Fallout 3:

By Shamus Posted Friday Jul 25, 2008

Filed under: Video Games 83 comments

So, E3 is over. The gaming press has seen Fallout 3 and they’re all giddy with the pretty graphics and talking about how the game was one of the best in show. Everyone is excited and happy and looking forward to it, which means that now is the optimal time for me to kick the piss out of the thing.

I have other games here on my shelf. Games that are stupid, bland, boring, shallow or inane. Some of them were the most “exciting” titles in the E3’s of yesteryear. I know it’s easy to impress someone with a twenty-minute playthrough on a jumbo monitor at a convention when you can overwhelm them with spectacle and nobody has time to measure the depth of the gameplay. A good showing at E3 means your game doesn’t have any obvious fun-killing issues, but it doesn’t mean you’re ready to step into the shoes of a legendary franchise like Fallout.

The original Fallout wasn’t a sexy tech demo. It was an ass-ugly isometric game with cheap 2D sprites that offered incredible freedom, immersion, atmosphere, story, characters, and dialog. None of those attributes are things which can really be conveyed or measured within the ephemeral context of E3. I remember how things went with Oblivion, which was the last game Bethesda put out, and it’s only because of my great love for Fallout that I’m even entertaining the notion of paying attention to this game.

If I’d been at E3, here are the questions I would have asked the guys from Bethesda, probably right before I was escorted off the premises for being a pain in the ass and a killjoy:

1. Will this game run properly on the computers available on this planet?

Yes, all that E3 game footage looks really sexy, but I’ve never been anywhere near a PC capable of that. One hopes the game will scale down to include terrestrial machines owned by humble mortals like myself. (Although I have recently upgraded my graphics card.)

Fallout did not push the limits of the user’s machine when it arrived, and it managed to become a beloved classic anyway. People complain about how poorly PC games sell, but the amazing thing is that the market gets a lot bigger if you would just take a single step back from that damnable bleeding edge.

2. Is the game going to be infected with auto-leveling foes?

Auto-leveling more or less ruined my enjoyment of Oblivion once I realized it was there. Everytime you gain a level, so does every monster in the world. Their gear is upgraded as well, which sort of raises the question as to why you bothered leveling up in the first place.

Moreover, this system punishes you for focusing on non-combat skills. If you spend a level putting everything into non-combat stuff, then you’ll lag behind your foes in power. The game gets harder, and because of the auto-leveling, you can’t ever close that gap.

You (almost) never just run into a foe that’s too much for you. There’s nothing to really be afraid of, because you never get the feeling you might be in over your head. You never get the satisfaction of leveling up enough to overwhelm a previously formidable foe. The entire experience is uniform and bland. If foes are designed to be as strong as you are, then why not just dump all the leveling busywork and make a straightforward shooter?

Or better yet, take out auto-leveling foes and give us a proper RPG.

3. What kind of DRM are we talking here?

Yeah, I know. Nobody cares about this but me. But I really care about it, really extra super-hard, in an effort to compensate for everyone else ‘s apathy.

Thankfully Oblivion didn’t have online activation, but that seems to be all the rage these days and I’m wondering if Bethesda is going to jump on that bandwagon.

If you’re going to make me come to you, hat in hand, asking to play my game, then let me know now so I can cross this game off my list. Sure, you’ll lose my business, but think of all the money you make from the pirates who will magically repent when presented with the activation screen that they’ll never see.

4. Do you have any plans on playtesting the game this time around?

The minimum system requirements in Oblivion were an outrageous lie, and I haven’t forgotten that it took a user-made mod to get the game working. If you want to sell to people on the low end, you have to actually make the game work on their machines.

5. Will you be supporting the game after release?

If my questions seem a little mean spirited at this point then I apologize for not being nearly mean enough. To wit: In Oblivion you released a buggy game and never fixed it. The mod community ended up fixing the bugs while you guys made new content, which is an inversion of how this is supposed to work. Making us little $5 download packs of content while the game itself is riddled with scripting errors and broken quests was a really sleazy move.

The hype phase of an upcoming title is an excellent time to bring up all the flaws with the previous title, since that’s when the developers and publishers are most PR-conscious. After release these sorts of complaints end up in forums where they won’t reach the undecided buyer. Once the review scores are up the publisher can go back to ignoring the general public and turtle in until they’re ready to trot out the next game for E3. Bethesda has poked their head out of the turtle shell, and while everyone else is gushing over their ZOMG GRAFITHX!! I want to take this opportunity to give them a few whaps on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper and encourage them not to screw this one up.

These guys have obtained the much-beloved Fallout license. Fan support is strong. I’m even open to the heretical changes they’ve made to bring the game, kicking and screaming, into the world of realtime 3D. All I ask is that they not repeat the obvious mistakes of the past.


From The Archives:

83 thoughts on “Fallout 3:

  1. Don’t hold back, Shamus, tell us how you really feel…

  2. Calite says:

    Ya, I was just looking at some stuff about the game, I was thinking some of that stuff to. If they do this game right though, it looks like it could be awesome.

    I remember being annoyed with Oblivion trying to kill my computer every time I walked outside. It was a good game, but the requirements are crazy, and the auto-leveling made the game seem weird to me.(Though I asusme like most things, if done properly, auto-leveling works)

  3. Nihil says:

    I think #2 was confirmed to have been recognised as a serious flaw, and not implemented in F3. Don’t know about the others, though.

  4. Patrick says:

    First reply!?

