Wasteland 3 Review
Wasteland 3 transports you to a contaminated North America in the 22nd century. The knowledge of 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 cold Colorado sounds too good to be true. Saul Buchanan called “The Patriarch”, controls large parts of the country from Colorada Springs. This self-proclaimed ruler offers the rangers equipment, food and support. The only condition: The Rangers are to bring the three children of the Patriarch to reason, with whom Buchanan is in dispute.
Because the need is great, the rangers accept the assignment and travel to Colorado. As soon as they arrive there, they run straight into an ambush that almost wipes out the entire convoy of post-apocalyptic law enforcement officers. At this point, the atmospheric intro ends and the game begins with the choice of a character duo with which you enter the game. You can either choose one of the five ready-made pairs or create completely new characters.
The character creation is the only way to add certain quirks to your heroes. Flaws give your characters extraordinary advantages in exchange for extraordinary disadvantages. For example, if you choose “Clumsy”, you will cause more melee damage, but have a 50% reduced chance of critical hits.
When creating new characters, you also define their names, appearance, gender, starting weapons, attributes, skills, and more. You don’t really have to worry about this, though, because unlike in comparable role-playing games, you can replace each of your four main heroes (two more Rangers are added after the entry level) in your base with various ready-made or newly created characters.
During the course of the game, some bonus characters will join your team of 4 Rangers, 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 impact on the outcome of the game. The first is a marshal from Colorado Springs, followed by a cyborg sect leader, a gunslinger or an always drunk, ancient cowboy.
Back to the beginning of the game. After choosing a character, the first step is to survive. If you are poorly equipped and outnumbered, you must escape the ambush. In the process, you will get to know the basics of the game and prove yourself in several fights.
For the turn-based battles in Wasteland 3 you should definitely use the cover system. In many fights it is vital to keep your head out of the line of fire, if possible. If you were not surprised in a fight, the first round of action is always yours. This means that all your heroes (there are only two at the beginning) can perform actions in any order. You can attack enemies in close combat or ranged combat, use abilities or items, load through or move.
All of these actions cost action points (AP). The amount of AP depends on the strength of an ability or weapon: While firing a revolver requires just three AP, a shot with a sniper rifle (higher range and more damage than the revolver) costs twice or even more.
So you have to think carefully about what you do and when, because the fights in Wasteland 3 are already quite challenging on “Wasteland”, the second of four difficulty levels. After your turn, the opponent comes into play, followed by all your companions.
If you act skillfully at the beginning of the game, you get the rather powerful cat companion Major Tomcat, who is a real help in fights. If you have the skill Animal Whisperer, you can tame other animals that will also support you in battle – crafty mechanics can even set up turrets in battles. However, you cannot control who your additional companions attack.
The game is always shown from above, where you can not only zoom in and out, but also turn the camera freely to keep an overview even in tricky situations.
The turbulent introductory sequence gives you a good foretaste of what you can expect in Wasteland 3: crisp fights, good humor, blatant 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.
Once you have completed this tutorial, you will meet the Patriarch for the first time, who bequeaths an old military base to you 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 personnel. To do this, you will complete quests in and around Colorado Springs, which is right next to your headquarters.
Many tasks in the game are designed to give you multiple options or solutions in important dialogues or battles. In battles you can sometimes use the environment to gain an advantage. In quests and dialogues, however, it often depends on whether you have a certain skill (or skill) at a high level with one of your characters.
An example: The skill “Hard Dog” allows you to intimidate interlocutors or opponents in some places so that they let you pass or do what you want. There are four types of skills, and in principle, your squad of 6 adventurers cannot do without any of them.
Combat skills are more or less self-explanatory: they determine which types of weapons you can use at which level of quality. Social skills such as the above mentioned “Hard Dog” provide you with additional conversation options and quest solutions.
General skills such as first aid, animal whisperer or explosives are valuable in many places in the game.
The same goes for exploration skills like lock-picking, mechanics, or survival. The latter helps you avoid random encounters on the world map, among other things.
As mentioned above, you should think carefully about how to distribute all the skills among your Heroes, otherwise it will be difficult to reach the maximum (10 points). Already in the first third of the game you will find doors that can only be opened with an extremely high value in lock picking. And the numerous computers in the game will only reveal their secrets if you have skilled Nerdkram with a hero.
Using skills gives you urgently needed experience points that you otherwise only receive for completing quests or winning battles. High skill levels give you access to certain benefits, 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, attentiveness, strength, speed, intelligence and charisma).
With each level-up you will receive one point, which you can invest here. Coordination determines, among other things, how many action points a hero has, while intelligence determines how many skill points you receive when you level up. If you’ve completely skill one or more characters, it’s no problem: You can create new ones at any time at Ranger Headquarters and redefine all attributes, skills and advantages. These replacement heroes do not start from scratch, of course, but at the level where their comrades are.
In the course of the game you will be overwhelmed with objects. You will find new equipment for your heroes, ammunition, useful items and also a lot of scrap metal that you can sell for good money at merchants. Weapons and armor for the head, torso, and legs always have a minimum skill or attribute requirement that determines when you can start using them. If a character does not meet these requirements, he can use the item, but only with severe restrictions that have a negative effect in combat. The Weapon and Armor Modding skills allow you to further enhance equipment items with mods. Weapons then cause more damage and armor offers more protection. So it is worthwhile to invest hard-earned skill points into these skills.
The game world with all its locations, quests and characters is the real star in Wasteland 3. It is unbelievable how much love for detail is in the game and especially in the well-designed levels. Wasteland 3 is bursting with atmosphere and doesn’t have to hide from top-class competitors like Divinity: Original Sin 2.
Kamikaze pigs with bomb belts: check! An obscure cult that worships a Ronald Reagan robot as a god: check! The even more funny madness awaits you in Wasteland 3!
The greatest strength of Wasteland 3 is the lively, exciting game world with all its crazy characters, lovingly implemented ideas, gripping battles and the sometimes tough decisions. Compared to the predecessor, the game flow and the entire user interface seem more well thought-out than in the predecessor, and the fights are also wonderfully fluid and always challenging.
Wasteland 3 is by no means perfect despite all the well-deserved praise. The player characters seem interchangeable. This is what the developers wanted and makes sense from a gameplay point of view, but it doesn’t really make you feel connected to them. This is a pity for a game with a playing time of 100 hours or even more. But this is really whining on a high level, because Wasteland 3 does so many other things right and it’s a lot of fun to explore the irradiated Colorado.
Other Turn-Based PC Games
If you want to see a game review for a specific game let me know in the comments. I would also like to know what your favorite trun based games are?