Fallout 3 EP18: If Wishes Were Black Helicopters…

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Feb 26, 2013

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 191 comments

Link (YouTube)

I’m really starting to admire Fallout 3. It’s like this perfect case study on how to do everything wrong when telling a videogame story. Here we are at an awkward mid-arc turning point where the villain is suddenly introduced with no build-up, payoff, or greater meaning. And then he’s apparently killed off so that we’re sure to think he was a useless extra and not worth remembering.

Why are they trying to seize control of a water purifier that doesn’t work and has never worked? Why are they suddenly here now, ten minutes after we arrive, since the place has been up for grabs for twenty years? How could this device benefit them, even if it worked? Why does dad kill himself and destroy the project to keep it from them? It’s not like you can malevolently clean water. Yes, there are sort of answers to some of these questions that can be devised, but you’re supposed to establish the stakes before the confrontation, not hours after.

Then we have a long escort section / sewer level where our charges are incongruously abrasive, confrontational, or angry with you. Even though you’re the one doing the escorting, you’re never told what your next goal is or where you’re going. Dr. Li just bosses you around like a child and you have no say or stake in the proceedings. The freshly minted antagonists are trying to kill you for no other reason than they’re the Bad Guys.

Then there’s the awful and arbitrary no-stakes moral choice jammed into the middle of the escort mission where you can choose to save someone’s life by giving them a stimpack. Stimpacks are plentiful in this game, so it’s not a big deal to save this guy’s life. (Also: Stimpacks can stop heart attacks? Is there anything they can’t do?) On the other hand, this NPC is worthless, shallow, has no history with the player, and their life or death has no impact on the proceedings either way. This isn’t a choice, it’s a popup asking if you want good karma or bad karma.

Then you arrive at the Brotherhood base, which is probably new to the player. The game has to introduce the base, Elder Lyons, and the relationship between the science team and the brotherhood, all while trying to portray the characters mourning James. How many times does the game lock you in place, grab your camera, or otherwise jam exposition down your throat?

When the game manages to spark some tiny flame of emotional investment with all of its impotent flailing and railroading, it douses it a second later with nonsense, hand-waving, or plot holes. It’s all wrong. All of it. None of this works.

I know we really bashed Mass Effect 3, but I think the storytelling here is much worse. I suppose Fallout 3 got away with it because it’s mostly self-contained. This game wasn’t wrapping up a three-game arc and answering Big Questions posed in earlier titles. It was just a dumb, goofy story. It got away with being stupid by being inconsequential.

As someone who loves to see his opinions reinforced, I was delighted to see this:

The Shandification of Fallout.

The Tasteful, Understated Nerdrage guy steps up and asks the One Question I’m always asking when I play Fallout 3.


From The Archives:

191 thoughts on “Fallout 3 EP18: If Wishes Were Black Helicopters…

  1. Captainpandabear says:

    Some people seriously think Fallout 3 had a better story than New Vegas, too. It boggles the mind.

    1. Jokerman says:

      Who are these people? They need to be stopped before they multiply.

    2. Johan says:

      I didn’t think it had a better story, but at least the Overseer didn’t float around possessed during the first few weeks/months of Fallout 3’s release

      Some people were understandably upset about a game that felt unfinished, and probably still hate NV for that reason. I know I can never go back after my 15 hour save got to a point that it was impossible for me to exit the building I was in, because it autocrashed the game

    3. Icec0ld says:

      They were both pretty non nonsensical.

      My problem with New Vegas wasn’t it’s story but the tone of the atmosphere. It never clicked for me. I wanted to feel isolated, alone and even a little intimidated like I did in Fall Out 3, but between ludicrous factions, robots with accents and brown wash every where I couldn’t bring myself to say it was better than Fall Out 3. At least for me.

      I didn’t enjoy the biggest part of the game, exploring. That’s what made Fo3 fun for me.

      1. Deadyawn says:

        Well, that’s the key difference really, it isn’t about exploring. In the original Fallout you could go wherever you wanted to but the devs very clearly had a rough idea of the standard progression for the average player, where they would go and designed the game with that in mind (come out of vault 13, head to vault 15, run into shady sands along the way, hear about junktown and head there, down further to the hub, etc). If you just wander off in a random direction you will most likely get murdered by super mutants. At any given point you might have a few options as to what to do next but overall it was a directed experience. They didn’t railroad you into going where they wanted you to but they did aim you in a certain direction. Same goes for Fallout 2.

        In Fallout 3, they have those hooks but they also encourage you very strongly to strike out on your own and explore at your leisure and the game is constructed in a way that supports that more. New Vegas follows the original formula a lot more closely.

        So it does come down to your preference for exploration. Frankly, exploration for its own sake doesn’t really interest me that much, not when I could be progressing the story, so I like New Vegas much more in that respect.

        1. Icec0ld says:

          Fair enough. My experience with the original fallouts was limited. I played them but didn’t really enjoy them that much but I did enjoy the tone and setting which was very clear and interesting to me.

          I have fond memories of Fo3. After the initial vault romp and getting to the surface. I remember stumbling into the ruins of town and picking through the garbage of the nearest town and looking around and not seeing a soul except for the resident eye bot.

          I wanted to feel like that. For NV I never really felt like I did in Fo3. It didn’t feel post nuclear, more like a western with radiation being a back drop. I will point out I enjoyed both games regardless

          Also, NV rail-roaded pretty hardcore at the start. Nothing but Deathclaws and Cazadors if you even think of heading north. I felt like this was largely unnecessary, after all Fo3 trusted you enough to not do this even if it has one of the most “schizophrenic” plots ever.

          I will agree exploration is a preference. I think it’s a bit self defeating to be rushing to push the plot forward regardless of the world around you though.

      2. SpiritBearr says:

        Plus unlike Fallout 3, NV has unkillable allies if you’re playing on normal mode and you don’t kill them. It takes until the last bit of Fallout 3 before Fawkes shows up, the game is even over in the next mission.

        1. ehlijen says:

          Are you saying that burst fire weapon toting ai allies have ever been a good thing in any fallout?

          Fawkes wasn’t as big a TPK bait as Marcus+minigun+hilarious burst fire mechanics in FO2, but still, I didn’t want him along. Ever.

          1. GragSmash says:

            Fallout 2 companions were rather like NPC spellcasters in the old Gold-Box game.

            “Oh hey, a goblin just charged the party! FIREBALL.”

            1. You make me miss the grand old days when you could line up enemies in front of a wall and then cast a lightning bolt that gets them the first time through and then on the rebound.

              This is usually followed eventually by a miscalculation somewhere that fries your spellcaster as well, but it’s all good fun.

      3. hborrgg says:

        You weren’t as impressed by team dinner-plates ‘n swords and team sunglasses ‘n incompetence and their valiant fight* over all the gambling for some reason?

        *May not include much actual fighting or even doing anything.

        1. Indy says:

          I still found that more pleasing than this tantrum over ‘who gets to push the button, the guys in armour who like people or the guys in armour who don’t like people’.

          1. newdarkcloud says:

            This. FO3’s plot is so stupid by any stretch that it’s almost insulting.

            Luckily the game itself is fun.

          2. hborrgg says:

            Yeah, the power armor was pretty cool. But I think what I liked most was that they actually seemed sort of serious and enthusiastic about the whole thing. You have the BoS waging trench warfare against super mutants all over the ruins of DC. And when the Enclave finally show up they really make their presence known, setting up outposts and patrols all over the map. Occasionally you would even come across a marked building you want to go loot only to have virtibirds swoop over and drop off enclave troops to swarm the place before you even get a chance.
            Compare that to the people saying “it almost makes you wish for a nuclear winter” or “KAISSSAAAARRR!” Heck, you even have NCR folks complaining about how they don’t have enough troops even though I’m pretty sure that a majority of troopers in the game at any given time are currently in New Vegas getting drunk.

          3. WJS says:

            Wait, the BoS like people? Since when?

        2. Captainpandabear says:

          They were fighting over the perhaps the world’s largest supply of power and clean water. Gambling had nothing to do with it.

          1. Icec0ld says:

            @ Indy

            Add the morally good Supermutant who refuses to save the project for no reason to that list.

  2. kaljtgg says:

    It’s a good episode if I remember correctly, to bad you embedded TUN :P

  3. Deadfast says:

    As much as I love the TUN videos I wouldn’t mind some Spoiler Warning too!