    I have something to add. In Oblivion, there was a nasty side to most dungeons. They were boring! Hallway, room, hallway, room, With one enemy per hallway and one or two per room. Mostly only quest dungeons had any interesting side to them. If Fallout 3 doesn’t have really neat design here, it might be a bust.

  5. Calite says:

    @Patrick: A good deal of it is modeled around real life buildings, as it takes place near Washington D.C. People who’ve played the first part say that one area you can go to is a school.

  6. bryce says:

    Do not despair…you are not the only one. Spore, Mass Effect and even PA’s bundle of joy do not grace my computer and neither shall Fallout if it is infected with the same online activation DRM.

    Which I guess will make two of us who aren’t buying the game…


  7. Jeremiah says:

    I keep telling myself one of these days I’m going to get ahold of a copy of Fallout and play it, I’ve just never gotten around to it.

  8. Doug says:

    If it is Fallout and it will run on my PC, I will play it. Regardless of the flaws.

  9. Neil says:

    I have to admit, my rampant irrational fanboyism of the Elder Scrolls series made me want to rage and rage, but I will restrain myself.
    I still think TES series is a concept that has room to grow in good directions and is demonstrably trying to do so, unlike most of the genres today.

    Sorry. Can’t help myself, what were we talking about?

  10. Ben Orchard says:

    Death to DRM. Death to rootkits.

    Fallout 3, you say? Well I suppose I’d need to play the first 2…

    I may be one of the only people on the planet who hasn’t, but oh well.

    If a game has massive ugly DRM, I’m not interested. If it has multiplayer networks and code designed to prevent cheating (but NOT drm), then fine. I’m good with that.

    Cheaters suck. Modders are not cheaters. Maphacks might be cheating, but not if everyone has the same one. Aimbots & trainers? Not cool, man.

    Games that have Genre confusion? Maybe, but frankly, make up your mind.

  11. Samrobb says:

    Completely off-topic comment, Shamus. I’ve noticed that your language has gotten a little more… colorful… in the past couple of months. Nothing drastic, but it has caught my attention, and it’s a bit jarring.

  12. JFargo says:

    I’m looking forward to this site going live so that I can play the first two. Everyone talks about them as thought they are the most amazing games ever made, and I’ve started feeling left behind by not playing them.

  13. Tim says:

    They’ve said autoleveling is out, except in a few selected places.

    As for playtesting and support, I think Bethesda’s record speaks for itself: don’t get your hopes up.

  14. Spam says:

    I played a demo for Fallout and enjoyed it immensely.I know I’ll need to upgrade my ancient(2 year old) Dell just to play it, much less look right. If Fallout 3 has DRM, forget it.I’ll go back to Neverwinter Nights and be happy. Go discount rack!

  15. Neil says:

    JFargo, I don’t know who you are, but that link makes me want to be your friend.

  16. Licaon_Kter says:

    Todd Howard on ‘Making Of Oblivion’ said:
    “Oblivion is a sword-and-sorcery-epic-role-playing-game, you know, the thing you see in Lord of the Rings or stuff like that and at it’s heart, you know it is… this run through dungeons and kill things game… and all these features and it’s all kind of … there’re so many things you’ll get attach to… but at it’s heart it’s run through dungeons and kill creatures and take good stuff and buy bigger weapons and kill bigger creatures, and thats kind of layered in on top of this, wow look at these flowers, can i pick that? you know, it’s almost two things sitting on top of each other, here’s that game and then here’s the virtual world”

    Todd Howard on ‘Making Of Fallout 3’ will say:
    “Fallout3 is a gun-and-postapoc-epic-role-playing-game, you know, the thing you see in Mad Max or stuff like that and at it’s heart, you know it is… this run through post-nukular ruins and kill mutant things game… and all these features and it’s all kind of … there’re so many things you’ll get attach to… but at it’s heart it’s run through post-nukular ruins and kill mutant creatures and take good stuff and buy bigger weapons and kill bigger mutant creatures, and thats kind of layered in on top of this, wow look at these dead flowers, can i pick that? you know, it’s almost two things sitting on top of each other, here’s that game and then here’s the virtual world”

    i’ve made up the FO3 part from what he actually said about Oblivion in the ‘Making Of’ movie…

    but nevermind that, the reviews will get 10/10, reviewers will be thrilled, like they did with Oblivion then, when it was perfect: http://www.nma-fallout.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=514563

  17. Smileyfax says:

    When I first read you intended to kick the heck out of F3, I was scared out of my wits that you were one of those troglodytes from NMA or the like who are absolutely convinced that F3 will be worse than Hitler because it isn’t isometric, sprite based, and friendly to child-killers. “AND THEY HAVE NUKES AS WEAPONS OMG HERESY”

    Thankfully, your demands of the game are actually rational. Though 1 and 4 are kind of the same question.

  18. Sashas says:

    Good points, as usual.

    If they saddle this game with obnoxious DRM, then I too will let it slide on by. When I got a new computer (for gaming purposes), I deliberately did not connect it to the internet. I play Sins of a Solar Empire and Diablo on it, and I’m happy. While I would love to support the gaming industry, I don’t like the idea of paying money for software that might harm my computer, fail to work, or both.

    On an unrelated note: “4. Do [you] have any plans”?

  19. Randolpho says:

    I was worried about the realtime 3d look/feel for a while until I remembered KotOR, so I’m going to withhold judgment until I actually get my hands on it.

  20. Veylon says:

    Speaking of ugly-ass games with 2D sprites that don’t push the limits of the user’s machine, is anyone else excited about the new 8-bit Megaman 9?

