Why I love Fallout 3 *long essay*

Discussion in 'Fallout 3 Discussion' started by CT Phipps, Apr 22, 2018.

  1. CT Phipps

    CT Phipps Venerable Relic of the Wastes

    Sep 17, 2016
    There's been a lot of people questioning why I love Fallout 3 so much. It's an interesting note because I used to be the fan of Bethesda but I only kinda liked Fallout while I think of Fallout 3 (and Skyrim to an extent) as one of the best video games ever made. Certainly, they're among my all time favorites like The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings and Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines.

    I should note Fallout 3 wasn't my first Fallout. That was Fallout 2 and I suspect that influenced my opinion of the series in a way which a lot of people who started with the original game weren't. In Fallout 1, the game is played very straight even up to the point where you meet the Master. In Fallout 2, things are much more firmly tongue-in-cheek. Things like marrying Daisy Duke, becoming a porn star, Myron, the somewhat racist caged boxer, and the fact I had a martial arts fight with Lo Pan after defeating Scientology. I've always internalized the idea of Fallout as a slightly tongue in cheek series.

    This helps, partially, explain why I'm a bit more tolerant of the silliness that goes on with the Bethesda material whereas other people I think have a much firmer idea that the series should be treated as a perfectly serious post-apocalypse series rather than a tribute to them.

    For me, Fallout 3 is the quintessential example of what I want from Fallout and I think of almost all the games in the context of, "How could they be more like Fallout 3?" It's easily the most second immersive game I've ever played after Skyrim and while I think of Vampire: Bloodlines as better and New Vegas as more polished--I feel like Fallout 3 really managed to have the biggest emotional reaction from me.

    For me, the game became something magical when I first exited out of Vault 101 and I saw the blasted wasteland of what used to be Washington D.C. and it is still one of the most effective moments I think of in any video game. The sense of the vast bleakness, the austerity, and the sense of the unknown that I'd never felt before in gaming. What was in here, what would I encounter, and who would I meet? Too many open world games, essentially, don't reward exploration while Fallout 3 made every new encounter unexpected. The first time I'd ever felt that was Wasteland on my computer when I found murderous rabbits, killer robots in Vegas, and the Blood Cult.

    I think what really worked for me in this game was the sense, for once, that your heroism in the game actually mattered. The game did a job of showing that the Capital Wasteland would NOT be fine without the Lone Wanderer but was actually on the verge of going extinct. The Raiders, Super Mutants, and worse would kill off the entirety of the population eventually--but you can singlehaedly reverse that. Three Dogs praises were a bit overblown but when he says you've restored his faith in humanity at the final level--I felt it was meant.

    I think what works best about Fallout 3 is the sense of loss which is everywhere. Washington D.C. is familiar enough that the devastation will strike any American with a sense of patriotism. Things like recovering the Declaration of Independence, Lincoln's clothes, and so on have meaning even in game. But also things like the fact slavery has returned to the United States and they're even occupying the Lincoln Memorial. The Raiders may be generic but I think Paradise Falls really became a hateable set of villains just all the ambient storytelling.

    There's some truly classic moments in the game with Tranquility Lane probably being my favorite adventure in the game. The sheer WTF nature of going into unspoiled and becoming either Van Braun's puppet or his downfall was a great thing. But I also loved the introduction of the Enclave because they really use the villains well as they represent the worst of America against the people who may represent its best (in you). The BOS don't really necessarily work here and it would have been better, perhaps, to have somehting like the Minutemen but I loved John Henry Eden and the Enclave as antagonists. Liberty Prime was a hoot as well and the only way it could have been improved was if you drived it.

    The Brotherhood of Steel's portrayal in the game was controversial but they've been treated as a "good guy" faction by fandom for awhile then as the Tactics and GAME WHICH MUST NOT BE NAMED all had you as Brothers. I liked Elder Lyons and Sarah Lyons a lot as well as the fact they were FAILING at doing good. The Super Mutants had them on the ropes with the Citadel/Pentagon all but under siege. The Lone Wanderer can save them but the fact they tried to do good more or less destroyed Lyons' chapter, reforms or not.

