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During this year’s PAX East, inXile Entertainment was showcasing a hands-on demo for their upcoming post-apocalyptic RPG Wasteland 3. As a result, we can now read several fresh previews that describe the game in its current state ahead of the planned May 19, 2020 release. Have a look:
Wasteland 3 helps fill a niche genre for several fans. Regrettably the stumbling time-consuming tactical combat mechanics of old-school RPGs seem to be getting in the way of what could be an exhilarating experience. The preview I had was largely combat facing, so I have hope that the full game will offer far more in the way of diplomacy over death. InXile has crafted a captivating world and a few choice mechanics should not impede what will surely be a great iteration in the Wasteland franchise.
Whenever I’ve heard someone discuss the Wasteland games, it’s usually in the context of the series being a spiritual successor to the isometric pre-Bethesda Fallout games. So that’s more or less what I was expecting going into my demo but it never occurred to me that the modern incarnation of that experience might feel more like the recent X-COM games.
The first few instances of combat were all fairly simple, as my four-man squad usually outnumbered the enemy forces. It was fun to position the different characters, some of which who excelled at close-range with shotguns, and others from a distance with automatic weapons. Things got considerably more difficult, though, when I didn't do proper reconnaissance and stumbled into the middle of a battlefield that was swarming with enemy soldiers and turrets
One of the enemies fired at my healer, who had unwisely taken up a position behind some explosive barrels. The shot wound up blowing up about half of the battlefield, harming both my party and the enemy forces. I triumphed, but it was a close fight — only two party members made it without getting knocked out, and those who went down had lasting wounds that would hamper their effectiveness in battle for the next few encounters.
Along with the excellent combat mechanics, the visuals present in Wasteland 3 are also top-notch. The classic top-down view one expects to find in games of this genre is immediately recognizable. The characters all look sharp and I am particularly impressed with how well the lighting looked though the level I played. When I reached the cutscene at the end the boss was thoroughly animated, giving off a bit of an unhinged sort of vibe.
While I really enjoyed my time with Wasteland 3 there are questions for it that can’t be answered in a 20-minute demo. How deep character customization is, or how impactful player choice really is will remain to be seen. However, if these elements are executed as well as my demo mission was players, have a lot to look forward to.