  21. Tim Skirvin says:

    Do us a favor – if any of these questions actually get answered in the comments, please post an actual entry summarizing it. I want to be psyched about this game, but I have all of the same problems as you… with the added question of trying to decide if I want to get it for my PC or for the XBox360.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I can’t help but feel you sound a little whiny here, Shamus. No offense. As for your questions, here’s my take:

    1) It looks like the sysreqs will be the same as Oblivion, or at least similar. And honestly, if I remember correctly, you were trying to play that game with a four year old video card, so you’ll probably want to pass on it.

    2) It’s been confirmed that auto-leveling is mostly gone. Main quest enemies are given a level range that is affected by your level, but everything else in the game is just whatever it’s set at. So if you go too far you’ll get your ass handed to you.

    3) Oblivion didn’t even have a CD key! Bethsoft really doesn’t strike me as the type of company to put obtrusive DRM on their products, and given the fact that Oblivion sold about fourteen billion copies I don’t think ZeniMax is going to argue.

    4) I’ve done playtesting before, and let me tell you, they did alright on Oblivion. There was only one or two major bugs in the game on release. Everything else was just a minor annoyance.

    5) But this leads into question number five, which is very valid and will probably be answered “no.” The fact that there were only two fucking patches for Oblivion is downright retarded, especially given the fact that they spent all their time making DLC which for the most part wasn’t really worth the time or money.

  23. Shamus says:

    Annon: You have to remember that these questions are what I would ask if I could get near the guy at E3. While you have one journalist asking them how they got to be so wonderful, and some douchebag from Gamespot who wants to know if the game will support NVidia’s new trifiltering Schwingmapping, I’d want to yank him back into the real world and ask questions that apply to more or less normal people.

    I would ask these questions, because right now they’re LISTENING.

    What I would LOVE is that during all this post-E3 ardor someone would run a story reminding people of how things went with Oblivion. It would sting them right now, and perhaps that pain would cause them to hesitate before repeating the same mistake.

    Whining? Are you new here or something? This is what I DO. I pick apart and bitch about four year old games, unreasonable hardware requirements, and DRM. That’s like, the whole site.

  24. DosFreak says:

    I’d have to argue with #1.

    First of all every screenshot and video of Fallout 3 that I have seen looks like crap. Crappy textures and bloomified all to hell. If it looks like that then any machine that can run Oblivion decently can run Fallout 3.

    As for Fallout 1 not having high requirements….

    See here: http://fallout.wikia.com/wiki/Fallout:_A_Post_Nuclear_Role_Playing_Game

    A P90 was the minimum Interplay supported. A P90!. In 1997 that was pretty high-end, at least it was to me. I “only” had a 486DX4/100. I don’t remember having any issues but that was a long time ago. I do remember people complaining though and alot of my friends had lower end machines than mine.

    One of the biggest things I’m worried about Fallout 3 (besides it not being an RPG of course) it load screens. Oblivion pissed me off every time I played it with loading screens every time you entered a building. If the game was still isometric we wouldn’t have these issues (or I guess if the devs would stream the interior before you entered it but obviously that’s too much to ask). I wish these damn developers would hit up the Dungeon Siege devs for the black magic they used.

  25. Derek K says:

    “This is what I DO. I pick apart and bitch about four year old games, unreasonable hardware requirements, and DRM. That's like, the whole site.”

    Also make comics, from time to time….

    I have similar questions. I will buy Fallout 3 no matter what, but….

    I really wish they *hadn’t* promo’ed it at E3. Because I suspect (Hope? Wish?) that the best parts of the game are those that don’t translate to a big screen crazy spectacle. So they had to focus on the stuff that might, which makes it look combat only, and a mediocre shooter. Which I know (hope? Wish?) it’s not.

    That being said, the VAT looked so very old school Fallout to me that I nearly cheered. Everyone else seems to think it’s clunky and ufly.

  26. DosFreak says:

    #3 I had stopped buying games (and no I didn’t download games either) for about a year and a half before Oblivion came out because I was fed up with Securom/Safedisc/etc. Oblivion brought me back to buying games again. Unfortunately the stupid expansion has securom on the actual INSTALLER! I can’t even install the expansion with Daemon Tools! WTF?? Why the hell would they put it on the expansion if they didn’t put it on the full game? Arrrgg. I finally monitored the install with Altiris SVS and ripped out the files so now all I have to do is copy them to the game directory. Another game CD in my collection wasted.

  27. Nathanael Phillip Cole says:

    The fact that I can play this on my PS3 fills me with immense joy. Bloody mess, for the win!

    want want want want want x21378617924

  28. Lurker says:

    Bethesda raped the love of my life =(

  29. Ian says:


    It looks like the sysreqs will be the same as Oblivion, or at least similar. And honestly, if I remember correctly, you were trying to play that game with a four year old video card, so you'll probably want to pass on it.

    I highly doubt the system requirements are going to be the same as Oblivion. Also, the fact that Shamus was trying to run the game with a “four year old video card” is meaningless. The fact of the matter is that Bethesda said that the game would run acceptably on his machine and it didn’t.

    When I purchased Oblivion my machine was a baby step under the recommended requirements and it was still virtually unplayable even after I turned most of the eye candy off. Even on my current system — a Core 2 Quad with a GeForce 9800GTX — Oblivion runs worse than Crysis (and Crysis looks a lot better). That’s just unacceptable. My system isn’t the greatest one in the known universe but it would have still been a computer enthusiast’s wet dream when Oblivion came out yet it stutters on that game (at the same resolution that I run Crysis at, no less — 1280×800).

