TL;DR it good
Hi there! I posted not too long ago seeking advice as I set out to finally play through the original Fallout. I have made it through the first main story quest and thought I would share my thoughts on the game so far from the perspective of someone who spent high school with the Bethesda games. When I beat it maybe I'll write up another post, if anyone cares about this one.
I suppose I should note that if you haven't played Fallout 1, I might spoil some of the early story details. So if you're averse to that, look away.
I have attempted to start Fallout 1 several times since getting it, Fallout 2, and Tactics real cheap during a Steam sale many years ago. I have always quit without making it far at all, usually out of frustration or a lack of patience. This time I took the time to familiarize myself with the mechanics, and realized it was probably a good idea to look up the manual —which was super helpful.
When I started out, I tried to go in as blind as possible (even though I have had a fair bit spoiled for me, I didn't really retain all of the details). I definitely made mistakes in how I distributed my SPECIAL and skill points, but that's okay! I tried to form my character based on how I play the 3D games. I have high intelligence and charisma, but very low luck and strength is at a 4, which was my BIGGEST mistake.
From the get-go, I was impressed with the design decisions that were made with this game. It doesn't hold your hand in the slightest, but it makes sure you can get your bearings without much consequence for failure. It puts you in a cave with low level rats and lets you teach yourself how the combat works. It's almost impossible to get to Vault 15 without first going to Shady Sands.
But once you DO get to Vault 15 and realize it's a total dead end, there are no longer any hints as to what you should do next. The game doesn't flash your next objective. In its own way, Fallout 1 tells you, "You're on your own, figure it out." Despite being on a much smaller scale than the Bethesda games, this element gives Fallout 1 the same sense of freedom those games (particularly New Vegas) provides.
So after talking to everyone in Shady Sands (and recruiting Ian), the locations on the map begin to fill out, and I elected to go straight to the Hub.
Now, after having actually taken the water chip to the vault, I realize that the time element was not as much of a threat as it seemed (when I asked for advice, I think I had one person tell me not to worry about it too much and another tell me to keep an eye on it). However, I really did feel as though I was racing against the clock. Because of this, even picking where you want to go on the map seems like a massively important decision early on, because it takes DAYS to travel the wasteland.
I feel the moment everything clicked for me in this game was when I went to the water merchants, and really wanted to take them up on their offer of delivering water to the vault to ease the stress of that time limit. Being very early on, I had almost nothing but a pistol and a leather jacket to my name.
To get the caps, I ended up in Junktown, and got in the middle of the conflict between Gizmo and Killian. I initially wanted to help Killian bust Gizmo, but I thought to myself, "I need these caps, and I'm racing against the clock." So I waited until night, picked the locks to get into Kilian's bedroom, and ended his life.
Suddenly, I have the caps to give the vault a lifeline. I have more weapons and ammo. I level up and increase some of my stats. I finally start to feel like I can take on some bigger challenges. But I'm left with a sour taste in my mouth, because I got all of this by killing someone who probably didn't deserve it (to be fair he was kind of a dick) , when I could have helped him take down the crook who hired me to do the job in the first place.
That's when it really clicked — this is Fallout. This is why I love these games. Did I make the right decision? It doesn't matter, because I made my decision, and now I have to spend the rest of the game with whatever the consequences are.
Fallout fucking rocks.
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