PDA

View Full Version : Fallout 3: A Review


Farren
12-05-2008, 05:32 PM
OK I've been playing Fallout 3 obsessively for two weeks now and I'm just blown away.

A Little History (skip this if you just want to know about Fallout 3 itself)

A few years back I picked up a game called Morrowind by Bethesda Softworks and was enchanted by the sheer freedom it offered. The game opened in the hold of a ship and pretty soon you found yourself dumped in a coastal town with a simple set of instructions and a whole, continuous world to roam in.

You could set off to find the person who would begin your main adventure or just wander off in any random direction, talking to whoever you liked and getting involved in whatever trouble you wanted to. Rather than the typical level-loading format, the world of Morrowind was a single, continuously loading land-mass with swamps, mountains, towns and castles.

And there was so much to do! Harvesting ingredients from plants, "borrowing" the contents of unguarded containers, pickpocketing people, making your own potions - it was a giant sandbox with hundreds of quests, large and small, many of which could be completed in no particular order.

On top of this the game provided modding tools and an enormous amount of user-created content became available soon after its release, from retextures of the entire world to better 3d models to complex, intelligent companions to huge quests.

But it was also a deeply flawed game. The mechanics of combat, trade and levelling were all poorly thought through and many challenges gave no real sense of accomplishment. For instance, you could continuously increase your character's athletic ability by placing a weight on the "jump" key and leaving the computer alone for a few hours.

Ranged combat consisted of continuously running backwards away from the enemy and cursing as your arrows visibly went through their hearts without any hits being recorded. Companion AI was so shoddy that having a powerful companion was like taking care of a newborn child while adventuring.

For many of its players, Morrowind delivered everything they'd dreamed of in one dimension, only to bitterly disappoint them in others. The modding community even went so far as to create extra memory-resident hacks that ran at the same time as the game to enable play mechanics denied by the game engine and the hopelessly buggy and idiosyncratic scripting language.

When Bethesda's next game (set in the same world) was released, it was clear that they'd paid some attention to the hundreds of thousands of posts discussing the games shortcoming's and player's desires on the official forum. Oblivion introduced minigames for lockpicking and charming people. The scripting engine was vastly improved and you could acquire your own home, a feature found in Fable and many Morrowind mods.

But the minigames were so laughably easy as to be simply annoying and Oblivion introduced a host of its own irritating quirks. Combat, central to the main quest, was still a completely unsatisfying affair. There was obviously an enormous amount of love and effort put into the game, but not enough elegant design.

Worse still, while the world of Morrowind departed sufficiently from stock fantasy themes to feel unique. Oblivion tacked to the center, serving up a bog-standard fantasy world indifferentiable from a thousand other games where the designers consider lore something you make up one night over a beer while thousands of hours are spent on content.

A side note: Being an ubernerd, I actually spent a year of my own free time writing a powerful, widely-used modding tool for Morrowind (The Enchanted Editor (http://www.mwmythicmods.com/ronin.htm#17)) to supplement the main modding tool.

Fallout 3 - Bethesda finally "gets it"

In light of the above, this extremely difficult-to-please customer installed Fallout 3 with mixed expectations. I've never played any of the Fallout series but I prefer sci-fi to fantasy so I was looking forward to the post-apocalyptic world of the Capital Wastelands. But I had mentally prepared myself for a game with frustrating combat, pointless minigames and massive imbalances in gameplay that were easily exploited, like Bethesda's previous games.

Boy was I wrong.

I don't know if Bethesda brought on any new brains for this project, but it appears they've fixed every single problem anyone ever complained about in their past games, without introducing new ones. They've also added a thousand loving touches which enhance the format. The minigames (picking locks, hacking) are fun, combat is really, really fun, companions are intelligent and useful... everything just works. Perfectly.

Reading the reviews I was cynical. Morrowind, a deeply, deeply flawed game, got a Game of the Year Award at the worlds biggest gaming conference. So after reading about 10 reviews all giving Fallout 3 a 10 out of 10, I was still cynical. But having played it I have to concur. This game won't be everyone's cup of tea, but it does everything its trying to do perfectly for its target audience.

The game is set in the ruins of Washington DC 200 years after a nuclear war. The player begins as a resident of Vault 101, a fallout shelter which no-one has entered or been allowed to leave since the war. Generations have been born and died in Vault 101 and your first objective is getting out, so you can find your father after he leaves the vault.

Well, not quite the first. The game takes you through a series of playable scenes starting with seeing your doctor father's face for the first time when you're born and proceeding to hop through your 5th, 10th and 18th years respectively. These scenes allow you to get to know characters from your past who might enter the game again later, as well as determining what type of character you will play, through choices you make. But the game proper really begins with the escape from vault 101.

Despite the go-anywhere, do-anything nature of the game there are ways in which the game keeps you on track when you're feeling mission focused. Quests are noted in your Pip-boy (a device worn on the arm which is basically your interface for everything) and selecting a quest will cause your next destination for that quest to be marked on your map and indicated on your compass. Once you've discovered a location, you can fast-travel there on subsequent occasions rather than spending hours trekking across the wastelands again. So back and forth quests aren't made a chore by the size of the world.

You can simply make a beeline for the next objective all the time, but if you don't go off the beaten track you'll miss the thousands of easter eggs and side quests available, and potentially tens of hours of gameplay. The world of Fallout 3 is huge and detailed. There are no unfilled spaces. Stay on the tracks and you'll never find a furry companion to walk beside you, sensing danger and finding all manner of things you might miss, for instance. You have to wander the wasteland to chance upon the scrapyard where he struggles to survive in order to acquire him.

Visuals

In light of the advances evident in games like Far Cry and Assassins Creed, Fallout's external visuals aren't that impressive. But they're impressive, nonetheless. The viewing distance is simply enormous, reinforcing the sense of being in a world, not just a level in a computer game. Unfortunately, my graphics card doesn't fully do the game justice, as greater viewing distances are possible:

http://www.freethought-forum.com/forum/gallery/files/3/5/screenshot1.jpg

There is a day/night cycle with a continuous change in lighting effects outdoors:

http://www.freethought-forum.com/forum/gallery/files/3/5/screenshot4.jpg

http://www.freethought-forum.com/forum/gallery/files/3/5/screenshot5.jpg

http://www.freethought-forum.com/forum/gallery/files/3/5/screenshot3.jpg

Interiors are very busy:

http://www.freethought-forum.com/forum/gallery/files/3/5/screenshot6.jpg

The sheer scale of the crumbling architecture of Washington DC lends grandeur to many scenes:

http://www.freethought-forum.com/forum/gallery/files/3/5/screenshot7.jpg

My only criticism is that the theme of the game demands an unremittingly brown and grey colour scheme, with little vegetation. The Gamebryo engine combined with SpeedTree technology is quite capable of lush fields and forests, as seen in Bethesda's Oblivion, but in Fallout its more confined to sparse patches of brown grass.

Quests

Before getting into mechanics and such I have to say the quests in Fallout 3 are a delight. Some previous Fallout fans have pointed out a lot of the humour from the original series is missing but not having played those I don't notice its absence.

What is noticably absent is the enormous number of dumb "fetch-me" quests seen in games like Morrowind. Hardly anything is simple. A simple search for a boy's father rapidly turns into a complicate and unexpected series of adventures and so on. Many quests have optional extras that emerge: "OK you got me home, but can you stay and protect us from the coming raid? Please?".

I get none of the "Jesus, this is just a boring, brainless levelling grind" feeling I often got in the early stages of Morrowind.