    That’s my biggest concern with Fallout 3. The first-person perspective might work, it might not, Bethesda might get the game mechanics right, they might not…we’ll have to see. Right now my biggest concern is whether or not I’ll actually be able to play it, let alone play it without any sort of DRM encumbrance.

  30. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Hey!Falloutn wasnt ugly!I happen to like isometric view,thank you very much.And fallout also had excelent effects of blood,gore,blood,intestins,scorched flesh,blood,burned flesh,chopped flesh,blood and flames.Oh,did I mention that fallout had blood in it?

    Anyhow,I support your preaching shamus.Although seeing how even the most inteligent fans fall for cheap tricks when HoMMV came out,I fear people like you and me will remain unheard in the sea of “SHINY PIXLZ OMFG!!!!”.

    Still,bethesda did some nice things with previous elder scrolls,so there is hope that fallout at least wont suck.

  31. R4byde says:

    Shamus said:

    “Whining? Are you new here or something? This is what I DO. I pick apart and bitch about four year old games, unreasonable hardware requirements, and DRM. That's like, the whole site.”

    And we love you for it! Seriously, it’s refreshing to know that there is someone else out there who feels like spewing, extraordinarily loquacious and polite, bile as much as I do.

  32. Chris Arndt says:

    Flashback to War Hammer 40000 Dawn of War with my last, near-brand-new laptop (three months that Month, December 2006). The system requirement numbers were all far beyond the new software. RAM, Processor speed, all that were about the minimum and into the recommended stuff, easy.

    Because my laptop lacked the fancy video chip with the NVIDIA schmancysystem it would not function correctly.

    When I purchased this laptop I asked if it would run Dawn of War. I purchased this laptop September 2007. I am not a gamer but I got that game for Christmas so I damn well want to play it. Sentimental value and all that.

    Same with 007 Nightfire.

  33. Nathanael says:

    I hope Bethesda doesn’t rape the franchise, but I have great doubts about the success on this one. Let’s wait and see. I hope I’ll eat this words when it finally comes out.

  34. Shamus, you might be interested in this Wired preview of Fallout 3 (http://blog.wired.com/games/2008/07/hands-on-fallou.html). And one of the big Interplay era Fallout communities, No Mutants Allowed (http://www.nma-fallout.com/), are also the type to ask these kinds of questions. They got a Q&A with Hines about a year ago. (http://www.nma-fallout.com/article.php?id=38623)

    I’m more worried about if the game will have the same feel as the old Fallout games, or if it will focus too much on the action bits.

  35. Licaon_Kter says:

    They are running the game on the same Xbox360 and PS3 that Oblivion was running 2 years ago, they’re system req are already public and by the looks of the textures we’ll be waiting for Qarl’s High Quality FO3 textures soon.

  36. Karsten says:


    as for # 1 I don’t care much since my computer is now 5 years old and needs a serius upgrade just to be able to play some new games. Yes, even some new adventure games.

    as for # 2 Fallout 3 won’t be using Oblivion’s level scaling. Just read 1UP’s excellent review as well as wittness their very good video interview with Todd Howard in which Todd H. clearly states that Fallou3’s level scaling will not work as it did in Oblivion.

    as for # 3 Bethesda is owned by Zenimax and will like be self-publishing the game. Setting Securom servers up for the game will probably break Bethesda’s servers…so I do think it is unlikely.

    as for # 4 the reason the min sys reqs for Oblivion were an outrageous lie was that Nvidia somehow lied? to Bethsoft devs as which cards would actually support the game. The min video cards is the F5700 or the F5900 FX Geforce card.
    I played the game on an Asus 6600GT Geforce card and never had any major gameplay issues that made it so that I couldn’t actually play the game. [The only minor glitch I had was one the devs. fixed in their first patch for the game i.e. the anvil glitch in which entering all areas around anvil would crash your game]. Bethesda actually shifted Oblivion’s release from Nov 2005 to March 2006 in order to squash and iron out the bugs in Oblivion.

    And that brings us to # 5
    Bethesda did support Oblivion. We have 2-3 official patches, an expansion that also got 2-3 patches. Sometimes, though, the community has to help out since the devs. can’t know everything; sometimes they even can’t reproduce all the issues the communities are reporting.

    There is lot more wrong with Oblivion than just the devs. bot supporting the game: the overuse of bloom, the shitty AI, the general bad level design as well as the bad overall
    very bad art design. Bugs can be fixed, bad designs will stay forever…

  37. Murphy says:


    I love being called a troglodyte and then having the viewpoint of even the most extreme person in a group I belong to skewed even further. That’s always fun. Its even better when the person doing the name calling Goodwin’s himself as an added bonus.

    Most members of NMA have some pretty basic, and in my belief, well founded, concerns about the game. The times that other studios have tried to approach Fallout, the result has been less than stellar (Tactics), or wretched beyond belief (FO:BOS). The fact that this third attempt is by developers whose most recent game is almost infamous for simplified dialogue and console creep, when the original Fallout had the second most engaging conversation I’ve seen in a game (after Torment) and a design ethos that intentionally hewed to old school table top formats, does not give a sense that Bethesda can handle the task before them.

    And is disliking the Fatman really an example of what you think is wrong with NMA? The existence of a -nuclear missile- that is part of the basic game experience to fight -boss monsters- not something that makes you look at the original Fallouts, and then this one, and then slap your forehead? Or maybe you think that it would have been better, when fighting Metzger and his slavers, if you could have just shot a single nuke at them and won the combat?

