Saturday, 29 August 2020

WASTELAND 3: OVERVIEW

 

WASTELAND 3 OVERVIEW

"An unshakable classic of post-nuclear RPGs" - as a rule, it is with these words that any material on the topic of the Fallout series that does not need to be presented begins. And although the legend rightfully deserved this attitude, the true pioneer in the niche (but very popular among indie developers) genre was a completely different game - the legendary Wasteland. They recall her relatively rarely, but then the occasion turned up by itself - just the other day the premiere of the third chapter of the bearded series will take place. The premiere is undoubtedly long-awaited but has inXile Entertainment managed to keep the quality bar of the eminent original and it's more than a worthy sequel?

Wasteland Road

Desolate cities, dead trees, nervously clicking a Geiger counter in a backpack. Humanity loves scary tales - horror stories about the collapse of civilization, the end of the world after the fall of nuclear bombs. Who knows what is so alluring in depressive images of devastation and collapse, but the entertainment industry comes back to them again and again - and the public, in turn, is only happy to look at the aftermath of the Day of Judgment. Or, if we are talking about video games, even participate in them. And how did interactive post-apocalypticism begin? The answer is generally obvious given the topic of the material.

Technically, of course, the original Wasteland can hardly be called anything breakthrough: an RPG with world travel and control of a whole batch of characters was invented long before the brainchild of Brian Fargo(Brian Fargo), the graphics and in the 80s no one would have found impressive, and the gameplay, despite being sensible, in itself was far from ideal.

However, the then novelty found an indisputable trump card - a delightfully gloomy setting that combines the features of Mad Max, The Terminator, and black comedies by the Monty Python group. Is it trite? By today's standards - but not by the standards of the late 80s clones of The Bard's Tale and Wizardry. While other studios painstakingly drew impressive fantasy or sci-fi sets (or all at once, as was the case in early Ultima ), the Interplay Productions team created a fundamentally different world: a world in which the cold war burned the entire planet with nuclear fire. And the people liked such a cynical (but at the same time, certainly not serious) view of the future of the Earth.

Wasteland 3 game review

Fargo's brainchild over time, from just a successful release, smoothly passed into the category of one hundred percent classic, and imitation was not long in coming. So, Electronic Arts tried to reproduce the formula in the relatively unsuccessful Fountain of Dreams, and the Japanese - what a coincidence - began to make a post-apocalyptic JRPG series Metal Max for the regional market. However, the most important successor for the industry was, of course, the Fallout cycle, which has changed both genre and perspective several times in more than 20 years of existence but has never parted with its main attribute - the universe of the victorious radioactive mushroom.

WASTELAND 3 Game OVERVIEW

Ironically, Wasteland launched the post-nuclear RPG trend for many years she remained in splendid isolation - in the 90s, Fargo was engaged in other matters, and there was no talk of a full continuation of the speech for almost 20 years. Only after the onset of the new millennium, the designer suddenly wanted to return to his roots and even bought the IP rights from Konami. Alas, for a number of unreported reasons, this case stalled right up to 2012.

The ice broke only with the rise of the Kickstarter platform: the crowdfunding boom easily allowed inXile Entertainment to raise money for the production of a sequel. Which, surprisingly, did not disappoint. Generally. Except for the abundance of bugs and problems with the balance on the release - they (and other roughnesses) were fixed in the updated version with the subtitle Director's Cut.

And now, after another six years of waiting and one fundraising campaign (this time through the Fig website), the saga got to the third chapter. From trailers and screenshots, it seems as if there are few fresh ideas in it: snow instead of desert, guns, redrawn (and, obviously, more console) interface. But no, inXile has released more than just an addition with the number 3 in the title. Trikvel is a curious mutation of the cult series, which has both quite reasonable and rather strange changes.

Warm welcome

A few years after the events of Wasteland 2, things are still not going well for the Arizona Rangers. The base is destroyed, supplies are running out, bandits are pressing - just a little more, and the last island of justice in the Wasteland will drown in blood. Salvation comes from where no one expected - from snowy Colorado. The local leader, a certain Patriarch, needs help and is ready to provide the warrior with all the necessary resources if they help him deal with a couple of family problems. No choice.

Dusty work turns out to be much more difficult and dangerous than it seems. Before the convoy with dozens of soldiers reaches its destination, it is attacked on a frozen lake - out of dozens of soldiers, only a few wounded people reach the shore (or ice floes). Now the fate of the two states rests on their weary shoulders. If, of course, they survive this merry night.

A new post-apocalyptic adventure, unlike the previous two, begins harshly - in the thick of things, in the middle of a battle with a gang of crazy raiders. No "tutorials" on management, no safe zones to get acquainted with the interface: take a rifle (pistol, shotgun, sniper) and defend your position while the senior in rank repairs the armored car. Everyone around is dying, leaving behind red blots on the slightly cracked ice, something explodes behind the scenes, a hefty four-legged robot turns colleagues into a sieve with one long burst from a machine gun ... In a word, a spectacular start. But even a couple of moves do not pass, as a friendly cannon from the notorious armored personnel carrier accidentally shoots in the wrong direction, instantly interrupting the lives of party members and sending the viewer to the main menu. Game Over. For some reason, there is no autosave after character generation. Welcome.

The above (or rather, the sudden death without leaving the prologue) is pure coincidence, a coincidence that "adorned" the beginning of the campaign, nothing more. But damn it, it's hard to imagine a better start for a CRPG like this.

Wasteland 3 is a turn-based RPG with an isometric perspective. The gamer takes control of a squad of rangers (up to six people maximum) and travels across snow-covered Colorado in search of problems on his head. Although the warriors have the main task, no one bothers to postpone its implementation on the back burner and engage inside matters - for example, robbing houses, helping the disadvantaged, and shooting demented robots in the vast abandoned bases.

"Shooting", however, is said a little loudly - rarely any skirmish is resolved by a couple of bursts. Battles in Wasteland take place in turn-based mode, as in the last parts of XCOM and the recent Gears Tactics, and tend to drag on for 5-10 minutes, depending on equipment and luck.

As soon as a fight begins, the surrounding space is enveloped in a comfortable net and the fate of everyone around begins to command the almighty Random Number Generator. Bam! A well-aimed shot from a sniper rifle pierced the forehead of a cultist sitting at a distance in cover. Or, conversely, a friendly machine gun accidentally turned a swearing parrot into bloody dust. Yes, it happens. All are equal before the almighty RNG dies.

There are plenty of battles in the game, but they do not have time to get bored - they have a certain tactical depth. Combat locations are well thought out, allow you to cheat (for example, lure hordes of reptiles into narrow spaces and arrange a meat grinder), use AI features, and generally approach the cleaning of rooms with a grain of imagination. If desired, many zones with enemies can be skilfully bypassed, but sooner or later the designers will lure into a plot fight with a horde of aggressive NPCs.

However, the action scenes are far from the most difficult segments of the campaign. It is much harder to solve moral and ethical problems, which the authors now and then dump on the head of the gamer. Whom to save, whom to spare, with whom to build relationships, and with whom to destroy, it will not work to please absolutely everyone in Colorado, even if you diligently shake up your intellect and local analogs of the "Speech" skill ("Ass licking" and "Iron ass"). Which, on the other hand, should not surprise fans: at the very beginning of the second part, a noticeable emphasis was placed on this.

Find ten differences

For people who understand the series (or at least the second part of it), all of the above probably sounds very familiar. Walk, say, put loot in your pockets, kill "mobs" in the post-apocalyptic semblance of XCOM - a typical CRPG from Brian Fargo. There are, however, nuances. Although in general, the triquel differs from its predecessor much less than the sequel from the original, the novelty has enough of its own finds and corrections. It's just that if Wasteland 2 was a bold modernization of the 1988 formula, then Wasteland 3 is more of a work on its mistakes. Or, to be precise, work on smoothing out the sharp genre corners.



This usually manifests itself in little things. For example, now many actions in the game are contextual: if you hover over a locked door, it can be unlocked by one click of the left mouse button. No need to rummage through the menu in search of the Hacking skill and drag it to the quick access window. No need to dig in your inventory looking for the right key. Click - and you're done, no problem. The same applies to everything: traps, hiding places (you don't even need a shovel in your backpack to dig out), whatever.

It's the same story with the role-playing system: down with the confusion, you give comfort. Some essentially intersecting skills were combined (for example, one indicator is now responsible for breaking locks and safes), and got rid of percentages. No more "The chance to clear the bomb is 69% with 10% critical failure." Either the character knows how to do something and does it flawlessly, or not - there is no third way.

Fights? And they were not without corrections, mainly cosmetic. A hefty line now shows whom the fighter can shoot from the selected position, and when you hover the mouse over any square of the field above the surrounding opponents, the probability of hitting them dynamically changes - without having to guess and spend precious action points. The HP bars now highlight how much damage the next shot can inflict, and you don't have to end the turn with another hero to change the character during the fight. Now battles resemble XCOM not only in visual solutions but also in mechanics - which is very useful.

