Late to The Party: Fallout 3

ack in 2010, everyone here at Press Pause Radio came up with the idea of recording an episode where we would discuss what we all personally felt were the best games to have come out within that past decade. As challenging as that was for us, it was really fun topic for a show, but there was always one piece of feedback that came back at us and our lists every time the that episode is ever brought up; “why didn’t any of you guys include Fallout 3 on that list?”

Well, I don’t think anyone on the show had a terribly remarkable memory playing it during initial reflection, but it turned out that none of us had really played it enough when it came to giving it a fair assessment either.

So here I am, like that all too common Simpson’s internet meme of Homer sitting alone at a bar while everyone has a good time, with subtext alluding to the feeling of being the outlier to a cultural trend that's washing over your everyday life like a God Damn phenomenon; I didn’t really have any excitement about Fallout 4.

Fallout New Vegas was wildly disappointing, and I’ll continue to subvert any notion of that entry carrying on any sort of legacy, but there’s no denying the one that changed it all. So, I decided “oh why not, I want to know what the fuss was all about.” Needless to say, I most certainly did miss, one hell of a party.

In each hour that passed with me wandering the irradiated terrain of Fallout 3, I was overtaken with feelings of immersion of this brand new world that had captivated people for years on end, yet sheer intimidation at the fact that I constantly felt like I was merely scratching at the surface of it all.

At some point, I had legitimately forgotten about why I had started this play-through in the first place, and there was this genuine sense of discovery that just felt rich in its own right.

If there’s one analogy that I wish I had a dollar for, just with how often it's used, it was that buzzy-ass, buzz phrase, “Skyrim with guns.” It always bothered me—especially when people used as a point of reference on how they would describe their experience with Fallout 3, considering how much more furnished Skyrim was in comparison when it came to the technology and scale of it.

Making my way into that wasteland of the past, has only made me resent that dumb metaphor tagline even more; if anything, the difference in how well one game has aged over the other, was so negligible to the point of me describing Skyrim as “Fallout going medieval.”

Nothing about my time spent there felt like I was going back to the past, I mean, sure, the visuals were a few shades rougher than I what I thought they could have been, but that was the only element that felt like it was a vestige of the past. Everything else is just scarily ahead of its time—still to this day even.

Sure, the scale and scope of it does lend a great deal to that, but when it comes down to it; the real appeal comes down to the commitment and characterization to the fictional universe it surrounds you in.

Much like other Bethesda joints, players come into the role of a cipher whose sole-function is to be an emissary, but Fallout 3 succeeds in engaging me into the company of intriguing characters that encouraged me into thinking like a character in my own right.

There aren’t a lot of games that can still do that past their prime; sure, there are personalities that’re charming enough to sympathize with, but these were people that you wanted to keep up with, hoping that what you would do in the world would leave an impression.

Yeah, Fallout 4 is something special, and I’m glad it exists, but I’ve been having trouble with keeping interest in it, and a lot of it stems from my inability to separate it from the magic that Fallout 3 still has.

Maybe it’s the dialogue and the conviction behind it, or the earnest depth behind Fallout’s original number-crunching, character growth system—this is one gem from Bethesda that thoroughly deserves a future re-release for the next generation.

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