    Oh, wait. That wouldn’t have even worked. Because somehow -enemies in Fallout 3 can survive more than one hit from the Fatman-. Huzzah! Makes all the sense in the world to me!

  38. JT says:

    JFargo, I’m looking forward to GOG too, but for Fallout 1/2 there’s no need to wait.

  39. Illiterate says:

    I’ve seen the two together valu-packed for ten bucks.

  40. Ryan Speck says:

    Truthfully, I think you’re a bit hard on Oblivion. I still run it on a 5 year old computer with a video card from the near-end days of AGP and I have no problems running it. There’s a little bit of lag, but when I toggle off that damnable grass, I can see dropped weapons AND speed up my game.

    And this is the same computer that’s now having problems running Dark Age Of Camelot smoothly.

  41. krellen says:

    Fallout 3 is a myth, like Spore or Ron Perlman.

  42. MikeSSJ says:

    Whining? Are you new here or something? This is what I DO. I pick apart and bitch about four year old games, unreasonable hardware requirements, and DRM. That's like, the whole site.

    And it’s THE reason I keep coming back here every single day to read the new entries.
    Your rants are much more entertaining AND informative at the very same time than most of what I can read in any given gaming magazine.

    Not to mention that I got several products (both games and anime) on your recommendation alone, and have never been left dissatisfied with them.

    Keep up the good work :)

  43. Nilus says:

    I got one answer

    1) Yes. Its called an X-Box 360. Seriously I had not even heard if the game was gonna be on the PC. All the demoes videos I saw were being played on the 360.

  44. Zerotime says:

    DosFreak: The P90 was two and a half years old at the time Fallout was released. I’d hardly call that unreasonable, especially considering that your DX4/100 would have been three and a half years old then.

  45. folo4 says:

    Everyone seems to prefer FARMING money on the consoles.
    I might even wager that Fallout 3 with be UNmoddable.

    So no low-end mods for the PC low-end users to at least enjoy the game.

    Welcome to Specialization. I wonder what’s next…

  46. The Lone Duck says:

    If I get this game, it will be on a console. Yes, the DLC is more limited, but the performance is relatively assured (compared to a PC.) If they have auto-leveling like in Oblivion, that will seriously turn me off. I like the Fallout games, but not enough that I’d play sci-fi Oblivion. Not that Oblivion is completely crap; I liked Oblivion. But I’d like a game that’s not a sci-fi skin of Oblivion. I’d like to see improved dialogue scripting, NPC paths… I think this game will be good. I certainly won’t pre-order it.

  47. Mutant Mell says:

    Long Time Reader, First Time Writer.

    Unfortunately, I never got the opportunity to play Fallouts 1&2, and due to the fact that I won’t pirate games, I probably never will. However, I do have experience with Morrowind, and if Fallout 3 is anything like that, then I will be severely disappointed.

    Don’t get me wrong, Morrowind was a fun enough game, but like Shamus said, it suffered from several flaws. Bethseda has this strange inability to actually finish a game, and the bugs and whatnot will prove, once again, to cripple the game experience.

    However, there is something even more fundamentally wrong with Morrowind/Oblivion/(I’m assuming)Fallout 3. The worlds, while looking quite nice, seem dead to me. Walking through Morrowind, it seems to be rather dead to me. The people you talk to, they’re, for the most part, all the same person. They react exactly the same to me, they all have the same opinions, etc. You just walked through as a Mary/Gary Stu. There are very few memorable characters to interact with, at least for me.

    The only Isometric wRPG game I’ve really had experience with were BG & BG2, which were primarily defined by how I was able to interact with the characters. Whereas in Morrowind everyone seemed to be a slight variation on “calm and dull” (unless they wanted to kill me), everyone had a rich and interesting personality, and (here’s the kicker) a back story that influenced their goals. While they followed you around, they would leave if their goals weren’t being accomplished, and they would leave if your methods conflicted with their morals. So, while you were a huge force in the world, you weren’t sucking everybody into your story.

    If Fallout was defined as much by the characters as BG was, then I doubt that Fallout 3 will live up to it, as Bethseda regards characters as secondary (or even tertiary) to graphics. While the scope may be large, the lens is scratched and filthy.

  48. Mixmastermind says:


    I’m not sure you’re giving the guys and NMA and Duck and Cover enough credit. They don’t hate the game because it’s not isometric and sprite-based. They hate the game because it’s made by a company with no Sci-Fi experience, whose previous game, despite its reviews, was quite lackluster, and because Bethesda rather seriously changed the established mythology of the game.

    Bethesda changed the Brotherhood of Steel into some sort of True-and-Good organization of justice, when in the previous games the BoS was a bunch of Xenophobes who hated sharing anything they were given.

    Bethesda also added the Enclave again, which is odd because [10-year-old spoiler] they were completely wiped out in FO2.

    However, using a nuclear device as a hand-held weapon is just plain silly. I mean, the previous 2 games were not hard-science, but this game has a nuclear bomb explode 100 feet away, with no ill affects to the user, but drinking water can cause you to vomit and get cancer. That simply makes no sense.

    P.S. lol the elevator to the Washington Monument still works.

