Greetings friend, and Welcome aboard!!
Before we get into this Fallout 3 vs. New Vegas vs. Fallout 4 mega Shootout and trip down memory lane, grab a snack (or 3), sit back, and relax because…
You’ve come to the right place!!
Today we’re going to take a deep dive into 2 of the most memorable RPGs ever made and talk in-depth about how they compare with Fallout 4 – a game that combines elements of both RPG and Shooter.
Toward the end, I’ll include a Bonus on How To Hack Terminals Intelligently and we’ll also take a trip down memory lane.
This article will be long, but definitely worth it if you want to really feel immersed in everything the Fallout world has to offer you.
It will also contain some spoilers, so proceed with caution.
So stick around and let’s dive in!
Years back, around 2009, I was still going to college and living at home.
I remember Spring Break vividly.
I decided that for the entire duration of the week, all I was going to do was sit on the couch in the bonus room and play Fallout 3.
And oh boy howdy did I ever.
I don’t recall getting up to do anything besides:
I think I slept on the couch the entire time.
Wake up, rinse, repeat. I don’t even think I took any showers either. LOL.
I had snacks at my disposal, plenty of soda, and life was good.
Fallout is the type of game that will either hit you like a ton of bricks, or you won’t ever really latch on to it.
When I first played it, I was thoroughly unimpressed.
It was boring.
I ran around and couldn’t find anything to do.
It was hard.
I died easily and I was about to give up.
Had I given up, I probably would have still had some semblance of a life. But alas, I don’t. And here we are, 14 years later talking about it. xD
Nowadays I play the game just so I can run around with nothing to do but explore.
My light-bulb moment came during nightfall.
I was innocently walking along and spotted some people traveling up yonder.
They didn’t see me. All you could see was the horizon, and some sort of light behind them creating their silhouettes in the distance.
I didn’t know who they were or where they were going.
Were they bad people? Were they weary travelers? Why were they walking in a straight-line formation?
Then it hit me how immense and grand everything was within this universe.
It’s like that moment that comes a few minutes after you smoke weed out of a vaporizer and realize just how high you are.
The enormity of it all was overwhelming in a way that is hard to describe.
For a second, I actually felt like I was inside the game. And no, I wasn’t high. LOL. “Smoke up Johnny!”
Since that moment, I’ve never looked back.
I still enjoy linear games like Uncharted, as they will always hold a special place in my heart.
But Sandbox-style games like Fallout are truly unique and present to you an almost endless amount of possibilities.
The fact that I could go anywhere and do anything was refreshing given the fact that I had grown up with side scrollers all my life.
It’s not that games like Donkey Kong Country and Super Mario Bros. were bad; quite the contrary.
For me, those were some of the best experiences of my life and I still play them to this day, due to the profound impact they had on gaming at the time.
And they’re just a ton of fun!
Fallout on the other hand presents the world as it is, within the confines of an idea (a nuclear apocalypse in this case).
It is then up to you to decide what to do with it and how to interact.
To complete the game, yes, you have to complete the main story.
The cool part?
There are a few alternate endings to all 3 of the games (New Vegas having the most amount of wiggle room in terms of choice), and a ton of side quests to keep you occupied in case you didn’t want to forge ahead right away.
I would argue that playing the game for the side quests is a lot more fulfilling than completing the main story.
The exception, in this case, is Fallout New Vegas, which has arguably one of the best video game stories of all time.
Some of the interactions that you have with Mr. House are mind-blowing, as he explains to you what happened the day the bombs dropped, how he was personally involved, and all of the aftermath that ensued.
Fallout 3 vs. New Vegas
From 2012 to 2015, I worked at a Bakery here in N.C.
My manager at the time was a huge Fallout 3 fan, and we had some rather heated debates over which game was ultimately better:
Fallout 3? Or Fallout: New Vegas.
He didn’t really like New Vegas, and as much as I tried to convince him that it was an incredible game in its own right, he wasn’t having it.
“Dude it’s a freaking empty desert with absolutely nothing to do.”
I can’t remember if that was an exact quote, but it may as well have been.
He didn’t have nice things to say. XD
He’s not entirely wrong about the empty desert part but is wrong about the latter.
There’s plenty to do.
New Vegas offers 79 (SEVENTY. NINE.) side quests vs. 18 for Fallout 3 (and that’s not even including the 4 different main quest story arcs that you can choose in New Vegas (Mr. House, Yes Man, NCR, or Legion).
There are some misc. unmarked quests in 3, but those can hardly be considered meat and potatoes.
They’re more like errand boy quests, which Fallout 4 also, unfortunately, has a lot of.
With the addition of the Add On quests (Dead Money, Honest Hearts, Old World Blues, and Lonesome Road), New Vegas was as immense an experience as I can ever remember from a video game, and infinitely more rewarding to the avid explorer than 3 ever was.
That’s not to say I don’t like 3. I absolutely adore both games, but I enjoy them for different reasons.
And about the desert: Upon the first examination, it does seem rather barren, but…
IT’S A DESERT!!
Even despite that fact, the game is littered with quests and stories for you to complete and plenty of locations to discover if you’re adventurous enough to get rewarded.
I think Fallout 3 presented a better overall environment, but in terms of lore and staying genuinely occupied, New Vegas wins hands down.
Fallout 3 does have some incredibly spine-chilling stories though, such as “Tranquility Lane” and the Story of Vault 112, “Tenpenny Tower”, “Andale”, “The Family”, as well as the Story of Vault 87 which just so happens to be part of the main quest.
