Will Ooi, who you might remember for the "Unmasking the Gamers" series of interviews, has penned an article on the reception of Fallout 3, which split the series' fanbase in two, and its effects on the series, in anticipation of an eventual announcement of Fallout 4. Here's a snip:
*I Don't Want To Set The World On Fire*
The ripple of complaints tore through quickly and in great intensity, with old school fans making known their feelings that Fallout 3 resembled and respected little of what had come before, more FPS than RPG and essentially a standalone title that sought to appeal to newcomers who had never played, or even heard of, the originals. Gone too was that West Coast of America setting, with Washington DC's Capital Wasteland being undoubtably vast and detailed, but also severely lacking in internal consistency and logic in 200 years since the war, how could these communities still live in squalor without any viable trade or agriculture? What, exactly, do they eat?
Simplified as well were the originals' ambiguous choices, replaced instead by thanks to the mechanics behind 3'²s Karma system mainly binary, black or white decisions: save the town of Megaton or blow it up, help the ghouls at Tenpenny Tower or exterminate them all; regardless of what situations you encountered, there was little room for grey. And to top it all off, prior to the extension of the vanilla game through DLC, and for all the choices and multiple endings promised throughout one's several hundred hour experience with Fallout 3, the game only had the one solitary and terribly anticlimactic conclusion: that of the Lone Wanderer joining the Brotherhood of Steel and sacrificing themselves to stop the Enclave, a caricatured battle of '˜Good Guys vs Bad Guys' proportions which wouldn't look out of place from a Disney script. The cancellation of Van Buren was even harder to swallow in these circumstances.
*Let's Go Sunning*
Yet it wasn't all doom and gloom. For the uninitiated who didn't have that same level of expectation, Fallout 3 was mindblowing. The game provided immense satisfaction in exploration and imagination through the .nvironmental storytelling' that Bethesda does so well (and which original Fallout creator Tim Cain himself has stated he loved) sculpting habitats that genuinely felt lived in thanks to meticulous level decoration, a host of voice messages, notes and mysteries to be uncovered, and unpredictable random encounters peppering the wastes and enriching one's journey.
And once the learning curve of getting to grips with the game's almost-OCD-inducing amount of seemingly random objects, options and menus had been conquered you'll be needing those firehose nozzles and toy cars later who could forget the adventures we went on; a solitary existence changing forever once we'd befriended Dogmeat, the homage to Fallout 1'²s canine companion, and that forever loyal and trustworthy (and always, always angry) Charon the ghoul. Sure, they didn't talk much, but in a way they didn't need to as we created our own narratives and role play adventures in our minds and ever-increasing save file sizes, all the while accompanied by a heartwarming 50'²s soundtrack completely at odds with the ruins of DC which nevertheless fit perfectly, introducing a whole generation to the magic and positivity of The Ink Spots and Ella Fitzgerald.