    I think of Fallout 3 as one of those games that really got me to love the characters. Moira Brown, Three Dog, and the people of both Megaton and Rivet City were individuals that I wanted to protect as well as see succeed. I think the game made a brilliant decision making your Megaton shack such a crappy place to live but something you really felt was HOME versus the luxury of Tenpenny Tower which was beautiful but only gained by an act of mass murder.

    I even liked James.

    Did the game have flaws? Yes. The Ending before Broken Steel, the fact the Raiders didn't have a backstory, the Relic Hunter easter egg, Little Lamplight, and a few other details but this was still a game which really made me feel like the medium could say something while not diminishing gameplay.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2018
  2. Risewild

    Risewild Venerable Relic of the Wastes
    Modder Orderite

    Jun 14, 2014
    I can't really comment on most of your essay, because most is about preference. If I have anything to say about that is that my preferences are different from yours (and I even like Fallout 3 too). But everyone has their own preferences.
    But I have to disagree with you on this next two bits (are not preferences):
    But the Lone Wanderer doesn't really change anything in the wasteland. He is just made an errand boy/girl for someone else, always.

    The game never lets the player decide what it should be doing next, it just orders the player to do the next step.

    The Lone Wanderer can destroy Megaton, the game/wasteland doesn't change in any relevant manner. It even saves Moira Brown so the player can finish the Wasteland Survival Guide mission. The only change is that the player has one less place to sell stuff...

    Megaton biggest feature is the player's home, but look and behold, if you destroy it, you get a player's home with exactly the same bonuses as the Megaton one.

    You can make the ghouls take over Tenpenny Tower, but once again, the game and wasteland doesn't react in any meaningful way. You lose nothing by having Tenpenny or the Ghouls control the tower. All the shops exist in both versions and they all contain the same items.

    Also, the wasteland is fine without the Lone Wanderer. No settlement besides Big Town gets hit by enemies, ever. Caravans are shown to safely travel all over the wasteland with just one guard in leather armor. People live to their old age, food is bountiful (every settlement has a diner or restaurant), settlements have been increasing in population, super mutants and raiders don't hunt, they stay in their little areas for some reason, and the BoS can defeat any raiders and Super Mutants by themselves.

    Not to mention that the Super Mutants run out of FEV (explicitly said in game) so they can't replenish their numbers anymore.

    If anything, the Lone Wanderer put the Capital Wasteland in much more danger, by rescuing their dad and starting to fix the purifier. This leads to the Enclave invasion of the wasteland, because they want that purifier for themselves.
    I don't know where you got this impression from, but the game is telling us that the BoS is thriving in DC.

    They have been managing to keep the Super Mutants controlled for decades and they still have their ranks full and replenished. They don't lack equipment or supplies, they don't lack manpower and they even had time to develop and train a special forces team.

    They never talk about how the Super Mutants are winning or how the Super Mutants are a danger to them. They even mention that they are good at killing the Super Mutants. The Lone Wanderer also doesn't save the BoS, it is in fact the opposite. The BoS saves the Lone Wanderer a couple of times (and the game even tells us in our faces that they saved us, like when you first met the BoS, Sarah Lyons comes and yells at you saying you shouldn't be there and how they saved your life and all of that).

    The game once again is telling us and showing us that the BoS is not in decline at all. They tell the Lone Wanderer that they are not taking recruits at the moment because their ranks are full. A failing faction does not have full ranks.

    They have enough manpower to be spread all around the Washington DC mall. They are protecting GNR, the Washington Monument, Arlington Library, they take over Project Purity and have enough people to send on water caravans all over the wasteland.

    They can fight on equal terms with the Enclave and they even say that their weapons and equipment can be made to be as effective as the Enclave ones, this is not the signs of a faction in decline and needed to be saved.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2018
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  3. CT Phipps

    CT Phipps Venerable Relic of the Wastes

    Sep 17, 2016
    Basically, I don't agree with any of that.


    1. The Lone Wanderer has the option to pretty much destroy every single group of lives in the Wasteland or improve them via his quests. You say, "Megaton getting blown up doesn't change anything because you still have an apartment in Tenpenny Tower." That's a gameplay effect versus annihilating a major settlement in the setting. It's a game versus story issue.

