We’re coming right out and saying it: Wasteland 3 is an absolutely brilliant title that is getting its fair share of lumps right now due to the frankly buggy state that it launched in.
The tactical RPG has players roaming through Colorado attempting to secure the state so that the Desert Rangers can adequately supply a base in Arizona, which is on the brink of expiry. The weapons feel fantastic, which is a notable rarity coming from other, more popular TRPG’s, such as XCOM.
Your snipers actually hit targets with consistency, and when that 95% shot inevitably fails it doesn’t feel thought-provokingly cheap, it feels like an off roll of the dice that will be rectified by a plethora of tactical decisions that is consistently offered to your team of Rangers.
Other members of your crew (that you can customize entirely, from appearance to specialties) further add to the tactical mayhem; build yourself a leader who takes an assault rifle and sprays down her enemies, or a melee-centric warrior that rushes his enemies with bloodlust and fury (and inevitably falls once or twice) while unlocking a myriad of skills that can shift how you approach (and eliminate) a multitude of obstacles in your way.
Add on special quirks that you can opt for (or ignore) that can offer a large buff while bringing an equally sized debuff, which further can bring about unique tactics and playstyles for players to explore.
Those decisions stretch well beyond combat, as well: how you decide to engage a possible enemy (either by pulling off a shot before they see you, or attempting to talk to them and convince them to throw down their arms) can drastically change your personal game progression, with doors opening and closing based on failures and successes.
Discussions with various NPCs (reliant on your skills) can also help define your inevitable fate within the wasteland blanketed with snow for better and worse, with quests that step beyond the standard mediocrity of ‘go here and kill ten enemies’. Instead you’ll be trying to remove settlers from the precarious throes of bandits massacring communities and hiding within settlements.
On top of all of this comes a first for the franchise, with cooperative play allowing to explore the entirety of the game with a good friend, bringing further replayability and shifting player agency to a multiplayer aspect.
The bones of Wasteland 3 are impressively strong, and likely one of the strongest TRPG’s that we’ve been treated to in recent memory; which brings us to the question of why it’s consistently getting ravaged in reviews by critics and the community, both.
To that, we have the bugs, and they are brutal at the moment: save progress will simply be wiped after dozens of hours in the title. After clearing a new objective, you’ll occasionally head back to your well-established base to find that everything has somehow been reset to the beginning of the game. It happens far more (if not entirely localized) when playing in the cooperative game mode.
We’re greatly humbled by response to Wasteland 3 so far.
We want our console players to know that we’re focusing our development time this weekend on issues that may be blocking progression for some of you. We're looking to get patches out ASAP, likely early next week.
— Wasteland ☢️ (@Wasteland) August 29, 2020
Dialogue trees can become laggy, some menus can become cumbersome to work through (your inventory is unlimited which is a blessing that can become a curse when you’re trying to find specific utility to execute a strategy), and dropping frames becomes a bad habit that Wasteland 3 simply can’t seem to kick. Add on a few circumstances of infinite loading screens and crashes to the desktop, and it turns what should be a statement title into a frustrating slog.
It’s tremendously unfortunate: if these bugs were less prevalent then Wasteland 3 would be setting a new bar for TRPG’s. Developer inXile Entertainment has stated that ironing out these bugs is a top priority for the dev team, who pushed out a large patch yesterday (1.1.0) aiming to fix many problems that have been reported thus far; many issues have persisted through the patch, however. If you have a high threshold of tolerance and a penchant for tactical combat, Wasteland 3 makes a statement that other titles are hard-pressed to match.