“In 2077, the storm of world war had come again. In two brief hours, most of the planet was reduced to cinders. And from the ashes of nuclear devastation, a new civilization would struggle to arise. A few were able to reach the relative safety of the large underground Vaults.”
Well…”Life in the Vault is about to change.”
Fallout is a series of post-apocalyptic role-playing video games, initially created by the Old Gods of Interplay Entertainment. Although the series is set during the 22nd and 23rd centuries, its atompunk, retro-futuristic setting and art feel are influenced by the post-war culture of 1950s America. The themes of hope for the promises of technology, and lurking fear of nuclear annihilation are prevalent in the series, thus giving it the original appeal that we have grown to love over the years.
A forerunner for Fallout is Wasteland, the 1988 video game of which the Fallout series is regarded to be a spiritual successor. Although the respective worlds of both games are quite different, the background story, inhabitants, locations, and characters draw many parallels. War for instance, is major player in the narrative, and as we all know, War never changes no matter which realm you live in. With every intro accompanied by a long forgotten Louis Armstrong or Ink Spots melody, as well as narration by our very own Hellboy, Ron Perlman, one begins to wonder where the golden age of gaming went, and why all the leather smells of Iguana Bits.
Released back in 1997, Fallout takes place in the post-apocalyptic region of Southern California. Beginning in the year 2161, the protagonist, named the Vault Dweller, is tasked with recovering a water chip in the Wasteland to replace the broken one in his or her underground shelter home, Vault 13. Not long after leaving for this perilous journey, the Vault Dweller must then thwart the plans of a group of Supermutants, led by a grotesque entity named the Master. Along with psychotic scavenger types called Raiders and giant mutated Radscorpions, as they are called, the player is hurled into a dystopian chaos fest of kill or be killed.
Fallout was originally intended to run under the GURPS role-playing game system. However, a disagreement with the creator of GURPS, Steve Jackson, over the game’s violent content required Black Isle Studios to develop a new system, the SPECIAL. Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility and Luck are the attributes running the show in the Fallout Universe, and they have been the crowd favourite since the beginning. Fallout’s atmosphere and artwork are reminiscent of post-WWII America and the nuclear paranoia that was widespread at that time. Yet another fine addition to the world we hold dear.
Moving on, we find ourselves in Fallout 2, where the player controls the Chosen One, the direct descendant of the Vault Dweller from the original Fallout. As you begin, the village elders have selected you to wear the sacred Vault-suit and, in time, to ascend to the leadership of your people. Your people being of the many tribes to spring up since the ‘great war’ are equally as primitive as the early tribes of our world. Perhaps they were not as violent as our ancestors, but still overly hostile and rude when it came to survival. In order to lead your people you must first prove your devotion and resolve by journeying out into the wasteland and acquiring a GECK, or Garden of Eden Creation Kit. This item has the ability to terraform its surroundings and as its name suggests, create a new Eden for whoever controls it.
Fallout lets you travel where you please, while participating in numerous quests and developing your character and inventory as you progress through the game. The scope of the game is truly amazing, containing many more areas, quests, wildlife and NPCs than the original. Fallout 2 also makes use of skill development instead of the traditional class system, and you are free to play through the game in any way you like. These range from convincing your adversaries to kill themselves, running guns to make ends meet, or equipping your companions in the meanest gear available and raining down death and destruction upon anyone that crosses your path. It is part Post-Nuclear survival if you think about it, except it’s done right
Fallout draws many influences from those awkward, but highly praised 1950s pulp magazines. Science Fiction and superhero comic books, all rooted in the ‘optimism’ of the Atomic Age, these are a few of the things that spawned Vault Tec. I think. When all of a sudden ‘Boom’, a nuclear-powered future that doesn’t end so well. The tech feels like a cross between a retro-futuristic, but also overly efficient Judge Dredd, and a Flash Gorden-esque, Mad Maxian aesthetic. That was a fun sentence. Computers use vacuum tubes instead of transistors, and there are these weird robots hovering about called Mr. Handy or Mr. Gutsy. The architecture of ruined buildings feature some major Artsy designs and the energy weapons resemble those used by Flash ‘Aaaaghhh’ Gordon himself. If he were the road warrior type always struggling to find some gasolina. There are few functional vehicles in Fallout, and those that remain are all 1950s-styled spaceships that you have to wrestle from the hands of some New Reno jackass.
A major influence to the franchise was also A Boy and His Dog, where the main character Vic and his dog Blood had to scavenge the desert of the Southwestern United States, steal for a living and evade bands of marauders, berserker droids, and mutants. Hmmm, yes, that was a MAJOR influence I would say. From subterranean communities to mutants with glowing eyes, the inspiration is there in plain sight. Other film influences include the Mad Max series, obviously, with its spectacularly brutal version of a post-apocalyptic wasteland. In the first game, one of the first armor items you find is a one-sleeved leather jacket that resembles the jacket worn by Mel Gibson in Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. Now Easter Eggs keep the proverbial wheels of Geekdom turning, but this one was especially tasty.
