Fallout 2: The Excellent Return to Misery

Sometimes, all the world really needs is a nuclear blast or two (thousand).

Fallout 2 is the immediate successor to Black Isle’s Fallout and came out less than a year after its originator. While similar in a lot of ways to the original, Fallout 2 takes place around 80 years after the end of Fallout and features a larger world map and deeper, richer story.

Dialogue and, by extension, charisma, have been more fleshed out in Fallout 2. While a totally peaceful character is not particularly possible (it’s hard to negotiate with Rad Scorpions), there are several situations where violence isn’t the only answer.

You are a member of the original Vault Dweller’s descendant tribe known locally as The Chosen One. As the game opens, you earn that character’s original Vault Suit to prove your worthiness to go on the quest needed to save the village. That quest? To find a machine known as the G.E.C.K (Garden of Eden Creation Kit), a quest that should be relatively simple; the holy Vault 13 where your ancestor came from should have some.


But nothing is ever easy, and the quest takes you far from home across a sprawling post-apocalyptic California. The world map is significantly larger than the original and you will find a lot more places to explore; some hostile, some peaceful, assuming you let them stay that way.

Because, like in the original, Fallout 2 allows the player to do pretty much whatever they want within the game’s world. There are consequences, but if you are strong enough (or glib enough) to deal with them, you are capable of doing, stealing or killing anything you want.

Combat will look amazingly similar in Fallout 2, since it’s another system that didn’t get a lot of overhaul between games, but that doesn’t make it less engaging and entertaining to partake in.

There are a lot more companions in this game, too. Early, you’ll find a tribal named Sulik that you can recruit. He’s murder with a spear and can use an SMG (although he tends to not care where the spray goes). However, he’s touchy if you start offing kids, so be careful. He’s one of many characters that will help you on your way, all of whom have their strengths and weaknesses. Editors Note: Goris is best companion, change my mind

Combat is, for all intents and purposes, identical to Fallout, hex- and turn-based in nature and guided by Action Points. Black Isle didn’t do a lot of innovating with the basics between games, so some major components, like combat and dialogue will feel familiar.

Numbers-driven to the core, Fallout 2’s character screen is almost identical to the original. There are more perks and things to dive into, but bloody mess is always a good starting choice.

But the story is a much deeper dive into the world of Fallout and it shines. If you look for it, there is lore everywhere to be found and combed through; plus you will meet and learn about a variety of factions within the world, like ghouls, mutants and even non-irradiated people like New California Republic, a city that was founded by a fairly familiar individual…

Overall, if you enjoyed Fallout you will definitely enjoy Fallout 2. It is arguably the pinnacle of the series, even topping Bethesda’s later open world FPS entries due to it’s superior story and, if we’re being honest, nostalgia. Regardless, Black Isle did a fantastic job on Fallout 2 and it is well worth a dive, even twenty years after release.

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