Wasteland 3: The dystopian role-playing game in the long-term test – Gamesaktuell

When we looked at the Wasteland 3 backer beta a few months ago, the release was already within our grasp. Then the pandemic gave us and the developers inXile Entertainment a critical hit and ensured that the publication was delayed by a full three months. Now the game is finally ready and the time we spent on the PC trial makes it clear that the extra development time has done the game good. But even if we have invested well over 50 hours in the game, the end sequence is still a long way off. inXile specifies the playing time as 80 to 100 hours. That's quite a board, so it will take a while before we can tell you our final rating. The game also has an interesting co-op mode that we haven't been able to look at in more detail due to lack of time. The valuation tendency is nevertheless strongly towards 9 out of 10! How we come to this assessment, what we like about Wasteland 3 and what not, we will tell you in this article.







The Payasos are a crazy gang of clowns who love to play with big guns. (Official screenshot from inXile Entertainment)



The Payasos are a crazy gang of clowns who love to play with big guns. (Official screenshot from inXile Entertainment)

Source: InXile Entertainment




Off to Colorado!

Wasteland 3 puts you in a contaminated North America in the 22nd century. Knowing the two previous games makes the new RPG with turn-based battles even more entertaining, but it is not absolutely necessary. You take control of a squad of Desert Rangers who are badly decimated after the spectacular end of Part 2 and are looking for new allies in other US states. An offer from freezing Colorado sounds too good to be true. Saul Buchanan called "The Patriarch" controls large parts of the country from Colorado Springs. This self-proclaimed ruler offers equipment, food and support to the rangers. The only condition: The Rangers should bring the three children of the patriarch to reason, with whom Buchanan is in dispute.







The Gippers, who worship a Reagan robot, control parts of the devastated city of Denver.



The Gippers, who worship a Reagan robot, control parts of the devastated city of Denver.

Source: InXile Entertainment




Heroes with quirks from the kit

Because the need is great, the Rangers accept the job and travel to Colorado. As soon as they get there, they run straight into an ambush that wipes out almost the entire convoy of post-apocalyptic law enforcement officers. At this point the atmospheric intro ends and the game begins with the selection of a character duo with whom you will enter the game. You can either choose one of the five pre-made pairs or create completely new characters. Character creation is the only way to add quirks to your heroes. Quirks give your characters extraordinary advantages in exchange for equally extraordinary disadvantages. For example, if you choose "Clumsy", you cause more melee damage, but have a 50% less chance of scoring critical hits.

When creating new characters, you also define names, appearance, gender, starting weapons, attributes, skills and much more. But you don't really have to worry about it, because unlike in comparable role-playing games, you can replace each of your four main heroes (after the entry level, two more Rangers are added) in your base with various ready-made or newly created characters. In the course of the game, your team of four rangers will be joined by some bonus characters, two of whom you can invite to your party. These give you special advantages or conversation options in certain situations or even have a huge influence on the outcome of the game. The first is a marshall from Colorado Springs, later followed by a cyborg sect leader, a gunslinger or an always drunk, ancient cowboy.

Extremely brutal and gripping: the fighting in Wasteland 3

Back to the beginning of the game. After choosing a character, survival is the first thing to do. Badly equipped and outnumbered, you must escape the ambush. You will get to know various basics of the game and will be able to prove yourself in some fights. In the turn-based battles in Wasteland 3 (buy now) you should definitely use the cover system. In many fights, it is vital to keep your head out of the line of fire if you can. If you weren't surprised in a fight, the first round of action is always yours. This means that all of your heroes (at the beginning there are only two) can perform actions in any order. You can attack opponents in close or long-range combat, use abilities or items, charge or move. All of the above actions cost action points (AP). How many there are depends on the strength of an ability or weapon: While firing a revolver only requires three AP, a shot with a sniper rifle (longer range and more damage than the revolver) costs twice as much or even more.






A real highlight of the game: the Kodiak tank with which you explore the freezing cold desert of Colorado.



A real highlight of the game: the Kodiak tank with which you explore the freezing cold desert of Colorado.

