PAX 08: Fallout 3 Does More Than Guns

Like the Rat Pack, but with more weeping facial sores

The Penny Arcade Expo is, of course, a silly little fan-festival attended only by four people who like reading internet cartoon strips about swearing. It’s definitely not a major gaming event at which a ton of important games are on show, and potentially a serious rival to the likes of E3 and Leipzig. There’s no way stuff like Fallout 3 will reveal exciting new footage there. That would be ridiculous.

So, five lengthy videos straight outta PAX beneath the cut, showing Fallout being RPGy, and not simply FPSy, as was the case with the underwhelming E3 footage. I’ve posted my as-I-watched notes below each. Apologies for their brevity and wobbly grammar, but I figured my off-the-cuff reactions could work as well as ponderous analysis. We’ll have plenty of ponderous analysis once the game’s out, I don’t doubt.


Very brown and grey
The faces are so much better than Oblivion’s glowing pie-men
draw distance is great
Does look a lot like post-apoc Oblivion, perhaps inevitably
Level up HUD doesn’t feature stupidly giant text. Thank Christ – Oblivion’s interface outright sucked at times
Much more emphasis on perks? Or am I not remembering the first two Fallouts correctly?


Naughty swears! We’re not in Cyrodiil any more, Toto.
Voice acting seems less grating than Oblivion. I have a suspicion the second speaking character in this bit is the guy who did Brother bloody Jauffre, but I’m not sure. Doesn’t sound as moronic, anyway.
The Inkspots are awesome.
“I represent certain… interests” is not a subtle thing to say, Mr. Burke. Neither is “all it needs is a little… motivation.” STOP IT WITH THE STUPID CARTOON VILLAIN PAUSES/DOUBLE-ENTENDRES. This character’s acting is… rubbish, and some of the writing is a little… worrying. Too early to… judge, of course.
Some potentially fun moralising though – a certain Vampire Bloodlines vibe.


Radio sounds great – really sets the atmosphere, and seems like it’ll be there throughout rather than just appearing from occasional jukeboxes.
Slo-mo gore still seems excessive. I’m no prude, but it just seems a bit too outlandish and comic – I wouldn’t mind an option to turn it down a bit.
Looks like some really fun gear pick-ups – caps, sunglasses, crazy beards… Looking forward to the character customisation.
Ooh – you need to drink to survive, but water is radioactive. Out-Stalkering Stalker?
Too many monsters/mutants?


Oh god, please have some colour. It’s a supermarket, there should be brightly-hued packing all over the place, not just brown and grey and grey and brown. Bethesda’s poor, hamstrung artists must cry themselves to sleep.
Power-fist! Thwack-splat, thwack-splat, thwack-splat…
Terminal hacking is based on Mastermind, it seems. At least it’s not cocking Simon Says for once.
A pet Robby the Robot. This is awesome. But he should be cherry-red, dammit.
Kinda like Bioshock, but not stupidly restrictive

Tenpenny Tower:

More emphasis on notable characters rather than just random mercs’n’mutants.
The stealth/pickpocketing is clearly employing Oblivion systems, and seems a bit of an awkward fit. A functioning invisibility generator seems a whole other level for tech from steam’n’piston guns and cola machines.
I intend to place a lot of live hand grenades in a lot of people’s pockets. I hope there’s other ideas along similar lines – for instance, planting meat in their pockets so they’re attacked by beasts?
That annoying chat-zoom thing remains. Wish they’d ditch it – there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to turn around or wander about as someone’s speaking to you.
Burke really is rubbish. I’d better be able to kill him. And his actor had better not be handling 30 other NPCs.

Thanks to sbs and Erlend M


  1. Mike says:

    I think you can kill any NPC in the game, no? That was touted in some recent press thing. It screws everything up, but you’re free to do so.

    Or that might be on the train straight out of Imagination Town, I dunno.

  2. Little Green Man says:

    I commented on this in your Max Payne Trailer Thread, but I’ll repeat myself: In the city it just looks a LOT like Oblivion, especiallly the awkward way people stop and talk to you, rather than just ignoring you, or they stand and watch you.
    The combat looks alright, but I personally really liked Stalker: SOC’s way of saying that all weapons are lethal, so you have to just NOT GET HIT. I loved picking people off, and a couple of times I would clean up with an SMG. However, this looks like the combat is relatively easy and the VATs system makes it even easier. So as long as your relatively close you can headshot anyone with your pistol.

