We already got some decent hands-on with Wasteland 3 back at Gamescom and found it to be a fantastic RPG.
While it’s a shame that the game has been delayed until August, we’ve been able to spend even more time with it thanks to a new preview build and we’re loving it even more.
All the things we appreciated from before are still relevant, but there’s something to be said about how accessible it all is, while remaining fiercely in-depth and customisable.
Combat feels both strategic and satisfying, there’s lots of missions to dive into, and there’s a real biting wit and dark humour in the writing that makes all of this even more enjoyable.
In that regard, Wasteland 3 falls somewhere between a Borderlands and a Fallout with the hyper eccentric characters, post-apocalyptic setting, and buckets worth of blood.
Something I didn’t get to explore much before was the character creation and before setting out, in this case, the game wants you to select a character pairing.
I draw attention to this, because it’s pretty unusual to have to customise two characters at the start, but there’s real advantages to it and it definitely sets the tone for what’s to come.
For instance, there’s a Father & Daughter combination which gave me a proper Cormac McCarthy ‘The Road’ vibe, as the father is credited for his sneaky skills and melee combat, while his younger daughter is a proficient sniper, lockpicker and talker.
Each character has their unique background and the pairing will also have an ‘origin story’ of sorts, telling you how they came to fight together.
I loved this so much, as there’s some fascinating pre-sets. But, of course, you can also customise the two characters you take into the world, defining their appearance, starting weapons, quirks, and even their voices.
Battles have a real XCOM vibe, with a percentage above an enemy head to show you your chance to hit. This, of course, expends action points, as do all the other abilities each character has.
Wasteland 3 has a real focus on cover, as you can duck behind burned out vehicles and broken up bricks, hunkering down and peppering bullets at anyone who dares threaten you. And there will be a lot of threats coming from all angles.
There seems like there’s going to be tough battles in Wasteland 3 as well with massive, automatic weapon robots, and bulked up bosses that are just hyped up on adrenaline. The game encourages different strategies in every situation, constantly keeping you on your toes.
Some battles can be avoided as long as you stay outside of the enemies perimeter when in top-down overworld, but combat isn’t always the only thing to worry about as the scenery can implode around, and even underneath you.
Being able to stay out of the eyeline of battle is also crucial to survival so you can safely infiltrate seemingly abandoned buildings or critical facilities to reach another set of objectives.
The scenery can even be used to your advantage, and sometimes serve as a first strike in battle. Like, if you shoot a petroleum tank, for instance, it can set everything ablaze within ten squares, giving you a massive advantage before a single bullet whizzes past your ear.
There’s also crucial choices to make which can affect how things play out – like if you let a bandit live so they can tell their buddies about you, or the implications of executing that person in cold blood.
When looting from battle, there’s tons of junk to find in Wasteland 3 and all of it can be traded to vendors for extra coin. Which is pretty handy in a pinch, considering there’s lots of places to visit and things to buy.
Of course, there’s also random things to pick up in the environment and even certain things you can interact with. Like, for instance, the ability to freely piss on snowballs, then throw them at NPCs in the game and give them some negative side effects. That won’t always come without implications, though.
You can even modify individual weapons so that your favourite piece is customised to suit your playstyle. I love it.
Wasteland 3 is just absolutely great fun and is seemingly full of surprises. Even the soundtrack when it creeps in is an absolute clanger and will have you bopping your head and tapping your thigh when you least expect it.
Having spent a substantial chunk of time with the game now, I’m not only excited for August, I’m quietly confident that Wasteland 3 will be one of the best RPGs this year.
I love the squad-based nature of combat, the unique properties both characters bring into the game, the vast amount of choice. It’s a surprisingly welcome world to explore considering the struggles in our own.
Who needs next gen, because right now there’s still plenty to get excited about for the current one. This is going to be the best Wasteland yet.
Wasteland 3 releases on August 28 on PC, Xbox, and PlayStation 4.
Code provided by the publisher