I may have put Fallout 3 off to finish some of 2008’s other big games, but as we move into 2009 there’s only one of those games that I’m still playing.
Fallout 3 is a slow starter, taking a good hour of talking and being taught the basics before you even hit the Capital Wasteland. It’s far longer than the equivalent opening dungeon of Oblivion – that’s Fallout 3 without guns, or so I’ve heard – and when you eventually get kicked out of the relative safety and into the big wide world, it’s even more overwhelming. It was a good few hours before I even had sufficient money and ammo to even consider taking on human enemies.
But even during this crawl, I found myself intrigued by what I was finding, being tempted to explore beyond the safety of Megaton at the risk of running into mercenaries who could burn me into a pile of ash with weapons that I wouldn’t find for hours of play and giant scorpions that I’d have to dance around and hit with a baseball bat for five minutes each.
At the risk of going over the same stuff that I said about Fable II, I just fell in love with the world that Fallout 3 presents, albeit for different reasons. It’s bleak and depressing, but it’s also liberating and exciting, and I like playing an RPG where a new town might offer great loot but equally might lead to a massive gunfight. I like the implied stories, like the charred skeletons huddled on the bed in a bombed-out house, left over from when the bombs fell. I like the exhibits in the pre-war technology museum, showing off the utopian vision of life in a Vault that’s a bit more like the brochure than the reality.
But most of all, I just love playing this game. It’s buggy as hell and, being a Bethesda game, most characters are like talking to slightly creepy mannequins, but I found the story and setting – let’s face it: those are the things that keeps anyone going through the monotony of even the best RPGs – as interesting as it was in the original games. Oblivion with guns? Maybe, but Oblivion with slow-motion decapitations and a teddy bear launcher is more than good enough for me.
So now that Bethesda has two big hitters and a successful formula, here’s to an even better Elder Scrolls V in 2010. But let’s get to the DLC for this one first, eh?