World Size

The world of Fallout 3 is only about 15km squared, but for a variety of reasons that's sufficient to feel like a huge "world". For one thing, actually walking 15km takes a very, very long time, especially when you're avoiding or engaging in combat over every rise (its a dangerous wasteland) as well as navigating around large environmental obstacles. Also this doesn't include the vast amount of interior space (interiors are loaded seperately when you enter them).

The Pip-Boy

The Pip-Boy is your interface for everything - inventory, abilities, condition, map, quests and so on. It is strapped to your left arm and you visibly bring your arm up to your face when accessing it, with the background still visible around the edges.

In addition, any and all environmental effects are reflected on the actual skin of the Pip-Boy. So if you've just been flamed by a fire-ant, the metal of your Pip-Boy is glowing when you bring it up. If you're using a Stealth-Boy, which makes your character transparent, the actual Pip-boy is transparent when you bring it up, with only the writing on the screen and light of the buttons visible. This is one of the many small touches that makes Fallout 3 feel so... complete:

http://fallout3.files.wordpress.com/2007/09/pipboy3000b.jpg?w=420&h=248

Character Abilities and Levelling

Fallout 3 follows fairly standard RPG conventions when it comes to base attributes and skills.

Your base attributes are Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility and Luck. These each influence a range of things in the manner you'd expect. In addition to these there are a host of skills to develop, each of them scalar in nature, so you can continuously improve them. Skills include:

* Small Guns
* Big Guns
* Energy Weapons
* Unarmed
* Melee Weapons
* Explosives
* Medicine
* Sneak
* Lockpick
* Science
* Repair
* Barter
* Speech

Over and above this, Fallout lets you choose a "perk" every time you level. Some perks can increase, like skills, but they are distinct in the sense that perks are unique abilities which you either have or don't have, unlike skills, where an unskilled person can still try using a big gun, for instance. Their chance of hitting is just substantially lower.

Perks add unique and interesting game mechanics to your character. For instance, the "mysterious stranger" perk gives a random chance of a mysterious stranger assisting you in a fight in the wilds, then leaving when the combat is over, the "Fast Learner" perk makes you earn more XP every time you earn XP and the "Lawbringer", only available for good characters, adds a finger to the inventory of every bad guy you kill, which can be traded for a bounty to the head of the newly formed organisation of lawbringers in the wasteland.

Your character's morality also swings to the light or dark side, based on quest actions and just general behaviour, like stealing from non-hostiles and so on. This influences conversation options, which companions you can acquire, perks you can acquire and so on.

Radiation

There's a lot of radiation in the Fallout world, with most bodies of water being radioactive, as well as most food found in the wastes. This in turn, mean that you will inevitably pick up more and more radiation. Too much and you get radiation sickness, which is expensive to heal.

Minigames

The minigames in Fallout 3 are not spectacular, but they're logical and don't feel tacked-on the way they did in Oblivion.

In the lock-picking minigame, you use a screwdriver and (destructable) bobby pins to move the tumblers, in a close simulation of real lockpicking. Failure results in the bobby pin being broken, although you can stop before that happens and try again. You use the screwdriver to attempt to turn the lock to an open position, always turning in a clockwise direction. You try to position the bobby pin so that it pushes the tumbler, moving it clockwise or anticlockwise. If its in the wrong position the bobby pin vibrates more and more until it breaks. Apparently with a force-feedback control you actually feel the bobby-pin vibrating. Your character's lock-picking skill determinely how much fine tuning of the bobby-pin position is required before you get the lock into unlocked position:

http://ui30.gamespot.com/349/fallout3lockpicking_2.jpg


The hacking minigame is a variant of the old Mastermind game. Your character starts by viewing a raw file content dump, recognisable to programmers as a hex editor view. In the file are randomly chosen words all with the same number of letters in them. On each iteration, you select a word and are told how many letters match letters in the actual password, so if I choose "obviously" and it tells me "Obviously: 0/9 correct", I know that none of the letters in. the word "obviously" are in the password. Obviously, the number of words you can choose before you either pick the right one or are locked out is determined by a particular skill (science).

Computer Terminals

Computer terminals may be locked or require hacking. You can also get passwords from quest actions. Some stuff (journal entries etc) can add information and quests to your Pip-Boy. Its also possible to open doors and safes as well as disabling turret systems through computer terminals.

Dialog

Dialog is standard RPG fare, with many dialog options being based on character attributes/abilities (Speech/Barter/Science) as well as quest flags (whether you've done certain things or not).

Stealth

The game's control scheme has a key for toggling crouching, rather than having to hold down a key. This is because crouching automatically puts you in stealth mode and some characters (like mine) might want to move that way for long stretches.

The success of stealth is affected by lighting conditions, encumbrance, equipment and so on. Running in stealth mode is less effective than walking, but the "run silently" character perk eliminates this distinction.

When in stealth mode, your hidden status is displayed at the top of the screen in large coloured letters. If you're completely undetected its "[Hidden]" in green. If you're detected by a non-hostile its "[Detected]". If you've been, say, aurally detected but the hostile has no line of sight, its "[Caution]" in red, and intelligent hostiles start saying things like "You can't hide from me! I can smell your fear!". When they have line of sight it becomes "[Danger]" in red lettering.

In addition, your various perception modifiers influence stealth. This is because hostiles you can hear or see are displayed as red direction markers on your compass, even if you don't have line of sight. High perception means hostiles over the next ridge are more likely to be identified on your compass before you get line of sight.

Pickpocketing someone requires you to creep up to them, undetected, then hit the "use" key (when not in stealth mode, "using" them results in dialog).

Stealth plays a big role in combat, if you use it - see below.

Combat

This is a huge area of improvement over Bethesda's past games, IMHO. I've seen some complain about VATS online but they're a distinct minority. Combat combines real-time and frozen-time gameplay in an intuitive way.

Combat allows three ways of doing damage: Melee, ranged and traps. Various skills affect each type. You can punch someone, hit them with a nail-board, shoot them or just put down mines everywhere then try get them to run over the mines.

Stealth has a big effect on combat. A shot through the head of someone who doesn't know you're there is vastly more likely to be a critical hit, for instance.

Also, in another one of the many, many loving touches that make this such an enjoyable and deep gaming experience, if you successfully sneak up to someone unaware and are close enough to pickpocket, you can use the inventory transfer screen that comes up to drop a frag grenade in someone's pocket, then flee. They will then blow up.

Science and repair skills help further with robots. A sufficiently skilled person can creep up to a hostile robot and power it down.

Similarly, hacking skills (or simply passwords you acquire through questing) can help with turrets, which are usually all controlled in a given area through one computer network. Shades of Deus Ex.

Your Explosives skill helps with mines, allowing you to creep up to them, disarm them and take them before they are able to explode. The "light footed" character perk allows you to walk over traps and mines without ever activating them.

The real-time portion of combat is basically aim and click.

Unlike Bethesda's previous games, the visuals match the reported effects. In Morrowind/Oblivion, you could see an arrow pierce someone only to be told you missed altogether (if your character has low ranged attack ability). In Fallout 3, a miss looks like a miss and a hit like a hit. This is because, while you are in complete control of the crosshair, your firearm hand is another story. Low skill, unsteady hand.

This simple improvement massively improved the game for me. Whereas in their previous games the disconnect between visual and actual effect made it feel like I was rolling dice, combat is far more concrete and real in Fallout 3.

Crouching (stealth mode) also dramatically improves your accuracy and being half hidden behind things decreases your chance of being hit, both facts which many intelligent hostiles take advantage of.

Hits are body-part specific and you can cripple hostiles, often resulting in them falling to the ground, then moving slower when they rise. You can also disable someone's gun-arm, or even shoot their weapon and knock it out of their hands (although intelligent hostiles will run and fetch a gun if they can). This is especially easy to do with the VATS system, a particularly satisfying addition which I will now describe.

