Tobold's Blog
Saturday, November 06, 2010
Fallout 3

No, the title is not a typo or something. Playing a lot of time-consuming MMORPGs, I tend to be way behind the curve with playing single-player games. So while everybody else is on Fallout: New Vegas, I just recently started playing Fallout 3. The joys of digital distribution: You can get a two year old game for half the price, and if the reviews were good two years ago, the game probably still is good today. Only that in this case, with Fallout 3, in spite of good reviews and starting out enthusiastically, I got bored rather quickly.

The start of Fallout 3 is great. Playing a character from birth on is brilliant, and I really liked how creating your character with stats and skills was woven into playing your childhood. And at first I liked leaving the vault and exploring the wastelands, scavenging the post-apocalyptic ruins for useful scraps. So I played, and played, and played some more, and 8 levels, lots of quests, and a bunch of hours later I was *still* scavenging post-apocalyptic ruins for useful scraps. More specifically I was searching still the same desks, file cabinets, and metal boxes, all of which look the same, for the same bottle caps, junk, and handfuls of ammo. There aren't all that many different containers in this game, and most of the loot isn't really exciting. I ran through endless same-ish looking metro tunnels, fought the same types of enemies over and over, until I just couldn't bring myself to continue. Yes, the characters are very well done, and the freedom to explore is great, but I found the main story-line a bit weak, and the post-apocalyptic wasteland soon gets repetitive.

Now at the heart of it Fallout 3 is a game of managing scarce resources. That should make the fights interesting, because the less ammo you use and the quicker you kill with minimal health loss, the better off you are. Given that, I'm not sure it was a good idea to design Fallout 3 with two different combat systems. And maybe I'm just lousy at aiming, but in my case the Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System (V.A.T.S.) is much, much more efficient than playing Fallout 3 like a first-person shooter. I just get close to the mob, hit the key to enter V.A.T.S. mode, select 3 headshots, and easily kill about every monster with 3 or less bullets without getting a scratch myself. Not very exciting, and not very tactical either; I would have hoped that an alternative "turn-based" combat system would have more interesting choices than the obvious "shoot the head" best option. Playing the game like a shooter doesn't make it any more tactical, but I waste a lot more ammo and get wounded more.

Well, shooter games are always hit-or-miss with me, even if they are part role-playing game. I liked Bioshock and Call of Duty 2 a lot, but some shooter games I just don't warm up to. Life is too short to play games I don't really enjoy, and so I'll just stop playing Fallout 3 and try something else. Just goes to show that even a game with excellent reviews isn't necessarily for everybody.
You and me both. I found that game far to drear and depressing. Thankfully, New Vegas adds quite a bit to the mix and the environments are a bit more colorful. I also think the storyline is better, but I only got about 6 hours into 3 before giving up.

Combat is still exactly the same. They give you cooler weapons sooner, but it's still about VATS to the head. You should try the demo of New Vegas if there is one. The basic gameplay is the same but tweaked just enough to make it more enjoyable.
One of the issues I have with action games/shooters is that average players seem to fall for the cool factor way too heavily. If the graphics are great and you have freedom to kill stuff, that's about all it takes to get great reviews.

And being from Bethesda, I was afraid to play it anyway. Their role playing games always look great and have some great open game play, but somehow they've always felt very lonely and empty.
Fallout 3 has to be played at 'very hard' and a focus on sneaking. You need to restrict yourself from reloading except for dieing and then really pretend to be that guy in the wasteland.

Of course, the game does not really support this style of play (Las Vegas supports it a bit better (Hardcore mode, that could be much more harcore ..), but has other problems).

I am the first the say that a game that requires the player to play it in a way that is not intended by the developers is .. not perfect. But most games nowadays require you to do it: Otherwise you become a victim of the lowest common denominator.

PS: Forget the main story. It is abysmal.
Yea, i've had the same experience. My Fallout 3 GOTY edition is still gathering dust. I played it far enough to feel a big "meh" forming in my head.

