Fallout 3 is my favorite Fallout game. True, Fallout: New Vegas is the better Role-Playing game, but the experience of exploring a vast post-apocalyptic wasteland that Fallout 3 provided hasn’t been matched by any of its sequels.
Fallout 3 and Freedom in Gaming
Perhaps the one thing that struck me the most about my first experience with Fallout 3, was how much freedom I was given as a player within the game. I think I played Fallout 3 in 2009 (and not in 2008). I was coming into the game strictly from a JRPG perspective. Yes, I had played Mass Effect, Jade Empire, KOTOR, Morrowind and Oblivion. Out of that list, I only managed to finish Bioware’s efforts, as I had lost interest in Morrowind, and Oblivion.
This is strange given my continued fascination with Skyrim, but I just didn’t find the previous two Elder Scrolls entries interesting enough after spending 40 hours with each title. Fallout 3, however, captured me from the get-go.
Fallout 3, like Oblivion before it, offered the customary ‘Bethesda Open-World’ experience. The game had a weak main storyline, but unlike Oblivion, it had a few memorable twists (the Nuke anyone?). Apart from the main tale, the game offered a vast number of side/optional quests which were more streamlined and simpler to follow than Bethesda’s former effort.
Fallout 3 made me feel like I was in control of my own destiny, and its open wasteland always kept me on edge. I have a fascination with post-apocalyptic open worlds. You can add 100 points to that fancy of mine if the said open world is the result of nuclear fallout. There is no other wasteland that I have enjoyed as much with the possible exception of the original Rage on the Xbox 360.
While the story of the game itself was nothing to write home about, its game world, on the other hand, was very compelling. The NPCs, the warring factions, the ability to forge your own path, all made Fallout 3 a very engrossing and captivating experience for me.
A Decent First-Person Shooter…Until the Shooting Starts
The V.A.T.S. system is the game’s saving grace when it comes to combat. Playing the choppy PlayStation 3 version (Bethesda had massive struggles on that iteration of Sony ‘s PlayStation Hardware) was not the optimal way to experience the game. I experienced a few crashes, and terrible framerates. As you might expect, terrible framerates in First-Person Shooters are a recipe for the disaster.
Even without the framerate issues shooting in real-ltime while fighting enemies in Fallout 3 is a fools errand. So, quickly slowing down time, and utilizing V.A.T.S to target specific parts proved crucial…and fun. Yes, I greatly prefer the shooting component in Fallout 4, but at the time (2009) V.A.T.S felt fresh, and highly strategic.
Imprecise shooting aside, Fallout 3 was on the easy side of things. This was perfectly fine as the game encouraged exploration, and multiple playthroughs.
Three is Better than Four
Needless to say, Fallout 4 was a massive disappointment for me. I still find Fallout 3’s Washington a more compelling place than Fallout 4’s Boston. Even on the PlayStation 3, I found Fallout 3 to be a prettier game in 2009, than Fallout 4 was in 2015. With a 93 (Xbox 360) Metacritic rating, FO3 is the highest rated game in the series and for good reason. Quite simply, the game was more ground breaking, and stunning in its heyday than its numbered successor.
The game’s availability on Game Pass, and as a backwards compatible game with the Xbox One, One X, and the Series X/S consoles means that there has never been a better time to replay Bethesda’s classic than now. If you haven’t, please dive into Fallout 3’s world when you get the chance, you won’t regret it.
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