Fallout 3: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying & Love RPGs

michael87cn

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Dude posts article about how Fallout 3 helped him get into RPGs; Escapist posters start arguing over which FO game is better like 3 posts into the topic.

*rolls eyes* Just so sad.

Fallout 3 is indeed a great game. Glad the OP liked it, glad it broadened his horizons, wish more people would try it, instead of skipping it for the 'other' game.

I'll go ahead and suggest that games like Minecraft and StarCraft 2 will also blow your mind, if all you're used to is sports and Call of Duty. (call of duty is not the only type of FPS, in fact I prefer to call it Marksman shooting, but whatever).
 

QuiB25

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Just wanted to chime in to say great article. My eyes usually glaze over beyond the first paragraph on the Escapist, but it sounded like you really cared about what you were writing.

This game's been on my shelf for years. Really makes me wish I had a not-shit computer to try out this ancient game.
 

lumenadducere

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It's interesting to see how different perspectives can be. I primarily play RPGs (though I enjoy games in other genres as well) and for me all of the things that were groundbreaking for him were standard, run-of-the-mill for me. In fact, FO3 had even less reactivity than what I'd like in a game, but I think that may be the point here - the audience Bethesda was going for wasn't necessarily me, but a broader one of people who would be attracted to the shooter elements and could ease into the RPG ones.

I'm glad the game expanded his horizons, and I actually really think that the shooter/RPG blends like Fallout and Mass Effect are really good for those reasons. I know a lot of people who originally got into Mass Effect because they thought it was a shooter, and then fell in love and branched out to other RPGs. It's both great to see new people coming into a genre I love and incredibly frustrating at the same time because I've been trying to tell the same people for years to try out some of the games that they just shrugged off before playing Mass Effect, but now after playing through ME and a few other games are readily willing to try out. Oddly validating while making me want to pull my hair out.

To the author of the article: try out the Mass Effect trilogy, Deus Ex (Human Revolution first, and then go back and play the original to ease into it), and Borderlands as well. They all do different aspects of RPGs well - Mass Effect for its characters, Deus Ex for its varied gameplay and reactions to your choices, and Borderlands for the loot.
 
Oct 22, 2011
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My first crpg was Baldur's Gate. And though some people claim it was vastly iferior to it's successor, i think it fits well in "Baby's first crpg" role.

As for Fallout 3... i've never finished it. I "blame" Bethesda for that; not that i think their games are bad, but i can hardly force myself to continue after couple tens of hours. And even though this wasn't my first contact with Fallout franchise(or maybe, because of it), even though i enjoyed some of those subway segments(hell, i would like to try an rpg in which we travel only around post-apocalyptic subway system[footnote]Yes, i do mean Metro 2033 rpg. Someone make it, goddamit![/footnote]) i overally find New Vegas more compelling.
And i do preffer New Vegas introduction to F3's; Looking for mooks who nearly killed me and trying to find out why some shiny chip is so important was somehow more interesting than searching for Liam Dad Neeson.
But, to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's(hehe); it's good in overall that Bethesda revived that great franchise and that someone got into crpgs thanks to it.
 

Matey

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Jun 25, 2008
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Nice story, now go play an actually good fallout game... Fallout or Fallout 2. Tactics is good too but a different kinda thing.
 

Imbechile

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So you primarily played FPSes and sports games.

Then you played a watered down action-RPG and declared it the future of RPGs.

If Fallout 3's """"""interactivity"""""" blew your mind, i don't even want to know what would RPGs that actually have some interactivity(Fallout 1, Planescape Torment) do to your mind.
 

Kingjackl

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I feel I'm in a similar boat to the OP in that Fallout 3 was my first big RPG, for which I love it dearly. It may have one of my favourite explorable worlds in any game, which is why the barren deserts and cluttered maze interiors of New Vegas were a bit of a comedown, though New Vegas did plenty of things other better.

More to the point, Fallout 3 also led me to branching out into several RPGs. I tried playing the original Fallout, but hated it. I played the original Deus Ex 10 years after it had already gone out of date, but still managed to enjoy it. Human Revolution was a godsend, plus there was also Skyrim and the Mass Effect trilogy which became my favourite series of all time. Strictly speaking, those aren't much like Fallout 3, but it's all RPG goodness and that's what we like. I'm waiting for Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines to go on sale and then I'll give that a go as well. Also, at some point I need to bite the bullet and try Dragon Age.
 

