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.