Launched in 2001, Fallout Tactics was the first Fallout game not to require the player to fight in a turn-based mode. Aside from that bombshell, it was also the first iteration to allow the player to fully customize his or her skills, perks, and combat actions for the rest of the party. Tactics focused on tactical combat rather than role-playing; the new combat system included different modes, stances, and modifiers, but the player had no dialogue options. This took away from the overall experience if you ask me.
Most of the criticisms of the game arose from its incompatibility with the story of the original two games, not from its gameplay, which added a nice surprise in the form of Multiplayer. With this multiplayer mode, players were allowed to compete against squads of other characters controlled by other players. What’s this, PvP in a Fallout game? I mean, holy shit right?! Unlike the previous two iterations, which were based in sunny California, Fallout: Tactics took place in the, not so sunny, Midwestern United States. Tactics was a great addition to the Fallout family in my opinion, though not as spectacular as it’s older brothers, it still had some pretty good reviews and was widely accepted at the family gatherings and funerals.
Deathclaws & Why You Should Run
What happens when chameleons are exposed to unrealistic amounts of radiation? They put on some purple pants and give Bruce Banner a run for his Hulking money. The Deathclaw, is the counterpart to the Dragons of Skyrim, the YMIR Mechs of Mass Effect and of course the Rancor of the Star Wars Mythos. These guys are not your friend, buddy. They’re not your buddy, guy. Only after exhausting all your ammo on every single gun you are carrying will they decide to slow down a bit and give you a second to start running away. Well, ok they’re not that horrific. I mean if you have a Mini Nuke or two tucked away in your underpants then you may have a chance. And trust me, you’ll need them. Deathclaws are almost as bad as the Super Mutant Behemoths. Almost.
Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel
Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel was launched back in the sweet year of 2004, and was the first foray into the harrowing Console Wars we all know too well. The story revolves around an initiate in the Brotherhood of Steel who is given the suicidal task of finding several lost Brotherhood Paladins. BoS is an action role-playing game, representing a significant break from the previous incarnations of the Fallout series in both gameplay and aesthetic value.
The game has no NPCs that accompany the player in combat and makes use of heavy metal music, which stands in contrast to the music in Fallout 3, performed by The Ink Spots and Louis Armstrong. The music includes that of Slipknot, Devin Townsend, and Killswitch Engage, thus creating a frantic setting with which to wander around the wasteland regions in the game. BoS was also the last Fallout game to be developed by Interplay, thus bringing about the end to a rather glorious era of Gaming, but also paving the way for those beautiful people at Bethesda that we have fallen in love with over the past decade. They’re so metal.
Shut Up & Take My Bottlecaps!
Money! Moola, cheddar, biscuits, dollars, pounds, euros, paper, florens and gold. A few of the many terms we have for the currencies of our world. In Fallout, this means diddly squat since all manner of currency and the value they held was obliterated along with the governments controlling them. Instead of meaningless paper being passed from hand to hand, the preferred method of payment has evolved to using Bottlecaps of the famed Nuka Cola bottles. Ah yes, fizzy drinks. If they’re not good for destroying your teeth and brain cells they can also be used as a means of paying for your RadAway or Brahmin Steak. With Pre-War Money as they are named still being slightly more valuable than a Bottlecap, they are predominantly used as trade for more Bottlecaps. Essentially you end up selling your older, more rare and slightly more valuable cheddar for a more attainable and more acceptable version. Cheese anyone?
Ah yes now we come to the favourite among our Fallout children. The child we have loved and spoilt far more than any of the others in the series. A ridiculously awesome fact about Fallout 3 is that you start off as a child, a newborn to be exact. The game slaps you with a blinding flash as you are cast headfirst (yes) into the dapper visage of your father, who is voiced by Liam Neeson of course, and are tasked with naming yourself and figuring out how you’ll look when you’re 18 years of age. I wish I had one of those machines.
For 200 years, Vault 101 has faithfully served the surviving residents of Washington DC and its environs, now known as the Capital Wasteland. As the global atomic war of 2077 left the US all but destroyed, the residents of Vault 101 enjoy a life free from the perils of the outside world. Raiders, Slavers, Deathclaws and our friends the Super Mutants return to give our Vault Dweller a run for his caps. After one fateful morning, where you awake to find that your father has defied the Overseer and left the comfort and security of Vault 101, you leave the only home you’ve ever known to search for him. Left with only your wits, a rather conspicuous Vault Suit and a penchant for disobedience like your pappy, you mosey into the great beyond in search of truth and purpose in a world without rules and rationality. Now that’s what I call depth.
Praised as one of the greatest games of our time, Bethesda took what made the franchise so brilliant and gave it a double dosage of Psycho, which is unnervingly beautiful to say the least. The best iteration of the series yet, Fallout 3 is a T51b Power Armour clad Pack Mule of bold storytelling, demented characters and brilliant gameplay that the True gamer cannot ignore. It is brutal. It is brilliant. It is…“Oh look a Deathclaw.”