Either way it's not the environment/depressing/wasteland theme . I've played Fallout 1 and 2 with alot more success. I also enjoyed Fallen Earth [but i guess the social aspect helps] without feeling the "theme" influence the game negatively [but rather positively] .

I get the same feeling with alot of RPGs , even if they have amazing colorful environments. It's just plain boring without a story or a gameplay element that is fun . I have never liked Bethesda's combat system , it's not fun. Without a story it's just boring. Morrowind i finished because there was a tight focused storyline. Oblivion i had to get one of those mods to keep me interested (Nehrim) , which is ironically a free community made effort...
Although I like the postapoc setting of the series and the aimless roaming around (the Stalker games imho are superior in this niche though) I couldnt really get into FO3. It just didnt feel like a living gameworld, and i thought the levelling aspect was rather disappointing. FONV does both aspects better. You can now be an eloquent Unarmed Combat expert/masterchef.
"Life is too short to play games"

I'd end that sentence there.

I get that feeling every time I try any "game" that isn't an MMO. I've never considered MMOs to be "games" per se, it's just an unfortunate legacy nomenclature they've been lumbered with, although developers seem increasingly determined to turn them into games.

Storylines actually add frustration for me, in that if it's a good storyline there are clearly so many better ways to deliver it than via a game and if it's a bad storyline then, well, why would I want to follow it?
@Bhagpuss: This, essentially, although not as much.

As purely an entertainment source (i.e. COD, FPSs in general, Total War series) games are great because they kill time and build some skills without really doing much harm if you don't play them for too long.

SRPGs, however, I find terribly terribly boring. I'm sure Dragon Age's story is great (heck, the universe, from what I gathered from 5 hours, is pretty neat) but why not just make it into a book if it's so good? DA's awful combat and often disjointed voice acting only makes the story seem worse, not better, and there's no social reason to play either, since it's single player.
I loved fallout 3. If you just played straight through the main story line, it's not a very long game either. There are some very interesting side quests too.

The reason most MMORPG players spend so much time with Fallout 3 is because we can't help but try hard to maximize our characters, and we're frequently "completionsists". So we spend all that time scavenging garbage when you really don't have to.

If you feel compelled to unturn every stone your cross like a good completionist, the game will get boring.
I have enjoyed a lot of single-player CRPGs. For me the important characteristics are an interesting and atmospheric world to explore, and interesting and challenging tactical combat. A good storyline is a plus, although games where the storyline is a priority should be short, as I often do not finish these games.

Many of these games are too long, and I never get to see the whole storyline. I don't mind really so long as I've enjoyed the part I played.
I enjoyed Fallout 3 (and the first 3 addons) and put well over 100 hours into it. Fallout: NV I so far have played over 60 hours. Yeah things are repetitive, and landscapes are blah, but still love both the games. I think if they had added co-op it would have made them much better.
I had the same feeling with FO3. I really liked it initally, but halfway through the story gets rather boring, as does the fighting mechanic.

I am curious though, Tobold, I am currently replaying the Gothic series and in my opinion Gothic 1 and 2 are two oft the best RPGs I have ever played. Have you played them and if so, what is your opinion on them?
I tried Fallout 3, and found that it was the most boring single player game I've ever played.

If you want an excellent single player experience, please, go out and buy HL2 and play through it on normal mode. I know you have issues with FPS games and motion sickness, and I'm sure you've tried it in the past, but I can't recommend that game enough.

It's an extremely fun FPS/puzzle game with amazing immersion into a creepy, scary environment.
Fallout 3 was great, most immersive RPG I've played since Deus Ex.
I actually really enjoyed Fallout 3 - it wasn't really a sequel to Fallouts 1 and 2, being a totally sort of game, but I actually found scavaging round ruins, exploring a broken world deeply satsifying - in a totally emo way! To be fair, I also modded the hell out of it, so it was barely the same game as the one released by Bethseda. But then I do very much exploring, and since I primarily play RPGs I'm used to shitty combat systems :P
Well, in these terms Portal is immersive as hell as well.

