Fallout 3 is the third game in the Fallout series. Developed and published by Bethesda Softworks, it was released on October 28, 2008 on the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3; the game takes place approximately thirty years after the events in Fallout 2. Although set in the same universe, Fallout 3 takes place in the Capital Wasteland in and around the Washington D.C. area, rather than California. It introduced many new mechanics and has very few direct connections to the previous games. Fallout 3 blends design philosophies from both the Fallout and Elder Scrolls franchises, resulting in fan debate about Fallout 3's legitimacy as a "true sequel" in the respective series.
Like Oblivion, enemies and items spawn relative to the player's current level. This keeps the difficulty of the game consistent, along with opening the majority of the game up to the player from the beginning. However, this is not in direct keeping with earlier traditions, as the previous Fallout games featured zones that posed a huge risk to a low-level character if visited too early by the player . Once an area is discovered, the environment is locked down to the level at which the player found it, preventing unrealistic jumps in enemy levels over the course of the game.
Much like Oblivion, Bethesda supported the game post-release with a number of downloadable content packs. While less varied than those in Oblivion, the five pieces were relatively substantial, with most of the pieces taking place outside of the Wasteland. The downloadable content was initially exclusive to the Xbox 360 and PC versions of the game, but was later released on the PlayStation 3.
Fallout 3 begins with the birth of the player character, where character gender, name, and appearance can all be customized. Followed shortly after by the death of the character's mother, who dies in childbirth due to cardiac arrest, the story then jumps ahead to when your character begins walking. This is the first introduction to the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system, allowing for further character customization. Shortly after, the player enters their 10th birthday party, where they receive their Pip-Boy. Following a few altercations, the player enters 16 years of age, and takes their G.O.A.T. exam, determining their skills. Another advance occurs, and the player is awoken by Amata, who informs the character that their father, James, has left the vault without warning and under mysterious circumstances. This desertion attracts the ire of The Overseer, who attempts to apprehend you for questioning through his security force. The player fights their way to the father's lab, where they find the body of Jonas. In that lab, the player receives a message from their father, explaining that he had to leave and they should not follow. After persevering further through the vault, the player encounters Amata being questioned (or tortured) by her father. After securing her escape, the player learns of a secret exit through the Overseer's office, and fights their way to the exit. After leaving the vault, they venture out into an utterly destroyed Washington DC, though the wasteland is far from lifeless.
The first town the Lone Wanderer runs across is the town of Megaton, a gated community built in a crater around an unexploded atomic bomb. It is here that the player is given the choice to either disarm the undetonated bomb for their father's whereabouts from Lucas Simms, or pay off Colin Moriarty. Eventually, they learn that James ventured into the ruins of Washington DC, searching for a radio station, called Galaxy News Radio, located within. Following a perilous journey into the city, the player has their first encounter with a large contingent of the Brotherhood of Steel along with one of the leaders of the Brotherhood of Steel, Sarah Lyons. A large push occurs to reach the radio station, fighting through waves of Super Mutants, eventually resulting in an encounter with a Behemoth. Following their entry to the radio station, the player is introduced to the man that runs Galaxy News Radio, Three Dog. To obtain the location of their father, the player reluctantly travels to the Museum of Technology within the DC ruins, in search of a new relay dish capable of broadcasting Galaxy News Radio across the Capital Wasteland. After mounting this new dish on the Washington Monument, the player returns to Three Dog where they are then informed that James had come asking about Rivet City, a settlement built in an old aircraft carrier. The Lone Wanderer sets off again, follows in James' footsteps.