    2. Slaughtering the inhabitants at Tenpenny Tower, again, is a major issue because you've committed an atrocity or helped in it by accident. It's a story beat where you've managed to eradicate an entire settlement.

    3. The Wasteland is a ruined wasteland with only a few settlements left, massive numbers of raiders, and the Brotherhood of Steel on the brink of extinction.

    4. Half the Brotherhood of Steel has left to join the Outcasts, they only have half-trained children as members, and they have Super Mutants right outside their door in the Capital Wasteland. If you listen to the BOS, they're all pretty much ambivalent at best to Elder Lyons actions but the war has almost got them.

    The Enclave is going to be returning anyway. They have John Henry Eden broadcasting his return.


    They haven't been in the Capital Wasteland that long (see the fact Arthur Maxson is still a little boy), the Brotherhood is split in half by the Outcast's desertion, they talk about how they've run out of numbers even though they have been recruiting, and their Special Forces Team was trained outside of the Wasteland.

    They mention how badly the war is going on and how they're even running out of power armor. Also, Sarah is flat out wrong since
    the PC is probably the one who kills the Behemoth.

    They have a couple of tiny outposts and the Smithsonian is controlled by the Super Mutants while they're under attack at Capital Hill, the Washington Monument, and the Washington Mall. They are also driven away from Project: Purity by the Enclave.

    No, they can't. They only win because of Liberty Prime and then lose Liberty Prime with the Enclave on the verge of nuclear annihilating them before the Lone Wanderer saves them by taking out the nuclear mobile firing base.
  4. CT Phipps

    CT Phipps Venerable Relic of the Wastes

    Sep 17, 2016
    Oops, thsi was meant to be in the Fallout 3 forum.
  5. Risewild

    Risewild Venerable Relic of the Wastes
    Modder Orderite

    Jun 14, 2014
    But those settlements do nothing for the story either. What does destroying Megaton changes in the game story? Your dad says he is disappointed in you, then goes back to the normal generic dialogue.
    The game story is not affected by it.

    I guess I can imagine that it has some sort of impact, but the game doesn't shows it, so why would I have to imagine it outside of the game? I am not writing the game story, so why would I have to be forced into believing that destroying Megaton affected the story somehow, when the game doesn't care about it at all?

    I am playing a computer game, I am not LARPing the computer game.

    I shouldn't have to imagine the story myself, specially when imagining that story is going against what the game shows and tells us. That is just doing mental gymnastics to give something more importance or "fun factor" than it deserves.

    I am the player, I am not the game writer, what I imagine outside of the game doesn't get reflected in the game, no matter how much I pretend something is the way I "imagine" it, the game doesn't change and it is not supported by it. If I pretend it is, I am being delusional, using a coping mechanism or totally not getting what the game plainly shows. I am seeing the game I want and not the actual game.
    The Wasteland is a ruined wasteland... Well it has ruins, but it is not ruined.
    It doesn't have a few settlements, it has too many settlements for a "endangered" wasteland: Little Lamplight, Arefu, Megaton, Rivet City, Big Town, Republic of Dave, Canterbury Commons, The Family, Underworld, Andale, Tenpenny Tower, Paradise Falls, The Citadel, Reilly's Rangers and Girdershade. And then we have the "hostile" settlements of Evergreen Mills, Fort Bannister and Vault 87
    Of those fifteen friendly settlements and those three hostile ones, only Big Town is being threatened.

    The BoS is NOT on the brink of extinction. No where in the entire game anyone mentions this. Where do you get these ideas? The Outcasts were a minimal number of the BoS manpower. The game shows us that the Outcasts have only a tiny amount of members compared to the BoS. Go to the Citadel and go to Fort Independence and see for yourself. The Brotherhood has more people protecting a radio station than the Outcasts in their own main base. They are such small numbers that they have to ask a wastelander (which they hate) to help them collecting tech.
    They have Eden broadcasting for decades now, again there are people in the game that tell us this. Most people even think that the Enclave is just a fairy tale, because they grew up while these broadcasts were always playing, while no one ever really seeing any Enclave people.
    The Enclave only makes their move after James tries to make Project Purity work again. Because Eden sees it as the perfect way of using the FEV to purify the wasteland.
    Where do you get these ideas from? The game tells us without a doubt these things, but you still believe the contrary?
    The BoS have been in the Capital Wasteland for 20 years. Remember, Paladin Cross was a friend of James and protected and guided him to the Vault when the Lone Wanderer was born. The Brotherhood of Steel protected the first Project Purity team while they worked on it 20 years ago.
    Elder Lyons says they have been in the Capital Wasteland for 20 years too, now that I think about it.
    Twenty is a couple decades, so how is it untrue of me saying that they have been fighting the Mutants for decades.

