Wasteland 3 (PC) Review

By Sandy Kirchner-Wilson 02.10.2020

Review for Wasteland 3 on PC

Wasteland 3 is the latest in a series of games by developer inXile Entertainment. The Wasteland series has a cult following with many people claiming the second game was the best of its kind. The series is post-apocalyptic and features a lot of themes that parallel games like the original 2 Fallout titles. The newest Wasteland title was released in August 2020 and is inXile's first game since Bard's Tale 4 in 2019. This developer has a signature sense of humour that prevails through most of their titles and excellent storytelling prowess.

Treading on thin ice describes the opening moments perfectly. The Rangers, a recurring group in the Wasteland series, are looking for a local group who requested their help. Their route blocked, the Rangers choose to cross a frozen lake only to be set upon by local bandits who are organised and waiting. The opening cutscene is a visual treat with excellently brutal, snowy environments and tons of realistic details on the ice and fur, which sets the scene for the opening levels perfectly. Just as things take off with the sudden ambush, the pace is halted by character creation and difficulty setup.

The character creator is very detailed and provides players with two characters needing designed and assigned. There is a plethora of cosmetic options for the custom characters, including hats, faces and suits as well as more gameplay centric choices, like the type of guns they use or the character's background which dictates their main skills. It is really in-depth and easy to use for those looking to tailor their experience. However, for those who find character designing sleep-inducing there is a small but varied set of pre-set characters with interesting backstories to choose from.

Screenshot for Wasteland 3 on PC

Characters all have skills and perks. The skills are the characters' main stats, for example having a high first-aid skill level allows to revive fallen allies with more hit points than an unskilled first-aider. Perks are totally optional and give the character a stat boost and a debuff. These can be hard to balance but can open up a whole new world of options when fighting or interacting with other non-player characters.

Everything takes place in an isometric perspective that gives a generally great view of the playing field. It is scrollable in all directions and has zoom capabilities, allowing for people of all tastes to enjoy a comfortable view of the gameplay area. Movement of characters and interactions are handled on the mouse as it is a real time strategy game. Drag and click to select multiple characters, left-click to move and right-click to act. It is all very standard and because of that many PC players will be right at home with the control scheme. Where this game deviates from many strategy titles is the intimacy of the action. Controlling only a few characters in this large and savage world gets exceedingly intense as more complex situations arise in the gameplay.

Screenshot for Wasteland 3 on PC

There are loads of tiny little details during battle, such as taking cover from enemy fire, single use items like grenades and distance affecting accuracy, which all add depth to the combat. It is compelling and detailed with some great meticulous scenario design that builds the world and keeps the stakes high. If anything, the game is comparable to the combat design in the Xcom games but without the extreme intimacy offered in its aiming controls. Each character has access to a focus shot, a reward for taking down enemies and landing hits, which allows players to pick an individual body part target on an enemy much like Fallout's VATS system.

Enemies are reasonably smart and the robotic ones are Tripod levels of scary. Fighting them can be either a stealthy and efficient takedown or a war of attrition; seeing if there are enough resources in the scenario to wear them down over time. Naturally, as the story progresses and characters get more powerful and gain access to new tech, taking down enemies and robots gets easier, but the enemies are good at flanking and can often down characters with a single burst of gunfire. Some combat situations have an element of planning to them with gun emplacements that can be disabled by sneaking past them, allowing other characters to bring the fight to the enemy from a better angle. It is genuinely engaging and interesting, which for the game's main focus is very satisfying.

Screenshot for Wasteland 3 on PC

This serious talk is making the game sound quite tedious. However, fear not as the story, characters and optional bits have a large shipment of dumbness due any minute. Everything has an air of seriousness at the beginning but very quickly the series' sense of humour begins to peek through with zany dialogue from both the enemies and friendly characters and of course the bizarre perks. During the story a multitude of colourful characters are present, ranging from human over animal to robotic, who all have their own look and feel. They all have their own dialogue, but it is unfortunately triggered by area and not by interactions, meaning some of the dialogue may not play during a playthrough. It is great that this underlying humour is there as without it the entire game could be quite depressing.

Aesthetically there is a lot to love. The crisp cold snowy areas, fur blustering around in the wind during cutscenes, really cool designs on clothing and the robots are futuristic yet somehow a bit brutalist with their unforgiving iron forms. Most PCs will find a good setup for smooth frame rates and nice visual quality as it is not the heaviest title despite looking fantastic. The developers obviously spent a lot of time optimising. Music and user interface compliment the visuals with some epic war themes paired with heavier, more atmospheric themes during the downtime. The user interface is simplified compared with other games in the genre, mirroring an almost MMORPG interface but it works very well, keeping things simple and clean.

Screenshot for Wasteland 3 on PC

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Wasteland 3 is an absolute blast. The well balanced, if unforgiving, difficulty feels pitch perfect for the story and world. It is funny, harrowing and at times even verging on dark, telling a compelling tail of surviving in this terrifying world. Not only is the narrative great but the strategic combat centric gameplay is absolutely stunning. It is impossible not to recommend this title; it is one of a kind.

Developer

inXile

Publisher

Deep Silver

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date None   Japan release date None   Australian release date None   

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