Screenshot: The main menu for Fallout
Written by: Katelyn Vause
I’m incredibly excited to begin a new article series that’s a combination review/bi-weekly serial of the two original Fallout games. I am a huge fan of Fallout 3, and am slowly working my way through New Vegas, though I will likely start over and do a fully dedicated playthrough later. I had never played the originals, and I was excited to see how they differed.
For starters, follow along with me as I journey through the wasteland in an attempt to save the people of Vault 13 in the original Fallout.
I should point out that I’m playing Fallout Fixt, a version that has several quality of life improvements and fixes a lot of bugs.
When it came to the character creator, I figured I’d do a self-insert. Two points in intelligence, two in charisma and one in agility. I tagged the science, speech and first aid skills, and gave myself the “small frame” trait, which made me more agile but also have a reduced carrying capacity. As someone who loves looting in games and is a serious pack rat in real life, this hurt me, but it’s also very accurate, if I’m being honest.
The introductory sequence gives new players the lay of the land: the resources wars that led to the launch of nukes, the desolation that followed, and the fact that a lucky few, your family included, made it to the safety of underground vaults. “Maybe” by the Ink Spots plays in the background, and this, in combination with Ron Perlman’s iconic delivery of “War, war never changes…” gave me a huge rush of nostalgia, though I am ironically nostalgic for a newer game.
The person in charge of governing the vault, known as the overseer, gives me my task: Find a new water purification chip within five months, or the people of Vault 13 will die. The residents have no access to other sources of water, so I’m the only hope my community has. Ready to play the hero, I leave the vault for the first time. Unfortunately, I am immediately very sure of two things:
Fallout is a difficult game.
My character is hopeless in combat.
I learned this the moment I stepped out of the vault and got assailed by rats. I pulled out my 10 mil and missed my first shot, which isn’t the most encouraging outcome. I eventually figured out that because my agility is so high, I’m actually more accurate when I use unarmed and melee, but because I’m so weak, I barely do any damage. I’m sure you see the problem here.
I ended up kicking and stabbing a bunch of rats to death, which I’m sure was great for my character’s psyche and self-esteem.
At last, I made it out of the cave and into the harsh light of the wasteland. I headed to the nearest town, Shady Sands, a midpoint between my home vault and Vault 15, the place I was directed to check. From what I understand, this is a pretty common first move for players, and it’s a great introduction to the game and its universe, both in terms of characters and quests.
Shady Sands is a rough and tumble place, filled with people who are clearly doing their best to scrape by, and Brahmin, the series’ famous two-headed cows. The town is also a source of immense humor if you know what to do, which is click on literally every person to see if they’ll talk to you.
Some characters have individualized faces and full voice acting, while others just have a single line of written dialogue appear above their head. I clicked on a passing denizen and laughed out loud as he replied “The Brahmin sure do stink this time of year.” I laughed at this for way longer than I should have, but it is emblematic of the particular kind of humor this game possesses.
I walked into a nearby building and met Ian, a caravan guard for hire. I told Ian he could have a share of the loot if he came along with me on my adventure, and he agreed, thus earning me my first companion. I imagine him as the “strong, silent” type.
I also quickly discovered that Ian really meant the loot end of the bargain in a very frustrating way. You can choose to trade with certain characters, and if they’re a companion character, you can give them items, but you won’t be getting them back unless you trade more items. This is frustrating, especially if you’re used to being able to freely trade with your companion characters.
A fun thing you can do with characters is open up a dialogue box and type in things you want to ask them about. I decided to ask Ian about Shady Sands and the results were…less than helpful.
Ian and I wandered around Shady Sands, and I learned that a nearby cave full of radscorpions was causing trouble for the town, as well as raiders to the south, known as the Khans. I have to imagine my character was terrified to learn about both of these situations, but also in desperate need of caps and someone to point her in the direction of the water chip, so off I went to kill radscorpions.
One of the more amusing aspects of combat is that when you enter targeted shooting, you always have the option to shoot said target in the groin, even the radscorpions. I’m not sure what exactly that would look like or how one could achieve it, given their anatomy, but the radscorpions didn’t like it all the same. Combat is one of the most frustrating aspects of the game, even with the humorous elements.
Fallout was released in 1997, so obviously the character models aren’t the most detailed, and it can be hard to see certain elements of the game, especially when you’re clicking around in buildings. It is also very easy to accidentally make someone, even your own companions, hostile to you. Accidentally shoot Ian during a fight with radscorpions? He’s probably going to decide he should kill you over the radscorpions. Needless to say, there is a lot of dying, reloading, playing a few minutes, saving, quitting because you made a mistake, reloading, and on and on and on.
After defeating the radscorpions, I returned and was happily rewarded by Aradesh, the leader of Shady Sands. He’s one of the characters with full voice acting, as is his daughter, Tandi. Aradesh has a surprisingly soothing voice, and Tandi is nice enough, though her voice is far from soothing. However, Tandi reminds me of a younger version of myself, headstrong and eager to get out and see the world beyond her hometown.
I also completed the quest to bring the town doctor a radscorpion poison gland so he could make a cure to administer when people get stung. I received an antidote as my reward, and realized that I was very lucky I hadn’t gotten poisoned when fighting the creatures.
I decided to leave the Khans be for now, as I knew there was no way I could take them on yet, even with Ian at my side. I could see my character thinking that she would go get the water chip from Vault 15, find some powerful gear, and stop by Shady Sands on the way home to offer some sort of assistance before returning triumphantly to Vault 13.
I made my way to Vault 15, only to discover that I needed a rope to climb down into it.
Nothing is ever easy in the wasteland.
I decided to head south to Junktown, another settlement that offers the promise of employment for caps and, maybe, just maybe, a water chip. Or at the very least, a rope.
That’s all for this week! Tune in two weeks from now to hear the latest on what my character has been up to and my thoughts on the original installment in a beloved series.
Tell us about your Fallout adventures in the comments or at firstname.lastname@example.org!