    Still looking forward to it though…

  3. Real Horrorshow says:

    Static objects still don’t cast shadows….STILL PISSED.

    Did I just hear Malcolm McDowell? The greatest actor of all-time? Talk about real horrorshow.

  4. Colthor says:

    Jolly good, they’ve rekindled the enthusiasm that was killed by the E3 videos.

  5. John P (Katsumoto) says:

    Personally I find the 50s music playing on loop really aggravating. I mean, in Fallout 1 + 2 you heard it in the intro and the outro (is that a word) and it really made an impression. Hearing it 24/7 will just get piss irritating in my opinion. I want moody evil atmospheric NASTINESS. Luckily I think you can turn it off with your pipboy or whatever.

  6. stavrosthewonderchicken says:

    I have a suspicion the second speaking character in this bit is the guy who did Brother bloody Jauffre, but I’m not sure.

    Oh lordy why’d they go and hire this over-emoting ACT-OR again. Instantly reminded of Oblivion, boom out of immersion. Ah well.

  7. Chris Evans says:

    A pretty good interview with Pete Hines and Istvan Pely over on Shacknews

  8. Naurgul says:

    Mike, I’m pretty sure it was just your imagination, there will be un-killable NPCs in this game, as far as I know. Wait for a second confirmation from someone more knowledgeable than me, if you wish, but don’t get your hopes too high.

  9. simonkaye says:

    The last time we saw a clutch of demonstration videos voiced by this guy, the vast majority of what we saw simply wasn’t present in the final game. Oblivion didn’t have anything like the kind of ‘Radiant AI’ that the equivalent trailers suggested it would. So why should we trust these? Admittedly, there are no claims here on anything like as ambitious a scale.

  10. Meat Circus says:


  11. Richard says:

    MR. BURKE: “I’d like you to blow up this shitty town and kill everyone in it.”

    BAR PATRONS: “Dude, we’re like, right here…”

  12. Ian says:

    E3 had lowered my Excite-O-Meter into one of the varying shades of Meh, but this has rekindled my hopes somewhat, though I can’t quite put my finger on why. Some iffy voice-acting and/or writing there but plenty of other things I liked the look of. Presumably they’d changed the settings so his health/armour was way up, otherwise the combat looks too easy.

    Also, does EVERYTHING have to lead to people’s body parts flying about? The thing with the pneumatic punches I could just about handle, but the “railway-gun” I was hoping to see more impalement rather than flying heads for a successful headshot.

    Because I’m into the exploring, I loved that first view when stepping out of the vault tunnel. Just that huge expanse of area to play in. I suspect I shall be quite giddy when I see that for the first time in-game.

  13. Andrew says:

    That looks so much better than the E3 video. It makes me wonder why they bothered with that thing at all.

    Loving the radio.

  14. davidalpha says:

    burke: I hardly know you but i trust you enough to give you the vital part needed for our plan to blow up this town.

    if I can’t kill that guy ill just stop playing after I meet him

  15. Pavel says:

    I was wondering when were you gonna write about those. There is a lot of things that dont make sense (but hopefully will in the full game), but I like the overall atmosphere.

    I dont understand why they had to change for example how the vault doors etc work, when they had perfect example of it in Fallout 1 intro.

  16. Real Horrorshow says:

    @ Ian

    Actually the railway gun impailed the guy’s head to a store shelf…

  17. Schadenfreude says:

    A functioning invisibility generator seems a whole other level for tech from steam’n’piston guns and cola machines.

    You could find “Stealth Boys” in the first Fallout. Seem to remember them being rare enough but I could be wrong.
    link to

  18. Bobsy says:

    Chrissake. I mean really, you’d think Oblivion would’ve tipped them off? DON’T WASTE YOUR ACTING BUDGET ON BIG NAME CELEBS AND LET THE REST GO TO WASTE YOU BASTARDS.

    Liam Neeson. Liam f(lo)cking Neeson!

  19. Alex says:

    The bad guy in the Megaton vid is indeed one of the Oblivion voice actors. I can’t believe they cop out by not showing the explosion!

  20. Andrew says:

    You should keep watching, it’s in a later video.