    1. Jokerman says:

      Glad im not going crazy, saw the TUN video….pressed comments and it was updated by the time the page had loaded :D

  4. Vagrant says:

    the post title and the video dont match
    unless it was on purpose you embedded the shandification of fallout instead of ep 18

  5. slipshod says:

    I think the Cuftbertian diet is the magic answer to TUN’s “What do they eat?” question: Whiskey, Beer, Vodka, Scotch, Wine, Beer, Whiskey, Whiskey… Vodka. And people, I guess, if Mumbles is around.

    1. Nordicus says:

      That is eerily similar to my diet in my New Vegas “Kill absolutely everything” playthrough…

      1. StashAugustine says:

        Not enough drugs. Psycho, Med-X, Turbo, Buffout, the Weapon Binding Ritual from Honest Hearts for extra melee damage but more importantly that special saturated-vision effect, Steady if you’re at range, Hydra if hurt, and a little Jet and Rebound to keep you on your feet.

        1. Chauzuvoy says:

          And some fixer, because the best cure for drug addiction is more drugs.

  6. Astor says:

    It got away with it – unlike Mass Effect – because it was 1) a sandbox full of “cool” crap for us to do and 2) it didn’t fail to deliver on any promises (because there weren’t *any* nor any expectations). The game even won award(s) for best writing FFS!

    It didn’t get away with it for the minority who actually cared about the franchise, but the majority was introduced to Fallout with FO3, so they just accepted it for this cool game they invested a good”100 hours of fun” into.

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      When I bought Fallout 3, I expected “Oblivion with Guns.” I received “Oblivion with Guns.”

      I was pleased with my purchase and still am.

      1. There’s a rather lengthy look at the entire Fallout franchise (thought the audio could stand to be better, as it’s often drowned out by the gameplay footage) which makes some decent points about all parts of the franchise.

        It addresses the “Oblivion with Guns,” and it makes the case that perhaps that’s what was needed to pull more gamers into the franchise. Your mileage may vary on that idea, but there you go.

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          That was a very good critique and I mostly agree.

      2. swenson says:

        Yeah, this, except I liked Oblivion’s story more because, to be quite frank, I don’t remember the majority of it (seeing as I would do one mission for Martin, fifteen other quests, then one more for Martin, etc.). I don’t get why people are against “Oblivion with guns”. That’s why I bought Fallout 3 in the first place.

        I guess maybe because it wasn’t “Fallout with first person perspective”… but as someone who didn’t play the first two, that really wasn’t (and still isn’t) a problem for me.

  7. Indy says:

    “Dancing with the Ghouls”, the new $10 DLC from Bethesda’s stable armourer.

  8. Deadpool says:

    I think Fallout 3 gets a pass because it’s Bethesda. Partially because it’s expected to suck (Bioware didn’t always suck) and partially because the story isn’t why you’re there (because it has always sucked).

    Far as I can tell, people play Bethesda games for the sandbox…

    1. Klay F. says:

      Then I have to ask…why have a story at all? Why can’t it be just a pure sandbox that happens to be set after the nuclear apocalypse. Would the game really have been marked down for not having a story if the only reason people allegedly play Bethesda RPGs is the exploring?

      The name Fallout brings certain expectations with it. The game would have fared far better with no story an all connections to Fallout stripped.

      1. Deadpool says:

        I think this may be the idea they are trying with their MMO.

        And yes, I doubt ANY Bethesda game would EVER be marked down for story if they didn’t have a story…

      2. Scampi says:

        Why have a story at all?
        The starting point in a sandbox game is usually something along the line of: “You are some guy/gal in a huge area you know jack squat about(though sometimes unjustified *cough* Oblivion *cough*). So you need a believable starting point. This point is provided pretty well by FO3, having you leave a place you have never been outside of-the problem is: WHY do you have to leave the place at all? That’s where the artificial story kicks in: you are pretty much handed ‘generic reason x to leave the vault’, and THAT’s what you, or better, your created character wants…there you have your plotline to follow.
        I actually tend to do him the favor of rushing through the “main plot” to have it finished. From there on I usually pretend it never happened, or if it did, without my involvement;)
        And, btw, for some reason I have the feeling the people at Bethesda actually think their central plotlines were of vastly higher quality than they actually are…
        Now I wonder, if there are games with a proper sandbox introduction at all…

        1. NCB says:

          STALKER CoP just drops you with the most basic of instructions.

          A sandbox without story is just minecraft; directionless unless you’re entertained enough to make your own fun.

          If I ever get lost in what I want to do in Skyrim, I can just progress the quest.

      3. newdarkcloud says:

        As pointless as Bethesda stories are, reviewers and audiences WOULD have dinged it if it didn’t have a main quest.

        Some people don’t like not having direction. Some people just want to do a questline or a series of them and call it quits.
        These people probably shouldn’t play Bethesda games, but you can’t fault them for catering to other demographics.

        1. Scampi says:

          Actually I have to admit I myself am the type of guy who shouldn’t play Bethesda games because of issues with the way their worlds, praised as they may be, just dissolve under any kind of analysis. They don’t feel like living worlds to me. The cities seem disconnected, people wouldn’t realize if you murdered their direct neighbour, animals don’t feed upon anything but kill for joy alone(seriously: the wildlife is wicked and evil).
          I enjoyed Gothic, where a nightstalker or a few wolves would stand over a carcass of a slain victim, pretending to feast upon their remains if undisturbed. If I played Oblivion or Fallout, I wouldn’t have that feeling: a bear would kill a imperial knight, then simply stroll away to look for more victims. A deathclaw would kill a Yao Guai, afterwards not eat it but walk around to another place or seek out more hapless wastelanders. Having no direction is sure a part of the issue, but not all of it. Still, I can play Bethesda games, but only because they seem to be superior to their competition under technical aspects (yet not perfect. My character in FO3 was completely replaced after the Operation:Anchorage addon…he went from asian to black, received another haircut, lost his facial hair and all his perks…now THAT’s technical imperfection, to be overly polite. But still better than the epileptic day-night-cycle of Risen). I’d currently prefer playing my way through Risen, but the bugs inherited from the Gothic engine make it absolutely horrible to play.
          My point: people giving you directions is part of an RPG game-you don’t have to share their goals. Just don’t quest for them, then. The one quest in Bethesda games that appears pretty useless is the main quest alone. There are lots of amazing quests to solve. But never (to my knowledge) has the main quest been one of them.

  9. I could swear that the latest TUN uses footage from Spoiler Warning’s Mass Effect 1 season, but he doesn’t specify where the footage came from in the author’s comments.

  10. Nick-B says:

    I enjoyed New Vegas a lot more than plain FO3 because the gunplay felt much more tight. I mean, really, Iron sights really made it for me, not to mention a massive expansion in the amount of weapons and a changeup in the caliber of ammo. Also, Old World Blues. Best DLC ever.

    Interesting video he brought up about the “shandification” of games. It sure put a name to what I certainly want from my gameplay: non-linear exploratory storytelling. Skyrim-esque story.

    What I’d like in a game is a game, though, is one that doesn’t try to make you out to be the “great hero of legend!” from the get go. Very few (Avernum 2 comes to mind) ever try that. Skyrim and Oblivion, two recent great sandbox RPGs, both IMMEDIATELY slap you into a tutorial stage with a “*GASP* WHAT HUMBLE BEGINNINGS THE HOLY ONE HAS! GIVE HIM A COPPER SWORD AND SEND HIM AFTER THE GREAT EVIL!” start. I like humble starts, but being TOLD I’m destined for greatness sucks.

    Why can’t I have a game where I start as the lowly street thief. If I keep robbing caravans, maybe I rob a randomly generated parcel that happens to have a key to a chest in a keep somewhere that contains a note about an assassination plot of a much beloved noble lord. If I choose to save the lord, I get drawn in to the plot to stop a country takeover, if I ignore the note he dies and the takeover happens and the country falls to squalor and the world changes. Now I have a chance to get drawn in to the revolution (if I want to via the cookie crumb quest draws if I want) etc.

    Heck, make it obvious that any or all of the story quests may get fulfilled by other more notorious “hero” NPCs out there if I am taking too long or if I am too cowardly. Let them have the valor. Let them be heroic. Let them make the news when one of them randomly fails and and dies off. One by one, heroes die off, reducing the population. Maybe new ones appear.

    1. Khizan says:

      Because somebody has to code every one of those choices. You need full dialogue, quests, and NPC interactions along each path. You need combat encounters, dungeons, and all the other bells and whistles. The first choice you make in your examples forks the story down two seperate paths, each of which needs damn near an entire game’s worth of content on their own. And then you MIGHT join the revolution, or might not? That’s another fork from that path\; if you don’t join it, you’ll need more content for that option, too.

      What you’re basically asking is “Why can’t I get a CRPG with the open-endedness of a tabletop RPG?”, and the answer is that a computer isn’t creative enough to handle the storytelling.

