Wasteland 3 Takes the Best Parts of Wasteland 2 and Pumps it up to 10

Wasteland 3 Preview

At a recent hands-on opportunity with Wasteland 3, COGconnected was treated to an experience that showcased the game’s combat, varied level designs, dialog tree system, and its new vehicle. With inXile Entertainment’s relatively recent acquisition by Xbox Game Studios, the game’s budget has experienced an increase alongside a delay in order to accommodate upgrades. Based on what I have seen compared to my experience with Wasteland 2, it seems well worth the wait.

Instantly, the visual difference between Wasteland 2 and Wasteland 3 was noticeable. While Wasteland 2 kept a more “retro RPG”-style, Wasteland 3 looked like a contemporary game. While graphics are not the ultimate factor of whether a game is good or not, the improvement is one that is significant, and much appreciated. Simply put, the Colorado winter never looked so good. The updated user interface, as well as the overall user experience, also felt better. Specifically, the UI in combat situations is much clearer, making combat situations easier to strategize around for players new to the franchise.

Aside from the visuals, the combat experience felt much improved from its predecessor. Compared to Wasteland 3, Wasteland 2’s combat felt somewhat lacking. Wasteland 3 feels more in line with other tactical games such as XCOM. Being able to utilize the environment, target specific body parts, and controlling my squad’s vehicle all felt great in action. Despite being relatively inexperienced with the Wasteland franchise, I was able to hop right into the action with some working knowledge of the systems. Perhaps the most satisfying moments of combat that I had were running over enemies with the squad’s massive vehicle (which also transports the squad outside of combat) and shooting an enemy’s gas tank strapped to his back.

Play How You Want

Aside from the combat, two specific portions of the game’s demo stood out for me: puzzle-solving and conversations. While players can undoubtedly hop into combat to brute force their way through levels, alternative paths involving environmental challenges also play a large role in the game. Specifically, during the demo, I came across various puzzles that involved pillars of fire, spinning blades, and a cage full of bears. Each of these involved failures, but also multiple paths of potential success whether that be through environmental cues, squad skills, or brute force once again. The potential of Wasteland 3 of alternate paths allows players to truly play how they want to, whether that is as a gunslinging hobo or a more combat averse individual.

Much akin to the level design, conversations in the game can take very different turns, especially in important situations. The conversation at the end of the demo was with the patriarch’s son, who was fully voiced (along with the rest of the game) and motion captured. This conversation had a number of potential outcomes that could occur depending on your conversation choices, party members, and more, leading to outcomes ranging from the death of the character to him joining your squad.

Wasteland 3 top

Having only played a small amount of Wasteland 2, I would say that the biggest barrier to entry for myself was the accessibility. Being thrown directly into a game with little experience resulted in a much more difficult time with basics than I had anticipated. During my time with Wasteland 3, I was fortunate to be able to chat with lead level designer, Jeremy Kopman, who promised that Wasteland 3 will ease players into the various mechanics and features without dumbing down the experience.

With the recent acquisition of inXile Entertainment and announcement of the title launching on Xbox Game Pass, a more accessible entrance into the game will be vital for keeping players interested in the game. The increased budget helps to improve graphics, gameplay, accessibility, and more. While I personally had some issues getting into Wasteland 2, Wasteland 3 looks to alleviate any prior barriers to entry. Currently slated to release in early 2020, Wasteland 3 looks to take everything players liked from Wasteland 2, and just make it better.

*** Travel and access to preview event provided ***