This article is NOT endorsed by NMA or any other website. It is merely a collection of opinions from both myself and from the general voice of the Fallout community prior to Fallout 3.
I am here to bring a defense to the "fanboys" of the gaming industry, at least to some of them. But with this article I'm going to focus on a particular group because I am a part of this group, that being a Fallout
fanboy. This article's purpose is mainly to bring reason to why there are fanboys, and what our valid and reasonable arguments are towards the Fallout
franchise. Please understand that this is not a post to instigate thoughtless argument, rather to show you that there is validity on our side just as much as there is on the other. I know this article is LONG, but it needed to be in order to really explain the reasons behind the storm.
NMA (No Mutants Allowed)
is an extremely die hard Fallout
community that has become a staple of 'extreme fanboyism' because of their "attacks" towards Fallout 3
and Bethesda. With their position on the new direction of the franchise, everyone seems to mention them in almost every article regarding Fallout 3
, or a future Fallout
title. However, nobody ever seems to write about them in a positive light, they are always regarded as some sort of bastard existence.. Ghouls to Tenpenny, if you will. Well prepare for something a little different, for I am one who fully supports, respects, and understands NMA and their gang of "goons". You see, unlike most people who label these guys for 'hating Fallout 3 because its different'
I actually lurk on their forums on a daily basis, and have done so for quite some time. I read their arguments, and understand their views on Bethesda's direction with the Fallout
franchise, and you know what I've come to find? I find myself agreeing with them on many of their very legitimate and valid arguments.
History time, or Where it all began...
In comes Project Van Buren
, the code name for Black Isle Studio's version of Fallout 3
, with a very similar gameplay style to the originals, but on a 3D Engine. For years, those of us who have been playing Fallout
1 & 2 for years have been waiting for a new age in the series, and here we thought it was on the way. This wasnt a perfect ship of fools however, there was still a good group of fans that did not welcome Van Buren
, in particular because of the 'real time' combat elements that were to be added to the game. But thats another story, let's continue... Around 2003 the future of Fallout 3
was looking grim, with reports of Interplay closing down Black Isle Studio, the question of whether the series would return at all was now being asked. However between the closings in 2003 and up to 2007 rumours grew more and more that Fallout 3
was going to make its return. It became known that Bethesda got the license to develop the game after Interplay closed its doors, but to what extent no one really knew what to expect. In April of 2007, Bethesda successfully acquired all rights to the Fallout
franchise, leaving Interplay with $5 Million+ and rights to develop a Fallout MMO
(Project V13) within a certain time frame. So now we knew, it was really going to happen, Fallout
is going to make its return to the gaming scene.
What came next was a storm of insanity, disappointment, anger, and excitement all rolled into one. 2007, a year of fire and flames, Fallout
3 started to make its way to the public surface. Starting with a teaser trailer at E307, the sound of the Ink Spots, and the voice of Ron Pearlman rang through the LA Convention Center Theater. For a brief moment, everyone who knew what Fallout
was, knew what was right in front of them on that giant screen. The same thought came through all of their minds "Wait.. is this?... can it be? ... IT IS!" and ended to the words of "War, War never changes." everyone knew it was finally coming, Fallout 3
has returned. Throughout 2007 the world of Fallout was relativily silent, with the exception of the worried flock over at NMA, and other locations where the Fallout
loyalists made camp. Although speculation and concern already began to grow, our judgments were reserved for the most part.
War may never change, but Fallout
was about to recieve a face lift so drastic, the only recognition it had with old fans like us would be with its name, Nuka-Cola, and Pipboy. Change is scary, its like that with anything in life, you become accustomed to one specific way of doing things, but the moment that goes 180 you feel as if the floor has been removed from under you. This is what happened with us Fallout
fans, the more interviews that came out, the more videos and screens released, the more we began to raise the question "Is this really Fallout
?" While some completely spit on the new direction the franchise was going in, there was still a good amount willing to accept this new approach and actually began to enjoy seeing it in this light. Were we still upset to see this drastic change in play style? Yes we were, and still are in a way, but its not something that is strong enough to stop us from enjoying a new approach.
