The Earth Still Burns: Wasteland 1 Re-Released At Last

On the day that the great Rumour Dance begins throwing initial shapes about a possible Fallout 4, it seems appropriate to also herald the re-release of the original Wasteland, the proto-Fallout. InXile, currently working on Wasteland 2 and Torment: Tides of Mahnamahna, have been trying to wrangle download store rights to the 1988 Interplay RPG for some time, and a couple of days ago their plans bore post-apocalyptic fruit. An enhanced edition of the game’s now available from the usual suspects, and apparently this is its first official availability for two decades.

‘What’s new?’, I can’t hear you ask, because I’m a man sat alone at a keyboard, but I can provide an answer anyway. Primarily, it’s that the old dear won’t grumble at modern Windowses, and even supports a few new resolutions via upscaling trickery. Looking at the screenshot above, I’m not entirely convinced the optional smoothing effect is a good idea, however. The font’s a bit blurry, and the characters look a bit Windows Paint, rather than lovely, chunky old pixels.

On top of that are some new bits of text, voiceover and music, and the option to have Brian Fargo personally drop a nuclear warhead on your home town in order to add to the game’s atmosphere.

The game’s available on Steam and GoG for $6/£4.49, but if you helped Kickstart Wasteland 2 you should have a free copy of Wasteland 1 already. Here’s the plot summary, not that one is really needed for such an archetype of a setting:

The year is 2087, eighty-nine years after an all out nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union turned vast swaths of the Earth into a hellish wasteland where survival is a daily struggle against thirst, hunger, radiation sickness, ravaging raiders, and mutants – always mutants. You are a Desert Ranger, one of a band of stalwart lawmen born from the remnants of a U.S. Army detachment who survived the nuclear holocaust by holing up in a maximum security prison. You may wear ragtag uniforms and carry make-shift weapons, but the Desert Rangers are the only law left in what was once the American southwest.


  1. strangeloup says:

    It’s also worth noting that Torment: Numanera backers who backed the tier that nets a copy of Wasteland 2 as well as T:ToN will also receive a copy of Wasteland; slightly oddly however you can have it either on Steam or GOG, but not both.

    I haven’t sufficiently got anywhere yet, mostly because it’s a bit hard to get into on account of being nearly as old as I am.

    • Premium User Badge

      Aerothorn says:

      The logic for this is that the industry has now figured out that when you give people multiple keys for something, a good chunk resell them, give them away on Steamgifts, etc. It really sucks, and many developers kindly eat that in order to give people multiple download options, but I can’t really blame them for preventing it.

    • LionsPhil says:

      If you get the Steam copy, then install it, you do get the extras (look under the Wasteland folder in your Steam apps folder), and supposedly the copy that’s there is not DRM encumbered (it’s not like they’re going to backport Steamworks to it). So I archived mine up and put it with my GOG games for safekeeping.

      Since it’s got the paragraph book integrated, it’s sort-of less copy-protected that the original. (Although I suspect it’s also ancient enough that they did that for genuine space constraints, too.)

      What I didn’t find within the five minutes I had was if there’s a way to get it into windowed mode.

      • Tuhalu says:

        The modern version of Wasteland 1 is running in Dosbox, so Alt-Enter will pop the game into a windowed mode (although no idea if you can resize that) and back again as needed.

    • Sakkura says:

      Unfortunately, the Torment backers who paid extra to get Wasteland 2 got screwed when they decided on releasing a beta to the backers rather than the finished game.

  2. Jockie says:

    A game so old that it pre-dates the idea that having Saddam Hussein lead a patriotic post-apocalyptic American pseudo-military organisation might not be wise.

    I played Wasteland years ago and found myself basically dying a lot, I grabbed my free copy, but I think I need to read the manual before character creation.

    • dontnormally says:

      Was that a big-time spoiler I just read?

      • ADinVA says:

        I’m pretty sure it’s a reference to the first image above. I believe that’s the leader guy who hands out promotions to the members of your team. Perhaps I’m wrong, I haven’t made it very far into the game but I have seen the promotion screen.

  3. joshg says:

    That smoothing looks like a DOSBOX feature, which probably means the whole thing’s running on DOSBOX, which probably means you can get it windowed if you try hard enough.


    • rustybroomhandle says:

      Alt-Enter should do the trick.

