To distract us a bit from the absolutely fucking heinous and over-the-top greedy Fallout 1st debacle, I was thinking I could note down some of the great things to learn from the Fallout Board Game.
Because, if you don't know, it absolutely great! It feels like playing a great Fallout game, only in three hours on a board rather than over the 20-40 hours a play through of a Fallout video game can take. In fact, I was impressed how well it implements mechanics to achieve a proper Fallout experience.
If you don't know about the game, there's a good overview
So here's a couple of things I think the next solo Fallout game could use – provided we ever see another one…
- Rarity of Items: If you ask me, the most important things for the sense of discovery is that the things you find (events, items or places) have importance, and that one type of finding clearly is separated from another type in function. This is what makes you go "Yes! I found an X!" and not "Huh, another X…". The Board Game does this by making every single item very powerful, but equally rare. Stimpaks heal all health, Water heals about a third of your health, Jet or Buffout can easily swing a battle entirely, etc.
- I think this is important for the next game because most of the games we have tend to shower you too much in items – and this is not about difficulty either. It's about not feeling anything when you find a Stimpak, or care when you find a Frag Grenade. If each Stimpak heals almost all health, but is so rare that you are unlikely to have more than five at a time, each one is a little treasure – and in a game about scavenging, we need to want to find things; even go specifically out into some areas to find that stuff.
- Morality Matters – Both ways!: When you search Settlement or Ruin, you draw a card that gives you a choice. Some of these cards will react to you if you are Idolized or Vilified – but they're not always the same. Sometimes in a Settlement, a smuggler may give you a discount if you are Vilified, or another scavenger may use your goody-two-shoes attitude to make you risk your life for them.
- In the next game, it's just important to me that the world cares – even if its only groups or settlements that have a morality system (as reputation), and that being Vilified doesn't mean that you're evil as much as that you are self-serving. In fact, last time I played I was a Ghoul, and so I started the game Vilified. I was sort of forced to be a dick the entire game, but then again, the Wasteland acted as though I was a dick anyway, so why should I care?!
- Factions are Cool – but You are Cooler!: This is actually a pretty bad thing about the game – each scenario has a timer in the form of a faction war between, for example, the Railroad and the Institute or the Brotherhood of Steel and the Enclave. So no matter what, the game is eventually won by supporting one of the factions and declaring loyalty to them before the end of the game. BUT! A great house rule adds a point system that gives you points for doing, well, Fallout Protagonist things. Questing, killing big monsters, getting levels and all that.
- For better or worse, the recent Fallout games seems to be more interested in making the protagonist a pawn in a big game rather than the focus of the story. No matter what though, we need to feel as though the story is still about our dude/dudette – even if they become a part of a larger story. Make us want to join a faction because we want to, not because the game asks us to (or forces us to). Like with the Rarity thing up top, make it a significant thing if we finally get to become a part of a larger group. In the games as is, halfway through the stories, it's like the factions say "We'll take it from here" and make you a pawn instead of the focus.
- Here's a good example: The hunt for Kellogg. It's personal, takes time and effort and has many steps, and it's largely only our own characters that care about it – when we finally find the asshole, we are decked in armor and guns, having braved the wasteland to get here… And then the Prydwen takes over. Hmph.
- Let Randomness Inform Play: Probably the coolest thing about the Board Game is that every play session is different. What missions you find, which places you go and what items you find inform how you're gonna play moving forward, and it makes every play through more unique.
- Look, I like both 4 and New Vegas… But I do the same in these games every time. I find the same weapons, take the same path, do the same things. The Wasteland and what I find in it is mostly fixed. It doesn't have to be, though… Let's say that that there's the possibility of finding many different types of weapons early in the game. Maybe I find a Double-barreled Shotgun and move towards a bum-rush build – or maybe it's a Power Fist and I work towards using melee instead! Or we can take it even further and I can find non-combat items that may make stealth, diplomacy or trading better for this character!… As is, I can only find the Double-barreled, then Hunting Rifle, then Combat Rifle, then Laser Rifle, then snoooore.
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