Posts Tagged ‘Fallout 3’

20 years ago today, Fallout set the world on fire

fallout-1-anniversary

The world ended on September, 30 1997. Or, rather, that was the day we were first shown what would become gaming’s enduring definition of the end of the world. Interplay’s Fallout, a very different game from Bethesda’s Fallout 3 and Fallout 4 (not that this seems to bother anyone; no sirree, not a soul), was and is a landmark roleplaying game. It disrupted ideas that RPGs meant elves and kobolds; it disrupted ideas that RPGs were a straight march to the finish line; it disrupted ideas that RPG heroes should be heroic.

War never changes, but Fallout changed most everything else.

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The RPG Scrollbars: The genius in the inventory

I forget which game it was, exactly. If I had to pick one, I’d say probably the text adventure Humbug. It doesn’t really matter, as it’s not really the game’s fault, but I still remember the sadness of being told to go into the inventory and realising that while I was thinking of a big room full of bubbling liquids in interesting flasks and other cool science stuff, the game was actually saying ‘look in your pockets’. Especially as if it was Humbug, it’s a game about wandering around and exploring your crazy inventor grandfather’s house. I must have searched for whole minutes, back in 1990.

There’s never been a game that really harnessed that desire, but still, it explains a lot about one of my favourite things in RPGs – particularly those of the early 90s – that the inventory often was a place to experiment rather than simply pluck the correct item at the correct time. Even if then, as now, it’s often been more accident than design.

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How historical games integrate or ignore slavery

Video games always come with an expectation that the player will suspend disbelief to some extent. Genetically engineered super-soldier clones don’t exist, radiation has never and will never work like that, and overweight Italian plumbers could never make that jump. In most cases, if we are unwilling or unable to suspend our disbelief, we may well struggle to enjoy the game and our questioning of the basics of its ‘reality’ would probably make us insufferable to be around.

There are some games however, where the realities of our world are key to enjoying the game. These are the builders like City Skylines, simulators and sports games like Prison Architect and FIFA, and even crime games like Grand Theft Auto. One genre has a particular problem when it comes to maintaining a foot in the real world yet still creating a setting where one can have fun without becoming mired in morally questionable events and choices: historically based games. And among historical games, few subjects are as complex to represent as slavery. Many have tried, from Europa Universalis IV and Victoria II to Civilization and Assassin’s Creed: Freedom Cry, and in this article I’ll investigate the portrayal and use of slavery in these games and more to explore what they get right, what they get wrong, and how games could do better in future.

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Wot I Think: Pinball FX2 – Bethesda Pinball

DOOM, Skyrim and Fallout have been recreated as Pinball FX2 [official site] tables. Because nobody else at RPS has the flippin’ guts to take on such a massive task, I’ve spent a couple of hours with each, and have now judged them. Short version, I like them about as much as I like the games they’re based on, which means one is great, and the other two are a bit of a ballache. To find out precisely what I mean by that, join me below.

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Is It Important That Fallout 4’s World Lacks Credibility?

So I’m wandering through Fallout 4 [official site], and I come across this old diner, sitting there, neon still lit, almost jaunty in a destroyed land. There’s a guy outside called Wolfgang, a leathered drug dealer, who explains that a mother and son have set up a shop in this diner, and that he wants paying for goods he’s sold to the son.

I go inside, aiming to resolve the problem between the dealer and the son, and get into conversation with the mother. But, looking down, I notice that, despite trading from this place, she hasn’t thought to remove a skeleton from one of the booths. Because why would you remove a skeleton from your shop? Or any of the filth that’s accumulated on the floor?

It’s just one of the weird little things about the world of Fallout 4 that I find confusing and alienating. Little things that nudge me out out my suspension of disbelief that this is a place. Instead of enveloping myself in all its detail, it just gets me wondering, absently, is this how it would be?

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What Makes A Videogame House A Videogame Home?

