Game Guides

Wasteland 3 – 27 Essential Tips to Help You Dominate Colorado

These tips and tricks will help you get started in Wasteland 3.

by Diego Perez

Wasteland-3

The world of Wasteland 3 can be unforgiving, but these tips will help you make the most of your situation and become the dominant force in the frozen Colorado frontier. The Desert Rangers may start out outmanned and outgunned, but using these tips and tricks will help you get a headstart in Wasteland 3 and give you a sense of security with your early game choices. The first few hours of any RPG are usually the most stressful, so this guide will help you get past the initial hurdle and get right to the good stuff we mentioned in our Wasteland 3 review. These are 27 of the best Wasteland 3 tips and tricks.

Move Your Units Individually

While it’s more convenient to move your entire party at once while exploring or walking around towns, sometimes it can be beneficial to position your units individually. Traps are a common occurrence in Wasteland 3, and your party will not avoid them on their own. Moving your units one by one will let you tiptoe around mines and tripwires. Also, you can use this strategy to gain positional advantage on unaware enemies and dominate combat encounters.

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Save, Save, Save

We all do it, so might as well embrace it. Save scumming might be frowned upon by strategy and RPG elitists, but there are so many moving parts in Wasteland 3’s rendition of Colorado that it doesn’t hurt to have a few backup saves. Sometimes, a dialogue option won’t turn out the way you thought it would or you might make a mistake in combat. You can make a quicksave to create a restore point you can quickly return to, which is a godsend considering how often this game’s story branches and twists.

Don’t Underestimate Mods

Maximizing your damage and armor is incredibly important in Wasteland 3, and relying solely on your gear’s base stats is a quick way to get yourself killed. Armor mods will keep you alive for much longer, and weapon mods can transform that dusty old rifle you found into a bonafide killing machine. Make sure you have a party member that specializes in weapon modding and armor modding so you can install them yourself.

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Diversify Your Skills

While running an entire team of snipers may seem like a fun idea on paper, it’s a bad idea for many reasons. Ammunition is scarce, so having your entire party use the same weapon type will cause your ammo reserves to rapidly deplete. You also need to be prepared for all sorts of different threats, so having a team of identical units will leave you underprepared in some situations. Try to have each of your units fulfill a different role.

Multiplayer Has Benefits

You can play the entirety of Wasteland 3 with a friend, and the game’s co-op implementation runs deeper than just have another player-controlled character in your party. In multiplayer, you can play both sides of a conflict to maximize rewards. You and your friend can split up and do whatever you want as long as you remain in the same general area, and you can even turn in quests to opposing factions at the same time. You can even keep playing when your friend goes offline and have them join again after you make progress by yourself.

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Always Stay Healed With First Aid

Getting caught by surprise can lead to a swift death, so make sure you keep your characters’ health topped off in between combat encounters. Anyone can use the standard healing item – they’re like Stimpaks in Fallout – but you’ll want a dedicated healer on your team with points in the First Aid skill. This skill lets you use more advanced healing items, and this can save your cheaper and faster healing items for use during combat. Have your healer top off your party with First Aid Kits and other medical items in between fights.

Don’t Sleep on Generic Perks

Your characters get a perk every other level. You can select from perks depending on your characters’ skills and their levels in those skills, but there are a handful of perks that anyone can unlock regardless of their skills. These are small bonuses like an increase to health or armor, but they can really make a difference, especially early in the game. Plus, they’re a great choice when you don’t like any of the available skill-related perks.

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Don’t Rely on One Ammo Type

You might think having your entire party rocking assault rifles is a good idea, but you’ll quickly run into problems if you have all six characters running the same weapon type. You’ll run into the issues we listed above about having similar characters, but you’ll also run out of bullets fast. You need to equip weapons that pull from a variety of ammo types, especially with automatic weapons that will fire in bursts. Ammo is very expensive, and your money is better spent on other things.

Think Carefully About Reputation and Fame

Your reputation and fame with each of Colorado’s factions aren’t just for show. These not only affect how that faction sees you, but also your interactions with other factions. Each group doesn’t exist in a bubble; factions have eyes and ears all over the wasteland, and words of your deed will spread throughout the frozen wastes quickly. When making decisions, think carefully about how people will react. Not just the faction you’re directly interacting with, but everyone you’ve come across.

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Speech Skills Aren’t Get Out of Jail Free Cards

In games like Fallout, speech skills are usually there to let you talk your way out of combat. They work similarly in Wasteland 3, but sometimes you’ll still need a smoking gun to match your silver tongue. Just because you’re presented with a speech check in a scenario doesn’t always mean you can avoid a fight.  There will also be situations where you’ll be presented the opportunity to use multiple skills and only one of them will avoid combat. Think carefully about the dialogue options you choose instead of just selecting the option that will utilize a skill.

Stop and Smell the Roses

Wasteland 3 really gets going toward the end, but you shouldn’t rush through the game. It’s a massive game so it’s understandable to want to blaze through it as fast as possible in the hope of someday finishing, but there are some truly great side quests and characters that you can completely miss. Slow down, look around, and talk to people. Really take in the environments and towns. You’re sure to find something interesting.

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Highlight Your Environment

You can easily miss things if you’re not paying attention, but you can highlight interactive objects in the environment by pressing the Shift key on PC or L2/LT on console to highlight nearby objects like corpses, containers, and switches. This will make sure you don’t walk right by a chest filled with loot or other cool stuff.

Don’t Always Skip Random Encounters

Random encounters are frustrating for a lot of people, but they can actually be helpful in Wasteland 3. When you’re roaming the overworld in the Kodiak, you’ll occasionally be interrupted by enemies. These random encounters aren’t as frequent as other games, and you can avoid them using the Survival skill or others in various situations. Skipping these encounters can mean skipping out on powerful gear, loot, and resources, so strongly consider engaging when you run into enemies, especially if you can use a skill to secure the first shot.

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Toaster Repair Can Be Fun

While it may seem like a useless skill at first, Toaster Repair is a Wasteland staple and it can actually be helpful more often than you’d think. It’s still only useful if you encounter a toaster, but there are way more toasters in Colorado than you’d expect. It may not be worth it to max out the skill, but if you put some points into it, you may be surprised with the rewards you find. You’re going to have six party members with you, so it won’t hurt to invest at least a little in Toaster Repair.

Choose Bookworm as Your Background

When you’re creating a character, you’ll have the opportunity to select a Background. Backgrounds give your character a passive buff as well as a little bit of backstory that’s just for fun. If you don’t know what to choose, then just pick Bookworm. It gives you a permanent 10% increase to XP gained, so there’s no reason not to pick it. There are other great backgrounds that have other awesome bonuses, but unless you really want something different, Bookworm is a solid choice.

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Barter is Actually Helpful

If you’re coming from Fallout, then you might avoid the Barter skill because it’s not as useful in other RPGs. In Wasteland 3, shopping is brutal if you don’t have any points in Barter. You’ll sell items at a fraction of their value, and you’ll empty your pockets just by buying necessities like ammo and medicine. Make sure one of your characters has at least a few Barter points to get the best deals. There’s a Barter perk that gives you a discount when buying in bulk too, which is perfect for stocking up on bullets.

Use Final Actions in Combat

If your character doesn’t have enough AP to attack during their turn but they still have some AP left, then use a Final Action. This will prepare your character for their next turn or make them a little more fortified using their leftover AP. Ambush is the most expensive option but it allows your character to interrupt an enemy’s movement with an attack if they come close enough. Defend increases a character’s evasion for each AP left, and Prepare can carry up to 2 AP over to the next turn.

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Ambush Enemies to Gain the Upper Hand

Combat is inevitable in Wasteland 3, so you should always try to gain the advantage over your foes to ensure your Rangers can last for as many fights as possible. You can position your units individually and avoid enemies’ detection circles to spread your squad out and surround unaware enemies. Your squad will instantly snap to nearby cover once combat begins, so you can use this tip to get your units where you want them before firing a single shot. You can also take the first shot before combat starts to get bonus damage.

Companions Can Change More Than Combat

While four members of your party are Rangers, the fifth and sixth members of your team are premade characters with their own voices and stories. Early in the game, you’ll meet characters like Marshall Kwon and Lucia Wesson who can become powerful allies for the Desert Rangers. Your companions are more than just extra guns though. They have their own opinions and views about everything you do, and they’ll chime into converstaions every now and then. Certain companions can also drastically change parts of the game by being in your party, so choose your allies wisely.

