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Codex Review RPG Codex Review: Wasteland 3

Infinitron

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Codex Year of the Donut Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
Tags: inXile Entertainment; Wasteland 3

Wasteland 3 must be one of the more forgettable GOTYs in the annals of the Codex. Released in late 2020 after nearly four years in development, it turned out to be the closest thing we had to an all-around decent RPG in a year of niche titles and cyberpunk disappointment. But the game itself sparked remarkably little discussion. Maybe it was ignored by users who'd been burnt by inXile's previous offerings, or maybe there just wasn't all that much to say about it. Once again, we have our esteemed social media representative Roguey to thank for finally picking up the task of reviewing it. He finds Wasteland 3 to be a streamlined but generally solid title, which clearly benefited from its lengthy development and an additional year of patching. Here's an excerpt from his review:

The first difference you'll notice from Wasteland 2 is that it takes a page from Divinity: Original Sin and requires you to make or take just two rangers at the start. There's a greater focus on accessibility and the ability to immediately jump in and start playing: there are five groups of pre-made rangers, and they all come with unique background bonuses and utility items that no custom-made ranger can acquire to compensate for their non-powergamed attribute and skill allocation. In addition to this, they also have a few unique voiced banters with each other, though you'll hear them all in the early areas. Once you're past the tutorial, you can make or take two more rangers from a different and larger pool and/or fill up your roster with companions for a total of six; however, you must always have at least two rangers in the party and can have no more than four. Some purists may balk, but I was grateful I could start playing immediately and learn how I wanted to build my future characters through experiencing the game's content as opposed to making decisions for four different characters at the start with no context other than my previous experience with RPGs.

Wasteland 3's CLASSIC attribute system has also been modified from its predecessor. In Wasteland 2, the system encouraged only two kinds of builds: a useless-or-less-useful-in-combat charismatic skillmaster and a character who puts a roughly equal investment into attributes that maximize initiative, action points, and skill points. The initiative system that gave individual characters multiple combat turns in comparison to their opponents excessively rewarded high-initiative builds and excessively punished low-initiative builds; that's been replaced with the characters on each side going at once, though occasionally you may get lucky and receive a free use of action points. Action points themselves, while still important, aren't absolutely necessary to max out on every character; there are incentives to put those points elsewhere. Putting points into intelligence gives you one skill point per level of intelligence instead of modifying the number of points you get per level. Overall, viable build variety with regard to attributes has noticeably improved.

The skill system has been streamlined; the era of multiple container-unlocking skills is over. Lockpicking and Safecracking are now just Lockpicking, Handguns and Shotguns have been folded into Small Arms, Assault Rifles and Submachine Guns form Automatic Weapons, Bladed and Blunt Weapons are now Melee, Field Medic and Surgeon have been combined into First Aid (and it's no longer a requirement for reviving downed rangers), and Alarm Disarming and Perception have become Sneaky Shit. Brute Force is gone; now if you can't be bothered to invest in Lockpicking but still want to open a locked door, just attack it normally. The Smart Ass talking skill is also gone. They did add Armor Modding as a skill to complement Weapon Modding, but that's the only new one. Even with the fewer number of skills, a perfectly-optimized party won't be able to max out everything by the endgame; at least four skills won't be able to hit those final numbers (at least as far as the base game experience curve goes).

Additionally, annoyances like skill timers, chance-based skill checks, critical failures, and gun jamming are gone. I could take or leave the last two, but I don't miss the first two at all. Using a skill isn't quite instantaneous, but it's fast enough, and not having to keep clicking on an object until you succeed or critically fail is a welcome relief.

The inclusion of quirks and perks from the Director's Cut of Wasteland 2 has been carried over, and they've also added backgrounds that provide a small bonus. There are some good, great, and lousy options all around, so it's a pretty typical assortment for an RPG. With knowledge of the system, you can synergize all three to excel at a given role, so there's a decent amount of options here for the powergamers.

Inventory is now shared by the entire party and items no longer have weight, so encumbrance is no longer a factor. However, there are strength requirements to wear the strongest kinds of armor without penalty. While you can look at the inventory during combat, you can't equip anything you didn't have in your weapon and quick slots when combat started, so things aren't totally balanced in your favor.

