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Wasteland 3 Fig Update #32: Backer Alpha Released

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Wasteland 3 Fig Update #32: Backer Alpha Released

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 21 August 2019, 22:01:14

Tags: inXile Entertainment; Wasteland 3

As promised earlier this month, the Wasteland 3 alpha was released to eligible backers today. The game finally has a Steam page now too. You've already seen the new trailer, so here's a batch of screenshots inXile released today:

The Fig update announcing the alpha release isn't too interesting, so I'll post an excerpt from a preview of the game by PCWorld instead. As mentioned earlier, the alpha is a combat-focused scenario pitting a four man ranger team (including Scotchmo!) and their mighty armored truck against the forces of one of the Patriarch's children, the psychotic Vic Buchanan AKA Victory. Your orders are to take him alive, which may require some finesse. The previewer isn't too interested in Wasteland 3's combat aspects, but he does manage to provide some insight into how its mechanics have changed compared to Wasteland 2.

Wasteland 2 veterans will notice some changes immediately. The biggest, and one that sends shock waves through myriad other systems, is a rework of Initiative. In Wasteland 2, Initiative not only governed how early a character would attack, but how often as well. This enabled some extremely broken builds, where one character might attack as many as three times for each turn an enemy received. Meanwhile, slower characters like Scotchmo might fire their weapon one time per fight.

In Wasteland 3, turns function more like a standard tactics game where one side attacks, then the other attacks, and repeat. Gut instinct? It’s a good and necessary change. It’s easier to flank enemies and to coordinate maneuvers between teammates, and probably easier for InXile to balance as well. You can even have one party member attack, then hop over to another, and then go back to the first to attack again. This opens up some neat possibilities.

On the other hand, Wasteland 2’s flexibility—that ability to completely break the game by exploiting the systems given—was in line with its retro leanings and (for me at least) part of the fun. I’m somewhat sad to see it go, at least in this one respect.

Some aspects, I won’t miss as much. Characters now share an inventory, which is a welcome change. No more need to allocate ammo or health packs to each character individually, as they’ll all draw from the same pool. And skill checks are now semi-automatic. There’s no need to right-click a door, then tell someone to unlock it. If it’s locked, the Ranger with the highest lockpicking skill will automatically move to the door and try to get it open.

Something is lost in the simplification, no doubt. I don’t know if it’s something necessary though. Wasteland 3 feels less like a time capsule from 20 years ago, and in a way that’s a shame. It’s more playable though, and if we agree that its strongest suit is the writing? Then there’s no real need to lament the loss of the more fiddly mechanics.

Plus, it still takes the opportunity to trip you up when it can. There was a great moment midway through the demo where the path led through a cage full of bears. I carefully moved my squad away from the gate, except Scotchmo and his trusty shotgun. The plan? Spring the gate, and then have Scotchmo hit them right between the eyes. I opened the gate and…

I’d forgotten to reload Scotchmo’s shotgun after the last encounter. Oops.

Scotchmo was pretty good-natured as he fumbled a few shells into the shotgun, and we came out of it relatively unscathed. Still, it’s great to see certain elements of Wasteland 2 have carried over intact. This is still a crunchy CRPG at heart, even if some of the rough edges have been smoothed over.
Also published today were two additional previews of Wasteland 3 at Polygon and Paste Magazine, plus an interview with inXile designer Tim Campbell over at Gamereactor. The game's alpha tiers had several thousand backers back in 2016, so there should be a steady stream of gameplay videos on YouTube and Twitch. It looks pretty decent - perhaps inXile should consider offering the alpha for sale again on their preorder site.

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