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Fallout 3 is Oblivion 2

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Fallout 3 is Oblivion 2

Game News - posted by DarkUnderlord on Mon 14 July 2008, 03:51:51

Tags: Fallout 3

... according to the latest issue of Xbox World 360 which is on stands now. Here are the excerpts which I blatantly stole from NMA¹:

Who among us knows Oblivion as The Elder Scrolls IV or Morrowind as The Elder Scrolls III? Why Fallout 3 came to be so boldy named is a question Bethesda answer in very different ways depending on who you ask. Marketing man Pete Hines explains how Bethesda "Don't want to make a side story or be seen as something different; we're making a true sequel to Fallout 2, set in the same timeline and the same universe." Fallout 3's director Todd Howard's approach is more pragmatic: "People ask us 'Why Fallout?' and we say 'It's cool! It'll always be cool! Who cares if it's ten years old! It's great!'"​
You know, that attitude sounds awfully familiar. Where have I heard that before? Oh right, Team Chuck and FO:POS.

Fallout 3's nuts and bolts were something of a mystery, but it's a mystery you'll solve the instant you lay thumbs on the sticks. Fallout 3 is a true Fallout game, with all the wit, character and themes of the old games: more than that, Fallout 3 is Oblivion 2. Even with the post-apocalyptic trappings it feels like Oblivion - same engine, controls, freedom, and sense of place.​
I hear the Brotherhood of Steel is recruiting.

A century after the first Vaults opened, America is a land of mutated animals and irradiated freaks; where the dungeons you know from Oblivion appear as sewers, office blocks, malls and schools; where handfuls of survivors have built new civilisations from the ruins and where Malcolm MacDowell is John Henry Eden - the self-appointed President of the USA and leader of the Enclave, a group of genocidal elitists returning from Fallout 2.

"You can definitely play it just as an FPS if that's your thing, though it's certainly going to be a lot harder," says Todd, describing how the VATS systems fits in. "We've had a focus test to see how well our tutorials were working, and in the initial run-through we forgot to tutorial VATS. People were playing without even knowing it existed and they just played it as a first-person shooter. That's reassuring."​
Yes, I think we're all reassured that Fallout 3 can be played purely as an FPS. When hearing about one of the classic RPG titles getting a sequel, I know the first thing that went through my mind was "Yes, but can I play it as an FPS?".

"The initial design for VATS was the following pitch I made to people: "I don't know how it starts, but the end of it looks like Burnout's Crash Mode, but with body parts," Todd explains, with a gigantic grin. "We wanted them to be able to go into a room and go boom, boom, boom, boom and see views of their character blowing guys away from crazy angles."

Even before building the world and characters, the very first build of the game was named the Guns Build, built to make sure guns felt heavy and powerful. Then followed the Destruction Build to work out what happens when bullets hit things and people. Finally came a dedicated Combat Build, where the dummies from the destruction build fought back.

Even once the guns were suitably beefed up and noisy, the team faced tough decisions about just how much the RPG-levelling elements should play into the action. As Todd explains, "We struggled for a long time with how shooting would work in a role-playing game. How good am I at shooting and how good is the guy on the screen at shooting?" Bethesda settled on a system where your level considerably affects damage but only marginally affects accuracy. At low levels your bullet spread is larger than you'd find in a regular first-person shoot-'em-up, but as you grow, your accuracy will sharpen and your death-dealing power will increase.

Fallout 3 is about the little details, and they're everywhere. While much of Oblivion was generated procedurally using software designed to create a credible landscape, Bethesda's follow-up is a genuinely hand-made game, where every burned book, ruined home, and story told by the ruins themselves was carefully designed, as Istvan explains: "The art team went cell-by-cell. There's not a single piece of the game that hasn't been touched by hand. It's not procedurally generated - we didn't want to do that this time. Every rock you see, every tree, was placed by hand."​
So does this mean the end of Ayleid Ruin Number #3461 which after hours of playing whack-a-mole, results in the glorious find of 3 gold coins and the same useless magical hammer you found in the last place you cleared out?

Accept no lies, Fallout 3 is too grand a project for us or any other games magazine to have fully understood in just a few hours' play. Three hours later and it's a world and a game we can paint only in the broadest strokes, but they're more than enough to sell it - Fallout 3 is a true follow-up to Oblivion, denser, grander, smarter and better. Better still Fallout 3 is Fallout Three - a long overdue chapter in a long-ignored series, indisputably made by the right men for the job.​
... and here are NMA's short notes because I figure if I'm stealing a news item, I may as well steal the whole lot:

  • Emil on purpose: "What we're careful about is making sure players know that they do have a goal - to find Dad. [...] we took a lot of steps to channel players who want to be channelled."
  • If you defuse the bomb in Megaton you are rewarded with a shack, "which like all your future homes can be themed in different ways - pre-war, Mr Loverman, and Vault themes can be bought at the local supply store".
  • One source of quests is a store owner in Megaton working on a wasteland field guide, who wants you to help fill in the blanks in various ways.
  • You'll find the Stealth Boy early in the game.
  • There'll be enemy snipers.
  • An example of bleak humour: one house contains two skeletons hugging each other on a burnt-out carpet, a couple who died when the bombs fell.
  • The writer thinks the reduction of level scaling is the "tiny change" that sets Fallout 3 above Oblivion: "The world is a scarier place without the world-levelling safety net."
  • Raiders are observed "clearly thinking and plotting before rushing into combat". Enemies will make good use of cover, according to Todd, except if they're too badass to take cover like the super mutants.
  • The yellow, even "banana-coloured" super mutants go around kidnapping humans.
  • A few hours of playing only covers about 1% of the game world.
  • Another example of bleak humour: in an unopened post box you can find a letter informing the receiver they weren't selected for the vault programme.
  • The Enclave have "floating propaganda bots" in addition to their radio station to get their "message" out.
  • You can pick up a radio transmission with a "Chinese voice reporting that America has fallen and for civilians to surrender."
  • A few new perks: "At low levels Ladykiller will make you more effective against female adversaires; Black Widow is the female's equivalent. Little Leaguer will make you a big-hitting slugger with your bat."
  • On the lockpicking minigame: "Using the right stick you'll apply torque to the lock while angling the pick with the left; too much torque on a misplaced pin and it'll snap. It's a game of delicate movements, and isn't a frustrating chore like Oblivion."
  • Pete on the fact that the compass will point the way to unknown locations: "It's our way of saying 'there's fun over here'."
  • There will be Squirrels-on-a-stick. Like all other food, they are radioactive.
  • The first mêlée weapon is a baseball bat, the most powerful the power fist.
There sure is fun over here. Lots of fun.

Thanks Jaesun!

¹It's okay because nothing was physically taken from an inventory.

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