War… War never changes.
The year 2161, Vault 13. The Water Chip responsible for the recycling and supply of the Vaults water resources breaks. The protagonist is given the task by the Vault Overseer to search for a replacement in the outside world. Born and raised in the Vault, the protagonist leaves, for the first time in his life the cold but secure walls which he calls his home.
A one-of-a-kind Universe
You are this protagonist from Vault 13. You can either pick one of the three pre-made characters or create your own virtual-me. You can adjust main abilities to fit your needs and choose between two traits and three main skills that can be increased with skill points. New skill points will be added by raising the characters level. Traits are some kind of perks which add specific effects to your main abilities or make you stronger in specific things but also will give you a slight disadvantage. Every three level (or 4, depending if you picked the trait “Skilled”) the character earns additional perks that allow better specification of your virtual-me.
The goal of the player is to travel through the wasteland in an isometric view (bird-view), to visit settlements and to speak with inhabitants to find a Water Chip in less than 150 days (fast forward time while traveling the worldmap and in realtime when visiting locations). He can help these people by solving their dilemmas by doing quests for them. As a reward, he will gain experience points to raise in level and/or currency (bottle caps) to trade with.
Far beyond the Wasteland
New equipment can be found by bartering with traders or any person that is willing to share his goods with you for something of interest. It’s actually possible to steal that stuff from non playable characters, or to pick locks of chests and to ransack these afterwards. As you may guess now, quests can be solved in different ways: By either stealthy actions or, most remarkable, through diplomacy. If the player creates a very intelligent character with high enough “Speech” skill and specialized through perks, he can even convince people and let them believe his lies. Very cheesy!
Every player that dislikes the path of stealth or diplomacy is free to create a powerful ranged or melee killing machine. Most of these builds suffer from lesser intelligence and speech-craft and aren’t good talkers. A fan made patch even changes the dialog sentences to hill-billy slang. Characters this strong should have no problem to blast away any looser or co**sucker blocking their way.
Before I continue to tell you something about combat, lets make one clear: Fallout is a game for adults with much cursing, bad words, brutality and full of 20s and 30s pop culture references. At one location you meet a Doctor Who that insults you as a**hole all the time and treats you like shit. In another, you join a thief guild lead by the charismatic Loxlay and making jokes about his funny accent. You can even hire a dog named Dogmeat if you wear one of these Mad Max look alike leather jackets.
Combat in Fallout
Combat in Fallout is turn based. Any character, if its player, teammate or critter got a set amount of action points available for each turn to walk, shoot, reload or use stuff in the inventory. Teammates can be hired in Bars (the post-apocalyptic Inns) or convinced to join you if you’re a good talker. One fan made patch even allows to discuss combat tactics with your teammates, making combat even better as in the vanilla release. There is a wide variety of weapons at your exposure. From 10mm Pistols up to Sniper Rifles, Laser or Plasma Guns and Grenades or Rocketlaunchers. The death animations are already brutal enough, but if you wish to see even more bloody executions then pick the trait “Bloody Mess” at the cost of almost not getting a good karma.
There are three titles of karma in Fallout. Champion for the good-guy-players, Berserker for killing innocent people and Childkiller (children got cut from the european release but can be patched in again). Make sure not to kill any children. If you just kill one, a group of bounty-hunters starts to chase you which can be very annoying.
The finest of 90s Gaming
As you can see, Fallout is a very deep and addicted-making piece of 90s video game history. The only thing I couldn’t tell you in words is the atmosphere, the thrill and the replay value, which you have to experience all by yourself. To find the Water Chip to save your people leads the player to hard decisions which influence the games ending pretty much. Do you steal the Chip from a degenerated society of Ghouls and being selfish or are you a good person that also agrees to repair a broken water pump so they don’t have to die? Will you help a rich hooker-ring and casino owner to kill the sheriff that just wants to protect his town from crime or will you help to observe the fat bastard to proof that he is involved in dirty business? To replace the broken Water Chip is not the only mission to see the endgame. I mentioned just two of the seven hard decisions to make, which can lead to a hopefully satisfying ending?