Fallout: The beginning of a beautifully miserable world

War; War Never Changes

Fallout is a futuristic turn-based role playing game set in a post-apocalyptic world. While that statement may seem bland and uninspired, the game itself is not.

Created by Interplay Productions and released in 1997, Fallout has been the jumping off point for a series of games with deep, rich world building and stories. The game itself is well constructed and, while technically shallow by today’s standards, still extremely enjoyable in its own right.

Enemies (or potential enemies) are highlighted in red. Just because you can see their highlight does not mean you can hit them. Line of sight is a big factor in Fallout combat.

When I say technically shallow, I do not mean that the game is simplistic or even easy. Far from it. Combat is turn-based, with each active participant having a set number of action points and each action requiring one or more of said points. Want to step closer to your target? Each step on a hexagonal grid is one action point. Swinging a knife is three action points, while shooting a gun is usually five. There can be alternate fire options as well, and these usually take up more action points. Whether you hit what you want to or not depends on a multitude of factors. Line of sight, distance and skill with the weapon all play a roll in determining success. Accuracy is always a percent based action, so even a ninety-nine percent chance to succeed can be met with a miss.

And here is one of the hooks for Fallout. Everything is on the table for killing, if you can do so and get away with it. Don’t like how that guy talked to you? Shoot him. If you are outside of hearing range, maybe nobody noticed and you will be able to stroll away. If not, the surrounding townsfolk will converge on you and try to bring Wasteland justice to you. Maybe you can fend them off or kill them all, or maybe you will be another skeleton for the sand and dust to scour.

Also, everything that can be looted is available to be looted. Want to see what is on the mayor’s bookshelf? Go take a look. Like something? Try to take it. No, really. He might not mind. Then again, he might, and if he does, that Wasteland justice is coming for you. Unless you used your sneaking skill to avoid detection. Because aside from combat as a way to get what and where you want, there are also stealth options: sneaking, pick-pocketing and other skills.

If a town’s well has malfunctioned, maybe you have enough skill to repair it. How many points did you put into it on leveling up or character creation. Why is that door locked? Pick it and find out, if you can. Failure can result in an unrepairable well or a jammed lock (the former of which might incite more Wasteland justice. It is an unforgiving place) so be careful when you choose to try something.

Choosing a name and age don’t mean much, but gender has some effects on the game. Future games dove into this more deeply, but even in the original there were repercussions to your gender.

All of these skills are a numbers based-action, based on your skills. You can, if you want, create a custom character at the start to hone your skills in any way you choose. You select three primary skills, which get a boost to their starting number and three traits, most of which have positive and negative effects. Leveling happens, so you will be able to further improve all skills (primary skills grow faster) but it will take time that you might not have, so choose wisely.

Like all classical games from the late ’90s, Fallout struggles to maintain great relevance in the modern gaming world, but the game is still a good one and worth playing. Its successors are still thriving, having updated and modernized, and Fallout is where they originated. For a game over twenty years old, Fallout still delivers entertainment and enjoyment.

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