Fallout 3 Updated Impressions - Character Creation, Combat, and Canine Companions

We take an updated look at this highly anticipated role-playing sequel. And look: That sure is a nice pooch.

More than 10 years ago, serious computer role-playing game fans fell in love with a postapocalyptic role-playing game called Fallout, a game that offered deep role playing, dark humor, and a memorable adventure that was worth replaying. More than 10 years later, an entirely different studio is now working on the next game in the series, trying to stay true to the original vision of the first Fallout game from 1997 while also including all the improvements and open-ended exploration of its last game, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Yes, Bethesda Softworks is working on Fallout 3. Yes, your adventure will take place in the postapocalyptic wasteland (in this case, the ruins of Washington DC); yes, you'll still start your adventure as a dweller in a vault (a colony living in a radiation shelter left over from the nuclear war); and yes, we had an opportunity to take an updated look at the game.

Have minigun, will shred mutants.

Our updated tour of the game started with the very beginning--how you create your character by being born to your mother, Katherine, and your scientist father, James (voiced by actor Liam Neeson). Through a hazy first-person cinematic sequence from the perspective of the operating table, you can choose your character's gender and name, as well as preview your character's adult appearance by way of the vault's computer system...then become dimly aware that something has gone terribly wrong with your mother during the childbirth.

You then jump forward a year later to the age of a toddler, where you use a basic movement tutorial to crawl out of your playpen and access the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. book--a book that lets you choose your character's abilities by way of the classic attribute system from the Fallout games (strength, perception, endurance, charisma, intelligence, agility, and luck). You then jump ahead nine years to your 10th birthday, at which point you gain the ability to speak with other characters (such as the other children at your birthday party) and use the PipBoy 3000 portable wrist computer, which is given to you by the vault's "overseer," or head administrator. The PipBoy acts as a journal, status indicator, and quest log that will help you keep track of any tasks you need to perform. You'll even get to take on a few rudimentary quests at your party or just watch the many-armed robot of the future, Mr. Handy, mangle your birthday cake with one of its buzz saw-arm extensions. Later, you'll be whisked away to additional tutorial areas, such as a target range, where you can practice the game's real-time first-person shooter combat.

We then skipped ahead to a few different areas in the main game, including a random encounter that all players will face. In a sprawling junkyard scene, two desert raiders have assaulted and killed a nameless man, leaving his feisty canine companion to fend for himself. The dog is none other than Fallout's Dogmeat, the swift-moving, loyal, pugnacious pooch from the original 1997 game. After disposing of the raiders yourself, you can invite Dogmeat to join you, and from then on, although you can't have any meaningful conversations with him or have him carry a ton of inventory, you can give him plenty of orders, such as having him go out to search for food, medicine, or even fallen weapons (if there are none nearby, Dogmeat will disappear for an hour or so of in-game time before returning). You can also praise or scold him--this won't affect his morale or loyalty, though it will reflect whether your character is naughty or nice--but more on that later.

We then jumped ahead to a different sequence where we were explored a ruined tenement infested by feral ghouls. Those familiar with Fallout lore will remember that "ghoul" is just a term used to describe any human that has been exposed to such severe amounts of radiation as to become severely deformed physically, but feral ghouls have actually lost their minds and have become aggressive animals. Their deadlier brethren, "glowing feral ghouls," have an unhealthy fluorescent green glow that sets off your PipBoy's Geiger counter and eventually make your character extremely ill if you let them zap you with their radiation-based attacks. Feral ghouls are extremely swift and vicious, leaping at you with tremendous speed. We dealt with them primarily using real-time combat, using the old Fallout favorite 9mm submachine gun, which did a good job of inflicting lots of damage when fired in bursts. A few times, we watched as combat switched to the turn-based VATS mode, which lets you target various body parts on your enemies (as in the original Fallout games). In these cases, the final shots to our enemies were delivered in dramatic slow motion, sometimes even turning the ghouls' limbs and skulls into bloody pulp (though we're told that the infamous Bloody Mess perk, which causes everyone around you to die spectacularly, looks even more insane in practice).

