Fallout 3: 500 Ways To Leave Your Shelter

Well, you know what? I was just pondering on last month’s news that Fallout 3 is to have 500 endings. Five hundred. And I thought, you know what, out of the blue I think I’ll post about this today. Ahem.

So the question is, how do you think it will work? How can a game possibly have 500 hundred endings?

In tribute, this post concludes in multiple ways.

Ending 1: If they’d said “Ten different endings,” I’d have thought, “Hmmm, they have many plans for the story.” But five hundred? It does seem to suggest only the tiniest details could be different between each one, right? They’re not really writing elaborate endings for every single possibility? They’d surely die.

Ending 2: What a fantastic idea! Every game should do this – fixed endings don’t reflect real life in any meaningful way. It’s exactly how games should work, allowing our influence to dictate the narrative.

Ending 3: If you attended a writing class, the first thing you’d be told is: have a strong opening, middle and end for your story. Not having a fixed ending implies a lack of confidence in your tale. Are Bethesda worried?

Ending 4: “No!” cried Mary, looking deep into Simon’s eyes. “Don’t leave me!” Simon’s eyelids blinked slowly, a slight gasp escaping from his dry, broken lips. Then he was gone. Mary put her head to his chest and sobbed. “But I never had the chance to say that I love you,” she whispered, her tears soaking his blood-stained shirt. “I love you.”

Ending 5: Onion rings ordered, RPS fades to black.

Ending 6: Kieron was a ghost all along.


  1. Rook says:

    You’re only a month late on that news.

  2. Janek says:

    I suspect it’ll be in the style of the earlier Fallouts’ summing-up of the fates of each major location you visit. When you start thinking of all possible permutations, it’ll very quickly add up.

    Even if each “part” only has two possibilities, it only takes 9 parts to make up 500. Which is less impressive, really.

    If I could be bothered, I’d run through the permutations for Fallout 2. I bet it’d be more ¬_¬

    Edit: Okay I’m bored. I make it 1,105,920 possible endings to Fallout 2. They’re all different, right? There we go. Over a million possible endings. Stick it on the box and away you go.

  3. Feet says:

    I’m hungry for Onion Rings now. Damn it.

  4. AbyssUK says:

    Perhaps there is one main ending but 499 ways of dying ?

  5. Heliocentricity says:

    Seriously, welcome to april :P

    On point with the story however, fallout 1 had a large number of endings, one for each city, surely 500 is just a case of 5*5*5*4

    With each 5 having 5 possible outcomes, maybe just 5*5*5*5 with a range of blocked outcomes caused by exclusive outcomes.

    Fallout 1 had 2*3*2*5*4*2*2*3*2 = 5760 ending combinations

    link to fallout.wikia.com

    Lets say a few thousand of them are impossible due to exclusivity? thats more than 500 holmes.

  6. Pidesco says:

    Fallout 3 will have 500 endings in the same way Fallout 3 had 500 endings. Like, if in one game you sided with the Mordino family, and in another game you sided with the Wright family, it’s a different ending when Fallout tells you what happens in each city you visited.

    All this really is is more meaningless marketing hype. And people eat it all up.

  7. Jay says:

    Kieron was a ghost all along.


  8. Albides says:

    Over 5,000 different weapons, including rifle, rifle with flashlight, rifle with scope, rifle with grenade launcher, rifle that uses slightly different ammo, and rifle that resembles Richard Nixon’s nose!

    Over 5,001 different ways to die, including being shot with a rifle, shot with a rifle with a flashlight, shot with a rifle with a scope, shot with a rifle that has a grenade launcher, shot with a rifle that uses slightly different ammo, shot by a weapon that resembles Richard Nixon’s penis (slightly bent as per historical accounts!) and falling from a great height!

    Moddable weapons! Use your repair skill to fit rifles with a scope, flashlight, grenade launcher, slightly different ammo, and Richard Nixon’s jowls!

    Fully articulated and bendable marketing manager, allowing over 1,000,000 different positions!

  9. phil says:

    I’d be impressed if each one had a distinct video featuring Liam Neeson, otherwise I’m sure Janek’s sumise is correct.

  10. Cigol says:

    I can literally taste the (well placed) cynicism :D

  11. Jochen Scheisse says:


  12. Kast says:

    Well I never saw this either so thanks, John! :P

    Strangely the first game that came to mind when reading this was Galatea – that had upwards of two dozen distinct endings and each one was fascinating. Everything from being murdered to falling in love to seeing the ‘wizard behind the curtain’ to sharing canapes to… to walking away with no resolution.

    I would be incredibly impressed if a game of Fallout 3’s complexity ever achieved that level of variety in its endings. Impressed and a little scared.