    Also the Lone Wanderer can ask Sarah if he can join the Brotherhood, but she says that they have no vacancies at the moment. So it is also not untrue that they have their ranks full.

    Sarah also was a little girl when they arrived in the Capital Wasteland, she can't have been trained outside of the Capital Wasteland (she's 26 in Fallout 3). She is the leader of the special forces too... This means that if the special forces were trained outside of the Capital Wasteland, their members would be (at least) around 40 years old...
    Sarah doesn't mention that about the Behemoth, she mentions that before the player reaches GNR.
    They are not under attack on the Capitol hill, the ones fighting the mutants there are Talon Company. And still GNR building has several named BoS and several not named ones. Arlington Library has more than five BoS. Why would a struggling faction that is dying spend 10-20 people to protect a library they have no interest on and a radio station that does nothing for themselves? Also why would they spend a few soldiers to protect Washington Monument? That is not what struggling factions would do.
    Their store have plenty of weapons and armor, no BoS soldiers is seen wearing anything but Power Armor (except initiates, because they are in training). They manage to get an army of PA wearing soldiers in short time to assault Adams Air Force. They are not shown being weak and suffering a lack of resources.
    They don't win because of Liberty Prime, Liberty Prime is used for the sole purpose of destroying the force fields and has a AA weapon (he is deployed in both instances we see it in action in the game to destroy Force Fields and someone on the Citadel says that LP is a good AA measure). When the Brotherhood assaults Project Purity, they have as many troops on the field as the Enclave.

    Scribe Bowditch says this about the Enclave and Power Armor:
    "They're sporting some pretty impressive Power Armor, I'll give them that. The Advanced Mark II.
    But that's all right. With a few modifications, our own armor will more than handle anything they throw at it."
    "We've held up very well against them so far. Our Power Armor modifications are showing positive results."

    Scribe Peabody says this about the enclave and weapons:
    "So they have Plasma weapons! Bah! It's strong technology, I'll give you that, but limited in modability.
    I've already started removing the compensators on our laser weapons to cut through the black devil Power Armor of theirs."

    The Brotherhood of Steel equipment is shown to be able to deal with the Enclave equipment. We can also see that in action when the Brotherhood loses Liberty Prime, and storm-assaults Adams Air Force.
    They fight the Enclave head on and they are very balanced against each other.

    The Lone Wanderer is the one that takes the crawler because he is the one that gets sent to do it. Remember that the Brotherhood of Steel was already mobilizing to wipe out the last remaining Enclave while the LW was in a coma. If the LW was still in a coma, the Brotherhood would use the Lyons Pride or some other team to do the job (like they were already planning because the LW was in a coma). Even Lyons says to the LW when they wake up from the coma that they are getting ready to wipe the Enclave out totally, and the LW can help if they want to, but they earned their rest, or something similar.
    Doesn't sound like words a faction in need of saving would say. They were already winning before the LW woke up. Specially when they were already prepared to do the job themselves and the LW has to insist to be able to join the operations.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2018
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  6. Norzan

    Norzan Vault Senior Citizen

    Apr 7, 2017
    I don't know how Bethesda managed to do it, but the Lone Wanderer is one of the most worthless characters i ever seen in a RPG. This character can literally be removed from the story and nothing would change.

    Basically everything major is done by someone else like your dad or the Brotherhood of Steel. The perfect representation of this is the assault at the Enclave base. The BoS members and Liberty Prime are invincible and kill anyone before you can kill anyone. You have to try your hardest to kill anyone.

