Developer: inXile Entertainment
Publisher: inXile Entertainment
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows (Reviewed)
Release Date: 27 Aug 2020
Price: $59,99USD – Available Here $99.95AUD – Available Here
As strange as it may seem, I have a small list of expectations when it comes to video games. I had them way before I started writing about them and it is not a big list. There are only three things that I ask for; gameplay, story, and visuals. That is all three in order of appearance. A game without enticing gameplay is nothing, even if it comes with a great story. And if you have an engaging story on top of that, you can even look past the shoddy visuals. But what Wasteland 3 taught me these days is that there is a hidden expectation that I never paid attention to. It is like that secret ingredient in Coca-Cola, we know it’s there but it is shrouded in a veil of mystery. But I am talking about the atmosphere. It is something that Wasteland 3 radiates with and it is something that can carry a whole game.
The presentation of Wasteland 3 is a bit cunning. It starts off as a typical post-apocalyptic game where every man, woman, and child is fighting for themselves – all united in a common goal to just get through one more day. You play as a group of Desert Rangers. You’re quickly greeted with an extensive character creation screen where you can set up a plethora of parameters and skills. The story starts with a bang. Our convoy gets ambushed on thin ice (not a figure of speech) and after fighting off some bandits, our next course of action is to meet the mysterious Patriarch and do his bidding. That would be to find his kids (with peculiar names) called Liberty, Valor, and Victory and bring them to him. Alive, that is. Can’t say that it’s a really easy task. In any case, that’s where the story starts to roll out. The rest of the Wasteland 3 is filled with twist and turns at every corner. Even such minor things as recruiting a specific companion can have a mild impact on the story.
If you played its predecessor, then you’ll be familiar with the formula. Wasteland 3 still goes with the classic CRPG approach with isometric, tactical combat where proper planning is half of the battle. Besides being smart how well you do in combat is also determined by the number of action points. These are spent when moving on the field and attacking. Any action points that you have left can be saved for the next round. You can explore the wasteland with up to six characters in the party. Four of them are reserved for your fully customizable members while the two are left for the companions that you discover while exploring. The extensive customization and skill system and open tactical approach will make sure that every encounter is tense from start to finish. Some members of the party will end up bleeding after the battle and with serious injuries, while others will reap the experience rewards and gain new skills. What I like about Wasteland 3 is that it feels way more user friendly than the previous game.
Graphically, the game isn’t anything praiseworthy but the change in environment is more than welcome. The monochromatic tone of the game coupled with snow-covered environments works well with a chilling and unforgiving nature of the game. However, there is some love poured into his aspect, especially when you stop to admire well-made animations and hilariously gruesome gore effects. Regardless of the environment change, one of the staples of Wasteland is the ever-present sense of dread and despair depicted throughout the world. For better or worse, you can rely on the same here as well.
If an extensive combat system and rich dialogue choices are the signatures of the Wasteland series, the audio and incredible voice acting is also where the game shines. Wasteland 3 takes it even further on this front, with even more voice lines and enriched for main and supporting characters, NPCs included. When some characters are bit light when it comes to mental stability (as one might be in a post-apocalyptic world), you can clearly sense it in their pronunciation and how they talk and behave. But most importantly, Wasteland 3 has an impressive repertoire of incredible music handpicked by none other than Mary Ramos, the music supervisor for a number of Quentin Tarantino movies. Do you know all those tracks that you have to google after the latest Tarantino movie cause they’re just that good? Well, she is the creative mind behind it and I’m sure you’ll feel her contribution to Wasteland 3.
The good thing about Wasteland 3 is that is is very loosely connected to the previous games. While the playthrough of the first and second games won’t hurt, it is far from recommended. Another thing that I like is that the whole Wasteland series is an evolving experience. Sure, there was a gap of 20 years and some between the first and second games (and the third one is coming out today) but none of the games so far felt like a step back.
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