Fallout 3: A Different Kind of Treasure

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Fallout 3: A Different Kind of Treasure

Susan Arendt has finally figured out why she didn't love Fallout 3 at first: It's missing one incredibly important element.

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Oh God, it's true! *weeps*

NO PHAT LEWT?

It's true. Without that glimmer in your eye when you pick up the "Grandmaster Baking Spoon", there's not a lot really to gain apart from levels. I think Yahtzee said something about a Health Potion Keg Party as well?

Very, very true.

No good loot. Only weapons, health....

Dang.

Being a major in English Lit, I often come at odds with myself wondering just why I had picked my major. Because I love writing is the obvious answer, but that doesn't explain why I'm in English. It certainly means I'll learn the technical aspect of writing better, and maybe even explore the creative and written parts to a more substantial degree. So, why did I spend so long at odds with the idea?

Analysis. I hate it. Something about slamming my face into a piece of media long enough to pull some meaning from it has never appealed to me. I'd often dismiss the discussion, always with the thought that there was something to it that I liked, that I was never able to put my finger on.

This article reminded me that there are more elements to analysis beyond seeking hidden meaning. How playfully exploring the surface and the details can be infinitely more full-filling than trawling the depths. Sometimes I miss a lot by staying light, but perhaps bogging myself down with too much. Atmosphere can create just as good a world as deep analysis.

Although, music did a lot to save the world some face.
I love those dear hearts, and gentle people...

You do get somewhat of a variety of armor down the line, and the named weapons will start appearing much more frequently once you really hit the ruins. But overall, there's not really a steady selection of upgrades, and most people end up using the same stuff anyway with a bit of a variation on weapon type.

The game really could have benefited with more accessory items (hats and glasses), but most glasses don't have stats, and there's not much variety in hats with attributes.

Leveling helped a bit by giving you perks to look forward to, but that goes by way too fast, and I'm sure most people who are paying any kind of attention to side quests will hit the level cap quite a bit before the end.

While I agree with the idea that the "story loot" you find is rewarding of itself, the idea that there is no "phat lewt" in F3 is incorrect. Besides the obvious goal of collecting all the bobbleheads, there are also "uber" versions of every type of weapon in the game as well as some unique ones (like the Alien Blaster) and a unique power armor that is part of a quest to obtain.

There is uber stuff out there, it just isn't randomly generated and you have to look for it.

Very true. I was wondering what else that I was wanting with Fallout 3 and this is it. The chance of finding cool new weapons was one of the main things I liked about dungeon crawling in Oblivion. Searching for containers for ammo and caps just doesn't feel as fun to me.

mjaygtoo:
While I agree with the idea that the "story loot" you find is rewarding of itself, the idea that there is no "phat lewt" in F3 is incorrect. Besides the obvious goal of collecting all the bobbleheads, there are also "uber" versions of every type of weapon in the game as well as some unique ones (like the Alien Blaster) and a unique power armor that is part of a quest to obtain.

There is uber stuff out there, it just isn't randomly generated and you have to look for it.

Yes, I mentioned those, but they are very few and far between, especially given how large the game world is.

I didn't even find the "story" loot that captivating, I kept finding myself going "is that it? Nothing else? Really?"

Especially on the quest for the Prototype Power Armor, I kept expecting there to be "something" more to it than just the armor. Alas.

This is something that turned me off about STALKER. Exploration is not rewarded as the only things you will find are the usual assortment of ammo, medikits and tin cans.

Sometimes you are "rewarded" by finding, er, "interesting" scenery, like a bunch of soldiers that were torn apart and mutilated by wild dogs. But I agree with the author that in a world were almost everything is a grey, radioactive wasteland there is only so much you can do to keep exploration interesting without including some special loot every once in a while.

Tiamat666:
This is something that turned me off about STALKER. Exploration is not rewarded as the only things you will find are the usual assortment of ammo, medikits and tin cans.

Sometimes you are "rewarded" by finding, er, "interesting" scenery, like a bunch of soldiers that were torn apart and mutilated by wild dogs. But I agree with the author that in a world were almost everything is a grey, radioactive wasteland there is only so much you can do to keep exploration interesting without including some special loot every once in a while.

I ran into a tiny grocery last night in which some clever wastelander with homicidal intent had set up a Rube Goldberg-style apparatus meant to set off a cluster of grenades. It was amusing, but there are only so many of those moments in the game.

