The infinite potential of Fallout 3

Four hours of play. Endless possibilities. Which will you choose?

You've probably read a lot about Fallout 3. Until you've actually played Fallout 3, however, you don't understand. You don't understand just how big the game feels, just how open the game seems and just how much freedom the game appears to offer.

We've only had four hours with the post-apocalyptic RPG and we're already overwhelmed. Although we have yet to complete a single mission or quest on the main storyline, we've already made dozens of momentous choices and altered the fate of the world and characters around us in irrevocable ways.

To help give you a better idea, here's a list of what we've experienced so far. Now imagine what could happen over the course of the entire game.

During four hours with Fallout 3, we...
... decided the fate of an entire city.

Sticking with the game’s theme of nuclear annihilation, the first town you visit after leaving your vault is named Megaton. Why? Because its one remarkable feature – and one huge problem – is that it was built entirely around an atomic bomb.

As soon as we stepped foot in the city, we were presented with a diverse array of opinions on the ticking landmark, as well as several drastically different options for how to deal with it. Should we look for a way to permanently dismantle it, as the sheriff requests? Should we worship it as the cultish Church of the Atom do, praying for it to explode and “give birth” to new universes? Or should we ensure that it goes off, killing everyone, by taking a bribe from the shady development executive in the bar?

Ten minutes, and we’re already deciding whether Megaton will be our new base of operations, full of new friends and allies... or an empty crater on the map.

During four hours with Fallout 3, we...
... accidentally killed the sheriff.

Fallout 3, like any good RPG, is full of dialogue options. Some are nothing but small talk or extraneous information, but occasionally, a single line can change everything. Whether you want it to or not.

Regardless of our decision on the fate of Megaton, we certainly didn’t want to harm the town’s lone protector, the sheriff. He seemed like a real straight talker and, better yet, he wore a badass hat. Who knew that telling him about the creepy businessman in the bar – a seemingly throwaway conversation choice at the time – would cause him to immediately run towards the drinking hole to dole out justice? Who knew that, after a mild exchange between the two, the suit would shoot the lawman in the back, killing him instantly?

Who knew that the sheriff had a son, now fatherless because of our one utterance? Who knew that that badass hat would look so good on our character... or that the bar would leave the sheriff’s body lying on the floor for days afterward? And who knows what would happen if we hadn’t chosen that line of dialogue... or if we had, but then hadn’t followed the sheriff back to the bar?

During four hours with Fallout 3, we...
... met two prostitutes and hired one.

The branches and paths in Fallout 3 come at you fast. If we hadn’t taken a small detour before reaching Megaton, knocking on the door of what appeared to be an uninhabited and dilapidated house, would we have ever met Silver? Would we have ever learned the story of a former hooker, so addicted to drugs she can’t escape the tyranny of Moriarty, the local bartender? Would we have ever blackmailed her for money (or bottle caps)... or offer to lie to Moriarty on her behalf?

And, when the time came to select a new experience skill, what if we had chosen something besides the irresistible “Lady Killer”? If we had gone for something boring like science or weaponry expertise, would we have been able to sleep with Megaton’s sex vendor on our very first try?


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