Fallout 3 and the Making of an RPG Classic

Right now, people don't seem to be enjoying Fallout 76 all that much, which is roughly what happened back when Fallout 3 launched and was such a colossal departure from what Fallout fans knew and liked at the time. And now that the same thing is happening to the new generation of Fallout players, one with fond memories of Fallout 3, TechRadar offers this extensive retrospective feature dedicated to Bethesda's first attempt at a Fallout game.

The article quotes a number of developers who worked on Fallout 3 and covers such topics like the game's reception, its similarities with Oblivion, the Washington DC setting, the creation of V.A.T.S, and more. Here's an excerpt:

Before V.A.T.S., though, the team had to figure out the shooting systems. Their starting point, as it was with so much of the project, was Oblivion: specifically, its bow and arrow.

“The first gun in Fallout 3 was a modified bow that shot very fast bullet arrows,” says Anthony. “After that, it was a matter of slowly morphing the code to act more like guns – hitscan bullets, different gun types like lasers, etc.”

Anthony says he was “very happy with the projectile system”, which allowed for multiple ammo types and could show bullets in slow motion for V.A.T.S. “The bullets were instantly-resolved hitscan projectiles, but in slow motion you want to be able to see them flying. But you don't want them to use a different physics model, for balance and consistency. So it was a more complex system than many FPSs might have used.”

While the projectile system worked well, Burgess says that “a lot of stuff about the shooting is not very good” – he calls Far Cry 2, which released a week earlier, a “far superior shooter”. Indeed, Fallout 3’s guns felt floaty, and bullets lacked impact outside of the cinematic V.A.T.S. system.

“We didn’t really have [FPS] experts, we didn’t really know,” Burgess says. “If nothing else, it speaks to some of the ways we were successful that the mediocrity of the shooting didn’t matter.”