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Wasteland 3 Fig Update #10: On Combat & Encounter Design

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Wasteland 3 Fig Update #10: On Combat & Encounter Design

Game News - posted by Bubbles on Fri 28 October 2016, 18:21:08

Tags: Chris Keenan; inXile Entertainment; Wasteland 3

Today, Chris Keenan reveals that they are trying to make Wasteland 3's combat better than Wasteland 2's. The planned new features include input queuing and the ability for new enemies to join the battle in the middle of combat. It's a brave new world out there.

Chris here. We've had tons of requests from you asking for clarification on certain aspects of gameplay. What's new in Wasteland 3? What will change? How are various features going to work this time around? As we've discussed in the Fig campaign text, our goal is to take all the best things we loved about Wasteland 2 and improve on them, while rethinking systems that we felt were lacking.

We’re currently in the early pre-production period, and many of those answers are likely to change and evolve over time as we prototype, playtest, and iterate. So, it's a bit too early for us to launch into detailed breakdowns of everything we want to do on the game. However, what I'd like to do today is give you a sort of birds-eye look at what we're hoping to accomplish with the combat system in Wasteland 3.

Combat has always been a huge part of the Wasteland franchise, as it's where so many of your important character-building decisions get realized. With Wasteland 2, we had a wide variety of enemy types and encounter areas to play with. In the Director's Cut, we expanded combat to include extra strategic options like Precision Strikes, which gave you more options to affect the battlefield. On a high level, Wasteland 3's combat will be created in the same vein; it will be turn-based, party-based, and will offer a wide range of tactical choices, like cover and verticality.

However, the keen-eyed among you likely saw that we mentioned a "revamped, more fluid action system". “So…what the hell is that all about?”, you ask. Well, let me tell you.

In a turn-based combat system, sometimes you can get bogged down waiting. You as a player might have an understanding of what you want to do before the system allows you to do it. This can lead to the game feeling a bit sluggish or slow. Furthermore, Wasteland 3 will offer a multiplayer mode, and if you have ever played turn-based games in multiplayer, such as Civilization, you likely know that adding a buddy can add more downtime.

Consequently, a focal point of the combat design team is to find the unnecessary wait times and see what we can do to reduce them. Why be forced to wait for my ranger to reach their final destination (which then unlocks the input) before I can move my next ranger in the turn order? Input queuing, where your control inputs aren't locked out while animations are playing, is one solution we are exploring that will allow the dance of combat to play out more on your time, rather than making you wait for our system to catch up.

This focus on a revamped action system also applies to the types of tactical options you will have in the game. Cover-based shooting is still going to be a component, but we want to expand your available options for problem-solving. Going back to the Precision Strike system from Wasteland 2: Director's Cut, we're looking at expanding and tweaking some of that functionality into more special attack types and abilities that will let you have more control over the combat zone.

One other aspect of combat we want to amp up is encounter design. While Wasteland 2 had a large number of critters and creatures for you to fight in addition to human enemies and synths, we saw the feedback that combat could feel a little stale, especially in some of our larger and more combat-heavy scenes. We're going to be looking at ways to engineer more varied, unique, interesting, and hand-crafted encounters in Wasteland 3 that have more variety or elements that change throughout - such as an enemy vehicle entering the fray in the middle of the battle.

Speaking of, vehicles will be another layer that makes combat more interesting. While vehicles may not be available in every single encounter, when they are present, they will be a significant factor. We hinted at some of these in our initial Frosty Reception video, where we showed the vehicle's turret being used to attack enemies, or using the doors as cover, but we're hoping to do even more beyond that as well, and there is no lack of creative design ideas already put forth.

Last, we're hoping that environmental interactions in general will be a bigger deal in Wasteland 3. For instance, Colorado’s harsh conditions mean you may not always get the clear line of sight offered in the Arizona deserts. Snowfall or even blizzards are one way your visibility may be affected, and we might even give you some options to manipulate things directly in your favor.

For example: Your enemies are in an entrenched position, and a snowstorm is preventing you from efficiently picking them off at range. A protracted gun battle will spend a lot of ammo, but it is a valid option. If your group is decked out for it, you could also storm their position with melee fighters, overrunning their defenses and taking advantage of the low visibility. Or, if you have a vehicle available, you could keep them pinned with some long-ranged fighters while moving part of your squad quickly behind their line, flanking their positions.​

Of course, after combat comes the loot. Never fear, we’ve read your feedback on that as well. In Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut, we went through our loot tables and completely redid the distribution through the game to cut down on the randomness and to have more hand-placed loot drops with unique weapons. In Wasteland 3, we’ll keep moving in that direction, with more deterministic loot drops where you’ll be finding more unique gear that will be more satisfying to either uncover, or claim from the bodies of your foes.

Overall, I hope this has given you a better idea of what we're looking to achieve with Wasteland 3's combat. By building on the possibilities offered in Wasteland 2’s combat system, keeping the pacing fluid, and expanding the potential tactical options, we're hoping to take the great foundation we built and evolve it in ways you haven't seen before in other RPGs. Until next time!​

The hype has become unbearably strong.

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