Source: InXile Entertainment




So you have to think carefully about what to do and when, because the fights in Wasteland 3 are already quite challenging on "Ödlander", the second of four levels of difficulty. After your game round, the opponent comes into play, then all your companions. If you act skillfully at the beginning of the game, you will receive the rather powerful cat companion Major Tomcat, who is a real help in battles. If you have the skill animal whisperer, you can tame other animals that also support you in combat – clever mechanics can even set up turrets in combat. But you cannot control who your additional companions attack. The game is always shown diagonally from above, whereby you can not only zoom in and out as you like, but also rotate the camera freely in order to keep an overview even in tricky situations.

Moral decisions that have a major impact on the game

The turbulent opening sequence gives you a good foretaste of what awaits you in Wasteland 3: crisp fights, good humor, blatant depictions of violence with hard splatter effects and, of course, an in-depth role-playing game with many relevant decisions that affect the further course of the game. If you have left this tutorial behind you, you will meet the patriarch for the first time, who bequeathed you an old military base as a base. One of the most important tasks in the first few hours of the game is to expand this base and equip it with suitable staff. To do this, complete quests in and around Colorado Springs, which is right next to your headquarters.






Bad surprise: The patriarch's daughter is lying in wait for us and sets her robots on us.



Bad surprise: The patriarch's daughter is lying in wait for us and sets her robots on us.

Source: InXile Entertainment




Unfortunately I have to put my pig on you! Draft, crunchy!

Many tasks in the game are designed so that you have several options or possible solutions in important dialogues or battles. In battle, you can sometimes use the environment to give yourself an advantage. In quests and dialogues, on the other hand, it often depends on whether you have a certain skill (or skill) with one of your characters at a correspondingly high level. An example: The skill "tough dog" allows you to intimidate interlocutors or opponents in some places so that they let you happen or do what you want. There are four types of skills and, in principle, your group of 6 adventurers cannot do without any of these skills. Combat skills are more or less self-explanatory: they determine which types of weapons you can use at which quality level. Social skills such as the "tough dog" or "ass-creeper" mentioned above provide you with additional conversation options and quest-solving approaches. General skills like first aid, animal whisperers or explosives are valuable in many places in the game. The same goes for exploration skills like lockpicking, mechanics, or survival. The latter helps you, among other things, to avoid chance encounters on the world map. After all, you won't just stay in Colorado Springs forever.

The skill system: repairing toasters has never been more productive







Not welcome: Upon arriving in Colorado, the Rangers are ambushed that kills many.



Not welcome: On arrival in Colorado, the Rangers are ambushed and killed many.

Source: InXile Entertainment




As indicated above, you should think carefully about how you distribute all the skills to your heroes, otherwise it will be difficult to reach the maximum (10 points). Already in the first third of the game you come across doors that can only be opened with an extremely high value in lockpicks. And the numerous computers in the game only reveal their secrets if you have mastered nerd stuff with a hero. The special thing about it: The use of skills gives you much-needed experience points that you otherwise only get for completing quests or victories in battles. High skill values ​​give you access to certain advantages, one of which you can unlock for each character after every second level up. For example, you can increase your armor, get special abilities in battles or receive passive bonuses. What else your heroes can do is determined by seven character attributes (coordination, luck, mindfulness, strength, speed, intelligence and charisma). With every level-up you receive a point that you can invest here. Coordination determines, among other things, how many action points a hero has, while intelligence determines how many skill points you get when you level up. If you have completely unskilled one or more characters, that's no problem: You can create new ones at any time in the Ranger headquarters and redefine all attributes, skills and advantages. Of course, these substitute heroes do not start from scratch, but rather at the level on which the comrades are.

A huge arsenal with tons of exotic special weapons







In terms of menus and user guidance, Part 3 is a big improvement over the Director's Cut of Wasteland 2.



In terms of menus and user guidance, Part 3 is a big improvement over the Director's Cut of Wasteland 2.

Source: InXile Entertainment




In the course of the game you are literally showered with objects. You will find new equipment for your heroes, ammunition, useful items and lots of junk that you can sell for good money at dealers. Weapons and armor for the head, torso and legs always have a minimum skill or attribute requirement that determines when you can use them sensibly. If a character does not meet these requirements, he can use the item, but only with serious restrictions that have a negative effect in combat. The weapons and armor modding skills allow you to improve equipment even further through mods. Weapons do more damage and armor offers more protection. So it pays to invest hard earned skill points in these skills.