  21. Alex says:

    Thank god! I was wondering what is happening to the internet these days, omitting a perfectly good explosion like that.

    Does that other voice, when you’re watching the explosion with Burke not sound like dr. Kleiner from Half-Life?

  22. realmenhuntinpacks says:

    you know, I would be excited. When this drops, what do you think the specs will be? Stalker wouldn’t run on my knackered old glue steed, so I’m sure this lad willnae either.

  23. Kyr says:

    I foresee the great whining on this matter. In fact, it’s already started all over the world.

  24. Ian says:

    @ Real Horrorshow: Ah, so it does. I think I’d seen what was presumably the enemy’s weapon (when it pans around and you see the player) and thought it was the projectile hitting and knocking off his head but then stopping.

    Well that’s better than plane old beheading at least. :)

  25. Alex says:

    you know, I would be excited. When this drops, what do you think the specs will be? Stalker wouldn’t run on my knackered old glue steed, so I’m sure this lad willnae either.

    I was getting more and more depressed while watching those vids. It seems the only way my PC will be able to run this is on my sheer willpower alone. :(

  26. Flubb says:

    Certainly brings back the interest factor.
    (I wonder what gaming impact nuking a city has?)

  27. MetalCircus says:

    i dont get why the pick pocketing feels awkward? It was essentially the same in fallout 1 2 (but with fallout interface HOBviously)

    But yeah. Looking good. Apart from that rubbish voice actor from Oblivion.

    Oh, and I was thinking, i hope you can mod this for PC, I can see people making combat mods to make the combat more fallout-esque

  28. K says:

    If I have an unexploded nuclear bomb in my town, I’d expect a little fence built around it, at least.

  29. Alex says:

    You’d think twice about building a town around it before you start thinking about a little fence, I’d say.

    On the other hand, in a world burned away by raging nuclear fire, health & safety regulations probably take the backburner, if you will.

  30. Radiant says:

    That all seemed really boring.

  31. Monkfish says:

    I wonder if Bethesda have re-hired the voice actor from Oblivion that sounded a bit like Brian Cant.

    That would be cool. *

    * May not, in fact, be cool at all.

  32. Paul Moloney says:

    I hope it can be modded too… at last count, I think I have about 50 installed in Oblivion. Nothing major, but it’s the little tweaks I love the most – mods that add extra hot-keys, illuminated windows, and, of course, the wonderfully-named “Dude, Where’s My Horse?” The latest one I installed allows you to buy lamps from the Imperial City, which really livened up my display basement.

    I bought the first Fallout a few weeks ago, and have played perhaps 20 minutes, but haven’t hit anything exciting yet. It’s just been rat-killing and sand-seeing so far. I’m not sure my plan to finish it before playing Fallout 3 is going to happen….


  33. kadayi says:

    Looks like a step up from Oblivion in terms of gameplay so it’s safe to assume I’ll be buying this. It might not meet the high and mighty desires of a Fallout Sequel as my good friends at NMA might wish for, but at the same time it doesn’t look that bad. I’d of preferred it if the facial animations were upto VTM:B quality, but they are bearable enough.

  34. SwiftRanger says:

    ‘Crippled arms’ nowadays means you can keep on shooting and even heal yourself by sleeping/taking stimpaks? Ridiculous levelup sounds and what kind of an achievement is getting out of the vault anyway? Interface doesn’t show enough intel at once, radio music is a bit too much as well imo (nice for an intro, not for in-game), Bloodlines had much better dialogue animations, the atmospheric music doesn’t come close to Morgan’s work… not impressed at all but there is a sense it could be a lot more though when everything comes together.

    I really hope they can get those mod tools out asap.

  35. Pod says:

    It’s nice to see that in the future people are as willing to tell complete strangers random facts, their entire life stories and details about jobs that need doing without even a hint of difficulty much like they did in medieval times.

    I’m curious as to why no one these days does it, but from what the world of RPGs tells me, it was massively commonplace back then and obviously in the future. THE FUTURE!

