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Wasteland takes place in the future after the nuclear holocaust of World War III. The player guides band of Desert Rangers from town to town, gradually uncovering a sinister plot that threatens what's left of mankind.

Much of the game is played like most other RPGs of its time: the player navigates the party through the top-down world, fights enemies (which appear randomly in hostile areas) in turn-based style on combat screens represented by enemy pictures, acquires information, equipment, and items from NPCs in towns, etc. The player can create a whole party of adventurers and/or recruit some of the characters that populate the game's world.

However, Wasteland also introduced an original skill system that has had a significant influence on the genre. The game makes use of the skill system in conjunction with traditional character attributes to achieve goals and get past obstacles. Beside helping the characters to fight more efficiently, main attributes sometimes have an impact on activities used outside of combat. For example, high strength can be applied to break a heavy object, charisma rating might influence the way NPCs interact with the main character, etc.

The skills work in a similar way: some of them improve the characters' proficiencies with different types of attacks and weapons, while others are needed to solve and/or by pass certain situations during interaction with the game's characters and objects. These skills are rather diverse, ranging from physical abilities such as swimming to more complex actions (medic, lock-picking), or even psychological states (confidence). Skill learning and progression depend on the main character's IQ rating.


Wasteland DOS More 1980s references (EGA)
Wasteland DOS Confronting the Cochise A.I. for the fate of all mankind (EGA)
Wasteland DOS The infamous Scorpitron war machine (EGA)
Wasteland DOS Hiring an NPC (EGA)

Promo Images

Wasteland Screenshot
Wasteland Magazine Advertisement
Wasteland Magazine Advertisement
Wasteland Screenshot

Alternate Titles

  • "Wasteland: Adventure in Post-Nuclear America" -- Tag-lined title
  • "Wasteland 1: The Original Classic" -- Steam / GOG.com release title

Part of the Following Groups

User Reviews

Simply put - superb Commodore 64 Darren Smith (5)
As if we need another review of this fantastic game... DOS thejayman (16)
The best RPG I have ever played. DOS woods01 (163)
An amazingly inventive and detailed game that still manages to stun me when I play it. DOS George Shannon (115)
The seminal post-apocalyptic CRPG Apple II weregamer (169)
The reason I bought a C64 Commodore 64 Mattias Kreku (439)
Old RPG Classic DOS Yeah Right (57)
I cut my gaming teeth on this game and haven't been satisfied since DOS JASON chamberlain (3)
One of my all time favorites! It's much easier to give up tobacco than Wasteland. DOS ex_navynuke! (48)
Mmmm... Wasteland DOS Rob Banzai (3)

Critic Reviews

Commodore Computing International Commodore 64 Nov, 1988 10 out of 10 100
Computer Gaming World (CGW) DOS Nov, 1996 9 out of 150 95
The Games Machine (UK) Commodore 64 Oct, 1988 81 out of 100 81
100 aktuelle PC-Spiele DOS 1990 8 out of 10 80
All Game Guide Commodore 64 1998 4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars 80
Power Play Apple II Jun, 1988 8 out of 10 80
Popular Computing Weekly Commodore 64 Jun 30, 1988 76 out of 100 76
Tilt DOS Nov, 1989 15 out of 20 75
Info Commodore 64 Nov, 1988 3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars 60
Computer Gaming World (CGW) Apple II May, 1988 Unscored Unscored


Topic # Posts Last Post
Wasteland 2? 19 Slug Camargo (589)
Mar 18, 2012


Apple II version

The original version of this game, for the Apple II, used a clever technical trick, effectively virtualizing the huge game world onto four disk sides. Only the part of the world the player was currently capable of interacting with was actually in memory at any given time, and the rest was stored on disk. The division across disks corresponded to geographical boundaries on the world map, so there was no problem with data straddling disk boundaries.

The game shipped on both sides of two disks, completely write-protected. To play, you copied all four disk sides to your own writable floppies, and then booted off of the copy of disk 1.

Cancelled sequel

Interplay had planned a sequel called Meantime that was due in 1989 for the Apple II. Source code was virtually completed but when the Apple II market died. It was then deamed too expensive to re-write the code to the IBM.

The sequel involved the idea of time-travel and recruiting various important historic figures (think Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure). For more information on Meantime, read "Fallout Bible issue 8" interview with Bill Dugan.

Later Interplay attempted to revive the game once more, but Electronic Arts held rights to the title. The game evolved into what we know today as Fallout, a spiritual succesor to Wasteland that, except for some minor references, is set in a different universe.


The credits listed in this entry are a hybrid; the IBM credits have been added and overlaid on the Apple credits to make a complete MobyGames IBM PC entry.


The original packaging contained a photo of the seven main developers dressed in Wasteland gear. This photo, in silohette, is on the cover of the manual and Survival Guide. (see Box Covers).


Some of the mappers on Wasteland were brought on as summertime employees for Interplay and now have careers in the game industry.


The game engine used for Wasteland was also used in the pseudo-sequel, Fountain of Dreams.


Wasteland was released with a book of text paragraphs. Specific encounters would refer players to a paragraph number for a verbose description of what was occurring. To keep players from scanning the book for clues, there were two full versions of the major story. One was the actual plot of the game and the other was a decoy involving the major settings and characters but with an entirely different explanation for the events. After completing the game, you could skim through the book and get a second (albeit cheesy) story.


Wasteland originally came out in the classic album-square EA box for the C-64 - later versions were in the more traditional small box packaging


  • There are references to the game designers and their previous games in Wasteland. The two most common are the obvious spell references to Bard's Tale in the occult shop in Needles, and the character Faran Brygo in Vegas (obviously taken from Brian Fargo). Another obvious one is an arm patch worn by a 'Pistolero' -- it's the old Interplay logo. Finally, the room in Vegas with the Proton Ax has the initials "A.P." (for the developer Alan Pavlish) as a wall design.
  • The makers of Wasteland hid their own version of the Red Ryder 200-shot Carbine Action Air Rifle in the town of Highpool. You can "seek out" and battle (and kill the disappointingly weak) Red Ryder and claim his Red Ryder Gun for your very own.


  • Computer Gaming World
    • October 1988 (Issue #52) - Adventure Game of the Year
    • February 1993 (Issue #103) – Introduced into the Hall of Fame
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) - #9 in the “150 Best Games of All Time” list
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #9 Most Memorable Game Villain (Scorpitron)
Information also contributed by Adam Baratz, ClydeFrog, DreamWeaver, LepricahnsGold, Mirrorshades2k, PCGamer77, RedRyder, rstevenson, weregamer and woods01

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Contributed to by Quapil (5475), Trixter (9115), KnockStump (1004) and Sciere (791942)