My first Fallout game was Fallout 3 GOTY, followed by Fallout: New Vegas at release, then Fallout 4 at release, and most recently Fallout 2.
I really enjoyed Fallout 3, mods certainly helped but on its own it was a decent game. At the time I didn't have many complaints about it as it was my first Fallout game so I didn't have any previously set expectations about what it would or should be like. My only complaints would have been that the gunplay was pretty rubbish (no aiming down sights!), "it had a few bugs", and the physics systems were janky. I also think the main quest was underwhelming, although it did have its moments it wasn't really anything to write home about.
Fallout: New Vegas
I bought Fallout: New Vegas on release and really, really enjoyed it. To me it made a lot of good additions to Fallout 3, not least the weapon modding, aim-down-sight, increased amount of skill-checks, a bigger focus on alternative quest solutions, town reputation, and the increased focus on choice-consequence RPG mechanics generally. The addition of hardcore mode was also right up my alley. It's still hands down my favourite Fallout game. You could definitely place me in the camp of people that hoped Bethesda would use New Vegas's design philosophy as a model to improve upon for Fallout 4.
Moreover, I just simply enjoyed the world of New Vegas far more than that of Fallout 3. To me the Mojave was just far more interesting than Washington DC. Both the Mojave and Washington DC were fun to explore. They each had a different unique vibe, and they played on their strengths. Both games have lots of fun little interesting locations that really help build the world and immerse you as a player. But the reason I enjoy New Vegas more is that the lore is just so much richer and more interesting. That is entirely due to the numerous, well thought out and well implemented factions in the game. Caesar's Legion, the NCR, Mr House, heck even the Boomers, Fiends and the Great Khans are simply far more interesting and memorable than any of the Factions in Fallout 3. The main quest only benefits from having the Factions involved on the periphary in the beginning and more directly as it goes on. The game also had very good pacing by directing the player around the map with quests (but retaining freedom to just go wherever you wanted if you chose that).
I think Fallout 4 made great strides in terms of gunplay, weapon-modding, armour, etc. I really liked Survival mode and I'm glad that was implemented, however personally I would've appreciated an option to disable Legendary Weapon effects (particularly those that are essentially magic). I also thought that enemy health scaling and the general progression of weapon damage was not only unrealistic but poorly balanced – particularly at later levels. At level 60+ it's not really viable to try and kill those Radscorpions in the Glowing Sea with anything except a Gatling Laser or a Fat Man. It went in the wrong direction in terms of skills, skill-checks, dialogue and player choice for resolving quests by alternative means.
I think the voiced protagonist was also a mis-step. It took steps in the right direction with regards to the Factions compared to Fallout 3 but didn't go far enough in developing them to the same extent that New Vegas did. The settlement building was a fun gimmick but ultimately a distraction that could've been far better designed and implemented to tie into the Faction system. The main quest was okay, but the pacing was pretty horrible and the game could've done a much better job in naturally leading the player around the map from one objective to the next. Of course the subject of the storyline wasn't conducive to good pacing or urgency given the context of the open-ended nature of an open-world game where you can ignore things. What Fallout 4 really needed to promote urgency was the world changing/adapting around you if you were too slow as a player. The settlement system could've been expanded upon to have some interaction in that way – but alas. Ultimately a good game, and one I still play – but for very different reasons than the other games.
That brings me to Fallout 2, which I recently bought – mostly on a whim. I'm thoroughly enjoying it. I've played a few cRPGs before this (Divinity Original Sin, Pillars of Eternity, and, notably, Wasteland 2) and Fallout 2 is definitely competitive considering its age. It's not particularly well balanced (there are a lot of useless skills, bad perks, etc.), but the characters are so interesting and the world is very rich (plus the voice acting, although sparse, is pretty great – that Enclave Soldier is hilarious). I haven't yet finished the game so please no spoilers (I only just arrived at New Reno after visiting Vault City, Gecko and Broken Hills), but definitely plan to play this one through to the end. Also you get a car! It'd be nice in the next Fallout game to have some more vehicles (proper caravans, biker gangs, cars, etc. and combat involving them would be amazing, but would likely require a new physics and animation system).
Cheers for reading.
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