Box art - Wasteland 3

Wasteland 3 Tips | Beginner’s guide to the post-apocalypse

Wasteland 3 is a complex game, and beginners to the series can benefit from some tips to get them started. There’s a lot of the game glosses over or doesn’t cover at all, and sometimes the various systems can be confusing. Fortunately, we reviewed the game pre-launch and figured out the ins-and-outs of Wasteland 3.

Follow the tips in this Wasteland 3 beginners guide to prevent a lot of frustration.

Don’t be afraid to save scum

Wasteland 3 can be bad about not telling you what the consequences of an action will be. It also throws you into combat spontaneously at times with little to no warning. About to talk to someone important? Quicksave and quickload if you’re not happy with the results of the conversation.

Set up fights in your favor and get the drop on enemies

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This game really doesn’t point out how crucial getting combat initiative is. When approaching an enemy, they’ll be surrounded by a red circle, which indicates the range at which they can detect you. When you find a group of hostiles, individually move all the members of your party to locations with cover. Then, when you’re all set up, fire on the enemy with your longest range firearm. This will give you the initiative and allow your party to act first.

Use Medic Packs to heal outside battle and keep at least one Nitro Spike at all times

Make sure at least one of your party members has the First Aid skill. With this skill, you can use Medic Packs to heal your party. They’re much cheaper and more easily found in loot.

You’ll also want to keep at least one Nitro Spike in your inventory. When your party members get knocked out, they’ll get a counter above their heads. If that counter reaches zero or they get knocked out too many times, they’ll be incapacitated. The only way to recover from this status is to visit a doctor or use a Nitro Spike. Most of the time, you can just continue playing without the affected character, but if your main character is incapacitated in a battle and you don’t have any Nitro Spikes, you’ll get a game over at the fight’s conclusion.

Be frugal

Early on, you get a lot of cash pretty easy. Questgivers will be throwing it at you. However, it doesn’t stay that way for long. As the game goes on, missions get more complicated, and you’ll need to work harder for your money. You should stack your cash as much as possible in the first half of the game. You’ll be continually finding new weapons and armor in the field that are better than what you can find in stores anyway.

During the first part of the game, only spend money on medical supplies and ammunition when absolutely required. Otherwise, save your money for the shops you’ll get access to later on.

Save the Bizarre

I’m going to try to keep spoilers to a minimum, but there’s one place you’ll find after leaving Colorado Springs that you won’t want to ignore. The Bizarre is home to some of the best merchants in the game, and it’s easy to have it closed to you for the entire game if you’re not careful. When you first get there and gain access to the Bizarre itself, you’ll be asked to check out a disturbance in the Warrens below. Do this immediately. If you don’t, something terrible will happen. Trust me.

Diversify your guns

Ammunition isn’t too plentiful in Wasteland 3, so you’ll want to make sure you’re not burning through ammo quickly. The best way to handle this issue is to diversify your characters. Each party member’s primary weapon should use a different type of ammunition than any other’s. This is essential, even if it means you have to sacrifice some damage potential to do it. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself spending a ton of cash on ammunition or running out in the middle of battle.

Get a character with Lockpicking, Nerd Stuff, Weird Science, and Animal Whisperer

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If you’ve played Fallout or previous Wasteland games, you’ll remember just how many doors, computers, and other choices are locked behind a skill requirement. Wasteland 3 is no different. If you want to lower potential frustration you may encounter, make sure at least one member of your party specializes in each of these four skills:

  • Lockpicking: Opens locked doors and containers.
  • Nerd Stuff: Allows you to hack computers and understand complicated electronics.
  • Weird Science: Allows you to understand scientific concepts. Often works in conjunction with Nerd Stuff.
  • Animal Whisperer: Will let you recruit animal companions, many of which are unique.

Two other skills you may want to invest in are Kiss Ass and Kick Ass. These allow many dialog options that help defuse sticky situations you may find yourself in. They make for a nice crutch if you’re new to this type of game.

Don’t bother with a melee specialist during your first playthrough

There are two melee types of weapons in Wasteland 3: melee weapons and brawling. Melee weapons covers swords, clubs, hammers, and the like while brawling weapons are things like brass knuckles and the like. Both types of weapons are useful as they don’t require ammunition (for the most part). However, your first time through the game, you should avoid melee combat if possible.

The enemies in Wasteland 3 overwhelmingly use ranged weapons. There are exceptions, but most of the regular foes you fight will be attacking with firearms. This puts melee attackers at an incredible disadvantage, especially on melee maps. If you build a melee attacker well, they’ll be beefy enough to take a fair amount of damage, but they can also easily be overwhelmed.

On larger maps, enemies often have a lot of space between them. That means your brawler has to spend an entire turns worth of AP to move close enough to an enemy to get a few attacks off. Even if your melee-focused character takes out the foe you put them up against, there’s a good chance that they’ll be in the range of multiple attackers. Enemies tend to focus on the threat closest to them, so when your turn ends, pretty much everyone still on the field is going to take a shot at your brawler, more than likely killing them.

It’s possible to use a team of brawlers effectively. You can swarm foes with multiple characters and take them out quickly. However, you’re best off going through the game at least once with most of your characters as ranged fighters.

Be ready to replay the game

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There are many twists and turns in Wasteland 3, and not all of them are available to see in one playthrough. Many times, one major decision will shut you out of another one. You’ll need to play through the game more than once to see all the plot’s possibilities. This isn’t a title where factions let you play each other off. Each action you take has a consequence, and you can easily make a group your permanent enemies if you’re not careful.

Some decisions will change massive swathes of the game. In particular, there’s one character you can recruit that will massively change the last third of the game.