Irradiated ghouls are just one of the threats you'll encounter in this sequel to the classic RPG Fallout.

Finally, we jumped ahead to a highly advanced area just outside the capitol building, where the once-splendid square had been transformed into a massive war zone, complete with a network of World War I-style trenches dug throughout the streets. In this sequence, we watched a powerful character wearing power armor (the signature armor of the Brotherhood of Steel--the technically advanced faction of "knights" that attempts to keep the threat of mutants at bay) and wielding several powerful firearms go after an army of wandering super mutants. We went after these powerful brutes with a minigun and then switched to the Fat Man grenade launcher to flush out a few entrenched super mutants who blasted us with rocket launchers. In several cases, we were rushed by our enemies in the trenches and had several harrowing experiences in real-time combat where our minigun's clip emptied out just as we were cleared to fire back and--coupled with the weapon's startup delay--put us back in the line of fire at that very moment.

The game is currently still in an alpha state of development--content is still being added and taken away. According to a Bethesda representative, the primary game is shaping up to have somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 hours of gameplay, though it will offer dozens of hours of other stuff to do for players who enjoy exploring side quests and other types of content. For instance, you'll find multiple outcomes available to different quests as you side with different factions, and you may also receive random quests as you pick up communiques on your PipBoy, such as distress calls or new missions to perform.

In any case, the developer is focusing on having a clean interface that isn't cluttered with an overwhelming amount of information--various menus, such as your inventory and your character's current health levels (you can sustain crippling injuries to various parts of your body that may affect your weapon skills or your ability to run), will be kept separate, rather than kept on one crowded screen. While the game will still handle dialogue with other characters with a multiple-choice dialogue screen of the kind you've seen in such games as Oblivion, Mass Effect, and Knights of the Old Republic, you'll receive most of your alerts, such as new quests, as brief text messages that fade away, similar to friends notifications on Xbox Live. The idea is to avoid having too many jarring messages that have to be individually clicked on and closed down to get back to the action.

Man's best friend? Maybe you'll think of me.

In fact, the Xbox 360 version of the game (and the PC version of the game, which is being planned to include Games for Windows Live Functionality) will have achievement points that will require you to play through more than once. Like in the previous games, you'll have a karma statistic that goes up when you perform good deeds and goes down when you perform evil ones. Achievements will be given for completing the game with both a high karma and a low karma. Though we've only had a few chances to see the game, Fallout 3 looks very impressive and seems to be what the Bethesda team has set out to make--a role-playing game with the exploration and real-time combat of Oblivion but the role-playing elements of the classic Fallout from 1997. The game is scheduled for release on the PC, the Xbox 360, and the PlayStation 3 later this year.

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896 comments
BrutalPlayer666
BrutalPlayer666

@Psycho_Pro Try the Broken Steel Add - On. With it you can continue the story mode after the activation of the Purifier. I'm buying the GOTY Edition to play all the add-ons!

Psycho_Pro
Psycho_Pro

The ending is lame.I have to start over the whole game after i activate the purifier.I am so angry!!!!!!!!!But the game is cool.

popcan160
popcan160

i was really surprised at how much they've changed the game. Fallout 1,2 was a letdown to me but fallout 3 looks great...but I've heard that fallout 3 is better on particular platforms... hear is the order of quality: PC is the first surprisingly then Xbox 360 and last but no least ps3...i have also played and finished the Oblivion series (both expansions)...and they were great with only minor technical problems and i highly recommend it along with Fallout 3 because believe that Bethesda has done a great job!

Bamul
Bamul

From what I've read, Fallout 3 looks like a great game. I wasn't a special fan of the two previous games from the series but if I had the chance, I'd play them. I played and completed Oblivion (with both expansions), KotOR, KotOR II and Mass Effect (all for the PC) and not long ago I bought Morrowind GOTY (also for the PC), so I love Computer Role-playing Games. Bethesda's games are great, and Fallout 3 looks great by itself anyway so I'm gonna get it for the PC.