VATS is a non-real-time combat system that allows you to plan, then execute a series of precision moves that are then executed in real time, but in rapid succession and with great accuracy. At any point in combat you can freeze time and bring up the VATS targeting system with the VATS key:

http://www.freethought-forum.com/forum/gallery/files/3/5/screenshot8.jpg

The VATS system will then focus on the closest enemy (you can also select other visible enemies) and give you "to hit" chances on each body and equipment part. You then click a body part to instruct the game to shoot at/throw something at that part, when you leave VATS.

These choices can be queued, allowing you to plan a single shot to one hostile's head, then two to another's, before executing the chain of moves (this combination is especially common for stealth characters, since a first strike from undetected is always critical, but the second character will always be alerted by the first character being hit).

When you exit VATS, the game then executes the sequence of attacks you planned. And this is where VATS is truly satisfying. The game executes the moves (in slow motion) using cinematic camera angles you don't see in ordinary real-time combat. So for a critical strike from stealth, it might focus first on your character from the front, squeezing out the bullet, then follow the bullet, then switch to the enemies head exploding, from behind the enemy. With VATS, combat often feels like you're in an action movie:

http://www.freethought-forum.com/forum/gallery/files/3/5/screenshot9.jpg

VATS isn't free however. Instead, the number of moves you can plan in VATS mode is based on your current Action Points, which are determined by a host of variables, including basic attributes, perks, skills and stimulants consumed. Action points, like mana in many games, slowly regenerate in real time. Regeneration too is influenced by many variables.

This means that combat is often a combination real-time panic stricken shooting punctuated by executing classy VATS strikes when your action points regenerate. If you're really, really sneaky and the situation permits it, you can hit a perfect balance in some grinds where there's hardly any real-time combat and most kills are one- or two-bullet critical strikes, accompanied by satisfying and spectacular gibs.

The VATS system also allows you to really maximise the benefits of knowing your enemy. Some enemies have heavily armoured heads and its better to try cripple them first than get a headshot. with others, its better to first destroy their low HP weapon, be it gun or natural appendage. This, in turn, means that speaking to friendly characters about hostiles sometimes yields useful knowledge that can be used in combat.

I must be noted that you, too, can become crippled, which is distinct from simply losing XP. Some attacks, like a super-mutant smacking you with a massive hammer (scary) and land-mines are more likely to cause crippling and knock you down. Crippling cannot be healed simply by upping HP (which say, food does). You must use a stim-pack or sleep somewhere.

You're not the only one in the world fighting. Raiders do battle with super-mutants, the Brotherhood of Steel fight pitched battles with the Enclave, super-mutants and raiders and you will often find ordinary citizens defending their settlements against deranged two-headed Brahmin cattle. Often its wise to sit back and let two hostile groups beat the crap out of each other, then move in and pick off the survivors, scavenging mucho supplies with minimal loss of ammo afterwards.

The substantial improvements in enemy AI make a huge impact, too. In Oblivion, you could draw the attention of melee-weapon hostiles, then climb on a difficult piece of terrain that the hostiles can't navigate and just pick them off while they mill stupidly around the base of the rock you're sitting on or the open door obstructing the passage. Even worse, since interior spaces and the outside world load seperately when you go through doors, you could have a troll bashing you right in the entrance to a cave system, then turn around, activate the door and be standing on the other side with no sign of the troll.

Such inadequate-engine dynamics are largely absent in Fallout 3. Hostiles that are stuck on terrain with only remain so for a few seconds before the engine "pops" them into a more mobile position a meter to the left or right. They will figure out complex routes and execute them to get to you if, say, you're at the top of a cliff and they're at the bottom, even if that means moving away from you to find a way up. And they will follow you through doors if you exit an interior, as long as they were aware of you and following you when you executed. Which brings me too

AI

I've described many of the improvements in AI above. There is a qualitative difference between animal-intelligence hostiles and human-intelligence hostiles now. So much so that one can often get more XP for a weakly armoured, low HP raider than a heavily armoured, high HP dumb beast. This is because a group of raiders will fight intelligently, taking cover, trying to flank you, running away when their HP is low or weapon disabled, only to return and pot-shot when their friends have drawn your attention.

There are a lot of little non-hostile AI touches, like the fact that even looking at a shop-keepers cash register in sneak mode might cause them to say "Its locked for a reason!" and bumping them too much results in loud complaints "Watch where you're going!". It feels like people are watching you and responding appropriately.

Furthermore, NPC's have time-based schedules. These were introduced in Oblivion but appear to be tweaked and improved in Fallout 3. Schedules are not hard and fast and sometimes you'll a shopkeeper might arrive to open up shop an hour earlier or later than normal. Also some behaviour appears to be based on random scheduling. A shop keeper may go straight home after work, or stop for a beer at a bar. I occasionaly ran into situation where I had to hunt for someone that I found easily before, in order to close a quest-loop.

If you play a heroic, good character, people in certain regions may grow very fond of you. If you've done a lot of good deeds for people in a particular town, they start randomly accosting you in town and saying things like "All of us here really appreciate everything you've done for us, so we pooled our resources to get you this", then handing you a stimpack, some money or some food. A nice touch which makes some places feel distinctly more welcoming and familiar than others.

Companions

Lastly, you may have companions, and these benefit a great deal from the improved combat AI. Companions can be acquired through quests, bought from slave-owners or hired, under the right circumstances and depending on your morality.

In Bethesda's previous games the AI just wasn't good enough to diminish the feeling of taking care of a big baby in dangerous situations. Your companions were always doing stupid shit and getting you or more often themselves killed, getting stuck in doorways, on landscape and so on. In Fallout, they're usually a massive help. The game imbalances they may introduce are offset by the fact that, should your companions kill hostiles, you don't get the XP.

Inherited from past games is the ability to share inventories with your companions. Give them better armour and they automatically wear it. Give them a better weapon and ammo and they'll use it (if they have enough of the appropriate skill to make its use worthwhile). Prep them with stim-packs and they'll heal themselves when wounded, which is especially useful for ensuring their survival.

They usually copy your sneaking behaviour too. Sneak, and your companion sneaks.

You even have limited control of their AI through dialog options, which appear to be partially distinct for different companions. By way of example I presently have two, a mutant shotgun-wielder and a dog. I can instruct the mutant to stay close or hang back and try to flank enemies, to use a ranged weapon in combat or a melee weapon. The dog, on the other hand, can be asked to find ammo or food/medicine, at which point, if there's any hidden nearby, he will trot off and point to it like a hunting dog.

All companions can be asked to wait in a certain place or come with you. Telling one companion to come with you makes your current companion wait, meaning you can only have one companion accompanying you at a time. There are various tricks to break this however, allowing you two or three companions with you at a time. Furthermore, you get temporary companions (help me get home-style quests) where you can retain companions not intended to be companions simply by never returning to the desired destination, or telling them to wait somewhere else whenever you go there.

Two or three companions can make combat ridiculously easy, but because they get many of the kills you earn XP and level up much, much slower. Also, it takes a lot of playing before you can build up this number.

Companions are also useful for getting around encumbrance problems that would otherwise force you to leave loot behind.

Radio stations

There are two reliable radio stations in the wasteland, which you can activate on your pip boy and will provide a soundtrack during long treks (although they seem to, for obvious reasons, diminish your stealth ability), Enclave Radio and Crazy 3-Dog's show. The enclave are assholes, but 3-dog is the "voice of the people" and when you complete certain late game quests, will even speak of your misdeeds or heroic achievements on his show.

