Six years after Wasteland 2 hit the scene, the sequel has arrived with inXile Entertainment’s Wasteland 3. Was it worth the wait, or should you spend your time somewhere else? Check out our review and find out.
Wasteland 3 Review
Wasteland 3 begins with you creating two characters and heading to Colorado. You are part of the Arizona Rangers, but food supplies are running out fast. To remedy this, you and your team go to Colorado to gather supplies and head back home. As you might expect, this goes horribly wrong, and you are ambushed as soon as you arrive. A gang of raiders wipes out your entire squad, minus you and your partner. Still, you agreed to do a job for Colorado’s Patriarch, and the Rangers stick to their word. The Patriarch will supply you and your Rangers if you track down his kids and bring them in for him.
While tracking down the Patriarch’s kids is the primary goal, you quickly find out that Colorado has its fair share of problems. Multiple factions are vying for control of the state, and it isn’t just the Patriarch. As you progress, you get to decide which factions you aid and side with. The Patriarch may have hired you, but that doesn’t mean you need to support him. You are free to act as you please, whether it be for good or bad. No matter who you side with, the game will run you at least 50 hours. There is no in-game clock, but I know it goes on for a long time.
The combat in Wasteland 3 is tactical and turn-based. You use your AP to move, shoot, take cover, heal, and use abilities. If you move too far, you can’t shoot until next turn. Shoot too much, and you can’t move. Managing your AP might sound like a pain, but you get used to it real quick. There are a variety of weapons as well; flamethrowers, LMGs, sniper rifles, pistols, melee weapons, brawling gloves, SMGs, shotguns, and assault rifles are all available to your team. It is up to you who has what equipment, but skill points play into combat as well.
One thing I really like about Wasteland 3 are the skills in general. Each of them has a use, and none of them feel like a waste of time. Animal Whisperer? Major Tomcat is now your ally for life. Barter? Get paid upfront and skip a quest if you want. Survival? Avoid annoying world map encounters. The biggest issue you are going to run into is which skills to get. With everything being useful, you might neglect your gun skills and fall off in battle. Be sure to balance your party with all the skills, and don’t try to focus on doing everything with one guy.
Wasteland 3 is full of choices and consequences as well. Some of them don’t have an effect until the end of the game. I took a case form a guy in an apartment and completely forgot about it. About 30 hours later, he showed up and asked for the case back. He ended up giving me the best armor set in the game as a reward. Other choices will make your party members turn on you, even after they have been with you for more than 20 hours. It isn’t a game with the illusion of choice; your choices actually matter, and your playthrough could be way different from mine. This also boosts the replayability should you want to play through it again.
The other big thing in Wasteland 3 is your HQ. This is your base of operations, and you can recruit people to come work for you. Sometimes these people just show up and guard the base for you. Other times they open up shops, give you equipment, give you new perks, or give you side quests. A lot of these people can be missed if you don’t look around. These also play into choices, like who you want running your armory. Building your Ranger HQ from nothing is another fun part of the title.
Just to make sure we on the same page, I played through Wasteland 3 almost entirely in co-op. I respect their choice to put this co-op functionality in, but my goodness is it a buggy mess. Going longer than an hour without a crash is a complete miracle. On the world map, your co-op partner can rarely see the map, and random encounters will bug on their screen. Sometimes AI will register the leading player as an enemy but not their co-op partner. We even had cities completely reset, meaning we lost all progress gained in said area. This also wiped out the quest log and forced us to reload from a different checkpoint.
However, from my brief few hours in single-player, this is rarely a problem. I did have a crash, but nothing like the bugs I ran into during co-op play. It is a testament to how much I was enjoying the game that I put up with the complete BS that came up during co-op. There were times when one of us would crash, and we’d load back in, enter a new zone, and then the other player crashed. I have no idea how much time was wasted between crashes and loading screens. Wasteland 3 is a prime example of a game that needed a few more months in the cooker.
The single-player in Wasteland 3 runs fine, but the co-op is currently a hot mess. If you plan to play co-op, wait for a few more patches before picking it up.
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