The wait is finally over: Fallout 4 release and initial thoughts of Fallout 3

fallout-please-stand

Please Stand By

It has been 5 years since the release of the last game, Fallout: New Vegas (2010), was released. Needless to say, fans everywhere were more than excited to hear that developers, Bethesda, were gracing us with their presence at E3 this year. This could only mean one thing. On June 3, fans of the Fallout series were finally rewarded for their patience, as the timer ticked on their website with the infamous loading screen asking that people ‘Please Stand By’. The same screen is used for the introduction and loading screens for pretty much every Fallout game. Things were beginning to look interesting. The tension was rife and after the timer finally hit zero, the inhale of strained silence began. Posts and videos soon exploded onto the internet and Bethesda uploaded the long awaited trailer for Fallout 4.

When I first watched the trailer, I had no idea what the Fallout series was about or why it was so popular. I thought it all looked a bit mediocre, seeing as it was going to be on the next gen consoles, so the graphics appeared to be lacking in my opinion. However, this did get me thinking. If Bethesda wanted to make this game aesthetically incredible, like the many games that have been released recently, then they would have. It’s been 5 years, they had the time to do it. So, this made me think that it was intentional. I read through several comments about the trailer and a lot of people had the same worries, only most of the replies were about how the games have never had a huge emphasis on the graphics but on the atmosphere, gameplay and the story instead. If there’s anything that this trailer did, it was tell a story. From the transitioning between the past and present, to the narrator echoing phrases from the introduction of Fallout 3 (2008), the newest game in the franchise looks like it’s going to be a special one. I liked the way that the German Shepherd was used as a device to drive the trailer forwards, as the main character is not seen until the end of the trailer. I thought that this was effective as the dog itself is an innocent creature amongst the devastation that had been caused by the war, and it is simply scouting the area while the screen pans in and out of the past and present to show the audience what was there before. I did not realise that the main character speaking, even if it is only a few words, was such a big deal. It became clear to me that the games have always featured a silent protagonist, so this is new and exciting for fans of the game. There have been some speculation as to who voices the character, many believing it to be Troy Baker, but he sounded a bit like Nolan North to me. We’ll just have to wait and see. I must admit, Bethesda have me pretty eager to see what they’ll reveal at this year’s E3.

My boyfriend is a huge fan of the series, and it’s safe to say that Fallout 3 is his favourite game. I’ve actually been working on a portrait of the Brotherhood of Steel armour for him for almost a year now. My pencils are getting smaller and smaller every time I come back to it. Admittedly, it’s not the easiest project I’ve set for myself. He bought the Game of the Year edition of Fallout 3 for me on Steam at some point in the previous year, but I have always been quite intimidated by it. I knew that there was a lot of content to cover and the large scale of the game is daunting, especially to someone who doesn’t usually play these types of games. Bethesda are also the masterminds behind the Elder Scrolls series, of which I have only played the fourth game, Oblivion (2006). I was terrible at it. There was so much to do and I had such little knowledge of the world. As much as I don’t like to admit it, I gave up on Oblivion before the game had really started. This was simply because I was so out of my comfort zone, and I wasn’t entirely sure how to tackle the super mutant behemoth that was these games (Fallout 3 references. Apparently quite good for creating emphasis, I must say). So after my negative experience with The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, I was put off the Fallout series. After the announcement of Fallout 4, I was bombarded with messages from my more than excited boyfriend. It got to the point that after saying I was sorting through my laundry, I received a message from him saying “Go play Fallout 3“. He then proceeded to try and sell the game to me. He started talking about if a character was annoying me, then I could kill them and move on. How the game adapts to your decisions and that the story is amazingly in depth, with little side stories branching off from the main one in every direction. It was when he said that I could play it on ‘very easy’ that he had me. What drove the point home was that he only wanted me to play the first 30 minutes. And so I did.

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Brotherhood of Steel power armour

Fallout 3

Released: October 28, 2008

This review will serve more as a first impressions of the game as I can’t judge the entire game from the first 30 minutes. There is far too much depth to this game to even attempt that, and I’ve never played the other games of the franchise so I really had no idea what to expect. I’m already feeling like I’m way in over my head as I attempt to come up with something to write. It was quite exciting to see the ‘Please Stand By’ screen as the game was loading, though there was a twinge of panic as I jumped into the unknown. Upon seeing the Brotherhood of Steel graphic that I have painstakingly spent hours on in an attempt to recreate it in my portrait, I remembered just how much effort I had been putting into it. I figured the game will be no different. I set the game on the easiest difficulty just to be safe, I really am not good at these types of games and I wanted to make the transition as seamless as possible. My first struggle was picking a name. At least in games like The Legend of Zelda I already have a set name that I will always use (people that don’t use the name Link in a Zelda game worry me). Customising the appearance of my character proved to be a challenge as well. Although there is an option to play the game in third person, I thought I would try to play it in first person for the experience. Alongside this, the character’s name is never said, so I was putting a lot of effort into nothing. I realised after I had set up my character that I could’ve been a lot more creative and made Hodor from Game of Thrones. However, there was no option to set the height and build of the character, so I didn’t miss out on too much of an opportunity.