Timmy_Gwar
Timmy_Gwar

soulsurfsublime, why dont you just get a working xbox with your warranty like the rest of us? PS3's are cool and all (viva la Little big planet) but still too pricey. On the subject, if we would just refuse to buy too many consoles the hour of release they would stop going up in price by vast increments, at least thats the way I see it. Oh, and to be on topic Fallout 3 rapes yall!

chase_2200man
chase_2200man

Cant wait to get my hands on this game, the review i thought though didnt do it justice from what ive read and seen on other sites.

TheClown24
TheClown24

soulsurfsublime, you will not regret it. PS3s are amazing

soulsurfsublime
soulsurfsublime

Well I have 2 360's because my disc drives always quit working. My Wii makes me feel like I am 7 years old or maybe it was 70. So Tuesday I am buying the PS3 and Fallout 3. And I can barely stand the anticipation. And on a final note well said Vargre666

brian3434
brian3434

but ya this game will be unbeleivable

brian3434
brian3434

ok jackle74 shut up u talk too much. and i dont think it will be better on the pc cuz mouses are 4 nubs. and whats so great about modding its so stupid. dont u think it gets a little boring??

arual7
arual7

Yet another compliment to Vargre666. I hope the Collector's Edition comes out at the same time; I want that art-book...

belmont67
belmont67

I can't wait for this game, just walking around in the world sounds fun.

blueliquidplus
blueliquidplus

Nicely said Vargre666. In other news, I can't wait for this game.. I still remember my strats for Fallout2.. running down to San Fran.. buying up some power armor, gauss rifle, and 2MM EC Rounds.. then it was time to get the car and hit new reno. Only a few more days and it shall be ours. :)

gokazz
gokazz

very well said vegre666 :)

henrik02
henrik02

Damn, this game looks cool...just a few more days!

michaelsgreat
michaelsgreat

Dude, are you serious? You just now heard about it?

9145
9145

hey whats is this game? is it a mix of like oblivion style type game with guns n stuff cus bethseda or whatever makes amazing games if so i bet this game will easily get GOTY if u guys can plz post any info about the game just herd about it gonna go preorde it tommorow.

jorgeluis
jorgeluis

it is amazing but i cant find the dog

Elim420
Elim420

i agree with vargre. those people will ruin all the future games if they keep doing that dumb sh!*. just buy the game might be expensive but way more worth it than stealing it!

Daishi512
Daishi512

A friend of mine got an early copy for 360 and said it was an amazing game, i'll be buying mine though.

jimbow4
jimbow4

I fear that due to my high expectations the game feels disappointing when I finally get it.

gothicman
gothicman

Well a simple solution would be to get a ps3 that doesn't break every time you turn around lol. Or you can keep buying a xbox or upgrade your PC every year to play a new game :P

tge4
tge4

Perfect time for my xbox to break. maybe I'll get it back on Monday if I'm lucky. If you would like to send me your xbox so I'm not stuck with JUST fallout 3, please contact me!

matttru
matttru

Can't Freaking Wait!! I think I'll take next Tuesday off to play.

diyadokeon
diyadokeon

Hm, the paradox of piracy is as wrong as selling copies of in the world where they are becoming virtually unlimited in supply...

meekon5
meekon5

I've had it on preorder for weeks now still cant wait. (Though they have just shipped my Fable 2, aaarrrgghh, I wont be able to leave the house for weeks).