  36. Valentin Galea says:

    As I walk in the Valley of Uncanny…

  37. Willem says:

    I also wrote down my thoughts when I saw the videos a few days ago:

    Looks very nice. Much better than I expected.
    NPC’s look a bit stiff.
    I really, really hope the NPC’s don’t do the “Here’s an useless fact for you” thing they always did in Oblivion. No, I don’t want to know about mudcrabs, ffs!
    Heavily scripted. That’s good.
    They’re recycling voice actors. The guy that wants Megaton blown up was in Oblivion. Possibly a guard. STOP RIGHT THERE, CRIMINAL SCUM
    Use of Mentats like it’s nothing. Hmm.
    Megaton looks great, by the way.
    I love the music.
    Combat looks a bit naff.
    I really hope VATS doesn’t instantly mean = GORE
    No groin shots. ;_;
    No eye shots either. x_x
    How old is that Bethesda guy?
    Hey look, adapted Mudcrabs. Greeet.
    To be fair, everyone is vulnerable to shots in the face.
    YES, I’M OVER 18 FFS
    hang on. You can aim at bodyparts with the powerfist, right? RIGHT?
    fuck that gore
    voice actors are a bit…shit. gruff voice time now!
    again voice from Oblivion. This time a black guard, I think.
    Okay, the handgrenade thing is just stupid of him.
    Impressive explosion.

  38. muscrat says:

    My god the combat looks terrible…
    And yes there are unkillable characters; the “main ones” just like Oblivion -_-


    Oh Bethseda, how the mighty have fallen into design mediocreness to cater primarily to casual gamers, exchanging ‘acessability’ for any game design depth.

    My opinion on Fallout 3 is still pessimistic… I’d like it to be otherwise, but these videos keep enforcing it. Just hearing about oblivion compared to Fallout does so too.


  39. Bollocks Mallone says:

    Plenty of immersion killers:
    – functioning bioshock vending machine in the middle of a wasteland desert
    – oblivion models you are forced to look at while they ‘speak’ (the mouth moves, but nothing else on the face does)
    – hey stranger blow up this city k thx. Better use a nuke, ’cause its heavily fortified with scrap metal and tumbleweed. My hideout with oblivion style indoors is within viewing distance but oh well radiation ftw!
    – I sure hope he was using god mode during all that combat that involved unloading half a clip into enemies that barely react until they lose their last 1hp
    – scoped weapons = multiply the physics backflip 10x
    – quake 1 colour sceme

  40. Butler` says:

    Sadly unimpressed – which is a shame, because I really did enjoy Oblivion in so many ways.

  41. Voidman says:

    Was there a moment of an overhead-rotate-at-will-birds-eye camera?! (as opposed to TPP-over-the-shoulder one) Could this possibly be an option to play this game?

    Also, what’s the deal with those bodies. Ability to eject one’s limbs/head when injured seems to be a common mutation. Beware of radscorpion sting, it makes you jump out of your kneecaps! What a moronic idea to handle all criticals this way.

    Most creatures/hostiles seem to share the mind and run at you blind no doubt attracted to your magnetic personality. While acceptable (only barely) for creatures running amok, the raider mooks seem to be a major letdown.

    The bomb quest is laughable, you don’t need to wait till nightfall even, just casually approach the thing and in front of the towns mob (clearly too high on jet to even blink their beady eyes) tinker with it. Another thing is what that bomb is doing there in a first place, was the settlement build around it (or had it fallen and not gone off). Either way I would imagine some sort action would have taken place as in “Gods must have wanted to spare our miserable lives and stopped the explosion let’s venerate the bomb as a relic and build a shrine around it” (there is a church on Malta where they had a conventional bomb consecrated cos it fell on the church and not-exploded – take cue Bethesda) or “unexploded a-bomb in the village?! Maybe we should like piss off just in case it corrodes and releases radiation (not to mention the other possible outcome involving lots of heat and cataclysmic energy). If there are more precious little setting flavours like that one I intend to become a tad discontented.

    Rather spiffy water effects (but that’s just gloss).

    I like the idea of a solitary surviving tower building being a fortified enclave of sorts (spotted different (I assume pre-holocaust) dress codes and decor inside).

    Beware of car wrecks, they are all rigged with unstable explosives. Incredible! I demand exploding barrels placed in strategic points, oh and crates with loot (crowbar probably in-game already).

    Customization via found accessories I like, beverage vending machines stocking ammo not so much.