Other temporary or limited radio transmissions can be picked up in specific areas only or under specific conditions only. At one point, for instance, you discover a distress signal transmitted via radio that begins a side quest.

Food, drink and medicine

Food and medicine can both be used to heal you and various medicines can be used to temporarily boost just about anything, from action points to intelligence. They each come with their own drawbacks, however, which add nice game balance effects.

Firstly, about 80% of the food you pick up in the wastelands, and all water, is irradiated, with the number of rads shown in your inventory. As mentioned earlier exposure to radiation means your radioactivity levels increase. Too much and you have to pay long dollars or get some relatively rare medicine to fix it. This creates a nice trade off. In many instances, your health is perilously low and so is your radiation, but low radiation levels are a good thing. So its better to eat now and restore your immediate health, then deal with the effects if radiation sickness later.

Medicine, too, has a downside. There are all manner of stimulants but every one of them is potentially addictive (the exception being stim-packs, which heal wounds and restore HP). Use a particular stimulant too often and you will get addicted, a fact which is immediately announced. Withdrawal effects include episodes of blurry vision and swaying, which happen with increasing frequency as time progresses and can only be prevented with further use of the stimulant or medical help (expensive). The blurry vision and swaying can make combat quite difficult.

Trade

Trade is bog standard RPG fare, with various vendors around the world who will trade with you on better or worse terms based on alignment, friendship (if you've done quests for them) and barter skill. Bethesda have copied popular mods produced for their previous games and also thrown in some travelling traders who move around certain areas of the wastelands. Different traders restock ammo, medicine and money at different rates and have differing amounts of maximum cash.

An interesting twist is that specific people, not necessarily full traders, are looking for specific things that everyone else considers low value. A BoS scribe based in the Arlington library, for instance, will give you a lot of cash for every "pre-war book" you find, while another trader will not only pay extra for "sugar bombs", but uses them to produce a super-stimulant he will sell you, for every x sugerbombs you sell him. So unlocking these people and their specific hobbies is very profitable.

Skill Books

You pick these up as loot and can either sell them (they're worth a lot) or "consume" them by reading them, giving you one extra skill point in the relevant area. A "Comprehension" character perk gives you not one, but two skill points for every skill book consumed.

Nothing is Junk

Bethesda's previous efforts and, indeed, many RPGs, have an enormous amount of junk scattered around the world that only has value as loot you can sell. Spoons, scrap metal and so on.

In Fallout, they've added an interesting twist. Many such items have no intrinsic functionality on their own, but with the right blueprints you can turn them into useful equipment instead of just selling them.

So, for instance, turpentine, abroxo cleaner, a bottle of Nuka-Cola, a bottle of quantum and a tin can gives you a Nuka Grenade.

Constructing stuff requires a workbench, much like the KOTOR games.

Finally...

My Own House!

This was a huge area of modding activity in Bethesda's previous games and Bethesda actually introduced the ability to acquire property in the unmodded game in Oblivion. They seem to have polished it considerably.

I managed to get my own house in the town of Megaton and was surprised to discover it came with a robot butler, who, among other things, will tell you a random joke and give you a hair-cut, allowing you to change hairstyles.

Furthermore, it comes with a special display stand for all the Bobbleheads you may scavenge out in the waste, which are each unique and make for a fun collecting game on the side.

But wait! There's more! By speaking to the trader down the way, you can purchase for your house

- Any one of four house "themes" which will completely redecorate your house (Vault, Pre-War, Love Shack and Science)
- A Nuka-Cola machine, which you unfortunately have to restock yourself. It does, however make them ice-cold and twice as effective.
- A workbench, for assembling stuff
- A chemistry set, for detoxing yourself and brewing new stuff (which takes a day of elapsed time)
- A "juke-box", really a large radio that plays Three Dog's radio show when you switch it on.

Over and above this, owning a home actually creates a play mechanic. If you sleep in your own home you get a "Well rested" stat bonus which lasts for a considerable period of time before wearing off.

Conclusions

There's so much more I could write about, so many little touches which make this game deserving of a perfect 10/10, but this review has taken me 4 hours so far. Suffice to say, its the most well-crafted single-player RPG I have ever played in my life and has remarkable depth. Highly recommended.

Stormlight
12-05-2008, 05:46 PM
I'm just starting out in Fallout 3 but can confirm that I have rarely (if ever) played a game that was this atmospheric. Spectacular.

seebs
12-05-2008, 06:16 PM
I'm very impressed, simply because Bethesda's never managed to make an actual RPG before; they've done twitch shooters and fighters with some character stats.

e.g., in Morrowind and Oblivion, what determines whether you shoot something with a bow is not your archery skill; it's how well you personally adjust for gravity. You, the player. Not the character. That's not an RPG.

Apparently Fallout 3's better. And if they release one without SecuROM, I'm getting one.

ETA: The "I thought I hit, but I missed" you refer to in previous games is the OPPOSITE of my problem. My problem is that if I click on a target, I should damn well hit the target if and only if my archery skill is good enough (or I roll well). I should not have a guaranteed miss because I, the player, am supposed to be accounting for gravity.

I'm worried that the non-VATS combat still sounds like the classic Bethesda clickfest which is the opposite of RPG combat.

Adam
12-05-2008, 06:25 PM
Definitely among the best single-player games I've played in a long time.

I know a lot of the people who loved the two Fallout games Black Isle published claim that this one isn't true to the spirit of the series or whatever, but I think it captures the feel very well. Mind you, the originals came out right around the time I got married, so my video gaming time was pretty restricted, so I only played the first one a little bit, and the second not at all. Aethetically, the game hooked me form the first moment, as the introductory movie is just that awesome. A tinny, crackling radio playing the Ink Spots' "I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire" as the camera shows the post-nuclear-apocolypse remnants of Washington DC? Yes, please.

YouTube - Fallout 3 Hi-Res Teaser (I don't want to set world on fire)

Farren didn't mention the setting, which Bethesda didn't create, but handled very well. In the Fallout universe, the future turned out more or less the way the World of Tomorrow imaginers of the 1950's figured it would. Dad had a job, Mom stayed home and tended the house, Junior played Little League, and every family had a robot butler and a nuclear powered American made automobile. Then, in 2077, the US or China (no one is qute sure who fired first) started a nuclear exchange that ended the world in two hours. Fallout 3 is set 200 years after the war, when small groups of people have begun forming isolated communities in the remains of the old world, and the upbeat 1950's aesthetic juxtaposed with the devastation makes for beautifully dark humor. Phone booth sized, coin operated, personal fallout shelters sit on street corners (with signs advising occupants not to emerge until the background radiation levels have decreased to a safe level). Shoulder fired nuclear missile launchers exist, and are called Fat Boys. Galaxy News Radio, which you can tune in on your Pip-Boy, a forearm mounted computer that looks like what you'd get if you crossed an iPhone with the dashboard from a 1956 Cadillac, plays upbeat tunes from the 40's and 50's between broadcasting tips on how to survive in the irradiated wasteland. Every skill, atribute, and perk is illustrated with a grinning Big Boy expy demonstrating it in action.

He did mention the quests, but I'm just as impressed with the small, implied, stories to be found throughout the Capital Wasteland. There are several hundred discoverable locations in the game, very few of which have anything to do with the main storyline. Exploring them is worthwhile, though, as every building, even if uninhabited, has clues as to what it used to be, and what happened in it. Skeletons remain where they died, noted left in campishly clunky computer terminals reveal the stories of those who died in the war, and personal effects are scattered about.

At some points you have to sort of shrug and suspend your disbelief (I can buy that there are nuclear generators still kicking somewhere in the wreckage but, seriously, lightbulbs? Where did Colin Moriarty pick up his Irish accent? You're telling me no one in the last two hundred years has opened up this personal fallout shelter in the middle of the street and picked the pocket of the dude who died in it?)

