The Wasteland franchise runs strong in my blood. The original game was my entire life in 1988 and as I look forward to Wasteland 3’s launch on August 28th, I can’t help but get a major case of nostalgia fever.
So I took this opportunity to reach out to original Wasteland game director, developer, and co-founder of Interplay Entertainment, Brian Fargo, to talk about how Wasteland 3 will advance the series and what we can expect from the future of Wasteland.
It’s important to note that one thing I really enjoyed about 2014’s sequel, Wasteland 2, was the way it catered so heavily to fans of the original game. I took this as one big inside joke at first — one that I was giddy to be in on, but Fargo points out that this was never really the intention. “We take the same philosophy to any sequels, prequels, or games set in the same world. We never demand knowledge of the prior games, so any new player can jump in and fully enjoy and appreciate the world. However, we want to reward players by making nods to the older games, delivering inside jokes, and giving more detail on characters and places they’re familiar with. Players who are familiar with Wasteland 1 and 2 will appreciate the throwbacks, and it’s a reminder of the heritage.”
I never really considered that, but it makes perfect sense. Wasteland fans are hardcore about that original game, and Fargo’s inXile Entertainment has proven this with the inclusion of a remastered version of that 1988 classic just released in February of this year. The remaster features overhauled graphics with 3D models, brand new audio and voice-overs, and most importantly, seems to be well-received by players of all experience levels.
“The old fans loved to revisit the game that started it all; it brings back great memories for them,” Fargo said. “It also reminds people how wonderfully UI has progressed since then; it is not for amateurs! I think it’s a great history lesson on how far the medium has come and it’s a chance for new fans to understand where Wasteland and Fallout were born.”
But immediately after the release of that remastered original game, a little something called COVID-19 rocked the entire world. Wasteland 3 was originally supposed to launch around that time, but the team at inXile had to further postpone release until August 28th. Fargo reassures me that precautions were immediate and the overall effect on development was minimal.
“I think it’s a great history lesson on how far the medium has come and it’s a chance for new fans to understand where Wasteland and Fallout were born.” – Brian Fargo
“We were technologically set up quite well due to us having offices in both Orange County (California) and New Orleans (Louisiana), as our infrastructure was already set up for not being in the same office together. However it was a very abrupt move that we made. I started reading the scientific reports and we decided within 48 hours to immediately send folks home on March 12th. Lots of packing up needed to be done, we needed to make sure the computers were set up properly, and we needed to establish new ways to communicate.
“Everyone at inXile was a real champ and took a great attitude about it,” he continued. “We do miss the comradery, the casual conversations that bond us, and the impromptu discussions that generate discovery on the game. We are not as efficient as we are when we are together but this is the way it is for now and I’m proud of the team for wrapping up a very complex game like Wasteland 3 from their homes.”
So now let’s take a long, hard look at this third game in the series. Launch is later this month, beta players have been given the green light to stream the game, and people are genuinely excited about what’s to come. I asked Brian what the general consensus has been from beta players so far and what, if anything, has surprised the dev team about the feedback.
“What surprised us was how people loved the beta so much! But seriously, we made a lot of quality-of-life improvements directly from player feedback, and there were legacy options such as crouching during combat that the fans really wanted us to put back in. We huddled up and found ways to get options like that back into the game.”
With Wasteland 2 continuing the story in the same desert area as Wasteland 1, this third installment of the game sees a move to Colorado. I asked Fargo what the reasoning was, from the devs’ perspective, to make that geographical shift.
“Ranger Citadel was wiped out in Wasteland 2, it was time for the Rangers to rebuild, and they needed outside assistance. It didn’t feel right to have a local group in Arizona have the resources so we started to look around at neighboring states. Colorado became interesting as we know NORAD is there (and that is “the place to be” during a nuclear war) and it became more interesting as we dug into the strange rumors of Denver airport. We also liked the change of scenery from an arid desert to the cold mountains of Colorado; it was visually quite different and it was a place that no one knew who the Rangers are, which opens up a lot of possibilities narratively.”
One major new aspect of Wasteland 3 that caught my eye is the addition of vehicles. And when I say vehicles, I don’t mean like Ace’s Jeep that broke down in Wasteland 1. I’m talking about real upgradeable vehicles that play a major role as a part of your team, like the monstrous Kodiak shown in teaser trailers.
“The Kodiak is like having another member in your party, but a party member that can run people over and shoot mortar rounds. Traveling a world map has always been a big part of the series, and vehicles have always been a big part of post-apoc, so it was time to dial it up. The players will spend time upgrading their vehicles with better chassis to deal with radiation, and to outfit it with better weaponry and armor to deal with the encounters on the world map.”
But that’s not even the half of it. Fargo reveals that the good guys won’t be the only ones having all the fun: “The enemies will have some badass vehicles themselves; you are going to need yours at times to deal with certain fights.”
But what could possibly beat the idea of a Mad-Max-style road battle? Listen up, Knight Rider fans: “If you play it right, you can install a fancy AI into the car to increase its conversation abilities.” Oh yes, Michael.
“The enemies will have some badass vehicles themselves; you are going to need yours at times to deal with certain fights.” – Brian Fargo
I know this game hasn’t even launched yet, but I can’t help but think about where we can possibly go from here. Can we expect a Wasteland movie or TV series? I know I would binge the heck out of a Wasteland Netflix series, if there was one.
“There is a big production company that introduced me to a pair of strong writers that really understand the Wasteland tone,” Fargo revealed. “We’ve been working on some scripts but nothing to announce. If anything does move forward it will be because we love the treatment of the story that is being written. It’s the only reason to do a movie or streaming series.”
Or streaming series, you say? Interesting. OK, what about some sort of add-on DLC? Fargo says they absolutely have plans for Wasteland 3 DLC. “The game is already massive but we still have more ideas we wanted to see get in. We already have plans for some free systems-focused additions along with big story DLC. There are more tales to tell.”
OK, so at this point in the interview I get a little greedy because I want to know more, more, more! What if Wasteland 3 is a huge hit and fans are begging for a Wasteland 4. What then? What would Brian Fargo’s ultimate Wasteland 4 look like?
“It’s way too early for me to talk about what Wasteland 4 might be, but we fully plan to continue the series and give the fans the dark humor, bleak world, and interesting characters that they’ve grown to love.”
Oh well, I tried.
You can check out Wasteland 3 for yourself when it releases on August 28th for PC (GOG and Steam), Xbox One, and Playstation 4.
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