Fallout 3

December 7, 2009

I really hate Oblivion.

Trust me this is on topic.

It’s ridiculously easy when you know what you’re doing and absolutely punishing when you don’t, every creature and person in the game is completely stupid, the combat is boring, it doesn’t even look that pretty and there is no incentive to do anything in the game as any rewards given for anything are worthless.

But you can mod the Hell out of it, as I did. Frequently. By the time I was finished it didn’t even resemble the original game save for setting, and was actually somewhat playable.

So someone suggested to me I should try Fallout 3, the game generally considered to be Oblivion With Guns.

I’m glad they did.

Because I haven’t modded it once yet and I’m loving it.

I have a mixed history with Fallout, loving the series but being completely unable to play properly. For some reason I just have the worst luck with combat, cannot make a character worth a damn and end up reloading at least a dozen times every battle. Then when I try to avoid combat I end up fighting things anyway.

To begin with, I thought I was having this same problem with Fallout 3. I was getting jumped by people, dying frequently and accidentally killing people. But then it got better. I’m not sure how, but now I was jumping people, carving my way through Raiders and I found out that character was going to die anyway by the way I did the quest. I got myself a cool hat though, so it’s all cool.

Everything that was wrong with Oblivion has been fixed. You’re encouraged to explore, with XP for finding places and no cities to fast travel to straight from the beginning. The world itself is far more varied, with a very obvious difference between the cliff covered north, the barren wastes of the south east, the ruins of DC and the collapsed bridges that cover what’s left of the river. With random encounters, your journeys never become predictable either. While trying to reach the location of a distress signal, I shot through a Raider group that had holed up down an alley and then found a group of Hunters shooting at Mirelurks. A couple Super Mutants across the river started shooting at them and I used the distraction to sneak away and take some of their Mirelurk meat.

The scaling enemies are actually manageable with honest to God levels. It gives a clear sense of progression, making you feel more powerful even when confronted with more dangerous enemies. It also achieves the original goal of opening up the entire gameworld from the start. I’ve never once entered an area and felt incredibly outmatched (Point Lookout doesn’t count), while nor have I fought an enemy and found it too easy (Molerats don’t count).

The first person view makes so much more sense when presented with a gun, rather than the random flailing of Oblivion’s melee combat (the melee weapons do the same in this game, but it’s acceptable since most players won’t be using the much). The VATS system means those unskilled with FPS combat can still make those specific shots and fight properly. I play the game mostly is third person view which makes all combat look pretty stylish.

The quests are also much more varied than Oblivion’s “Go here. Kill them. Bring me that.” My favourite so far being the quest chain to write a survival guide, involving me having to break an arm, get radiation poisoning, go to the super market and blow up Molerat heads. I don’t think I’ve had a single quest where I’ve been told just to kill someone, they’ve all involved some sort of hook to make them different to all others, whether it’s trying to get two people to have sex, being told to shoot people in the head or told to go steal the Declaration of Independence.

And my favourite element of it all, the immersion. Oblivion was clichéd out the wazoo, playing as a walking lizard man felt no different to playing a big blonde viking and the only difference betweens regions was the architecture. In Fallout 3 I walked out of a settlement build in a crater from jet parts, walked through the burnt ruins of a suburb, across the burnt wastes towards the broken highway in the distance. Attacked by two guys clad in whatever metal they can forage armed with baseball bats, I found myself in what was left of a baseball field, now home to the men I just killed.

That is how you make a bloody game. Attention to detail.

Also I hate Point Lookout and find it completely horrendous YOU CHEAT.

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