E3 2008: Fallout 3 Microsoft Conference Impressions

We take on the Enclave in this look at Fallout 3 at Microsoft's E3 press event.


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Fallout 3 was the first cab off the rank at Microsoft's E3 press conference today, with the big news being that Bethesda is planning some future downloadable content for both the Xbox 360 and PC versions of the game. No further details were unveiled about what form that content may take, but it was confirmed that it would be exclusive to Xbox Live.

As for gameplay, Bethesda showed a new locale and some new weapons in its postapocalyptic action role-playing game, and all of the action was showcased in a ruined Washington DC (all set to a chirpy version of "Yankee Doodle Dandy"). The demo began with the character making his way past some dilapidated buildings, after which he pulled out a sniper rifle to scope out the territory in front. After spotting some raiders camped behind a car, the Bethesda rep playing the game switched to Fallout 3's VATS targeting system, aiming at the skull of one unsuspecting enemy. For the uninitiated, Fallout 3's VATS system is a way of targeting specific body parts on enemies, in which onscreen indicators show the percentage chance of a likely hit (depending on your character's attributes and weapons). Firing the rifle triggered the VATS system's slow-motion cinematic mode, and the raider's head exploded in a burst of bloody pulp as the bullet impacted. The player then switched to a shotgun to dispense with the other raiders, who had streamed from behind their vehicle hideout. One raider decided to take cover on a small bridge, at which point the Bethesda rep pulled out the in-game character's laser rifle, taking only two shots to completely vaporize the camping raider.

Once past the bridge, a huge Enclave helicopter appeared, dropping off a few soldiers several hundred meters in front. Instead of duking it out with conventional weapons, the Bethesda rep pulled out a missile launcher to deal with the situation. After softening up the Enclave soldiers with a couple of rounds, the character then switched to Fallout 3's BFG variant, the Fat Boy portable nuke launcher. The Bethesda rep aimed directly at one soldier's chest using the VATS system, and the slow-mo cinematic tracked the mininuke's curving path as it descended. We've seen the Fat Boy before, but it's still cool to see the small mushroom cloud that it leaves behind as it explodes.

Finally, the Bethesda rep playing the game confirmed that it would have plenty of single-player content, boasting of more than 100 hours of playtime. Fallout 3 ships this October on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC.

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