Susan Arendt:
I ran into a tiny grocery last night in which some clever wastelander with homicidal intent had set up a Rube Goldberg-style apparatus meant to set off a cluster of grenades. It was amusing, but there are only so many of those moments in the game.

I think what kept me rapt during my sojourns into the Capital Wasteland was the story of the setting itself. Breaking into that house in Minefield and finding a child's bedroom with crutches, braces, surgical tubing... but no sports toys, and no body; and then finding the master bedroom with two adult skeletons embracing on the bed, with painkillers on the nightstand. That spoke eloquently on what this little family's last days were like.

The general's quarters with the pile of empty liquor bottles next to a bathtub occupied by a skeleton and a toaster made for a grim-but-amusing tale of its own. As did the diary of the triage nurse conscripted into the National Guard, and the diary of the family trying to reach a shelter after the attack...

Maybe that's the reason I don't get into MMOs and most RPGs; I'm not a phat lewt type, I'm a story-hound.

-- Steve

PS: also, nukes. Blowing up abandoned plutonium-fuelled Edsels never got old.

Anton P. Nym:
PS: also, nukes. Blowing up abandoned plutonium-fuelled Edsels never got old.

Amen, sister. I set off a chain reaction on an abandoned, gridlocked freeway last night just to see what would happen. The results were surreal.

Tiamat666:
This is something that turned me off about STALKER. Exploration is not rewarded as the only things you will find are the usual assortment of ammo, medikits and tin cans.

Sometimes you are "rewarded" by finding, er, "interesting" scenery, like a bunch of soldiers that were torn apart and mutilated by wild dogs. But I agree with the author that in a world were almost everything is a grey, radioactive wasteland there is only so much you can do to keep exploration interesting without including some special loot every once in a while.

I think the author's point was that there are 'story loot' people, and there are 'item loot' people (and of course people who are both, etc.). If your thing is 'item loot' then even great 'story loot' can only go so far.

Then again, if you're a 'story loot' person, F3 is a gold mine. Especially if you're the kind of person who isn't put off by a grey, radioactive wasteland. Because that grey, radioactive wasteland is just the sea in which there are a whole lot of islands chock full of 'story loot'.

In a way, 'item loot' wouldn't make sense in F3: like Moira says, a lot of people are trying to put the past back together the way it was, when they should really be trying to use the past as raw materials to assemble a new future. In a way, if F3 had been an 'item loot' game, it wouldn't have made as much sense. The idea in the Fallout world seems to have always been that the Vaults and the past were tombs, were dead. Real life happens out there in the wastes as people try and create a new world.

Fallout 3 is a post apocalyptic game set in a post apocalyptic world. Did you really expexct to find all kind of nice loot lying around. I wouldn't think it would fit the setting nor does Bethesda, the maker of the game, it seems. This game is also an rpg where the story means something. Or at least I hope it does.

Cheeze_Pavilion:

In a way, 'item loot' wouldn't make sense in F3: like Moira says, a lot of people are trying to put the past back together the way it was, when they should really be trying to use the past as raw materials to assemble a new future. In a way, if F3 had been an 'item loot' game, it wouldn't have made as much sense. The idea in the Fallout world seems to have always been that the Vaults and the past were tombs, were dead. Real life happens out there in the wastes as people try and create a new world.

I agree. While it would've satisfied my acquisitional sweet tooth, it really wouldn't have made sense in the Fallout world, which is why (I assume) Bethesda decided to go that route. Also, unlike Oblivion, Fallout has its roots in reality, so while a medication that makes you temporarily faster or stronger makes a certain amount of sense, a gun that does the same thing doesn't. Even if Bethesda had wanted to litter the landscape with all sorts of phat lewt, there was a limit on what they could have done without utterly ripping the fabric of the game world.

It was enough for me to explore the wastes, find strange new places, meet interesting people and kill them in a spectacular goresplosion. I still miss the chunks of flesh being ripped out of the side of an enemy, with a final death groan, from the first two.

The radio towers were a nice little touch, especially the one with the family who were calling for help... 200 years ago. I just don't get how turning on a transmitter causes a radio signal to be generated from a drain a few meters away.

I won't be finished playing until I have that damn MIRV launcher.