Fallout New Vegas
A courier is waylaid somewhere in the Mojave Desert and robbed of a valuable item belonging to one of the region’s most venerable inhabitants, Mr. House. A genius of a ‘man’ that has played saviour to the regions surrounding the famed Las Vegas and has spared it of the nuclear devastation that has befallen the rest of the country. You are the courier and it is your task to reclaim your lost parcel and deliver it to either Mr. House, or some other authority figure inhabiting this corner of the wasteland. It just so happens that New Vegas and its surroundings are not as pitiful as say, The Capital Wasteland or New California. Mr. House made sure of that, but in doing so attracted every drifter, nutjob and raider between Vault 101 and Gecko. Coupled with the hardcore Mode that Bethesda introduced in this iteration, Fallout New Vegas is no picnicked pancake for your enjoyment.
Survival is a greater factor in this one. From the crafting of your own ammo, your own food and having to drink water regularly or you’ll die of dehydration, the Mojave has it in for you. Of course the Radscorpions are back, along with their old Gecko buddies and a Deathclaw or 70 thrown in for good measure. The Brotherhood of Steel is present, obviously, and they find their rivals this time in the New California Republic as well as the machete/powerfist wielding Caesar’s Legion. War is hell, and it never changes so while you decide on which lunatic you’re gonna help in the desert you are left with a large-scale conflict that is just waiting for you to light the fuse.
New Vegas delivers the Fallout goodness one would expect and while its predecessor is still prevalent in the war against shitty games, this one is still a solid entry in the franchise to say the least. Danny Trejo approves, so that’s got to count for something. Right?
Fantastic Guns & Where to Buy Them
People don’t kill people! Guns kill people! This is the god-awful truth if you’re running around with a Fat Man, Plasma Rifle and Riot Shotgun strapped to your back. These are three of the necessary evils that one has to grow accustomed to in the wastelands of Fallout. From Junktown to Rivet City, the common Wastelander wouldn’t be caught dead without a trusty 10mm Pistol at their side. And if perchance you are mauled to death by a Molerat or caught off guard by some pesky ‘Strange Meat’ Hunter, well then you’re shit out of luck. A Chinese Assault Rifle from the slavers of Paradise Falls would have served you better. Or perhaps a Plasma Rifle from the Van Graffs would be better suited to your needs. If you buy it, they will die at your hands, and the world will be a safer place. You dystopian devil you.
As the sole survivor of Vault 111, you enter a world destroyed by nuclear war. Every second is a fight for survival, and every choice is yours. Only you can rebuild and determine the fate of the Wasteland. Welcome home. And that’s all we have to say on the subject since the hype is killing us and we’re not too sure if it’ll deliver. Or is it in fact Bethesda’s most ambitious game ever, and the next generation in open-world gaming as they claim? I’d stake my MKII Combat Armour and custom Gauss Rifle on a ‘hell yeah’.
From what we’ve seen so far Bethesda is once again breaking the mold with their innovation. From the introduction of a command-following Dogmeat, now more than a mere companion, to the promise of being able to rebuild entire settlements and push back the hordes of Raiders and Supermutants, in order to reclaim the world from Savagery and Unrest. Which are the names of my now fully customizable Pipe Rifle and Prototype Power Armour. Bethesda you tease. Why if I weren’t already waiting in blissful anticipation in the lounge of my very own Fallout Shelter, a game you released to keep us enthralled by your majesty, I’d be throwing caps at every retailer to get my hands on the rare Pip Boy Edition and live happily ever after. Oh to be a Gamer in this day and age. It is the stuff of legend or perhaps a nightmarish hell dive into The Dunwich Building.
The Fallout series is to the Gamer what Jet and Psycho is to a fight with a Deathclaw. ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NECESSARY! These little rays of sunshine in a world of Sims and CoD are what keep the true gamer up at night. Running around the wasteland at 2 in the morning, game time of course, scrounging for bottle caps and some ammo for the Assault Rifle you just picked up. These are the little things that make us tick. Especially if you just happened to cross into Yao Guai territory and you haven’t chosen the second rank in your Animal Friend Perk.
Survival and reward play a big part in this series. We are left with a choice between saving a town from the dormant bomb chilling in the center of it, or opting to detonate it, from a safe distance of course, for some cash money and a roof over our head. If I were left with this choice over watching some lame TV show or going to some boring event, well I would choose Fallout every single time. You would think from the perspective of a non-gamer that it’s just some wacky survival horror (GHOULS!) with some RPG elements thrown in for good measure. Until you have to choose between saving a group of slaves from Paradise Falls or joining the slavers to round up their runaways and some more firepower. Morality is blurred in those gems such as Fallout, and if you look close enough you tend to realize that you are the blur and the world is your irradiated oyster.
Stick that in your pipe Gandalf.