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Default Fallout 3 - A Rehash of Old Stories

July 9th, 2009, 00:45
Sol Invictus takes Fallout 3 to task at Hellforge for rehashing old story lines:
War, war never changes. Apparently, neither does Fallout's plot.

Fallout 3 was heralded by numerous video game publications for its supposedly remarkable storytelling, a rarity in video game entertainment. Picking up awards from the Academy of Internactive Arts and Sciences for Best Role Playing Game and Outstanding Achievement in Story (Original), the more ignorant among us would expect for a title of such distinction to offer a storyline as outstanding as any Booker Prize winning book.

Those of us with less naivete might expect for the story to be, at the very least, on par with the stories crafted by Bioware and the now defunct Black Isle Studios.

With few willing to indicate the scarcity of original plot in Fallout 3, save for a few probably rabid fans of the original games who despise Fallout 3 just for the sake of doing it, it rests upon my shoulders to set things straight. Of course, I say this in jest. Anyone who's played any of the previous games will understand where I'm coming from with this bold claim against Fallout 3's superiority in storytelling.
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July 9th, 2009, 00:45
Just have to comment on that one. Seems a bit smug and overly simplistic. There is no bigger fan of the original Fallouts than I, and nothing Bethesda was gonna do in this style was ever gonna make #3 equivalent for me. That being said, I haven't had such a good and engrossing time with a game for quite awhile. And one of these reasons for this was an incredibly well realized atmosphere and some damn good writing/storytelling.

Noone whose played the original games would argue that the main storyline isn't derivative and frankly theres not a lot there anyways. Where they did a great job with writing and design though was really more in the overall atmosphere and the many mini-storylines within the miscellaneous quests and even random locations. Taken alone each of these were nothing mindblowing in depth but they were most often interesting and offered a wide variety of experiences. While many of these were derivative of specific genres or nods to well known science fiction or horror work, they were well done and constructed well to fit into the Fallout universe.

There were also several storylines which were pretty damn good from an rpg writing and involvement perspective. I remember being physically angry and disgusted with respect to what happened after I convinced the residents of TenPenny Tower to let the Ghouls in. First time I think I ever blew the head off of an npc in a game and have it actually be personal.

Anyways, I guess my point is that IMO the design and atmosphere and a good bit of the storytelling in this game was spot on, enjoyable, and well worthy of bearing the Fallout name.
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July 9th, 2009, 01:18
I hope the trend of having at least one new BoS splinter faction per game won't continue. We've already had 4 of these (and a fifth one in Van Buren).

And sure, Fallout 1 and 2 weren't the most original games around in terms of plot, but still, Fallout 2's main story was not as much of a rehash of Fallout 1 as Fallout 3 is of 1 and 2. Neither were those of Fallout spin-offs (excluding maybe FOBOS) and canceled games. E.g. each of them introduced a new main antagonist instead of recycling the same one, with the same basic plan.

Every sequel takes from its predecessors. But no previous Fallout game, including spin-offs and canceled ones, relied on plot points from previous installments as much as Fallout 3 does. Try e.g. removing FO1 factions from FO2, and then try removing FO1 and 2 factions from FO3. Which of these would still make sense and which one wouldn't?
Last edited by Ausir; July 9th, 2009 at 01:49.
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July 9th, 2009, 01:41
True enough. However, we somewhat have to accept that they were not writing this game for us old guard. For the most part, they were trying to introduce the world to a new audience and therefore rehashing plot points may have been something they actually wanted to do. I personally would've preferred that they expand the storyline, but I am mostly just happy that they nailed the atmosphere and fleshed out the universe well. When you think of the travesties that could have been done with this license, I am still rather pleased.

While they rehashed the storyline, at least they gave a nod to those of us who played I and II in many of the references and nods to old plotlines or characters that new players would never get. Hell even the strat guide didn't seem to know who Harold and "Bob" were, making no reference to his previous appearances in the series and simply postulating that he must have been exposed to some type of FEV.

We will have to see what they do with the license from here on out, particularly interested in what New Vegas will turn out to be given that it apparently will involve some original Van Buren team members.
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July 9th, 2009, 01:56
I don't really think being required to join a Brotherhood of Steel splinter faction should be as much of a Fallout series staple as it has become now. At least in Fallout 1 and 2 joining the Brotherhood was completely optional (even if very benefitial).

And e.g. having some Brotherhood of Steel involvement is one thing, and having a BoS elder forming a splinter faction in a remote location against council orders, in order to eradicate super mutants that operate from a Vault-Tec vault full of FEV again is another. Same with the Enclave being involved in some new manner vs. them trying to eradicate all mutated life using modified FEV again.
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July 9th, 2009, 02:55
The original fallouts came out about before these ridiculous and made up awards and G4 TVs, and Spike TV bullshit, before they hired sexy models that aren't good enough to host Entertainment Tonight and that know nothing about video games, coupled with a shocking lack of competition, of course a game like Fallout 3 would be heralded as some kind of masterpiece of literature and story telling.