The real treasures to find are the tidbits of story and atmosphere to pick up. Anyone that's been in the Dunwich Building, Mama Dolce's, pretty much every Vault, and Fort Constantine can atest to this. While two of the mentioned also include some very nice pieces of gear, the real joy is seeing what went on inside.
***Spoiler country, read at your own risk***
The Dunwich building has a series of audio tapes documenting a survivor trying to stay alive against a horde of ferals, and finding an artifact that is slowly turning him into a ghoul. Mama Dolce's is home to one of the Chinese Military hideouts and is polluted with ghoulified Chinese soldiers and officers. All of the Vaults have something interesting and bizarre going on, like the psychotropic gas pumped into the vents cause ghostly hallucinations, or the lone Overseer Gary given a series of cloning vats to try and cure his cancer. And Fort Constantine has the best armor in the game, as well as letting you set off a tactical nuke against China, lol.
***Okay, I'm done.***

And there is plenty left for you to do once you've beaten the game once, it's almost impossible to have seen everything in your first play, and there is stuff you can do to liven up the experience and see it from a different angle. If you played like a soldier, play next like a diplomat. If VATS made it too easy, play willingly ignoring VATS entirely. (Which is harder than you'd expect)

Personally, I'm in it for the gameplay, not the artificial knick-knacks. That said, Fallout 3 has many of the same shortcomings as Oblivion. It was good for a run to the end of the campaign, but at that point I completely lost interest.

I'm slightly confused. I take it from your mention of it, that you enjoyed Oblivion, but I find that Fallout 3 has more loot than that game. I mean, you have two basic types of armor, and only about 4 sets from each type. Then if you don't count the random enchantments on them, only a few handfuls of weapons. The only unique items in the game come from the statue quests.

It was that same lack of loot you mention about Fallout 3 that I didn't enjoy Oblivion. With Fallout 3, there is the occasional unique item like story pieces or bobbleheads. Combine that with the fact that every environment feels unique, unlike Oblivion where just about everywhere was a cave, ruin, or fort; each one feeling like a randomly generated dungeon.

perhaps. There was certainly a sense of "wait... really? SWEET!" in the first game when you got the laser rifle/power armor combo, turning you from man to unstoppable juggernaut. having not played through the third one yet (damn you, bills!) I can't stay how it compares.
But yeah, I'll say that F3 is not your traditional RPG in many aspects.

Well there are still some areas with contain big loot at the end though there is not a lot of it. Fallout 1 and 2 contained loot end dungeons though you had to be intelligent and search for it as the loot wouldn't just be right there on a big alter, which is somewhat like Fallout 3.

Cheeze_Pavilion:

Tiamat666:
This is something that turned me off about STALKER. Exploration is not rewarded as the only things you will find are the usual assortment of ammo, medikits and tin cans.

Sometimes you are "rewarded" by finding, er, "interesting" scenery, like a bunch of soldiers that were torn apart and mutilated by wild dogs. But I agree with the author that in a world were almost everything is a grey, radioactive wasteland there is only so much you can do to keep exploration interesting without including some special loot every once in a while.

I think the author's point was that there are 'story loot' people, and there are 'item loot' people (and of course people who are both, etc.). If your thing is 'item loot' then even great 'story loot' can only go so far.

Then again, if you're a 'story loot' person, F3 is a gold mine. Especially if you're the kind of person who isn't put off by a grey, radioactive wasteland. Because that grey, radioactive wasteland is just the sea in which there are a whole lot of islands chock full of 'story loot'.

In a way, 'item loot' wouldn't make sense in F3: like Moira says, a lot of people are trying to put the past back together the way it was, when they should really be trying to use the past as raw materials to assemble a new future. In a way, if F3 had been an 'item loot' game, it wouldn't have made as much sense. The idea in the Fallout world seems to have always been that the Vaults and the past were tombs, were dead. Real life happens out there in the wastes as people try and create a new world.

I got the point and I agree with the 'story loot' and 'item loot' thing. I would also add a 'scenery loot' to it, as exploration can be very rewarding by encountering an interesting or pretty location. Usually any kind of 'loot' will do for me and I do usually enjoy 'story loot' the most, which is why I am eager to play Fallout 3 (right after my final exams are over).
While reading the article I just remembered that I didn't like STALKER alot for similiar reasons... because it has neither decent story nor item loot and only the occasional 'scenery loot'.

I feel exactly the same way. I greatly enjoy the little stories of people you find in dungeons, but once I took that game out of my console for more then 3 days, I had trouble playing it again.