  49. LafinJack says:

    I asked about DRM in their forum, and the consensus seems to be “nope”: http://www.bethsoft.com/bgsforums/index.php?showtopic=857689

  50. Pangalin says:

    Yeah, using a tiny nuke is a silly weapon

    FO2’s ALIEN RAY GUN, now, there’s a serious and realistic weapon which is more appropriate for the serious and realistic tone of seriousness that Fallout has always adhered to realistically.

    Also, having an innate power to make people die messily, that’s realistic

  51. Murphy says:

    The ALIEN RAY GUN was an easter egg. And yes, Bloody Mess is silly. But its a silly thing that only matters if you decide to take it, and ultimately, doesn’t change the game at all.

    FO3’s Fatman is a -required weapon- to use against the -boss monsters- in the game. Think about that sentence for awhile. If it doesn’t get your forehead so heated from pure rage that you could fry an egg on it, then I’m not sure if you played the same game as I did.

  52. MikeSSJ says:

    “boss monsters”?

    Nothing screams “Fallout” more than that one >_>

  53. Triple says:

    The alien gun in FO2 was nothing more then an easter egg, you know the game “FO2”, that one FILLED TO THE BRIM with easter eggs, “TO THE BRIM” as in “too many for their own good”? I guess you don’t.
    Its not like they showed that “tiny silly nuke catapult” as a “OMFGBBQTHISGAMEWILLROXORZWITHKEWLNUKLUARBFGSXXX111X11XX” to give people previewing the game and the many fans, by wich i mean the hypingpress and the most common denominator of FPS fanboys, an idea of what the game has to offer. Err wait, they did. Its not like “total and utter nuclear devastation” was a big “moodsetter” for Fallout so no harm in making it a “silly tiny catapult”. Err wait it was.
    What was that other silly thing, oh right, toilet drinking to heal HP’s. Yep, Beth nailed it, this is EXACTLY what Fallout is all about. All my worries that Bethesda “just wouldn’t GET IT” melted away like snow for the sun. But don’t let my reali.., i mean “pessimism” (because everything thats not optimism is pessimism right) stand in the way of peeps being convinced that a) Oblivion wasn’t dumbfuckery galore” and if hypothetically it was then b) FO3 wouldn’t deteriorate into the dumbfuckery galore that was Oblivion. Gotta keep igno,… mean optimistic.

  54. Zaxares says:

    I must be like the only gamer on this site who played a little bit of Fallout 1, absolutely hated it, played a little bit of Fallout 2, absolutely hated it, and am not even gonna waste my time with Fallout 3.

    I hope the game lives up all your (positive) expectations, but I’ve never liked the Fallout series, and so will be giving this game a pass.

  55. Triple says:

    What do you like? Because asfar as i’m concerned not liking Fallout can definately be seen as a plus if you are concidering to buy FO3. Smart of Bethesda really, there are so many more people that don’t give a damn about Fallout then there are people being fan of Fallout. (heh, sounds like a catchphrase)

  56. DosFreak says:


    Yes the P90 and DX4/100 were old but they were alot cheaper (I got my DX4/100 in Jan 1996).

    Can’t really find prices for that era:

    Of course building your own may have been cheaper at that time (mine was custom built) can’t really remember.

    Like I said me and most of my friends had 486’s. Mabye that was typical…mabye not. From the friends I talked with on BBS’s/online and in my area it pretty much was.

  57. Scourge says:

    My first question would’ve been: Why a level 20 cap? Why?! In fallout 1 you could reacgh level 99 if you wanted. In 2 you could do it too, far easier with the dodebook you got after beating the final boss.

    Even in other games, Sacred, could you reach level 99 and get even higher up to 255!!

    So, why a level 20 limit? I mean, I level up so I have an easier time with foes. Does that mean that you want me to have hard battles against other level 20 foes?

    And also limits that one with the abilities one can have.


  58. JC says:

    Great post; agree 100%. Oblivion was hilariously bad, and Fallout 3 has a snowball’s chance of being anything different, it appears.

  59. IronCastKnight says:

    I hold on to the hope that Fallout 3 will receive the same love and care of the one part of Oblivion which did not suck: The Dark Brotherhood. More effort went into making those few quests deeply interesting and compelling than went into the entire rest of the incredibly generic, tedious, and trapped in the least interesting fantasy setting(forests bleh) game.

    Also, does anyone remember Morrowind? Remember how the vanilla game was still playable, fun, and set in an interestingly blasted wasteland of a world filled with the biggest assholes to ever name themselves elves outside of Discworld? Yeah, I’m hoping that Fallout 3 will not be Oblivion With Guns, but Morrowind With Guns, as then it’d actually be somewhat good.

    Of course, my expectations are still set firmly at Oblivion With Guns.

  60. Daemian Lucifer says:

    @Mutant Mell:

    Well,fallout is supposed to be dead,since its a post apocalyptic world.But that didt stop fallout 1 and 2 to have live NPCs,so your conserns are waliid.

    And if you liked BG,you definitelly should try and find fallout 1 and 2.Bethesda might even rerelease them as a bonus to 3(which would be an excelent move).Even if you preffer magic ofer technology(fallout is the game that made me love cyberpunk).

    Also,you should try planescape:torment.

  61. Krellen says:

    I just want to point out that the Alien Ray Gun is not out of genre for Fallout.

    Fallout is pulp fiction – the 50’s vision of the future. Weapons out of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers (which is exactly what that ray gun is) fit in perfectly.

  62. The Lone Duck says:

    If I get the game, it will depend on question 2 more than anything else. If I get the game, it will be for the PS3, which will negate many of the other questions. Playtesting is important though, even for the console side of things.