There are some sad stories like “Oasis” and “Those” (Featuring Bryan Wilks of Grayditch).
And there are also some amusing stories like “The Power of the Atom” and “The Superhuman Gambit”, with many more in between.
If you’re familiar with my YouTube channel you’ll know I meme the Power of The Atom quite a lot in my videos because of the link between it and the name of JDS’ ATOM Headphone Amplifier – which outputs a lot of, you guessed it, POWER.
It just cracks me up every time. Don’t say I didn’t warn you:
“GIVE your bodies to ATOM my friends!” XD
Anyways, back to video games.
The real draw to Fallout 3 was its drab and dreary landscape, complete with rubble, rubble, and more rubble.
It truly was effective in placing you in a nearly hopeless situation and basically saying “Good luck!”
There was nothing quite like gazing at a damaged and war-torn Washington Monument in the backdrop of the vast Capital Wasteland.
Many times I would just stop the game, marveling at how cool it looked from a distance.
Getting lost in Fallout 3 never felt so good.
I can’t count how many times I would enter a subway system and lose track of time – exploring, looting, and killing until I finally came out on the other side in a completely different location that I hadn’t discovered before (sometimes miles and miles away from the original landmark).
There were times when I truly thought to myself: “I don’t know if I’m ever going to get out of here.”
It may sound like I’m exaggerating, but I can assure you I’m not.
There was a palpable sense of dread that the game created by making the map and locations incredibly complex and maze-like, to the point of almost ceaseless anxiety.
In Fallout 4, a lot of that creativity and feeling is missing.
I don’t ever really get that sense of “I have no idea where I am or where to go” in 4 as I did in 3.
In other words,
it’s not nearly as exciting.
The coolest part was that in many cases you absolutely had to go one specific way in order to get from point A to point B in Fallout 3.
I remember getting lost (and having to go back through the tunnels) on numerous occasions trying to figure out how to get to the Chevy Chase district, Dupont Circle, and Georgetown among others.
But instead of relief after finally arriving, I was met with a hailstorm of Super Mutant bullets the moment I emerged from the darkness into the glorious light.
It was such a trip.
Is this a testament to the game itself?
Or can it be attributed to the vast complexity of Washington D.C.?
I think it’s a bit of both, seeing as how Bethesda absolutely nailed everything.
The game is pretty much a carbon copy of the city and is just about 100% accurate if memory serves me right.
This is what made the game boundlessly memorable.
There was so much to discover that at times it seemed like it would never end.
That you would never run out of places to see, people to meet, or things to loot.
It was fun but also challenging.
The characters were interesting. Super Mutants were no walk in the park.
Even after leveling up, I found some of the more experienced ones to be quite difficult to take down.
These are memories that I will cherish forever.
There’s nothing quite like your first time, and with Fallout 3 that’s certainly never been more true than it is now, looking back on it all.
Though the game in some ways was quite pedestrian in its approach, it had an undeniable charm that lives on even to this day.
Sure, running looked ridiculous and resembled something more like floating, there were no aim-down sights yet (I will refer to it as “ADS” from here on out), there were a ton of glitches, and combat itself could get rather clunky at times.
in over 10 years of playing this franchise, I have never once gotten sick of annihilating a Super Mutant, killing yet another overzealous Raider, or splattering what’s left of a Feral Ghoul’s guts; hearing them utter their final desperate gurgle.
It simply never gets old. Ever.
Even though the stories were very good in Fallout 3, New Vegas definitely improved on that aspect, while adding ADS, companions, the stories/lore, and also improving dialogue among other things.
New Vegas was a true RPG in every sense of the word.
I’ve always felt that the dialogue was excellent in both, but New Vegas seemed to add even more depth and nuance to the characters, your character, and the impact that your decisions had on the game itself (Karma included, which is also missing in 4).
I cared more about them this time around.
I cared more about the story in New Vegas than I did in 3.
Remember No-Bark Noonan from Novac?
Perhaps one of the most memorable characters in all of Fallout lore is this seemingly crazy old man (or is he?)
Video Credit to Oxhorn. Subscribe to his channel!
You could point to Obsidian as the culprit for these improvements, and you wouldn’t be wrong.
A lot of those original writers and employees (namely writer Chris Avellone) came from the now-defunct Black Isle Studios, a division of Interplay and the company responsible for the original Fallout 1 and 2.
before shutting down, they were working on a game called Fallout 3: Van Buren, which never came to fruition.
Luckily, many of the concepts and stories planned for that game made it to 2010’s New Vegas.
The music in both 3 and Vegas was incredible, but I’ll also have to give a slight nod to New Vegas here.
It’s very close though.
Mark Morgan (who also composed music for the television show One Tree Hill)’s haunting score is both a breath of fresh air and terrifying in many regards, with an added dose of heart-wrenching nostalgia thrown in for good measure.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard a tune more emotional in its sense of longing than that of “Dream Town”, and I don’t say that lightly.
It’s a piece that evokes so much raw feeling, divulging a glimmer of hope but also lamenting in its declaration of what once was, but is now lost forever.
There are quite a few places in New Vegas in which this song will play, and most of the time it’s in a location completely devoid of anything.
In other words, empty and lonely.
I’ll never forget entering a broken-down old house and discovering nothing but a withered old war-torn man on the inside.
Just sitting at a table, doing nothing, waiting to die, with his gun on his back.
As the sunlight filtered through the window with “Dream Town” playing in the background, I wondered to myself how he got here, what he was thinking about, and where he was going, even despite the fact that he wasn’t real.
That’s the kind of impact that a good soundtrack can have on you.
