Wasteland 3 has given me a massive problem when it comes to writing a review. How do I tell you about a game that is predominantly an immersive and fantastic story-driven adventure without spoiling the story for you?
I will try to tell you as much as I can and will do my best to keep spoilers out but I will need to talk about places and names what happens there and who says what to whom and why, OK?
Good, you agree, lets get into it then.
Wasteland 3’s final scene, where you kill the…. psyche, I am not my 9-year-old son watching a film that he has seen and I haven’t.
Starting in a tutorial mission you learn the mechanics of movement and combat. Anyone who has played Wasteland 2 will be instantly familiar with the mechanics and the genre the game falls into.
For those who have never played a Wasteland game, you can think of it as a dark, story-driven, post-apocalyptic RPG created by InExile, Entertainment. A company founded by Brian Fargo, essentially gaming royalty and responsible for games like Bards Tale and Battlechess but equally, he is in no small way responsible for the fact that Blizzard exists as a company.
So, you complete the introduction to the game and before long you meet a very important character to the story, The Patriarch, he then offers you a building to use as Ranger HQ.
This becomes your base of operations and you get the chance to clear it out and make it your own. There are so many small touches and gameplay elements I would love to share with you but I feel that I would be taking something away from you if I went into detail, however, it is here that you get to make your first, impactful, decision.
Entering a room you find a few people that have holed up here and would like to stay, you can choose to let them or kick them out.
It was a pretty easy decision and decided to let them stay. Almost immediately I was asked to find a missing member of their party and I wondered what would have happened if I had kicked them out.
I paid no mind to it for a time until I left Colorado Springs for the very first time and as soon as I had I was faced with two radio messages asking for assistance from different directions.
The first call was to ask for help at the Hoon residence, they were being attacked by the Daltons and wanted help, I was going to assist when a call came in asking for help, in the opposite direction, because a convoy that had been delivering Power Armour to the Patriarch had been attacked.
So thinking there might be some power armour for me I abandoned the Hoons’ and let them deal with the rapes and murders that were taking place on their estate.
Many hours later I was in Market Square in Colorado Springs when one of the guards thanked me for the power armour he was wearing. I was annoyed that he had it and not me, on top of that, I had already had a call from one of the surviving Hoons threatening to kill me because I left his family to die.
I have also played in quite an aggressive manner choosing to attack rather than talk and this has had another result in that civilians can be heard saying things like, “I want to be a Ranger so that I can rough people up too”.
Every decision you make means you are really choosing one potential outcome over another.
Before I talk about everything but the story I wanted to mention God President Regan. A character from early in the game and one who gave me great pleasure. His Nancy wives and the whole story in Denver was a real treat and its one I want you to enjoy so I will say no more but the choices you make here will determine a lot in the game and I am looking forward to a second play through to do things here differently.
Before moving on I wanted to share something with you. When we are sent a game to review it will often be accompanied by a reviewers guide. These are secret little documents that are for reviewers only however, there was a quote that I think sums up Wasteland 3 and I want to share it with you before going further.
“We are very excited to get Wasteland 3 into your hands. It’s a pretty massive game, and we have poured our heart and souls into thousands of small touches that we look forward to you experiencing in your playthrough.”
Wasteland 3 was built by gamers who care about the experience we are going to have and the world we will inhabit while we do so. They want it to live and for it to feel alive with actions impacting reactions and so on.
Wasteland 3 is a labour of love and it shows. Graphically it’s very nice, nothing breakthrough but perfectly right for the game. The graphical style is on point and animations fit perfectly.
Set over a hundred years after nuclear destruction destroyed earth the game has a dark overtone and it certainly has many adult moments that make it totally unsuitable for a younger gamer. The entire game takes place in the Colorado Mountain range and, as with the previous game, is best described as being broken down into little instances.
You leave one area and travel to another, one small map full of things and people to interact with, missions to find and accept and then you move into another instance where you will find the same or more often than not a fight to get into.
Surviving isn’t as easy as just finding the most powerful gun, armour or axe as you can modify, with the right skills, almost every item you can use in-game so collecting everything is the best way to survive.
The wasteland itself, that is to say, moving between the larger instances on the main map is done this time in your Kodiak, a giant armed and armoured truck that is a part of your party when appropriate and is your safety out in the big world when it’s not.
Blocking areas until your ready is radiation, green patches of gas that will destroy your party before you get where you are going should you try and get to an area you aren’t supposed to access yet.
Moving around the wasteland is perilous at the best of times so avoiding this gas is the best way to stay safe as you travel to the various locations.
