The Fallout 3 Journal: Day 1

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What a wonderful world.

Fallout 3 scares me.

It’s not because I’m currently dragging myself around with one good arm and one good leg in the middle of a nuclear wasteland. It’s not because I’m being chased by someone with a gimp mask and an Uzi that looks like they want to eat my intenstine for a mid-morning snack. And it’s not because my “safe house” is a block away from an unexploded nuclear warhead.

It’s because I’ve been playing this game for five hours and I feel like I’ve done nothing.

The size and scope of Fallout 3 is simply astonishing. Like Bethesda’s last open worlder, Oblivion, the map is larger than anything you could possibly ever ask for, but the level of detail in the world is mind-blowing. It’s relatively easy to copy/paste forest and grass, but to assemble a society torn apart by nuclear war brick by radioactive brick? I imagine the development team of Fallout had to have been 10,000 programmers working 18 hour days to create something like this.

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Ah, the dreaded “birthday party” mission.

There are so many quests, so many locations, so many things to find, I will be playing this game until Christmas. In 2009. So where to even start? Well, the Vault of course.

As a resident of the perma-sealed Vault 101, you’ve never been above ground and you never will. After a mostly cinematic childhood and youth, spent wandering around playpens, beating up bullies, and assigning attribute points, you finally grow up to be a big strong 19 year-old. Right as your Dad decides to leave the vault and defy the entire underground society, making you an outlaw by association. Balls.

I found the vault section to be bit tedious, but that was mainly because I was adjusting to the controls and learning how to use my navigation arrow which was constantly leading me directly into locked doors. As I worked my way through the vault to chase after my father, I ran into the Overseer, the fearless leader of 101. After he refused to give me his password to open the vault door, I promptly blew his head off with his own stolen pistol his daughter had given me earlier.

Now, I’ve been told by a friend that I could have reasoned my way out of this situation , and would not have the daughter screaming in my ear that she’ll hate me forever, but this is one of the many things you’ll learn as you go. Choices matter. Although I’m sure this totally won’t come back to bite me in the ass in the future…

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I’m not exactly sure what that was, but apparently it liked playing baseball.

So for the rest of Day 1 playing Fallout, I wandered around the desert wasteland, which is graphically spectacular, but desperately sad. Is there really going to be no wildlife anywhere this entire game that isn’t mutated and wants to kill me? I suppose such is the life of a nuclear holocaust survivor.

I’ve only had the chance to do a few missions out of presumably hundreds so far, but I’ve found them to be exceptionally challenging. Something as simple as “go find food at the grocery store” turns into a 20 minute firefight with a gang of psychopathic raiders, where I die a dozen times before figuring out a correct strategy to successfully kick all their asses.

And so ends the first entry in my Fallout journal. I’ll update my progress in days to come, discussing different aspects of the game and things I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten further. Even from five hours of gameplay, I can already tell this is an easy Game of the Year contender, although to be fair I knew that when I first saw the trailer.

Time for a fresh mission. Does anyone know how to diffuse a nuke?