It has the capacity to plunge you even deeper into the gameplay, so much so that you’ll find yourself actually caring about a decrepit 80-year-old A.I. as I did.
While New Vegas did recycle many of Fallout 1 and 2’s original songs, I have no issues with it given how incredible the soundtrack is.
It adds so much to the experience that’s almost impossible to overstate.
While Inon Zur’s soundtrack to Fallout 4 is impressive, it doesn’t hold a candle to the older entries in the canon, as I frequently find myself turning the music off altogether.
I will say his ambient soundtrack to Fallout 3 is borderline genius though and contains some of the most memorable tracks in the Fallout franchise for sure.
More on that later.
Inon Zur’s Fallout 3 Ambient Soundtrack
“But dude, the stories are better in New Vegas and there’s still plenty of cool locations to discover. You just have to be patient and willing to venture out.”
This was more or less my response to my former manager, who just couldn’t see eye to eye with me about New Vegas and its superior storytelling ability.
Take for example the famed Vault 11 saga, now infamous for its depiction of a social experiment gone horribly wrong.
I won’t spoil it, but in essence, the Vault is forced to hold elections by a mainframe computer, appointing nominees that don’t actually want to win.
Imagine for a second I’m a member of the vault.
Instead of me trying to convince you that I’m the best fit for the job (the position of Overseer), I’m trying to convince you of the opposite (that I’m not), or that person B is.
Well, you’ll just have to play it for yourself and find out! 😀
This bizarre sort of reverse psychology plays out incredibly well, as the story bobs and weaves to its heartbreaking conclusion.
The story of Vault 11 is perhaps the most indelible side plot to any game ever and rivals a lot of full-length movie plots to be quite honest.
It’s so good in fact that I don’t even want to embed a YouTube video for you to watch.
I actually want you to experience it firsthand for yourself.
That’s powerful. I can’t say that about any other story in the entire canon.
If the charm in Fallout 3 was the universe itself, and the itch to explore every square millimeter, New Vegas’ claim to fame was most certainly the characters, the story, and the dialogue.
I don’t remember one single person or robot in New Vegas who I thought wasn’t interesting to talk to.
I went out of my way to talk to everyone I saw, hoping it would yield some sort of cool story arc.
More often than not it did.
Fallout 3 vs. Fallout 4
Given the massive success of Fallout 3, and the addition of New Vegas only 2 years later, I think it’s safe to say that everyone and their brother was chomping at the bit in 2015 to finally play Fallout 4.
I remember the summer of that year when “Fallout Shelter” came out for mobile phones, hyping everyone up for the fall release, and in the process creating a bunch of new fans (for better or worse).
I was working at a photography studio at the time, and I vividly remember a somewhat eccentric fellow named Ethan who had pre-ordered one of those ridiculous Pip-Boy packages.
Yes, you read that right.
One could actually purchase the game bundled with a plastic Pip-Boy that you put on your arm, similar to what your character does in-game for use with his inventory.
It was absolutely ridiculous, and the hype around the game at that point had become out of control.
I found out just recently that it was basically a cheap piece of plastic and not even worth the extra cost, but that’s neither here nor there (F YOU BETHESDA!).
I did eventually buy the game that year, but not the silly Pip-Boy package. Go me. I’m so SMRT.
I look at Fallout 4 as Fallout 3 on steroids.
Lots. of steroids.
All of the steroids.
OK I’m done. xD
Here’s a good gif illustrating the point:
Everything got an update (well not everything, but we’ll get into that as well).
If you loved Fallout 3, mostly everything about 4 provided that same wonderful experience, only better.
But wait! There’s more!
The terrain is improved, the graphics are light years better (with the exception of faces, which are God awful bad), you can actually sprint, your character doesn’t look like he’s floating, you can ADS, etc., etc.
The environment actually has some color to it, which was the main gripe with both 3 and New Vegas (OMG IT’S SO BROWN!)
Lol. Again I say, IT’S A DESERT!
Fallout 3 was mostly green, like Super Mutant. 😛
I also believe the world itself is bigger in 4.
There’s more to see and loot, more to explore, and the wasteland this time around seems infinitely more vast (if that was even possible).
I think the game designers have always done a great job at providing plenty of land for you to trudge through, and that notion is certainly apparent in Fallout 4.
Gun-play Mechanics and V.A.T.S
One major improvement that 4 provided was gun-play mechanics.
In Fallout 3, everything seemed just a bit clunky, to the point where you only really cared about killing things inside of V.A.T.S. (Vault Assisted Targeting System).
This time around,
I actually find myself wasting enemies more often outside of V.A.T.S., which I thought was interesting.
Speaking of V.A.T.S., it now rolls in extreme slow motion instead of freezing time.
Purists might scoff at this, and I admit it’s not quite as fun to use, but I suppose it’s a minor nitpick.
It kind of relegates the game to a shooter in many ways (rather than a turned-based RPG), also something that Fallout 3 and New Vegas retained (somewhat) from the earliest installments in the series.
After going back and playing 3 again, I think it took a lot more skill to kill an enemy outside of V.A.T.S.
Your aim had to be really good.
In 4, the ADS’ing is easier as you can essentially just spam bullets and stay on target better. Enemies also die much quicker.
As far as 4 is concerned, I find that it’s more fun to use guns as they were meant to be used.
That is definitely no accident.
It seems Bethesda really wanted to turn this game into a shooter, and in that, they did succeed.
Your enemies also seem to be a bit more intelligent this time around.
They Stimpack (health) themselves, they move around erratically which makes them harder to target, they take cover, and they generally behave more like an actual human would in a gunfight.
