Wasteland: the Original Classic Post-Apocalyptic PC Game

Wasteland. InExile Entertainment

Wasteland is post-apocalyptic role-playing video game released in 1988 which was developed by Interplay Productions for MS-DOS, Apple II and Commodore 64. In the 25 years since its release, it has spawned a number of spiritual successors and popularized the post-apocalyptic theme in video games. It has also become a benchmark both RPG and post-apocalyptic games are judged against.

Set in the desert of Nevada in the year 2087, nearly 90 years after the United States of America has been destroyed by a nuclear war, players control a part of four soldiers, remnants of the United States Army, known as Desert Rangers. The Desert Rangers are tasked with examining a number of disturbances in the surrounding areas. Players move the party to various cities and locations on the wide area map, which expand when entered allowing the player to search, converse with nonplayer characters(NPCs), and take part in combat. Character development, customization and skill progression was groundbreaking when released, with 35 unique skills to choose from you can have one character focus on combat-related skills while another character focuses non-combat related skills such as electronics, cyborg tech, cryptology, bureaucracy and many others.

While advancements in computer graphics and game development have not been kind to Wasteland, the core gameplay, story and perfect blend of combat and puzzle-solving are rock solid. It is also one of the first video games in which player's actions and choices have a direct impact on the outcome of the game. In recent years the game has seen a revival thanks to the 2012 Kickstarter campaign for Wasteland 2, the sequel, 25 years in the making, was finally released in September 2014 and includes Wasteland as a bonus.

Wasteland can still be found on many abandonware websites, but those will most likely be the original MS-DOS version of the game which will require emulation such as DOSBOX in order to play on present-day operating systems. Legitimate copies of Wasteland can be found in the previously mentioned Wasteland 2 release or stand alone at GOG.

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Genre & Theme

Wasteland is computer role-playing game that set in a post-apocalyptic Nevada after the USA has been destroyed.

Sequels & Spiritual Successors

After the success of Wasteland there was demand for a sequel to be released and in 1990 Electronic Arts released Fountain of Dreams which was originally planned as the Wasteland sequel but was not marketed as such and the development and creative team of the original Wasteland was not involved in the development of Fountain of Dreams.

The 1997 release Fallout is considered by many to be the spiritual successor to Wasteland and both Fallout and Fallout 2 pay homage with references to the term "wasteland" and "desert ranger". Later entries in the Fallout series also make references to some of these Wasteland terms as well.

The official sequel, however, did not come about until 2014 and Wasteland 2 which was lead by Brian Fargo after the before mentioned successful Kickstarter campaign. Wasteland 2 was further updated and re-released in 2015 as Wasteland 2: Director's Cut which included enhance graphics and updated game mechanics.


Wasteland was developed by Interplay Productions which was founded by Brain Fargo, who is also the founder of inXile Entertainment, the development company behind Wasteland 2. In addition to Wasteland, Interplay Productions is most famous for the original Fallout series which was the Wasteland spiritual successor as well as Baldur's Gate and Descent.