    So basically, the Lone Wanderer is just a spectator.
  7. CT Phipps

    CT Phipps Venerable Relic of the Wastes

    Sep 17, 2016
    Well, not to make too fine a point but Good Karma Lone Wanderer:

    1. James would be permanently trapped in Tranquility Lane.
    2. Sarah Lyons and the others would be killed by Colonel Autumn, resulting in a nuclear meltdown or she'd simply die.
    3. The Declaration of Independence would never be recovered.
    4. A race of fire-breathing ants would destroy the Capital Wasteland.
    5. Harold would be stuck in a suicidal frnezy
    6. Supervillains would end up destroying a local town
    7. All the citiznes of Big Town would be massacred by Super Mutants
    8. Mr. Burke would destroy Megaton
    9. The Family would be massacred by the locals

    If not for you, the BoS would have been killed too and Liberty Prime would now be in the hands of the Empire...err Enclave.

    Basically, I think he/she takes the BOS back from the brink.

    The LW can kill the BOS in Broken Steel too.
  8. Risewild

    Risewild Venerable Relic of the Wastes
    Modder Orderite

    Jun 14, 2014
    1. Good. James created this mess and endangered the whole Capital Wasteland, also killed half of vault 101, lead to the death of project purity scientists too. Then he kills himself for no reason.

    2.Where would Colonel Autumn kill Sarah Lyons? They never fight face to face except on the final confrontation in the Purifier room. And Sarah could kill Autumn easily since he doesn't wear any armor and his weapon is nothing to worry about, specially against PA.

    3.The declaration of Independence would eventually be recovered by Sydney.

    4. I doubt the Ants would invade the wasteland, because Dr. Lesko already have everything set to prevent that, he has a "cure" and he has a terminal that will automatically kill all the ants outside of the Metro tunnels. I wonder how long it would take him to realize he can just use something like a Stealth Boy (which can be found near the Metro tunnels) or his protectron (which the ants do not attack) to reach the terminal and stop the ants.

    5. Harold would still not be able to kill himself even in his suicidal state, it would still continue to provide pollen and grow flora. He would eventually die, would find someone else to do the job for him (since he can "see" people all around oasis for quite some distance, just like he "saw" the LW) or would reach the same conclusion that he reaches if the Lone Wanderer doesn't kill him (he will accept it and be content with his role).

    6. I doubt they would destroy the town. Both Dominic and Machete want to kill the Antagonizer and Machete wouldn't mind killing the Mechanist either. Only reason they didn't yet is because Uncle Roe is preventing them from doing it. If the Town was in real danger, I have no doubt they would change Uncle Roe's mind. Even if by some weird twist of fate Uncle Roe's wouldn't change his mind, Dominic and Machete would just do it without his permission. Dominic knows where their hideouts are, and Machete is eager to blow their heads off: "All I know is next time they come to town, I bet I could solve the whole problem with one bullet for each of them."

    7. And they only have themselves to blame for that. Machete (mentioned above) walked all the way from Little Lamplight to Canterbury commons, (that is from one side of the map to the opposite side). Arefu is just around the corner from Big Town, Megaton is not that far either (Lucy West walked from Arefu to Megaton, and Arefu is farther from Megaton than Big Town is, in fact on a straight line Lucy would have passed by Big Town on her way to Megaton). They are not concerned about their own safety enough to do something about it. They say they can't move because it is too dangerous out there, but the game shows it is not too dangerous. The LW can walk from Megaton to Big Town in a few minutes and not encounter any enemies, or encounter some dogs, molerats or bloatflies depending on how much it deviates from the route.

    8. Mister Burke could destroy Megaton eventually, but I also doubt that. He himself says he has been waiting for a new person to arrive for ages. Megaton never shows anyone new arriving in it with the exception of a slave you can save from Paradise Falls (I can't remember his name). Also he would have to find a new arrival that was willing to blow up the town. He could never find someone like that for all we know (specially because he has been waiting for a long time, he even got a house in Megaton and everything).

    9. The Family wouldn't be massacred by the locals. The locals are one really old guy, one adult guy, one woman and a woman with serious mental problems that wouldn't be able to fight. Their weapons are a low caliber pistol (.32, which deals almost the same damage in the game as a BB gun) and a low caliber assault rifle (which deals twice as much damage as a BB gun in game). They have no equipment or manpower to massacre the Family. That is why they are locked inside their houses and do it every time the Family comes around. Also the Family is not interested in Arefu anymore, so they won't be raiding it or anything (they only caused trouble as a way to draw the attention away from Ian West having killed his parents, and to take him to safety).