Not always immediately accessible the areas are larger instances that you get to and from those you can drill down to specific areas.
For example, to enter into the Bizzare (that’s not a typo) you must complete some tasks and then you get access to this area, however, entering into Denver had no such requirements, although it did start a story ark that changed the game entirely.
A standout for me was the use of sound and music in Wasteland 3. There are times when you are listening to country music and you get a cowboy vibe and at others, there is a gospel note and every time the music is just right. It’s a lot like the game, fusing many things into one and coming out with awesomeness but the most important thing is that the music and sounds add, they take nothing away from the experience and you never lose that immersion from the story.
The music sets the mood perfectly, in one mission I was attempting to rescue “Ironclad Cordite” who was being held in a makeshift prison inside of a bunker for a reason I won’t go into.
As I entered the group of rooms where he was being held music began playing, I didn’t notice it at first but I was having an emotional reaction and then I realised it was this, country and western type of ballad with a futuristic vibe that was perfect for the battle I was in.
I realised then how I had been listening to music the entire time without consciously noting it and I was mightily impressed.
Back to my reviewer notes and I see that Mark Morgan, he also scored Wasteland 2, and Fallout 1 and 2 and that Mary Ramos, Quentin Tarantinos music director were involved. No wonder the sound, especially the soundtrack is so epic.
The story is about as open as a story can be, your choices have an impact on the way the story progresses and what missions you can and cannot take. Who you side with, what you destroy, what you don’t, how you act and deal with a situation will have a real impact on you and the story you play.
I found an area under the Bizzare (still not a typo) and made my way through clearing out the bad guys. A little while later when I was inside it transpired that I had already completed missions and was rewarded. The fact that I could complete the mission before being given it shows how open the gameplay is and the choices you make are your own.
I am in love with this game. I am struggling to find something negative to say but like all these types of games, the character building is hit and miss.
That is only because you will not know what is coming, what you will find and what you will need when you find it so building a team with a wide skill base is essential, even then I could curse myself for putting points into Mechanics when I needed a better lockpick.
So not really a negative but a restriction of the genre I suppose. There really is nothing to dislike about Wasteland 3. I loved Divinity 2 and I think I could draw some similarities, however, Wasteland is a vastly different experience so if you like this style of game in any way this is a definite Wishlist item.
Wasteland 3 is an absolute gem of a game. The story, the sounds and gameplay come together to bring a wonderfully immersive and challenging world to life and I will certainly be playing for a long time yet.
Wasteland 3 will be with us on August the 28th and as this review will be out 2 days before I thought I would take the opportunity to profer some gameplay advice.
- Heal up, take plenty of healing items and make sure you have at least two members of your party with good medic skills.
- Check your weapons, mods and armour after every battle and make sure you are wearing/using the best of everything.
- Mods make a huge difference. You can mod armour and weapons so when you find something, don’t save it, mod stuff.
- Ammo is pretty expensive and you don’t find a great deal in the world so spread the weapons around and don’t have everyone using assault rifles. Make sure you also have melee weapons available for everyone in the party and ensure you have got everyone to at least level 3 melee
- If you don’t have enough fame or enough faction points certain people won’t want to come and work for you, there are also impacts to your options late game so don’t ignore your reputation.
- SAVE OFTEN, save often, save the game a lot, save often.
- Look around. There are usually more ways to complete a task than is first apparent.
- Combat is different than in previous games, you take your turns and then the enemy does. It makes working together easier so make sure you utilise your belt items effectively. Placing a machine turret at the end of combat is a waste so combine it with a Molotov or grenade to save ammo and get the enemy dealt with faster.
- You can save your unused AP (Action Points) or use them to defend yourself or if you have enough, set up an ambush.
- Ambushes are a legitimate tactic to deal with enemies in cover, save your points, stay safe and use an ambush.
- The floor shows you where you can move, blue for an area you can reach and still perform an attack or action, orange, you can get there but will have used too much AP. Move forward slowly as some enemies will be hidden until you trigger them.
- Get your retaliation in first. If you hit first you have combat advantage. You can often set your team up outside of a room and then enter as one so that you are all ready to open fire on your first turn.
- If you can use the Kodiak during a fight do it, it’s really powerful and will get you through some tough battles but make sure you protect it and heal it like any other team member.
- When a ranger goes down, get them up and heal them asap, the more weapons forward the faster the fight will end and some enemies are one-hitters!
- Check your ranger debuffs, many can be removed by things in your inventory.
Best story and Music in a game ever?
I think this might be the best game I have played this year!!!