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Video Game: Waste Land

A 1988 CRPG that was groundbreaking in its combination of a gritty post-apocalyptic setting with a nonlinear play style. The designers notably sacrificed more modern graphics for extended detail in the gameplay, as well as creating a rich backstory that appeared in the game's copy protection, a set of 'Paragraphs' that were referenced by number at various plot points. Woven into the paragraphs were numerous Red Herrings not referenced in-game to keep players from skipping to the end of the story.

Celebrated on several sites, most notably at the Ranger HQ Grid, which includes info about the game as well as some surprisingly good Fan Fic.

After a very successful Kickstarter support campaign, inXile Entertainment, under Brian Fargo's leadership, have begun work on the sequel, Wasteland 2, with Obsidian Entertainment, and Chris Avellone in particular, joining in as co-developers. The game is expected to be released in 2014.

An enhanced version of the original Wasteland - with optional music, voice-overs and an integrated paragraph book has been released on digital distribution sites (including Steam and gog.com) to coincide with the sequel.

See Also Fallout, the series' Spiritual Successor.

This game provides examples of:

  • Action Bomb: The Radiation Angels at the Temple of the Mushroom Cloud explode into a pile of glowing blue dust after you defeat. Why yes, it is radioactive.
  • Action Girl: Christina, one of the few recruitable NPCs who has a unique picture. For bonus points, she likes to fire full-auto a lot.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal In the southeast corner of the agricultural center's farm, there are four foot tall pears. They're pleasingly plump, and perfectly prepared to possibly plummet.
  • After the End: "Somehow, life goes on in the Wasteland."
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: AI research goes pretty badly awry, and is hinted to have caused nuclear holocaust in the first place.
  • A.K.A.-47: Averted. Weapons are either real-life firearms, fictional sci-fi guns or fictional advanced versions of contemporary guns, as explained by the manual.
  • An Axe to Grind: The Proton Ax, found in a deserted building guarded by the game's most powerful enemy.
  • Anti-Hero: The player characters can be a group of these depending on the player's style - going straight into near-Villain Protagonist levels (you can, for example, choose to freely butcher the innocent children at a summer camp because some of them make fun of you).
  • Anti-Villain: Finster believes that with nuclear holocaust humanity has proven to be bad stewards of the earth, so he is terraforming it to start over. The PCs are just in his way.
  • Apocalyptic Log: A number are found and related in the Paragraphs, including actual logs from the Sleeper Base.
  • Artificial Stupidity: NPCs are only under a reasonable amount of control by the player. Often they refuse to take orders or take them too well. They also can't tell between friendly and non-friendly non-party NPCs.
    "Ace rips a clip on the rabbit."
    • VAX and Christina in particular will use full auto (which empties a magazine) as an attack option 90% of the time, wasting precious ammunition, especially if they're using energy weapons.
  • Backtracking: Getting the Bloodstaff for Charmaine.
  • Beef Gate: The Guardian Citadel is available very early, but impossible to defeat until much later in the game.
  • Betting Mini-Game: Vegas.
  • Big Damn Fire Exit: Big damn escape pod, actually.
  • Bloody Hilarious: Due to the graphical limitations of the game, the results of combat were described rather poetically, resulting in enemies being turned into chunky meat kibble, reduced to an undertaker's nightmare, or blown into a fine red mist.
  • Boring, but Practical: Assault rifles are, short of rockets and energy weapons, the most practical weapons around.
  • Character Customization, including nationality, which doesn't affect anything.
  • Character Portrait: Seen in combat.
  • Cloning Blues: If you take the time to learn the associated skills, you can clone any of your party members. This can be used either to invoke We Have Reserves should you manage to lose one of them in battle OR to outfit your team with a carbon copy of your toughest Ranger to increase the team's overall ferocity.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Averted. Dropping below 0 hit points results in a number of progressively serious wounded states, and unless the Medic or Doctor skill is applied, the character is toast.
  • Cut and Paste Environments: There are a lot of identical abandoned buildings.
  • Damage-Sponge Boss: The Night Terror in Finster's Mind Maze. Thankfully, he's avoidable. Many late game enemies are this unless the party is equipped with energy weapons.
