inXile Entertainment and the Wasteland series are one of Kickstarter’s greatest success stories. Raising just under $3 million dollars, Wasteland 2 performed well financially and critically. It should come as no shock then that inXile brought the RPG back to crowdfunding for its most recent instalment. Unsurprisingly, Wasteland 3 became a bigger hit after another round of crowdfunding on Fig. This time around, the relentless heat of Arizona has been traded in for the bitter frost of Colorado.
As a game, Wasteland 3 does not stray too far from the foundation its predecessor laid. That being said, it is a great refinement. At times, Wasteland 2 felt clunky, as the cover system did not always work as it should. inXile took the right steps refining and streamlining the game, rather than completely overhauling it. What they have changed is the setting. It is a change that impacts the way the story is told and really holds everything together. The frosty setting is punishing, and that is shown through the way the characters talk and the way the different factions’ discipline those who step out of line. It is one of thebest incorporations of weather I have seen in a long time.
It isn’t just the weather that the Rangers must worry about in Colorado. Having been attacked by the Dorsey’s and having their squad wiped out, the Rangers found themselves propped up by the Patriarch. Of course, there is a catch – you must round-up all three of his misbehaving children. Although, the Patriarch does politely ask for you to not kill them. The story delivers the quality you would expect from a Wasteland game. It is well written, both gritty and hilarious. The game has found a good balance between comedy and serious story-telling. Wasteland does a great job of allowing the player more freedom of control of their character than ever before. It is an enjoyable story but depending on how much you commit to playing your character, you can pull even more out of it. Wasteland 3’s story is enjoyable at its base, but the more the player commits to being a character, the more you lose yourself in that story.
The quality of life improvements allows the players that extra freedom when role-playing in the game. The little things, like selecting a character in combat and immediately seeing who is in range to fire at, or even selecting to lockpick something and the appropriate character completing that action automatically. It does not seem like a big leap on paper, but the amount of time these small changes is game-changing. Even the addition of a ‘sell junk’ button just helps with the inventory organisation. The option to simply dump all the junk is a lifesaver. Removing the independent inventory is a great improvement too. Rather than going through everybody’s inventory to find the appropriate item, it is all dumped into one slot. Although messy when full of junk, it is still easier to find things than it is switching through the various characters. Wasteland 3 also refuses to enforce carry weight on the player, therefore creating more time to enjoy the game. So much needless micro-management is removed which doesn’t just give long-time players a better experience, but makes the game more approachable for new players too.
Wasteland 3 still requires the user to click after every line of dialogue is spoken, something that really upsets the characters flow, especially when they are giving a grand speech. Wasteland also continues to suffer from its factions overshadowing its characters, however, the game is helped somewhat by the new first-person view for conversations. The Patriarch’s introduction is much more memorable because you are looking into his eyes. It gives him size and character; it’s just a shame that not all the characters are given the same opportunity to make an immediate impression on the player. Overall, the characters all benefit from improved voice acting and audio quality. I felt the characters were much more enjoyable this time around, just because of the improved vocals, however, it would have been nice to see them all up close.
Importantly for long-time fans, this is an exceptionally good Wasteland experience. inXile have taken the positives from Wasteland 2 and expanded on them to make Wasteland 3 a bigger, better experience. That experience has not sacrificed the games’ role-playing aspects either, nor has it simplified the game in any way. Older fans will find Wasteland 3 enjoyable and modernised. In addition, newer fans are not going to feel overwhelmed because they are new to the series or the genre. Balancing the two would have been a difficult task for inXile Entertainment, yet it is a balance they executed perfectly.
Wasteland 3 is undoubtedly the best game in the Wasteland series to date. Not only is it the best Wasteland game to date, but it has a strong claim to be inXile Entertainment’s best work yet. This is not only an improvement on an already fantastic Wasteland 2 in terms of accessibility and quality of life, but a huge upgrade to performance, visuals and audio. The franchise has gone from strength to strength and is showing no sign of slowing down.
Wasteland 3 (Reviewed on Windows)
Excellent. Look out for this one.
Wasteland 3 is a fantastic game in a series that is constantly improving. Not only am I excited for whatever comes next for Wasteland, we should all be eagerly awaiting the next step for inXile Entertainment too.