After a thorough security check to gain entry to Rivet City, the Wanderer is referred to an old acquaintance of James, one Dr. Li, who reveals exactly what their father's goals were. The player learns that their father left the Vault in order to complete a project from before the Lone Wanderer was born, a water purifier that would supply clean water for all living things, called Project Purity. She tells the Lone Wanderer of the former lab that housed Project Purity and that their father might have gone there. The Lone Wanderer visits the Jefferson Memorial and finds out through a series of audio notes that their father went to Vault 112 in search of a G.E.C.K., which was the last component needed to cause Project Purity to complete it's function. The Wanderer themselves then travels to Vault 112, where they are greeted by a Robobrain ushering them into a stasis chamber, only to discover that the residents, along with James, are all trapped within these chambers. All of the residents existed within a simulation, with Stanislaus Braun, disguised as a young girl, pulling the strings. The player is forced to either end the simulation, killing everyone inside, or comply with Braun's twisted desires and go on a murder spree. Following this, when the player is allowed to leave the simulation, they learn that James was trapped inside the simulation as well, disguised as a dog, watching all of your actions. Regardless of choice, the Wandered and James escape Vault 112 and make their way back to Rivet City. James convinces Dr. Li to accompany the Wanderer and him, along with her team back to the Jefferson Memorial to restart Project Purity. Once inside, the entire team beings work to restore Project Purity to it's former glory, and the Wanderer and James enjoy their short reunion. Unfortunately, shortly after the team begins their repair, the Enclave comes to the Jefferson Memorial and tries to take over the project for their own purposes. During the confrontation, James and Colonel Autumn are locked inside the main chamber in a standoff for control. Eventually, James sacrifices himself and kills several Enclave soldiers (along with appearing to kill Col. Autumn) by flooding the testing chamber with lethal amounts of radiation.
After the sacrifice, the Lone Wanderer escapes the lab with Dr. Li and some of hear team through some underground tunnels and eventually ends up in the Citadel, the East Coast headquarters of the Brotherhood of Steel. After recovering and a short respite, Dr. Li pleads Elder Lyons to aid the Wanderer to finish Project Purity by finding a G.E.C.K. and take Project Purity back from the Enclave. Following a discussion with Scribe Rothchild, the player learns that they must travel through the Little Lamplight Caverns to reach Vault 87, which is believed to contain a G.E.C.K. The Lone Wanderer eventually reaches Little Lamplight, but is stopped by Mayor MacCready , who will only allow entry to the player, (barring excellent speech skill or the Child at Heart Perk) if they can rescue some children who were captured by slavers. Following the breakout from Paradise Falls, the Wanderer gains entry to Little Lamplight and eventually enters Vault 87. It is here that they learn that Vault 87 was used to create and test the F.E.V. (Forced Evolutionary Virus) and is the breeding source of the Super Mutants in Washington DC. Following the discovery and aid in extradition of Fawkes, the Lone Wanderer acquires the G.E.C.K. After parting ways with Fawkes while leaving the vault, the Lone Wanderer is ambushed by the Enclave, who knock him out and bring them to their headquarters in Raven Rock, commandeering the G.E.C.K. for themselves.
Awakening in their cell in Raven Rock, the Lone Wanderer is briefly interrogated by the revived Colonel Autumn, before being interrupted by President John Henry Eden, who allows the Lone Wanderer access to his control room. As the Lone Wanderer makes their way to the control room, Colonel Autumn goes against President Eden's orders and commands the Enclave soldiers to intercept the player. The Wanderer fights their way to the control room, and discovers that the President is actually a supercomputer who was given control of the United States. In the event of an end of the world scenario, President Eden was enacted to continue running the government sectors.The President and the Wanderer have a lengthy conversation, with Eden eventually imploring the player to feed a modified F.E.V. into Project Purity. This strain would kill anything with mutations that drinks from the purified water, allowing the Enclave to begin a new, mutation free society. Unfortunately, this would also kill most of the allies the Wanderer has encountered, weighing the decision heavily. If the Wanderer had the skill, (or the override code stolen from Col. Autumn) they can in fact destroy Raven Rock, crippling the Enclave forces immensely.
After the Lone Wanderer escapes Raven Rock, they are reunited with Fawkes, who aid in their return to the Citadel. The Brotherhood of Steel is preparing an all out assault on the Jefferson Memorial, planning to strike while the Enclave is off balance. Fortuitously, along to help the assault is Liberty Prime, who had regained function through the use of Dr. Li's research. Sarah Lyons invites the player to join Lyons' Pride, and the assault begins. With the aid of Liberty Prime in removing barriers, and the assault force of the Brotherhood, eventually the alliance is able to decimate the Enclave defenders which allows the Lone Wanderer to enter the control room. It is there the Wanderer and Lyons' Pride confront Colonel Autumn, who could be forced to stand down either through violence or persuasion. Following the confrontation, the player is then informed by Dr. Li through the intercom that Project Purity has been damaged in the attack will overload if someone doesn't activate it. Unfortunately, the chamber must be sealed with the start-up sequence begins, and the one who activates it will be bathed in lethal doses of radiation. Before entering the chamber, the player is faced with the choice of injecting the modified F.E.V. into Project Purity effectively killing everyone, or allowing mutants and wastelanders to continue to exist. The Lone Wanderer will then have the choice to activate Project Purity, tell Sarah Lyons she must activate it, or do nothing and allow it to be destroyed. The regular game ends on that decision and continues with a epilogue that varies based on the Lone Wanderer's karma throughout the game, along with the decisions they made throughout the main and side missions. The game would continue if the Broken Steel DLC pack was downloaded.
