It’s hard to believe that we live in a time where well-known franchises are abandoning their traditional strategic turn-based RPG gameplay. I always felt a feeling of accomplishment when successfully clearing out all enemies while receiving a minimum amount of damage or loss to my team thanks to well thought out strategic movements. I’m clearly not alone as developers inXile Entertainment are not only carrying the torch for this genre but also implementing evolutionary changes.
I was fortunate to spend a few hours playing a preview build of Wasteland 3 which is expected to release on May 19th, 2020 for PC, MAC OS, Linux, Xbox, and PS4. Wasteland 3 is an isometric turn-based post-apocalypse RPG. I can easily go into a long-winded back story of the franchise, its founder Brian Fargo who was also co-founder of Interplay which produced the acclaimed Fallout series. But I’ll save all those details for the full game review. For now, I want to talk about some of the cool new gameplay innovations that Wasteland 3 has implemented.
Wasteland 3 now offers full campaign co-op play. Upon starting the game, you have the option to select your team of two rangers. There is a good variety to choose from with each team offering his or her distinct attributes. You shouldn’t overthink the selection process. As you progress, your team member’s attributes will improve based on your play style. You are also not tethered to your co-op partner. He or she can venture out to complete a different objective and in some cases inadvertently change your current objective. If you still prefer to play solo you can, but I personally enjoy playing with a friend, especially one who is new to the franchise or genre.
Another new and welcomed addition is the transport vehicle. Not only can you use the vehicle to move about your team but you can also use it to dish out some heavy weapon strikes. Like your team, the vehicle has its own turn to attack. It can also be used to store items, which is a useful feature. The preview build did a nice job of introducing the vehicle and how to integrate it into your play.
The overall gameplay has received a major overhaul compared to its predecessors. You still use action points (AP) to move but the cover system has been modified and feels a bit like X-COM Enemy Unknown which is a positive. Another new addition is the inclusion of a dialog select screen when interacting with characters. Each dialog can produce its own outcome.
For example, I encountered an enemy who had a hostage. I could have made multiple attempts to negotiate but instead chose to take a shot in hopes of killing the enemy. Well, I accomplished that goal but was not fast enough as the enemy shot and killed the hostage. This new feature offers plenty of replay value since in some situations the outcome of your choices may not be revealed as forthcoming like my example. I also noticed some dialog options were not selectable due to my character lacking the required attribute level.
The core of Wasteland 3 is its heavy emphasis on RPG elements. You will find and collect plenty of useful items to build up your team. The Wasteland franchise has always been known for its mass variety of character customization and this was evident in Wasteland 3.
Overall from what I played so far, Wasteland 3 looks to be a solid addition to the franchise. The combat was engaging and responsive, the new dialog system provides unexpected twists & turns that can keep the story feeling fresh and the inclusion of a co-op plus transport vehicle are welcomed additions. Since I was playing a preview build, I chose not to talk about the map design or story since both are subject to change in the final build. If you are new to the franchise and have a switch, I definitely recommend checking out Wasteland 2: Director’s cut.
This preview was written based on a digital preview copy of Wasteland 3 for the PC provided by inXile Entertainment and Deep Silver.