I've been playing Bethesda sandbox games since Morrowind came out on the original XBox. I played through the main quest on it, but was still maxing out my character and exploring when the regular crashes became too much to take. I switched to the PC version and played through the whole thing with mods and the Tribunal expansion. I loved the console and it was the first super-long game I'd invested that much in. I wanted to play Oblivion on the PC, but couldn't justify meeting all the hardware requirements, so I wound up playing it on the XBox 360. Life made me put it aside when my character was nearly maxed out, but I hadn't done a lot of the achievementy quests with all the guilds and still had yet to finish the main quest (I like delaying that kind of stuff). Well, when I tried to upgrade to the 120GB hard drive, the drive was bad but the process eats the data off the original 20GB drive (be fair warned), so I lost about 900 game saves, and at this point I'm not sure if I'll ever go back and restart. I'm now nearing completion of my second play through of Fallout 3. In a week or so I should have finished all of the side quests and visited all of the known locations except for the Jefferson Memorial, Vault 87, The Citadel and Raven Rock (I'm saving fighting the Enclave for dessert).
Things I love about Fallout 3
It's pretty playable, and the world is easy to get immersed in. I'm the obsessive explorer/scavenger/collector type and have one of almost everything in a locker or fridge and most of the unique items. I have over 100 of most of the workbench components (though the Motorcycle parts seem too rare to actually get 100, I actually have almost 100 Vacuum Cleaners).
I love the Matrix like animations in V.A.T.S.. I'm ordinarily a free shooter, but have grown to love V.A.T.S. mode for this alone. Plus it is nice to queue up 5 head shot kills with Lincoln's Repeater, and I love the dings.
I think a lot of the side quests are entertaining even going through a second time and doing things a bit differently. I still feel like the main storyline is really disappointing, but it's better than the disappointing main quest in Morrowind.
I love the followers, Charon in particular. Yeah, they are simple, but effective. I feel guilty when I have to make him wait like a pack mule while I go get fingers, so when I go to Ghoul or Mutie infested areas I like to loot while letting him and the others do the killing (he seems to enjoy it so much). My favorite moments with him:
- For the first time ever having a dialog option that was what I said outloud (on the first time through "Whoa! What the fuck was that?"
- "I don't like the look of this place" in my Megaton House "Me neither"
- "There may be danger here" as he squatted on a beeping mine so I couldn't get to it to disarm it
- His one shot to the head kills of Sydney near exploding cars -- somehow they make reloading not so bad
Things I dislike about Fallout 3
I miss the console. Getting stuck when you jump to the wrong place; having Walter show up laying near the entrance to Megaton; losing Doc Hoff not long after upgrading the caravans, but thankfully after I bought the schematic from him (for that matter in the second playthrough I've been really unlucky, Crazy Wolfgang still has a guard, but the other two are all alone, and no one has a Brahmin); and no reskinning (I'd love to make Maple's Garb look like something normal or change Ledoux's Hockey Mask into a pair of glasses).
Though it's really playable, the stats/skill system feels really dumbed down compared to the Elder Scrolls. I liked that actually using a skill led to becoming better at it instead of being somewhat arbitrary. The perks are fun, and hunting down the books is cool, but somehow it just doesn't feel 'earned' the way skills did in Oblivion.
I thought the best two improvements in Oblivion were the multiple homes that were actually nice and well thought out (I had piles of stuff all over the main square in Balmora in my first Morrowind game), and the minigames (particularly the lockpick). When you invest so much in a world, it's nice to have good homes. Here having only one of two that are relatively bland is a real let down. The two in Fallout 3 are okay, but just not quite as cool and you're not quite rewarded as much for learning to carefully watch and listen as you were in the old lockpick in Oblivion. Still, it's the houses I miss the most. I have more than 150,000 (can't stop obsessively looting) and nothing to spend it on. I even wound up buying Frostcrag Spire last time and used it so much it felt like money well spent.
I still kind of don't like the never needing to sleep, and never really needing armor or fearing for your life. With about 1000 Stimpaks and the ability to use as many as needed, I think you could punch a Behemoth to death if you were really that bored.
I love the sound. I was addicted to GNR on the first play through, but I've really enjoyed the sound track lately. I love that enough thought was put in to even have special scoring for when you're looking at one of the grave sites for Searching for Cheryl.
What changed with my second play through
Aside from being a bit smarter about my goals and managing stat development and perks, the biggest change has to be moving more to a stealth/sniper type character, and travelling a lot lighter. I realized that armor isn't rewarded (it's too easy to heal), and in addition to more carrying power, it's simpler just to travel light.
In my first game I preferred the Ranger Battle Armor and carried around the Terrible Shotgun, the Xuanlong Assault Rifle, the Reservist's Rifle, and more grenades and mines than I ever really needed. Now I'm on Maple's Garb, a Silenced 10mm Pistol, Occam's Razor, Lincoln's Repeater, and, for now, the Gauss Rifle. Sometimes I still cary the Xuanlong around, but in general I try to stay at under 60 WG when I head out into the world.
I also wound up not killing Harold this time. Killing him seemed the right thing to do, but the dialog after actually made me feel okay about it.
Since I'm going for completeness this time too, I did Strictly Business in my main game. I miss having Flak for ammo, and I rescued them all, but it sort of sucks hearing Three Dog ask listeners to "do the math".
Finally, I killed the Ghouls at Tenpenny Tower this time around. The more I thought about it, the other way around all the bigots moved away (except Tenpenny who I killed), so the only people that died were the good guys who weren't bigots. Plus, I never really cared for or used the Ghoul Mask. There's no real advantage in losing things to fight, and if I want to observe up close with 100 sneak you can pretty much tap them before they notice. So I get bitched out for that too, but being the master of alternate realities in this world, I'm sure it was the right thing to do.
Major disappointment; short, simple, and I'm enjoying playing with the Gauss Rifle, but that's about it. Even if it were worse and I knew it, though, I'd gladly buy it to keep Bethesda making dough. I've easily gotten more entertainment out of the basic Fallout 3 than a dozen other games.
My contributions are likely to be minimal, and based on filling in when I happen to notice while I'm using a page. I type horribly, and am likely to leave plenty for someone to follow up on. I apologize for my laziness there. One would never guess that I am actually educated based on what I type up online.