Trueflame

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It's always so odd reading things like this. My experience with video games began with RPGs, and that is where my interest has remained throughout the years, to the point that it's actually a little baffling for me that others might feel differently.

But no, RPGs don't have to be about spiky haired teenagers, or saving the world, or oversized swords. In fact, even among the JRPG genre, which that is stereotyping, that isn't always the case, and there can be a lot of variation. For me, RPGs are about giving meaning and context to a game. When I play CoD, or Halo, there is a storyline, but often it feels almost conflicting with the gameplay. I just want to start shooting things already, not waste time hearing about who I am shooting and why. And the character I am playing is just a nameless character, someone already fully formed and functioning, who I control for a brief moment and then leave, and they go on just fine without me. With RPGs, there is a much more intimate relationship. You grow to know and care for the characters, and rather than obstructing enjoyment, the storyline and character interactions become central. It's like sex, in a way. All sex is pretty great, but it's simply a better when you have some emotional attachment to the person, and it isn't just a one-night hookup. Same with games.
 

Sansha

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Nov 16, 2008
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TizzytheTormentor said:
loc978 said:
PunkRex said:
viggih7 said:
Cool, now go play New Vegas. The good one
Wow, really? New Vagas was so set on making you follow a set path around the wastes, it got unbelievably dull for me. Not to mention the bugs and i'm not talking about rad scorpions...
It never really forced you onto the path, though. My first character arrived in New Vegas at level 7, having gone north directly after clearing Primm. It only took a little patience and judicious use of binoculars to sneak past.

As for the bugs, I had (and still have) a worse time of 'em with Fallout 3... but I never played either on a console, so this is very much a "your mileage may vary" observation.
The game still wants you to go the long way to the Strip, by introducing you to the Legion on the way, as well as the NCR and that stand-off with the Khans in Boulder City.

Its not set in stone where you have to go, buts it clear how the devs wanted you to go.
That's bad game design. That's lazy. There shouldn't be a path where the devs 'want you to go', because then to get the real experience, you need to restrict and hand-hold the player.

Oblivion, Fallout 3 and Skyrim, on the other hand, throw you out of the prison/vault/keep and say "We made this world for you. Get amongst it!". Yeah, they all have their main quests, but you don't have as much of the necessity to follow them as New Vegas urges, especially for such a minor thing of 'a dude shot you'. I enjoyed discovering the factions of those three games myself instead of being lead around a party by my new girlfriend; "This is Eddie, and Aaron, and Papa, and Robert." As someone who never played the first two Fallouts, it made the Brotherhood sound like they were feared revered as a mysterious group of Wasteland demi-gods, and I had a great emotional reaction to find out they're just a gang of power-armored boy-scouts, somewhere between "Fuck, that's it?" and grave disappointment.

And while we're here, Skyrim has factions down-pat because it takes all that bullshit reputation system from NV and throws it out the fifth floor window, especially the silly disguises.

Oblivion wins the story department because ultimately your choices don't mean shit. Anyone else could have replaced you in taking the Amulet to Martin Septim and the whole plot would have carried out as it did without you. I adore that - not being the goddamn legendary hero for once, unlike New Vegas where there's a four-way political stalemate and YOU are the ONLY ONE who can make the difference and change the face of the entire West Coast, all over a goddamn chip. What I did in my main New Vegas playthrough was deliver the Chip, then I left the Lucky 38 and used the console to delete the proceeding quests. Package delivered; money paid.

Fallout 3 wins the exploration and open world department because it dumps you out of the Vault with nothing more than "Find Yo' Daddy", which in itself isn't touted as a terribly pressing matter, especially after listening to GNR for five minutes, unlike Skyrim's "Oh fuck dragons!", New Vegas' "Oh fuck some dude stole your shit!" and Oblivion's "Oh fuck someone needs to get this Amulet!". Fallout 3 is liberating, totally unrestricted and for that, immersive as hell.
 

Kiste

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Sansha said:
That's bad game design. That's lazy. There shouldn't be a path where the devs 'want you to go', because then to get the real experience, you need to restrict and hand-hold the player.