Oh boy, am I conflicted. Fallout 4’s main plotline requires that I do this thing and as far as things go, it’s a pretty major thing and a major thing that you’d expect someone with the maternal instinct of my character Halle to crack on with straight away. The trouble is, rather than doing this major thing, for at least an hour now, she, and when I say ‘she’, I mean ‘I’, have been poking around Sanctuary, scrapping anything that glows yellow so I can salvage enough materials to build a house big enough for me and my Minutemen companions. I had largely avoided Bethesda’s drip-feed of Fallout 4 pre-publicity but when I somehow found out that the game had settlement building, I think I might have involuntarily passed a little wind in joyous anticipation.

That’s because I’ve felt a similar rosy inner glow while hanging around other hubs and houses in many other games I’ve played. I think it’s easy to underestimate the value of having a ‘home’ base option, especially in open world games where there is a free-roaming element, but it’s a part of why I love certain games.

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The RPG Scrollbars: Voices In The Air

There’s something oddly comforting about radio. Comforting because it’s so familiar, so natural. Odd because it’s a comfort that most of us don’t really use all that much these days, at least not in the ways that games just casually assume. It’s a little like the whole audio diaries thing – it makes a vague sense that everyone in a city like Rapture might record their daily crimes and schemes onto audio tapes, even though in reality that whole idea became obsolete when Facebook/Twitter added status updates.

But I do love in-game radio. It’s an amazing narrative tool, a great way of filling in the gaps the screen can’t show, a constant companion in the loneliest of situations, and not a bad way of making music diegetic – a term that translates to ‘let’s see who now sneakily Googles diegetic’. Forget Spotify. Never mind video. In RPGs, nothing can kill the radio star, unless of course you walk up to them and shoot ’em in the face. Then, sometimes. Though usually nature still finds a way of keeping them on the air.

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Wasteland Chic: The Clothing Of Fallout 4

Above: The Murderettes

I briefly mention how much I dug Fallout 4‘s colourful, playful clothing options in my review, but given that my hard drive is full of screenshots of that stuff, it seems a waste not to give it its own post. The costumes are, as far as I’m concerned, Fallout 4 [official site] at its absolute best. Take a look below.

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Have You Played… Fallout 3?

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.

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Fallout: Autumn Leaves Is A DLC-Sized New Vegas Mod

Desert-dwellers rejoice, Fallout: Autumn Leaves [official site] heralds a return to the post-apocalyptic Mojave in a mod similar in size to an official DLC expansion.

Inspired by previous Fallout installments, Planetscape: Torment and Arcanum, Fallout: Autumn Leaves dumps The Courier into Hypatia, a never before seen town just east of Novac. From here, he must once again scour the barren Desert Wasteland in a journey which, according to the mod’s page, will last seven to ten hours all told. Check the trailer below.

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Teddy Bear Swapsies & Drunken Tomfoolery In Fallout 4

The other day I grumped a little at the idea of our dutifully posting all seven of the Fallout 4 [official site] S.P.E.C.I.A.L. videos over the coming weeks, but you lot rightfully called me out on my cynicism. These cute animated shorts are doing a handy job of summarising Fallout’s systems and general attitude.

So here’s the fourth one then, this time looking at that most alien of concepts to me, Charisma. I particularly liked its depiction of Ye Archetypal Roleplaying Inn.
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Post-Post-Apocalypse: Fallout 4 DLC & Modding Details

You shouldn’t really eye up the dessert menu before your main course has arrived, but sometimes the need to know that profiteroles are definitely available gets the better of one. And so it is that ears are already pricking about Fallout 4 [official site]’s post-launch stuff things, including word of downloadable content and a vague window for its mod support.

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Fallout 4’s Mod Tools Won’t Be Ready Till Next Year

It’s hardly a Bethesda RPG if you can’t replace some part of it with the chugging terror of Thomas the Tank Engine, but Fallout 4‘s mod tools won’t be ready at the game’s launch on November 10th. Speaking to IGN, Bethesda’s VP of Marketing Pete Hines said that, their “entire focus is on finishing the game.”