  13. Nick says:

    The most important question is: “Will Ron Pearlman be narrating all of them?”

    The answer had better be ‘yes’ or their game is already nothing compared to Fallout 1/2.

  14. Jochen Scheisse says:

    Has been answered. Ron will return. Shhhhh. He’s there.

  15. Nick says:

    I shall buy Fallout 3. If only for his voice.

  16. Chris R says:

    STALKER had what? 7 or so endings? And only 2 of them were the “real” endings anyway. When a game gets up to 5 or more distinct and different endings, it becomes a chore to unlock them all.

    I bet Janek is bang on with his assumption. Silly marketing hype, why do they feel like they have to do this? Ricockulous.


    Also, don’t you guys mean to say “fuck mothering Ron Pearlman???” in a really incredulous voice? ;)

  17. Briosafreak says:

    Ok this is embarrassing. I could post the same things I did one month ago, but that would be embarrassing too. Oh well.

  18. Pidesco says:

    @Chris R:The point of multiple endings is not getting the player to experience all of them, I’d say.

    The point is that they are, or rather should be, a reflection of the way you’ve played to game. It’s about making the game more reactive to your gameplay choices within it, and making your time in the game feel like a unique experience, which no one else really had.

  19. Chris R says:

    @Pidesco: Ah yes, very true. But for some reason I feel compelled to go back and see the different endings after having first played the game through and getting the ending that my choices lead to. When there are more than 5 different endings I get annoyed that I might not be able to see them all… I guess there is always GameFaqs so I can read about the different endings, hah!

  20. spd from Russia says:

    10 different plotlines (or whatever) in 50 combinations = 500 endings. 10 is still a lot

  21. The Shed says:

    Man, that’s gonna be a headache for completionists.

  22. Grant Gould says:

    Fallout hype… Fallout hype never changes…

  23. John P (Katsumoto) says:

    “I suspect it’ll be in the style of the earlier Fallouts’ summing-up of the fates of each major location you visit. When you start thinking of all possible permutations, it’ll very quickly add up.”

    Yup, no doubt this is the case. It was a brilliant feature of the first two so I’m glad it’s making a return.

    Now it just needs a world map and i’ll be happy!

  24. Lake says:

    Nuke Cola is people!

  25. eyemessiah says:

    I have never played fallout. Should I play 1 or skip to 2?

  26. cyrenic says:

    eyemessiah, I liked fallout 1 a lot better than fallout 2 (probably in the minority there though :D). Fallout 2 also makes quite a bit of reference to the first, so no I wouldn’t skip it.

  27. Nick says:

    In Fallout 2 the world is more developed and society is rebuilt to a greater extent than the first (not hugely though); as a result I thought the wasteland pioneer sort of atmosphere was better in Fallout 1. That said, the UI tweaks and general length and detail in Fallout 2 make it more enjoyable for me.

    Either way, both are gems but you have to be ready for the style and interface.

  28. John P (Katsumoto) says:

    You should definitely play Fallout 1 first – it’s a lot shorter (can be completed in c.15 hours, as opposed to c.40 for Fallout 2) and I would say easier too. It’s a great introduction to the world and Fallout 2 follows nicely. OH GOD THEYRE SO GOOD.

  29. spd from Russia says:

    Agree whith Nick: FO1 is a great game and maybe has even better atmosphere and more story-centered, but its really easy and the world is much smaller. FO2 adds so much, but it might feel hard at the beginning.
    If you havent played any – start with FO1 -its easier to get into and less difficult

  30. brog says:

    I found F2 a lot easier to get into than F1. When I tried 1 I spent what felt like ages fighting my way through boring rats, then my system crashed and I hadn’t saved, so I wasn’t inclined to go back. Tried 2 much later and liked it, so I’ve finished 2 and not 1.

  31. etho says:

    I liked 2 much better than 1. With 1 I was stressing out about the time limits, so I didn’t feel like I could relax and explore as much, which is may favorite part of playing games that are so detailed and well thought out. That said you should play Fallout 1, if only so you have the background for Fallout 2. And it is still good. Just, for me, not as good.

  32. Fumarole says:

    I liked the original the most. The sequel was excellent as well, but an awful lot more tongue-in-cheek. Play them in order, if only so the ending of the first isn’t spoiled immediately upon starting the sequel.

  33. N'Al says:

    Actually, Fallout takes less than 10 minutes (link to speeddemosarchive.com).


  34. John P (Katsumoto) says:

    Heh. Yeah that’s classic :)

    Btw there are patches to get rid of the time limits in Fallout 1, and also patches to bring the children back (EU version removed the children’s physical presence, but nothing else, so there were quests that made no sense and disembodied voices)!