Oblivion, Fallout 3 and Skyrim, on the other hand, throw you out of the prison/vault/keep and say "We made this world for you. Get amongst it!".
No, sorry, but that's not "bad game design", it's "slightly different game design". When designing Open World RPGs, the game designers have to make certain compromises and trade-offs between non-linearity and having a measure of linearity/guidance in order to effectively deliver story and to set up the game world.

The game world the player is thrown into in FNV is signifcantly more complex (i.e. various factions with their history and agendas interacting with each other) than FO3's and because of this you need a way to convey this effectively. Obsidian actually did that quite well without outright forcing you along a path. They shove you, true, but you still can do things differently.

That's not "lazy", FNV does something that FO3 simply didn't NEED to do because FO3 is incredibly lazy in terms of being more than just a bunch of Open World real eastate with underwhelming shovelware content plastered all over the place, like all Bethesda games are.

Now, since Bethesda games usually feature really crappy story and their worlds also tend to be bland and generic, they really don't have to waste much effort on delivering these things - they can go with all-out sandbox non-linearity. In fact, that's the only thing that makes their games even remotely interesting.

New Vegas, on the other hand, had to do some heavier lifting in order to set up the story and the game world and because of that, the experience feels a bit more guided for the first 20% or so of the game.

That is not "bad design", it's the result of creating a somewhat different kind of game compared to FO3. There is no rule or law that says that non-linearity is "better design" by definition, it all depends on what you want your game to be and what you want the player to experience.

Sansha said:
And while we're here, Skyrim has factions down-pat because it takes all that bullshit reputation system from NV and throws it out the fifth floor window, especially the silly disguises.
Wow, this is about the most backwards thing I have read in a long time. The reputation system was one of several mechanics in FO:NV that gave your actions consequences. That's how the world works. You do something and it might affect other people; piss them off or make them see you in a favorable light.

The factions in the TES games, on the other hand, are just meaningless content delivery systems. You join them, you do their quest lines, and that's it. It's completely arbitrary. You could just as well replace them with a bunch of non-affiliated characters. It's just flavor, nothing more. The factions serve no real purpose.

It's one of the reasons why the TES games are so incredibly bland. Nothing matters, nothing has real consequence, you can do everything without ever having to make a decision.

Sansha said:
Oblivion wins the story department because ultimately your choices don't mean shit. Anyone else could have replaced you in taking the Amulet to Martin Septim and the whole plot would have carried out as it did without you. I adore that - not being the goddamn legendary hero for once, unlike New Vegas where there's a four-way political stalemate and YOU are the ONLY ONE who can make the difference and change the face of the entire West Coast, all over a goddamn chip.
Wait, what? Now you're getting ridiculous. You're just making things up.

In FNV, you're just a random dude who happened to stumble into a very volatile situation and, through a string of incidents, is put into a position that allows you to tip the scales between very powerful factions that do things for their own purposes. You're not "changing the face of the entire West Coast". The face of the entire West Coast is about to change anyway, you're just put into the position of being able to influence on which side the chips fall.

In Oblivion, EMPEROR SEPTIM tells you: "You... I've seen you... you are the one from my dreams.". He then goes on speculating that the Gods placed you in that cell so that you may meet him and that being a prisoner is not what you, the player, will be remembered for. That's cheesy "Chosen One" nonsense right here.
 

Breywood

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I started with RPGs with Ultima III and Bard's Tale III back in the late '80s. While the game put a lot of stress on your imagination when compared to Skyrim and Fallout III, I still thoroughly enjoy playing through the old clunky RPG games, mostly because I can appreciate the mechanics and story direction in it (sometimes chessy) glory without having to shell out over $1000 to enjoy it. I'm still a bit miffed about the fact every slider in the graphics menu has to be to the left to play NWN2 without getting depressed when the screen gets "busy."
 

Mack Case

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Kiste said:
Bethesda games usually feature really crappy story and their worlds also tend to be bland and generic,
Seriously? How is Fallout 3 bland and generic? I know the whole retro-futuristic thing was already in the original 2 games, but Fallout 3 is far from generic. The wasteland did tend to be a little featureless, I grant you that, but it was in no way generic. Bethesda's environments are always extremely varied, and Fallout 3 was no exception.

As a player, it was always clear to me what kind of place each area had been before the war. There were upscale neighborhoods, inner city ghettos, redneck wildernesses, forests, mountains, basins, cities, towns, little family owned stores and huge chains. It was, to me at least, the opposite of generic.