I have a few specific complaints with the gameplay itself. NPC's are dumb enough to get themselves killed by walking off of or into things. There is a woman who is part of an Underground Railroad type organization, ans she shows up to confront you shortly afer you complete a given task, no matter where you are. I happened to be in a ghost town called Minefield (for reasons that become obvious the first time you blow one of your legs off by not watching your steps) when she confronted me. On the plus side, she had some cool stuff on her when I looted her corpse. The combat, outside of VATS, which is awesome, is very clunky. I would have preferred they borrow a page from Mass Effect's book wrt determining, and showing, the effects of my character's weapon skill on my aim, rather than the shitty system they went with, where I clearly have my crosshair on that super mutie's head, yet I inexplicably missed him. The SPECIAL system, and its associated skills, strongly favor certain character builds. If you're min/maxing, you're going to boost your INT to the ceiling, as no other option is remotely as powerful in the long run.

I've been playing on Normal difficulty, but on my second playthough, I'm gong to crank the difficulty all the way up. I very much enjoyed the feeling, early on, that I had to scrape and scavange everything I could from the wreckage if I was going to have enough ammo and stimpacks to stay alive, but I'm far enough along now that simple survival is no longer a big deal. I'm sitting on over a thousand rounds for my assault rifle, and have at least a couple hundred for every other form of small arm available, as well as 60+ stimpacks and 80+ Ice Cold Nuka-Colas. I'd like to get back to that desperate battle for survival.

I began playing on the PC, via a friend and a cracked executable, because I generally don't like spending money on single player games that I'll poke around with for an hour or two, then quit out of boredom, but I was immediately hooked and went out to buy it (Xbox version...I wanted to play on the big screen).

Adam
12-05-2008, 06:38 PM
ETA: The "I thought I hit, but I missed" you refer to in previous games is the OPPOSITE of my problem. My problem is that if I click on a target, I should damn well hit the target if and only if my archery skill is good enough (or I roll well). I should not have a guaranteed miss because I, the player, am supposed to be accounting for gravity.

I'm worried that the non-VATS combat still sounds like the classic Bethesda clickfest which is the opposite of RPG combat.

The non-VATS combat attempts to be an FPS that still takes your character's skill level into account. It is not an impressive attempt. I know I keep banging this drum, but I thought Mass Effect accomplished the hybrid FPS/RPG approach very well. It plays like an FPS, but instead of a simple crosshair with which to aim, you have a crosshair in the center of circle. When you fire your weapon, the actual point of impact is a random point within that circle. More accurate weapons have smaller circles, less accurate weapons have larger circles. The higher your character's skill with a given weapon, the smaller the circle gets. A highly skilled marksman using an accurate rifle will eventually have a circle that's essentially the same size as the crosshair. As you fire, recoil gradually causes the circle to get larger until you stop firing long enough to recover. I believe Bethesda is doing something similar, if simplified, under the hood, but they do a very poor job showing the player the interaction between in game elements and player aim.

seebs
12-05-2008, 06:42 PM
My big problem with all such systems is this:

I have really crappy aim.

So any system which isn't giving me time to pick targets in a completely bulletproof way, then determining outcomes via character skill, means I can only play characters who are incredibly slow to aim and not very good at it.

Which rather limits my options.

Joshua Adams
12-05-2008, 06:47 PM
You don't have to aim. It freezes while you choose what part of the body to fire at, and tells you what % chance there is of success. This is based on your skills, distance from enemy, and presence of obstructions.

I didn't play Fallout 3, but that seems to be the case based on Farren's explanation, and that's how it was in the first two.


ETA: Is there a time limit? In the first game, the point of leaving the vault was to replace their water chip. If you waited too long, they'd eventually run out of water and die (Also, mutants later show up and you have to eliminate them or else they overrun everything). I can't remember what the second game's contrivance was for the time limit, if there even was one.

Farren
12-05-2008, 06:55 PM
I'm very impressed, simply because Bethesda's never managed to make an actual RPG before; they've done twitch shooters and fighters with some character stats.

e.g., in Morrowind and Oblivion, what determines whether you shoot something with a bow is not your archery skill; it's how well you personally adjust for gravity. You, the player. Not the character. That's not an RPG.

Apparently Fallout 3's better. And if they release one without SecuROM, I'm getting one.

ETA: The "I thought I hit, but I missed" you refer to in previous games is the OPPOSITE of my problem. My problem is that if I click on a target, I should damn well hit the target if and only if my archery skill is good enough (or I roll well). I should not have a guaranteed miss because I, the player, am supposed to be accounting for gravity.

I'm worried that the non-VATS combat still sounds like the classic Bethesda clickfest which is the opposite of RPG combat.

Seebs I like intelligent shooters (I play Counter-Strike online a lot), so the review's definitely written from a bias towards that. I like my own twitch ability, poor as it is, to play a role. So you would probably like that bit less than me.

It does add a tension that purely chess-like combat can't possibly have but I appreciate that you may not particularly want to feel that tension.

In any event I'm pretty sure you'll love VATS. The way they've designed it you can definitely max, say, Sneak ability, Action Points and Small Arms fire quickly to the point of doing enormous damage through a tactical interface 90% of the time. Or, as some people have testified to doing online, you can neglect action points entirely and just play it like a real time shooter. VATS is so powerful, though, that the FPS player is at a bit of a disadvantage.

ETA: In fact you only have to max out Action Points for VATS, you can combine that with a ton of things for tactical combat

Farren
12-05-2008, 06:59 PM
BTW Adam thanks for all the back story. I have to say I absolutely frikken love the retro-future chic in FO3

Farren
12-05-2008, 07:03 PM
You don't have to aim. It freezes while you choose what part of the body to fire at, and tells you what % chance there is of success. This is based on your skills, distance from enemy, and presence of obstructions.

I didn't play Fallout 3, but that seems to be the case based on Farren's explanation, and that's how it was in the first two.


ETA: Is there a time limit? In the first game, the point of leaving the vault was to replace their water chip. If you waited too long, they'd eventually run out of water and die (Also, mutants later show up and you have to eliminate them or else they overrun everything). I can't remember what the second game's contrivance was for the time limit, if there even was one.

Josh I'm late game but unaware of a time limit. I've encountered side quests with time limits. I went off looking for a scrapyard to scavenge up some defensive equipment in anticipation of a particular town being raided. I got sidetracked on another quest and several days later got informed the guy I was meant to defend in the raid died.

Farren
12-05-2008, 07:10 PM
Also Seebs, they've adopted the same approach to lockpicking, which can require a dextrous touch. You can attempt to lockpick, or just press "F" to attempt to force it at the displayed chance of success.

I really think Bethesda has tried to resolve mutually incompatible demands of their vocal customers by offering multiple interface solutions to a variety of challenges. It seems to have been a very conscious underlying effort.

Kael
12-05-2008, 07:22 PM
This has been tempting me for a while, looks like I'll have to go out and get it. Or more likely beg someone to get it for my birthday or christmas...

I'll probably go with the Xbox version simply because I have so few games for the thing and my PC needs a major upgrade just to run the games I have now smoothly.

Zehava
12-05-2008, 07:27 PM
Adam,

How does play on the XBox compare to the PC. I have Fallout 3 on my PC now and it has my best screen, but I'm debating on getting myself a nice new LCD TV for Christmas (42" probably) and might even get Fallout 3 on the XBox if play was as easy.

I too was skeptical of the mix of FPS and RPG, but this actually works quite well.

I have a few specific complaints with the gameplay itself. NPC's are dumb enough to get themselves killed by walking off of or into things.

Yeah I have had a couple of those moments so far.

One, I am playing my evil character and as I am about to nuke Megaton off the face of the earth (literally), I decide to show some mercy and kill (then loot) all the towns folks. I hire the psychopath, Jerico, to help me, which he is all to happy to do. We proceed to kill off all the inhabitants and loot their bodies. Jericho all the time saying, "Man I love this shit." and "You want some of this?". As I am about to leave town I shoot the damn bhramin, at this point Jericho freaks out and starts attacking me. Come on we just got done putting a bullet to everyone in town but killing a cow is out of the question. Seriously made me go :wtf:

Second, playing my good character this time and I just saved Red and Shorty from the supermutants. Back in Big Town now and preparing for the supermutant raid so I lay down some frag mines as a nice little welcoming gift. Well the supermutants are taking the time in arriving and apparently nearly being turned into chowder hasn't made Red and her friends any more wary as they start wandering out of town. Yes, and right into my minefield at which they all turn on their savior.

Farren
12-05-2008, 07:41 PM
:lol:

Hey, there are misanthropes who love animals. y'know.

Adam
12-05-2008, 08:39 PM
You don't have to aim. It freezes while you choose what part of the body to fire at, and tells you what % chance there is of success. This is based on your skills, distance from enemy, and presence of obstructions.

I didn't play Fallout 3, but that seems to be the case based on Farren's explanation, and that's how it was in the first two.

That's half correct. The game plays like a first person shooter, but whenever there's an enemy in range you can hit a button to enter VATS mode, where you can pick targets at your leisure and queue up as many shots as you have the Action Points for, which will be executed automatically when you exit VATS. You can still fight outside VATS, but it's like playing a very clunky FPS, with hidden mechanics that sometimes force apparent hits to actually miss. I try to fight in VATS as much as possible.

My character is stealth and small arms based (the build most heavily favored by the SPECIAL system), so I usually open up combat with a manually aimed rifle shot from stealth (stealth attacks get big damage bonuses, and you can usually one shot run of the mill enemies), then swap to my assault rifle and pop into VATS for cleanup. If I run out of AP and there are still enemies alive, I either take cover and wait for my AP to recharge or close in on them while switching to my combat shotgun, which is nearly impossible to miss with from close range. Yes, seebs, even for you...the shotgun is most effective if you get in close enough that your target takes up half the screen. :tmgrin:

ETA: Is there a time limit? In the first game, the point of leaving the vault was to replace their water chip. If you waited too long, they'd eventually run out of water and die (Also, mutants later show up and you have to eliminate them or else they overrun everything). I can't remember what the second game's contrivance was for the time limit, if there even was one.

None that I'm aware of. I've been wandering around ignoring the main quest, as has everyone I've talked to who's been playing, and none of us have seen any issues causes by this. The story just sort of freezes and waits for you to get to the next step.

How does play on the XBox compare to the PC. I have Fallout 3 on my PC now and it has my best screen, but I'm debating on getting myself a nice new LCD TV for Christmas (42" probably) and might even get Fallout 3 on the XBox if play was as easy.

I actually think it plays much better on the Xbox. Part of that is simply that I'm jumping from a 21" screen to a 52". A lot of it is that my video card isn't up to par, so I had to turn a lot of the graphics settings way down (I'm using my mobo's onboard ATI 3300+). Some of it is stability. I put in about 10 hours on the PC and had three CTD's. Some of it is odd quirks. I remapped the key to open the Pip-Boy. The newly mapped key opens it, but I still have to use Tab to close it.

I haven't had an issue yet on the Xbox, although I'm a bit worried that I can't access the console and cheat to bring deceased NPC's back to life like I could on the PC. One of these days, someone important is going to walk off a cliff or over a mine, and I'm going to be pissed. I think it looks beautiful but, again, 52" screen, plus I've heard reports that if you turn the graphic settings all the way up, it looks much better on the PC. If your video card supports it, you might get a better looking game on the PC.

Second, playing my good character this time and I just saved Red and Shorty from the supermutants. Back in Big Town now and preparing for the supermutant raid so I lay down some frag mines as a nice little welcoming gift. Well the supermutants are taking the time in arriving and apparently nearly being turned into chowder hasn't made Red and her friends any more wary as they start wandering out of town. Yes, and right into my minefield at which they all turn on their savior.

:lol:

The residents of Big Town aren't very bright. I didn't get any killed, but they ran right in front of me when I was trying to fight off the supermutants for them.

Zehava
12-05-2008, 09:01 PM
How does play on the XBox compare to the PC. I have Fallout 3 on my PC now and it has my best screen, but I'm debating on getting myself a nice new LCD TV for Christmas (42" probably) and might even get Fallout 3 on the XBox if play was as easy.

I actually think it plays much better on the Xbox. Part of that is simply that I'm jumping from a 21" screen to a 52". A lot of it is that my video card isn't up to par, so I had to turn a lot of the graphics settings way down (I'm using my mobo's onboard ATI 3300+). Some of it is stability. I put in about 10 hours on the PC and had three CTD's. Some of it is odd quirks. I remapped the key to open the Pip-Boy. The newly mapped key opens it, but I still have to use Tab to close it.

I haven't had an issue yet on the Xbox, although I'm a bit worried that I can't access the console and cheat to bring deceased NPC's back to life like I could on the PC. One of these days, someone important is going to walk off a cliff or over a mine, and I'm going to be pissed. I think it looks beautiful but, again, 52" screen, plus I've heard reports that if you turn the graphic settings all the way up, it looks much better on the PC. If your video card supports it, you might get a better looking game on the PC.

Thanks for the info. I do have a very good video card on my pc and have the settings cranked all the way up. The game is very visually stunning, but the possibility of playing on a 42" screen is appealing. That and I need a new TV by Feb. anyways so I might as well go for a nice big one.

seebs
12-05-2008, 11:44 PM
Also Seebs, they've adopted the same approach to lockpicking, which can require a dextrous touch. You can attempt to lockpick, or just press "F" to attempt to force it at the displayed chance of success.

I remember messing with the Oblivion lockpicking interface. The question is, if I train up lockpicking, does my chance of success go up?

Farren
12-05-2008, 11:49 PM
Well, yes.

Its a simple score check (displayed) if you just use the "force" option.

If you actually try to pick the lock it requires less manipulation of the bobby pin before it opens, as skill increases.

seebs
12-05-2008, 11:52 PM
Well, yes.

Its a simple score check (displayed) if you just use the "force" option.

Okay. That's cool -- I wasn't sure if "force" just meant "a brute force attempt depending only on the lock".

If you actually try to pick the lock it requires less manipulation of the bobby pin before it opens, as skill increases.

I could maybe live through that.

Farren
12-05-2008, 11:55 PM
By the way Adam I agree with you about Mass Effect's weapons system. It is the best approach.

ETA: Although thinking about it, a second, lighter target that is also precise but wanders around the main target as much as your unsteady hand would, would work even better for me.

Adam
12-08-2008, 05:04 PM
This game has far too much content for a single play through. I'm trying to decide if that's a positive or a negative. I'm sitting a couple hundred XP from the level cap, I've barely touched the main plot, and there are still a ton of locations I haven't visited.

It's not hard to imagine how the Fallout world came to be destroyed by nuclear war, if the terminal I came across in the bunkers underneath Fort Constantine is any indication. There wasn't even an "Are you sure?" prompt when I told it to launch an ICBM before the room started to shake and I could hear the rockets roaring.

Farren
12-08-2008, 06:10 PM
Fort Constantine? Never even heard of it and I just finished the main quest.I need to play this game again.

More importantly, Bethesda need to hurry up and release their modding tool so that the community can release hundreds of new quests and content for the game, the way they did with Morrowind.

I see some people are already hacking together simple mods with makeshift tools, since the plugin architecture for mod files is already there, just not the authoring tools. I think I might install the "Continue playing after main quest mod" and explore the world some more without starting a new character. There's also, apparently, a half-finished "clear up the river" mod to go with it, to make it realistic after you've activated the purifier.

Zehava
12-08-2008, 07:29 PM
I just finished up over the weekend myself. If you follow the main quest line exclusively the game is actually rather short. It is all the side quests and somewhere near 200 locations to explore in the game that make it seem so large.

I found a few of the unique weapons this time around, pretty early on I got my hands on The Terrible Shotgun. Damn that thing does a lot of damage.

What's the weapon I end up using most? The simple hunting rifle. Accurate, ammo is plentiful and damage is respectable. I'd use Lincoln's Repeater more but .44 Magnum ammo is so hard to come by, I had only ~60 rounds at the end.

Sure the Chinese Assault Rifle has about twice the base damage of the hunting rifle, but it is so highly inaccurate when not using V.A.T.S.

Energy weapons, other than a laser pistol, don't become viable until late as micro fusion cells are pretty rare. Once you have a good stock of them though, the laser rifle does very good damage and is very accurate.

Adam
12-08-2008, 07:59 PM
Fort Constantine? Never even heard of it and I just finished the main quest.I need to play this game again.

It's in the north. You get the location as part of the quest from Mister Crowley in Underworld.

I think I'm going to ding 20, finish the story, and start a replay on the hardest difficulty to discover the rest of the world. Some of my favorite locations thus far (minor spoilers, I guess, if you'd rather discover the mini-stories of each location on your own):






The revealingly named Dunwich Building, infested with feral ghouls and containing bits and pieces of a journal left by a man turning slowly into a ghoul and hearing the voice of a Lovecraftian deity. The journal author himself can be found in the subbasement, where he and his cult of ferals worship at an altar to that deity.

The aforementioned Fort Constantine and it's subterranean bunker and ICBM silo, which is one way to play out the final stage of a fairly complicated sidequest involving fetching keys from four individuals across the wasteland.

The Raider stripclub/whorehouse at Evergreen Mills. The laughter almost prevented me from fighting back when four half dressed Raiders burst out of the bedrooms shooting at me. Ditto when a Raider woman in a pink nightie jumped me in one of the outbuildings.

The Temple of the Union, where a band of escaped slaves have devoted themselves to the severed head of the Lincoln Memorial. If you sneak up on their leader, he is sometimes practicing speeches to himself where he compares himself to Lincoln and talks about how he (the leader, not Lincoln) was appointed President of the wasteland by popular acclaim.

Adam
12-08-2008, 08:03 PM
What's the weapon I end up using most? The simple hunting rifle. Accurate, ammo is plentiful and damage is respectable. I'd use Lincoln's Repeater more but .44 Magnum ammo is so hard to come by, I had only ~60 rounds at the end.

I'm in the same boat, although I started to run low on ammo for the hunting rifle when I abandoned the DC ruins, with its abundant super mutants, in favor of the outlying wastelands. I get a huge kick out of the repeater, though. It just makes a satisfying bang when I'm one shotting bad guys in the head.


Oh, has anyone else managed to injure the Mysterious Stranger? I triggered him while tossing a pulse grenade at a sentry bot and got a pop-up saying that I had critically hit him. Apparently, he spawned in the grenade's area of effect.

Farren
12-08-2008, 08:45 PM
I played hunting rifle a lot early, then sniper as soon as I got it. Never got any of the super weapons though, just vanilla.

Adam
12-10-2008, 04:43 AM
Wow. The main quest line is short.

Adam
12-10-2008, 04:18 PM
So, now that I've beat it as the Last, Best Hope for Humanity, I obviously need to replay as an evil character. I'm going to try to address the two biggest gameplay issues I had the first time thorough, though. First, the endgame was far too easy, so I'm replaying on Very Hard difficulty. Second, the economy is broken by the absence of real money sinks, so I'm going to play through true Lone Wanderer style and refuse to accept a house. If I can't carry it on my back, I don't need it.

Not that I'll have much opportunity to accept a house anyway, since I fully intend to murder my way across the Wasteland this time around...

Adam
12-10-2008, 04:18 PM
:shakedoublepoast:

Zehava
12-10-2008, 04:33 PM
Unless you intend to murder everyone you come across, 'evil' players can get an apartment in Tenpenny Towers. You can even turn on Tenpenny and let the ghouls overrun it and the ghouls will let you keep your place.

Even if you don't want to pick up a place to call home, simply use one of the interior locations you clear out as a dumping ground. I always end up putting a lot of stuff in the ammo boxes in the Super Duper Mart before I get a house. Sometimes I just leave it there.

Farren
12-10-2008, 04:33 PM
Adam there are already mods out to substantially increase the number of hostiles in the wilderness, just so you know.

Adam
12-10-2008, 04:49 PM
Unless you intend to murder everyone you come across, 'evil' players can get an apartment in Tenpenny Towers. You can even turn on Tenpenny and let the ghouls overrun it and the ghouls will let you keep your place.

Even if you don't want to pick up a place to call home, simply use one of the interior locations you clear out as a dumping ground. I always end up putting a lot of stuff in the ammo boxes in the Super Duper Mart before I get a house. Sometimes I just leave it there.

I'm trying to avoid using dumping grounds too. I'm hoping that only owning what I can carry will alleviate my complaint that the player is too wealthy in the endgame.

Adam there are already mods out to substantially increase the number of hostiles in the wilderness, just so you know.

Oh, the number of hostiles out there aren't the issue. The issue is that..er...spoilers:

The last two dungeons in the game, which should presumably be the hard part, are full of, first, Supermutants and, second, Enclave Soldiers, and on Normal difficulty all of them drop like flies to a character with a maxed out weapon skill and a reasonably well maintained weapon.

I'm sort of also hoping that playing evil will let me fight Liberty Prime instead of following it around watching it stomp Enclave troops.

I don't think I can do mods anyway. Xbox.

Just playing the first few minutes of a new game after exiting the Vault (I saved right before hitting the pop-up where you can change your stats the first time I played), I can confirm that Very Hard is challenging. Mole Rats and Vicious Dogs are very credible threats.

Farren
12-13-2008, 11:37 PM
I can see you aren't thinking of it of as much of a sandbox as I am, Adam, I didn't even complete the main quest in Bethesda's previous two epics because they got boring, instead loading up dozens of user-created quest mods, many of which were far more cerebrally oriented, with the battles only being a distraction. I think in Morrowind I even loaded a mod that completes the main quest for you (by setting some flags) to unlock certain content.

I suppose the whole world of opportunities offered by mods is precluded on the XBox, which is a pity. To date, there are in the order of several tens of gigabytes of worthy mods that have become available for Bethesda's Morrowind, some designed exclusively for maxed out characters. One I can think of, "Underworld", has a main quest far longer and more cerebral than the original.

Others sacrifice breadth for depth. A Swedish modder and her American friend released an incredibly deep "girlfriend/boyfirend" mod for Morrowind which took them more than a year to complete, where you could gain a girldfriend/boyfriend with a deep, conditional conversation tree that changed constantly depending on mood, relationship (which you had to maintain through time based triggers), other characters you came into contact with (which your love interest may have a history with) and inumerable places, so that even after having your companion trail after you for weeks you might get a unique dialog about cherished memories when visiting an out-of-the-way place with them for the first time. You could even get into situations where you'd pissed them off so much they started fireballing you out of anger (not simply because you attacked them, but because you got into an increasingly acrimonious disagreement).