Raiders are still incredibly stupid and overzealous though, but I think that was part of the charm in 3.
Fortunately, it carries over here and they are still boatloads of fun to destroy and laugh at.
Check out this little montage I did. The beat was done by me and the song by an old friend. Hope you enjoy it!
Fallout 4 Gameplay – “Quick Clip” feat. Janus00 (prod. Xtr@Ba$eHitZ)
Notice how I kind of play it like I would Call of Duty?
It’s definitely a point of contention amongst hardcore fans of the franchise.
Here’s an incredibly implausible scenario that happens quite frequently:
- Me: Shoots off my gun and makes a ton of noise.
- Raider to another Raider: “Did you hear something?”
*Raider haphazardly “investigates” the area for all of 2 seconds, basically moving about a foot or 2 and mostly looking down*
- Raider: “Well, nothing there now.” Lmao.
O RLY? Bruh you didn’t even investigate. It reminds me of Metal Gear Solid to an extent.
It’s juuuust a bit unrealistic in that sense. They still give up way too quickly, and would never do such a thing in real life.
Here’s another funny scenario:
- Me: Blows a Raider’s head to bits.
- Other Raider: “Don’t you die on me!!”
Uh, yeah, he’s already dead bro.
I think it has something to do with the fact that his head was obliterated. XD
Don’t You Die On Me!!
Sometimes you’ll blow a Raider’s head clean off with a Sniper Rifle.
Instead of the others going “OH MY GOD HIS HEAD JUST GOT BLOWN OFF!” or saying something equally as appropriate, one will simply go, “Wha?” as if nothing happened.
As if he was dozing off and got woken up by the faint sound of a cat’s meow.
Move along, nothing to see here.
Crafting, Settlements, Companions & Lore
Even with that said, another major improvement in Fallout 4 is the addition of Crafting Stations and the Settlement System. Companions were also brought back.
In New Vegas, you had a companion wheel and could have up to 8 IIRC, in 3 you could have up to 8, and in 4 you can have up to 13.
Companions & Lore
I’m a little bit torn on whether or not I actually like having them, and that sentiment has carried from 2010 to the present day.
To me, Fallout has always been about isolation and exploration … on your own.
One of the reasons I play it is because of just that.
It’s a game that works best and has its most profound impact when you’re alone and everything is quiet.
When you have nothing to listen to but the sound of the rain, some gunfire in the distance, the creaking of an old structure while you’re inside, the sound of a feral ghoul hissing behind that door, the click-clacking of a computer terminals keyboard, and everything in between.
In New Vegas, they took it a step further.
Some of the vaults were genuinely creepy as hell, including the overtaken-by-plants Vault 22, what with its weird computer clicks, strange voices, and horrifying lore.
Fallout 3’s Vault 106 was equally as eerie too.
Playing the game at night can be a truly frightening experience if you’re home alone in a more isolated area.
The Dunwich Borers
Fallout 4 continued some of that magic in the Dunwich Borers, which is supposedly an old abandoned rock quarry (now inhabited by Raiders).
There are some truly creepy moments that occur after venturing into the underground portion, which hearkens back to some of the same things that happen while you’re inside Vault 106 from Fallout 3 (flashbacks, etc.)
In making your way through the tunnels, you’ll find a bunch of Feral Ghouls who were former workers of the quarry.
As it turns out, the entire company’s motives were a ruse, with their true intentions being much more sinister than meets the eye.
The deeper you go, the creepier it gets, complete with some supernatural phenomena, and flashbacks alluding to ritual sacrifice and the occult.
It seems as though the project managers in on the deception were actually looking for an artifact used in the worship of ancient and false gods.
This can sort of be found by swimming to the bottom of a water hole below a crane near Station 4.
It’s a bit hard to make out underwater, but see the nose and closed eye? You have to be positioned just right and in real-time it can be easy to miss.
In passing it just looks like a jumble of rubble.
It’s also fascinating when you consider that this side story coincides with The Dunwich Building story of Fallout 3, based on the writings of the late H.P. Lovecraft.
Video Credit to Oxhorn. Subscribe to his channel!
All of this is much more fun and eerie without someone tagging along.
I honestly believe having companions sacrificed some of the loneliness that came with playing the game as a survivor in a nuclear wasteland.
What made 3 work so well is the sense of dread you had being by yourself in a world full of uncertainty at every turn.
It evoked that sense of wonder and bewilderment, as you learned the ropes by doing and experiencing life along the way.
Having a companion with you kind of results in this sort of “Ho Hum” attitude, or: business as usual – i.e. just another day in the wastes with my trusty home slice (Super Mutant “Strong”), who keeps me company and talks like a Neanderthal (which he kind of is).
In 4, the crafting stations are absolutely wonderful though, and do make a lot of sense for a lone wanderer such as myself.
I love cooking new foods, making cool chems so I can get high (don’t forget to bring a towel!), and crafting weapon mods out of stuff you find lying around the wastes.
All of that “junk” that was actually junk in Fallout 3 has turned into some seriously valuable loot if you like to build and experiment.
If you’re missing something, just press a button (triangle on PS4) to tag it for search.
Now when you see it out in the wastes it will have a tiny magnifying glass icon next to it, indicating that you are indeed searching for it.
So if you need something like steel, and see a shiny dinner fork, you’ll know to take it.
Some of the objects are less obvious, but still fun to pick up and see what they yield.
Just head over to the “Junk” section of your inventory and have a gander.