    2. krellen says:

      Do you know how much a pain that would be to program?

      1. Peter H. Coffin says:

        I’m sure it is, but GW2 is kind of angling toward trying that. It’s as-yet pretty consequence-free; it’s not like an entire world-changing event can actually be failed, but there are world-changing events happening slowly over time, and the opportunity to custom-tailor dialog to whether the player participated in the event (a la the personal quest — “Hey, it was wonderful to see so many heroes help. [I’m sure you had something better to do]/[Snaff would be so proud]/[Shaemoor wasn’t just a fluke for you.]”). And, on a server by server basis, different outcomes COULD exist. New area, castle to defend. If successful, the castle stands and merchants move in, else castle falls and becomes ruined, then different merchants show up with workers to rebuild castle over the course of a few months of real time, and all servers are back in sync by the time the next event using the castle plays out.

      2. Incunabulum says:

        No and quite frankly, I don’t care. The difficulty in making a particular type of game is a poor excuse to not make it. I’m sure Skyrim would have been a lot easier to make as a 2D sidescroller.

        Make the game that NickB describes and I will pay you a hundred of your earth dollars to play it.

        1. krellen says:

          You pay me a hundred earth dollars and you will probably be able to talk me into running you the tabletop campaign that would be the only reasonable way to create said game with current technology.

        2. Bruno M. Torres says:

          Mount & Blade

          1. Chauzuvoy says:

            Mount and Blade is an interesting beast. On one hand, it is the most open-ended and dynamic RPGs I’ve ever played. Everything from the prices of various items to the world’s politics are affected by what the player does.

            The tradeoff, however, is that while you can affect and change just about anything freely, and the game is truly changed and affected by what you do, none of those high-level changes really change the world at all.

            If I conquer a city, then that city’s faction becomes hostile, that city becomes my own (or my faction’s), and so on. Capturing nearby villages allows for more goods to be made, and more income and prosperity coming from it. But the city doesn’t react at all. All the dialogue with the various npcs remains the same, the city architecture doesn’t change to reflect the new culture, or any of that. Likewise, you’ll still have the same generic dialogue with an allied lord whether they’re your closest friend or just someone who doesn’t hate you. You can wipe a faction off the map, and that faction’s lords will without fail convert to another faction at the end.

            The game is extremely good at reacting to player action, but it doesn’t allow any degree of immersion. The game can’t allow you to interact meaningfully at a small scale (i.e. with individual people), because the amount of content that would need to be created skyrockets.

            1. Even says:

              It’s still the best one in the “has graphics” department. On the bright side, the game is very moddable and even now it’s got a strong modding community churning out all sorts of mods from gameplay enhancements to total conversions. I’d recommend checking out at least either the Floris modpack or Native Expansion if you’d like to spice up the vanilla setting.

            2. WJS says:

              Why the fuck would the architecture and culture in a city change just because it was conquered? Do you have any idea how stupid that sounds? “Oh, we conquered the city, and the people rebuilt it all from scratch, learned new languages, and bought completely new wardrobes overnight!”

    3. Paul Spooner says:

      As Khizan says, you’re asking for an AI GM to run the game. As Krellen says, this would be a huge pain.
      But I say it can be done! This is the standard to which we should be holding the medium! Not the linear depth of Halflife (though it did it well). Not the shallow breadth of Skyrim (though it was beautiful in its way). But a world both broad and deep, brimming with explanations (if you want them) and consequences (if you dare to face them). Yes, it would require not only a stunningly good AI to run the whole thing, but individual AI characters who behave reasonably and can adapt to the player’s actions. Yes, it would require a truly revolutionary game engine based around goals and long processes instead of the “driving” and “execution” play we have come to expect. Yes, the graphics and story would probably be “poor” compared to the games-that-want-to-be-James-Cameron-movies. Yes, I would buy two of that game if someone would write it.

      But who has the vision to do something like this? Who has the resources, or the time? Who has the daring, the audacity to attempt it, and the skill and tenacity to succeed? Hopefully, we will know the answer soon.

      1. Neko says:

        We just need to take development resources away from the goal of pushing 100x more polygons than the last guy, and go back to simpler graphics and textual dialogue.

        That’ll go down well with the publishers.

      2. Khizan says:

        When people use “AI” in a sense about games, they’re not talking about an actual AI. They’re talking about the decision trees and such that determine the actions taken by the computer. They can provide some startlingly good behaviors at times. The first time I played FEAR, my mind was blown by the way the enemy soldiers would flank me, pin me down, and throw grenades into my position. I’d never seen enemies in an FPS do that before.

        But the computer didn’t decide to do that. Some human programmer somewhere gave the computer a huge gigantic complicated list of conditions and things to do in those conditions, and it went down that list and said “Okay, Khizan’s trapped himself in a corner in this room, and when he does that we’re supposed to surround his position and throw grenades into it.”

        What you’re describing here is an actual honest to god Artificial Intelligence with the capability to see where a player is going and run with that, making it up as it goes.

        The latter is so far beyond the former that they’re not even in the same time zone.

    4. Nick-B says:

      Well, what I’m picturing is, perhaps, sometime a bit along the lines of what Toady is doing in his game Dwarf Fortress. He is making a world that lives and breathes on it’s own whether you are in it or not. All you need to do is throw in a few player-only quest triggers that NPC’s can’t activate so that ALL the content of the game won’t be completed if you sit around doing nothing for too long, and there you go: A massive living world that changes every game, can complete itself so proves you aren’t the center of attention (though you can be if you work at it), and builds itself. He may need to work at making it sound a bit not SO randomly generated, perhaps, but that may be something unavoidable.

      I’ve… just wondered how difficult it really IS to program something to be able to develop randomly generated content that is closely on par to good content? Haven’t you played a good murder mystery game (Phoenix Wright) multiple times, and wished you could play it more, but that the clues differed? Maybe the second time, he didn’t leave the scrap of cloth out under the bench. Maybe this time, it fell out of his coat pocket as he was climbing the fence and it floated into the garbage can nearby. So your investigation of the park yields less clues and the alley investigation gets you the precious clue. Maybe one game, the clue itself is missing! In order to reach the conclusion, another clue is introduced and guides you to the same truth! etc etc.

      My point, is while all stories do have to be crafted by people, the end point of stories can be the same, but why can’t the journey to the end change? Why can’t middling details, or even entire chapters of a story change from one retelling without hurting the ending? If you haven’t tried it, check out a game for the DS called 999. This is a great example of what I am talking about.

      1. Khizan says:

        Because of this: Who will write the intermediate chapters? The computer isn’t creative enough to tell a story at the level of a human writer, assuming the human doesn’t write for Bethesda.

        The computer is not creative. It can’t put together any two things that the programmer doesn’t link together somehow. They can’t say “There was a murder!” and let the computer generate clues from that, because a computer is not creative. They can give it lists of clues and say “Choose an appropriate set of clues based on these criteria and place them based on this other set of criteria”, but those things have to come from the programmers, because, again, the computer is not creative.

        1. StashAugustine says:

          Personally, I like my stories to have a coherent worldview and themes (in a game, preferably competing ones to choose between) and I doubt any computer can pull that off successfully. If you were just doing a straight-up mechanics-oriented game, then it could work.

          1. newdarkcloud says:

            This. There’s no way a computer could procedurally generate a story based on how people play. It simply won’t happen.

            1. Nick-B says:

              What I hope, though, is that we believe this is because nobody has TRIED. Everyone keep saying it can’t be done, goes back to sitting down and scratching out a simple linear story smug in the satisfaction that it’s not possible to teach an A.I. to string together a story and continue onward.

              I don’t believe I’m skilled enough to attempt it, but I was putting out the challenge in case anyone (*couMOLYNEUXgh*) is willing to try.

              1. newdarkcloud says:

                People are trying. Every day in academia there are people who are specialists in this field trying again and again to make a true AI.

                The problem is that to make an AI, you’d need to simulate a human brain, which is significantly easier said than done. Even if we could, it’d be impossible to fit all of that processing power into commercially available technology (at least today).

                It’s just like truly immersive virtual reality. Even if it is possible, it’s going to be decades or possible even centuries before it is viable for commercial use.

                And this even before we get into the hassle of programming for it. If you think budgets and prices are too high already, just wait until we get into virtual reality.

              2. WJS says:

                Yeah, that’s right. All the professionals in the industry are full of shit, and you know better; it’s not impossible, they just need to try harder.

