Wasteland Sandbox is a free post-apocalyptic survival mod for military simulator ARMA II: Operation Arrowhead. We’ve seen a glimpse of civilian life in Chernarus with City Life RPG, and we’ve seen what happens when Chernarus is overrun with the infected in DayZ – but what happens when everything is gone, and all that is left in Chernarus is a small population of survivors. Players will have to group up with other survivors (or not), gather supplies, build a base, and defend it from other survivors wishing to kill and steal.
New survivors must choose one of three factions to side with, two military factions and an independent faction. If you choose to side with one of the military factions you will be punished for killing other survivors from your own faction, if you choose the independent faction you are considered to be FFA and able to attack anyone. Choosing a side, survivors are spawned at a random location in the world, generally at a town somewhere on the map.
Immediately the hunt begins, to survive in the wasteland you need supplies, equipment and a vehicle. All of these things can be found in a town, so players generally don’t have to go far before they find their first abandoned vehicle or barrel of water. Much like DayZ, survivors will have to keep an eye on their health, hunger, and thirst. Keeping a good supply of food, water, and medical supplies is very important to surviving and players will find that’s the first prirority to go on to their list.
There are quite a few things to do in the wasteland, however players will quickly find their survivors life very short lived if they don’t prioritise essential supplies first. That’s one of the initial charms of Wasteland Sandbox, it has a small learning curve that while not difficult to learn – will punish you if you don’t manage a few simple tasks. Gathering food, water, and other supplies is a high priority at first, but it doesn’t take long before you have enough to last at least a few hours or even the remainder of the day.
Upon gathering some essentials, players can then begin thinking about what I think is the coolest feature of Wasteland Sandbox – base building. After gathering a bunch of supplies and loading them in to a vehicle, you are going to need somewhere to store them. Player built bases provide the perfect location for storing all the loot you scavenge, a place to park vehicles, and a small patch of land to call home. There are no restrictions on how much land you can own, you keep whatever you can defend – and you will have to defend it.
Bases are built by collecting base equipment from towns, things like bunkers, deer stands, walls, towers, sandbags, ramps, the list goes on and on. Players can individually place each piece however they choose, rotating and moving freely throughout the map. It’s a brilliantly executed concept and allows for total creative freedom when building your base, in a small way it’s almost like Minecraft in ARMA 2. Building a nice base is fun, but players will have to keep in mind that other survivors have no problem with walking in and stealing from your base.
Players are encouraged to build their base with a defensive perimeter in mind, and should group up with friends to defend it. Putting enough defenses in to scare off a small army will generally help keep a survivor’s assets safe, but nothing is guaranteed in the wasteland. Setting up a base, or a network of bases and running trips in to town to haul supplies back – it’s the kind of post-apocalyptic sandbox I have been looking for.
Wasteland Sandbox is a mod that is still under heavy development, and while it has been a lot of fun building bases and getting stuck in fire-fights against other survivors, there are some features yet to be added that are quite crucial. There is currently no persisent saving, whenever the server restarts everything is lost. This generally happens once every 24-48 hours from what I have experienced, giving more than enough time to set up an awesome base, have some fun killing other players and be ready to start again.
While you can do everything you want and will probably be long logged off by the time it restarts, it would be nice to set up permanent bases, but I am told that it is coming and is being worked on. The mod offers a lot in the areas of base building, survival, and firefights but it will be nice to see if the creators add more to do in the world. There are currently missions that pop-up randomly on the map, alerting players of a new AI base that’s been built or a helicopter that’s crashed full of supplies. Players will rush to these areas to kill whoever is there and take the supplies, essentially the PvE side of the mod.
Outside of these missions though, there seems to be a heavy focus on PvP. Once you have built a big base, gathered a ton of guns and supplies – there really isn’t much more to do than complete missions and kill other players. The creators have some great ideas and there may be some great things on the way, like reputation systems for towns, enslaving and capturing of AI civilians, ability to become a warlord, AI raiding parties, and more. For now, what they have made is an extremely exciting project proves once again that ARMA II is the perfect modding tool for creating mini-MMO mods. If you haven’t tried it already, I highly recommend you do so – if losing your base at a server restart bothers you though, maybe hang out a bit.
How to Play:
If you own ARMA 2, launch the game and open the server browser. Set your filter to search for servers with the word Wasteland in them, this should show you the servers currently running the mod. Find one close to you and join! Visit the official project page to find out more about the project and upcoming features.