Crafting was added in one of the patches. It saves you the trouble of having to backtrack to a store if you run out of a particular kind of consumable or ammo while out in the field as long as you meet the particular skill prerequisites. It's also used for making unique joke items that are worth a bit more than standard junk items, weapon and armor mods you absolutely want to have, and unique weapons, including final upgrades for the best weapons in the game. I'm usually not one for crafting, but I liked having it here. The presentation for weapon and armor mods could have been better though; there are roughly two dozen armor mods and fifty weapon mods and they're listed in alphabetical order instead of organized by type and rank. As a result, it's irritating to scroll through them while holding shift to look at their stats to find what you want.

[...] If "reactivity and choice" was the mantra for Wasteland 2, then Wasteland 3 adds "transparency and accessibility" as another design pillar. inXile pulled off a heavily-reactive turn-based, party-based RPG that looks and sounds slick and is largely frustration-free when it comes to starting and playing. They re-examined their systems and modified them without throwing out the baby with the bathwater, in contrast to other studios who have tried to do the same in the past. Sure, it's not the second coming of Jagged Alliance 2, and no, it's not a party-based Fallout, but it's my favorite Wasteland game. Its status as the 2020 RPG Codex Game of the Year is well-deserved.​

Read the full article: RPG Codex Review: Wasteland 3
 

jackofshadows

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I have lesser opinion on the subj but a nice read regardless, cheers.

The fact they've developed this with co-op in mind have hurt the result quite a bit.
 
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Give me Jodie wife! Give me cute American YEEHAW nonsense wife!
4PlTWYt.png
 

KeighnMcDeath

RPG Codex Boomer
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I'm annoyed shotguns are lumped in with small arms.

BOOMSTICKS ALWAYS DESERVE THEIR OWN CATEGORY! ALWAYS!
 

Roguey

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Credit for the custom portaits I used goes to Noor Bin Ladin and Maria Butina of course.

How long will we have to wait for the Wasteland 3 review?.

When Roxor's not interested, the odds of getting a review are shaky. I own Wasteland 3, but I don't have a PC capable of playing it, nor would I even want to until it's been thoroughly patched.

Promises Made, Promises Kept.

Why are filthy casuls allowed to write reviews for such hardcore and highly intellectual elites on the Codex?

Because I wanted to play with the intended balance. Going by https://wasteland.fandom.com/wiki/Wasteland_3_difficulty_levels when you play on hard, enemies get a 35% health bonus and a 50% damage bonus rather than playing by the rules.

I'll get around to playing Troubleshooter eventually. I don't doubt it will be a more demanding tactical experience.

Give me Jodie wife! Give me cute American YEEHAW nonsense wife!
She's fine, but I preferred Lucia's voice and personality.
 

OSK

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Codex 2012 Codex 2013 Codex 2014 PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Make the Codex Great Again! Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
I largely agree with the review. Wasteland 3 is a solid game. It's not going to be on anyone's top 10 lists, but it's an improvement on Wasteland 2 and I hope Wasteland 4 is even better.

Give me Jodie wife! Give me cute American YEEHAW nonsense wife!
She's fine, but I preferred Lucia's voice and personality.

Jodie is boring. Lucia is probably the best companion in terms of story. I think she's the only one with actual character growth, but I haven't experienced all the companions.
 
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She's fine, but I preferred Lucia's voice and personality.
Thank you Roguey anon! Good strong friend anon! I do love you anon! I do!

Jodie is boring. Lucia is probably the best companion in terms of story. I think she's the only one with actual character growth, but I haven't experienced all the companions.
Give me cute Lucia wife! Give me cute American ROOTIN TOOTIN nonsense wife!
 

FriendlyMerchant

Guest
I wish there was another ending for Liberty. Like one where you use some stolen mind control tech from the recently slaughtered communist robots (which you killed so that Mr. President can have a new body without worrying about communist subversion) to make her your personal sex slave.
 

Brickfrog

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I wish there was another ending for Liberty. Like one where you use some stolen mind control tech from the recently slaughtered communist robots (which you killed so that Mr. President can have a new body without worrying about communist subversion) to make her your personal sex slave.
Wrong hemisphere pal
 

gurugeorge

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Strap Yourselves In
'tis a fine review, but I found that the more I played WL3 the less I liked it, and I haven't been able to drag it to the finish line.

