Why did it take you so long to get round to playing it?
It’s actually not the kind of game to interest me. I’ve watched Emily play it while I’ve been doing other things – but it’s just not my kind of game.
You don’t normally play sandbox games like this – why not?
“It felt like the game was built from the ground up to be so free, but it feels like they didn’t think too much about the way the game played.”
I find that when they’re so unfocused, I don’t feel I have enough incentive to carry on. Sandbox games in general have you hunting out missions – so in a way you have to actually work on exploration in order to get anywhere.
I often find that when I have a set destination and a goal, I usually prefer things. There’s no space to get bored in the story of linear narratives.
I liked the very first cut scene, especially when the sound changes as the camera comes out of the rear end of the bus. And I think having your character being literally be born is a nice touch. Though not really sure what some of the earlier life experiences really added in terms of character development, but maybe that’s just me.
What kind of character did you decide to build?
I like playing as female characters in games, and this time I went for an Asian lady (the option said Asian, not sure if they quite got it right in the design). I made her be intelligent and science-y. It’s something that generally matches my own personality. It’s also something I find myself doing in other games that you can customise in this way, like Mass Effect. That and having a “paragon” style for decision-making. I’d always play the good guy/gal – it makes me uncomfortable to play a horrible character.
The environment is quite detailed in the game, but did you find it convincing?
I felt that it was quite convincing for the setting, although it did leave me feeling like the area looked pretty much the same (with varying degrees of brown and rocks everywhere). It really made it feel difficult to navigate because everything looked the same to me (well, so far anyway). The vault itself was also confusing, and I wasted a fair bit of time trying to navigate through the tunnels to the destination.
What did you think of the V.A.T.S. system?
I like the V.A.T.S system, it takes the gameplay from being a straight shooter into being a bit more strategical. If you want to use VATS, you’ll need to make sure you get a good position from firing and even then, there’s the outside chance you could miss. It felt like a slightly less clunky system than just straight forward aiming and firing.
The Fallout series has a Americana-Retro aesthetic despite the decades it’s meant to take place in: what did you make of it?
It did feel like it was a bit weird. I get the idea that it’s kind of like an alternate future, but the balance between past and future is pretty weird – you have ray guns, you have floating robots and you have Matrix style alternate computer realities. But then you have people that barely have enough to eat and have computer systems that seem like they’re in the 80’s (at best). But the problem with the aesthetic as I see it, is that most of it looks the same. The corridors in the Vault look the same (although you could explain that with the mass-produced nature of them), the outside looks the same – brown rocks as far as the eye can see. I get that it’s meant to be a world devastated by a nuclear apocalypse, but it’s not an aesthetic that really appeals to me.
How did you find the Pip-Boy computer for being a central point of in-game information, did it feel like it was truly part of the character?
It did feel as though it was part of your character, mostly because all the vault dwellers had one, and not just yourself. Although navigating through you realised just how much information is thrown at you. And because you can access things straight away and it doesn’t have a tutorial, it feels like you’re thrown in at the deep end slightly. Everything’s there, but in order to actually gain access to things and use them, you have to either have experience using things in similar systems or go by trial and error.
How did you feel about the level of “freedom” you were given in-game?
I really didn’t get on with it. I get the concept of the amount of freedom and it would be realistic to not have just a chain of events leading to a conclusion, but I felt lost. Lost in a world that seemed like it had no end.
How did the game “feel” to you? Was it user friendly?
“I get that it’s meant to be a world devastated by a nuclear apocalypse, but it’s not an aesthetic that really appeals to me.”
It felt like the game was built from the ground up to be so free, but it feels like they didn’t think too much about the way the game played. The buttons weren’t explained very well which meant that in the earlier part of the game (inside vault 101) where you had to try and escape, it felt like you didn’t know what you were doing – which would have been alright apart from the fact that it’s still very easy to die before getting out. All you had for practice shooting was shooting a few cockroaches.
But everything felt clunky, from the camera and aiming, movement and even other characters just felt so static. You could see their lips moving, but where was the body language? Where was the emotion behind everyone’s performances? If felt like it was designed for a PC rather than a console, but even then it felt like the concentrated on building a world rather than stories.
Will you be heading back to the Capital Wasteland in the near future?
Nope. It’s not far off Christmas and there’s games I’m looking to play that are new – and replaying ones I really did enjoy. Fallout 3 left me out in the cold. I understand the concepts behind it, and I get that other people enjoy it, it’s just not a game that I really want to play again.