Lets put the fear of change into a different perspective for the moment. I'm going to use Counter-Strike
for an example. Now imagine if Counter-Strike 2
was announced, but instead of being a First Person Shooter as it was born to be, it was changed to an isometric turn based strategy game. Could you imagine what kind of storm would arise from the CS Community? Now look at it from our perspective, right before our eyes we were seeing a franchise that we have played for at least 9 years, turned from a complex, and in-depth isometric turn based RPG into a First Person Action RPG Shooter like Oblivion
, but with guns – yes. So really, is our cry of foul and concern THAT unreasonable?
But why have such concerns when a major development team like Bethesda is working on it? This is a valid question, now allow me to answer that for you. Many long time Elder Scrolls
fans will come to agree with the change that happend between Daggerfall, Morrowind and Oblivion
, while this voice was nowhere near as powerful as NMA's, they still had quite a bit to say about the changes in the Elder Scrolls
series. Elder Scrolls
went from a complex, rich, in-depth, and rather challenging RPG series with Daggerfall and Morrowind
, to a guided, simplified, and less complex "watered down" RPG called Oblivion
. This isnt to say that Oblivion
was not fun, not at all. But there were core features from the previous installments that were stripped away, that many loved, and many missed with the release of Oblivion
. Eventually many had to wait for people to mod it and fill in the gaps, gaps that were previously filled with Daggerfall and Morrowind
Now back to Fallout, where we see Bethesda has its hands on one of our favorite games of all time. What is going to happen? Are we going to see another Morrowind to Oblivion
transformation with the Fallout
franchise? Already we have seen them drastically change its play style, what else could they possibly be doing to it? These were the concerns of all of us, the reasons why we all loved Fallout
, were on the verge of being completely non-existent in Fallout 3
. From all the previews that came from magazines and websites, many of us started to lose faith that Fallout 3
would be a true continuation of the series.
Well now wait a minute, what makes a true continuation of Fallout
? Is it simply the visuals, atmosphere, names, sounds, and story that makes a game franchise what it is? Or is it the core mechanics of what that game is, how it plays, and how the player interacts with it? Well really, you need both. Because that is what Fallout
was defined on, on the game that it was, its story, its mechanics, its world that was built, the characters, etc. All of that is what defined Fallout
as an excellent game amongst its fans.
So now we get to the point where Fallout 3
has turned the page. In 2008 gameplay footage started to finally rise out of the Bethesda Studios, and at E308 we finally got our first glimps at what it looked like in action. You want to talk about a crowd of confused, excited, and upset individuals? You only need to look at the fanboys like us, NMA, DuckandCover, etc. I never saw so many mixed reactions from a particular fan base in my entire life, myself being one of those confused individuals. Many of us were excited to see the new footage, some really loved the different approach the game and where it was going. But we also had the man on our shoulder, telling each and every one of us that something was not right, that something was missing. This become more evident when we saw the gameplay presentation on the E3 show floor during video interviews with Bethesda.
Our worst fears about what would happen to Fallout
were coming to fruition. While visually the game was beautiful, and captured the post-apocalyptic world to some degree, the mechanics and core RPG elements of the universe were slowly seeming to disappear within Fallout 3
. Did that mean we would completely ignore this game? Not touch it? Boycott it if you will? Well, some had the desire to do so.. but myself, and many other fanboys.. we held our judgments before we played it. So of course we would buy it, and of course we would play it. So now it was just a matter of waiting, waiting to see how much was really missing from the new installment of a game franchise we loved for so many years.