The sad fact is this: Fallout 3 had a terrible story, but there's nothing else to praise these days, and mainstream gamers either don't know any better, or have just resigned themselves to these sort of games.

Why was the Brotherhood of Steel in the East coast? Why is the Enclave still around? How could sterilized mutants make it to the east coast? Why can level 1 or 2 players waste them so easily? Why did they fuck up Harold? Why are there only 2 or 3 towns and why do they appear to have only a dozen or so people in them? Why do players have to be taught to fucking jump and run?

And when they do get creative they make mudcrab people or something. Real fuckin clever.
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July 9th, 2009, 06:33
Originally Posted by dagoo7 View Post
There were also several storylines which were pretty damn good from an rpg writing and involvement perspective. I remember being physically angry and disgusted with respect to what happened after I convinced the residents of TenPenny Tower to let the Ghouls in. First time I think I ever blew the head off of an npc in a game and have it actually be personal.
I have to agree with you there. After all that work I did for the ghouls and then have them eat or kill everyone really pissed me off too. At the time I blamed poor writing or coding, but as a fellow watcher told me that wasn't the case. They actually lived side by side for awhile and it wasn't till later that the ghouls got all crazy.

I should of went back to the tower after I finished the mission, but I never did. I didn't know they actually had humans and ghouls living side by side for awhile. I revisited it after three dog started making his remarks on the radio about bad ghoulies and how the mask looked stupid on me. So I went back and saw what happened. Man I was pissed off at Beth for that. I thought that no matter what choice you took the coding only had two endings. Either the ghouls live there or the humans do. But as it turns out it was actually one of the few great sidequests. I never saw that ending coming. Although I didn't get "physically" annoyed, but I sure was pissed off and blew the ghouls head off right then and there.

As for the main plot I think that Sol is perfect in his assesment of the game. I do like Fallout 3 a lot, but it's biggest flaw is it's main plot. Let's face it, it's just bad. I mean worse than B movie bad. No amount of trying to explain why they rehashed everything the previous Fallouts have done actually makes sense. Plus, Beth isn't exactly known for their great plots. That being said it still is one great game to just "PLAY". Just suspend belief and have a great time trying to survive in the wasteland is the best way to play. Especially with the mods that have been made by the fans.

With furture Fallout games I hope they add a bit more content to it, like actual farms that look like they could support the area. Those little details could go a long way to improving Fallout.

Edit: and bring back HAROLD!!! The single best NPC and they did THAT to him. Horrible horrible writing. Whoever thought up that idea for Harold should be fired and forced to work in Greenpeace to make up for all the bad karma he/she got for coming up with that idea.

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Last edited by skavenhorde; July 9th, 2009 at 06:57.
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July 9th, 2009, 06:59
Originally Posted by Thoth View Post
Why was the Brotherhood of Steel in the East coast? Why is the Enclave still around? How could sterilized mutants make it to the east coast?
Though the game has plenty of problems, those questions were answered rather clearly in the game.
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July 9th, 2009, 08:18
Sorry for the double post, but after reading through the article again I found a few things that bugged me. While I do agree that the main plot was lacking and the sideplots certainly lacked complexity espescially in terms of resolutions, some of the details the author picked at made me wonder if they actually played the game.

Little is explained of how a civilian corporation like VaultTec managed to acquire top-secret military research, or why they were allowed to conduct the experiments.
Civilian corporations perform the vast majority of advanced US military research and weapons development, as they have since the 50's. While DARPA and various governmental agencies would often fund or steer the research to a degree, the research and especially final development has generally been performed by private companies and some university contracts. The sole real exception to this had always been nuclear weapons development. The whole "military-industrial complex" referred to in many American conspiracy theories refers to this very kind of corporate-military collaboration - particular in the ways in which it might sacrifice ordinary citizens for the sake of money and weapons development.

Likewise, in the original Fallout the FEV is developed by a private corporation. "The Glow" was a West Tek research facility. In the game, West Tek is described as one of the most important private contractors for the military. It is not at all surprising that the same military that entrusted a small company like West Tek with something like the FEV, even if for only a short period, would trust the company in charge of the largest and most secret military project with it after that. Remember, Vault-Tek was involved in the vault behavioral program. That was a rather gigantic conspiracy in and of itself.

To be clear, all private corporations are "civilian" in that they are run, owned, and staffed by civilians and privately owned. Many companies that develop military technologies, such as the largest military contractor - Boeing, produce products for the civilian market as well and are "civilian corporations."

