Backlog Attack! – 2019 Challenge – March 2019

Greetings and welcome to Vault 13.

That’s right folks, for March’s Backlog Attack, Thero has challenged me to play at least some of 1997’s Fallout, by Interplay Productions. Yes, we are going to take one of my favourite franchises, and go alllll the way back to the start.

Stats:
Play time: 6 hours
Achievements: No
Steam Trading Cards: No
Enjoyed: Not really
Would recommend?: It’s valuable to gaming history – if you like top- down turn based games, you’ll probably like this.

Thoughts
The first thing to note here, is that if you are at familiar with Bethesda’s first person RPG, forget about it. Not all of it, but the first person, the scopes, the on-the-fly healing etc. No, the perspective is very different, things take time to do and boy oh boy do you die a lot quicker.

Once you have set up your character, which can be a little overwhelming at first, you are presented with a creepy looking head talking to you about the Vault, what is wrong with the Vault and why you have to leave the Vault. The Uncanny Valley makes frequent appearances throughout Fallout. Not all characters can be talked to (or not in any meaningful way anyway), but the traders and the quest givers have one of two style of pop ups. Either it’s just an image of your current situation (ie. you and the trader in the wilderness), or it brings a fully animated bust shot of the person you are trying to chat to. Whilst I applaud this, particularly given Fallout’s release date, some of the faces are unnerving at worst, and nightmare inducing at best.


Set – from https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/fallout/images/8/8b/FO01_NPC_Set_G.png/revision/latest?cb=20101028051908

Fallout came out in a time of paper, of physical releases and of manuals. MANUALS! Largely long forgotten, manuals (for all you youngsters out there), were booklets included with games, most of which included some introduction to the game, controls, how to play guides and perhaps a map or two! It’s been a long time since I’ve had to read a manual for a game, let alone seek one out for a digitally downloaded game. But I found the PDF format manual for Fallout and spent some time with it. It definitely made the game easier to play.

As someone who started her Fallout adventure with Fallout 3, going back to the original was a bit of a shock. I don’t dislike the design or the strategy style mechanics mixed with the RPG elements, but it took a little while to adjust. I also had to put auto-run on in the settings because the character moves quite slowly.

Unlike so many games nowadays, not only do you not have a built in tutorial, there is also little guidance as to where to go and what to do. You get occasional pointers from speaking to people, but there is a lot more emphasis on finding stories and adventures yourself. This sadly led to a couple of deaths early on as I figured out how to play and where was dangerous at early levels. I very quickly learned to put weapons away if you get asked to! The upside was fewer locations scattered along the way to investigate so I largely stayed on task; playing some games nowadays have you do all the side quests at once and try to complete an area the first time (I’m looking at you Hinterlands!).

Despite this, you are tasked almost immediately with a job – go and find a water chip and bring it back to Vault 13 to keep your fellow Vault Dwellers alive. So off you go with a deadline to return with the chip before the water runs out. Do so, and you inevitably get set another task, and on it goes. Unfortunately, I didn’t really care enough about the vault to really want to figure out how to get the chip by myself, so turned to a walkthrough.

In conclusion
“Didn’t really care” was the theme of my playthrough of Fallout. I played the first main quest, and I didn’t care. I did a couple of side missions and didn’t care. I explored a little and cared even less. I appreciate the game for what it would have been on its release, but I’m not a massive fan of it today. It’s good sometimes to look back and see how far things have come (for better or worse, 76), but I am happy to leave Fallout sealed in a Vault.

“Who is indisputably the most important person in Vault 101: He who shelters us from the harshness of the atomic wasteland, and to whom we owe everything we have, including our lives?”

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