The internet and I lost our collective minds when Fallout 4 was announced a few months back. Like many out there, I had been craving more Fallout action after beating both of the previous games several times over. When Fallout 3 released I bought it on advice from a friend since we had an affinity for the post apocalyptic setting. I wasn’t expecting to fall in love but I’m so glad I did.
Fallout 3 is what you’d expect from a Bethesda produced RPG. It’s well paced with it’s leveling system, the different Perks you can acquire all add a flare to your playthrough and the different Skills you can upgrade are tailored to different play styles. In the words of Producer Todd Howard, “it all just works”. It’s all fun from the combat side as well. While the somewhat archaic First Person/3rd Person aiming is a bit wonky, the V.A.T.S system works wonders, giving any combat scenario a strategic side. While the gameplay is engaging in of itself, the world that Fallout 3 creates is one of the most immersive and special things about not only the third installment but the entire franchise as a whole.
Set in a alternative reality, the world prior to the bombs falling all around the world is a mash of old and new. The American 1950’s where science and technology have advanced far faster than the culture has makes for an extremely unique and wonderful world. The aesthetic, the clothing and even the manner of which people speak is all reminiscent of the roaring 50’s, a time period of which I wasn’t too familiar with. It was a world I never really thought about until Fallout introduced me to it which I’m grateful for.
Adding to all of that is the choice of music. One of the best things about Fallout 3 is GNR, that’s Galaxy News Radio in case you forgot. GNR added an extra layer of depth to the already deep atmosphere of Fallout 3 and cemented my immersion. Not only was the music spot on with the look and feel of the 50’s but also introduced me to some extremely great artists and genres. In my entire time playing video games, I’ve never had a game effect my taste in anything outside of the game except Fallout 3 which is just another reason why It’s so great.
GNR also introduces the player to Three Dog, a charismatic and sarcastic DJ kicking it alone on the airwaves of the Capitol Wasteland. Every so often, Three Dog will pop up on your radio and give you context to different things happening out there in the wastes even commenting on certain things the player does throughout the main story. I have never come across anything as immersive as roaming the Capitol Wasteland, listening to Roy Brown or Billie Holiday, exploring ruined houses or dank subway systems, listening to the only friend I had in the entire destroyed world talk about an attack on a town half way across the map.
Speaking of the map, Washington D.C. in it’s ruined state is massive. It’s so massive, I’m still finding areas I hadn’t discovered before. It’s such a well designed map with extreme high points and easily identifiable landmarks just begging to be explored. Climbing to the top of a hill and seeing the Washington Monument or a towering Hotel in the distance triggers an almost natural response to rush towards it. Sometimes I would find myself opening up the map on my Pip-Boy, randomly picking a spot on the map and walking towards it, exploring every nook and cranny on the way there. Bethesda has always been good at populating their maps with not only places to go but things to see as well.
One of the long forgotten aspects of Fallout 3 is how great the DLC was. I’m not normally one to write glowing reviews for added content after launch, primarily because it’s not worth it in most cases. Fallout 3 basically set the standard for what DLC can and should strive for, for me at least. Adding entirely new areas to explore featuring new weapons, quests, armor and items adds to the overall scale of the world while giving the player tons of more content that’s both familiar and new. Things like The Pitt, where you explore a depressing slaving town and fight for your freedom or Point Lookout, a swampy Maryland location with old mansions, cults and zombie hill-billies. The creativity and sheer scope of Fallout 3’s DLC is often overlooked but was well worth the price.
There are so many things that make Fallout 3 a classic. The amount of time I’ve spent in the Capitol Wasteland probably rivals the time that I’ve spent outside. It’s such a special game to not only me but thousands of others. With the wait for Fallout 4 being agonizing, I’ve found myself jumping back into D.C. circa 2277 and getting lost all over again. Fallout 3 is one of those games that draws you in with the RPG gameplay but keeps you playing for the attention to detail and overall masterful craftsmanship of the world. It’s a testament to what Bethesda is capable of and how video games can be more than just entertainment but an experience. Soon, I and most of the gaming world will be experiencing it all over again in Post-Apocalyptic Boston, a song on the radio and shotgun in hand.
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