E3 2008: Fallout 3 Hands-On Preview

I had the chance to meet with Bethesda Softworks on Tuesday at E3 for some hands-on time with the upcoming Fallout 3 for the Xbox 360, and although time was relatively short, I got a look at enough content to know that my eager anticipation for the title is certainly warranted.

For those of you who don’t already know, Fallout 3 is a first/third-person shooter set in a post-apocalyptic Washington DC. Details regarding the story are scant as of yet, however, as our friends at Bethesda would prefer not to spoil the experience for gamers.

The game world itself appears to be quite vast, and is expected to be 50-80% the size of Oblivion’s enormous map. Decorating the lightly rolling landscapes of the demo were the remains of urban and suburban infrastructure, ranging from relatively intact buildings to mostly dilapidated ones to fully blown-out and utterly destroyed husks of former architecture. Overall, the visual representation of the city and surrounding area really communicates the post-apocalyptic feeling that the team was aiming for.


Fallout 3


Combat was at the forefront of my demo time with Fallout 3. I encountered spiders, wolf-type creatures, and a small squad of bandits on my way to the lone town situated in the middle of the desolate landscape. Judging from what I saw, if you’re satisfied with first- or third-person real-time shooting and melee combat, then Fallout 3 has you covered. The controls are responsive and the action can heat up quickly. Players can hotkey any weapon, piece of armor, or consumable item to the cardinal directions of the d-pad, also. This is all well and good, but for Fallout fans or anyone seeking something a little more complex, there is V.A.T.S. mode.

Hitting the right bumper pauses the action and lets the player target individual body parts, each of which displays the player’s probability of making successful contact. Each attack performed in V.A.T.S. mode consumes a bit of AP, and results in a short but sweet animation of your character assaulting his enemy. When a targeted attack doesn’t kill an opponent, there is also a chance that it will cripple the body part in question and have a significant impact on the rest of the encounter. V.A.T.S. really captures the feeling of the old Fallout games, although I couldn’t target my enemies’ eyes every time.




I had to hurry up and get to town if I wanted to see any of the game’s dialog within my allotted time, so I hightailed it to Megaton and visited with some NPCs. The system looks similar to the Elder Scrolls and old Fallout games, with many options in the tree and the ability to use your character’s skills to your advantage. There is nothing terribly revolutionary here, but it definitely looks like players will be able to cultivate the character personality of their choice using the appropriate dialog selections.

Character customization plays an important roll in Fallout 3. Fans of previous Fallout games will be happy to learn that the game retains many of the specific design elements of earlier titles in that area. Each character will have the familiar basic statistics of strength, perception, endurance, charisma, intelligence, agility, and luck, as well as a long list of skills that can be leveled up independently in order to shape the individual play style of each character. From energy weapons, small guns, melee combat, and explosives to science, sneak, speech, and medicine, there are plenty of skills that players can focus on. Lastly, perks are back. They grant players bonuses to certain skills or provide other benefits like faster leveling or increased damage to certain types of enemies.

And that’s about all I had the time to see in the world of Fallout 3. The game is scheduled for a simultaneous release on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC this fall.


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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