Wasteland 3 Review


Note from the Editor: We want to clarify that there is no indication that the Xbox One used by the reviewer was defective during the evaluation. The problems seem to be limited to a small number of Xbox One copies of the game. Therefore, we have included information from a PC version Port Report in this review.
The final score pertains to the PC version of the game, while the score in parentheses pertains to the Xbox One version we tested. If the Xbox One version’s problems are resolved in future updates, we will revise this review accordingly.
Having invested nearly 300 hours into Wasteland 2 Directors Cut since its arrival on Xbox Game Pass, I decided to purchase it as a sign of my appreciation. While I thoroughly enjoyed the game, I did find some of the battles to be slow and cumbersome at times.
My initial enthusiasm for Wasteland 3 was short-lived as I was let down by the game’s frequent crashes, which ultimately ruined my gaming experience.

Wasteland 3
Developer: inXile Entertainment
Publisher: Deep Silver
Platforms: Windows PC (reviewed), Linux, Mac, PlayStation 4, Xbox One (reviewed)
Release Date: August 28, 2020
Players: 1-2
Price: $59.99 

Editor’s Note: The following applies to the Xbox One version of the game we experienced.

The game has crashed nearly 50 times, resulting in a chaotic and disorganized experience. It is crucial that the majority of these problems are resolved before the official launch of Xbox One. Otherwise, any positive reputation gained from Wasteland 2 Directors Cut will be destroyed by poor performance.
Despite my efforts to endure it, I eventually had to abandon the game after completing all the available side missions before reaching Denver. Although I managed to finish the Denver arc, I can confidently assert that the game is currently unplayable and riddled with glitches on Xbox One.
Before its launch, it requires fixing and subsequent updates with hotfixes, particularly as more individuals obtain the console version. The crashes are intolerable for me to manage at this point.
As I progress to higher levels, the game crashes frequently, rendering it unplayable. Additionally, my headphones emit a loud buzzing sound before crashing abruptly.
Up until now, I have encountered crashes in various situations such as when I seek medical attention to treat severe injuries and leave the menu, when I access any merchant menu (with limited time to sell my items before the game crashes), when I am recovering from a significant battle, and when there is a significant or even minor advancement in the storyline.
The crashes in the game appear to be linked to the autosave feature. While the frequency of these crashes varies, there have been instances where the game has crashed immediately after an autosave. Additionally, customizing the Kodiak vehicle, encountering more than five enemies on screen, and performing in-depth actions in the UI, such as modifying weapons and armor, have also caused crashes. It is important to note that the crashes occur during intense gameplay moments.
Whenever I attempt to utilize the Animal Whisperer perk on a creature or navigate through the skill and perk trees, my game frequently crashes. Additionally, there is a recurring problem where characters become trapped in the “going into cover” animation during combat.
When attempting to move a character in a crouched position, they become trapped in the animation and continue to move in that manner until the end of the battle. Although I have a desire to enjoy the game, these problems have caused me to feel frustrated and irritated, particularly when dealing with Valor in Denver.
I am cognizant of the past animosity between the developers and Bethesda, stemming from their disagreements over the control of the Fallout intellectual property, its universe, and its trajectory.
It is both ironic and somewhat comical that, in its present condition, Bethesda’s Fallout 76 outperforms Wasteland 3 on Xbox One. Although Fallout 76 is prone to crashing during prolonged gameplay, it is not nearly as frequent as Wasteland 3.

Editor’s Note: The following applies to the Windows PC version of the game we experienced, written by Brandon Lyttle.