And you want generic? the first two Fallouts were generic. Obviously it was a different time, so the variance of the later titles was'nt going to be easy, but the entire wasteland just felt completely homogenous to me in the first two. It was always some big empty desert with maybe a ruined house or two, or some featureless town that had nothing to make it distinctive. Look at the settlements in Fallout 3 and compare them to those in the first two.

Fallout 3 made each one of its towns engrossing to explore, and you really got the impression that they were all struggling to get by, and that existence for these people was forever balanced on the edge of a knife. An unrealistic setup, I admit, but to be honest, I always felt that most of the communities in the capital wasteland were just transient trading and scavenging hubs, where people would come from safer regions to make their fortune.

Fallout 1 and 2, however, only had settlements distinguished by their chief industry or form of government. Again, I have to admonish that eye candy was hard to come by 15 years ago, but the towns were just so boring to consider.

And the rest of Bethesda's rpg's are the same. Skyrim had probably over a dozen different environments to explore, each distinctive in their terrain, flora, and fauna. Each city had something interesting about it, something that set it apart from the others. Bethesda's games are pretty much the opposite of bland and generic.
 

Kiste

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Mack Case said:
Kiste said:
Bethesda games usually feature really crappy story and their worlds also tend to be bland and generic,
Seriously? How is Fallout 3 bland and generic? I know the whole retro-futuristic thing was already in the original 2 games, but Fallout 3 is far from generic. The wasteland did tend to be a little featureless, I grant you that, but it was in no way generic. Bethesda's environments are always extremely varied, and Fallout 3 was no exception.
Having a measure of variety doesn't mean it's not generic. Now, of course, Fallout 3 was not generic because it was a Fallout game and Fallout is one of the most unique settings in video gaming. Bethesda didn't create it, though. They made a bad copy of it.

And you want generic? the first two Fallouts were generic. Obviously it was a different time, so the variance of the later titles was'nt going to be easy, but the entire wasteland just felt completely homogenous to me in the first two.
You're again talking variety when I'm talking about having a setting that wasn't done to death and just a retreading of ancient tropes. Fallout 1 and 2 created a very unique world and style. That's hardly generic.

Fallout 3 made each one of its towns engrossing to explore
Fallout 3 made towns that were utterly idiotic and implausible, like Megaton and Rivet City, which were all just totally gimicky (the A-Bomb Town, the Aircraft Carrier Town and so on). I still wonder where they got their food and water from, and what they were doing for a living. In FNV, on the other hand, the world made sense. Same with FO1 and 2. You had farming communities, trade hubs, tribal areas etc - things you would expect. FO3, on the other hand, is just one implausible location next to another. You can call that "engrossing", I call it really, really bad world design. They made a landmass and then just shoved random shit into it. Skyrim is an improvement in that regard, though.

Fallout 1 and 2, however, only had settlements distinguished by their chief industry or form of government. Again, I have to admonish that eye candy was hard to come by 15 years ago, but the towns were just so boring to consider.
FO1 and 2 and NV were about exploring post-apocalypic society in all it's weirdness. FO3 was about traipsing through the dead ruins of a city and dank sewers while shooting super-mutants. Bethesda never understood what made Fallout interesting in the first place - and they never will.
 

TheDrunkNinja

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Schuyler, what have you done?!?

You know that even reminiscing about Fallout will cause untold amounts of chaos and discord throughout the forums! No one in these forums is secure enough in their opinion of which Fallout game they like best to allow an article positively backing a different entry in the series!

Oh dear lord, the amount of nitpicking to come will surely send this thread off a cliff and straight to hell after derailing so hard it would cause a break in the sound barrier from the collective whining! God help us all once the links to Shamus Young articles start coming in droves!

 

Frankster

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Welcome to the rpg club i guess, though the cynical side of me is not surprised one coming from sports and fps games would be so enraptured with fallout 3 to the point of viewing it as a master class in rpg choices and consequences outcomes.

Id be curious to read about the authors opinion on new vegas since that game is considered to have higher rpg pedigree then fo3.
 

Redlin5_v1legacy

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Aug 5, 2009
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Hawker101 said:
If you enjoyed Fallout 3 and the choices you got to make having an impact, you should try Fallout: New Vegas, it has choices galore.
It was my first Fallout game and now I want more.