The Settlement feature is incredibly addicting as well, as you can basically scrap entire broken-down houses (and anything else you find) forging it all into new stuff for your cause.
It again appeals to my inner desire to organize and clean things.
I went through the entire Sanctuary neighborhood recently and scrapped almost every single piece of junk lying around.
It’s fun to restore houses, add beds, build generators, plant crops, set up defenses, and provide power to a place that was in essence decimated by the bombs so many years ago.
You’re basically rebuilding the neighborhood you lived in, and it’s a blast to do so.
Fallout 4’s Drawbacks
As much as Fallout 4 improved on 3, there are a few things it did horribly, massively wrong.
it’s more of a first-person/third-person shooter than it is an RPG.
I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who would disagree with that.
In that sense, I think it sacrificed a bit of heart in order to appeal to a wider demographic of people.
While it’s a ton of fun to play and does remind me of those 2009 days on my parents’ bonus room couch, it’s still not quite the franchise it once was.
A lot of the quests are rather boring.
I had previously read that “Go here, shoot this, and come back” sentiment many times in reviews, and always thought it was over-exaggerated until I actually went through it myself.
I say this as a guy who has actually achieved the Platinum trophy for this game.
Yeah, I have no life. xD
The settlement feature, as cool as it is, also has some drawbacks.
Most of the time you’ll find yourself as the glorified errand boy (or hired gun if you’re into the whole brevity thing), going to place X and killing Y (Super Mutants, Feral Ghouls, Raiders, etc.) coming back and getting paid, then reporting to Preston and doing it all over again for a different settlement.
They. all. need. your. help.
Of course, you don’t have to if you don’t want to, so I suppose getting sucked into it proves that’s kind of addicting in its own strange way.
I like to kill Ghouls as much as the next guy, but I like to do it ON MY OWN TIME, OKAY! Lol.
Well, that was kind of a contradiction beca.. nevermind.
No seriously, it’s kind of just, meh to be honest.
What’s disappointing about this game is not exploration (that’s actually still a lot of fun).
It’s the fact that the payoff from said exploration is sufficiently lacking, meaning, I don’t really care all that much about it.
After exploring over 200 locations, I can honestly say that there aren’t that many truly memorable side plots to speak of.
Note: I’m certainly open to debate on this, as I believe the storytelling in Fallout can really make or break the game in question. After seeing Oxhorn’s playlist of Fallout 4 lore videos, I’m tempted to go back to some of these locations again, just to see if I missed anything. I will update the article to reflect any changes moving forward!
To be honest, though, most of the “stories” I came across were rather meh. I sort of just shrugged my shoulders and moved on.
Subway Systems are not even close to what they once were either (anyone remembers “The Family” story from Fallout 3?) There’s none of that in 4.
Aside from Raiders occupying the area, and an incredibly annoying intercom voice that never shuts up, there’s not much else to a Subway Station.
I remember one instance, in particular, where I saw a chained door and got really excited as to what was on the other side.
Turns out, nothing was on the other side.
It’s actually the exit to take you back to the place you started (aka where you’re standing) once you waste a bunch of time exploring.
Yes, that’s right:
After exploring the Subway, you literally come full circle back to the chained door and open it from the other side.
I felt as though Bethesda bitch slapped me for even wanting to know.
In Fallout 3, subway tunnels could lead to such an array of different locations that it became overwhelming at times.
“Should I go left or right?” “I wonder what’s down that way” “I hope I get lost and find something cool.”
It was an adventure. It was engrossing and fun.
That’s largely missing from 4.
Remember how in 3 or New Vegas you’d explore a place and it would yield some really cool story or quest?
Not so in 4 for the most part.
You’ll find a really cool place, loot it, and maybe, just maybe there’s a decent holotape or some terminal you can hack containing some interesting entries and/or stories.
“Come Fly With Me” is an example of a great side quest from New Vegas that materializes after initiating a conversation with No-Bark in Novac.
Is Fallout 4 largely devoid of meaning?
For as large a universe as Fallout 4 is, it oftentimes feels empty and devoid of meaning or sustenance.
Maybe it’s just the nostalgia talking, but I sometimes feel like I’m running around looking for something interesting and have a hard time finding it.
Luckily, everything that made Fallout 3 and New Vegas fun in terms of killing stuff is still there in spades.
It’s still a treat to slowly kill a Death Claw or Super Mutant Behemoth from the safety of a high vantage point, the ambiance is still there to a large extent, and some subtle things really do add to the experience:
Mirelurks now can jump (which scared the crap out of me), you can look out of certain windows and see the outside, and I was actually followed by a Synth into an underground pipe in the Boston Mayoral Shelter.
The creep factor was high, and I truly felt like I was being stalked in the dead silence of the game’s environment.
The game itself is just generally more realistic as well.
In addition to the 3D pan when you’ve been idle for a while, every so often your character will fiddle with his Pip-Boy, adding to the realism a bit.
Your HUD color can also be changed via RGB sliders, instead of having a fixed amount of color choices (Amber, Blue, Green, White) from the previous games.
During load screens, you can interact with whatever object appears in full 3D too.
While these things don’t add anything in terms of game-play mechanics, they’re still a nice touch.
There’s an array of little things that add to the experience without really having a major impact on anything else.
In other words, the game is more polished.
Just the other day I shot a round out of my hunting rifle.
As the shell came flying out, it landed on the table, hitting a tub of Wonderglue in the process and actually moving it into a different position ever so slightly.
It’s these sorts of nuances that make the game stand out from its predecessors.
Hacking Terminals (Complete Guide at the bottom of this article) and picking locks is still really fun, and in general not much about the game feels like a chore.