On October 2008, the time finally came, Fallout
finally returned to our computers, and many of us, whether we were against it or not, still purchased this game because of its name, and we needed more of it. So what happened? How did it turn out in our eyes? Well for the most part, many of us did not like what was missing from this new installment. And it was not so much the fact that this was in a completely different play style, it was more of the fact that the RPG, story, character, and interactive elements that made Fallout
what it was, were either missing or lacking greatly. Well what were those things exactly? Well that is a big ass list, but I will cover some of the core things that really diminished our view of this being a true Fallout
One major RPG elements that we disliked in the new installment was the stats system. The stats system really meant jack compared to what effect they had in the originals. You really had to stack a particular attribute with almost all of your starter points to notice any real major change or experience any major consequence in your characters progression in the game. In the previous Fallout
games setting up your character stats and base perks were a strategy for any new character you made. You had to really think about what type of character you wanted, and think about what you would be limited to doing in the world. You literally were building your character and the direction he would be going in for the rest of the game. Was this a perfect system? No, Was it broken? In some aspects yes, but it definitely had more substance to it than Fallout 3, it had more of an effect on your character than Fallout 3's stat system did thats for sure.
Think of table top / pen & paper RPG's, you build a particular hero and put stats in a focused area of abilities depending on what you want your hero to do. This was to ensure that the player couldnt be anything and everything as one character, it enforced role playing. This was one of the major downsides to Fallout 3
, that this aspect of really building your character really only meant..
"Hey, since you put most of your points in 'x' you will use that very well, you can still use 'y' and 'z' but you wont be as effective with it" Where in the originals it was more like "Hey, you are going to be good with "x", but since you sacrificed putting points in 'y', you wont be able to use it very well, at least not for a long time, and 'z' you wont be able to use at all."
There was a depth and strategy just in character creation alone that actually made you think about what you really want to do, and how you really want to approach the game. This unfortunately was not the case with Fallout 3
, yes you had your core stats like the original, but when you put points in them they really did not do much in terms of limiting you to certain things, with the exception of lets say... lock picking. You were still able to do a good amount with little to no consequence, you were not really limited to what weapons you could use, you could use almost
any weapon you could get your hands on. Yes your accuracy might be a little off and damage might not be as great from a distance, but you sure as hell were not as restricted in what you can use like the previous installments. Look at it this way, when you can take out Megaton with a pistol and an assault rifle at level 4 on 'very hard' difficulty no matter how your stats are set up, something is lacking, or very broken.
Next comes the writing, while I've heard many say the story to Fallout 3
was great! And the writing was fantastic! I've heard a great deal more, from both fanboys and those new to the series, come out and say that the writing and story was just down right crap, or mediocre at best. The one thing that we love about the original Fallout
games was its unbelievably rich and deep lore, the more you play the original games, the more you learn about the games universe itself, and the more you realize just how much writing had gone into the series. Not to mention that your stats had a huge
impact on your dialog options with the characters in the world. You come across all of this in playing the originals, you learn so much from the characters in the game, from the emotion in the voices of some of the key characters, to the text based dialog of the average joe that came across the screen. The language of the original Fallout
titles were dark, bitter, depressing, and funny all at the same time. Many felt with Fallout 3
that this was rarely achieved, that it tried too hard, and had a reflection of Bethesdas previous 'dry humor' tossed in the mix that did not match the level of dark humor the originals had. Now yes, there was a lot of dialogue in Fallout 3, and a lot of things to learn about the universe from the characters, and other interactive elements. However, a lot of it fell short and dried up. At times the mood of a the majority of the characters felt too chipper, or drone like. Many of us fanboys felt there was lack of atmosphere and mood with many of the characters in Fallout 3
, not to say there was none at all, but it was definitely lacking compared to the original titles. Which to us is a major downside considering the dark atmosphere and mood of the language played a huge part in the Fallout
Finally, one of the last major issues that many of us had was the punishment and reward system of Fallout 3
. It's so called "Karma" was about as dry and useless as the stats system itself. In Fallout 3
you could go through and be one of the biggest evil dick heads to ever walk the earth, so much so that you could make any tyrant look like the Pope, but guess what? No worries, you can still go into any town you want to buy, trade, and get quests.. the only down side is they might call you an asshole or talk to you in an upset tone. Oh you might have 3 guys randomly find you in the wasteland that want to shoot you, but thats about as punished as you would get. This is probably the one thing that really pissed off a lot of us with Fallout 3
. You seemed to be rewarded more than you are punished no matter which way you swung. But when you did get punished it was in the most retarded way; killing someone in their house, alone with noone around apparently destroys your reputation, gotta watch out for them security cameras and ghosts I suppose. Then you have the two perks that make the system completely useless by automatically setting yourself as an angel of god, or the devil himself.
