Fallout 4 vs Fallout vs Fallout Shelter

The Post Apocalyptic Blues

I’ve got a case of the Post Apocalyptic Blues,
I’ve been blasted by beta rays until my rads are full,
So what is one to do?

I’ve got a case of the Post Apocalyptic Blues
I’m falling out with the Fallout
So I’m off for pastures new.

The Fallout series peaked with Fallout 3 for me. I played Fallout: New Vegas and while it is rightly recognised as the peak role playing experience of the Bethesda published games, I drifted away from the Mojave desert and have never been inclinced to return to it’s sparsely populated New Vegas strip.

In the past year I’ve played three other entries in the series, each time looking to capture that feeling of exploration I felt when I stepped out of the vault in Fallout 3 for the first time.

Fallout 4 (2015)

The biggest decision I had to make when playing Fallout 4 during the “When am I going to delete this game from my PC?” quest. I played 37 hours before realising I was forcing myself to stick with the game. What went wrong?

Algebraically my experience felt like:

Fallout 4 = Fallout 3 + Relentless Crafting + Ancillory City Builder – Interesting Character Decisions – Roleplaying

Which ultimately solves to Fallout 4 << Fallout 3 for me.

Where I’ve written about the Origins of my online gaming avatar, the true nature of Buddy Sideshow was established in Fallout 3. It was probably the first time I’d earnestly played a role in a game.

Donned in a dirty business suit with a baseball bat slung across my back, I took to the Capital Wastelands as an entrepneur willing to seel out anything and anyone for profit. I was looking to maximise my profit which didn’t necessarilty mean playing evil all the time. Sometimes it was better to play “good guy” and then turn and sell out a settlement or blow it up once I’d mined its value. I sold a kid into slavery, I had a companion who was my muscle should things get rough, I looted and pick pocketed, all with a smile on my face. With my high Speech skill I negotiated my way through the game using my baseball bat to silence any conflicts against my interest. Such was the business accumen of Buddy Sideshow Enterprises.

I’d hoped Fallout 4 would be a new chapter for BS Enterprises. However at its core, Fallout 4 is an action game with a veneer of its RPG roots. That’s fine. Games can evolve. But because I created Buddy Sideshow, the con businessman, looking to maximise my Speech skill and take advantage of my charisma I discovered the game quickly closed itself off from me. I didn’t invest in crafting or the settlements (didn’t fit my character) and I eventually hit a stalemate in the higher levels against enemies who could out gunned me in a matter of seconds (I brought a baseball bat to a laser gun fight). There was no Speech way out of these predicaments because every predicament was “Go to this location, murder everything in sight, collect quest item and then proceed to next location”. I just didn’t play Fallout 4 the way I think it needs to be played in order to be enjoyed.

I’ve honestly enjoyed myself more watching Noah Caldwell-Gervais excellent Fallout critical videos (A Thorough Look At Fallout (51mins), How Does Fallout 4 Compare To Previous Fallouts? (42mins), What I Wish I Knew Before I Played Fallout 4 (23mins), What’s Been Going On With Fallout 4 DLCs? (23mins)). In his video he talks about learning to play Fallout 4 on its own terms namely that it is an action game first, a survival crafting game second and somewhere thereafter a lightweight RPG with a narrow, specific story to tell. I see the value in Fallout 4 it just wasn’t for me.

Perhaps rather than moving forward from Fallout 3 I needed to go further backwards?

Fallout (1997)

And so I started a Let’s Play of the original 1997 Fallout, a game I remarkebly still owned on CD from a Packard Bell Bundled Software set from my parent’s mid-9990s home Personal Computer.

No reloading, no online research, no preparation; I went into Fallout primed to have a fresh, role playing experience. I conquered the starting cave of rats that bested me as a child. I gained some companians, I largely squinted at dark screens until I adjusted my screen’s brightness or gave myself the only migraine I’ve had in my life. I tried to charm my way through conversations and one time it worked. Other times I say whole quest chains close off because I pissed off an NPC. I had to like it and lump it.

The experience was short and somewhat sweet. I say somewhat because I dipped in and out of the game over a few months and never felt that urge to return. I played for nine hours before my character was captured by Super Mutants only to be dunked in a vat Forced Evolution Virus after selling out the location of my ohme vault. That was my tale of Wasteland survival and being a hero: I didn’t survive and everyone depending on me died. That ticks my definition of “old school roleplaying” for sure.

In then end however, playing Fallout felt like an academic exercise and failed to capture the genuine enjoyment I had during my Let’s Play Blade Runner series.

Fallout Shelter (2015)

I’ve fallen for freemium games before with catastrophic results so I was wary of Fallout Shelter. Judging from the timestamps on my screenshots, I played over the course of 11 days. If it’s an iOS game then it’s safe to assume I played it while on my commute to work.

I trundled along and got a B. I showed up and did not much else. B!

Pointless. That’s my one word review. I didn’t “get” the appeal in building It had all the creativity of building your own valut as you do when playing Connect 4; slot pre-made rooms into a grid, drag and drop survivors into their preferred room and then wait (or pay to advance time quickly). At least with The Simpsons: Tapped Out you went on a nostalgic tour of Springfield and its many denizens. Here in the Shelter, the structure of a freemium game was all too obvious and there was just no charm to be found.

I decided to inject some role play into Fallout Shelter. I was a bored Vault Overseer. Bored by the job. Bored by the monotony. Bored by waiting for something to happen. I’ll make something happen. Hell even if it costs me everything I’ll make something happen.

I tunnelled deep down and built nothing but Bars. This Vault was going down in the flames of Sambuca shots and a blaze of Nuka Quantum Jaeger Bombs. I ordered everyone I could to the Bars and let the rest of the Vault fall into disrepair. I watched on as each room fell to radroaches or raiders and eventually fell into darkness as the power generators failed. I was happy.

Everyone died with the exception of one lone Vault Dweller who I evicted. The Fallout series is nothing if not committed to its tropes. Finally I felt closure and I deleted Fallout Shelter from my iPhone.

Going cold turkey is the only cure to The Post Apocalyptic Blues in my experience.