Final Boss Commits Suicide
This was more of a reference than anything else, as President Eden was in no way the final boss. It was not even a "Boss" in the sense the author is using. Though the real problem here might have been the lack of a satisfying final confrontation, as colonel autumn kind of sucked.

The Villain Is An AI
One of the problems with this complaint is, again, that President Eden is not really the main villain. Though he is the voice of the Enclave, it is made clear to any playing the game that his control of the Enclave was tenuous at best and by the last chapter it is out of its control. I think the author, and many player's, tendancy to consider President Eden the main villain or final boss is that the voice acting and characterization is significantly better than Colonel Autumn, whom the player must confront at the very end of the main plot. This, and the relative wimpyness of the colonel, cause many players to forget they even fought ran into him.

Another problem with the complaint is the "misbehavior" of the two AI's are very different. If you noticed the types of brains that were used to construct it's bio-neural brain-puter craptasticness, you'd easily see that the problem was inferior hardware. This results in the almost compltely psychotic and sociopathic behavior of the AI - going so far as to lobotomize its own wards.

Eden is a more traditional failed AI in that it has taken its ideas of purity a bit too far. It is true that this is consistent with the flawed ideas presented by the first incarnation of the Enclave - that is to be expected since they're branches of the same organization and share the same ideology. In fact, that theme is at the core of the antagonists of all 3 Fallouts, and Fallout tactics. The Master, The Enclave (both times), and the Calculator are all pursuing an idea of creating a better or more pure world by wiping away those deemed unworthy and unfit. In all 3 of the main Fallouts, FEV is the tool by which this is to be accopmplished. In Tactics its pervasiveness is one of the primary triggers for the AI's decision to exterminate all surviving higher mamals.

This common theme - of "making a better world" taken to a very dark place is a core of Fallout. It has obvious roots in Western history - as well as some less obvious ones. While the jack-booted callous Enclave may conjure up images of the Nazi SS, it is not a mere coincidence that the represent a 50's-like US government cabal. From 1907 until 1967 there were widespread government created eugenics programs in the United States that included forced sterilization and racial purity laws. The idea of an insane leader/leadership that seeks to make a better world by exterminating some arbitrarily defined undesirable subclass is archetypal in western society.

Now, the complaint that their particular plan wasn't any more sophisticated than the original enclave plan is a valid one - although it wasn't necessarily something the player was going to try to stop. It would have been nice if Colonel Autumns little insurrection had included a novel change in the plans. Perhaps something more like the behavior of "Valhala Sector" in Jeremiah.

both games feature a Vault full of FEV, which by all accounts in the original RPGs are a rare, classified substance
Three locations in the original Fallout were locations of different FEV experiments run by different groups (West Tek, DOD directly, and The Master.) There were large quantities of FEV in two locations in Fallout 2 (though one was the base from 1), used in experiments in multiple locations/subplots, and the origin of the intelligent death claws. It was never exactly a rare thing to run into in Fallout games.

The author does make a few accurate points, but many of them seem lost in the sense that the verdict was set before he had actually played the game. Many of the complaints sound more like they are reactions to second hand descriptions of the game.
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July 9th, 2009, 10:00
Perhaps something more like the behavior of "Valhala Sector" in Jeremiah.
By the way, am I the only one who sees lots of parallels between Jeremiah and Fallout 3? Only Valhalla Sector became both Vault 101 and Raven Rock.
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July 9th, 2009, 14:31
I don't agree with some of the comments here, while fallout 3 was enjoyable and had immersive graphics I thought the the storyline was unimagintive and uninspiring, also the end pissed me off but they claim they fixed that in broken steel.
but really it does seem like they were trying to cram the plot from every fallout…
p.s killed the ghoul and his mates just as soon as I agreed on 700 caps as payment, ohhhhh yes lovely caps….

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July 9th, 2009, 14:58
F3 suffers from two things in my book;
1. Bad story narrative
2. Bad balance

It's surprising that a behemoth like Bethesda haven't been able to improve their story narrative, considering they seem to be able to afford plenty of great engines for their games. While the quests was better in general than Oblivion, the main story was a straight railroad affair. The idea behind the story wasn't bad, but the execution could have been better. I think the progression in Gothic III was good, you had three reasons to interact with the world to make progress on the main plot;
1. Find chalices, scattered all over the place
2. Improved relationship with factions
3. Find out what's going on

Then the balance was overall terrible. It's just the first few hours you are struggling with getting enough ammo, and you run around with a bunch of weapons so you can use all the ammo you got. You will waste a lot of bullets on simple opponents. But rather quickly money loose value, and there are neither a way to get better armor or a need. You reach level 20 really quick, even without using xp-boosting or level-gaining perks. In general the only SPECIAL that felt useful was Luck so you get criticals often. None of the rest felt neccessary. This is the first game I felt that I could as well use endurance as a dumpstat. I actually gave myself 10 in Charisma but I barely had a use for it.