Fallout 3 was originally being developed by Black Isle Studios and was called Van Buren (working title). However, Black Isle Studios was suddenly closed down when their owner, Interplay Entertainment, went bankrupt. Bethesda first announced it had acquired the rights to the Fallout series from Interplay in 2004, although no information about Fallout 3 was released until 2007, when a teaser video and concept art were released. Bethesda purchased the license from struggling Interplay for just over $1 million and considered an upfront payment on future royalties. Bethesda only got the rights to make single-player Fallout games, while Interplay retained the rights to develop a Fallout MMO. Reactions to the acquisition in the gaming community were generally positive. Bethesda, having achieved critical and financial success with Morrowind, and nearing the final stretch of development for the much hyped Oblivion, had become a well-respected developer in the RPG genre, establishing a considerable pedigree. Controversy within the Fallout community abounded, however, when it became apparent that Fallout 3 was going to move away from its traditional top-down, isometric view from the original games. Fan reaction seemed lukewarm; some were disappointed that the long-awaited sequel would deviate completely from its predecessors, whilst others had faith that Bethesda would handle the license respectfully and appropriately.
Deviating drastically from Fallout and Fallout 2 (and following closely in the style of the aforementioned Elder Scrolls series), Fallout 3 primarily uses a first-person perspective. Although a third-person, over-the-shoulder view is also available, Bethesda themselves claimed the game was designed to be played from the first-person perspective; a statement reinforced by the poor critical reception of the third-person viewpoint. When Fallout 3 was demoed at PAX (Penny Arcade eXpo) and other gaming conventions in 2008, onlookers described it as, "Oblivion with guns" with similar gameplay and structure. The game retains much of the dark humor and extreme violence from the first two games, evidenced by weapons such as the incinerating Laser Rifle and highly damaging Fat-Man mini-nuke launcher, as well as returning classics like the Sawed-Off Shotgun. The jokes and violence are the two main elements that fans wished to see preserved, and even though Fallout 3 is rife with both, fans debate the faithfulness with which Bethesda pays homage to the original Fallout games. Fallout 3 retains some elements of past titles in the franchise including a skill and feat system, but the level cap has been lowered. Fallout 2's level cap peaked at Level 99 whereas Fallout 3 caps at a mere Level 20. Moreover, The Vault-Tec Vault Boy mascot also makes an appearance as a visual shorthand to describe the game's various perks and stats, often presented in a humorous manner akin to Bioshock.
In addition to the real-time first person action, Fallout 3 introduced a feature called V.A.T.S. (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System) which pauses the game and allows the character to queue attacks on specific enemy body parts while calculating the odds of each shot hitting the target. The percentage chance of a hit and the damage done by each queued attack depend on several factors including player level, distance from target, perks obtained and skills, and weapon used. Each shot queued in V.A.T.S. requires a certain number of action points (AP) depending on weapon power; expending slightly less than a quarter with a single shot with some pistols, while expending them all with weapons such as the Fat-Man. After use, the AP must then regenerate in real-time. However, continued combat in real-time while they are regenerating will cause them to fill up slower. Players can also take Jet, a Chem that briefly increases the amount of AP available to their character.
V.A.T.S. was placed within the game in an effort to appease fans of the originals who wanted a more strategic experience that was dictated by RPG factors, however, it is almost impossible to play the whole game using just this mechanic. V.A.T.S. also leads to sloppy tactic choices, with players deciding simply to rush the enemy, coming within touching distance in order to score some guaranteed and highly damaging hits. Some fans argue this feature 'breaks' the game, as it is possible get one or two hit kills with every single encounter. V.A.T.S. can create some extremely gory moments : eyeballs and internal organs can be removed from mutilated bodies with well-placed shots. Because of the physics engine, some enemies can even launch into the air and do flips regardless of what weapon you are using. Also note that while in V.A.T.S., the player takes severely less damage until exiting V.A.T.S.