Vargre666
Vargre666

Heres a little tip to all you pissants that already have the game, your snide little comments "I got it btw...dont ask how" (Yochoo)Keep it to yourself. Most of us dont care, and most of us are going to buy the game regardless because we back Bethesda and hope that WE, who legit buy the game will outnumber YOU, you lowlife scum that pirate. And unless you live under a rock you know some idiot kifed a demo and released it on the Xbox360 (because we all know PC games are the MOST pirated right?) and anyone can go on any torrent and dwnld it. Bully for you. SO not only do you steal the game, but come on the internet and brag about it, while the rest of us wait ever so impatiently for it. Nice. Heres the thing. Bethesda put almost NO DRM on FO3. So little in fact that its going to be a breeze to pirate it. So whats the point of buying it when you can steal it so easy? Because Bethesda rock, thats why. They make amazing games, cross platfrom, for all of us, and they dont bog it down with SecuRom garbage. They TRUST us. Or at least, they do for now. They trust that the majority of us are going to spend our hard earned money (or our parents hard earned money as the case may be) for the blood, sweat, and tears they put into this game. Of course, there will always be cretins that will steal the game. People suck in general. I suppose I shouldnt be surprised that people are coming on here and announcing how MUCH they suck by telling us all that they "already got it btw...dont ask how..teehee, teehee...im so naughty!" I guess i just felt compelled to write something; mainly i hate you and hope your...well, ill leave that alone. Wouldnt want to get *banned* again. You ARE ruining the gaming industry though. And by ruining I mean the more pirates, the more SukURom, the more expensive the games, the lower quality of game (why bother putting effort into something people will just steal?) But dont kid yourself; every individual that pirates is contributing to the demise of the industry. It adds up. A LOT. So next time someone loads a great game down with DRM, look to Yochoo and his pals, people like him...Thats the reason, right there.

cheezedoodle999
cheezedoodle999

If this is Oblivion and Fallout mixed together, then I'm sold.

zgort
zgort

i don't think 500 outcomes is for the main story...if every quest has 3 possible endings to it, and you mix 'em up a bunch, you can play through the story 500 ways. i think that's what they're driving at... the point is...this game is going to be so good... i haven't been so pumped for a game to come out...maybe ever...

Blood_Diamond
Blood_Diamond

Never played one or two of this game, but i am so gunna blast this game into dust and inject it into my veins because it will have to be for me to get all 500 out comes *if there are 500*

Yochoo
Yochoo

Burnix im afraid to tell you , the jumping system is pretty much the same. But you won't be needing to jump in that huge game. ;) * i got it btw * (don't ask how)

Gojomez
Gojomez

its simple, there will be an "ending sequence" for each of the towns or zones in the game. Just like the old ones. And there will probably be several endings for each zone. Adding up to a combination of a possible 500. But that's just me speculating.

im-a-roustabout
im-a-roustabout

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Burnix
Burnix

I hope the jumping isn't going to be as retarded as in Oblivion. That was really a shame. Looking forward to this game.

ineedanap
ineedanap

Looking forward to this game!

saadxxx
saadxxx

this game well get 9 easy or maby 10

TigerGuy06
TigerGuy06

I'm so glad my birthday is coming up...I've been wanting this game since I heard about it.

CreatureRising
CreatureRising

I intend to make 2 charcters one to fool around with and the other to do story

Vendre
Vendre

..oh and don't forget PC users, WITH mods there will be ca another 100 hours of gameplay. In a moding site near you. Besides it will be awesome making a nefarius uber character, and now that Sneak has a purposue you actualy can sneak up and smash peeps up pretty good.

Nephilim83
Nephilim83

Its going to be set up like Oblivion wich had 20 hours of gameplay in the main story quest and a hell of a lot more for side quests. On a different article a developer was quoted as saying there'd be 40 to 100 hours of gameplay depending on your personal pacing. The same guy said that with DLC they hope to stretch it out an additional 40 to 100 hours. So, please, don't fret. You will get plenty of ghoul-bashing-goodness!!! Oh, and don't forget that there are 50 possible outcomes to the main story itself and multiple outcomes to each quest giving you supposedly 500 possible outcomes in all.

Lou_Menace
Lou_Menace

20 hours of gameplay, THOUGH IT WILL OFFER DOZENS OF HOURS OF OTHER STUFF TO DO FOR PLAYERS WHO ENJOY EXPLORING SIDE QUESTS AND OTHER TYPES OF CONTENT. For instance, you'll find multiple outcomes available to different quests as you side with different factions, and you may also receive random quests as you pick up communiques on your PipBoy, such as distress calls or new missions to perform. So don't trip about the 20 hours of gameplay...I'm almost sure that there is enough for us to play...along with some DLC goodness...please have some DLC goodness.