Games

Wasteland 3 a contender for role-playing game of the year

Wasteland, released in 1988, launched the post-apocalyptic role-playing game (RPG) genre that spawned spiritual successors such as Fallout and The Last Of Us.

Its sequel, Wasteland 2, took 27 years to arrive. Thankfully, we had to wait just five years for Wasteland 3.

Picking up from the events of Wasteland 2, Wasteland 3 continues the story of the Desert Rangers, a group of survivalists who help survivors and maintain order in a post-nuclear war United States.

After an ambush, you are the sole survivor in a team of Desert Rangers dispatched to make contact with the Patriarch, ruler of Colorado.

The Patriarch has offered the Desert Rangers plenty of resources and supplies to rebuild their Arizona base in return for help with some family problems.

Basically, he wants you to capture his three children - each of whom has his or her own agenda, but who are all looking to usurp the Patriarch as the regional leader.

The Desert Rangers soon find themselves entangled in a web of deceit, betrayal and twists, with many factions to engage in the freezing Colorado wastelands.

But first, you need to build up your base by recruiting non-player characters (NPCs), such as a doctor to take care of the medical bay, a quartermaster to stock the armoury and other personnel to manage the mess hall, garage and brig.

Thus, you start by doing the easier quests to get you up to speed with the gameplay. As you get stronger, you can recruit more members for your squad.

You can have up to six members (including yourself) in your squad at any one time. I highly recommend mixing characters with different skill sets - such as medic, barter, charisma and computer hacking - into your active squad.

This is because you have a higher chance of finishing your quests through charm or force and coming out on top of battles through ranged or melee attacks.

I am happy to have "animal whisperer" as a skill, as it allows me to recruit a cat named Major Tomcat, which turns out to be amazingly powerful during combat.

There are plenty of armour and weapons to collect, either by looting downed enemies or buying from shops in the towns you visit.

Like its predecessor, Wasteland 3 is played via a third-person isometric view with turn-based combat gameplay.

  • FOR

    •Wonderful writing and gripping story

    •Many moral choices to make

    •Intuitive turn-based combat

    •Addictive gameplay

    AGAINST

    •Tried-and-tested formula

    •Slow loading times

    TECH SPECS

    PRICE: From $49 (PC, version tested; PS4, Xbox One)

    GENRE: Role-playing game

    RATING: 9.5/10

Each squad member has a certain number of action points, which are needed for actions such as moving and firing a weapon. You have to plan properly during battle.

To move between major cities, you have to travel in an armoured vehicle called Kodiak. Remember to upgrade it, as the upgrades might come in handy during random encounters as you traverse the wastelands.

All of the locations in Colorado are beautifully crafted and unique - you will find yourself taking time to explore each town and city.

Talk to NPCs to get information and new quests - something which I enjoy as the voice actors have done a great job of breathing life into their characters.

Furthermore, it is through these interactions that you are able to move the gripping story forward and affect its final outcome. There are times when I actually pause the game and ponder what I should say or do next.

For instance, I mull over whether I should tip off the folks in a town about an impending attack or join the attack myself - a choice that would yield much better returns in terms of resources. Such dilemmas are aplenty.

One quibble I have with the game is the long loading time - up to 30 seconds - when entering new areas. But maybe this time is for you to think about your choices.

Another issue I have is that while the story is engaging, it is packed with cliches such as cannibals and crazy clowns, which are often found in post-apocalyptic literature.

However, the title easily provides at least 40 hours of gameplay. And if you are the kind who likes to finish every side-quest, you might be looking at 60 hours or more of fun. Moreover, you can always replay with different choices to see what the final outcome will be.

In short, Wasteland 3 is the best RPG of the year so far.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 16, 2020, with the headline 'Wasteland 3 a contender for role-playing game of the year'. Print Edition | Subscribe