By Cole Parkinson
While the PS5 and Xbox Series X are the new consoles on the block, over the holiday break I found myself turning on my trusty PS3 to revisit one of my favourite games of all time — Fallout 3.
While Fallout and Fallout 2 were top-down PC games, Bethesda Game Studios brought the world into the 3D landscape in 2008, and while some traditional fans were not pleased with the switch — I think it was the perfect next step. Sure, it feels more in line with their other well-known franchise, the Elder Scrolls, Bethesda was a perfect match to bring a sprawling nuclear-devastated landscape RPG game to the masses.
Both Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas (developed by Obsidian) on PS3 and Xbox 360 are two of my favourite games of all time, and while they look a little outdated, feel a little clunky, and run like absolute junk on the PS3, every now and then I get the hankering to throw them in. I replayed New Vegas a few years ago and while I enjoyed my entire run-through of the main game and DLCs, the game is still in shambles on the PS3. Once you get quite a few hours under your belt, the game will freeze, crash, and just stop working every 30 minutes, give or take. So, while I enjoyed my play through, I figured I’d wait a while to replay Fallout 3 as my dream of the games being remastered were still there.
But with it seeming less and less likely either of those games will get remasters for the new systems, I finally broke down and popped Fallout 3 in the ol’ PS3. While I was hesitant about how the game would run, I’m happy to report I experienced far fewer crashes and freezing than I did with New Vegas. It was well under 10 throughout my 50 plus hour play through and that was pleasantly surprising for a 14-year-old game that is traditionally notorious for performance issues.
The atmosphere, music, characters, and world of Fallout 3 is just as strong as it was when it was first released, and I would still recommend it to anyone who has never played it. More modern games look better, feel better, and are stronger in mechanics, but Fallout 3 was groundbreaking for its time and it still holds up.
Exploring the Capital Wasteland, Washington, D.C. and the surrounding area is a ton of fun. Seeing the Capitol Building, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and the White House after nuclear fallout and in the Fallout universe is still a joy to do, and with the map being fairly big, there’s always something to do. There are quests, side quests, places to explore, and tons of NPC characters that are a joy to interact with. While the main story is far from the best gaming has to offer, it’s still serviceable. It’s also not the main attraction to Fallout 3 — it’s the world and exploration.
There may not be as many quests in Fallout 3 as there is in today’s RPGs, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all. I think the vast majority of them are fun and varied — though there are still quite a few fetch quests. Even the fetch quests are fairly fun though — they aren’t the best quests in the game by any stretch, but they still provide some fun gameplay moments.
Two of my favourite side quests from the main game come in The Replicated Man and Tenpenny Tower. The Replicated Man is a mystery-solving quest that sees the player try and locate a synth who has escaped from the Institute. While Fallout 4 would focus much more on synths and the Institute, this quest does a great job of expanding on the relationship between synth and man. And like most Fallout quests, there’s a choice at the end that can lead to negative or positive karma depending on what you choose to do once the synth is located and identified.
In Tenpenny Tower, a group of ghouls (people who were subjected to tons of radiation, but survived) are trying to buy their way into the illustrious Tenpenny Tower. Allistair Tenpenny on the other hand doesn’t have any interest in letting that happen, so the player can decide to help the ghouls or the residents of Tenpenny Tower. There are a handful of different ways of completing this mission, and some of my fondest memories of the game come from completing this quest in every way possible.
And as mentioned before, choice is all up to the player for pretty much everything you want to do. You can be good, bad, neutral or a bit of everything. There are no rules to what you want to do from start until the end.
And while the original game saw a definitive end, that was quickly corrected with the release of the DLC Broken Steel. This DLC allows the players to continue with their character and continue to explore, whereas before you’d have to load an old save if you wanted to progress past the final main story quest.
And speaking of DLC, it is truly a mixed bag. Broken Steel is really good, The Pitt is pretty good, but the best has to be Point Lookout. Sure, the enemies are bullet sponges, but it’s a cool locale to explore with a pretty fun main quest and a few decent side quests.
The other DLCs — Mothership Zeta and Operation Anchorage — are not very good. Operation Anchorage is pretty short and doesn’t add much in the way of a story. It does give you the best power armour in the game, but beyond that, there’s not a ton of replay value. Mothership Zeta is one I detest doing and I usually skip it on replays, but this time I did go through it again. And I didn’t have fun at all.
Three outta five ain’t bad, I guess. But the main game is still the biggest draw after all these years.
The good news if you own an Xbox Series X or an Xbox One is you can replay the game on the newer systems because they are backwards compatible with Xbox 360 games. Unfortunately, PS4 and PS5 are not, so you either have to use PS3 or PS Now — Playstation’s streaming online service. PS Now also doesn’t offer the DLCs for the games, so PS3 is truly the best option if you want the full experience. And of course, the best place to play the game is still on PC. There are tons of mods and the community has fixed a lot of the issues within the game themselves.
While many gamers look to newer games, I’d argue Fallout 3 can go toe-to-toe with lots of new games and there’s still an opportunity to get the game on a variety of platforms. And trust me, it’s worth it.