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Wasteland 3

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: RPG/Strategy
Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: InXile
Release Date: Aug. 28, 2020


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PC Review - 'Wasteland 3' The Battle of Steeltown DLC

by Cody Medellin on July 5, 2021 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Wasteland 3 is a party-based role-playing game with an emphasis on deep reactivity, replayability, and strategic combat.

Last year's release of Wasteland 3 was a welcome treat for CRPG fans. From the freeform character creation system to the intuitive battle system to the story, it hit all of the right notes for both fans and newcomers alike, even if it did launch with some odd design issues. Almost a year after that initial release, some campaign DLC is being released, and it all starts with The Battle of Steeltown.

Instead of being thrown in as a separate campaign, The Battle of Steeltown places itself into the main campaign around the time your character reaches level nine, but the difficulty scales depending on when you make that trek. Formerly known as the city of Pueblo, Steeltown is responsible for the creation and delivery of arms and other munitions to the Patriarch in his never-ending quest to protect the state from gangs in the area. Unfortunately, Steeltown's output has all but dried up recently, and the Patriarch wants you to investigate why this is the case. Once you reach Steeltown, you discover that the head of the place, Abigail Markham, is completely beleaguered. A group of bandits calling themselves the Ghost Gang is threatening to break in and steal Steeltown's stuff, and the workers are revolting because of the working conditions and the separation from their families. The Computation Engine, which is the AI responsible for keeping things running at optimal conditions, has started to malfunction.

Your job is to fix the situation but, much like the rest of the game, you're given free rein on how to do that. Siding with either the protesting workers or with Abigail's security force is the obvious point of where the story branches, but there are a ton of other choices in other areas that begin to snowball into bigger things over time. There aren't too many side-quests you can uncover here, making the DLC feel a bit linear in nature, but the ones that you do find are memorable, mostly for the slight bit of absurdity that falls in line with the main campaign's idea of humor.

The adventure is very enjoyable, and that comes down to the introduction of a few new things. The first of these is the presence of elemental weapons and shields. As you would expect, you can find new weapons that grant elemental buffs like extra energy damage, fire damage, or ice damage. There's nothing radical here, but their presence is welcome all the same. Conversely, some of the enemies now have elemental shields that can only get damaged if you are using a matching elemental weapon. It simply works as another (welcome) wrinkle to the combat system.

The other addition is the introduction to non-lethal weaponry. Some of them act as debuffs against certain attacks, like explosive ones. Others act as general debuffs that only inflict a minor amount of damage but give the enemy some type of ailment. Using these eventually leads to knocking them out, but the fact that you need roughly 10 successful hits to do so means that you won't use this much unless you're aiming for a specific story path or want a difficult semi-pacifist run. Having the option available deepened the combat system more.

Those things alone would be tempting enough for previous players to return to the game, but that doesn't take into account the features that were newly introduced by the various patches that the devs have been throwing in this whole time. Crafting can be done now, and there are a good number of recipes that are Steeltown-specific that you'll want to carry along. Various pets can now be had, and with the ability to pair up each party member with an animal, you'll get to the point where you might have the animals fighting more than the humans. It is disappointing how this feature is ignored in the expansion, as you can't take them to battle with you in the Steeltown location. Permadeath, character stat respecs, and higher skill point checks are available for those who want a challenge, while a lower difficulty mode is also an option for those who want more story than fighting. In short, the game feels better than it did at launch, with enough new features to tempt those who have already beaten it to give it another go to see what's new.

Aside from the inability to bring animals with you, one thing that some people may be disappointed with is the length of this expansion. Depending on just what level you enter with, you can knock it all out in about 3-4 hours. That seems like a good length for an expansion to most games, but for this title, that's a drop in the bucket. With the lack of more aforementioned side-quests, it also feels like you don't get a good chance to explore the world more.

Wasteland 3: The Battle of Steeltown DLC is a very nice complement to the main game. The story contained in the expansion pack is of the same caliber as what's in the main campaign, but it also does a great job of slotting itself into the campaign without feeling like a huge diversion. The environment is fresh, and the enemies are enjoyable to fight, especially those on mechs, but the gameplay mechanics introduced here and in the previous patches give Wasteland 3 veterans enough of a reason to return and try another run. It's good enough that we want to see what the next expansion looks like.

Score: 8.0/10

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