Fallout 3 (PC) Review

By Ofisil 28.10.2018

Review for Fallout 3 on PC

Fallout is a very important title in the history of videogames, and is being highly regarded as one of the best RPGs ever made - something that has a lot to say about its strengths, as it was far from a perfect piece of software. Sadly, the developer had to abandon its creation, with the franchise eventually reaching the shores of Bethesda Softworks. The company behind the popular The Elder Scrolls series opted to let players get up close and personal with post-nuclear USA, by shifting the perspective from the archaic, 2D, top-down isometric, to the modern, fully 3D, first-person one. It was an immense hit, especially with the professional gaming press, but was it really the fantastic game everyone remembers it to be? 10 years after its release, it's time to return to the Capital Wasteland to find all about it.

The journey of the 'Lone Wanderer' begins right after exiting his or her mother's womb (greeted by the voice of Liam Neeson), inside the fallout shelter known as Vault 101; an intro that eventually sees the protagonist exiting this cosy home in the search for dear ol' papa somewhere in the Capital Wasteland, or Washington DC after a rain of nuclear bombs. Here's the thing with this, though. It is boring. Like, more than the already very boring intro of Fallout 2, boring.

In many ways, all Fallout introductions were somewhat boring... bar the one in the original, where, after a very brief cut-scene, you are thrown into the wastes to survive, something that manages to leave a much bigger impact, and doesn't take much time. It's understandable that Bethesda wanted to make you "connect" with the game world, and with an intro that also acts as a tutorial, but there's definitely a very serious reason why there's a mod that skips all that.

Screenshot for Fallout 3 on PC

Sadly Fallout 3's intro is also an example of how the writing and overall atmosphere of the series has taken a beating. While many fans went nuts from getting to see the cave that leads to the wasteland from a first person perspective (amongst other things), the wasteland of Bethesda is not the wasteland of Interplay/Black Isles, something that has a lot to do with how the developer just focused in giving a Fallout re-skin to Oblivion, instead of re-capturing the magic of the older games.

...and it looks dull. Yes, the Great-War-torn Capital Wasteland does indeed have a bunch of post-card pretty vistas, but the overuse of grey, grey, and then even more grey, makes everything look identical; a tradition that even the, admittedly, much better (from a role-playing standpoint), Fallout: New Vegas continued, by adding an orange tint to everything... but, hey! At least you can shoot at funny-looking raiders and super mutants while '50s music bops along!

The real dullness, however, is that this is not the RPG it used to be, as it leans more towards a sandbox survival/exploration experience, rather than an open-ended adventure. Aside from interacting with NPCs to learn about what's going on or to start quests, the bulk of the experience is about walking around, doing some killing, and collecting stuff. Sure, the option to just choose a direction and keep walking towards it is still here, but there's not much role-playing to be done.

Screenshot for Fallout 3 on PC

Sadly, when you do get to role-play a bit, it's disappointing to say the least, partly because of how weak the writing and, as a result, the available cast of characters can be, but mostly because this doesn't really understand the concept of choice. Fallout's charm used to be the ability to decide who you want to be, and Fallout 3 isn't very good at that, evident at how your stats, perks, and so on, don't really make you a different 'character,' but just a different kind of fighter/explorer.

Nevertheless, and despite the overall negativity, it's important to note that this is actually a good game… it's just that it's not a good Fallout game. Instead of a morally grey world, with believable characters and factions that "have a point," (even if you don't agree with it), here we simply have good and bad guys, and instead of a hostile, post-apocalyptic place where the outcome of war can be felt in the way humans have reacted to it, here it can be felt mainly in the way the land looks half-destroyed.

Screenshot for Fallout 3 on PC

As for the atmosphere of it all, Fallout 3 is more quirky, retro-futuristic, and post-apocalyptic-ish, rather than 100% post-apocalyptic. Hell, even the design of the world feels artificial, and kind of, for a lack of a better word, game-y. It's hard to put it on text, but many locations, especially indoor ones, look more like movie sets than actually destroyed places where people used to live - not to mention the hundreds of occasions where things just don't make sense design-wise.

Of course, one could argue that it's possible to enjoy this by simply approaching it for what it is, not what it could be; as a FPS with a bunch of minor RPG elements. Well, this is exactly why Fallout 4 is so enjoyable. As an RPG it fails even more than this, but it works mighty fine as a Skyrim set 5000 years into the future - plus, while heavily flawed in terms of writing and storytelling, the latter at least cares more about its plot.

The second reason, though, is that Fallout 4 simply plays better. Both are first-person shooters, but combat in Fallout 3 feels a bit stiff, and, generally, somewhat… off, with accuracy being highly affected by your stats, instead of where you point your crosshairs at, leading to an overreliance in the powerful, time-stopping VATS system that lets one shoot at specific parts of the body. Long story short: the weakest Fallout installment? Well, there's always Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel

Oh, but remember: Moira Brown is the best character ever made!

Screenshot for Fallout 3 on PC

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 6 out of 10


There's a pretty good reason why many look at Fallout 3 as an Oblivion with guns, as it takes the RPG core of the originals, and throws it out of the window. What's left is a sandbox-y world that is enjoyable (addictive even) to live on, but not really as much as it could... or should.


Bethesda Game Studios


Bethesda Softworks


First Person Shooter



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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