OT: I think the real first RPG environment that felt like it could be real (instead of Final Fantasy or Super Mario RPG) was Freelancer. Oh it was obstinately a flight simulator on the outside but inside it had a story and a journey which still makes me feel giddy inside. I think it was because of my connection to Freelancer I can endure the most frustrating encounters in FTL. There's something greater than you going on and you have to stop it! :D
 

ThunderCavalier

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Nov 21, 2009
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Um...

*cough*

I liked Fallout 3 and I liked New Vegas. I like New Vegas more because I like its story and characters more, but I appreciate Fallout 3's expansive world and random encounters, which I think it did better than New Vegas.

I think both games are great, and that one being good does not invalidate the other. It's like arguing which is better between the Avengers and the Dark Knight Rises: Both are awesome movies, so why are you arguing which one is better and calling the other one crap?

As for Dievendorf, it's nice to see that you played a game as awesome as FO3 that let you appreciate gaming culture. Welcome to the fold, and please ignore the more extremist aspects of our culture. Check out stuff like New Vegas and Deus Ex, RPGs that have a FPS shooter aspect.

And for the record, spikey-haired, outrageous RPGs can be nice. If you like decent stories and can stand a tinge bit of absurdity, check out Final Fantasy 6. It doesn't have too many spikey-haired people (from what I remember).
 

Baddamobs

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Haha, I just realized, Fallout 3 is like the gateway drug of RPG's: it the lighter kind that leads to all the heavy stuff xD.

But seriously: I think people should be allowed to enjoy what they want: I was always an RPG kid, but I respect the fact that for you, Fallout was the game that got you into it. That's all I got to say on the matter, really.
 

Sansha

There's a principle in business
Nov 16, 2008
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Kiste said:
That is not "bad design", it's the result of creating a somewhat different kind of game compared to FO3. There is no rule or law that says that non-linearity is "better design" by definition, it all depends on what you want your game to be and what you want the player to experience.
It is to me. I hate linearity, and I aggressively reject any of the sort - especially in a game touted for its open world freedom.

Wow, this is about the most backwards thing I have read in a long time. The reputation system was one of several mechanics on FO:NV that gave you actions consequences. That's how the world works. You do something and it might affect other people; piss them off or make them see you in a favorable light.
It was a decent idea with shoddy execution. It felt really clunky, and frankly it was way too easy to exploit - I ended my last play with all reputations in the positive.

And frankly, I'm tired of games where the player's decisions affect the world and have far-reaching consequences. My absolute favorite game story is that of World of Warcraft, where the world changes, characters develop and things happen with or without me. I love it - it makes me feel like I'm part of something bigger than myself, instead of holding the reins on the destinies of literally everybody in the world.

The factions in the TES games, on the other hand, are just meaningless content delivery systems. You join them, you do their quest lines, and that's it. It's completely arbitrary. You could just as well replace them with a bunch of non-affiliated characters. It's just flavor, nothing more. The factions serve no real purpose.

It's one of the reasons why the TES games are so incredibly bland. Nothing matters, nothing has real consequence, you can do everything without ever having to make a decision.
That feels more realistic to me. I'm not an ambitious dreamer, either in the real world or in-game. The Hero Complex that RPG's nowdays give the player is getting ridiculous, and nowhere is that more prevalent than Skyrim and New Vegas. The Courier doesn't even have the excuse of having exceptional skills or superpowers - he's just a dude who somehow ends up being the only one in the greater Mojave area with the basic intelligence to not get shot to death and talk everyone out of their problems. It's just silly, especially when every faction except Mr. House strikes me as a pack of colossal morons, completely unable to perform any basic task until the post-boy with a hole in his skull rolls up and unfucks everyone else's problems.

Sure, such a thing is prevalent in every RPG, but none as clumsily as New Vegas. Maybe that's the fantasy, but to me the fantasy that plays out is simply that the Courier is fifty IQ points ahead of the desert full of chimps, and the Dragonborn is the most powerful mortal in Tamriel.

Of the four games, the only element in which New Vegas excels is the side quests, especially the story quests given by each companion. In getting to know these people by travelling with them, you learn their stories, and help them with getting their shit done as they help you with yours. That's literally the only feature I hope and pray that they stick into Fallout 4.