Hands-on / Fallout 3


Being one of the more highly anticipated titles of the year, Fallout 3 was a game that I was bound and determined to get my hands on during PAX this last weekend. Thankfully for me, I did indeed get a good chunk of time with it, and it has done nothing to fuel my excitement for the game. Read on to find out what happened during my play time, but be warned — since I’ll be focusing on the story rather than gameplay mechanics, which we’ve already heard and seen so much of, there are certainly some spoilers from early in the game.

My time with the game started as one of the Bethesda guys loaded a save that started right before I exited the vault. Apparently there will be something at the start of the game that forces you out of your shelter, with some combat involved, because before I even left the vault, the loading screen showed some statistics that said I had killed some enemies already. I asked the guy from Bethesda about it and he said we weren’t allowed to see that part yet. As I exited the vault my screen was blinded by light, which made sense as in the game, the character has never been outside before. After the light died down and the protagonist’s eyes adjusted to the sun, I could see out quite a ways in front of me. I saw a smaller building out to my left, and what seemed to be a fenced off town farther to the right. I assumed the town would have something to do with plot progression, so I decided to explore the smaller building before I got caught up in something big.

The small building turned out to be an old elementary school, except that instead of dedicated teachers and gleeful children, post-apocalyptic road warriors had taken residence in this place of education. I wasn’t sure if they were hostile or not, but I quickly found out as one of them raised their gun at me as I approached. I quickly took him down, implementing the VATS system, luckily scoring a critical hit on the last shot, blowing his head clean off his shoulders in a bloody explosion. I searched the rest of the school for anything that would lead to a quest, or an important item, but I didn’t find much besides the Mad Max punks and some armor they left behind. I left the school and approached the fortressed town.

I was informed that the settlement was called Megaton, and for good reason. Megaton is built around an undetonated nuclear bomb, which the residents seem to worship almost as a god. After exploring the burg, which is made up all kinds of junk metal and scraps, I ran into a man who called himself Mr. Burke. Burke wanted me to do a task for him, but this was no small favor. He asked me to attach a detonator to the nuke, and obliterate the town of Megaton. Since my time with the game was about to be over soon, I agreed to help the mysterious man, took the detonator and agreed to meet him at his private residence far, far away after the charge was set.

I ran down to the bomb, planted the charge, and turned around to see the town sheriff, Lucas Simms, asking me what I was doing. At first I was afraid that I had been caught red-handed, but surprisingly I was easily able to convince him that I was just wandering around and was just about to leave. I left the settlement, and started hoofing it towards the meeting place, a tower out in the distance. It took a while to make it out there, but looking around and seeing the post-apocalyptic ruins around me was enough to stay occupied. When I finally reached the tower, I met Mr. Burke at the top on a balcony, where I was then instructed to throw a switch to detonate the nuke, and along with it the town of Megaton. I did, and the explosion was like nothing I have ever seen in-game before. After watching the innocents die, and being told my demo was over, I decided to end it in style. I pulled out a bat I had in my inventory and beat Burke to death, then jumped off the balcony with a good five seconds of free fall ending with an instant death, which was no surprise after such a high fall.

After my time with Fallout 3, I can safely say that I am excited to see what Bethesda will deliver this Fall. The open-ended nature of the quests, the post-apocalyptic setting, and the well-implemented battle system all blend well to me, and I hope that will carry on to the retail version. Fallout 3 will be released on October 28 in North America, October 31 in Europe, and December 4 in Japan.