  11. Bropocalypse says:

    An anonymous 4chan user provided an incredible summary of Fallout 3’s plot:

    “Dad killed himself rather than let his broken machine fall into the hands of people trying to fix it. As a result, a water purifier that has no reason to exist released radiation it shouldn’t have, thus killing Colonel Autumn, who had no reason to be there. Then later we got through a village of children who fdso gah frrzlmpr blaaa huygggnl asdf;lj so we could enter Vault 87 and recover a GECK, a device which could be better put to use in virtually any possible manner besides the one for which we have acquired it. Then Colonel Autumn, who shouldn’t be alive, captured us with a flash grenade that shouldn’t have worked in a place he shouldn’t have been able to reach, so he could stop us from fixing the machine he wanted fixed. He then tortured us for a code that didn’t matter and which we had no reason not to give him. Then the president set us free to enact his plan which was of no benefit to anyone, ourselves least of all.

    At the final battle, everyone in the world had the same goal: Turn on the water purifier. Due to this overwhelming consensus, we were obliged to fight a massive war. Finally, Colonel Autumn gave his life to stop us from turning on the machine he was trying to turn on. At the end, the Enclave defeated themselves by sabotaging the machine they were trying to activate, causing it to explode even though it shouldn’t, and obliging us to enter the purifier and die to radiation that wasn’t actually lethal.”

    Even though there are two followers perfectly immune to radiation.

    1. Shamus says:

      Awesome. The circle is complete!

      That summary is actually remix of one I wrote here:


      (The giveaway is that they used the same gibberish for lamplight.)

      However, the 4chan version is much improved. Especially the first line.

      1. Deadyawn says:

        I have to say, I thought it looked extremely familiar.

        The idiocy in this plot would almost be funny if they weren’t pissing all over Fallout while doing it.

      2. Deadpool says:

        I was JUST about to post that then I scrolled down…

      3. Artur CalDazar says:

        I knew I recognised that text from somewhere!

      4. bloodsquirrel says:

        Oh God, the ending to this game was stupid.

        I mean, it’s one thing to say that they wanted the purifier in their own hands instead of the Enclave’s, since the enclave was going to give the water away less freely or whatever, but the idiotic urgency that came out of nowhere to take it RIGHT NOW before they have a chance to turn it on made we want to chew on my cat.

        It’s not a doomsday weapon. We have all the time in the world to take it back, preferably in ways that don’t risk its destruction with a giant robot firing weapons at it. Let them turn it on. What are they going to do, throw purified water at us? I’ll sneak in one night once all of the fuss is over and capture it without the big dumb battle.

        1. Scampi says:

          Give water away less freely than ‘move it around the city in armed caravans, only handing it to chosen people, definitively not to the poor waterless beggars living outside the major settlements’? Who are they handing it to anyways? The only place where I ever found the stuff is the citadel.
          The enclave guys must use it to make radiated instant puree with it or something like that. Maybe feed it to their pet deathclaws or use it as engine coolant for their huge mobile platform, who knows?
          Btw: I’d like to know which pool contains the ‘cleansed water’…the pool where the dead mirelurks are being burned later apparently still radiated.

        2. Bropocalypse says:

          I don’t think the plot of Fallout 3 is salvageable without major rewrites to the entire thing.

          If I were writing it, and if I had to keep the premise of the clean water and involve the enclave and whatnot, here’s how I’d do it.

          Since it’s so long after the bombs fell, it’s not possible for the water to remain irradiated. So, perhaps there could be something else causing the radiation. Maybe there’s a bug chernobyl-sized nuclear reactor stuck in the water(perhaps from a big nuclear vessel. Oh, hey, Rivet City, what do you know. Bonus points: on-board nukes are also polluting the water). Due to the sheer amount of radiation this thing is spitting out, getting anywhere near it to remove it from the water is not feasible. This would give a valid reason to make project purity.

          As for the conflict itself, perhaps it could be spearheaded by the Enclave in the first place. Hell, they’re the remnants of the US military, right? Make THEM the Pentagon squatters instead of the Brotherhood. Even though they’re not exactly nice, they’re more likely to get involved with restoration efforts than the BoS.
          As for someone taking over the Jefferson Memorial, one would have to invent a new motive other than…. Uh, wanting to turn it on? So an ACTUAL conflict of interest is needed. Perhaps one could implicate a faction of ghouls or super mutants who don’t want the water purified, to keep the “normal” humans from displacing them from the DC area. Admittedly this is flimsy, but it’s far better than what we were given. Alternatively, maybe it’s some anti-Enclave group who want to hold the project hostage until they can guarantee some demands from them. The Enclave are a fascist bunch, after all- Maybe this hypothetical rebellion wants them to make certain concessions in terms of human rights.
          As a bonus, this sort of conflict would allow a moral choice for the player: Side with these rebels to help the people of the DC area in the long run, or with the Enclave because people are dying of thirst and radiation RIGHT NOW? It could even be possible for a pacifist character to create a diplomatic solution.

          Come to think of it, a lot of this sounds like the plot to New Vegas. Which isn’t a bad thing, really. Fallout 3’s plot is so bad that copying a better plot, while plainly derivative, would ultimately be more enjoyable.

          1. Deadpool says:

            Replace “magical radiation filtering machine” with “water delivery system” and you fix like, half the issues.

            1. Why not throw in an added bonus that Megaton and Rivet City begin growing crops after you resolve the water problem? The caravans can stay as they represent a stopgap until some better form of irrigation can be brought inland.

              One could even hand-wave the Project: Genesis GECK as being experimental (and pretty dangerous, since whoever activates the thing, and those standing around them, get turned into farmland or whatever) and you have to go on Geck Quest II to find the remains of one with actual seeds in it.

              It’s like Farmville but with more shooting and mutants.

    2. MrGuy says:

      The fact that Col Autumn survived proves that the amount of radiation in the chamber was less than lethal.

      I like to think Dad is alive and well. He just faked his own death to get out of this ridiculous plot.

      1. krellen says:

        He moved under the sea and rose a little fish daughter that decided to be human instead.

        1. Syal says:

          She’s the endboss of Fallout 4.

          1. Klay F. says:

            Endboss? I think you mean to say protagonist.

            1. Syal says:

              She’s only the protagonist if you fail the Speech check.

        2. Paul Spooner says:

          Ooh! So that’s why he’s so up in arms about pollution! It all makes so much sense!
          Also, I guess the glowing stuff in his basement is actually Francium or something?

        3. Peter H. Coffin says:

          And we’re back to Rapture again? Thanks… (:

    3. Jokerman says:

      Its been said before but THIS is what they wrote for Liam Neeson?? …they gave him these lines and this plot as asked him to read them out?. Its embarrassing….

      1. MrGuy says:

        There’s a possible apocryphal story about the ending of Monty Python and The Holy Grail’s abrupt ending. To wit, they ran out of money during production, and so they had to end the movie immediately and as cheaply as possible, so they rewrote on the fly.

        Maybe Bethesda had a really amazing story for Dad. It was interesting and well paced. It had a sensible build of the Enclave. It was a heartwarming tale of love and loss and redemption.

        They started looking for voice talent. And they found out Liam Neeson was available and interested in the project. He wanted $100,000. Hey, more than we wanted to spend, but LIAM NEESON. So they signed him.

        The Liam shows up for the first day of recording with his agent, and Bethesda realizes they made a mistake. It wasn’t $100k for the game. It was $100k PER DAY, and they planned for 2 weeks to record this, with some additional time later for retakes. No way we can afford that.

        So, as Liam started recording his first lines, they locked the writing staff in a room with a pot of coffee and the mission “I don’t care how you do it, but you have to him stop having lines to record by the end of tomorrow or you’re all fired.” Crazy ideas ensue. “What if we turned him into a dog for some of these scenes so he wouldn’t have any lines?” What if, instead of explaining why he needs to leave the Valut, he just disappears and kind of leaves you a note? What if the Enclave shows up hours earlier than we planned just so they can kill him off?

    4. Indy says:

      Minor nitpick, aren’t there three companions immune to radiation? Fawkes the super mutant, RL3 the robot and Charon the ghoul? They can all live.

      1. IFS says:

        There is also the slave girl (I forget her name, since I never had her as a companion) who is not only brainwashed to obey her owner but has an explosive collar on her neck, so really has no reason to refuse. Not immune to radiation but still someone you ought to be able to send in there.

        1. Indy says:

          It makes sense as the bad karma option. Sending someone to their death instead of yourself. It also hits the pragmatic point of being someone objectively less important than Lyons.

          I always had Fawkes or RL3, though. And those two just bluntly refuse saying ‘it’s your job to do’. At least Clover has some self-preservation instinct at work.

          I like that there was a patch (I think as part of Broken Steel) that you could convince your rad-proof companions to go in.