In Poland for a reason not yet known to me people are drawn by the dark-ish settings like Warhammer Roleplay, Vampire: Masquerade and also Fallout 1&2. What I imagine most players enjoy is the harshness of the world around. And the New Vegas Hardcore mode is probalbly what will make me smile a lot.

As for FO3 - it is not really a Fallout game per se - What was extremely enjoyable in FO1&2 was the people you encountered. Sure, there was barely any recorded dialogue and only 40 NPC models to cover for all the people you ever met, most of the distinction being made in the text descriptions of objects and people, BUT boy were the characters there deep. A junkie in New Reno had like a 6 different text floats over his head before going to repetition, but these changed to reflect your character's appearance and all of it always kept you in the mood of a postapocalypic world in which people have no choice but to strive to survive. The vision of this world was so complete, that you could play really long. I've stopped counting the replays of the game I had a long time ago. FO3 doesn't have that. While the story the game attempts to tell is awesome, the world bends around the story very much. You don't meet people that have motivation to do what they do - the characters in the game are mostly archetypes without a good backstory, everything going back to the main story in some way. That lowers the immersion factor a LOT.

You mention Poland, but not the best dark and atmospheric RPG that came out in the last few years?

The Witcher

My experience with Fallout 3 was a little different. I immensely enjoyed the game for sure, and I came >< this close to completing it, but by the end I was in the best armor you could find, wielding an extraterrestrial pistol that could vaporize a Behemoth Mutant, and I already knew how this would end.

That is why I couldn't bring myself to finish the game.

And it's part of the reason I can't seem to get into New Vegas.
I really don't understand how its so tedious for you guys.

What is most astounding to me is that 90% of the problems Tobold and others had were completely avoidable.

-I couldn't spend money fast enough, so I never even searched all the loot containers...why would I? STOP scavenging for scraps when it becomes worthless...control yourself?

-keep running through metro tunnels...why not just stop running through them and do quests, or different quests? You rarely had to go in them for actual missions.

-scarce resources? again, were you playing a diff game? I found it hard to get below thousands of caps, and never had to manage any scarcity of resources. You either misunderstood the mechanics or somehow failed horribly.

-So wait, you don't like using VATS but you used it near exclusively? So you have to MIN-MAX even in a single-player game? Is it not possible to play how is most fun?

I understand in WoW that playing for efficiency is best, but in a single player game...?

You can play the whole game without VATS, and of course its more challenging but doable. If like myself you enjoy shooters, you probably would just use normal targeting half the time.

Not to mention that for long-range sniping VATS becomes unusable. But in any case you could easily fight most enemies without it, and only use VATS when swarmed or in a tight spot.

(You can still get 3 headshot kills outside of VATS..just requires small amount of skill)

Moral of the story: MMO players cannot play a game without mindlessly doing the most efficient activity repetitively, despite however much they hate it.
"Now at the heart of it Fallout 3 is a game of managing scarce resources."

Wrong. At the heart, Fallout is a RPG and a game where most of your choices have an impact on the game world, leading to many different endings not only for the main plot but also for the side quests.
I agree. I've tried it twice and both times I am bored by the time I reach Rivet City (about 30 hrs for me).

However, if you haven't done it, I recommend at least playing far enough that you find the GNR station. It's quite early in the game (if you haven't been there yet you probably have the quest). The fight there is the best part of the game.
the comments by J Dangerous amuse me because he makes the same criticisms of Tobold's FO3 experience that Tobold makes about other people's WoW experience.
However, if you haven't done it, I recommend at least playing far enough that you find the GNR station. It's quite early in the game (if you haven't been there yet you probably have the quest). The fight there is the best part of the game.