See, I like the relative scarcity of loot in Fallout 3 because in most fantasy rpgs I find myself weighted down with a glut of sweet new magic weapons and armor that I've found. It makes that much more rewarding when you find one of those truly rare special weapons or suit of armor in the Wasteland.

And I also must disagree with your dislike of the aesthetic of the world of Fallout 3, Ms. Arendt. I think the Capital Wasteland is very beautiful in it's own way. The deserted suburbs, hills dotted with blasted, withered trees, and the faded glory of Washington, DC, are locales that I'm sure I'll visit time and again.

I'm just glad that you didn't comepletely give up on it and gave it another chance :D

Wow, that was a quite frankly an amazing article. I felt the same way about the game but I didn't know it. Great Job!

My other big beef with the game is that its hard to play a second charter because you need to have two of your three skills be small guns and lock picking or you'll be screwed.

Tiamat666:

While reading the article I just remembered that I didn't like STALKER alot for similiar reasons... because it has neither decent story nor item loot and only the occasional 'scenery loot'.

Ahh! I haven't played STALKER, but, trust me--the environment is a LOT more interesting than just 'soldiers killed by wild dogs'. You'll find things that make you sad, things that make you laugh, things that make you go 'wow', things that make you go 'what?', and a whole lot of other reactions.

ninjablu:
perhaps. There was certainly a sense of "wait... really? SWEET!" in the first game when you got the laser rifle/power armor combo, turning you from man to unstoppable juggernaut.

Add in a StealthBoy, and you've got what looks like a truly non-corporeal Angel of Death with Flaming Sword.

'(A fact which completely invalidates any opinion I have about the game for many of you out there, to which I say, stop being such exclusionary elitist twerps)' Excellent job pointing that out.

While the collection of interesting loot was a favourite of mine in Oblivion, I actually did not care when they removed this in Fallout 3 as I found other things made up for it. Specifically, the locations. Travelling across the Wasteland, seeing something and thinking 'what the hell is that?' and then going there was absolutely rivetting. For most of my first walkthrough, I said to hell with the storyline and quests and went out exploring, something I never did in Oblivion except for loot. I guess the beauty of Fallout was I went exploring for nothing more then the enviroments, rather then the equipment I'd get.

Also, Susan(if I may call you that), I guess you never got to the Experimental MIRV? If you wanted a pretty custom weapon, that's pretty much the most awesome you're going to get.

Hmm... Shes right... I think I'm gonna start looking at other games like that also...

Tiamat666:

Cheeze_Pavilion:

Tiamat666:
This is something that turned me off about STALKER. Exploration is not rewarded as the only things you will find are the usual assortment of ammo, medikits and tin cans.

Sometimes you are "rewarded" by finding, er, "interesting" scenery, like a bunch of soldiers that were torn apart and mutilated by wild dogs. But I agree with the author that in a world were almost everything is a grey, radioactive wasteland there is only so much you can do to keep exploration interesting without including some special loot every once in a while.

I think the author's point was that there are 'story loot' people, and there are 'item loot' people (and of course people who are both, etc.). If your thing is 'item loot' then even great 'story loot' can only go so far.

Then again, if you're a 'story loot' person, F3 is a gold mine. Especially if you're the kind of person who isn't put off by a grey, radioactive wasteland. Because that grey, radioactive wasteland is just the sea in which there are a whole lot of islands chock full of 'story loot'.

In a way, 'item loot' wouldn't make sense in F3: like Moira says, a lot of people are trying to put the past back together the way it was, when they should really be trying to use the past as raw materials to assemble a new future. In a way, if F3 had been an 'item loot' game, it wouldn't have made as much sense. The idea in the Fallout world seems to have always been that the Vaults and the past were tombs, were dead. Real life happens out there in the wastes as people try and create a new world.

I got the point and I agree with the 'story loot' and 'item loot' thing. I would also add a 'scenery loot' to it, as exploration can be very rewarding by encountering an interesting or pretty location. Usually any kind of 'loot' will do for me and I do usually enjoy 'story loot' the most, which is why I am eager to play Fallout 3 (right after my final exams are over).
While reading the article I just remembered that I didn't like STALKER alot for similiar reasons... because it has neither decent story nor item loot and only the occasional 'scenery loot'.

One of the other nice things is "fluff" loot, like badges and little in-jokes. Coming across a "McDaneils styrofoam cup", with the coffee still warm, is one of those silly things that you can slip past the rader and is still fun to get for some.