    And again you say that the BoS would have been destroyed... How? Like I said before, the BoS would have sent the Lyons Pride or a massive scale full attack on the Enclave mobile crawler. The Lone Wanderer volunteers to do it instead, and still, the Lyon's Pride comes and saves the LW in the end by taking him away from the crawler before the missiles hit it. Showing that they could easily come to the crawler and leave too.
    It's not like the BoS is just sitting there passively watching the Enclave move, they have plans and take action against it even while the LW is in a coma (they destroyed all the Enclave in that time with the exception of the crawler).

    The BoS was never "on the brink"... :confused:
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2018
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  9. NMLevesque

    NMLevesque Commie Ghost

    Jul 2, 2016
    I know what you mean about the sense of exploration. As flawed as the setting was, because of the year it takes place in, they managed to present a strong sense of atmosphere. The way it was designed rewarded players who meander and go with the flow, dealing with things as they come to them, getting lost and sidetracked. I just wish there was more substance and storytelling on top of all that.
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  10. Millim

    Millim What the fuck is this for a shit?!

    Oct 13, 2010
    Even then, if we take that argument, the LW is pointless in the second half of the story.

    I tried it, I did nothing in the final mission beside maybe shoot one person and tell Sarah to go in the thing.

    That's not a good conclusion at all.
    That's actually rather poor and completely against the power fantasy the game was going for.
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  11. CT Phipps

    CT Phipps Venerable Relic of the Wastes

    Sep 17, 2016
    Eh, that was a long glurge but I'm happy to share specifics without the flurid response.

    The positives of Fallout 3:

    Fallout 3 is a game which benefits immensely from its transition to 3D as the environments of a post-apocalypse society become far more intimate and immersive than a Top-Down environment like Fallout 1 and Fallout 2. We get to explore the interior of the Vaults and experience life in their conformist as well as repressive claustrophic society for the first time rather than just getting kicked out at the start.

    The vastness of the Capital Wasteland is something which immediately overwhelms the Lone Wanderer and the player simultaneously when we first enter it. The freedom to explore is encouraged and you are soon able to go across hundreds of spots containing all manner of bizarre and interesting settlements. Fallout 3 is bigger than Fallout 2 which is bigger than Fallout 2 with a mixture of the ultra-serious as well as Fallout 2's particular brand of goofy.

    While some people claim the first person shooting system is a step down, I like the fact it encourages you as a survivalist rather than a guy heading up a massive party of people traveling across the desert. You and your dog makes a bit more Road Warrior sense than you, your dog, your wife, and six other guys.

    The Mad Max movies were violent and impressive action movies, which Fallout 3 manages to replicate with its battles against the endless hordes of Raiders populating the Wasteland. Environemtal storytelling like the hanging bodies, beers, and general trashiness of their locations contrasts against the scavenger-esque Megaton homes and the spartan military accomdations of the BOS and submarine-esque conditions of Rivet City.

    The choice to settle it in Washington D.C. allows the players to explore familiar monuments and locations which adds a kind of "going into the Statue of Liberty in GTAIV" feel as well as underscores this is the ruins of the USA. It also adds poignance to quests like claiming the Declaration of Independence. The use of Lincoln's Memorial nicely dovetails with the slavery subplots even if you want to go completely crazy and dress like him.

    There's a lof of great homages to 1950s sci-fi like Them, the clunky robots, and repressive 50s culture. Also, plenty of homages to mad max and more which continues the trends from Fallout 1 and 2 as well as highlights the fact the game was made by true fans of the series. The storyline is a retelling, more or less, of the 1st two games with a rough approximation of the original plot.

    Leave the Vault
    Water Chip=Water Purifier
    Stop the Super Mutants
    Stop the Enclave

    Music plays a big role in the game and sets a theme with nicely selected classic radio pieces homaging "Crazy" and "I don't want to set the world on fire." Three Dog also gives you a sense of accomplishment with his praise and condemnation.

    Combat wise the game also gives a good sense of progression as you go from a helpless vulnerabel Wastelander to a Power Armor wearing badass like in the original games.