Saturday Morning Gaming: Something To Get You To Thursday (Fallout 3 vs. New Vegas)


Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to

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17 Responses

  1. Kolohe says:

    I was so ignorant of Fallout lore, and so bad at picking up on subtext, that I believed the overseer’s story that everyone had been locked up in the vault for 200 years or whatever it was.

    Certainly the character creation/tutorial section in both loses its immersion after the first play thru and you realize you get to do whatever at the ‘exit’ point.

    I’m trying to remember now when character creation lockdown was in Skyrim. It’s after the introductory ‘cutscene’ right (get it?) Or is it after the dragon attack?Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Kolohe says:

      Wasn’t that a great reveal? Dang. I mean, there were a ton of “wait, this information I’m getting now doesn’t comport with the information I already have…” moments. But bringing everything together was nice.

      I’ve heard several people criticize the “wanna change your build?” moment in the game but it never really rubbed me the wrong way. Hey. Maybe I want to change my build and play as a charmer again instead of a melee guy. Since I’m already devoting a handful of processes to meta-gaming, I can just offload that moment to those processes.

      Oh, that’s a good question about Skyrim. Since my immersion isn’t appreciably shook by the question, I don’t remember either.Report

  2. Damon says:

    I actually didn’t mind the New Vegas way. I think both were equally ok. Fallout 3 was similar to Fallout 4, although I I think FO4 was better–it WAS a newer game and the “prologue” was interesting. I found found FO3 in the beginning a bit more tedious, but not terribly so.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Damon says:

      Friend of the site (and occasional guest author!) Spivonomist pointed out that, on a second playthrough, Fallout 3’s opening was INTERMINABLE and New Vegas gave you the fast version so you could get to the game quickly and easily a second time.

      Hey, the first time I played as a Ninja… maybe next time I want to play as a sniper. Ugh. But first I gotta have a birthday party! AND TAKE A MULTIPLE CHOICE TEST! I WANNA PLAY THE GAME AND NOW I’M TAKING A MULTIPLE CHOICE TEST.

      If there were a way to immediately jump to the part where you left the vault and it asked you about how you wanted to set up your character, it’d probably be an understandable design choice.

      But I replayed the opening to Fallout 3 this morning as part of my research for this essay and it holds up, though it’s been a decade.


      • DavidTC in reply to Jaybird says:

        The real problem with the FO3 intro is that a good chunk of it is a tutorial. Don’t put unskippable tutorials in games!

        And as such, mods that let you skip the intro to F3 were some of the most popular early mods. People liked the intro…exactly once. By the second or third time, people were just ‘Ugh’. So modders immediately fixed it. There’s a tons of standalone alternative start mods.

        And the current most popular Fallout 3 mod of all time, the ‘FO3 Wanderers Edition’, has an optional alternative start you get prompted for, as do a few others…basically, any ‘complete overhaul’ mod will have a possible alternative start.

        The start is probably the most ‘fixed’ thing in Fallout 3.

        And the Fallout series has a somewhat weird thing of implementing mods in the next game. Like, FNV had making your own ammo and customizing your weapons, an extremely popular mod of FO3. (And then FO4 backed off some of that because making ammo is an extremely silly use of time, although I am sad they didn’t keep having different _types_ of ammo. It was somewhat cool to switch to armor piecing when facing armored people, or incendary, or whatever.)

        And then FO4 had settlements, a somewhat popular mod of FNV.

        So…FNV lets you skip the tutorial. There actually _is_ as much as a tutorial as in FO3, it’s just you have to go talk to whats-her-name over in the bar to get the rest of it. New players, looking at a completely empty city in the middle of a desert, will go to the place they’ve been directed, the place with the bright flashing lights, and talk to the obvious person. Repeat players can just wander off in the direction they want to go. Normally south. (1)

        And you actually can _sorta_ skip the start in the vanilla game. You just…save your game right before you exit the vault. You can change basically everything about your character at that point.

        Minus the one or two plot choices you make before that point. But, like a lot of Fallout 3 ‘decisions’, there are objectively good choices that you always should do, and objectively stupid ones that you shouldn’t do….even if you don’t want to follow up on some of the stuff later, it doesn’t hurt to leave it hanging. So it’s pretty easy to make an ‘ideal start’ savegame.

        1) If you’ve installed the games, and are replaying older games while waiting for Cyberpunk: I have mentioned the ‘Getting to the gate of New Vegas without gaining any XP?’ challenge here, right? Starting with a new character, it requires going north, sneaking up Black Mountain’s road and across the far north of it, without falling into the deathclaw desert, dropping down at the back of HELIOS One, heading southeast out the front of it, (You can’t go near the ant-infested desert because if things die near you you can accidentally get XP.), getting to the road, and then just walking to New Vegas, giving a wide berth to any wildlife. Once you reach a New Vegas entry gate without gaining any XP, you win…or if you want to cut it short, you can stop at the 188 junction, there’s almost no challenge after that point. If you’re bored one day, it’s fun to try, it doesn’t take that long.

        I’ve never actually tried _playing the game_ from that point on, but it would be interesting to play it without having gone through Nipton on the way to New Vegas.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to DavidTC says:

          Don’t put unskippable tutorials in games!

          Okay, I’ve been thinking about this.