It’s just .. missing something.
But what is it?
Level Up System
Aside from not really being a true RPG, the level-up system was completely nerfed and basically obliterated.
Instead of assigning skill points (15+) and choosing a perk per level or every 2 levels (as in the case of New Vegas’ wonderful perk system that was integrated with whatever character you decided to become), everything (attributes, skills, and perks) in 4 is combined; you’re now only allowed ONE, yes one per level up.
What. The. Actual. F***?
Why? Why ruin that aspect of the game when they got so much else right?
It really took the fun out of leveling up, and if that wasn’t bad enough, they took it a step further.
The Dialogue Wheel
Oh my God. Yes, it’s really that bad. All of it.
Not only is the default male a giant gaping vagina, but he actually talks and sounds like one too. Oh, joy.
Your character not talking at all was completely fine with me. I actually preferred it in 3 and New Vegas.
Yes, you can obviously make whatever character you want, but the default character is just so God-awful that I had to mention it.
Dialogue options have been reduced to 1 or 2 words, and the characters themselves feel and speak like one-dimensional robots.
In other words, they have the personality of a cinder block.
I found more nuance and charisma in a gurgling Feral Ghoul than I did with most characters in this game.
Does anyone remember Moira Brown and Three-Dog from Fallout 3? Sierra Petrovita from Girdershade in New Vegas?
I rest my case.
Couple that with the fact that your dialogue choices aren’t really choices; the game basically forces you into a feedback loop where you eventually have to choose the option that they want you to choose.
The conversation doesn’t extend past maybe 2 exchanges before you’re met with another round of bad dialogue wheel.
You can keep trying to get out of it but to no avail. It’s not even close to what a true RPG is.
The other bad part is that you can’t actually see any of it on the screen like you could with 3 and New Vegas.
Notice how all of those questions are open-ended, and all can spawn an interesting dialogue.
In those games, you could see your responses in full and were able to scroll through and direct the dialogue path however you wanted.
This sometimes resulted in a quest being altered in a completely unique and interesting way, or spawned a new quest altogether!
Not so in 4.
Again: Go here, kill X (or find some useless relic), come back, and receive caps. Rinse, repeat.
Not that fun, and really kind of dumbed down.
In fact, the dialogue is so uninteresting that I mostly just end up choosing the option that will end the conversation the fastest, so I can get back to killing things.
The Tragedy of Phyllis Daily
That said, there were some emotional moments thrown into 4 that were truly moving (at least in my opinion).
The exchange with a lonely woman (Phyllis Daily) who killed her grandson while supposedly under the influence of the Institute’s control really brought a tear to my eye, and made me remember how good the storytelling used to be.
Unfortunately, these moments are few and far between.
Hardcore mode vs. Survival
The other great thing about New Vegas was Hardcore Mode, which forced you into tracking and monitoring quite literally everything you did – from how much water you were getting, to your food intake, as well as your Radiation poisoning (which could actually kill you if you didn’t take care of it).
Your weapons break down slowly over time too, and require repairs and/or regular maintenance to boost their efficiency and effectiveness.
This, along with the challenge of combat itself, taught you to become more tactical and strategic about your plan of attack and subsequent course of action.
Fallout 4’s version is “Survival Mode” and to many, it’s actually better.
I personally have not tried it yet, but here’s a good thread.
Music + Game Design
We touched upon music briefly a bit ago, but I want to delve deeper into what is one of the most important components of overall game design.
In writing this, I had an interesting thought: What if my love for the older soundtracks is just nostalgia talking?
What if, in ten years’ time I look back on Fallout 4 (the way I look back on 3 and New Vegas) and long for the days of that specific soundtrack, because of how it made me feel in that moment in time, because of what it represented during that specific time period in my life.
This has happened to me countless times.
I’ll look back fondly on an experience or period in my life with much nostalgia, even though at the time I may have been going through something difficult.
It’s only years later when you can reflect on it and miss those days, because you may be going through something that seems harder now.
Still, there’s the argument that when I was listening to those songs back then, I was fully invested in them and appreciated them.
I didn’t take them for granted.
They had such a profound impact that it’s hard to even put into words how grateful I was to have experienced them during those moments.
This is why, at the end of the day, I still think that New Vegas and Fallout 3’s soundtracks are superior to 4’s.
The funny thing is that Inon Zur technically composed the bulk of all 3 games’ soundtracks, with some of Mark Morgan’s older songs infused into New Vegas.
Even though Fallout 4’s soundtrack from Zur is good, I was recently tempted to turn off the music altogether and enjoy the ambiance of the game itself.
At the time, I had Strong (The Super Mutant) with me as a companion, but something told me that I needed to send him away for a while and just get lost while soaking in everything that the universe has to offer.
I definitely recommend you try it sometime.
The world takes on a staggeringly different quality and sucks you in all the more. I think sometimes the music distracts from the desolation.
With it off, the experience of wandering through the commonwealth becomes increasingly magnified. You never realize just how much subtle detail and nuance there is until everything gets eerily quiet.
This to me is what the franchise has always been about, and even though times have changed, the memories will forever remain.
I think Fallout 4 improved on 3 and New Vegas in many ways, and I certainly am enjoying the game immensely right now.
What I’m disappointed over is the fact that it could have been a masterpiece if just a few things were different:
Leveling Up, Dialogue, Karma, and Lore.
If those 4 things had remained unchanged from the previous games, I think we would be calling Fallout 4 one of the greatest RPGs of all time.
As it stands right now, it’s a solid, above-average RPG/Shooter hybrid that comes up just short of greatness.