The seventh member of the adventure troop: the Kodiak tank

As interesting as the initial Colorado Springs environment is, Wasteland 3 only really picks up speed once you venture out into the outside world. Thanks to hair-raising surprise attacks, radiation-contaminated areas, well-hidden secrets and extraordinary places, things really go off. You explore this ice-cold wilderness with your Kodiak tank, which you can upgrade and configure according to your wishes. In some fights, he even becomes another team member who actively intervenes in the fight and has massive firepower. In any case, the Kodiak is one of the best innovations in Wasteland 3 compared to its predecessor.






Your Kodiak tank can of course also be upgraded. This clown cannon suits him well!



Your Kodiak tank can of course also be upgraded. This clown cannon suits him well!

Source: InXile Entertainment




Because it is really fun to heat through the icy Colorado with him. Those who like to explore are in good hands in Wasteland 3, because goodies and equipment are hidden in all levels. To find everything, you have to look around very carefully and use the available team skills accordingly. Information on the minimum level for quests ensures that you can plan your approach in Wasteland 3 accordingly. The behavior of NPCs in the game is highly dependent on their reputation. On the one hand by the general level of awareness of your ranger group, but also by the reputation you enjoy with the various factions in the game. So it can happen that NPCs do not want to talk to you at all, while others give you great discounts, for example when you trade.

An icy world to fall in love with







With a precision shot, you decide what to target.



With a precision shot, you decide what to target.

Source: InXile Entertainment




The game world with all its locations, quests and characters is the real star in Wasteland 3. It is almost unbelievable how much attention to detail there is in the game and especially in the great designed levels. Wasteland 3 is bursting with atmosphere and does not have to hide from top-class competitors like Divinity: Original Sin 2. Sex with robots: check! Kamikaze pigs with bomb belts: check! An obscure cult that worships a Ronald Reagan robot as a god: check! That much more funny madness awaits you in Wasteland 3!
In terms of user guidance, Wasteland 3 also represents an enormous further development compared to its predecessor, which even in the completely revised Director's Cut version still looked a bit bulky and half-baked. The menus and the user interface are much clearer in the new part and thus ensure a smoother gameplay, especially in the battles.

Good setting and atmospheric songs

As far as the presentation is concerned, the developers at inXile Entertainment also did a very good job. The further development compared to the Director's Cut of Wasteland 2 is clearly visible. Wasteland 3 cannot quite keep up with the great graphics of the competitor Dinivity: Original Sin 2 mentioned above. If you have a good command of English, we recommend that you play the game in the original version. The German translation is not entirely free of errors, but overall it is a success. The voice output, however, is really great, but it is only available in English. The presentation is rounded off by first-class background music and some songs composed especially for the game (also in English only).

My opinion

A real monster of a role-playing game: I like to spend the next few weeks in freezing Colorado!

I don't care if all the Fallout 4 supporters are rocking me now, but I like my post-apocalypse best as an RPG with turn-based combat. The greatest strength of Wasteland 3 is the lively, exciting game world with all its crazy characters, lovingly implemented ideas, gripping fights and the sometimes tough decisions. The gameplay and the entire user guidance seem more well thought-out compared to the predecessor than in the predecessor and the fights are also wonderfully fluid and always challenging. Despite all the praise it deserves, Wasteland 3 is by no means perfect. The player characters appear interchangeable. This is intended by the developers and makes perfect sense from a gameplay point of view, but it ensures that you don't really bond with them. That is a shame for a game with a playing time of 100 hours or even more. But that's really high-level whining, because Wasteland 3 does so many other things right and it's great fun to explore contaminated Colorado.

Well playable, even if you don't know the predecessors
Detailed, lovingly implemented game world
Extraordinary heroes and NPCs
Good story with wonderfully wacky characters
Crisp fights
Well thought-out role play corset
First-class English speech output
Good soundtrack with lots of songs and atmospheric background music
Improved user guidance compared to its predecessor
Lots of relevant, moral decisions that also affect the game world and story
Playable cooperatively
German translation has weaknesses
Inventory filter function not sufficient
Trial version still has a few bugs
Custom player characters have little personality
Only a few animated interlocutors

Black humor, great game world and crisp fights: a role-playing experience that you shouldn't miss

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