      • Josh Millard says:

        Or Command Shift F if you’re getting your OSX post-apocalypse on.

      • Grayman says:

        it does but it really was a strain to try that hard

      • LionsPhil says:

        If it’s DOSBox, that won’t persist, though.

        • Press X to Gary Busey says:

          If it’s DOSBox you go into the game directory’s bowels and squeeze its gallbladder three times to open dosbox.conf. But I recommend using Notepad++ to open it (just use regular Notepad if you’re not cool). Change fullscreen=true to false.

          Edit: I bet you will have to fiddle with the windowresolutionsetting to not get a horrible experience. If you don’t want to use any of the smoothing filters you don’t have to resort to the original resolution. Just multiply the original X & Y resolution with a number to get a correct pixel ratio without stretching. I read the original is 320×200 so use for example 1280×800 or 1600×1000. The smoothing filter setting scaler=none turns off the smudged pixel effect. There are several to choose from if you want one, listed in the config.

          • LionsPhil says:

            True, I’m just wary of those changes going awry when Steam updates it. (The game, unlikely; their packaging of it, perhaps.)

            (Mostly that’s a problem not because of having to redo the change—oh no, what a tragedy—but because if it ever launches fullscreen the crappy Intel graphics driver on my laptop, where I want to play this, will break Aero until I next reboot, and I find Aero Peek incredibly useful.)

          • Press X to Gary Busey says:

            I don’t own Wasteland so can’t check. But depending on their copy protection, DOSBox games on steam can usually just be copied elsewhere without issues and still work. May be a crappy but working solution to avoid steam update nonsense.

    • Kubrick Stare Nun says:

      I feel wrong paying for a DOSBox game, it’s like the devs used a cheap and easy trick for a quick cash in.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Except they’ve also spiffied it up a bit in places, more than GOG would do. For example, rather than “read paragaph N from the book”, those texts are now inlined. Plus all the (iffy) high-res art and bits and bobs. (You can turn them off.)

      • joshg says:

        Ok, I got this, and if it is DOSBOX-based, they’ve integrated it more closely than just handing us the emulator and the original files.

        So it’s not a cheap hack (or not that cheap anyway).

        Also Alt-Enter totally works.

        Edit: Although this is twice now that it’s frozen on me while I’ve been in a window during initial character setup. So hrm.

  4. Josh Millard says:

    God, I wish I had the patience to play it. I grew up on Fallouts 1&2, and backed Wasteland 2 without blinking, but the original Wasteland has always been a thing I’d Look At Some Day because I was worried it was clunky enough in its old age that it’d be a bear to get into.

    Which, yes. There’s not much to do for it, its of an era when resources were few, screen real estate was limited, a lot of basic UI was still a work in progress, and for all that they’ve got this excitingly ambitious pile of systems running. The basic moment-to-moment play experience is just too bottlenecked by nested menus to disappear into coming at it without the aid of nostalgia and motor memory; combat was easy to stumble into and tedious to either complete or escape.

    And I’m complaining about this as someone who didn’t stick it out, and who would like to have had played it; I don’t want to suggest people can’t have fun with the game or shouldn’t try. Just that it’s presenting a steep, old-school curve to the new player on vectors incidental to whatever is good about the gameplay or content, so go in eyes open.

  5. karthink says:

    It’s New-Men-Era. Tides of Numenera. Why does this name give everyone trouble? I’m curious.

    • khomotso says:

      Actually, it’s Nuh-MEEN-rah. Not so hard, right?

    • InternetBatman says:

      Because it’s funny to mispronounce things. Now, back to Batman Origami.

    • emertonom says:

      Pretty sure it was a humorous reference to this song: link to

    • Don Reba says:

      With the US or the UK pronunciation of “new” and “era”?

      • karthink says:

        Pronounce? I’ve only seen it misspelt. I was talking about spelling.

        • Don Reba says:

          “New-Men-Era” is pronunciation, isn’t it? And as a pronunciation guide it is ambiguous, as two of the three parts vary with dialects. Which is especially relevant, since this is an American game being discussed on a British site. :)

    • Rao Dao Zao says:

      No, it’s pronounced Tides of Numa Numa Yay.

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      I think about Numenor from Lord of the Rings when I hear Numenera, so it’s not hard for me to remember the name of it. I do approve of other name warping (Batman Arkham Oranges – even Bruce Wayne needs some vitamin C).