The dynamics of the brawls are now also fundamentally different: opponents attack everything in bulk, and not one by one in random order, which significantly speeds up the firefights. If desired, of course, it is easy to change in the settings, but after a couple of skirmishes, it doesn't really pull. It remains only to wish that the authors also add the function of accelerating friendly NPCs and domesticated animals: unlike humans, pets fight too slowly and sadly.

 

In general, if you choose one epithet for Wasteland 3 that can describe the whole game, then it will be "convenient". She, despite the old-school quirks like the incident with the cannon in the prologue described above, is made in such a way as to keep waste of time to a minimum. Even such a banal thing as a search of corpses after another cut has turned from a slightly annoying routine into a matter of seconds: he climbed into the pockets of one bastard, which means that he climbed up to everyone at once and with a couple of clicks collected all the swag from them. Progress is obvious ... however, this vector of development also has a downside: in pursuit of practicality, the triquel has lost a little in-depth compared to its predecessor.

The most obvious losses are purely mechanical. In Colorado, the brave rangers do not go crazy, and their partners do not get out of control - obviously, Arizona was badly influencing, that's all. Plus, on the global map, they no longer need water to survive - no one bothers to ride an armored car through the Rocky Mountains as much as they like, there's nowhere to rush.

The interface, even though it has become much simpler and more intelligible, has not avoided strange changes. There is no more convenient fax on the screen with textual descriptions of the environment and individual NPC phrases - they cut it off as unnecessary. As well as cut off the ability to type in dialogues your own questions to the interlocutors in the style of the first or second parts. For some reason, even previous remarks in conversations disappear from the screen, which is not very helpful if you want to reread someone's order and answer it intelligently. Particularly inquisitive fans will surely miss other little things.

It is quite possible that such sacrifices had to be made for the sake of joint passage: for the first time in the history of the series, conquering the Wasteland is given not in splendid isolation, but together with a friend via the Internet. The idea, no doubt, is curious and bold, however, it was not possible to check how well it works: before the release, the multiplayer lobbies were mostly empty. Plus, on the first run, many journalists probably went solo - the campaign is long.

Wasteland 3 game review

Simply put, the post-apocalyptic novelty was not without controversial decisions. It is difficult to say how the fans of the sequel will react to such liberties - they are unlikely to appeal to everyone. But here's the paradox: you don't really feel like blaming the authors for "provoking". Why? Because overall, even with the design and balance tweaks, Wasteland 3 is still a very smart RPG.

Arizona-style justice

You can't immediately guess what her strong point is - the game as a whole is arranged traditionally, the quests are more or less familiar, and individual conflicts are visible in advance. Nevertheless, the process of conquering Colorado is addictive. It seemed that he had just sat down, found the city of Ronald Reagan fans (Ronald Reagan), and walked quite a bit through the locations, and already two or three hours of the most real-time had passed. I just wanted to deal with a gang of cannibals, and the process of their systematic cutting stretched out for 40 minutes of fascinating tactical action involving a hand flamethrower and a clown turret on a personal armored personnel carrier. It sounds like something boring and drawn-out - but not here.

In Wasteland 3, you never know for sure what lies ahead. What dangers will be in the next cave, what allies will meet along the way, and what kind of weapons with armor can be found in an inconspicuous chest? The story, of course, is generally predictable, but it is nothing more than an excuse to embark on an amazing adventure in the best traditions of Fallout. Some kind of tyrants, fathers, and children ... What's the difference, here in the village of Santa Claus, something is wrong, the rangers are rushing to help!

A simple drive through the neighborhood in search of chance encounters, hiding places, and abandoned bunkers give a hitherto unfamiliar sensation within the framework of the post-nuclear RPG genre. After so many arid deserts with cacti and skin-dressed perverts, rolling through the snow-capped mountains to the thunder of the night is so ... cozy. It's almost pacifying if you forget about dozens of mutants and bloodthirsty robots, who strive to jump out under the wheels at the most inopportune moment.

Wasteland 3 doesn't disappoint. On the contrary. At first, it raises doubts, it seems like a passing, slightly "consolidated" addition with the number 3 in the title. However, any hints of negativity quickly dissipate, it is worth at least reaching the town of Colorado Springs and plunging into local problems: despite the snow and a number of simplifications, this is still Wasteland to the core. And the further into the campaign, the better and more exciting the snowy adventure becomes.

Of course, the third part of the famous series will hardly go down in history: it does not open new horizons for the industry, unlike the original, and it does not resurrect a long-forgotten classic, like a belated sequel. What is really there, if you forget about the multiplayer (which, by the way, feels more like a curious appendage than as the main "trick"), the triquel does not have a unique feature, thanks to which it will earn high-profile titles and top marks.

 

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