Optimization and bugfixing are crucial when it comes to porting games across different platforms. Wasteland 3 is a prime example of this, as the problems that were present on Xbox One are now virtually non-existent.
To begin with, it is important to note that the PC version had minimal issues compared to the Xbox One port. We did not experience any crashes while navigating menus or during gameplay.
Regarding graphics, we did not encounter any texture problems or crashes while playing the PC version. We set the game to Ultra quality with all settings maxed out, and it ran smoothly and rendered quickly.
The graphics of the game are impressive, but it would be more convenient if interactive objects were easily distinguishable from a distance. It can be tedious to search through every box or barrel for loot or potential hazards, especially when they blend in with their surroundings. Highlighting these objects would greatly improve the gameplay experience.
During our playthrough, we experienced occasional framerate drops when engaging in conversations. Approximately 10% of the game’s dialogues resulted in a delay of three to eight seconds when making a selection. While this may not seem significant, the game’s RPG elements heavily rely on dialogue, making it a noticeable issue.
I experienced hangups while playing graphically demanding scenes, leading me to suspect that my computer (equipped with Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 and 32GB of RAM) is the culprit. However, it’s perplexing that my system can handle exploding pigs and their resulting giblets and fire without any lag, yet a simple conversation causes issues. It seems like there may be other factors at play.
The sound design was impeccable, with smooth transitions between musical tracks. The boss music was particularly impressive, featuring a haunting country rock tune that perfectly complemented the first major fight. However, there were some minor issues with certain sound effects, such as premature endings and glitchy gunfire sounds when using automatic rifles, where each shot cut off the next.
One problem is that non-playable characters (NPCs) overreact to self-inflicted smoke grenades, behaving as if they have been hit by a deadly frag grenade. This occurs when enemies throw a smoke grenade at their own location, and then react with exaggerated screams and grunts as the harmless smoke conceals them.
Menus lack visual cues to accompany audio cues, which can cause confusion as navigating with a mouse and keyboard is faster than using a controller. It took me a few minutes to realize that the dramatic sound I heard was due to mousing over a conversation action that required a skill I didn’t possess, rather than an imminent danger lurking off-screen.
One significant issue with the audio is that the accessibility feature “Menu Narration” utilized an incorrect audio output on my computer. The narration played through my speakers instead of my headset, and there was no option to modify it.
Another problem arises from the continuous noises that are just beyond your characters’ line of sight in Wasteland 3. Taking a break is not an option as there is no pause feature. Even checking your inventory or leveling up requires you to leave yourself vulnerable to the few wandering mobs that exist in the game.
While venturing with your large group, it’s possible to unintentionally stumble upon a roaming foe and hastily attempt to click away from their line of sight to avoid detection.
Improved usability could be achieved by allowing players to pause the game and position their units. Currently, the squad behaves as if they have a single mind, limiting the ability for multiple actions to be performed simultaneously. This limitation is particularly evident when performing basic tasks such as opening a door with a key.
Once your entire team is assembled, the individual with the greatest proficiency in lockpicking will navigate through the group to reach the forefront and unlock a secured door, even if a key is available.
The game does not provide guidance on how to determine the options that will satisfy factions, and the significance of your choices is not just a mere statement. At the beginning of the game, the decisions you make will determine the type of individuals who will occupy your Ranger Headquarters.

Editor’s Note: The following is the original review.