  12. Zoe M. says:

    This is precisely why a procedural RPG the size of FUEL is what the games industry needs. Give gamers, for once in their meager existence, a Dwarf Fortress scale WORLD to get lost in.

    Oh, and throw some permadeath in there. Make those dungeons – and those quest rewards – MEAN something.

    I wouldn’t mind a bit of city-building, too. So one’s characters can have an impact.

    The main problem that comes to mind with such a design is the level of long-term immersion. Can a game really work if the longest gameplay session you can conceivably expect is a couple hours?

    I think it can. Movie-length adventures at your fingertips? Why not? All we need is for someone to try it.

    1. Torsten says:

      The closest we currently have for that is probably Mount & Blade. Add in some Skyrim style exploration and we might have something.

      1. Jokerman says:

        Mount and blade is just Sid Meier’s Pirates on land :D

        1. rayen says:

          Off topic, I want a good pirates game. Is Sid Meier’s Pirates any good? Also, From bethesda, my morrowind had a slide in advertising sea dogs, what about that?

          1. Zoe M. says:

            Pirates is OK, if not an RPG, really. Risen 2 is sadly not very good. Sea Dogs is prolly one of the old naval combat sims from 2002-ish; less pirate than Admiral Nelson.

            Your best bet if pirates is not good enough might be Assassin’s Creed 4: We Ran Out Of Historical Figures So Assassinate Blackbeard Instead.

    2. Incunabulum says:

      People are stillplaying Nethack. Heck *I’m* still playing off and on after more than 2 decades.

      1. Zoe M. says:

        I dunno about you, but I get five to ten hours out of a NetHack run.

  13. MrGuy says:

    So, also…

    The water pipe we are in as the enclave shows up has a giant hole in it. Presumably customers designed as a “”see the bad guys show up” hole. Because there is no other earthly reason to cut away half of a water pipe. Do you people not realize what pipes are and how they work?

  14. StashAugustine says:

    This is the point where I officially stopped caring about this game. The only character I cared about was James (entirely because of Liam Neeson) and then he’s killed by a faction that I don’t know anything about that has no clear motivation. From this point on, I was just trying to finish it to see if it got better over time.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Stories are like milk. The methaphor is quite extensive.

    2. WJS says:

      Dad wasn’t killed by the Enclave. Dad was killed by Dad.

  15. Cupcaeks says:

    “Steel be with you.”

    Ugh, I completely forgot about that line. I guess it was supposed to be a cool catchphrase or something, but it made me facepalm every time I heard it. I could almost believe some of the ideological differences that emerged in this branch of the Brotherhood of Steel; but then they go and pull crap like this, and I can’t help but feel that once again, Bethesda either didn’t get Fallout or just didn’t care.

    1. StashAugustine says:

      Everyone knows it’s “Steel be with your spirit.”

      1. Indy says:

        Given what’s coming, it should have been “Steel yourself, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

        1. Sleeping Dragon says:

          Steel, it could be worse.

          1. rayen says:

            only if the enclave show up to steel something useless again.

  16. IronCore says:

    The funny thing about stopping a heart attack with a stimpack is that you can do exactly the opposite in Fallout 2. (Drink!) It took the super stims to do it, but you could kill Cassidy with them because of his heart condition. If I remember correctly the game mentions elsewhere that overuse of stimpacks is really bad for the heart. This I may just be making up, but I swear super stims were bad for anybody if overused. I guess you could make an excuse for this in Fallout 3 by saying there are examples of things even in the real world that when used in small doses are beneficial yet they’re damaging when used in large doses. Though I highly doubt that the writers of Fallout 3 thought this way when presenting you with this moral choice.

    1. Syal says:

      I swear super stims were bad for anybody if overused.

      That’s because they lower your health as an aftereffect. They’re actually the go-to choice for repercussion-free murdering.

      1. Steve C says:

        I always assumed that stimpacks were epi-pens, aka adrenaline needles. Epinephrine can save someone who’s having a heart attack and kill someone via overdose. It is a vascular constrictor so it would help slow bleeding after having your arm ripped off by a deathclaw. It will also allow someone to power through the pain which is kinda like restoring the abstract that is hp.

        1. Deadpool says:

          “A stimpak (short for Stimulation Delivery Package) contains many
          healing chems. A soup of healing medication, if you will. By
          injecting the Stimpak, you drastically increase your own
          recuperative functions and restore lost hit points almost instantly.”

          “The Super Stimpak contains more drastic chems, increasing the
          healing effect at the cost of eventual damage to the very tissue it heals! A larger cousin to the Stimpak, the Super Stim will heal more damage. It will, however, cause a small amount of hit point loss after a period of time. You should be aware of this function, and prepare for it. But nothing works like a Super Stim when time is short, and danger grave.”

      2. IronCore says:

        That’s right. It’s been so long since I last played. I forgot the exact mechanics.

  17. Factoid says:

    I agree that there are many many problems with the story in Fallout 3. But honestly I never understood the criticism of “Why does the Enclave suddenly want the water purifier NOW, and why would they wan tit anyway?”

    I mean sure, they don’t explain it until WAY too late in the story, but ultimately they want it so that they can poison the water supply and kill off the impure humans. At least that’s what the president wants.

    And as for why now? Because your dad figured out how to make it work. he busted out of the vault, made a bunch of contact with people trying to get the project going again now that he knows how to make it work (admittedly using a ridiculous plot mcguffin which goes against the established lore of the Fallout universe).

    He asked a lot of questions, made a bunch of noise and the Enclave noticed and now they want to sieze the purifier for themselves.

    1. ehlijen says:

      The problem is shown when you go along with the president. Suddenly he declares that the rest of the enclave under Autumn don’t want him to do this plan and he’ll need to self drestruct in order for the player to get out so he can use the poison.

      Most of the enclave doesn’t even know what they want from the water purifier.

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        This. To the point where Col. is so at odds with Friend Computer that he has shutdown codes for it just in case it would try to do something stupid. Like, you know, carry out this plan.

  18. X2-Eliah says:

    Ugh, that shandification vid. I.. I just can’t fully agree with it.

    Reason being: Yeah, so the NV’s world was more logical. So what? between F3 and NV, NV is the one that had the worser interior designs, NV is the one that hand the blander locales, NV is the one that had the meatwall-railraoding forcing players to stick to the path, NV is the one that had all those invisible walls, and ultimately, NV is the one that was not as fun to explore.
    Oh but I guess none of that matters because we know what people eat in Vegas. Oh goody, I cannot even explain how chuffed I am to know that!

    1. Indy says:

      I agree to an extent. I like knowing that the world I’m exploring can function but I also like knowing that the world I’m exploring is interesting. Ultimately, I think I’d rather start with New Vegas as a framework than the Capitol Wasteland. It’s far easier to put interesting dialogue and better interior design into a game than redesigning the over-world to be a coherent world.

    2. StashAugustine says:

      Thing is, FO3 not only doesn’t make sense, it takes itself seriously and then dumps exposition all over you and then still doesn’t make sense. If you hand me Just Cause 2, I won’t care what the people of Panau eat, since I’m too busy tying them to the back of airliners. That game knows what it is- a so-bad-it’s-good 80s action movie with a little bit of sub-Vervohoven satire. FO3 tries to be a story-focused RPG and badly, badly fails. Then, for some of us, that hurts our ability to connect with the rest of the atmosphere. It’s not necessarily that New Vegas is better because it shows exactly where all the food comes from, it’s better because the developers had a plan beyond “make stuff that’s cool.”

      1. X2-Eliah says:

        NV devs didn’t have a plan beyond ‘make stuff cool’, they had a plan INSTEAD of ‘make stuff cool’, an that plan was ‘make stuff dull’.
        And I don’t want my games to be dull. I went into F3 expecting a de-facto exploration-focused go-anywhere-you-want-and-see-cool-shit Bethesda game. I got that. And for me, a crappy & boring world hurts enjoyment far more than one bad & ignorable quest chain.

        1. Sleeping Dragon says:

          I am somewhat inclined to agree that guiding the player in NV was less than subtle, on the other hand if you somehow managed to make your way through that deathclaw wall the game was ok with that rather than giving you a death in a cutscene (I’m not sure if the script didn’t assume that you made it all the way around and met all the people though, in which case shame on them). I guess this is a matter of varying mileage.

          Having said that, and this will be really subjective, I don’t really remember that many “cool” moments or locales in FO3, the one I do recall was Libery Prime attacking Enclave forces at the purifier though at this point I was no longer caring about the plot and just enjoyed a giant robot blasting things. Also it all felt pretty disconnected: “here’s a town with a bomb in the centre,” “here’s a town attacked by vampires,” “here’s a town in a carrier,” “here’s the town of only kids (shudder)” Neither of these particularly appealed to me and they lacked some sort of unifying, driving theme that would make me feel like all of these locales were somehow connected (which, I imagine, the water problems could have been but they were downplayed everywhere but the main plotline).