The one thing that was a corner stone to Fallout's
universe was the moral ground that a player would choose to stand on. Was he going to be an asshole like the raiders, and slavers? Or was he going to be the "chosen one" to everyone trying to survive in the wasteland? Yes you had this in Fallout 3
, but it really didnt mean a thing depending on what grounds you stood on. In the previous installments, if you were an evil asshole, you were an evil asshole, and a marked one at that. You couldn't dream of walking into a normal 'civilized' town without being shot at and run down at the entrance. Quest lines and the path of the story would change, the experience would shift to one of a murderer trying to survive. You were actually punished depending on what side you stood on, with a defined line in the sand of good and evil, and the consequences that followed with each side. This was, for the most part, not the case with Fallout 3
, and ultimately one of the major disappointments to all of us.
What we were really disappointed with was not so much the change of Fallout
, but the things taken out of it. The things that were simplified and watered down that turned fallout into a 'hand holding' experience, where everything was handed to you on a silver platter. What Fallout
was to us, in almost every way in terms of its core mechanics, is not what Fallout
is today, and its quite unfortunate, because we still hunger for a true to form Fallout
Now this doesn't mean other fanboys or myself did not enjoy the game, not at all. I've had a lot fun with it, and I've played through it several times over to cover all the bases I could possibly cover with this game. But it definitely is not as enjoyable or as memorable as the originals, mainly because of the missing elements that made the originals stand out. Though with the help of mods, skins, models being made by the community, Fallout 3
has become a little more like the originals. But really, is that what it needs to resort to in order for the fans of a franchise to be satisfied? Fortunately there seems to be some light on the horizon, Obsidian seems to be going back to the roots of Fallout
and appear to be delivering the missing elements of Fallout 3
with Fallout Fallout: New Vegas
. We are still skeptical yes, but we have more hope for this upcoming title than we did with Fallout 3
Was this all a change for the better? From a business standpoint, absolutely. It hits a larger market than Fallout 1,2, and Tactics could have ever hit in these times. Yes it sucks that the market for turn based RPG's is about 1/5 that of the FPS / Action RPG market, but thats what keeps the lights on. My personal wish is that some day, Bethesda will have the heart to release the Van Buren
engine so the "old" community can explode with joy in creating Fallout
offshoots or recreating the Fallout 1 & 2
universe in the 3D realm. I personally would still love to see a "next-gen" Fallout
title in its original gameplay format.. but the chances of that are slim to none.
Really what this article boils down to is that us fanboys have a right to our opinion, and not all of us are batshit insane people with no valid arguments as to why we question and draw concern for the next title in a particular series we have grown fond of. We have a right to an opinion on the future of Fallout
, just as much as those who have come on board with Fallout 3
will say about Fallout: New Vegas
and its different direction. When the reasons of why we fell in love with a particular series are erased from the books and thought to have been lost forever, we have a right to complain about it, because those reasons are what made us love the game to begin with. Its what keeps a franchise alive, fans on both sides of the fence are what bring a particular game to a next installment. Half-Life
did not get a sequel by having no community voice, neither did Quake
, neither did Halo
. Fans drive the future of games just as much as the money does, because afterall our particular fanboy feelings for a title is what brings that money to the tabel in the first place. So on this final note everyone just needs to accept the fanboys, let us speak our opinions on a game, and we will let you speak yours. We love these games just as much as you do, if not a little more ;).