Fallout – A Retrospective: A Classic RPG Title Which Still Satisfies
The recent title in the Fallout franchise – Fallout 76 has been highly criticised for its lack of plot or engaging content. Fallout is a much beloved franchise which through its later incarnations present on the consoles, managed to reach a wider audience than its earlier titles. The original title created by Interplay Entertainment in 1997 was an isometric role-playing game which drove PC gamers wild. It featured innovative features such as multiple dialogue options and an immersive wasteland environment.
Although the franchise has removed the isometric style in favour of a more polished First Person viewpoint. Many of the best aspects which make up Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas and Fallout 4 were present from the very beginning. The original Fallout introduced gamers to an absorbing world of 1950’s idealism gone wrong where the American dream became a nuclear nightmare. The main character was the last hope of Vault 13, an underground community of humans who had survived a nuclear war. For generations they had sheltered from the hellish environment outside in an underground bunker the size of a small town. Unfortunately since the vault’s essential water chip has malfunctioned, it falls to you to leave the vault and brave a harsh an unforgiving landscape populated with ghouls and super mutants to find a replacement.
Fallout raised the bar in character creation and development for western RPG’s thanks to the S.P.E.C.I.A.L system which was employed to keep track of the characters statistics through the game. This was an acronym for each of the traits of each playable character – Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma and Luck. These determined how proficient the player was when it came to the games 18 different skill sets.
These skill sets could be leveled up and adjusted as the game progressed, allowing a player to focus on particular skills at the expense of neglecting others or attempting to create a well rounded character. Various skills could be adjusted through the levelling up system to create a powerful melee fighter or a deadly quickshot sniper. This had far reaching implications on how the game panned out. This meant that each time a player began the game again, Fallout could offer new experiences.
This heavy emphasis on player freedom has remained a constant in some of the best Fallout titles. Each title encouraged the user to explore every nook and cranny of it’s open world and interact with it’s weird and compelling characters.
Fallout allowed players to craft their experience even further by permitting them to complete tasks in various ways depending on their chosen skillset. Many dangerous situations could be resolved through negotiation or even stealth but there was always the option to shoot our way out of danger as well. The non-combat portions of the game took place in real time, but combat was turn based using an action point system which allowed players to carry out commands until their action points were spent in a single turn.
Other innovations such as a karma system and the ability to be morally ambiguous remain core elements of modern Fallout titles. Pioneered in the 1997 original, altruistic players were rewarded with karma points which affected how other characters perceived them. The player’s actions, both good and evil had a bearing on how the story progressed and ultimately ended, giving a unique sense that every action you committed to affected the world around you.
The series which this wonderful and inspiring game has spawned may have ditched it’s traditional visual style but the core principles of the in-depth character development, player freedom and immersive open worlds it handed down are the cornerstones of Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas and Fallout 4. This may account for the lack-lustre response to the series latest incarnation – Fallout 76.
This game can be found and optimised for current PC systems on : The Good Old Games website