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Videogame: Wasteland

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 was released 19th September 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 them. Why, yes, it is radioactive.
  • Action Girl: Christina, a mercenary and potential party member who has a unique picture. She likes to use full-auto on her weapons, and starts equipped with an UZI submachine gun.
  • 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 onto passing pedestrians.
  • 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 the nuclear holocaust in the first place. Notably, the game's main villains are a robot army commanded by an insane Cyborg and an ancient Military AI.
  • A.K.A.-47: Played with. Some weapons use their real-life names, and the manual explains that some of the fictional ones are simply future versions of then-contemporary firearms, but many of the game's weapons are still entirely fictional.
  • An Axe to Grind: The Proton Ax, found in a deserted building guarded by one of the game's most powerful enemies. It's the most powerful melee weapon in the game, capable of reducing enemies to a chunky red salsa.
  • 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 former summer camp because some of them made fun of you).
  • Anti-Villain: Finster believes that with the nuclear holocaust, humanity has proven to be bad stewards of the earth, so he is wiping them out it to start over. The PCs are just in his way.
  • Apocalyptic Log: A number are found and related in the Paragraphs, including actual logbooks from the Sleeper Base.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Recruited Party Members are only under a small 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 NPCs.
    "Christina 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. This is especially painful if they're using the rare energy weapons
  • Backtracking: There's a fair amount involved for numerous quests, most notably finding the Real Bloodstaff.
  • Beef Gate: The Guardian Citadel can be approached very early, but the game notes that it will be impossible to defeat the defenders until much later in the game.
  • Betting Mini-Game: The casinos in Vegas provide these. Naturally, they generally do nothing but drain your cash.
  • 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: Name, gender, and nationality, none of which affect the game in a meaningful way.
  • Character Portrait: Seen in combat for enemies. They also appear in some dialogues.
  • 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.
  • Creator Cameo: Faran Brygo is an obvious reference to game designer Brian Fargo.
  • 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 gone for good.
  • Cut and Paste Environments: The graphical limitations of 1988 computers means a lot of reused environments and level designs.
  • 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, allowing the player to skip through hostile encounters.
  • 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. It affects almost nothing of any value, whereas other stats can be game-changers if balanced correctly
  • 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: Bunnies, lizards, jerks, and cacti are but a few of the Wasteland's many dangers.
  • Exposition Break: Several appear throughout the game, conveniently broken out into paragraphs provided in the manual. The Updated Re-release integrates them as in-game pop-ups with voiced narration.
  • Fat Bastard: Fat Freddy: his name is not a coincidence. His in-game description also recalls the Fat Slob trope.
  • Fetch Quest: Refreshingly rare. The Bloodstaff is one; Faran Brygo's Onyx Ring is another.
  • 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: Much of the game's context, backstory, and even basic features are left unexplained in the game proper, and no version currently available contains the game's manual. This means that modern players will typically have to hunt down game guides in order to figure out how the game's stat system works, and even what you're supposed to be doing in the first place.
    • 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. This means you have to create your characters with as near an IQ to 18 as possible and then constantly raise it when given a chance to get to the minimum requirement.
  • Guns Are Worthless: Played straight during the first half of the game, when a decent Brawling skill lets you deal way more damage; partially averted after the party reaches Last Vegas and finds assault rifles. The Proton Axe is still a valid alternative until the end of the game, though.
  • Hacking Minigame: Finster's virtual reality, sort of.
  • Healing Potion: One of the earliest complete aversions.
  • I Fought the Law and the Law Won: Averted. You are the law, and in the few places that you're not, you can still beat out the competition if you have high enough combat skills.
  • Impassable Desert: In-map desert requires a canteen to pass.
  • Insurmountable Waist High Fence: Usually averted. You can blow up or knock down virtually any door, including several that have key slots (though those generally require explosives to knock down) and a good number of walls, and there are plenty of fences that can be climbed, too.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: Runs at different speeds depending on the scale of the current map.
  • Late Character Syndrome: Mort, Ralf, and other Party Memebers tend to suffer from this. Averted with VAX.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Described in loving detail, due to the lack of graphics.
  • Monsters Everywhere: The whole game tends to be this, but especially Finster's maze.
  • 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. Not heeding her advice gives you a Red Herring storyline about a mission to Mars.
  • 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. Naturally, she gives you herpes.
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender: It influences exactly one thing: which restroom you can enter without getting weird looks from people.
  • 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, even in the middle of towns.
  • 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: Your ultimate goal, destroying Base Cochise to stop Finster from exterminating mankind.
  • 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.
  • The Gambler: Dan Citrine's skills qualify him as one. You can also discover that he was only captured by Ugly John's gang to retrieve a stash of money. The same goes for Mort.
  • 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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