ThaBenMan:

And I also must disagree with your dislike of the aesthetic of the world of Fallout 3, Ms. Arendt. I think the Capital Wasteland is very beautiful in it's own way. The deserted suburbs, hills dotted with blasted, withered trees, and the faded glory of Washington, DC, are locales that I'm sure I'll visit time and again.

I'm just glad that you didn't comepletely give up on it and gave it another chance :D

Beauty's in the eye, and all that. :) Don't get me wrong, I think the visuals of Fallout are extremely well done - Bethesda deserves heaps of praise for its attention to detail (though I do wish they had made the "unpassable" piles of rubble just a wee bit taller in some areas...if I can see over it, I should be able to climb it, dammit!). I just found it all so heartbreaking.

I agree with this article, Fallout 3 isn't much about the loot.

Course I had an advantage going into this game; I have played and loved the previous games in the series (and they are on Gametap now, for those who never got to play em.. worth a look!). I don't recall ever getting much big loot in the Fallout series, but instead a story that was both interesting and heartbreaking. Probably why this game stands out among all the Dungeon Hack games, where loot is king and the story is there to give some flavor.

I haven't finished Fallout 3 yet, I am somewhat slowly wandering the entire wasteland, finding as many little jokes, stories, and scenes as possible. I am generally amazed with the game, and all the stuff that has been put within it. The finding of the Vault 77 suit was definitely funny, and the vault full of psychotropic drugs was downright creepy.

Really, a lot of the game is creepy.. and keeps me on edge. I only just finally went to the Deathclaw Sanctuary and that place put me on edge the whole time. Dunwich is next on my list, been sorta saving it for a time where I could really enjoy a place referencing Lovecraft.

But anywho, I am sure the generation of gamers who have spent more time in MMOs than old style story based RPGs have been somewhat disappointed with Fallout 3. I noticed back when I played World of Warcraft that the most often avoided quests were those whose loot was mostly 'flavor' and 'story'. Personally I like a good laugh and an interesting story over the Kithkithall Blade (Kill Them, Kill Them All! - Raisinlost Story).

I've only played a little bit of Fallout 2, but never enough to really make a judgment call on how Fallout 3 is in comparison.

Even so, I have trouble getting into Fallout 3 because it feels like they don't do enough with what they could. I'm only at the Galaxy News Radio mission, about to get the dish from the museum, and so far most of the areas I've had to go through are all subway tunnels. The first couple I searched extensively, but after finding little in the way of loot or variety, I've found myself tired of subway tunnels and mostly head right for the objective. Exploration doesn't feel worth my time anymore.

Similarly, when I've been wandering the wastes, I've found the random monsters that attack me without purpose to be irritating. It was actually one of my beefs with Oblivion. I'm off exploring, and suddenly a random rodent is chomping at my ankles. Five minutes later, another little rodent is chomping at them. It is a bit irritating.

However, there are some encounters that I've really enjoyed and give the wasteland a depth of life for me. I was walking by a random ruin of a building, and all of a sudden there are gun shots heading my way. I wasn't in the condition to fight, so I ran away as best as I could. It was thrilling, and it felt real. I enjoyed the fight in the old grocery store for the Wasteland Survival Guide quest. I enjoyed emerging from the subway to get to the museum, only to pretty much hold off a siege against what felt like a dozen super mutants. I also liked it the first time I fought against a bandit barricade with mines littered before it. However, even that has been repeated and gets annoying once in a while.

As I said, I'm not very far in the game, but like Oblivion the game is so full of repetition that it is already becoming bland. I like quests, I like story and finding recordings for atmosphere, but I don't like being dragged through subway after subway.

If I was wandering the wastes, and all of a sudden I started to hear dogs/wolves howl and five minutes later had to fend off a pack of them and then having no combat for a while, that would be more fun than having to fight a single mongrel or rodent every five minutes. Even having some of the beasts vary their behavior would be a great idea, having some that won't attack unless you get too close, but even then won't fight to the death unless you attack them.

I'm sure the Capital Wastelands are interesting, but it feels as if Bethesda just strung a bunch of pieces together to add game time and take up space instead of being genuinely interesting and unique. As such, while I enjoy it, I've found much more pleasure in playing Mirror's Edge, Left 4 Dead and replaying Gears 2 with my brother the past few weeks than playing Fallout 3.

Quite interesting for what is commonly being called Game of the Year.

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