Our very own SquidVan has reviewed Wasteland 3 for us! It's a mostly spoiler free review, however some middle section things are spoiled but not their possible endings or any in detail things, just their premise. Without further ado let me present this great Sunday read to you all! Wasteland 3 review Written by SquidVan Story Spoiler: Spoiler: Wasteland 1 & 2 spoilers While Wasteland 2 retread familiar grounds with more detail, practically a sequel to the original Wasteland all while retelling the main beats of its story. You won’t find any Arizona and Base Cochise and its AI. You will find related things but never is that story the focus but rather, finally, in the past. Wasteland 3 finally moves the story on from the original game. You’re still Arizona Rangers but things at home aren’t going well. Raiders and other factions are wearing the Rangers and their territories thin of resources and comfortability. Your people are struggling and will starve by next year’s harvest. The new leader of the Rangers has been contacted by a man named Saul Buchanan, usually known as The Patriarch, who has asked for assistance from the Rangers in Colorado and in exchange will send supplies to Arizona before it’s too late. On your way to Colorado, your convoy is attacked by a gang known as The Dorseys. Your tutorial of the game starts here, fighting your way out of the ambush on an icy lake. Once you find your way out of there you’ll soon realize your squad is the last squad surviving from Arizona that you know of. You’ll arrive in Colorado Springs and meet the Patriarch. He offers you a headquarters and some ex-sheriffs of his for your initial staff. He apologizes for the ambush on the Rangers and you can respond in numerous ways and this is the first time you’ll get a tiny taste of the faction reputation. From here, you’ll eventually get everything up and running, you’ll end up getting: An armory where you buy ammo and modifications An infirmary to heal and buy medical supplies A garage to buy car parts and store your vehicle A brig where any characters you arrest will end up in A barracks that you can change your base outfit with A museum to remind you of events you’ve participated in and the choices you made A war room as they call it, where you can use the radio to communicate with a few characters and talk to a character about recruiting so you can create new Rangers and swap them in and out of party slots along with companions you find along the way. Though, most of these places will be unstaffed. You’ll need to find someone of medical expertise, a team of mechanics, someone to stock and manage the supply room, someone to watch over the brig, and someone to actually create the pieces in your museum. These can vary who is there depending on who you help and who you piss off while playing the game. Almost immediately within this base you are given choices that affect how characters interact with you later on. You’ll find some squatters in the barracks and you can kick them out now, later, or let them stay. Once you’ve explored around enough, you’ll head downtown of Colorado Springs and this is really where the game starts off. You’ll find multiple quests to do, factions to meet, and the Patriarch wants to talk about the mission now that you’re settled in. I won’t go into spoilers of this game but the main mission he gives you is to round up his three children. They’ve all gone rogue and seek to dethrone him some way somehow. Your first one to grab is Valor, who he describes as his soft and spoiled son. Saul doesn’t think he’d be a good successor because of this. The next will be Victory, a psychotic son who is overly indulgent in violence. A completely unlikeable son of a bitch that Saul doesn’t think could ever rule with that level of psychosis. And the last child you’re to round up is Liberty. The daughter. The one Saul would have likely named his successor had she not betrayed him and sought to overthrow him now. The Patriarch asks you not to harm his children. He wants them all alive despite their transgressions against him. You’re to arrest them. But of course, that might just be another path you can make in the game. I won’t dive any further into the story. It’s not anything on the levels of Planescape: Torment or Disco Elysium, of course not. But it’s good enough and feels more grounded. I do recommend you play this game so the few surprises that are there are worth finding yourself albeit, if you know what’s going to happen it wouldn’t really ruin the game anyway. Factions These factions you cannot join or influence your reputation with The Dorseys are a faction of raiders that have a deep history with The Patriarch and the Hundred Families. I won’t go into too much detail because there’s some good stuff to discover yourself with this. They’ve pretty much inbred too much and are one big, ugly family. The Payaos are a bunch of clowns. Often considered the low hanging fruit among other raiders. They act ridiculous, they look ridiculous, and they never come off as bright. They seem to take whoever they can get as long as you’re ready to have some impractical joke pulled on you. Scar Collectors are one of the more serious gangs to be scared of. They’re slavers who also modify the fuck out of their bodies with implants. They’re brutal and they often never give you a chance to speak. Godfishers are a religious like raider gang. They believe that the Sky Gods can be appeased by severing the arms and legs off people and tying the rest of your body to a kite to fly in the air. That’s their form of sacrifice. And I’m pretty sure they