Six More Great Dystopian Wasteland Things

Last Friday I made a video: Six Top Dystopian Wastelands.

The video could only be fifteen minutes long, and so I had to axe a whole bunch of stuff from the list. Including all of the video games, oh nooo :C

But your luck, here’s the second half of the list, with six more things to help you get into dystopian wastelands. If you haven’t seen the video, you can find it here. But if you’re up-to-date, let’s get into it!


1) Battlefield Earth


I didn’t even think of L. Ron Hubbard’s infamous work until I was putting the video together, but Battlefield Earth should definitely be included on any dystopian wasteland list. Who can forget their first time picking up that book, being thrown into the world of Jonnie Goodboy Tyler, where humans live in tribes between the overgrown wrecks of cities, and aliens mine Earth for its gold.

Okay, so the story got really weird halfway through, and the idea of aliens mining for gold is pretty silly, but I will always remember Battlefield Earth for its haunting vistas of rotting cities, the almost mystic reverence Johnny has for ancient (and expired) human technology, and the thrill of adventure of a couple of humans pitted against a colony of eeeeeevil aliens.


2) Fallout 3


Although it’s not the newest in Bethesda Studio’s Fallout games, Fallout 3 remains for many gamers the staple title in the series. Fallout 3 is the dystopian wasteland. It’s set two hundred years in the future in a bombed out Washington DC. The backstory goes that in 2077, nuclear war broke out between China and North America, leaving the USA a barren, radioactive wasteland. Even hundreds of years later, what remains of its inhabitants are scattered into various underground bunkers called vaults, and towns built on the wastelands.

Fallout 3 is a terrifying game. You play as the Lone Wanderer, a youth who is forced to leave the sanctity of vault life, tossed out into the wastelands to find your errant father. You spend much of the game alone, fighting Mad Max-style bandits, dosing yourself with Radaway after drinking radiation polluted water and exploring this nightmarish vision of the world.

This game is incredibly iconic. Not only are there towns built into rusted old frigates and around undetonated megaton bombs (which you later have the option to detonate or defuse), there are 1950s-style bomb warnings, ads, cars, haircuts and music. There’s even a Stepford Wives-style town which turns out to be one of the most frightening parts of the game. That iconic American culture combined with the haunting, hostile wastes make Fallout 3 one of the defining experiences in modern gaming.

If you’ve already played the series, there’s also a fan-made miniseries based on it, called Fallout: Nuka Break. It’s very funny and extremely well done, very well worth your time. You can watch it here.


3) Borderlands

Games Borderlands 2

Less eerie and more action-based than Fallout 3, Borderlands is another game that really brings wastelands to life. The games are set on Pandora, a world settled by mega-corporation Atlus in the hope of discovering advanced alien technologies. What Atlus failed to realise is that Pandora was currently in winter, and when spring broke the hordes of Pandora’s native wildlife declared war on the settlers.

The attacks were so fierce that Atlus was driven off Pandora. Later, after many hardships and hostile aliens, it’s proven there is in fact a vault of alien technology on the planet. Atlus threatens to come back in force to find the vault, and those who can afford to get off the planet, go. The story starts several years after the search for the vault, alone with Pandora, have been officially abandoned. You play as a vault hunter, throwing yourself to the mercy of Pandora’s hostile wildlife, its few remaining (mad) settlers, and other vault hunters seeking this legendary treasure. It’ll be a fight every step of the way.

And what a fight! Borderlands is best known for its gorgeous comic-style graphics, its frenetic gameplay, and the sheer joy its offers players. You’ll feel like you’re in a frontier gold rush as you race to find the vault; building your own weapons and encountering the crackpot inhabits of Pandora. It’s tremendous fun.


4) Enslaved: Odyssey to the West


Though Enslaved is a departure from the traditional wastelands offered on this list, it’s definitely worth a look. Set in the year 2160, Enslaved shows us an Earth that has been overrun by artificially intelligent war machines. The machines were developed by various countries to help propagate wars, but they worked too well: the machines consider all humans to be hostile life forms, and have spent decades chasing down and erasing the last of us.

But despite the war machines, Enslaved is a beautiful game. You start in New York City. The city has long been occupied by war machines, and is gradually sinking back into the earth, overgrown with vines and trees and hosting a human-free biosphere. It’s a highly atmospheric game, well, I suppose everything on this list is here because of its atmosphere. But Enslaved manages to walk the knife’s edge between a tranquil garden and a bombed-out wasteland like no other.

It’s is also the only platformer on the list, so if you’re more of a puzzle solver than a gunslinger, give this one a try.




I don’t have much to say about WALL-E. It’s set in the year 2805 on an Earth abandoned completely by human beings. The reason? Humans left so much trash on Earth that that’s all it is – no plants, no cities, no land, just mountains of trash. WALL-E is a little robot left behind to help clean up the trash in the hopes one day humanity can return to the planet. Well, theoretically, anyway. In truth the plan to return to Earth has long been abandoned, and WALL-E is completely alone in his task of making Earth liveable.

The story is beautifully told, and even though there is practically no dialogue, it has a potency that very few movies can hope to match. Plus, it really does make us more aware of just how much waste we humans generate. Also, it’s pretty cute. If you’re one of the few people who haven’t seen it, make sure it’s on your list.


6) Adventure Time with Finn and Jake


What time is it? Dystopian time!

Adventure Time is the enormously popular cartoon written and designed by Pendleton Ward. It’s aired six seasons on Cartoon Network and it seems it can do no wrong.

Like the best cartoons, Adventure Time was designed with both adults and children in mind. At first it’s all bright colours and random events, but underneath the pastel surface, Adventure Time has a very odd story to tell.

The story is set in the land of Ooo, which is implied to be Earth a thousand years after what’s dubbed the Mushroom War. The Mushroom War, which was mostly nuclear, wiped out most of Earth’s human population. In fact, to date there has only been one human in the series, and that’s the protagonist, Finn. There are episodes in which Finn thinks he’s found a colony of humans, only to learn they’re a race of subterranean fish mutants.

But despite the elements of dystopian, and despite the enormous amount of fun it offers, it’s difficult to classify Adventure Time as a wasteland piece. And that’s why, as close as it comes, it’s last on the list.

26a copy


Okay! That’s the second half of my dystopian wastelands list. I hope you’ve found a few new things to occupy your time. Before, you know, humanity is overtaken by nuclear robots aliens from the future.


About Anneque D. Machelle

Anneque "Dangerpus" Machelle (rhymes with ranger wuss) is a rebel and a rogue from way out west. Strictly banned from interactions with other human beings, she spends her days amongst molluscs, dogs and lizards, whom she counts as her closest friends.

Posted on June 3, 2014, in Art and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I love playing Borderlands (1 and 2). My husband played Enslaved and I watched when I was supposed to be writing/editing. I thought it was an awesome idea and well-constructed. I just hate that it ended on such a cliffhanger. I felt there was more to the story than the way it ended.

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