Wasteland 3 is getting permadeath as part of a new update coming soon.
Patch 1.3.3, titled Death & Taxes, adds permadeath mode as well as an optional difficult skill checks mode, respeccing, new character customisation items, and a raft of improvements and fixes.
Wasteland 3's permadeath works as you imagine it should: when activated at a game's start, your characters will die good and proper when their health reaches zero.
In a post on Wasteland 3's Steam page, developer inXile said permadeath is a single-player only feature that cannot be enabled in multiplayer.
"As much fun as is to watch your friends subjected to painful and horrific video game deaths, co-op splits the team down the middle, and one player losing everyone and then watching for (potentially) hours until the other can make it back to Ranger HQ just isn't a good time," inXile said.
Of note: you can't disable permadeath once you've opted in at the start of the game.
Normally, when one of your party members runs out of life they go into a downed state, and you have a certain number of rounds of combat to bring them back into the battle. If you fail, you can bring them back with a Nitro Spike or a visit to a doc. With permadeath on, however, party members die permanently.
When they die, a party member dumps their equipment to the local party's shared inventory, so at least you can rob their corpse.
"Once a party member shuffles off their mortal coil, their Party Portrait is removed from the HUD and other game interfaces, and they can no longer be selected or used," inXile explained.
"This is because they are dead."
If everyone in your party dies, it's game over.
Meanwhile, the new difficult skill checks mode increases all skill checks in the game by +2, up to a maximum of 10. This applies to all world interactions, such as locked doors, conversation interactions, hacking and taming checks, item skill requirements on gear, and attribute requirements on gear. That's more than skills, then.
"This optional mode was designed to force your Ranger team to hyper-specialise to be successful, making your jack-of-all-trades 'master-of-all' party no longer possible," inXile said.
"This is great for a second run-through if you want to be forced into some hard character build decisions."
This all sounds welcome for Wasteland 3. I enjoyed the post-apocalyptic role-playing game enough to recommend it in our Wasteland 3 review, despite being rough around the edges. inXile has done well to polish the game post-launch, however, and with this new patch, set to go live at the end of March, Wasteland 3 may well be worth returning to.