When taking damage, the player's general health or limb health may be affected. General health meaning, of course, the life bar that shrinks as they take damage. However, Fallout 3 also has a specific limb system in place that can affect several things. Each limb has its own health bar, and when a player takes damage to that limb, it may become crippled. A crippled limb will affect certain things depending on which limb it is. For example, if the player has a crippled leg, they will walk much slower. If one of their arms is crippled, their accuracy will suffer. If the head gets crippled, the perception (ability to see enemies on the compass/radar) will decrease. The crippled system means that shooting for the head in V.A.T.S. may not always be the best idea. An example of this would be for Deathclaws. Deathclaws are extremely fast and strong opponents, so shooting and crippling their legs will prevent them from getting up to you. Stimpaks can be applied to individual limbs (rather than used to heal general health) to fix them.
Radiation is also common in Fallout 3. Food and untreated water will give the player small amounts of radiation when they are consumed. There are also areas throughout the game that may be contaminated, such as nasty radiation pools, that will affect the player. The effects of radiation exposure are cumulative, and after being exposed beyond certain thresholds of tolerance, the player will get different levels of radiation sickness. The sicknesses will affect the players stats, or can kill the player if it's untreated and builds to extreme levels, although certain perks mitigate the penalties or even provide benefits through mutation such as repairing broken limbs when suffering from advanced radiation poisoning. Radiation levels can be reduced or brought back to zero by using certain medicines or getting treated by a doctor or home medical station.
Another very important aspect of the game is item degradation. As you use armor and weapons, they will become damaged over time. The condition is represented by a bar. As an item becomes more and more damaged, it becomes less effective. Weapons lose damage and jam, and armor loses damage resistance. Items can be repaired by using parts of another item that is the same (for example, an assault rifle can be repaired by using parts of another assault rifle) or by paying certain people to do it. The repair skill dictates how much the player can repair their equipment (up to a certain percentage of full condition).
Throughout their travels, players will encounter Chems (also known as drugs in the real world) that can be used to affect their performance. There are several different kinds, and if used too much, the player may become addicted. This leads to negative withdrawal symptoms if they don't take some of the drugs they are addicted to at regular intervals. The player can also become addicted to alcohol, and addictions can be cured by a doctor.
Fallout 3 features an extensive dialogue system in which players can interact with almost every NPC in the game. Players are presented with multiple lines of speech to choose from, and the person they are talking to will react accordingly to the one they choose. Most dialogue options will have a "good" line and a "bad" line. Through interactions, players can pick up quests and gain information. They also have the potential to talk themselves out of certain situations. Occasionally, players are presented with a Speech challenge. A dialogue option can appear with the word "Speech" and a percentage next to it. The percentage represents the player's chances of succeeding, and it can increase if the player chooses to increase the Speech stat. If they succeed, the player can often gain information about whatever they are talking about. If they fail, they will get nothing from it. Passing a speech challenge also awards the player with experience points.
Lockpicking is the easiest minigame, and is also the most frequent. The player can try to pick locks to many objects found throughout the Wasteland, including doors, ammunition boxes, and more. The player's ability to pick locks depends on the Lockpicking skill. The higher it is, the more difficult locks that someone can attempt to bypass. In order to lockpick, one must have bobby pins in their inventory.
Lockpicking is simple. When it is attempted, the game will pause and an image of the lock will appear along with a bobby pin and a screwdriver. Using the left stick, the player can move the bobby pin around the keyhole. With the right stick, the player applies torque to the bobby pin to try and open it. If in the right spot, the lock will completely turn. If in the wrong spot, the lock will stop and the controller will vibrate. If one continues moving the bobby pin down in the same direction and the lock stops sooner, one is going the wrong way.
For Very Easy locks, all you need to do is spin the lock without moving the bobby pin. For Easy locks, very little positioning is needed. Average locks require more precision, but you can sometimes get lucky and open the lock without having to move the bobby pin at all. Hard locks require lots of precision, and Very Hard locks require you to be spot on in order to have success.
