The much-anticipated RPG Wasteland 3 arrives this month. STACK caught up with lead designer at developer InXile, David Rogers, to find out more about the game.
What sort of weight of expectation have you felt in developing a sequel to such a popular – and enduring – franchise?
What I feel is a lot of anticipation. It really feels like our fans are rooting for us and generally trust us to make something great. The feedback from our early demos was direct, but also generally very positive. We watched streamers have a blast with our beta, and it helps us know that we’re on the right track as we’re pushing hard to polish Wasteland 3 as much as we can leading up to its release on August 28! In general, I see a lot of really positive comments about how people loved Wasteland 2 and trust us to deliver something special. Sure, that’s pressure I suppose, but it’s basically the best kind of pressure you can be under.
Can you please tell us more about the story that we’ll experience in Wasteland 3?
Wasteland 3 is a massive game, somehow bigger than even we expected it to be, so I’ll do my best to give a quick spoiler free rundown of the story, and also maybe touch on something we haven’t revealed…
For people who beat Wasteland 2, they know that Arizona has seen better days and could really use some help. The desert rangers set off for Colorado where the Patriarch of Colorado has offered them a deal of a lifetime. Clean up a little insurgent power struggle in his kingdom in exchange for enough food and supplies to get Arizona back on its feet again. The beautiful thing is that, from there, it’s up to you on what you to do from there. The Patriarch wants you to bring his children to heel, but Colorado is a powder keg, and the Rangers are basically holding a lit match. You can work with the Patriarch or subvert him at every turn. You can try to free Colorado or leave it in the firm and stable hands of a dictator. Even that description isn’t doing it justice, but you can do whatever you want in the wasteland and… well… something will happen!
During one of my playthroughs our narrative director, Matt, made a few “suggestions” as we played together that resulted in not only my favourite weapons merchant getting blown up by a landmine, but the entire Bizarre (basically the Thunderdome of shopping malls) burned to the ground and overrun with murder-clowns. That’s what I mean when I say ‘Well… something will happen’. Your choices (and mistakes), whatever they are, will result in the world reacting and changing.
What do you think is the coolest new thing for players to look forward to from this latest iteration of Wasteland?
That’s tough. I love our combat system, I think the character progression is really solid, and the items are fun to use, the cyborg mods add a ton of fun gameplay, and the new abilities and Perks add a ton of variety to your builds. I honestly think the number one best thing is the fact that Wasteland 3 is fully voiced. Not only is the writing superb, the voice acting is fantastic, and it really brings the wasteland to life. I mean, I thought Wasteland 2 was immersive, but Wasteland 3 really takes it to the next level in terms of storytelling and immersion. The funny bits are funnier and the emotionally fraught scenes are so much more impactful thanks to our awesome cast of voice actors.
We believe that the player gets to make several game-changing choices in Wasteland 3, can you please expand upon this?
We really let the player do whatever they want. On principal we only throw up a game over screen when your party wipes. There are no narrative dead ends and no choices you aren’t allowed to make. All paths somehow lead to an ending. If you open fire in the middle of the Patriarch’s palace at the very start of the game and survive somehow, that’s a legitimate ending that recognises you did that.
There are also whole zones you can just wipe off the map, quest givers can be killed or disappeared, and the game just keeps chugging along. Your choices matter, they’re permanent, and you have to live with them (unless you reload, of course). There are a lot of endings and we really do our best to watch what you’re doing and pay off as many of your choices as we can. It’s almost a contest between the player and the designers to think up all the possible things you could screw with the story and we then make that a legitimate outcome.
Which adversary would you say is most to be feared in Wasteland 3?
One obvious answer is the Scorpitron. It’s big, it’s got flamethrowers, gatling guns, rockets and big stompy legs. Not to mention it’s a two-story robotic scorpion! Statistically it’s pretty overwhelming, so you’ll really need to use every trick in the book to take it down. I suggest EMP grenades, smoke grenades, laser turrets and every energy weapon you can get your hands on.
When it comes to sheer combat prowess, I’d also say Fishlips (a Companion you can recruit into your Ranger squad if you make the right choices…) rivals the Scorpitron in raw power. You saw him in one of our first Fig backer campaign videos. He’s the leader of the Hard-Heads and when he gets swinging with his axe, he has a tendency to critically hit. It’s almost impossible for a character to stand up to him for a full turn in hand to hand combat unless a LOT of debuffs are in play.
Narratively, the most dangerous person in the wasteland has got to be Liberty Buchanan, the Patriarch’s daughter. She’s bloody and ruthless and willing to do anything to see her father’s work burn to the ground.
But perhaps the most dangerous NPC of all is Poultron…
With multiplayer a newcomer to the franchise, what will it entail?
We’ve been playing a ton of co-op here leading up to release. It’s SO much fun to share the story with a friend. We put a ton of effort into the single player campaign and our primary mission when creating multiplayer was simply making that experience something you could share and collaborate on with a friend. Both of you are in it together, solving problems as a team and living with each other’s mistakes. There’s a real simple joy in roleplaying with a friend. Helping one another overcome challenges with each of your Ranger’s unique skills.
We’re also taking special care to make sure that single player saves and multiplayer saves are identical. Any game can become a multiplayer game and then revert back to a single player game. You could log on with a friend so he can show you how to get past a certain section and then you can play solo again, or two players could take a multi-player game and then split it off into two single player games to explore different endings.
What do you most hope players will gain from the Wasteland 3 experience?
It’s a super simple answer, but to have fun. I feel like that’s what we’re all in it for. I hope Wasteland 3 gives people 50 or maybe even 80 hours-worth of joy and escapism. If you like story, we’ve got that for days (literally). If you like strategy combat and RPG customization, I’ve got you covered there. Our favourite thing to do is watch players stream our games and enjoy themselves.
How accessible would you say Wasteland 3 is for newcomers to turn-based RPG games?
I think it’s fairly straightforward. As long as you aren’t playing on one of the harder difficulties there’s a lot of opt-in combat complexity. Ability combo’ing, ability use, and even final actions aren’t something you HAVE to use to succeed, particularly on Rookie (easy). You can also avoid a ton of combat through narrative exploration. With the right skill checks and some clever thinking, you’d be surprised how much combat is actually avoidable in Wasteland 3.
Are you prepared to hint at any special Easter eggs or other hidden goodies that players should keep an eye out for?
I already did. Muahahaha!
Wasteland 3 releases on PS4 and Xbox One on August 28.