          My experience of the tutorial was that it tied me to my character. I had an idea of him as I stepped out into the world.

          I’ve played any number of RPGs that didn’t have RP in them (Fallout 4, sadly, one of them) and Fallout 3 was TEEMING with RP in its RPG.

          You know when you get that itch right to the left part of your spine in the part of your back that you can’t reach except awkwardly and only because you did yoga for 3 months two years ago? And you go up to your significant other and ask them to scratch you in that place no, left, no the other left, up, just a… aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

          That’s what this game did for me.

          Now, I can understand that one person’s relief is another person’s irritation. “QUIT POKING ME IN THE BACK WITH YOUR NAILS!” and that sort of thing.

          For me, though… the tutorial, though unskippable, had me put on the character like a mech suit.

          And Fallout 3 was my personal Neon Genesis Evangelion. But I wasn’t Shinji. I was Kaworu as I stepped into the Jefferson Memorial. This is why I bought the game in the first place.Report

          • DavidTC in reply to Jaybird says:

            For me, though… the tutorial, though unskippable, had me put on the character like a mech suit.

            The first time, yeah.

            By the third time it got old, at least for most people. Making you start with being born, then as a baby to make sure you know the controls, and then birthday party, and then the GOAT which you had to go through even if you were going to pick stats, and there was a thankfully skipped radroach shooting bit in there, somewhere, IIRC.

            And…they didn’t actually have to make most of the _characterization_ parts unskippable. Most of that really happened on the way out of the vault, and…that made sense. Keep that, yeah. The second time through, they could have just let you pick your stats, and then wake up to leave the vault.

            If they had let you start at the beginning of that sequence, that would have been reasonable.

            In fact, they could have done that without having an obvious ‘skipability’, and let you still get into the character if you want. All they had to do was put the escape and the GOAT together, and skip the earlier parts.

            What they could have done: Start the game in your room, with a room mirror, design a character. Then walk to the GOAT and take it (Or skip it.), and then you are directed to wander around the vault and talk to people, practice shooting, etc, a full tutorial, and then you go to bed. And wake up, and have to escape.

            But the entire pre-sleep vault part could technically accomplish nothing. (The game could automatically level you up to 1000 XP on waking up regardless of where you started.) So instead you can just make a character’s look, walk down the hall to the GOAT room, pick stats instead of taking the test, walk back, and go to bed to start the actual game. Boom.Report

  3. Jaybird says:

    And now I’m wondering about how much effort needs to be put into the whole “someone is going to play this twice” thing.Report

    • DavidTC in reply to Jaybird says:

      Well, I’m not sure a slow intro is really that impactful of replayability. But I’m a completionist, so I make a different type of character and then play _everything_. Every single bit of the game. Which means…I rarely deal with the start. If I’m going to spend 100 hours in single playthrough, I don’t care about wasting an hour at the start. (Hell, I probably spent three times that setting up whatever combination of mods I’m using for that playthrough.)

      So for me, FO3 was pretty ‘replayable’, in that you could just sorta wander randomly and find new things. Which…was actually a problem, because there are entire subplots it is incredibly easy to miss. But…for replayability, it’s fun to suddenly realize the Republic of Dave exists, or there’s a plot about collecting keycards to break into a pre-war military base, or whatever think you literally didn’t know was in the game.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to DavidTC says:

        Yeah, the Republic of Dave is something I missed the first time through (back in the XBox 360 days).

        I got it on the second time around.

        (As someone who only got the evil karma for the achievement, I am pleased to have seen Megaton’s “Banned In Japan” event, but I never did the Paradise Falls thing. Some quests just ain’t fun.)Report

        • Damon in reply to Jaybird says:

          I’ve played FO3 and FNV @ 3 times. FO4 about 4. Just finishing the 4th go around.Skipping the Nuka Cola area. It’s less multiple times than I’ve played Witcher 3, which is @ 4-5Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Damon says:

            I’m going through FO3 again for the first time since… jeez. Since I heard that New Vegas was coming out and I wanted to beat it one last time before playing the new one?

            (I also want to play a game that I know I’ll enjoy but won’t mind dropping like a hot rock come Thursday.)

            The only thing that makes me say “I need to mod this” is Galaxy News Radio. They really could use another 100 songs or so. (So I did that mod… no real need for the other ones.)Report

            • DavidTC in reply to Jaybird says:

              Since you said ‘100 songs’, I’ll assume you found the GNR Enhanced mod.

              Fun fact: Since that mod is basically just a bunch of wav and both stereo and mono mp3 files, which is why it’s over a gig, you can easily take the songs out of it.

              And you don’t even have to feel guilty…the reason they’re allowed to distribute that mod is that they are public domain songs.

              So I have had an album called ‘Galaxy News Radio’ consisting of those 100 songs, in my actual music folder, for a decade. I even stole the album art from the official Fallout 3 soundtrack.

              I think the funniest song, or at least the one that tends to get confused looks from people, is Tic-Tic-Tic, although a lot of them cause double-takes, being weirdly pro-nuclear.Report

  4. Jaybird says:

    Without getting too political, I’d like to point out that there is John Henry Eden schwag out there.Report

  5. Kolohe says:

    Random thought (which is probably not original)

    New California Republic : The New Republic
    Caesar’s Legions : The First OrderReport

  6. Jaybird says:

    (high pitched noise)