  6. jrodman says:

    Huh, Thanks for pointing out that I have this. I didn’t realize.


    I do find it sort of amazing, however, that a game that was released in era when the term “megabyte” was somewhat foreign now occupies sixty of them. I wonder what’s in there.

    • HothMonster says:

      They added the paragraph text that was originally in the manual AND added a voice over to read you that text. I imagine the voice files are significantly larger than the original game.

      • jrodman says:

        Silly me, downloading 60MB of paragraphs.pdf then! I hope you can switch off the voice, I always preferred reading to hearing.

        • Caiman says:

          Normally I’d agree, although in this case the reading is good and at just the right speed. It’s not quite the narrator from The Stanley Parable (I’d pay to have that in there) but it’s better than the usual “Jim from accounting”.

    • Press X to Gary Busey says:

      I love the requirements on Steam:

      OS: Windows XP
      Processor: 2 GHz Processor
      Memory: 1 GB RAM
      Graphics: 3D graphics card
      DirectX: Version 7.0
      Hard Drive: 100 MB available space
      Additional Notes: Minimum monitor output or 720p.

      1988 just imploded.

      • jrodman says:

        C64 ROM v 1.0
        Processor: 0.977 Khz 6510 (Additional processor required on disk drive)
        Memory: 64KB
        Graphics: VIC-II
        Floppy Drives: 1 Required, 2 supported. 3 blank diskettes required

  7. Enkinan says:

    Played and beat it 20 years ago, Im through to Las Vegas on my current try with the updated version and enjoying it.

    I turned off the smoothing quickly as you don’t get the sweet pixelated animations, just a smoothed still. They also missed voicing a good number of the paragraphs, so pull up a guide and the paragraphs on a phone or separate computer. Also utilize the macros (ctrl + key, again to end record) for perception, lockpick, medic.

    As for character creation, read a few guides or you are going to get mashed. IQ and DEX are very critical. Loot the pre-made characters and delete them.

    It takes a bit to acclimate to the obviously 20 year engine, but it’s surprisingly fun as you get used to it. I’ve gone back to it over much newer titles.

  8. Infinitron says:

    Wasteland was actually last released in the “Ultimate RPG Archives” compilation from 1998, so it’s more like 15 years.

    • Enkinan says:

      I played on the Apple II back in 88, so it’s really more like 25, but I didnt want to feel 5 years older :P

  9. drvoke says:

    Some of the mechanics have not aged well. On my first try, I got into a situation where I could only exit the game by force closing it because I was in an endless combat loop. Too slow to escape, too weak to fight, but monsters only strong enough to knock me unconscious. With only one save slot, you are actively discouraged from saving early and often, as you can easily save yourself into a similar unwinnable and inescapable situation. My second game is going better, but I’ve still had to crack the cluebook open because some bits are totally opaque. Man, we’ve really come a long way.

    • JackMultiple says:

      When this happens, just press the reset key (or CTL-RESET depending on your slide switch setting), then type “3D0G” (zero not oh) to get back into the monitor program. Then you can reload the floppy and keep playing… just takes a few seconds!

      Or you can yank the power cord and plug it back in to reboot your Personal Computer.

      • jrodman says:

        Doing a little digging — this was an Apple II trick.

        Obtusely: Is the game actually the apple version? It sure seemd like pc version.

        If not: i love your response.

  10. LVX156 says:

    I played the original back in ’88 or ’89, and that’s pretty much how I taught myself English. My parents had bought me a used C64 with hundreds and hundreds of games (most of them pirated of course, something no-one even thought twice about back in those days). All I could think of was this game called Wasteland that I’d read about in a gaming magazine. The screenshots, the wonderful box art and the setting made my 10-year-old heart fall in love with it, and as soon as I could I ordered it and waited for it to arrive.

    The game came on four 5.25″ floppy disks, and the first thing you had to do was make copies of all four disks, so the game could save over files as you progressed. I remember doing it one Saturday morning and being really, really impatient and just wanting to start playing it.

    It’s probably the best gaming experience I’ve ever had, and I’ve played the game so many times that I don’t even need the paragraph book anymore, I know the codes by heart. URABUTLN.

  11. Kubrick Stare Nun says:

    Play it while listening to this: