The One Percent
GamesBeat: What does the Son of the Patriach mean for Wasteland 3?
Kopman: The overarching quest line of the game is that the Patriarch has three children, who have all rebelled and gone off to be differently nefarious. He wants you to bring them back to Colorado Springs, where his capital is, so that he can put them back under hell and prevent them from trying to grab power out from under him. You’re searching for each kid throughout the rest of the game.
GamesBeat: Who’s this one we’re chasing after?
Kopman: You’re chasing after Victory Buchanan, shortened to Vic. He’s the most outwardly sinister of the children. He’s gone off and –basically he’s known among the people of Colorado Springs as a psychopath. He’s violent and sadistic. He’s formed this gang called the Breathers that follows him and are dedicated to him because he helps provide these drugs that constantly keep them in an altered state.
GamesBeat: As in many science fiction stories where you drug out your soldiers so they perform better.
Kopman: In this case it’s partly that, but they’re not necessarily pliant. They’re just sort of nuts. They’re all just as violent and sadistic as him. It’s a very unpredictable group. You get to, in the full game, learn more about them, but in the demo they’re pretty much some baddies you’ll be fighting.
GamesBeat: But because of those breather masks and armor they’re wearing, they also look scary. Story-wise, that must have some effect on the populace?
Kopman: I don’t actually think it’s super-clear in the demo, but what you’ll learn in the full game is, the area they’ve taken over is Aspen in Colorado, and like in the current real world, Aspen is basically a resort town where the rich people from Colorado Springs go off to have their parties. They all have ski chalets up there. Vic and his Breathers, who are hiding out even higher in the mountains, have come in and kidnapped or murdered everybody in Aspen. You’re trying to reclaim the town of Aspen from this insane gang.
GamesBeat: I think it’s funny that even in the apocalypse, the One Percent have their playground.
Kopman: You’ll see that that is one of the themes that’s played on in the game, that sense of even in this crazy post-apocalyptic landscape, there is an inherent class structure that forms.
GamesBeat: Is that something, going into the game, when you started with the base narrative and advancing it — did you start out with that? Even in a world where everyone is scraping for what they can find, there are those who will always have more, and who will have access to other things? Or did that just develop out of the story you were telling?
Kopman: I don’t know exactly which direction that took, but I do know it’s baked into the game, this question of the benefits of the order that a structure can bring, versus the inhibited freedoms that that requires, in order to maintain the order. That wasn’t the best articulation. [Laughs] One of the big themes we’re playing with is, what’s the tradeoff between civilization and freedom? Control versus agency, that kind of thing.
Rocky Mountain high
GamesBeat: Going back to the original premise here, why did you decide to base this in Colorado?
Kopman: The big appeal there was to take Wasteland — [which] is very much Arizona; it’s in the desert — and just to turn that on its head and look at what it takes to survive in a civilization-less world in a very different kind. It’s still a wasteland, but it’s an icy wasteland. There’s that sense of, what are the compromises people have to make? What are the technologies they’d cobble together to survive in the cold? It’s very fruitful, I think.
GamesBeat: Is it colder because of what’s happened after the apocalypse?
Kopman: In the fiction of the game, the nuclear fallout of postwar somehow created this permanent Jupiter red spot style ice and cold storm in Colorado. The meteorology of that may not be 100 percent based on reality, but it created this fruitful element, again.
GamesBeat: Does anyone on the team come from Colorado or have an attachment to Colorado?
Kopman: I know our lead artist is either from Colorado or has lived there. That’s influenced some of the visual style. I don’t actually know if that’s part of the reason it was selected.
GamesBeat: There are plenty of areas in North America that are icy cold, after all. You could go to Alaska, but that takes a long time to get there. Canada, the same. When I think of Colorado, I think of the cold mountains, but I also think of these wonderful low areas, meadows and streams and forests.
Kopman: The world map you saw was just a tiny chunk that we carved out for this demo. But the world map itself covers everything from the high Rockies into the eastern plains. When you start the game you’re kind of in the middle in Colorado Springs. It gets colder and icier and stormier as you go up into the mountains, and it gets a bit warmer and a bit weirder as you go out onto the eastern plains. You have more radiation at play. That becomes a bigger obstacle you have to overcome. The eastern plains are the unruled country. That’s where the gangs are collecting. That’s where there are cults that have sprung up. Not exclusively, but that’s a very dangerous area, but it’s the only spot in the world of Wasteland 3 where you’ll see any grass. It’s still cold. It’s not totally summery. But it’s warmer out there. Part of the reason to use Colorado is that variety of environments in a relatively small — not small, but in a specific location. You can get that very obvious change.
GamesBeat: What’s the main takeaway you hope players get from Wasteland 3?
Kopman: I think the big thing is that we understand what people liked about Wasteland 2, and we’ve really honed in on those pillars. We have kept the DNA of the game very much the same. You’re not going to look at Wasteland 3 and feel like we upended everything and came up with a totally new kind of game. We took Wasteland 2 and what people liked about it and built on top of that. We have the choice and consequence. We have the narrative reactivity that’s the hallmark of the Wasteland franchise. Then on top of that we have the big visual upgrade. We have the full V/O. We have co-op multiplayer. The vehicle adding another element to the tactical combat. All that stuff is just in service of making something that still feels like Wasteland and is going to pay off Wasteland fans, but is just that next step up.
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