I ended up playing the game for 2 hours, but I did not progress that far into the story. Only, I was dawdling in an attempt to gather supplies as I was advised by my boyfriend that I needed to scavenge as many things that could be useful. Before I get into the actual gameplay, I will talk about the introduction of the game. There is a short cutscene where a song from a radio plays, revealed to be in a run-down bus that has advertisements encouraging people to enlist for the army. There are also posters and banners promoting vacancies in Vaults, which are underground shelters. The camera pans out and reveals the desolate surroundings of the bus, the bleakness of the city with its worn and collapsed buildings. As the camera continues to show more, a figure in the Brotherhood of Steel armour is seen wielding a firearm. The screen fades to black and a narration begins, claiming that “war never changes”. The narrator explains that man had destroyed the world through nuclear fire and radiation, and that many refugees took to the underground Vaults for shelter. Only Vault 101 did not reopen after the destruction, in which the player’s character is born and will die as no one enters or leaves Vault 101. Having never played the Fallout games or even knew what they were about, I was immediately drawn into the game. Knowing that I would leave the Vault at some point, I was already trying to figure out how it would be done. However, I found myself clinging a little desperately to the Vault because I could navigate it and the story was linear at the beginning. You flash through your character’s life, to important moments such as their birth and 10th birthday. I have to admit, it was weird knowing that Liam Neeson was the voice actor for your character’s father in the game, so it took some getting used to.

When playing as your character, aged 1, I thought it was a bit silly. However, I soon changed my mind when I realised that the entirety of the Vault section of the game was a tutorial without actually stating it was. I was given small objectives, such as getting out of my play pen and finding a book. I was impressed with the Special Book, with each of the letters of the word ‘special’ standing for particular traits of your character that you can customise. These being strength, perception, endurance, charisma, intelligence, agility and luck. It’s a bit like playing Dungeons & Dragons, which I also experienced for the first time this year. The way the game smoothly incorporates the customisation of the character within the game was impressive. I much preferred it over having to sit through several different screens, where I could change the crookedness of my character’s nose or move a scale from one extreme to another to indicate if I wanted them to be rational or impulsive. I was highly entertained by the fact that I could make baby noises at Liam Neeson (I’m just going to continue to refer to the character as his voice actor because it’s easier for me) during this segment. It’s the small things in games that are sometimes the most memorable.

After progressing through the tutorial part of the game and jumping forwards in time to when my character is 19 years old, I was suddenly thrown into the actual story of the game. Liam Neeson had somehow managed to leave the Vault for unknown reasons, sending the residents of Vault 101 into a panic and the security were now looking for me. I armed myself with a baseball bat and made my way through the Vault with absolutely no idea what to do. The first security guard that I came across was immediately hostile and I went to dispatch him, only I was beaten to it by the radroaches (giant cockroaches), which I quickly killed. Because of this, I assumed that everyone was out to get me and the next security guard I ran into I began attacking straight off the bat (no pun intended). I hadn’t realised that he was attempting to speak to me until after I was done killing him and taking his possessions. I think my distrust of the AI in other games made me disregard everyone while I was playing Fallout 3. After being told people were looking for me, I just assumed everyone was out to kill me. I actually felt bad in a couple of instances, especially when I thought that I was doing the right thing. I opted to save Ellen DeLoria from a small horde of radroaches, but in the process of saving her I ended up killing her son, Butch, after he attacked me with his switchblade knife. The entire development of the ‘Escape!’ mission had me in a blind panic, and I even ended up killing the Overseer, the man who ensures the smooth running of everything in Vault 101. After leaving a trail of bodies in my wake, I managed to escape the Vault and I was greeted with the desolate environment known to the AI as the Wasteland. I found that once I left the Vault, everything wanted to kill me. I quickly progressed to the town called Megaton that the game had marked on my compass in an attempt to just get away from the bloodbath that I had made. I explored the town for a while and had a bit of fun with the ability to push over a Brahmin, a two headed cow-type creature, before I decided to call it day.

I have to say, I am really enjoying this game. I checked the Wiki while writing up my actions and it appears as though I have made every wrong possible decision, but that is one of the best features of this game. It has an incredible amount of replayable content, and you can have a different experience every time. My responses to the events in the game this time around are probably the most genuine that I will have, but I will attempt it again in the future to see how I could do things differently. That is after I complete the game for the first time, which may take a long time. The only downside that I have seen to this game so far is the heavy emphasis on dialogue, which can become boring but it is necessary to the player as conversing with people is a way to gain valuable information and allies. It also improves your character’s stats, which is always helpful in RPG games, and can even be a better option than combat. Overall, so far I love the game and I am having a much better time playing this than I did with Oblivion. I am going to continue my playthrough of it and I will provide a much more in-depth review once I am done with it. It’s proven to be a pleasant surprise as I was not expecting to enjoy it this much, but the variety of outcomes is intriguing to me and I definitely want to see how the story progresses.

I won’t rate the game as of yet as it is only the first 2 hours, but I will say that it is easily going to be a high scoring one and I can’t wait to see how I get on with it. I know it’s on the easiest difficulty, but hey, I can live with that.

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