          New Vegas felt much more connected, a lot of NPCs had stories related to Vegas, they were doing business with it, they lost their money there or they wanted to go there. And everywhere I went I encountered people who experienced or had opinions on NCR and Legion. For me it worked in more ways than just “what these people eat,” but rather “there are issues of individual communities and issues for the whole area.” Having said that I will repeat this is entirely in the taste and subjectivity territory so I’m by no means saying that your perception of FO3 and NV is wrong but rather offering an example of a different view.

      2. X2-Eliah says:

        @Stash: NV devs didn’t have a plan beyond ‘make stuff cool’, they had a plan INSTEAD of ‘make stuff cool’, an that plan was ‘make stuff dull’.
        And I don’t want my games to be dull. I went into F3 expecting a de-facto exploration-focused go-anywhere-you-want-and-see-cool-shit Bethesda game. I got that. And for me, a crappy & boring world hurts enjoyment far more than one bad & ignorable quest chain.

        1. Shamus says:

          It’s important to note that the two aren’t mutually exclusive. I agree that NV lacked the sandboxy exploration fun of subway-tunnel diving in FO3. But there’s no reason one game couldn’t have both. It’s not like coherent worldbuilding requires you to throw away all your dungeons and make the interior spaces into tedious rat mazes. Giving ten seconds of thought to the central plot of the game doesn’t cause the game to have more bugs in it.

          NV was small and broken because it was made by Obsidian, not because we know what people eat.

          I think the contempt aimed at Bethesda is because of the two, their problems were easier to fix. It might have cost a fortune in dev time to expand the NV wasteland, add more places to visit, and fill it with dungeons, but you could have made vast improvements to the FO3 storyline with just one sober person working on it for six hours.

          We can argue about the relative importance of world coherence versus gamespace, or graphics versus voice acting, or whatever. Obviously we want as much game with as much good stuff as we can get. What smarts about FO3 is how it shows a lazyness that borders on contempt.

          1. newdarkcloud says:

            I wrote my own Fallout 3 versus New Vegas comparison. I’d argue that the two are fundamentally catering to different markets. Fallout 3 is aiming for something for akin to “Oblivion with Guns” while New Vegas is aiming for the “classic Fallout” feel. Neither approach is wrong, but they each have their flaws.


            1. BenD says:

              This is the most coherent argument in favor of me going back to play Oblivion I’ve ever read. Unfortunately, I loved New Vegas and F3 almost equally – New Vegas has an edge for reasons I have a hard time nailing down, but may very well be related to what they eat – and classic Fallout is just… not to my taste.

              Thanks for the link in any case, and for the writing work behind it. The more people have to say about the Fallout universe, the more time I can spend reading about it and procrastinating the laundry!

              1. newdarkcloud says:

                No problem! Dirty clothes, who needs’em!

        2. rayen says:

          maybe it’s just because i was raised in the desert and see beauty in it, but i found the bright sandy Mojave wasteland much cooler and enjoyable than the grungy grey on grey on black of the DC wasteland. In fact that’s one of my major reasons for liking NV more than FO3. Stuff didn’t seem dull to me, it just seemed like a desert.

          1. Incunabulum says:

            I’m much the same way – I live at the southern end (of the US portion) of the Colorado river. I wonder if my home is in Legion territory?

            1. rayen says:

              east or west side? East is legion, west is NCR, the river is the border.

    3. Klay F. says:

      You know, thats great if all you want is a sandbox to shoot shit in, there are literally hundreds of games that can fill that particular want.

      This however, is Fallout. It was never a sandbox. It has no business trying to be a sandbox.

      1. X2-Eliah says:

        Counterpoint: if you want a story, there are thousands of novels, movies and plays to fill the want for story exclusivity far better.

        1. Klay F. says:

          Actually, no they don’t. While novels may tell stories better than videogames, novel cannot possibly tell a story in the manner a videogame can.

          1. You kids these days. I take it your education didn’t include a unit on “Choose Your Own Adventure”? That used to be a requirement back when diplomas meant something.

            1. BenD says:

              Wow. When I was in school, Choose Your Own Adventure was considered trash reading. You couldn’t read it for credit.

        2. Deadpool says:

          Counter point: If you want a Sandbox there are ALSO other places to get THAT.

          Actually, as far as sandboxes GO, I would say Fallout 3 is more closely related to Oblivion than Fallout 1 is related to The Name of the Wind… That interactivity makes a HUGE difference.

      2. Vagrant says:

        Name me one of these shooter sandboxes. cuz my problem with shooters tends to be their linearity.

        1. StashAugustine says:

          Heard good things about STALKER, if you’re looking for post-apocalyptica. Far Cry 2 and 3 are shooter sandboxes, the relative merits of which have been discussed elsewhere. The original Crysis is sorta sandbox.

          1. If I play it again, I’m going to need some heavy modding that will (hopefully) give me a better idea as to what I’m doing.

            Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy working out what areas were no-go for my character/equipment at the time, but I often wondered if I was going to places I wasn’t ready for because I’d misunderstood something the quest-giver had told me.

            It’s still quite fun and very creepy in places, especially a certain abandoned laboratory…

        2. rayen says:

          are we talking just FPS? because if we aren’t and you just want shooting murder explosions fun GTA and all its descendants create a rather large segment of gaming.

      3. MrGuy says:

        Hang on a bit.

        The original fallout was pretty sandbox-y, especially for its day. You could wander the wasteland in any order you chose. Yes, you had a central mission, but there were a bunch of optional side missions. There were random encounters as a reward for wandering. There were even quests that didn’t show up the first time you were in a place, but would show up if you came back a few days later (Rescue Tandi being a good example).

        Sure, by modern standards its not a proper sandbox game. But for the time, it sure felt open and explorable. Every quest wasn’t handed to you – a lot of the interesting ones you found out from talking to random folks you found around town, and then you chose whether to do them or not. You didn’t have to go to “the next town” on the list if you didn’t want to – you could go looking for other interesting places, or go back to where you were earlier.

        Sure, the main quest was linear (as with most games, even most sandbox games), and admittedly the first main quest was on a timer, but freedom to explore and being rewarded for it has always been part of Fallout. Saying it has no business in Fallout feels like a stretch to me.

        1. krellen says:

          You could go to Mariposa right after leaving Vault 13, yes. You would DIE if you did, but you could do it.

          How does that differ from New Vegas?

          1. IFS says:

            I remember on my first playthrough of FO1 I accidentally found my way into Necropolis long before the other vault, it was a tough fight but made the first part of the game go remarkably quick. Sort of similar to how it is possible to sneak past the deathclaws and cazadors and make straight for NV, which I know several people who did that on their first game with no real planning. Personally I like having harder areas that you aren’t meant to access right away, but if you’re skilled can be accessed earlier on at some risk, and one of the reasons I like NV more than FO3 was that it had those, whereas in FO3 every area was similarly easy.

        2. Deadpool says:

          Second main quest was on a timer too…

          The timer was QUITE important actually. It was another means of soft rails (you CAN explore, but you only have X amount of days, so combing the map for crap aimlessly is probably not the best way to do this), and quite the clever one at that.

          I find it interesting how many people hate the soft rails MORE than the hard ones…

          1. Khizan says:

            Soft rails catch you by surprise. I have no idea how many games of FO2 I lost because I dawdled on the main quest too much and ended up too out of position to make it back to the tribe in time to set off the second phase.

            1. Hargrimm says:

              Uh… what are you talking about?

              FO2 had no time limit. Whether or not you got the GECK in time, or at all, didn’t matter.

              1. Khizan says:

                If you take too long to get the GECK to Arroyo, you WILL get a game over. It takes an awfully long time, but it can totally happen.

                1. Hargrimm says:

                  You mean the 13 year hard limit?
                  I’ve never played that game long enough to hit that and I spent a lot of time in random encounters.
                  You are definitely a more patient man than I.

          2. newdarkcloud says:

            In the version I played (the GOG version), the second time limit is infinite.

  19. anaphysik says:

    So at 6:22, is that Mr. Enclave injecting himself with something?

    1. Indy says:

      You mean, does he have some sort of super duper hyper advanced Rad-Away that is never brought up again? Why yes, yes he does.

      1. StashAugustine says:

        You’d think that you could, you know, put it in the water?

        1. X2-Eliah says:

          Homeopathy doesn’t actually work, you know.