What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Let me know down below in the comments!!?
Bonus: Hacking Terminals Intelligently – A Guide
Love ’em or hate ’em, computer terminals are important aspects of Fallout that often get overlooked.
How many times have you just randomly entered words, hoping that you’d luck out and one of them would be the right one?
I’m certainly guilty of it.
It was not until I really sat down and attempted to learn exactly how they work that I was finally able to unlock most of them with quick and relative ease.
With some deduction and reasoning, most terminals are fairly easy to hack. You just have to know what the heck you’re doing.
In this guide, we’ll go over a few different common scenarios and explain how to tackle each one.
By the end, you should feel confident in hacking any terminal you see and feel like a pro doing so!
Upon sitting down at a terminal and attempting to hack it, you’ll be met with a barrage of words and a confusing jumble of symbols. The symbols are semi-important, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
What I like to do is find words that have some letters in common. So for example NUMBERED, LETTERED, and ASTONISHED all have ED at the end.
Often times this will allow you to eliminate those words should you get something like a likeness 1 or 0.
Scenario #1 – Likeness: 0
This is actually really good for us because if you guess a word and it comes up as a nothing burger, that means you can safely assume that there are no letters in that word (positioned correctly) that will appear in the correct word.
Just find one such opposite word and chances are it’s the right one!
If you’re wondering what I mean by positioned correctly, it’s just the arrangement. Stacking the 2 words on top of each other and determining what letters they have in common.
Both have the R, G, and E in common.
So for example, let’s use the word BASK.
If you get a likeness 0, that means none of those letters appear in the right word, in the same locations.
It’s important to note that the letters can still appear in the word, even if you get a likeness 0.
If you see something like the word TRUE, choose it, as you’ll know there’s a chance it’s the correct word given that each letter is different from BASK.
Even if you don’t hit on the first try, the word is almost guaranteed to be similar to the right one.
Notice how I took my time and was in within a minute.
There’s no reason to rush because that will only result in more wasted time and frustration.
I got rewarded because I was deliberate and thought it through.
The word MOUNTAIN had nothing in common with the letter placement of REFUGEES, so I tried it and it ended up being correct.
XD You know you laughed.
Scenario #2 – Likeness: 1
Scenario 2 deals with getting 1 letter correct, which can be a bit tricky as there are likely multiple words that have at least 1 right.
As an example, let’s say you choose the word LABS and it comes up as likeness 1.
Then you see the word HATS and choose it because of the A, but it still yields 1.
Now there’s a bit of a conundrum because either the “A” or “S” could be the right letter.
At this point, you would just search for a word without one of them. So for example HAVE.
If it still yields 1, you’ll know the A is in the right place. That or it might actually be the right one!
It just depends. If it yields zero, you’ll know that the word contains an “S” at the end.
There are an infinite amount of possibilities.
Here’s an example of a likeness 1 that I got correct on the first try:
See how EMPEROR and CLEARED had the 1 “R” in common?
If I had chosen HUNDRED, it would have resulted in a likeness 1 again.
DEPARTS also doesn’t make sense because it has 2 in common (The “A” and “R” with CLEARED).
If you’re down to your last 1 or 2 guesses, you can start to omit duds and reset your tries!
Duds & Retries
Duds are junk words that can be removed by scrolling through the random characters and finding brackets like these: <> or these: 
Once you see some characters (could be a couple, few, or a lot) grouped together within a bracket, select it and it will either reset your tries or remove a word that isn’t correct.
Removing duds can be tricky though.
Every time you get rid of one, your original word, and any others you chose, move up.
If you omit too many, you won’t be able to see the original guess. The words you choose are important because they can always help in determining the correct one.
Here’s an example of me accidentally guessing the same word twice because I couldn’t see it on the right side of the screen anymore.
Scenario #3 – Likeness: Epic Fail
The correct word was RAVAGES.
It had the “A” and the “S” in common with BARRENS.
I also shouldn’t have chosen SHRINES after I chose PERIODS.
Because PERIODS showed that both the “R” and “I” were not correct.
Instead of choosing RAVAGES like a smart person, I chose PERIODS again because I somehow forgot that I already had chosen it. This was due to removing too many duds (and a horrible memory).
Notice how PERIODS disappears from the right side? Whomp whomp.
It can be beneficial to write them down on paper just in case, being that the terminal can be really hard to read when you’re trying to visually stack words on top of each other (especially if you’re on console and sitting on the couch at quite a distance away).
You also have to be laser-focused at all times.
A great learning experience nonetheless though!
Here’s another example of me slipping up and then redeeming myself FTW (and a really funny Raider kill).
Scenario #4 – Likeness: 2
Where did I slip up you say?
I chose ESCORTED, even though it only had 1 in common with COMPOUND (the D) instead of 2.
That was a clear mistake.
Fortunately, I ended up choosing the right word, DISPOSAL as it had the “P” and “O” in common with COMPOUND.
Scenario #5: Likeness: 4
This one has 2 in it.
One was a really simple likeness 4 and the other was a common likeness 2 scenario that you will encounter.
I think you get the idea by now!
In the second example, there was a likeness 2 so I tried another word ending in “ES”, which resulted in likeness 1.
That told me that the “S” was correct, but not the “E”.
From there it was easy to figure out the right word, which ended up being COATS.
It had the “C” and “S” in common with CAGES.
Armed with this knowledge, you should now be able to hack any terminal you see with confidence! I truly hope this helped you out in some way.
With that, let’s take a trip down memory lane to where it all started.
