2020 is a year that isn’t short of RPGs. Final Fantasy VII Remake and Persona 5 Royal have brought quality JRPG experiences to gamers, while Cyberpunk 2077 is looking to fill the void for those that love first-person RPGs. Yet there’s one RPG you definitely shouldn’t be sleeping on this year: Wasteland 3.
The Wasteland series already has an important place in RPG history. The first game released back in 1988 went on to inspire the Fallout series. In 2014 InXile Entertainment was able to release an official sequel and now, six years later, we’re seeing a third entry in the franchise.
Knowing a game’s history is obviously important, but finding out how a game plays is even more vital. When I got to go hands on with Wasteland 3 I went in knowing a lot about the original games’ importance and the importance of the team behind it, but my experience with the franchise was limited. Could Wasteland 3 impress a newcomer?
WELCOME TO THE WASTELAND
From the get-go I found the game’s claws sink into me. The pre-built characters you can pick from were varied and each had their own unique quirks. The duo I went for included a father that didn’t talk much but was an absolute badass, and his daughter.
The game plays out in an isometric view and allows you to move around freely when not in combat. You can even choose to only move one character at a time if you want to immerse yourself in a deep roleplay of each character. It’s much easier to just move your team all together though, and this will be fine in the early parts of the game.
It doesn’t take long to realise that you can make everything far more technical. At one point I struggled to keep my group alive as I took down a group of enemies. It wasn’t until after the battle that I realised I could’ve split up my team before engaging in the fight and attacked the enemy in a pincer movement.
It’s those little drops of “oh I get it” that Wasteland 3 does so well. It’s not a game that holds your hand but instead offers plenty of moments to let you try and learn naturally.
The combat itself plays out on a turn based grid, comparable to strategy games and classic RPGs. It’s never quite as intense as grid based strategy games (here’s looking at you XCOM) but you still don’t want to let your guard down. One wrong move could see one of your team downed and, if you’re not careful, that can lead to a domino effect.
Scrambling to find your footing after a bad start to an encounter leaves you with a hugely rewarding feeling when you pull it off. Games that make you feel good when you’re winning are great, but it’s the ones that get the adrenaline pumping when it’s all going wrong that are something special.
CHARACTERS AND STORY
It’s not just being in combat you’re going to want to think tactically about though. Finding new characters to recruit can also mean engaging in dialogue that might not get you the result you want. It seems like it can be easy to end up in situations where you don’t end up with a new team member, or where you have to end up in a shoot out rather than have some friendly banter.
After all, what is an RPG without a world full of people to get to know? Even though the world in Wasteland 3 is full of awful people it’s also full of settlements and “good guys” (I’m putting it in speech marks because too many games have proven you can never trust anyone).
The main good guy in Wasteland 3 seems to be the Patriarch of Colorado, someone who has asked for the last remaining members of the Desert Rangers to help him stop his land from completely falling into chaos. It seems (at least in the section of the game I played) that a big part of the story revolves around the Patriarch and his people, and it will be interesting seeing what choices everyone makes as they proceed through the story.
As someone that has never sat down and played a Wasteland game properly, Wasteland 3 motivates me to check out the franchise. Even with just seeing a snippet of the game it’s easy to see the potential. It never felt like I was missing out not having the knowledge of the previous two games. Wasteland 3 works as a standalone experience. It’s a genuinely fun RPG that offers the player a huge range of things to do both in and out of combat, which should be music to the ears of RPG fans.
Wasteland 3 launches August 28 for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Wishlist it on Steam here.
Featured Image Credit: nXile Entertainment