Fallout 3 is a large game, but lack the important RPG mechanics to make the game fun;
1. Not enough ways to customize your character, or character customization have very little impact on gameplay.
2. Not enough ways to improve equipment.
3. Not enough challenges, no challenging foes before Broken Steel.

Two-Worlds had an interesting item-system that made it useful to keep stacking inventory almost the entire game through. Jagged Alliance 2 managed to keep the balance by holding back the number of great items you got, giving you a slow but steady progression. Games such as Diablo have great item-systems that encourage looting more and experimenting with items.

For challenges, one could at least have a look at Final Fantasy that have extra challenging foes here and there that can be beaten once you got the best items in the game and leveled your characters to max.

Having said all that, F3 is still a good game that offered me many hours of entertainment, but it was far from perfect.

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July 9th, 2009, 15:06
Originally Posted by JemyM View Post
Fallout 3 is a large game, but lack the important RPG mechanics to make the game fun;
Well, that depends on who is actually playing this game.

For rather casual oriented gamers, this might be sufficient.

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July 9th, 2009, 18:42
Fallout 3, is much like Oblivion, a sand-box game in which you can do whatever you like, go everywhere. It is not a story-driven game like say Baldur's Gate or maybe even DA: Origins is…

Bethesda isn't great at writing (main) stories in games…

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July 9th, 2009, 18:46
I am by no means prasing this game as a whole. However, where this game failed to live up to my expectations was not really the storylines. While I personally prefer more linear and robust core plotlines, I understood that this was really a sandbox game. 85+% percent of the time I spent on the game was not spent on the main storyline, actually dont think I picked up the first part of it until like 40 hours in.

Once again, I felt that they did a good job of nailing the atmosphere and creating a variety of solid if not complex or deep setpieces. I also surprisingly enjoyed the VATs system as it in someways recreated that turn-based feeling and targeting (although melee was poorly implemented). I would agree that the game failed with respect to balance, but more importantly from my perspective, it also failed in character development.

Balance and scaling are always going to be a matter of debate in games that try to be extremely large in scope and almost completely non-linear. I personally would prefer something more middle of the road like Gothic I and II but even those had serious balance problems by the end. Its just difficult to balance something perfectly unless you know exactly where everyone is supposed to or capable of being at a particular time (ie completely linear).

I accepted the balance issue somewhat for these reasons, and with Broken Steel and Very Hard difficulty you actually do get challenged on occasion (the availaibility of unlimited use of stimpacks notwithstanding). However, character development seemed very weak, in that there were really no choices that needed to be made, particularly with raising level cap to 30. Basically its set up so have almost every skill capped and useful perk for any type of build picked well before the end of the game. While there was still a sense of progression, choices seem pretty meaningless. I could probably have had just a successful run through the game with only small arms, sneak, and maybe repair. So effectively, outside a few nice perks down the line, you can effectively max your character within the first 10 hours, particularly given the scaling of enemies.
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July 9th, 2009, 19:31
I know a lot of people don't like mods or say that the game should of been made that way, but I had the same problem with it as well. I mean getting to the 20th level in 3 seconds flat was ridiculous. Then what? Nothing…I get better weapons or I finish the main plot. I hadn't even cover 1/2 of the map yet. Anyways, my point is that there are a few great mods out there that fixed all that nonsense. Especially FOOK + MMM3 + XFO. They made the game harder, a little more realistic (hunger and thirst was now an issue) and included tweaks to the monsters and NPCs. They put back in that alien looking creature Wambidgo and Gecko's made it back as well. Plus with another added tweak it made it so that I'm not the most hostile thing out in the wastelands. Creatures will attack each other instead of me depending on what faction they belong to.

All of these little tweaks made surviving in the wastelands a lot more fun, plus it slowed down my lvl progression and added in a few interesting perks.

Normally when I recomend these mods people say it should of been in there in the first place. Well it wasn't but now it is. Anything that Beth messes up will at least be fixed by someone somewhere Although they still haven't fixed the plot yet. I'm still wondering if they'll be able to.

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July 9th, 2009, 20:24
Originally Posted by skavenhorde View Post

Normally when I recomend these mods people say it should of been in there in the first place. Well it wasn't but now it is. Anything that Beth messes up will at least be fixed by someone somewhere Although they still haven't fixed the plot yet. I'm still wondering if they'll be able to.
I agree. Bethesda should be awarded for making the games with highest fan-fixing potential (only Gothic 3 comes near).
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July 9th, 2009, 20:39
If they had had nothing from the earlier Fallouts then THE SAME PEOPLE would be complaining about THAT. BethSoft couldn't win at all with some subset of fans of the old games and couldn't please everyone else, either.

Personally I quite enjoyed Fallout 3 and still play from time-to-time.
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