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The Bomb: Fallout Anthology Out October 2nd

Bethesda are taking advantage of the encroaching release of Fallout 4 [official site] with plans to release a hefty collection of Fallout games. They’re calling it, quite naturally, Fallout Anthology.

Put a circle around October 2nd in your calendars; the Anthology includes all five games in the Fallout series from the original through New Vegas, and all the relevant DLC in between. There’s also space in its fake mini-nuke box reserved for Fallout 4, which is due out around a month later on November 10th.

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Crafting Mechanics Are Unfit For Purpose

Bethesda have a spectacular talent for making moth-eaten ideas feel like revolutionary concepts: Fallout 4 [official site] will let you play a property baron who constructs not just houses but connected settlements from bits of duct tape and broken globe. I was beside myself with excitement at this news – giddy, even – but not because of any particular flair on display in the five-minute crafting reveal at E3. As my New Vegas mod list and cack-handed fumbling with the Creation Kit will attest, I’m a sucker for anything that lets me inhabit the Wasteland. The idea of reshaping it by my own hand (benevolent, naturally) is intoxicating, even if the mechanics are crap.

And crafting mechanics are almost always crap.

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Come Friendly Bombs: Modding Fallout: New Vegas To Look More Like Fallout 4

This isn’t a guide, because it’s designed to be an open discussion about which other fan-made doohickeys are best bolted onto Fallout: New Vegas while we wait for the more vibrant Fallout 4 [official site] as much as it is my own recommendations. I want you, the veteran connoisseur of a game I skipped over at the time, to tell me and other readers what the must-have FNV mods are. But I’m also going to share a few I’m using, which have dramatically reduced the severity of the post-apocalyptic RPG’s savage ugly-stick beating. They’ve added some of the fidelity and most of all colour that we cooed at in Fallout 4 footage – a game which suggested an altogether more appealing wasteland.

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Picboy: Here’s A Fallout 4 Annotated Gallery For You

There was a trailer for a new videogame today. The internet seemed quite taken with it. We don’t actually know much about Fallout 4 at this stage, but I went through the trailer scene by scene to see what confirmations and implications I could glean from it. 40-odd screengrabs below, with annotation wibble for each. Click on any one of them for a 1080p version and gallery thinger (though bear in mind they’re grabs from a trailer so aren’t exactly After Eight-crisp.)

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The Quests That Got Cancelled

It’s a great time for RPGs at the moment, with just about every name, flavour and celebrity from the old days finding a new lease of life through Kickstarter and a freshly hungry audience. Most series and creators though have had at least one game fall prey to development hell – sometimes with their ideas resurfacing in later titles, sometimes with everything simply lost to time. Their levels of completion vary dramatically, but here are some of the games we never got to play…

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The Lives Of NPCs

How it works

While at a procedural generation shindig for ProcJam, roguelike developer Darren Grey answered a question about games which have characters who interact with one another and not the player. A member of the audience suggested Din’s Curse and Depths of Peril.

“I don’t know how interesting that is – having things interacting with each other – especially if they’re out of your sight. What does it matter? A game should be player-centred in my opinion. I’m not interested in what goes on behind – simulate it. make it up, it doesn’t matter. As long as the player feels like they’re getting an interesting experience.”

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Wasteland 2’s Live Action Intro Sidesteps Perlmanisms

I can remember covering the first wave of big Kickstarter games in all their crowd-sourced hype, and feeling conflicted with every post. It was so exciting that all this could happen, traditional barriers between games and their players so suddenly eroded, but at the same time it all seemed like so many promises, talk of a new golden age that was so still so impossibly far away. A couple of years later though, and here we are – these games are steadily becoming a reality, from the so far excellent (Elite 4) to the inescapably ugly (Godus). Where will post-apocalyptic RPG Wasteland 2, one of the first big names to be crowdfunded, wind up? We find out very, very soon.

In the meantime, we get to see how it’s spent some of its less essential groats, with a live-action intro intended to set the scorched earth scene. It tries very hard to avoid saying “war never changes.”
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