  35. sinister agent says:

    “Congratulation! You killed



    Play again Y/N?”


    “Congratulation! You killed



    Play again Y/N?”

  36. James G says:

    Gah! I ordered the Fallout Collection recently, only a certain delivery company went and lost it. I’ll have a look out for the ‘no time limit’ patch. I hate having time pressure when I’m playing. (Other than for very short ‘escape the self destructing building’ sort of sequences)

  37. Radiant says:

    At the end of the game you have a choice of 250 rooms you can either live or die in any of them.
    There 500 endings.

    Or maybe you can just slip out the back, Jack?

  38. Brother None says:

    It’ll be exactly the same way it worked in Fallout (and Bethesda has confirmed as much, though never in very clear choice of words). That means 500 permutations might be only about 6 or 7 actually variable endings with 2 or 3 variables per ending, so that’d be…what…20 actual endings that might be different but with 500 possible combinations?

    Not that daunting, is it?

    I can’t believe how much confusion this has caused. For comparison’s sake, Fallout 1 had 360 endings (720 if you count kill/don’t kill Overseer), Fallout 2 had, here we go, 1,105,920 endings.

    Yeah, 1,105,920.

    So, hey, dance and all, but Bethesda has been trying to clear this one up since this misunderstanding began. It’s pretty difficult to clear something up when everyone is rolling around shouting “500 endings” as if it actually means anything.

    Just. Saying.

  39. sharpy says:

    Fallout 1 had more.
    I mean, if you have 2 different sub-plots and the main plotline, you have 4 possible endings: no extra cutscenes, cutscene 1, cutscene 2 and cutscenes 1 and 2. Add 3rd sub-plot and the number of endings grows to 4. With mere 10 quests (main and 9 subquests) you get 512 combinations of cutscenes in the ending possible. Fallout 1 had more!

    And if the sequence of the cutscenes at the end varies with order by which you finish subplots, you can get 720 different endings with just 6 sub-plots.

  40. Optimaximal says:

    On a semi-related note, Play.com are now listing a Fallout 3 Special Edition, tentitatively due October.

    Can one of you ever-so-masterful journos go investigate whether it’s the true Collectors Edition (with the lunch box, art book and bobble head) or just some half-arsed Special Edition with a metal slipcase?

  41. Clicky says:

    There is a rather unknown little Japanese game called Princess Maker 2, that I found on HotU. In the game you were a king and you had to manage the life of your daughter. It was like a combination of Football Manager, anime and Dragon Warrior. Now, on topic again, that game had over 120 endings, all completely different, so it isnt really impossible to do.

  42. Kieron Gillen says:

    Princess Maker is one of my hobby horses…. but I believe that its endings were actually modular too. There wasn’t 120 actual jobs you could end up doing. Or, at least, I don’t think it was 120. Checking the FAQ says it’s 74.

    However, each of those endings is also modified depending on who the princess marries, etc. So those 74 endings multiply out to over 500, I bet.


  43. Optimaximal says:

    Yes, but is the Special Edition the same as the Collectors?
    Official press releases have only ever referred to the Über-edition with all the collectable guff as ‘Collectors’ whereas other places are referring to a ‘Special Edition’ with no real mention of what you’re getting with it – case in point, the Play.com listing I mentioned above.

  44. sinister agent says:

    On the subject of Princess Maker 2, I recommend http://fromearth.net/LetsPlay/Princess%20Maker%202/Update%201/index.html.

    It did have a pretty large number of endings, though. There were a couple of dozen jobs and a handful of people she could end up marrying (or not). With the permutations (successful at her work or not, happy or not, etc), there were loads of endings, but even without, there was plenty of variety, and often you’d have to replay half the game to get a different one, not just reload the last level.

    They might have gone for the middle ground, of course – there could be a couple of dozen genuinely different endings, with a few permutations each. As it is though, just throwing the number out is pretty meaningless.

  45. sinister agent says:

    Edit: That was meant to be this.

    I am a fool.

  46. Briosafreak says:

    Yes Optimaximal, it’s the same.

  47. Filipe says:

    Man, I’m so glad I’m not the only male to have played Princess Maker 2. It’s been my secret shame for years!

  48. Zed says:

    You know, I can actually see 500 endings no problem. Am I the only person who read Choose Your Own Adventure books? SERIOUSLY people. I agree they’re prolly not going to do this right, but having a game where you can decide to leave the game at different points (you know, say, okay, this little garden plot of story emphasis is where my character ends up) is BRILLIANT.


  49. Wildbluesun says:

    “500 hundred.”

    Which reads as:

    “Five hundred hundred.”

    Which is, I think, 50,000.

    That WOULD be impressive.