    That presentation is only marginally better then the E3 material. Somehow I can’t shake the feeling that Bethesda minions have enough skill and potential to deliver a fantastic game and yet the product of their efforts seem to lack some tangible completeness and suffers from “well ok I guess but not quite there” syndrome. Could it by any chance mean rushed? Hmmm the plot thickens…

  42. Ian says:

    By the way, perhaps somebody who possibly knows more about firearms than is healthy can explain to me the practicality of handguns with scopes?

    I’m no weapons expert but that suggests you’re pulling the hand gun right up to your face to fire.

    Unless it’s Prey-style and has a living suction cup thing that clamps itself to your face.

  43. Jetsetlemming says:

    Definitely needs some color in a couple of those indoor places. I can easily forgive them for a nuclear wasteland being all brown and grey, but the grocery store? The inside of Tenpenny tower? The insides of that last building were entirely goldish brown without a single other visible color. Horrid.
    Also their ragdolls and gore look shit. You’d think this was the first time they’ve ever had them or something. :/ Everything falls apart way too easily, and the way bodies break looks unnatural. A grenade went off under a dude’s feet at one point and the ragdoll was still whole except one leg cleanly fell off. They should have something like old school games, Deus Ex and the like, where an exploded enemy gets turned into nothing but little meat chunks.

    Other than THAT stuff, it looked awesome.

    Ian: You hold it a few inches away. Handgun scopes are specifically designed so a) They stick off the back of the gun a bit, and b) You don’t need to be right up against them to see. They’re held about the same place you’d hold the gun looking down the sights to aim.
    That said, they aren’t much used, because you don’t get all that much range and accuracy from a handgun anyway. Some people hunt with big ass revolvers with scopes but that’s pretty much the extent of their usage.

  44. Kong says:

    I still doubt that Bethesda can make a good game. It seems that they include everything that was not in Oblivion and exaggerate (language, gore). I like ragdoll effects, but a bullet does not make a body fly through the air. This can be fun one or two times, but even exploding heads do not motivate me for more than 89 minutes.
    I would not want to read “hidden” or “danger” in the center of the display all the time, that is one reason why I hate online rpg’s with name tags floating above heads.
    I will never forgive Bethesda the teleporting-guard thing in Oblivion nor the pauldron wings that seem to enjoy a comeback with Fallout 3. Disgusting american non-style.

  45. Mr Wonderstuff says:

    Very negative comments here. Clearly a majority here won’t be getting it. I liked it, very atmospheric. As for the [people who express interest in the thinking behind] scopes on guns…well it is a game not COD 4 (I think some people forget that).

    If this thread tells me anything its that gamers [like to talk about games].

    Oh its not perfect…the voice acting is off-putting when they use actors from Oblivion.

  46. AbyssUK says:

    What about the horrible movement.. where is the head bobbing ? It feels totally wrong… its more like your flying.. that’s going to me fixed right??

  47. Salen says:

    Mister Burke is played by the same voice actor as the central character in the Dark Brotherhood thing in Oblivion. With the exact same idiotic ‘evil’ voice style.

    The zombie trying to get in to Tenpenny Towers was voiced by one of the people that did the Argonians in Oblivion.

    The voice behind the speaker outside Tenpenny Towers was the same one that did many Redguards in Oblivion, including the guy who admits you to the Thieves Guild.

    It really is Oblivion with guns, and without colours. Using the same bad voice actors just serves to break the immersion, both from their lines simply not flowing correctly and from you being reminded of the legions of Oblivion characters with the same voice.

  48. araczynski says:

    been refusing to watch any of the recent trailers of the game so as to not spoil any moments for myself. i have faith in bethsoft to deliver a great game. could care less whether its anything like the previous fallouts.

    my only decision is whether to get the regular pc edition or the full blown one with the clock and lunchbox…. i could use a clock in my gaming room…

  49. The Hammer says:

    Mister Burke is played by the same voice actor as the central character in the Dark Brotherhood thing in Oblivion. With the exact same idiotic ‘evil’ voice style.

    Oh, god. Haven’t even seen the video, and I now know I don’t want to… I hated his voice and its numerous appearances on other characters!

  50. Ian says:

    @ Mr Wonderstuff: If that was directed (fully or partially) at me I’d like to point out my gripe wasn’t with Fallout 3, it was a question about scopes on handguns in general. Be it in a video game or actual, factual guns.