It's less of an RPG, to my mind, than WL2. When I played WL2 I was more immersed in the virtual world, in the feeling of being a desert ranger struggling against adversity; with this game I felt the gameplay was alright, but I didn't feel very engaged in the story.

To take one little example, the difference between fail/win threshold and percentage on lockpicking, etc. Ostensibly, it seems like the fail/win is "no-nonsense gameplay." But actually the gestalt of hearing the timer go down, wondering if you'll get the percentage, is more immersive.

Sometimes (not always but sometimes), apparent "clunkiness" is part of an experience that's missing (but you don't realize it's missing) when it's streamlined out.

It just goes to where the balance point should be between the "soft" aspects of the game (the story, characterization, art, music, fx, the presentation of the gestalt of a virtual world and the encouragement of immersion therein) vs the "hard" aspects of the game (the gameplay, the puzzle, the challenge, the dopamine hit, etc.). While both are obviously important and part of the "thing" of videogames, my leaning is more towards the former, so I like WL2 more.
 

Ryzer

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The skill system has been streamlined; the era of multiple container-unlocking skills is over. Lockpicking and Safecracking are now just Lockpicking, Handguns and Shotguns have been folded into Small Arms, Assault Rifles and Submachine Guns form Automatic Weapons, Bladed and Blunt Weapons are now Melee, Field Medic and Surgeon have been combined into First Aid (and it's no longer a requirement for reviving downed rangers), and Alarm Disarming and Perception have become Sneaky Shit. Brute Force is gone; now if you can't be bothered to invest in Lockpicking but still want to open a locked door, just attack it normally. The Smart Ass talking skill is also gone
Sounds like decline to me.
 

Roguey

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Sounds like decline to me.

No functionality has been lost. Didn't need a bunch of skills to cover extremely-specific things; it's an unnecessary barrier-to-entry and a balance-headache for developers who care about balance (which inXile clearly does; they're just not full Sawyer about it).
 
Self-Ejected

Zizka

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A well written review. Thank you!

Are you guys paid to write reviews for the website or is it volunteer work?

Thanks!
 

KeighnMcDeath

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Could just name safecracking+lockpicking = Security (i'd add on trap disarming but tbh, I don't know if disarming traps is in WL3). I only recently picked it up.

lessee.... wiki

ah Explosives & Sneaky Shit. I think just shotguns has me annoyed.
 

Bah

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I wish there was another ending for Liberty. Like one where you use some stolen mind control tech from the recently slaughtered communist robots (which you killed so that Mr. President can have a new body without worrying about communist subversion) to make her your personal sex slave.
Wrong hemisphere pal

Not really. It's a very jewish point of view.
 

FriendlyMerchant

Guest
Yeah, explosives disarms mines, sneaky shit disarms alarms. But you can also just shoot mines from a safe distance at the expense of missing out on all that xp, same as Wasteland 2.

But given that you have control over your party setup almost from the start, there seems to be no reason to forego that xp.
 

Atlet

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I largely agree with the review. Wasteland 3 is a solid game. It's not going to be on anyone's top 10 lists, but it's an improvement on Wasteland 2 and I hope Wasteland 4 is even better.

Give me Jodie wife! Give me cute American YEEHAW nonsense wife!
She's fine, but I preferred Lucia's voice and personality.

Jodie is boring. Lucia is probably the best companion in terms of story. I think she's the only one with actual character growth, but I haven't experienced all the companions.

Is Wasteland 4 confirmed?

PS: good read, thanks for the review rougey
 

Roguey

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But given that you have control over your party setup almost from the start, there seems to be no reason to forego that xp.

The xp only applies to one-character, so it's not essential if you'd rather have another assortment of skills. You get slightly faster leveling and 1-2 extra levels of it by the end (this character of mine also had toaster repair).

Is Wasteland 4 confirmed?

Right now inXile seems to be all-in on not-Arcanum 3.
 

Grunker

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Nice review Roguey, even if I disagree with most of the conclusions.
 
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