Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
Fallout 4 is just around the corner, but the series' popularity is so huge that it almost servers to obscure the things which made Fallout 3 [official site] fun in the first place. It's an easier game to pick holes in than it is to be enthusiastic about.
Partly my enjoyment of Fallout 3 came from not yet knowing the rules of the world. I never played Fallout 1 and 2, and so every new town and house offered the potential for surprise. There was the vampires; the superheroes; the cannibals; that one shop with the Rube Goldberg device in it. It felt like a rich place to explore.
Even if its conversations and people were as stilted and vending machine-like as other Bethesda games, it improved over Elder Scrolls (or at least Oblivion, the newest at the time) in significant ways. Its quest structure, for example, often allowed you to approach the storylines from multiple different angles depending on which town or person you stumbled across first. This meant that you'd always be sure to discover the slavers, for example, but how you did so would feel more natural or personal than Oblivion's equivalent, which would be 'Go To Slaver Town, Join The Slaver Guild, Do All The Slaver Quests In A Straight Line'.
I'm not sure I'm ready to go back to another wasteland, but I'm encouraged every time I pause to remember how much fun I had in the last one.