Fallout 3: Final Thoughts

Yes, I know – I should be moving on to new and exciting games and reviewing them for you guys. I have that long queue and both Crysis and Bioshock are standing right behind me and tapping me on the shoulder as I launch Fallout 3 once again.

That’s the problem with these immersive, sandbox games from Bethesda – I tend to lose myself in them completely. I mean I am still not done with Morrowind and Oblivion – there is still lot’s of content I have not messed around with in these games. Fallout 3 is my most recent obsession. And I’m suspecting that it will be the most short lived one. I mean, look at this:

My Bobblehead Collection

My Bobblehead Collection

I already have all the Bobbleheads! That’s sort of the indicative of my state of completion within the game. I’d take a screen shot of my quest screen or my map but they both only show a fraction of available items. So my bobblehead collection is sort of the only visual evidence of my progress.

I did all the marked side quests in the game. Every single one – I checked. I did most of the unmarked side quests and the ones I didn’t complete, I didn’t really care for to begin with. I was surprised that this was all there was to this game. I mean yeah, there are bunch of locations I still haven’t visited but just wandering around collecting random pieces of loot is no longer so much fun – especially now, when 80% of my weapons and apparel are actually named, unique artifacts which do more damage or have additional rules that make them better than their generic counterparts.

When you play Fallout the way I play it (ie. like Oblivion) you will quickly notice that it is virtually devoid of long quest chains. Or rather there are only two of them in the whole game. The first one is of course the Main Quest™, while the other is assisting Moira Brown in writing the Survival Guide. All the other missions are one-off, stand alone adventures. This means that once you do them and collect your reward, you have to do some wandering to stumble upon more of them.

This is very different from Oblivion and Morrowind which were all about quest chains. These games featured guilds and organizations you could join. Each one of these had 15-20 quests you could do for them. These quests would increase your standing with the given faction, and eventually put you in a position of leadership giving you some neat perks such as weekly income, a safe house, re-spawning generic followers you could hire and etc. This was great because it helped to structure the otherwise free-form sandbox game. You could for example decide to join the Thieves Guild or the Fighters Guild and work on their quests exclusively for a while. Or you could join several organizations and then knock their missions out simultaneously. There was always something to do, and you always knew where to go to get more work.

Fallout 3 doesn’t have guilds or factions and no such structure. When you run out of jobs the only thing you can do is to pick an empty looking spot in the map, and head out there and chase the arrows on your radar to find marked locations where there might be quest starting items, quest giving NPC’s, loot or bobbleheads. Barring that, you just have to hit the Fallout Wiki and look up quest locations.

I sort of wish there were actual long quest chains you could perform for each of the major in-game factions. Yes, it’s true that the main settlements such as Megaton, Rivet City, Little Lamplight and Underworld do have a high concentration of quest givers. You can pick up a lot of side-jobs in those places – which is great. But these places are few and far in between.

What I would love to see in this game is the good old, faction based quest chains. Which factions you ask? Take your pick. There are plenty of them:

  1. The Brotherhood
  2. The Outcasts
  3. Reily’s Rangers
  4. Temple of the Union
  5. Oasis druids
  6. Dr. Lesko
  7. The Family
  8. Mr. Tenpenny
  9. Abraham Washington
  10. Dukov
  11. Republic of Dave
  12. Daring Dashwood
  13. Canterbury Commons

Think about it – all these factions and/or individuals tend to be involved in one or two quests. Some give you a repeatable “bring me lots of X and I will give you Y” tasks but these are very boring. I mean, those are classic MMO quests and no one actually does them in a single player RPG unless they are low level and strapped for cash. If you are high level, it is much more profitable to simply “do moar quests”.

Each of the factions on the list could easily have 5-6 unique, optional quests of their own which would give you some extra loot, benefits or perks. Maybe you could get additional houses in the other towns – or at least free a bed. Maybe you could get free heeling, or free ammo. Or perhaps you would get a unique nickname in that city – people would greet you as their hero, savior and etc… In any case, completing a long quest chain and getting reputation with a faction is much more satisfying than doing bunch of random quests in a single location.

My other gripe was with the main quest. As soon as I started doing it, I was done. It is almost astonishingly short. You see, in my journeys across the wasteland I visited Rivet City and talked to Dr. Lee before visiting the GNR building effectively skipping that part of the quest. I also liberated Little Lamplight kids from Paradise Falls, and visited their caverns before even reaching Rivet city. When I finally started doing the main quest, I merely had to do 6 short quests in order to see the ending animation.

These quests were fun. Tranquility Lane was a trip, Vault 87 was cool, and I had a blast breaking out of Raven Rock. It was also cool following Liberty Prime in the final assault of the enclave forces. But but it was so short and so rushed!

I remember that in Morrowind the main quest would be periodically interrupted and your quest giver would tell you to go take some jobs, and gain a few levels until you are ready. They didn’t want you to rush through to the end of the game without actually getting a taste for the wold and doing some side quests. Both Oblivion and Fallout 3 do the exact opposite. Your main quest is of an utmost importance and the NPC’s keep reminding you that you not to waste any time. However if you follow their guidance and not take on any side quest (time is of the essence after all) you will finish the game in 2-3 evenings. The only way to actually get the value out of the game is to ignore the main quest completely until you have done all your side quests. And there is a lot of value in this game. It’s just less than I expected. Oblivion was much, much bigger and had many more quests you could take. I’m not even going to talk about Morrowind which I’ve been playing for years there are still whole quest chains I have never even touched.

To sort of extend my enjoyment of this game, I got Broken Steel, The Pit and Point Lookout DLC’s the other day. I’m not really that interested in the Anchorage battle so I skipped that particular addon. I will probably comment on these expansion packs at some point. But since you are probably sick and tired of my Fallout ramblings I will likely try to squeeze in another game review somewhere in between.

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4 Responses to Fallout 3: Final Thoughts

  1. Zel FRANCE Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    Well, as far as I’m concerned, I’m not tired of the Fallout 3 thoughts. I rather enjoy long series of posts on the same game, because they match the way I actually play them : one at a time, as thoroughly as possible, until there’s nothing else (interesting) to do. I rarely play more than one game at a time and if I somehow stop playing (because it’s boring/frustrating) and move on to another odds are I’ll never come back to finish the former.

    Anyway, you actually collected all the bobbleheads ? Congratulations, I never took the time to do it and finished the game with only 4 or 5 of them. Did you find them by yourself or did you get some helpful advices from the wiki ?

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  2. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @ Zel: I wikid. :)

    It’s an old habit from Morrowind – I tend to wiki useful stuff like that and use it as a reference as I play. This used to be necessary in Morrowind because it was lacking the quest arrow and most objectives didn’t even show up on the map.

    In fact, I used to have two Morrowind maps hanging above my monitor – one with the locations of all the important cities and quest locations and the other one which had all the fast travel routes. :)

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  3. Steve CANADA Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    My son has the game (for the XBOX 360 – I refuse to put the DRM on my PC)…

    Anyways, once I saw the “bobblehead” collection, I opted out. Any game that goes the World of Warcraft route of having gimmicks to entice people to play has me turned off. WoW became one epic virtual barbie doll dress up game. Replacing playability with gimmicky “achievements” is quite possibly the most ridiculous thing I have ever been forced to put up with.

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  4. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    @ Steve: To their defense – the bobbleheads actually do something useful. They either add +1 to a given attribute or +10 to given skill value.

    This means that they do have a considerable in-game value and are not merely achievements. They are basically just rare artifacts that help to boost your stats. If they did nothing in game terms, I wouldn’t bother with them.

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