-causing injury which can only be removed by a doctor or a specialist resource. Battles were also kept fresh through the game with both the variety of enemies and the different situations.

Perhaps one of the best things about Wasteland 3 is the way it pulls the player in and makes them want to play more. Even in the early game, there are times when players will find themselves thinking about their next playthrough and how they will do things differently. The visuals and sound in the game ensure that players will come back even after the Patriarch’s crazy kids have been dealt with.


A huge modern take on the classic post-apocalyptic RPG formula, Wasteland 3 is an absolute joy to play. Packed with humour, Easter eggs, surprises and decisions, it is the type of game that will keep players up into the early hours. The setting is great, the turn-based combat doesn’t get old, and the presentation is top notch. The game may not have evolved too much from the previous titles, but that doesn’t stop Wasteland 3 from being an essential purchase for any fan of the genre, and a game that is worth spending some time with for the genre newcomers. Easily one of the games of the year.




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