don’t even let you die before that. The Hard Heads were seen in an early showcase for Wasteland 3 but they’re not too prevalent here. They reside in a single location, they’re cannibals too. The Breathers are Victory’s gang of drug addicted lunatics. You’ll learn about their drugs when you visit them. I won’t spoil it beyond that. These factions you can influence with your reputation The Patriarch’s Marshals are the lawkeepers around Colorado Springs. Nothing too exciting about them but they are important and they don’t appreciate being pissed off. Gippers are a bunch of crazies that help keep fuel and oil flowing to Colorado Springs. I say crazies because they believe they are under the command of Ronald Reagan. All of the women are named Nancy and they are all his wife or some shit but only one is the supreme wife. They’re insane and the Ronald Reagan they worship is an AI that controls some weapons and machinery around their territory. The Hundred Families are the original founders of Colorado Springs and by that extension the wealthy elite. They’re not painted as necessarily evil because they see any heartless acts as a good move to keep their town from going hungry. The Wasteland Refugees are people from the Eastern Plains, a location most of the previously mentioned raiders are from, and they’re seeking asylum wherever they can get it. Brygo Syndicate is a returning faction. After the events that unfold in Arizona, Brygo decides to leave Vegas and set up shop in Colorado Springs. They’re a mob of course but you can still side with them. The Monster Army is a bunch of “losers” who live in a giant abandoned mall they call the Bizarre, which is a bazaar, isn’t that bizarre? Pretty much the trading hub of Colorado but the faction themselves are not very frightening. They dress up like early movie adaptions of horror characters like Dracula, Wolfman, and whatnot. The Machine Commune is a commune of robots and synths. Yes. Communist robots. I’ll leave it at that. It’s absolutely silly but the place was memorable and kinda fun. I enjoyed it. Gameplay Wasteland 3 plays much like Wasteland 2. You’ll find a turn based game where each squad takes their turns before the other squad moves. Initiative can be skipped by making a sneak attack and sometimes depending on how combat starts only part of your squad with higher initiative will have a turn before the enemy squad takes theirs. Any units you don’t control but that fight alongside you will have their own turn phase. You can have 4 Rangers and 2 companions, which is one less than Wasteland 2. Also with certain events and what seems like Animal Whisperer (I wouldn’t know as I didn’t use that skill at all) you can exceed this limit with weaker allies. Changes in gameplay primarily lie within how critical successes work. Now you can critically move/attack, critically heal, critical hit, and probably a few more I’m forgetting all together. So what I mean by critical move/attack is that there is a chance for an action to cost no Action Points. Typically this scales with luck. Sometimes you can move a distance that costs 5 Action Points and you’ll see a message that say “Lucky!” and you get all those Action Points back. Critical heals come in two forms. One is when a character uses a health item and gets lucky enough to heal beyond the normal amount of that item. The other is when reviving a downed party member, there’s a chance they won’t get up with an injury and sometimes they’ll come back up with even more health. Critical hits are what we all know, more damage. There’s also a new mechanic called the Strike Meter. Most of the time, your characters have a Strike Rate that with each hit will fill up more and more depending on your Strike Rate. Once it’s filled, you will get a special move with your weapon of choice. Assault rifles, pistols, and snipers typically get a precision attack like VATS that has a bonus to damage and a chance to apply other status effects. SMGs and LMGs spray a flurry over a large cone that barrages enemies with damage. Rocket Launchers get a delayed hit that does about 200% damage if I’m not mistaken. I didn’t use much melee or unarmed combat though. The only one I had using that had an ability that reduced the strike meter for its use. Typically, the unarmed slam Strike Meter move on that character did a slam down type of attack with a small area of effect around it. Character/Party building, stats, whatever else. So we have a bit of changes here, mostly for the better. One notable change is that attributes and skills that are max level have a bonus. Typically let’s say something like Strength 1 gives 1 bonus melee damage, 2 gives 2, and so on. You’d expect 10 at that point to give 10 but in this system you would jump from 9 for 9 to Strength 10 giving 11 or 12. It’s not huge but it makes that extra mile you went feel a bit better. Our attributes, as in Wasteland 2, are named CLASSIC (kinda like SPECIAL) and what they affect are: Coordination. This is our Action Point attribute. The higher it is, the better. You get higher starting Action Points and max Action Points (because sometimes they can carry over between rounds). You also will receive a bonus in status effect resistance Luck. This doesn’t just tip things in your favor in Wasteland 3. It also increases your armor penetration as you increase it. It helps with crits and dodges as well and as you’d expect. Awareness. This attribute will slightly help with your hit chance with weapons, your ranged damage bonus, and how well you can spot traps and hidden caches of loot and whatnot. Strength. Surprisingly, to