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You Can’t Lose Characters in Combat

Despite sharing a lot of similarities with games like XCOM, your characters cannot permanently die in combat. If a Ranger goes down during a fight, you’ll have a certain number of turn to revive them. If you manage to pick them back up, they’ll come back into the fray with a permanent debuff that can only be fixed by visiting a doctor NPC or using an Injury Kit. If you don’t reach them in time, they’ll be unavailable until you reach a doctor. Don’t be afraid of anyone dying during combat, but also keep in mind the risks of being brash and unprepared when fighting.

Don’t Buy Gear at the First Opportunity

When you find a new merchant, your first instinct will be to check out the new weapons and armor they sell and pick up some upgrades for your team. It’s tempting, but you should probably hold off for a while. Odds are the area surrounding that merchant has the same weapons and armor tucked away in chests. It could also drop from the local enemies or creatures. There’s nothing more frustrating than spending hundreds on new equipment for your team so you can clear out an encampment, only to find that the loot for that area is the stuff you just bought. Sure, you can sell the other stuff or strip it for parts, but saving money is always the preferred option.

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Wait to Buy at the Bizzare

The Bizzare is the first major market you’ll come across in Colorado, and you’ll probably want to buy a bunch of stuff once you get inside. Just like the tip above, you should wait, but not for the same reasons. Find Flab the Inhaler, the guy in charge of the Bizzarre, and he’ll give you a quest to clear out the Payaso gang that’s hiding out in the tunnels below. The quest he gives you is called “A Nightmare in the Bizzare,” and if you complete it by killing the Payasos, he’ll give you a permanent 20% discount throughout the entire Bizarre. This can make the prices for new guns, armor, and ammo much more bearable, so wait until you receive this discount to buy anything.

You Need a Sniper on Your Team

In an RPG like Wasteland 3, you can create whoever you want, but you should probably have a sniper on your team. Snipers are incredibly powerful, and some of their late-game abilities can decimate even the strongest and most armored targets. The only downside is that sniper rifle ammo costs a lot of money, but you can still stock up if you’re frugal. Their range is insane and they can make quick work of bosses with their Strikes.

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You Need a Team Member with Modding Skills

Mods are essential to your survival in Wasteland 3, so it’s important to have someone on your team who can modify your equipment. Modification skills are split into two categories: Weapon Modding and Armor Modding. It’s nice to have party members who can do both, but make sure at least one of your units heavily invests in one or the other. You want to either be able to survive a lot of shots so you can kill enemies with weaker weapons or kill enemies fast enough that it doesn’t matter that your armor isn’t top tier.

Animal Whisperer Is Way More Useful Than It Sounds

Talking to animals doesn’t sound like it’d be the most useful skill in a game where you’re going to be spending most of your time talking to people, but being able to communicate with wildlife has several benefits. Some animals will tell you useful secrets or information, and you can tame animals to follow you into combat. Some enemies employ animals as enemies, and you can tame those and turn them against their masters mid-combat if your Animal Whisperer skill is high enough. Also, you’re going to see cyborg chickens a lot and it’s going to get really annoying that you can’t figure out what their deal is if you don’t have enough points in Animal Whisperer to talk to them.

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Mechanics Can Help in Combat

Although it may not seem like it on the surface, Mechanic is actually a super useful combat skill. There will be fights where you can bring the Kodiak into battle with you, and you’ll only be able to use Repair Kits to heal it if you have points in Mechanic. A Mechanic can also deploy robotic allies in combat if their skills are high enough. These can quickly change the tide of battle, but they’re rare and expensive. Still, having the ability to use them at all can be a lifesaver.

Use Strikes Whenever Possible

Each character has an ability called a Strike that is charged up by landing shots on enemies. Strikes are powerful shots that target specific body parts, each having a corresponding debuff or status effect deployed with varying chances of success. If your character’s Strike is ready, don’t hesitate to use it. Attacking while your Strike is fully-charged is a bit wasteful considering those attacks could be charging up a second Strike if you used yours now. Of course, don’t waste it on a weak enemy you can easily kill with a bullet or two, but definitely use it if there’s a powerful foe on the field.

- This article was updated on:August 31st, 2020

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