Hacking is less frequent than lockpicking and is a bit more difficult. Computers that must be hacked can contain random information about the Fallout universe or important quest related info.
Terminals are much rarer than locked doors, but hacking is generally much easier to do and less risky. The hacking minigame is a bit confusing, so here's an explanation: When the player chooses an incorrect password, they'll see a fraction on the screen like 2/9 correct. This does not just mean that two of the letters correct. What that means is that two of the letters in the correct position. For example: The real password is FALLOUT. The player chooses the ROLLOUT option. They would have 5/7 correct, because the LLOUT is in the same position in both words. For example, if they typed in EFFECTS, they would have 0/7 correct, because even though FALLOUT and EFFECTS share some of the same letters, they're not in the right positions. Also, there are some groups of characters that start with [ and end in ], and some that start in ( and end in ). If the player skims through the terminal and clicks on these groups of characters, the terminal will either remove one incorrect password from the screen or it will replenish the amount of attempts. By doing this, the player can sometimes narrow down the amount of choices to just one word, allowing them to unlock the computer within a minute.
The Karma system implemented in Fallout 3 rates the player's actions throughout the game and portrays them as either a Good, Neutral, or Evil character depending on their choices. For instance, stealing, killing innocents and generally being horrible will earn you bad Karma resulting in an Evil character.
Whereas good deeds, such as helping hobos and treating people well will result in positive Karma and a Good character. A balance of these actions means the character will stay neutral. Many quests have different outcomes, and the player can usually choose which of these to pursue. The easiest way to do something often ends up with a lot of dead people and bad Karma, but the more skill based, reasonable or long winded methods usually have a reward of positive Karma. Being a Good character leads to helpful items and such from Neutral or Good NPCs, and vice versa for evil characters. The flip side to this is that evil or good characters will also run into heavily-armed hit groups with a contract for their head. Also, the karma status of the player can determine what kind of followers they can acquire. For example, Evil characters get Jericho and Clover, Good characters get Fawkes and Star Paladin Cross, and Neutral characters get Butch and Sergeant RL-3. The player's Karma is points based and starts at zero. As the player performs Good and Evil actions they are evaluated and given the appropriate status:
Based on the number of points you have, the Karma system classifies you as:
Furthermore, you will be given a title based on your karma and current level, with Neutral, Evil and Good Karma titles unique for each level. There are 30 different Karma levels in Fallout 3. Four sets give you trophies or achievements. Protector (Good), Mercenary (Neutral) and Reaver (Evil) give you 10g or a bronze trophy . Next set is, Ambassador of Peace (Good), Pinnacle of Survival (Neutral), Harbinger of War (Evil), gives you a 20G or a bronze trophy. Last, Best Hope of Humanity (Good), Paradigm of Humanity (Neutral) and Scourge of Humanity (Evil) gives you 30G or a silver trophy. The final ones, Messiah (Good), True Mortal (Neural), and Devil (Evil) are all the highest you can go and also give you 20G or a bronze trophy, but are only available with the Broken Steel DLC.
The SPECIAL system used in Fallout 3 is similar to that used in the previous games in the series. It is a set of seven attributes that govern each of the game's skills, as well as certain character stats. They are first encountered during early childhood, when the player is handed a big picture book called "You're SPECIAL" which is subsequently used to assign points to the SPECIAL attributes. Each one starts at a level of 5, and at this moment the player is asked to split up a further 5 total points between the skills. There is little use in leveling one attribute up to 10. because then it cannot be improved later in the game. SPECIAL can't exceed 10 or drop lower than 1, so if they reach these caps even if an item is equipped or a chem or foodstuff consumed that could add a point to one of them, there will be no change.
SPECIAL stands for:
The player is asked to "tag" three skills at the beginning of the game adding a bonus of fifteen points to each. Fallout and Fallout 2 had 18 skills in total, but there were some alterations made in order to better streamline the game and get rid of superfluous or similar skills. The Gambling and Outdoorsman skills were removed entirely. Skill levels can be increased by 10 by finding hidden Vault Boy bobbleheads scattered around the Wasteland, and can also be affected by perks, reading books, equipment, or taking chems. Each skill can be raised to a maximum level of 100.
