Back Into the Wastes

Another peek into the early hours of Fallout 3? Sure, why not?
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: April 10, 2008
page 1 page 2   next
It's a little hard to follow up an hour and a half of actual play-through time for a game that's not even out for more than a year, so when we heard that Bethesda was rolling through our fair City by the Bay, we weren't expecting an absolutely massive showing for Fallout 3, but we did manage to get a bit of a peek into some of the initial parts of the game that were only mentioned in passing during the initial demo, plus one new area around what's left of the Washington Monument and the National Gallery of Art. Read on to see what we saw.

One of the core ideas for the start of Fallout 3 was to properly flesh out the idea that people are born in Vaults, the fallout shelters scattered all over the world that protected people from the nuclear blast that took place in Fallout's alternate-reality version of the 1950s. With Vault 101, though, where people are born is also where they'll die. See, unbeknownst to the people entering the Vaults, each carried with it a specific "test" of sorts -- a chance to use the 1000 or so people as guinea pigs across a variety of situations. Vault 69, for instance, had 999 women and just one very, very lucky man.

Vault 101, however, never re-opened like the others did. The experiment was to see just how long humans could survive without ever experiencing the outside. And then your dad decides it's time to head outside. Without telling you. You, being just as impetuous, decide to do the same, and are thrust out into the barren, post-apocalyptic wasteland that's left after the bombs stopped dropping.

But first, you have to be born.

From the moment you slide right out, delivered by your father, you can choose who you'll become and then live key moments for a while before skipping ahead and witnessing some basic examples of your choices in the game. You'll initially pick your sex and basic characteristics like race, face structure (complete with tons of slider-based tweaks a la Oblivion and your father will in turn be patterned off those choices, so you'll share, for instance, his eyes or nose), then, after learning as a toddler how to walk and interact with things, you'll be left by Pa to fend for yourself in a little cage. A little unlocked cage. Opening that and looking around, you'll find a handful of interactive objects, chiefly a children's book on skills called "You're SPECIAL," where you'll allocate your base skill points into various areas playfully explained with Vault Boy clip art. After spying a bed and making a break to start jumping on it, dad returns and time zips forward. You've come of age.

Finally cracking double-digits years, you're given a BB gun to learn the basics of combat (though we sadly didn't get to see this yet) and the all-important Pip-Boy 3000 personal computer. The PB3K serves as the game's information funnel, allowing you to do everything from pause the game to check out inventory, change options and even flick on and off the radio stations, as we talked about in our massive initial preview of the game. It's here that you can finally communicate with people for the first time and see how the multiple types of responses can have immediate and long-term effects. Go go time skip!

Now, 16, you're old enough to take the General Occupation Aptitude Test (G.O.A.T. for short), which will determine your job for the rest of your life under the florescent beams of Vault 101. Though it was only briefly touched upon, it's also here that you'll get the first glimpses of character interaction that eventually end up shaping basic relationships. Like all parts of the first hour or so of your time in the Vault, it's meant to be a thinly veiled bit of tutorial before you eventually decide to step outside and explore the world.
page 1 page 2   next