    I suppose the general problem with the PC community is a lack of proper coverage. Sure the AAA titles that almost have to be cutting edge get covered. But there are so many modest titles that get published every year without a hiccup in the gaming press. And that lack of press generates a lack of sales because I can’t buy “Computer Game Title” if I’ve never heard of it. All sorts of modest adventure games, casual MMOs.
    I consider myself a console gamer. I’m still not used to using a mouse and keyboard for an FPS. But I do feel like the majority of the problem is a failure of the press to properly cover more of the new PC titles.

  63. Telas says:

    I’m glad you’re here, on the internet, asking these questions. If you were at E3, your interruption would be a mere blip on the screen. Now, in a media that should last at least until the game is launched, you’ve asked the questions that need asking. Gamers can link to this, and maybe a bunch of folks can start asking these questions of every gaming company.

    Oh, yeah – Wasteland was a proper RPG. If you went to the wrong place before you were ready, you got wiped out or laughed at.

  64. Kwizz says:

    I’d say you raise some very interesting questions, but to be honest I think you’d have to wait for hell to freeze over before actually getting any replies to questions of that kind. Notice that while Bethesda is happily chatting with general gaming sites, they have for quite some time completely ignored sites like NMA and DAC who are trying to ask tough questions. One example is preview situation last year (http://www.nma-fallout.com/article.php?id=38620).

    Oh, regarding purchasing FO 1 and 2; look at point 4 on GOG’s site:

    4. All games are Vista and XP compatible.

    Something that other retail versions can’t claim out of the box.

  65. DosFreak says:

    IIRC, GOG is only going to repackage their games so that they install properly. They do not have access to the source code so anything they do to make the games compatible with either come from the community or any solutions they hack together.

    Since the community already has fixes for all of Fallout’s issues the only good thing about “GOG” is that they are selling the game.

  66. Pangalin says:

    “Fallout is pulp fiction – the 50's vision of the future. Weapons out of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers (which is exactly what that ray gun is) fit in perfectly.”

    Well, sure, and that’s at the crux of my argument: expecting realistic technology in a Fallout game is delusional on multiple levels. Nearly all Fallout tech is aligned along the 1940s-1950s aesthetic, and the idea of nuclear weapons that only hurt bad people is absolutely in keeping with that. It would be laughably easy to find dozens of films from that era with heroes carrying around “atomic-powered” devices with no ill-effects whatsoever.

    Expecting Fallout technology to work exactly like Earth technology is absurdist because the very idea would retroactively eliminate the Ghouls (and other huge chunks of the setting) from existence. Radiation in Fallout 2 makes you grow an extra toe, as I recall. Yeah. Realism.

  67. Karsten:

    I’m glad someone else called out the lousy art design too. When people were hearting Oblivion a few years ago, I was left wondering, “Am I on crazy pills or something?”

    Sure, from a reasonable point of view this sort of thing should be subjective. But when your elves look more hideous than orcs, you should consider hiring a new art director.

    Pangalin: Well, yes. But it’s nice that Fallout also has a number of real guns (with fudged stats), especially obscure ones whose existence I’d doubted because I’d seen them in Fallout before the existence of Wikipedia.

    But this was about Triple doing his whining thing on the nukegun.

    If it’s less overpowered than the 50’s retro-scifi style discs-lined-up-in-a-row-on-the-barrel gauss rifle, I won’t mind it.

  68. Daemian Lucifer says:


    Real technology is not the same as earth technology.An alien weapon stranded on earth is not fantasy,its fiction(the difference here being that fiction has unexplained but physically possible things,while fantasy means braking laws of physics).

    People surviving radiation poisoning might end up completelly or almost intact,but their children will mutate(although most wouldnt survive).Furthermore,this is a setting where biological experiments were used to create superhumans,and we dont know what effects chemicals used in those labs might have when irradiated and spread through the atmosphere,so its still not unrealistic,even though its fictional.

    Having someone carying a baby nuke around,however,is pure fantasy.

    If you really want an uber explosive,why not try a baby fusion projectile?Its not radioactive,its more destructive than a fission device,and it wouldnt be shunned by people who live in a severly irradiated world.True,its ignition system is bordering fantasy,but this is a world where we have small energy packages for workable hand carried lasers and plasma weaponry(which is already bordering fantasy,though).

  69. Telas says:

    The word y’all are looking for is verisimilitude. When a game breaks its own version of reality, it breaks the sense of immersion, and makes the game un-fun.

    D&D is fantasy; that doesn’t mean that “anything goes” in it. (Although 4e seems to be straining that definition…) Fallout is post-apocalyptic pulp; it is not Flash Gordon pulp; this is the source of the frustration.

    That said, if they manage to make an internally consistent world, I’d play the game.

  70. TickledBlue says:

    Good or Bad – DRM or no – Fallout 3 has already done good in the Australian marketplace without ever being released.

    So I kiss its sandled feet!

    The Aussie gamer anticipation for this title was high enough that when our classification board (OFLC) decided its depiction of drug use warrented a rating higher than what we could give it (Australia only goes up to MA15+ for games – we have no R18+ thanks to the Attorney General of South Australia) effectively banning it from our shores, the gamers rose up in rage and started pestering local politicians to revisit the issue.

    It highlighted how truely behind the times and technophobic most of our politicos are but at least gamers voices are starting to be heard.

  71. yspoch says:

    [!WoW-Fanboi Warning!]