A Trip Down Memory Lane
Isolation. It’s a strange thing for sure. I crave it, but at the same time, I can’t live without human interaction of some sort. As a species, we’re hard-wired to desire a connection with others. This is pretty much non-negotiable and not debatable.
Call yourself an introvert all you want (and I’m talking to myself), but imagine for a second that you were the only person on the face of the earth. Do you think you’d actually like that? If you answered yes, well …
YOU’RE LYING!! Lol.
Have you ever seen the very first episode of the original Twilight Zone?
You know, the episode called “Where is everybody?” Lol. I rest my case.
The thing about people is that I like them .. in small doses.
George Carlin once had a quote that echoed the same sentiment.
I find that when I’m talking to someone new in person, there’s this awkward overwhelming sense that I need to somehow find a way to end the conversation and get back to whatever I was doing.
I have no idea why this is, or where it comes from.
It doesn’t happen with people I’m familiar with, but in a social setting, it manifests mostly during an initial greeting.
I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I don’t like small talk at all. It feels fake and contrived.
I sometimes get this notion that the person I’m conversing with doesn’t really give a damn about what I have to say and vice versa.
This could be in my head, but I’ve always found that your true friends will relate with you on a deeper level, will be more vulnerable, and can lift you up and encourage you more so than your average schmuck.
I find that a lot of the time, relationships of any sort tend to complicate things more so than they enhance your life. There are some exceptions of course, but here’s a great dialogue between Snake and Meryl that illustrates my point:
- Meryl Silverburgh: “Any Family?”
- Solid Snake: “No, but I was raised by many people.”
- Meryl Silverburgh: “Is there, anyone you like?”
- Solid Snake: “I’ve never been interested in anyone else’s life.”
- Meryl Silverburgh: “So you are all alone, just like Mantis said.”
- Solid Snake: “Other people just complicate my life. I don’t like to get involved.”
- Meryl Silverburgh: “You’re a sad, lonely man.”
Later on, Snake changes his tune and he and Meryl ride off into the sunset (literally).
In 2019, I fell in love with an absolutely amazing girl.
We were inseparable.
We could talk about anything and have fun doing basically anything together. It didn’t matter what it was. We could have the time of our life discussing the consequences of eating 4-year-old Apple Sauce.
The philosophy behind justifying doing such a thing.
We opened up to each other and shared things that you just wouldn’t share with other people, talking for hours and hours when it seemed like no time had passed.
Our conversations went so deep that at times she made me question my very belief system (and vice versa). My ideology. My sometimes flawed perception of myself and others.
She challenged me in ways that are hard to even quantify at a tangible level. The type of thing that’s almost impossible to even wrap your head around.
These types of relationships are few and far between. They don’t come along very often. I’m 33 and I’ve had maybe 2 of these in my entire life.
Though it didn’t ultimately work out with her, I’ll always cherish the memories we made and the time we spent together.
Fallout has always appealed to my inner desire to roam, explore, and wander – while NOT connecting with anyone.
There’s something so calming about trudging through the wasteland and discovering things, which almost seems ironic considering it’s an apocalyptic type of scenario and shouldn’t warrant that type of sentiment at all.
Perhaps it’s the mix of the now seemingly ancient big band tunes, coupled with a nostalgia that’s sometimes hard to pinpoint.
What about the experience is so fascinating?
Because I can assure you, a real apocalypse wouldn’t be near as fun. Okay, it wouldn’t be fun at all and you’d probably die within the first hour.
No Re-Spawns, BUSTER! XD
Maybe it’s because Fallout as a game represents a true end, and what is there left to fear after everything has been destroyed and it’s all over?
I’m of course talking about the experience of the game itself and the mind frame it puts you in; not the realities of a truly apocalyptic scenario – one in which you’d have to somehow survive while still dealing with the endless perils that await.
No, Fallout to me is a cathartic experience, but I think it has more to do with collecting and organizing, rather than feeling at home in a bleak world.
It appeals to my lust for order and cleanliness, which is also ironic considering the game reaks of chaos and filth.
I sometimes do feel at home when I’m running around discovering new places, quickly assigning my favorite weapons, and making sure I’m not over-encumbered.
It’s almost like vacuuming, or cleaning, or .. something.
On the surface, it doesn’t seem like that much fun, but there’s just something about looking at a freshly vacuumed carpet that satisfies like a Snickers.
The same goes for building something or making something practical.
Hanging a shelf, building an entertainment center, getting rid of crap you don’t need, etc.
You know, things you’d do in the real world.
Fallout provides this type of virtual experience without you ever having to leave your couch! HOORAY!!
Even despite everything that contributes to its overall fun experience, there’s something really dark and dreary about the franchise as a whole.
Something sinister that lies underneath.
Something oddly unsettling about looking at a skeleton sitting on a couch watching television – a mirror image of your typical American.
I think many people take this way of life for granted without realizing it.
The fact that it could all end at any moment is just a bit concerning, considering we depend and rely on the system to help meet most of our daily needs.
Fallout is littered with these types of subtle warnings: Hyperinflation, subliminal messaging, power hierarchy and its pitfalls, mass consumerism, selfishness, greed, etc.
The settlement system posits that even despite nuclear annihilation, and these negative aspects that are born out of it, it is still possible to work together for a common good – and that’s certainly one of the positives of the game amidst all the anarchy.
Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this massive article on Fallout 3 vs. New Vegas vs. 4, and were affected by it in some way.
Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please let me know down below or Contact me!!
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What’s your favorite Fallout game in the series? I would love to hear from you. Until next time…
All the best and God bless,