          1. Keeshhound says:

            That’s just what the man wants you to think!

          2. Deadpool says:

            Water doesn’t actually stay heavily radiated for 200 years either…

            For all the science in Fallout 3 and Old World Blue, homeopathy probably makes more sense than most…

  20. Jokerman says:

    Best ending to a sw episode evar…

  21. Wulfgar says:

    about taking away control from players
    imagine that every time in half life when you see g-man, the game stops you or confines you (especially in HL1 when you see g-man behind the class talking with scientist). nightmare

    1. swenson says:

      This is a good point, by the way. Why not change the level design so there’s no way into that particular chamber? Like… have it be up all these stairs and the Enclave blew them up. Or something, I’m looking for anything. With G-Man, not only can you ignore him if you want, but he’s always in places that you literally cannot get to in time to be there at the same time as him.

      I really don’t see why this is a difficult concept.

  22. Microwaviblerabbit says:

    This whole sequence bothered me a lot more the second time a played through the game, as I knew everything about Dad. Every single person who talks about him says two things; he was good and he was the god of speech-checks. After our birth he is escorted to Vault 101 by a Brotherhood lady, because he convinced her to do that instead of her actual duties as the elder’s champion. Then he talks his way into the Vault, persuading the extremely isolationist, slightly mad overseer.

    Years later after leaving the vault with the aid of his assistant, he charms Moriarty, Three Dog and Doctor Lee into aiding him. After the player rescues him, he co-opts the entire Rivet City Science team, including janitors without any actual evidence, to restart the project he clearly states he lacks the tools to make operational.

    And then he completely fails when talking to Colonel Autumn. He repeats it does not work, without sharing any helpful information such as I need this rare GECK to make it work, or we came here for old research data in the mainframe. Both would have been convincing arguments without jeopardizing the project. Then Autumn shoots another scientist, and James suicide bombs him for it. The Colonel knew James was key to the project, he was not going to kill him. Notably James tries to kill the Enclave after they kill a random scientist he just met, and not because of the multiple times when they try to kill his own child. Thanks Dad.

    1. Adam says:

      All he needed was a little bad luck and a 1% chance of failure…

    2. WJS says:

      That has to be one of the worst bits. What exactly is it the Enclave want from dear old dad? Control of the facility? They already have that. Documents and data? They should have those too, if their sweep was even halfway competent. Helping Enclave scientists? What Enclave scientists? The only people here are soldiers. So he’s demanding Dad hand over a facility and project he already has control of, and assist people who aren’t even here yet? Who wrote this crap?

  23. I somewhat agree with the TUN video, but as others have pointed out, NV does railroad you quite dramatically, while F3 lets you do what you want, to the point of ignoring the silly main story line. I played through Fallout 3 twice (reached level 20 that is) but never finished the admittedly silly main story. I am currently playing NV for the first time, and while the writing is MUCH better, the invisible walls (and partially the quest-hub structure) get on my nerves. However, I will finish the main story, since I actually care (er… or I will try to finish despite some show-stopping bugs that cropped up during the NCR quests).

    However, asking “what do they eat?” is a recipe for frustration, because no open-world game, no matter how careful, could possibly answer that convincingly. NV maybe requires a bit less suspension of disbelief than F3, but only slightly. For instance:

    OK, so some of the towns have crops. Good. What about the vaults and the bandit, legion and NCR camps dotted all over the place? What do they eat? If they get supplies, how are they transported? Brahmin caravans? How much can they possibly carry? And why use Brahmin? Why are there no motor vehicles, anyway? There are plenty of motorised robots, which have ample fuel to move around on wheels or float in the air. Why not use them for transport? Why not modify them into a car or a bus or even a motorbike?

    Also, forget food, what to they drink? Supplying Las Vegas with water is non-trivial even in today’s pre-apocalyptic world. Wells would be

    Anyway, never mind humans, how is the Mojave desert suddenly capable of supporting so many large mammals? Actual bighorner sheep are small and agile, occupying an unused niche of rocky outcroppings. When and how did they evolve into rhino-sized mammals? What do they eat? And what the hell does an apex predator the size of a deathclaw eat? Rocks? The Mojave predators are currently the distinctly small coyote and bobcat – there’s just no food for anything much bigger.

    Of course, I don’t actually mind that none of those have an answer beyond – it makes the game more fun to play. So I suspend my disbelief and try and enjoy myself. In New Vegas and the Capital Wasteland alike.

    1. Indy says:

      Vegas actually does have water reservoirs in the game. As shown in the tutorial, Goodsprings has a well or two. Vegas itself gets its water from Lake Las Vegas and has a giant pipe heading towards the town and over the sharecropper farms. I like this about the game.

    2. Keeshhound says:

      There are brahmin caravans all over; you can even get work from Crimson Caravans which segues into Cass’ quest where you learn that CC and the Van Graffs are using the chaos of the war to knock out their competition and shore up monopolies. Legion roads are explicitly stated to be the safest in all of the west, so they’re pretty safe on supplies. You even see Legion troops raiding NCR supply lines.

      The local food chain is where things start to fall apart; there really isn’t an explanation for why bighorners are so huge, but deathclaws are apparently migratory if I’m understanding the Quarry Junction situation properly.

    3. IFS says:

      I’d say the reason there aren’t any cars yet is probably because they don’t have functioning roads yet. As for other forms of transport it is shown in the game that their still building railroads out there, and that the NCR does have vertibirds to transport supplies and troops though.

      1. Deadpool says:

        NCR has functioning roads. Them not building off road vehicles in all this time is kinda silly…

        Then again, they have VETBIRDS, so…

        1. IFS says:

          There is also of course the out of story excuse of, the engine wasn’t built to handle vehicles, or something like that.

          1. The Fallout Nexus recently added cars and repaired roads, though I haven’t tried them. I do recall from one of the videos that you could mow down mooks by running over them, so there’s that.

        2. Jace911 says:

          IIRC they actually do have cars in the Core Regions, but they’re expensive and reserved for the elite who probably wouldn’t want to risk them by driving all the way to Vegas just for a gambling trip, which is kind of like visiting South Vietnam in the late sixties for the scenery.

          Plus the roads in the Mojave are shit; with the NCR’s attention split so many different ways making them suitable for automobiles that very few people will use isn’t exactly high on their priority list.

          1. Even says:

            “NV does railroad you quite dramatically”

            It’s only really the first few hours of the game though, just to point it out. It’s sort of understandable why they did it, but it does make you wish you could just skip it with a press of a button on your next playthrough straight to Novac or further.

            1. Even says:

              Meant to reply to Michael Miller. Edit bugged out again.

  24. Grudgeal says:

    I have actually dropped or lost interest in TV shows over the “what do they eat?” question, which made that TUN video resonate very strongly with me. It was the main reason why I could never get into [i]Berserk[/i] (aside from the at time awkward writing), and why I consider [i]Moribito[/i] to be an infinitely better fantasy-action show.

    1. anaphysik says:

      (just as a point, Shamus’ site doesn’t use bbcode; you’ll need proper HTML-style angle brackets on your tags. naturally, i get around this by co-opting the IRC-style /italics/ ;D

      1. WJS says:

        Rather than just using actual italics? Why?

        1. Stella Brando says:

          It’s certainly a bold strategy.

  25. Coblen says:

    What really killed new Vegas for me was the city itself.

    It’s like 90% loading screens. I have to fast travel to the outside of it first, then enter, then enter the lucky 38, then go up an elevator, then talk to house, then go back down the elevator, then exit the lucky 38, then fast travel close to my next quest.

    Every trip there is 7 loading screens before I get to have fun

    On top of it all the casino’s are like mazes.

    1. Jokerman says:

      I did not find the casinos to be mazes, i thought there layouts were quite simple…Gomorrah was a little weird, but tolerable.

      The worse maze to me was the one in the quest “Come Fly With Me” the one where you are fixing up space rocket for a bunch of ghouls and one not ghoul who thinks he is a ghoul.

      1. Coblen says:

        I thought Gomorrah was a nightmare. I spent way way way to much time wondering in circles just trying to find my way out.

        I think I did my best to avoid any quest that sent me in there.

        1. StashAugustine says:

          I just completed How Little We Know for the second time, and I can vouch for this. I stumbled upon an alternate way of beating the quest completely because I got so badly lost I ended up murdering some guy that lets you circumvent half the quest.

        2. newdarkcloud says:

          Gommorah is an annoying rat maze. I like NV, but I will not defend that.

          1. Indy says:

            I still don’t understand the point of that lower level.