Bethesda works to deadlines and tries to cover all the bases. But the nature of their games is such that only the modding community can add the real depth their vehicle begs for.

Its one of the reasons I really dislike the influence of dedicated games machines on the games market. They completely gutted many of the more revolutionary features of Deus Ex in order to cater to the XBox/PS2 crowd with Deus Ex 2.

50% of the appeal of games like Fallout is that they are gigantic sandboxes, and there are millions of modders out there just waiting to expand the content waaaaay beyond what the original authors ever imagined. The (still in progress) "Tamreil Revisited" mod, for instance, involving scores of modders, makes the world of Morrowind something like 4-5 times its original size, with a commensurate increase in quests, unique places and characters.

That's why I'm over the moon that they're officially releasing modding tools similar to those for their previous games, with a full scripting language. Initially they weren't even sure they were going to, which elicited a firestorm of criticism from prior fans.

I can't wait, the fun is just beginning.

Adam
12-14-2008, 01:52 AM
You're right, I'm far less into the sandbox aspect than you are. I think that's pretty much going to be a given, based on our past discussions of our gaming preferences. :tmhappy: I do love the sandbox aspects of the game, I'm just disappointed that, at the level cap, there's really nothing left in the game that's a serious challenge. I enjoy wandering around and exploring the environment, but it gets old quickly for me i without meaningful opposition. I didn't sign up to be a wasteland tourist.

I agree that it's wonderful that they're doing the full modding tool suite again. I don't know why all games don't do that any more. Hell, Civ 4 ships with the C++ source code for the game. The latest expansion, including enhanced AI, was largely fan written. Firaxis contacted the people in charge of the most popular mods and asked them if they wanted to publish them for real. I can't imagine playing an MMO without being able to roll my own UI widgets these days.

That said, I don't really enjoy the content mods, but that's because I'm a very picky consumer of media. I don't read fan fiction, which is what fan created content mods always feel like to me. But, I know a number of people really do enjoy that sort of thing, and I'm glad the tools are there for them as well.

I think I sort of disagree wrt console gaming. I'm gradually coming to think of myself less and less as a PC gamer. I bought my Xbox 360 for less than the price of a high end video card, and I know that any title I buy for it is going to work with it. Console games, being cheaper, reach a larger audience, enhancing the social aspect of playing even a single player game, and they are becoming more complex as the format matures. On the other hand, after reading reviews, I can't quite bring myself to pick up Civilization Revolutions, because watering down Civ makes Baby Jesus (who, obviously, was born in 1000 BC in the Mongolian city of New York) cry. I guess opinions on this one may differ based on whose favorite franchise has most recently been butchered on its way to the console. :tmhappy:

Finally, I dunno if anyone else has heard this, but apparently, Interplay kept the rights to produce a Fallout MMO when they leased the sequel rights to Bethesda, is actively working on the project, and has rehired one of the original designers from the first Fallout game to lead their design team. Potentially good news.

Farren
12-14-2008, 02:11 AM
RE Fan-fiction and mods.

While I agree that a lot of mods have an unpolished feel, or (in the more specific context of RPGs) suffer from bad writing, some communities do find ways around that.

In the Morrowind modding scene, for instance, there were admittedly a lot of 14-year-olds with poor writing skills producing mods that jarred with the lore of the game and were full of bad spelling, etc.

But the scene was big enough that some of the more enterprising teams recruited hordes of spell-checkers and testers and really managed to achieve a professional shine on their work. There was/is even a dedicated voice actors guild of people most modders consider good voice actors, after a lot of gamers complained about poor voice acting by the actual modders.

Add fansites with rating systems and extremely active forums where you were sure to see the smallest failings of every mod being discussed for pages and pages and it was quite easy to tease out the good stuff. And there was a lot of good stuff. Seriously there were a lot of quest mods that were significantly better than the freebie extras Bethesda provided after release on their site.

Content mods as opposed to quest mods also have less problems associated with them. There were mammoth retexture mods to bring the texture resolution and quality up for more powerful machines, replacing hundreds of textures. And every one I tried was simply stunning. Along similar lines, a "better bodies" mod was released which, by definition, had far better human bodies (otherwise no-one would have downloaded it).

In any event, my experiences with both Morrowind and Unreal mods has been more good than bad. I tried out quite a few dodgy map mods for Warcraft 3, only to be disappointed but hey, DoTA is now in the top 10 most played multiplayer games in the world and its a W3 mod, with rumours of an "official" version, supported by Blizzard.

And some of the Civ mods that went official were really impressive. I play Civ Beyond the Sword with the Next War mod automatically loaded when I start up, so that my tech tree doesn't end in the present age.

In any event, based on my experience with Morrowind, I highly recommend getting yourself a PC version of Fallout in a year or two when the modding scene has had a chance to produce some quality mods. Seriously, there's likely to be 10 times more world, characters, quests and so on within a year or two of the tools being released. As I may have mentioned earlier on the thread one enterprising team is 75% complete with a "Clear Potamac River" mod, just to complement the alternative ending where the game doesn't end and make it consistent with the water purification thing. And they're doing it by hacking mod files without tools. So there are some dedicated modders out there.

seebs
12-14-2008, 03:51 AM
Hell, Civ 4 ships with the C++ source code for the game.

Does it? I never noticed that. I noticed the python plugins, but I didn't see any C++.

Adam
12-14-2008, 04:56 AM
Yep. Look for the CvGameCoreDLL folder in the installation directory (on Windows, anyway...I dunno if they put it in the same place on every system).

Farren
12-14-2008, 04:58 AM
Wow I just checked and its all there thats awesome!

Farren
12-14-2008, 05:02 AM
And re the MMO that sounds great. The fallout world is especially suited to an MMO.

Adam
04-22-2009, 04:47 PM
New Fallout on the way!

http://www.shacknews.com/onearticle.x/58229

viscousmemories
04-23-2009, 02:25 PM
I played F3 for about an hour but got bored with it. I need more action in my games.

Adam
04-23-2009, 02:44 PM
What, crawling around a playpen and attending a child's birthday party didn't keep you on the edge of your seat?

Naru
04-23-2009, 02:52 PM
If it makes you feel better, vm, you can come back and murder everyone who annoyed you as a child.

Adam
04-23-2009, 02:55 PM
Can you murder Amata at any point? I shot her in the face during my escape from the Vault, but she just got back up and told me I was a big meanie, after which she was immune to bullets, fists, ans baseball bats. I didn't try to murder her when I came back later.

Naru
04-23-2009, 03:04 PM
You can kill her when you return to the Vault.

Also, lots of information has been released about the next DLC, Broken Steel (http://fallout.wikia.com/wiki/Broken_Steel).

Farren
04-25-2009, 04:10 PM
Attention all fallout fans, it looks like Bethesda released the modding tools, because there are a metric fuckload of new Fallout mods out (http://www.fallout3nexus.com/downloads/categories.php). The linked site alone has in excess of 1000. 112 of them quests, the rest animation, beta motorcycle mods, graphic improvements, animation improvements, new NPCs and so on.

Farren
04-25-2009, 04:13 PM
n/m

Naru
05-21-2009, 03:59 AM
Two (http://fallout.wikia.com/wiki/Point_Lookout_(DLC)) more (http://fallout.wikia.com/wiki/Mothership_Zeta_(DLC)) DLC packs announced.

Adam
05-21-2009, 04:04 AM
I'm trying really hard to be excited about all the DLC for this game. When I was playing it through the first time, it was one of the most immersive games I've played in years. The thought of going back and picking it up again sounds like more trouble than it's worth, though.