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Those of you interested in inXile Entertainment's upcoming post-apocalyptic RPG Wasteland 3 can now check out a number of fresh previews based on the game's latest alpha version. Some of the previews contain quotes from the game's developers, including inXile's boss Brian Fargo and Wasteland 3's lead level designer Jeremy Kopman where they highlight the benefits of inXile's recent acquisition by Microsoft. Have a look:
Fargo is keen to note that it isn't just the money that has made the difference here – although it certainly helps – it's something more invaluable than raw cash flow alone: InXile has been given time. "It's always the elephant in the room with game development, time. When you speak to the best developers in the industry – whether it is Rockstar or Blizzard – the biggest factor is always time. It's the same across the group, it's always time, time, time," Fargo tells me, explaining that for studios the size of InXile any amount of added time can make a world of difference. "We think a certain way about development and we are run very tightly as a result. We're not looking for three to six extra years, but three to six months. For a group like us, that can be night and day. Six months can make all the difference; six months could be a '10 on Metacritic' change for us."
The small delay to Spring 2020 means that Wasteland 3, a game that would have been otherwise nearing completion, is now seeing some huge quality of life changes being introduced to play that undoubtedly make it better than it was before. "The nice thing for InXile is that Microsoft hasn't changed what game we are making at all," Tim Campbell tells me, Wasteland 3's game director. "That is what some people I think were afraid of when they read about the acquisition. But really, Microsoft is just helping us do what we do but better, right?"
Moving away from the deserts of Nevada and the lush green locales of irradiated California, Wasteland 3 brings the Rangers further east to Colorado. In stark contrast to the previous games, Colorado is a frozen wasteland, making on-foot travel a significant challenge. This time around, the Rangers have a vehicle known as the Kodiak, a heavily armored--and heavily armed--all-terrain tank that can traverse the snow-covered landscape. Wasteland 3 is very much a continuation of what came before. However, the developers spent more time refining the core gameplay and sprucing up the presentation. Gone are the static character portraits and lines of scrolling texts, and in their place are fully voice-acted dialogue sequences, adding some gravitas to each interaction you have with characters in the post-apocalypse.
According to the developers, last year's acquisition from Microsoft created a massive windfall of resources for their project. Speaking with lead level designer Jeremy Kopman, he described what happened when the game's budget had suddenly increased threefold.
The allure of the Wasteland franchise has always been character customization, with a very deep RPG system, that is reminiscent of the old Fallout games. This extends its life by providing a reason to play again and again. With so many different builds possible, you can really experience the game a different way with a different setup, and when the gameplay and story telling is good you really want to.
Dialogue options play a huge role in Wasteland 3, and players will have a multitude of ways they can respond to various scenarios. This goes hand and hand with the above, as there are many avenues you can take to resolve quests, and you will not be able to experience but a fraction of them unless you play through a few times. This is because you won’t meet the requirements for many dialogue options, and will need a differently skilled character in order to use them.
Once you reach your destination, the Kodiak actually joins you in battle (or appears in a hub/settlement) too. Let me tell you, it’s an invaluable resource early on in any fight. It’s while fighting that you’ll notice even more of the increase in production values. Character models, terrain, buildings, everything features more detail in Wasteland 3 than in the second title. More than just production values, there’s also been an increase in how user-friendly combat is.
Inventory is one of the major ways that InXile have improved the use of characters and combat. No longer do characters have separate inventories, so you don’t have to faff around passing weapons and equipment from character to character, just to use them. The use of a shared inventory makes ammo and other resource management so much easier and is a much-appreciated change.
In a push to streamline and improve the user-friendliness of other aspects, you no longer need to flick from character to character just to perform an action. Come to a trap and click on it? The character with the ability to disarm it will step forward automatically. The only times it seems that you need to actually select a specific character is for the use of a particular skill, such as charming an animal. Personally, I had a fox follow my party into battle.