    2. Ciennas says:

      So… yeah. I agree. I wanted a mod that let me fast travel directly to the lucky 38 suite once it was unlocked, because that was all I ever needed from Vegas most of the time.

      There are some logical consistencies for building the town like they did, but good god, those damn loading screens. Plus, while in third person view there was a chance my game would lock up on the final stretch into the Lucky 38 lobby.

      It’s actually more frustrating than it should be. There needed to be a central location that was always ONE loading screen away from continuing the gameplay.

      (My worst to navigate experience was the King’s building. Still don’t know my way around there.)

      Most multifloor navigating problems would have evaporated if the map could do some floor seperation. How hard would that be, programmy folk?

      1. AyeGill says:

        Probably not hard at all. I don’t know the details of the gamebryo level format or how the maps work, but it can’t be that difficult.

    3. rayen says:

      Truth in storytelling. Casinos are supposed to be mazes. they are meant to keep you in and spend money. Now whether or not it was a conscious design choice to make it a rat maze is up to you. Personally except for the ultra luxe, i never had any trouble finding my way around casinos.

      1. X2-Eliah says:

        Intentional crappiness in design is still crappiness.

    4. Wedge says:

      There are mods that fix this on PC — one for Freeside and one for The Strip. The devs have said that they had to be cut up because of console limitations; I run both these mods on PC and they work perfectly fine. It is much, much nicer having Freeside and The Strip each be one big open area, even though I don’t mind the loading screens much.

  26. Paul Spooner says:

    With all this talk of how the enclave would have to control the entire basin in order for their capture of the water purifier to benefit them in any way… I was really hoping for an “All your basin are belong to us.” joke. Come on Rutskarn, don’t leave us hanging! Or hey, Shamus, I know you like a good pun now and again… It was right there!

  27. Cerberus Public Relations says:

    FO3 got away with it because it has Liam Neeson in it. You don’t mess with Liam Neeson. Those kidnappers from Taken know what I’m talking about.

    1. StashAugustine says:

      This is literally true. I was putting up with the main quest as long as I got to hear more Liam Neeson.

  28. psivamp says:

    For some reason, I always thought that you gave him Buff-out to stop that heart attack — which makes minutely more sense to me. Seriously, a dime-a-dozen stimpack? Why not just give him some coffee or an “Attaboy!”

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      I just want to point out the Reginald Cuftbert is persuasive enough to convince Doctor Li to abandon Garza to his presumed death, but not enough to convince her to use Buffout to help him live.

      That’s a very specific level of persuasiveness.

      1. Maybe she’s all too aware of Buffout’s negative effects. It would explain the wild mood swings if she was nursing her own jones for the stuff.

  29. StashAugustine says:

    Would just like to point out that Autumn follows the St. John’s rule of “has southern accent, is villain.”

  30. hborrgg says:

    So, “What do they eat?”

    Well, if I wanted to be a smart aleck I would just answer “what do the vendors sell?” “What’s on the dinner tables when you break into someone’s house?” “What are the merchants and scavengers hauling from town to town?”

    Does seeing the whole process really matter all that much? You wouldn’t walk into an office building in real life and demand to see exactly where all their food is grown. And even if you are really concerned about logistics New Vegas still has a lot of problems, there aren’t nearly enough crops to feed all those people (and in many cases even one person) but there is still somehow enough wealth to support these massive gambling/tourism industries that people apparently walk hundreds of miles for, they still don’t explain where the heck all these bottles of alcohol are coming from, etc.

    Additionally there are a lot of questions you are asking that I think have some fairly simple explainations. “Why are they fighting over who gets to turn on the machine?” Political nonsense, whichever faction is seen as “bringing fresh water to the wasteland” is going to gain a lot of goodwill and as a result a lot of power. “How were they planning to control all that water?” Honestly, much crazier stuff has been accomplished by real world military forces with far less technology. “Why didn’t they just use the GECK to blankity blank?” Oh, so you’re an expert in GECKology now and know exactly how their crazy magic McGuffin works?

    But really what it comes down to is how much the game sucks the player in and can get him to trust the author, lest the questions grow to many and cloud out narrative coherence.

    1. Cupcaeks says:

      Does seeing the whole process really matter that much? Not necessarily, no, but it is nice to see that the authors thought about these things and decided to address them. It made for a much more believable world, which I find pretty important if your goal is to create a sandbox players can immerse themselves in. Was New Vegas perfect in that regard? No, but it was miles ahead of Fallout 3.

      I have a problem with your argument that there aren’t enough crops to feed everyone. What little you see comes down to engine limitations. No, you don’t see miles and miles of crop fields, ostensibly for the same reason it takes all of 10 minutes to walk from Vegas to Hoover Dam. As for the economy? This has been a post-post apocalyptic setting since Fallout 2. Civilization has already reared its head in the region. There are multiple trading companies operating in the area, and the NCR’s paid army is sitting with next to nothing to do while they wait for Caesar’s Legion. That sounds like a pretty ripe situation to exploit for the gambling and alcohol industries from where I’m standing. I’m sure they haven’t completely covered the bases of their setting, but they’ve done a pretty damn good job of making it believable.

      Compare this to Fallout 3, where people are still depending on the scraps of a civilization that’s been dead for 200 years in order to find food and shelter. Why was Megaton built around a nuclear bomb? How do its residents make a living? What makes Tenpenny Towers any “richer” than the rest of the wasteland? What the fuck is up with Little Lamplight? What are these slavers doing with all these slaves? No, seriously, somebody explain Little Lamplight to me, I just don’t get it. I have so many questions about Fallout 3’s setting, and the only answers I have for these things existing is because someone thought it might be cool.

      You’re absolutely right about author trust and building immersion. Fallout 3 failed to instill in me any trust for the authors, and as a result, failed to suck me in. Don’t get me wrong, it was a very fun game to play, but the setting was also incredibly stupid. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, theme-park type sandboxes have a lot to offer in the way of entertainment. But Fallout: NV is more in line with what I wanted out of a Fallout game.

    2. WJS says:

      “Political nonsense”
      And the PC and Dad give a shit about that why, exactly? He was willing to kill himself rather than help them with it (not to stop them, since they’re still in control of the facility afterwards).

  31. swenson says:

    I am a very forgiving gamer. Books, I notice bad stories immediately and throw screaming fits about how stupid they are. Movies, I nitpick endlessly while watching them about everything from hairstyles to setting. But for some reason, games mostly get a free pass from me, assuming the gameplay is entertaining enough. Fallout 3 was like that. I kept going, well that’s kind of stupid, and, why can’t I say X here? And the virtual world, I thought, that’s dumb, but it’s a neat idea so who cares?

    And then came this part.

    And I just started hating the story. Because there were, what, three guys in there with James? I could have killed all three in my sleep. It was so incredibly stupid, I actually ran around the entire time Colonel Whats-his-face was blabbing, because I was convinced that surely, surely there was a way inside. They weren’t going to be that moronic… right?

    lolnope they were.

    I mean, I even made it through ME2 and ME3 without my logic breaking too badly, even though Cerberus’ actions in both games make less than no sense. Fallout 3’s story here is just… so bad.

  32. Slaughter says:

    In more hardcore RPG communities (RPGCodex and VaultBR spring to mind), Fallout 3 vs New Vegas is considered a litmus test of RPG knowlodge.

    When I played it first, I thought Fallout 3 was a good-for-what-it-is game. Today, I think its quite frankly a pretty weak game.

    Exploration: Too much for its own sake. Lots of abandoned places you can loot stuff… but why should you? Sooner or later you’re full of goods and there’s simply no reason to go scavenging on ruins anymore because even selling that stuff ins’t worth it, because the merchants suck.

    In New Vegas, exploration is much more pleasurable, partly because the combat and trade systems are better, so you’re scavenging stuff to get cool equipment and more money, which is quite necessary to do cool things like implants or buy things for crafting.

    Also, the world of new Vegas looks so much better compared to fo2, its not even funny. Small western-style towns, New Vegas on its glory and decadence, shining lights and all, canyons and rivers, a pretty cool-looking dam, etc etc. Fallout 3 is composed of six things: Bland, boring desert, ruined city, metro tunel, swamp bayou, advanced vault/base.

  33. WJS says:

    I think the worst thing about Dr Li isn’t that you don’t get to refuse to help her, it’s that you simply have to take her abuse. If there was an option to say something like “Look you stupid bitch, you need me in order to not die in the next five minutes. I don’t need you for anything. Stow the fucking attitude and get in line.”
    You’d still have to escort them to safety, but at least you wouldn’t feel like a doormat. Seriously, “I’m in charge of Project Purity now”? Whoop-de-fucking-hoo. Good thing I’m not part of Project Purity.

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