a Fallout fan at least, this attribute isn’t very useful for even gun wielders because guns rarely, if ever, have a strength requirement. This will increase your melee bonus damage and allow you to wear heavier and better armor as well as increasing your constitution. So it’s not useless outside of melee but it diminishes the need for ranged characters to have it. Staying far away and having frontline characters can often mitigate the need for more health and better armor for everyone. Speed. This stat is straight forward. It increases how far you can move per 1 AP usage and helps increase evasion which is nice. Intelligence. Another stat that helps increase crit chance and crit multipliers. It’s great for snipers and medics as it increases both of their crit chances for the actions they often take. Charisma. Charisma usually is a dump stat in these post-apocalyptic games. And it’s almost one here. If you want to use the Strike Meter more often, this is a great stat to increase for that. It also helps boost the Leadership skill’s effectiveness and range which is nice. The more you have here, the faster you’ll level up too. Quirks, which are essentially this game’s traits, still kind of suck. Most of them suck. There’s a few that are fun. I used Circus Freak for a speed boost and status resist for two of my characters. The downside was -10% to evasion and a lower detection time for stealth. Which mostly never mattered. The other one I used was Sadomasochist for my sniper so they would deal 33% more damage but also take 33% more damage. Good trade off for the person the furthest away from the meat of the action. Skills and perks are done a bit differently. Perks require you to be a certain level in that skill and you can see a roadmap of the skills you’ve invested in for your perks. I’m not going to also list every skill in the game but outside of combat focused ones nothing feels entirely required. I skipped out on Toaster Repair and Animal Whisperer entirely. Notably some skills have been merged or deleted. Energy Weapons is now Weird Science which I used on my SMG Tech character fairly well and he used SMGs for human combatants and his SMG-like Energy Weapon for Robots. Though some perks really care about which class of gun is being used so be aware of trying to utilize perks that won’t work for other weapons. Smart Ass is gone. It makes sense, we have 3 things that could cover this skill, Nerd Stuff, Weird Science, and Intelligence. Automatic weapons are now covering both SMGs and Assault Rifles but the perks here often care about which one you are preferring. Explosives will cover rocket launchers and disarming landmines. Small Arms now covers pistols and shotguns and is similar to Automatic Weapons where they have some specific perks to one or the other but also some good universal perks. Weaponsmithing, now called Weapon Modding also is now accompanied with a sister skill called Armor Modding. There’s a few neat perks here but what I did was to create a Ranger that specialized in these two and pulled them out when needed to customize my gear and never brought them along for the ride. I did a similar thing with Barter. Barter has some overpowered perks when it comes to economy so having a maxed out Barter character early that you didn’t have to worry about in combat was amazing. Just pull them out, head to your armory and just sell all your junk and make way more than you’d expect to. Perks are all around pretty good, some are duds or just very niche. One of my favorites that often had a good impact was Stormer in Auto Weapons. If you’re using a SMG and move at least 5 spaces, your next attack is free. Helps close gaps and not lose an attack. Art Style/Presentation The art style is fine, but the character models still kind of suck. Though I will say, I love the quasi-first person conversations where the person you speak to moves around. Very reminiscent of talking heads in Fallout. I just wish there were more and some of them needed to be shaped up a bit better. Overall though, models still are lackluster but not nearly as awful as Wasteland 2’s. Some of the comic bits are ridiculous looking but overall the tone and look of the game is good. Also, the music covers of older songs done by new people was awesome. I could jam to some of those still. Conclusion Game’s pretty good. Wasteland 2 might have disappointed some folks but I found it to be an okay experience. And Wasteland 3 is just improvements upon improvements of that game. If you like cRPGs and don’t mind having an entire squad in them, this game is worth it. If you think your squad will cover too many skills, it likely won’t. I used that cheesy tactic with the Barter and Weapon and Armor modding skills and still didn’t even have points in Survival, Toaster, Repair or Animal Whisperer. And the few times I used Brawling or Melee Weapons was because I picked up a character who already has specialized in it. One which I abandoned towards the end due to a narrative choice and the other I picked up from base to finish the game out with. The game has more choices than you’d think in it too. I was pleasantly surprised overall. One final note, the only performance issue I noticed: Near the end of the game some areas were lagging and dropping framerate like crazy. It got so unplayable at points just trying to move somewhere else. I moved half of my save files to another spot on the computer and that seemed to fix the issue. And the load zones take about 20-30 seconds to load on my HDD which made me wish I had installed it on my SSD. Otherwise, it performed well.