    It might be a little off-topic, but i just wanted to point out something you said…

    Shamus said:
    “You (almost) never just run into a foe that's too much for you. There's nothing to really be afraid of, because you never get the feeling you might be in over your head. You never get the satisfaction of leveling up enough to overwhelm a previously formidable foe. The entire experience is uniform and bland. If foes are designed to be as strong as you are, then why not just dump all the leveling busywork and make a straightforward shooter?”

    … and compare it to one of your nitpicks concerning WoW – “wandering elites”.

    I realize it is not _exactly_ the same, but at least compareable enough, I think.

    If you think those two things are not compareable at all, can you explain why?

    Thanks, Yspoch

  72. Shamus says:

    yspoch: The problem is that the player is denied the ability to decide how much challenge they want. If I’m hunting in an area of level 33 mobs because that’s what I find fun & comfortable & rewarding, and then a level 39 mob comes in and kills me, then I have stopped having fun. The game suddenly took away the challenge I wanted and gave me something many, many times more dangerous.

    In the case of Oblivion, I have no freedom at all to determine how much challenge I want. If the game is too easy, I can’t go somewhere else and fight harder mobs for more reward. If the game is too hard, I can’t back off and fight something weaker for a smaller reward. Which is exactly the dynamic offered by a straightforward FPS.

    In both games, the goal is for the player to be able to find their own sweet spot on the risk vs. reward tradeoff. Both auto-leveling and wandering elites deny them that, in favor of what the designers think “most people” want.

  73. Daemian Lucifer says:


  74. Heph says:

    A) For people referencing Morrowind as better than Oblivion: go play Daggerfall. It really was the peak of Bethesda’s game making. Sure, it’s hideous by modern standards, but the story, the gameplay and the story depth (if you got into it) were enormous – actually, larger than Morrowind – for its time.
    B) Bethesda is crappy as far as patches and such go, but at least it isn’t THQ running things. They’re worse.
    C) I agree about Oblivions uglyness and unplayability.
    D) I actually haven’t played Fallout 2 yet, only the first. Guess I’ll have to remedy that.
    E) not being able to play games on computers that should is a common problem. I’m trying to replay Diablo II right now on a computer that by any and all standards exceeds the recommended settings, yet it stutters like no tomorrow :(
    F) Autolevelleing foes was an invention made by someone from the other side of one of those Oblivion Gates, obviously. Luckily, it’s supposedly gone
    G) Be thankful they aren’t making it an MMO, like every other intellectual property out there (poor KotOR).

  75. yspoch says:

    Thanks for your answer, Shamus. I can see your point clearer now.

    I always thought of the “wandering elites” like an “(near) unbeatable challenge” given to players by a DM where they _really_ should run away and not try to stay and fight. If they still do… well, their choice. ;-)

    Thanks again and keep up the good work!


  76. Sec says:

    Thank you! Finally someone who agrees with me about this auto-leveling stupidness. For me that took away all the reason to play the game. And yes, i thought it was kind of embarrassing for them to not patch the game. I mean, the German translation was a disaster (the healing spell was called “fireball”), and they didn’t even care about it.

  77. GeorgeR says:

    Well thank you for being the screen door in my submarine.

    Seriously though, I was still a TINY bit hesitant about Fallout 3. I want it to be good but Bethesda, while seemingly everyoneelse around me raves about them, to me has a poor track record.

    And yeah, I’m waiting to order my copy until I hear if there’s enemy leveling. I will NOT buy the game if enemies level with you.

    I like grinding till I can explode guys. Its how I have fun with weird little RPGs. If I wanted everything to be uniform I’d play a regular ol action game.

  78. Erkenbrand says:

    I actually find myself enjoying Oblivion…now that it’s 2 years later and I’ve just purchased a new laptop. Oh, and I have a spreadsheet to help me keep track of my skills so I don’t level too quickly.

    I hope to be able to play Fallout 3 spreadsheet, DRM, and upgrade free. Alas, the industry seems not to run on the hopes of consumers but on the dreams of graphics card designers and the fantasies of DRM advocates.

  79. Drunkspleen says:

    See this is what we need, not the bullshit suckup efforts all the reviewers are pushing out, sure the game looked good in thier 30 minute playthrough but why aren’t people asking why Bethesda are reluctant to show the actual RPG elements, and why when people do see them are they put on NDAs over it.

    But on the other side It’s a struggle to keep reading the NMA frontpage at times and I simply can’t stomach the forums. They are just the opposite and just as bad. We should be demanding answers, not dismissing the game or just accepting it however it turns out.

  80. Bobarillo says:

    Oblivion is such a chore. Sure there’s a lot of nice scenery but as one critic pointed out it might as well be a tree simulator. There were a few interesting quests but by and large it was the same cookie cutter dungeons and oblivion-gates and enemies multiplied ad nauseum in an eternity of mush(and i played with oscuro’s). I didn’t finish Oblivion, instead i rediscovered FO1 and have been replaying it like digital crack ever since. Also, with Killap’s Restoration Patch, FO2 has taken me back to the brutal post apocalyptic fun of fallout with a vengance, to the point it has imperilled my dayjob ha ha ha. I’m sure I will have a look at FO3, but to be honest, I doubt it will be anything better than oblivion with guns, which would be fine for some, but hey I love four pixel chairs.

  81. Thranx says:

    For: Childish fanboy rant. You must be new here. Go away, kid.

  82. anon says:

    Awesome game can’t wait for it. It’s looking good thus far.

  83. Moi says:

    For: Offensive, hostile, and inept. This site is for literates. Go away.

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