After expressing my previous concern, let’s focus on the positive aspects of the game. It excels in many areas, particularly in gameplay, which is straightforward and easy to grasp, except for the occasional crashes.
The introductory tutorial section sets the tone for the game’s environment and atmosphere. It avoids simplistic “press x to survive” mechanics and instead adopts a more independent approach.
During the tutorial for the stealth feature, the game displays a warning message to the player that reads, “We cannot emphasize enough how dangerous that robot can be.” Additionally, the mechanic is aptly named “sneaky shit,” which adds a clever touch to the game.
The RPG game is designed with isometric graphics and turn-based gameplay, incorporating tabletop elements such as rolling for initiative. This feature adds an intriguing aspect to the game. Unlike Wasteland 2, where the gameplay was hindered by slow and cumbersome fights, the game has been refined to flow more smoothly.
The pace of the battle is quite manageable and not tedious. This is because you have the option to move several characters simultaneously or follow the traditional turn-based approach. The decision is entirely up to you.
During the character creation process, I noticed that there were fewer customization options available this time. Additionally, the designs appeared uninteresting and lacking in creativity. The characters’ visual quality and awkward animations were not consistent with the exceptional voice acting, which was noticeable both during and outside of cutscenes.
I won’t miss the burden of managing item carrying capacity, as I enjoy collecting trinkets and being a packrat in games like this. Now, I can accumulate as much junk as I want without worrying about becoming overburdened.
Exploring the game world is highly encouraged as it offers numerous opportunities for random encounters, visits to merchants, shrines, caves, and other exciting discoveries. These explorations often lead to the acquisition of useful items, although some may not be as helpful. It is recommended to consult the map and venture out to fully experience the game’s rewards.
The narrative begins with a group of Rangers, consisting of many of your fellow soldiers, being attacked by a deranged and bloodthirsty group of raiders known as the Dorseys in the snowy mountains of Colorado.
After a nuclear disaster that occurred two centuries ago, only the remnants of society remain. The Patriarch, who has declared himself the leader of Colorado, has reached out to the Arizona desert rangers for assistance in handling his rebellious children – Valor, Victory, and Liberty. These offspring have fled from his authority and are attempting to overthrow his leadership.
The Arizona Desert Rangers were on the brink of destruction after being targeted by a rogue synthetic human army with the goal of eradicating humanity. However, the Patriarch has pledged to provide aid to the Rangers in the form of food, supplies, guns, and ammunition. Despite believing that their previous adversary had been defeated, the Rangers were forced to destroy their base in the previous game to put an end to the threat.
The main theme of Wasteland 3 revolves around a misguided sense of patriotism, as the characters are preoccupied with dealing with more pressing issues such as raiders, scorpion robots, and poisonous creatures.
Under the Patriarch’s strict rule, the inhabitants of his lands must adhere to his iron-fisted governance. Meanwhile, raiders and other unsavory characters wreak havoc on those living beyond his borders, exacerbating the already dire situation. In order to endure the harsh landscape, everyone must make difficult sacrifices.
In the game, there are multiple factions of residents, including The Gippers, who idolize Ronald Reagan as a deity. One of their most absurdly hilarious creations is a massive metal statue of Reagan with laser eyes, which they use to “fry” communists.
This merely touches upon the vast depth of the diverse range of characters. The multifaceted cast is equally diverse and well-developed.
One of my favorite factions from the previous game, The Mannerites, has made a comeback. They are reintroduced through a particular merchant who is easily recognizable due to his elegant attire and welcoming demeanor.
In this dystopian future, encountering cannibals is a common occurrence and you’ll have ample opportunities to take them down. The game will also present you with numerous choices that may leave you second-guessing your decisions.
According to reports, the game draws inspiration from popular TV series such as Deadwood, Ozark, and Peaky Blinders. This influence is evident in the game’s storyline, which features plot twists and turns that are reminiscent of these shows. The game also allows players to make choices that affect the outcome of the story and the interactions between characters.
The dystopian atmosphere is effectively conveyed through the musical score, which features the contributions of individuals who have previously worked on Quentin Tarantino films. This is evident in the eclectic covers that are featured throughout the game. Among my personal favorites are the renditions of The Monster Mash and Washed in the Blood of the Lamb.
At times when there are numerous NPCs on screen and they all speak simultaneously, the audio mixing can become a jumbled mess. This can be overwhelming, and I often find myself needing to quickly jog away to regain my bearings.
Many of the problems I have mentioned, particularly the crashes, could have been easily identified by game testers. While I appreciate the humorous background NPCs, I am frustrated by the overlapping dialogue.
The ambiance of the game is enhanced by the radio communication heard while exploring the map. The intermittent transmissions from The Patriarch, the battling groups, and even a peculiar cat lady contribute to the overall experience. However, it would be preferable if SAL the DJ played a variety of songs instead of just one. Nevertheless, one can remain optimistic.
Although the graphics have shown significant improvement from the previous game, the textures in the roaming areas appear to lack detail on Xbox One. In comparison, Wasteland 2 had better visuals. The game seems to be in an alpha build state, indicating that it is not yet complete or optimized for console.

Editor’s Note: This is the conclusion for the Xbox One version.

Despite my extensive experience with Wasteland 3, I feel as though I have only just begun to explore its full potential. While I am eager to enjoy the game, the frequent crashes throughout the user interface have made it difficult to fully appreciate. Whether or not I would recommend this game to others ultimately depends on how quickly and effectively these issues are resolved, as it is currently difficult to justify spending $60 on a game that is plagued with such problems.
Based on my experience playing and enjoying it, this RPG satisfies my desire for a well-crafted game that isn’t overly tedious. I’m eager to hear about any future updates on its status.
If the game’s issues are resolved or addressed, we will revise this review and resume playing. However, at present, we recommend caution as the game is prone to crashing. It may be better to choose an alternative game to play.

Editor’s Note: This is the conclusion for the Windows PC version.

Wasteland 3 is a highly entertaining RPG that runs seamlessly on PC. It offers a delightful blend of turn-based combat and traditional CRPG exploration, making it a must-play for fans of the original Fallout games. The game boasts an impressive voice-acting cast, a captivating musical score, and intense combat, all of which contribute to an engaging plot and dialogue. Overall, there is very little to criticize about this game.

Niche Gamer reviewed Wasteland 3 on both Windows PC and Xbox One, utilizing review copies provided by Deep Silver. For further details regarding our review and ethics policy, please refer to our website.

Some Images: Review Press Kit (via email), Steam

Editor’s Note: The score below reflects the PC version of the game, with the score in brackets for the Xbox One version we experienced. Should future updates to the Xbox One version resolve the issues we encountered, we will update this review.

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