  • Dungeon Bypass: You can use the sewers to move around towns without triggering Random Encounters. Many buildings have multiple ways through as well.
  • Dungeon Town: Most major settlements. While the first is empty, the agricultural facility to the west has hostile animals, the town to the north has wandering bandits, etc.
  • Dump Stat: Charisma.
  • Everything Breaks: Not really, but the furniture in the abandoned buildings is described as about to fall apart at the lightest touch.
  • Everything Is Trying to Kill You: Cacti.
  • Exposition Breaks: Conveniently broken out into paragraphs.
  • Fetch Quest: Refreshingly rare. The Bloodstaff is one.
  • Gang Of Bullies: The kids in Highpool who laugh at your troop of hardened soldiers falling on some slippery rocks. You can kill them if you choose to, although everyone hates you for it and it results in the town becoming deserted.
  • Grimy Water: The fish are biting. Ouch!
  • Guide Dang It: The end game is nearly impossible without energy weapons. These require your characters have an IQ of 23 to be able to even use them. You have to create your characters with near an IQ to 18 as possible and then constantly raise it when given a chance to get to the minimum requirement.
  • Hacking Minigame: Finster's virtual reality, sort of.
  • Healing Potion: One of the earliest complete aversions.
  • Hit Points
  • I Fought the Law and the Law Won: Averted. You can shoot up an entire police station.
  • Impassable Desert: In-map desert requires a canteen.
  • Insurmountable Waist High Fence: Usually averted. You can blow up or knock down virtually any door (including several that have key slots, but can only be opened with explosives) and a lot of walls, and there are a good number of walls that can be climbed, too.
    • There's an old mortar in one town. If you can find working shells, you can easily wreck most of the town using it.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: Runs at different speeds on maps of different scales.
  • Late Character Syndrome: Mort, Ralf, and others.
  • Locked Door
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Described in loving detail, due to the lack of graphics.
  • Monsters Everywhere: The whole game, but especially Finster's wasteland.
  • Ms. Fanservice / Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The bathtub girl in Paragraph 1, who exists only to remind players not to cheat by reading through the Paragraphs book.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: Most enemy attacks knock you out, and you can get back up later (or even mid-combat).
  • One Stat to Rule Them All: IQ. The higher it is the more and better skills you get access to. You pretty much want to start everyone with as high an IQ as possible.
  • Only Smart People May Pass: Finster's virtual reality.
  • Optional Sexual Encounter: The three-legged hooker.
  • Pre Existing Encounters: The Citadel.
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender: It influences exactly one thing: which restroom you can enter.
    • And as the game averts Never Split the Party (you can split up your characters at will), you'll usually be able to access both.
  • Rail Roading: Beautifully averted. While the car takes you from city to city and there are two locations that NPCs need to reveal, but otherwise, you are free to explore the whole map, returning to any earlier location you like and even trying farther ahead ones.
  • Random Encounters: Everywhere.
  • Red Herring: The manual included paragraphs not referenced in-game which changed the direction of the story markedly if a player tried to "skip to the end". The paragraphs in question gave the game the appearance of being about a mission to the planet Mars.
  • Regenerating Health: You can get back to full health by waiting. In some versions, when your entire party is unconscious, they may recover after a few minutes. However, if you are sick or became seriously wounded from combat, you must get medical treatment or die.
  • RPGs Equal Combat: Somewhat averted. While most of your experience will come from combat, successfully using noncombat skills can earn experience as well. In at least one place this can be abused for infinite experience.
  • Saving the World
  • Spread Shot
  • Story-Driven Invulnerability: There are characters who can be attacked and those who can't. The vast majority, including people you wouldn't want to attack, are the former, but a few (like Spam Shade) are the latter. Some of these change types after a given plot trigger, such as if you complete Fat Freddy's quest.
  • Three-Quarters View: The city maps; the main map is Top-Down View.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Killing the kids at Highpool.

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