Wasteland is the granddaddy of the post-nuclear survival genre, and it’s about to have another generation of grandkids.
The world was possibly a little surprised when the Kickstarter for Wasteland 2 appeared in March 2012. Don’t misunderstand – we were delighted – but it seemed unlikely. Wasteland had already given birth to Fallout, its spiritual successor in the post-nuclear strategy RPG archetype, and Fallout itself had turned into a first-person, open world adventure.
The Wasteland gene pool had been significantly watered down, changed almost beyond recognition, but player appetite for strategy role-playing games continues unabated; on crowdfunding sites, at least.
Pillars of Eternity, Torment: Tides of Numenera, Wasteland 2 – you may be noticing a theme. Yes, all of these games have been crowd-funded, and Wasteland 3 is going to be no different.
The rise of crowdfunding has hinged on uncertainty. Uncertainty in part because the developers themselves weren’t sure how much of an audience there would be for something so old school – though they had a hunch – but more importantly, because it would prove difficult to persuade a publisher to take a wild punt on their hunch. Publishers were throwing money at first-person shooters and open world role-playing games, and Wasteland just looks a bit old hat in comparison.
But with Wasteland 2 et al, the developers behind these modern takes on a classic style have proved there is an appetite and people will buy it. Yet somehow here we are again, on the brink of a crowdfunding launch for Wasteland 3, even though it now falls firmly into the category of successful sequel.
There are a few differences, though. Wary of issues around delivery and accountability, the funding of games on Kickstarter and Indiegogo has waned somewhat. Wasteland 3 will instead be coming to Fig, the video game-specific crowdfunding platform – because we all need one of those, right?
Fig is a little different, to be fair. Rather than simply acting as a vehicle for funding (like its peers) Fig has a curation team – their advisory board – that assesses projects, determines what will be allowed on the books, and actively invests Fig’s funds into games they believe show promise. This means the number of active projects is positively spartan compared to the bigger names in crowdfunding, and that’s no bad thing. In addition to backer rewards, Fig tries to encourage investors to pile money into new projects in exchange for small equity shares, feeling more like a true investment in the future of the medium than consumers taking a punt on a product they like the look of.
And Wasteland 3 will no doubt do just fine on Fig. The game itself, though? We don’t know very much about Wasteland 3 in absolute, concrete detail, but studio head Brian Fargo did indicate to Polygon that there would be improved graphics, XCOM-style cinematic camera flourishes, and co-operative multiplayer.
Yes, that’s right: Wasteland 3 will have co-op. Here’s hoping Bethesda will allow Fallout to follow Wasteland’s lead again in future.
We look forward to hearing more about Wasteland 3 when the Fig campaign launches in five days.