Ranger Danger!

Title: Wasteland 3
Platform: Xbox One X, PC (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Linux, Mac OS.
Developer: inXile Entertainment
Publisher: Deep Siler
Price: Console £55 / $60, PC £55 / $60
Release date: Out Now
TL;DR: Post-Apocalyptic CRPG
Family Focus?: Click here for more information

It’s here at last! inXile Entertainment’s third instalment of the Wasteland series has arrived, and boy was it worth the wait. Having had its release date postponed earlier this year due to obvious reasons that I won’t go into, Wasteland 3 has had time to be finished, polished, and hype built – for those gamer’s waiting for their post-apocalyptic fix.

The Wasteland games are CRPG’s (Computer Role Playing Games) a genre that builds its back-end mechanics around the classical pen and paper table-top role-playing of old. Featuring highly customizable characters and in this case, a party of characters for you to configure as you see fit.

Wasteland 3 gets off to a cracking start – a beautifully rendered snowy CGI scene kicks in and you’re introduced to a travelling convoy of Rangers and some background story letting you know that you are on the way to Colorado to meet the “Patriarch” who is running what’s left of civilisation in that area, and is the only hope of saving the starving citizens of Arizona. This is a last-ditch attempt by the Rangers to hire out their services to secure the Patriarchs help by protecting him from his own three wayward children who have threatened to usurp the Patriarchs control of Colorado.

All does not go to plan though, and you are immediately thrown into the action as your convoy is ambushed on the icy lake by unknown attackers. The battle is furious and short as your compatriots are quickly cut down, and as the last ranger falls in the cutscene you are then seamlessly passed over to the actual game to begin combat and go through an excellent tutorial to explain the combat mechanics of Wasteland 3.

The combat in Wasteland 3 is awesome, it’s simple at first glance, but as you progress through the game it becomes as complex as you dare to make it. There are so many different combinations of attacks to try, different setups of your team, and a multitude of weapons, buffs, and quirks for you to play around with. I can only recommend just diving in headfirst and trying out everything on your first run-through of Wasteland 3 and testing what works well for you.

I started off by picking one of the pre-made set of Rangers, but once I got to the Ranger HQ (this is not far into the game) I filled out my squad with my custom-made characters which were able to cover as many bases as possible when it came to skill load-outs. My initial tactic was to make a tanky-AF frontline who would act as a bullet sponge whilst the rest of my team got set up and rained down the pain on anyone who would dare challenge me. This didn’t always go to plan at the start – but once I started gearing up the human shield my tactic started paying off.

There is a lot of things in Wasteland 3 that aren’t fully covered by the initial tutorial; make sure you explore everything, loot and lockpick every glowy item crate/box/desk, as you will sometimes come across items like creepy dolls and skill-up books that help to increase the skills for your team. Also, try not to use your skill-up books early on in the game when skills are cheap, they become much more valuable later on when each skill-up costs multiple skill points. Another free tip and this is probably obvious to seasoned Wasteland players is to not have too many team members share the same weapon type/skill as ammunition is a finite resource that either has to be looted or purchased and your team shares the ammo stash. Having teammates carrying different weapons also helps to increase your squad’s functionality in combat.

The graphics of Wasteland 3 aren’t really anything special, don’t get me wrong, everything looks crisp and is well animated but it’s not jaw-droppingly gorgeous, but it doesn’t have to be. The look of the game is primarily functional; everything does what it’s supposed to do and menus, systems, and UI’s are clean and clear. Where Wasteland 3 excels is in the fine print and atmosphere.

Every little item has a description, and every NPC and quest has an interaction. The comedy, background stories and just amazing flavour of the game have been pumped into all these little details and it’s bloody brilliant. I haven’t had this much fun running about and exploring every little nook and cranny of an RPG for a long time. The music especially is so good and on point for that post-apocalyptic future 80’s vibe, with the synthwave style disco in “Little vegas” instantly getting me in the mood.

As I briefly mentioned earlier, the main premise of the game early on is to help out the Patriarch in protecting Colorado from his three children. You are given the three quests to deal with his kid’s Victory, Valor, and Liberty that are far too high a level for you to deal with at first. You must help out around town and do missions and side-missions around the rest of the state until you have levelled up enough to finally face-off against the terrible trio. All this time you start to come to realise that maybe not is all as it seems in the idyllic dictatorship – how will this affect your choices and decisions as you chat away with the people that you meet – who knows?

I’ve not finished Wasteland 3, and I’ve no idea how far I’m through the game; all I know is that this game is huge. I’ve spent a LOT of hours exploring everything and I’m in no rush to finish the game as I’m really enjoying the ride. I can only hope that the ending lives up to my expectations. With all the fully-voiced voice acting (which is superb) and the atmosphere of Wasteland 3, this is one of my favourite games of the last few years. I highly recommend giving this a go. There are of course a few niggles – like the janky camera controls and frustratingly slow area/level loading times, but they thankfully don’t detract too much from enjoying the game.

The Good:

  • Fully Voiced Story Telling.
  • Amazing amount of character customisation and depth.
  • One of, if not the best CRPG in the genre.

The Bad:

  • Camera rotation controls are a bit janky.
  • A lot of the RPG aspects of the game are not explained to players.
  • Level/Zone loading is quite slow.

Family Focus

ESRB: Rated M for Mature. PEGI: Rated 18 for mature audiences.

Ultra violent, with a large helping of mature language. This is not a game for the little ones.

Disclaimer: This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by PR for the purpose of this review.