The skills you can choose between:
|Affects prices when trading with merchants.|
|Affects damage done with Big Guns (Fat Man, Flamer, Minigun, etc.)|
|Affects damage done with Energy Weapons (Laser Pistol, Laser Rifle, Plasma Rifle, etc.)|
|Affects explosives damage (Frag grenades, plasma grenades, landmines, etc.) as well as the ability of handling explosive traps|
|Affects which level of locks you can pick (Easy, average, hard), Chance for a successful "force lock" attempt|
|Affects hit points restored by Stimpaks, Effectiveness of Rad-X and RadAway|
|Affects damage done with Melee Weapons (Knife, Baseball bat, Sledgehammer, etc.)|
|Affects ability to repair items|
|Affects which level of terminals you can hack, various dialogue options|
|Affects damage done with Small Guns (10mm Pistol, Hunting Rifle, Assault Rifle, etc.)|
|Affects how difficult it is for enemies to detect you|
|Affects the ability to win speech checks.|
|Affects damage done while unarmed|
Fallout 3's perks are gained every level rather than every three like the old games (hence the original Fallout's level cap of 21 the nearest multiple of three to 20). Since the Traits system has been removed which gave both positive and negative effects to the player, some of them were incorporated in to the available perks.
There are about 58 perks total in the original release of Fallout 3. Most of the perks range from simple skill increases like Gun Nut (which increases small guns and repair by 5), but there are other unique perks that range from things like Lead Belly (50% less radiation from radiated water sources), to Lawbringer (Enemies' ears are lootable and can be turned in for karma). Also, each perk has it's own set of requirements of either skill, SPECIAL stats, or both.
There are also exclusive, and missable, quest perks that can only be obtained by, you guessed it, completing quests. An example would be the Power Armor Training perk that has be to obtained to allow the use of Power Armor.
Complete List of Perks:
|Damage increase towards NPC's of the opposite sex, also adds some additional dialog options. (Female Version: Black Widow)|
|Plus 5 to Science and Medicine Skills. (Female Version: Daddy's Girl)|
|Plus 5 to Small Guns and Repair Skills.|
|Plus 5 to Melee and Explosions skills.|
|Plus 5 to Lockpick and Sneak skills.|
|Increase all XP gained by 10%.|
|Allows players to increase 1 S.P.E.C.I.A.L stat by 1.|
|Adds Additional Dialogue options with children.|
|Reading skill books now awards 2 points in that skill.|
|Every level up gives an additional 3 skill points.|
|Increased damage to insects.|
|Plus 5 to Speech and Barter skills.|
|Increases Unarmed damage.|
|All kills have gore effects of critical kills and gives a 5% overall damage increase|
|Reduces radiation of drinking water.|
|Increases damage resistance by 10%|
|Increases the amount of bottle caps found in containers, bodies, etc.|
|Increases 1-handed weapon accuracy.|
|Increases explosive damage.|
|Increases 2-handed weapon accuracy.|
|Increases radiation resistance by 25%.|
|Increases the amount of ammo found in containers, bodies, etc.|
|Plus 15 to Big Guns skill.|
|Plus 50 to carrying capacity|
|Plus 30 to Speech Skill, only effective when player has neutral karma|
|Animals no longer attack player and will attack non-animal enemies.|
|Increases critical chance.|
|Randomly in VATS, a man with a hat will kill the targeted enemy for the player|
|Increases damage resistance and raises Strength to max when the players health is low.|
|Plus 2 Intelligence and Perception at night.|
|Immediately grants another level|
|Increases damage for all fire-based weapons|
|Allows player to eat corpses for health in exchange for a small loss of karma.|
|Gives an additional 30 hit points.|
|Additional damage to robots, and the player can instantly shut them down by sneaking up behind them.|
|Increases accuracy of headshots in VATS.|
|Plus 10 to Sneak Skill, and armor no longer affects sneak skill.|
|Stimpaks restore more health.|
|Players can loot fingers from bad NPCs and turn them in for good karma and caps.|
|Evil version of Lawbringer, players can sell ears for bad karma and caps.|
|Plus 10 to Energy Weapons skill and increases resistances.|
|Player no longer sets off traps and mines.|
|Reduces costs of all items.|
|Reduces limb damage.|
|Allows player to tag a 4th skill, increasing it by 15.<|