Video Games

Wasteland 3

It's a telling sign when a video game opens with a warning that the events it depicts might be a little too close to life.

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It's a telling sign when a video game opens with a warning that the events it depicts might be a little too close to life. That's what happens in Wasteland 3, a squad-based tactical role-playing game whose bleakly funny take on post-apocalyptic politics acts as a satire of 2020 America.

The game puts you in control of a group of guns for hire scouring the snowy peaks of Colorado after America has gone to hell. The territory is controlled by a ruthless warlord known as the Patriarch who puts people in stocks, enforces poverty on the helpless masses, and runs his fiefdom for the benefit of himself and a group of elite families.

He too has a family—a trio of offspring you're expected to track down and deal with. Exactly how is up to you, and the choices you make about who to ally with will prove consequential, altering not only the game's ending but much of the action along the way. That action manages to be both surprisingly politically sharp-edged and also kind of goofy, as when you encounter a faction called the Gippers, a cult that worships a Reagan A.I., which you're expected to help give human form.

But don't worry: Any relationship to real life is purely coincidental. The game starts with a proviso from the gamemakers that it's merely "a work of fiction, ideas, dialog" and that "stories we created early in development have in some cases been mirrored by our current reality." Like so much real-life politics, it's just a game.

NEXT: Liquid Death

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  3. He too has a family—a trio of offspring you’re expected to track down and deal with. Exactly how is up to you, and the choices you make about who to ally with will prove consequential, altering not only the game’s ending but much of the action along the way. That action manages to be both surprisingly politically sharp-edged and also kind of goofy, as when you encounter a faction called the Gippers, a cult that worships a Reagan A.I., which you’re expected to help give human form.

    Open-ended games where decision trees affect the game play – what if they’re using video games as training devices for A.I.’s?

    1. It’s not that kind of AI or decision tree.

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    2. The decision trees in even the most complex RPG are so simplistic they’re laughable. Nothing more than glorified Choose Your Own Adventure books. Not sure why the industry feels the need to be stuck back in the 90s with these types of games. We’ve got loads and loads more RAM and processing power now, yet games are still implementing plot charts scrawled up on whiteboards in the developer’s conference room.

      The rails may be branching, but they’re still narratives on rails. Only choose among the options the developer has chosen for you.

  4. Wasteland (I) was good for its time. Graphics are unusable, but again, good for its time.

    Wasteland II however, was a combat game. Just combat. Sure there was a story, sure there were choices in a decision tree, but it was still a combat game where the whole point was tactical combat maneuvering.

    I dunno about Wasteland III. Not going to play it. I’m not interested in any successor to Wasteland II because that’s not my kind of game. I want a roleplaying game and I know I’m not going to get it. Instead I’m going to be a combat game with a branching narrative on rails. Because if there’s one thing video game developers are utterly incapable of doing, it’s thinking outside the box. Also, the plot sounds suspicious like Far Cry 5.

  5. About 6 months before 9/112001, there was a TV series that came out from a network once known as UPN called Freedom

    It was about a U.S. that was at war in the Middle East, had riots and domestic disturbances, where order was restored…but at the cost of freedom…and it was about four ex-military elites fighting the police state.

    This show never went tor eruns or DVD or streaming AFAIK. I’ve seen a few YouTube videos of it, but I don’t think all episodes are available. Does anyone have any further knowledge about it?

    Could it be that Freedom hit too close to home just like this video game?

  6. One of their ads showed an I-25 sign for Colorado Springs. Why is Springs always featured in dystopia. Gotta be the NORAD & SAC connection?

  7. I got this the day it came out. Very very good game.

  8. I’ll stick with division 2 and it pandemic aftermath in a very realistically drawn Washington DC. Including the group of right wing former soldiers that take over the US capitol building.

    Now that game should have a warning about being too close to reality.

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