That is how far I got, I'm on the quest *after* GNR. While the combat in front of GNR is visually impressive, I found that if you follow the on-screen advice of "grab the nuke", the fight was over rather quickly.
If you live in DC, then the first Fallout 3 has special significance, since many of the towns and architecture were based on local sights here. I very much enjoyed the personalities and the challenges of the game, and very much liked the Mini-Nukes. Shiny... The end-game sucked, yeah, but it was somewhat cool watching the Transformer stomp its enemies for a while.

Enjoying FONV right now, as it has been stated, much better story, better graphics, same VAT, same damned deathclaws, better crafting. But I enjoy the challenge of a game that puts you in a position of having to think - hey, if I try to go through there, the four deathclaws are going to shred me. I better go around.

Ave, Caeser! Prepare to die!
I bought Fallout 3 and started playing through it but never finished it. It just didn't do it for me. Plus a friend of mine was raving about another RPG at the time. I picked it up and have been playing it off and on for the past year. It was Mass Effect 1. I was hooked on it and Mass Effect 2 was even better. It is a great 3rd person shooter and great story. I highly recommend it, since it seems your branching out into the single player type games.
That is how far I got, I'm on the quest *after* GNR. While the combat in front of GNR is visually impressive, I found that if you follow the on-screen advice of "grab the nuke", the fight was over rather quickly.

That is what I am talking about. How the hell can I actually play and immerse in a game that provides me with information that I did not obtain in other means? I walk the desert and kill some dude and sudenly a quest pops up with a name I don't get, and it says it's completed and there is addidtional info in the Pip-boy that I see the first time. No NPC or book told me who the dude was - he just attacked and I killed him, but I was then told a story of his lifetime and why I needed to kill him. It's the same everywhere - there's so many pointers in games that are not in-world that it makes me wanna puke. It's like the devs are afraid that if the game is only a bit more difficult then timid people will not buy. It's all eye-candy now and minimal effort in content development. And if some content is actually there it's so small/undeveloped, there is a million pointers to the content, so that a player could actually see it. That's why you get acheivement popups all the time in Force Unleashed 2. The game has 6 levels altoghether, you can finish it in like 2 hours. Level first - someone thougt that the content that needs to be added is the ability to kill a trooper by moving him to a high-pwered generator to fry him with electricity. And in case the player missed this *awesome* feature there's like two or three achievements tied to this. And there's more details like this. And now the box can say, that to complete all the content you need 6 hours, not 2 - because one of the achievement dares you to fry 50 troopers on the generator and you, trying to actually do that will significantly increase the time you're playing the game.

You can accuse me of whining/trolling/whatever, but I just miss the times when there was *actual* content in games, not just social interaction with other players and achievement related bull. A long long time ago in a galaxy far away I bought a game called Baldur's Gate II, and on the box it said - 300 hrs of content. And yeah, it was months of months of joy and I never even used the multiplayer feature.

Someone here said, that buying games we like will support the producer allowing him to create more games we like. It has occured to me, that paying the bastards only makes them more greedy and they sell less and less (content) for the same money.

New Vegas is a step in the direction I like - there is much more content to explore. Maybe beacause it's done by the devs involved in those full games of the past?

I have this notion, that it all shifted at one point. There was a time, somewhere before Daikatana, where game devs were near being celebrities. And after that it all went sideways - and devs are only mercs now, doing as they're told. Seems like the original idea for a game/story no longer counts as a positive marketing feature. Eye-candy and pointers to some false content that you dare not miss, or there's nothing to play.
There is no one stopping you from playing the game how you want to play it, and not how it was intended to be played. For instance, you can 1 shot the guy at GNR if you get a stealth attack on him with 100 to melee weapons and a deathclaw guantlet. There is nothing against killing him with a hunting rifle or whichever weapon it is you prefer. There are also mods that take away somethings from the game to make it feel more like you are alone and to give you more of a challenge. You're completely free to play the game as you like, as they even expressed with the opportunity for good or bad karma. Of course I understand some people still don't like the game. There are a lot of games I don't like. Just sharing some thoughts. :)
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