Five Things We Learned From Fallout

By Aaron Matteson in Five Things, Humor, Lists!
Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at 11:00 am

Fallout: a crash course in how to deal with pissant mutants.
War. War Never Changes.

The Fallout franchise, on the other hand, has changed greatly since Ron Perlman first uttered those epic words (though Ron Perlman could probably say "Eat Great, Even Late" and it would sound epic). With the 3D smorgasbords of RPG-FPS possibility that are Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, one might forget the equally compelling roots of the franchise -- the good old overhead-view, Baldur's Gate-style adventure that was the original Fallout.

In Fallout, you emerge into a world where the Cold War wasn't quite so cold. As the Vault Dweller, you bargain, barter, blast and beat your way through a post-apocalypic hellscape that mixes the charm of the 1950's with the dread of the distant future. Such an environment offers many things: bottle caps, plasma rifles, zombies, dogs and...

Education. Because you can't survive the nuclear holocaust without learning a few things. Things like...

1.) Get a day job.


You can see if they're hiring delivery boys for Bob's Iguana Bits.

In Fallout, one of the first things you need to do is to rake in those sweet, sweet bottlecaps. Without a good income, you'll be left out in the wasteland fighting Deathclaws with ratty leather jacket and a crowbar. You need some cashflow to buy cooler armor, better guns and the occasional "stimpak," which is essentially like a health potion in heroin form.

But how are you going to get bottlecaps? Drink a lot of soda? Scour the wasteland for frat houses to search for Heineken detritus?

Nope -- you are going to have to get a day job. Craigslist says there are some openings in the caravan guard industry, so get your resume, put on a tie, load up your shotgun and get down there.

Just like your first day job before the nuclear apocalypse, it's going to be demeaning and tiring. Rather unlike your first day job before the nuclear apocalypse, though, it's probably going to involve beating raiders to death with a sledgehammer. Either way, it's going to be tedious work and you would rather be doing something else (dancing ballet professionally! / averting the mutant hordes!). But that's just the way the world works. Even the post-cataclysmic world.


2.) Trust your instincts.


A perfectly harmless, God-feari- Wait, WHAT?

Those dudes in the robes administering health care to the weary masses, the Children of the Cathedral... you're getting kind of a creepy vibe from them. Sure, they're just part of a shadowy religious order that espouses vague and ominous beliefs, but they seem to be doing good work here. Tending to the wounded. Keeping to themselves. They're probably completely legitim-

What's that? They're doing what?

Okay, yeah, you should've gone with your gut on that one.


3.) Good intentions can lead to bad results.



He's doing his best.

Very few evildoers set out to deliberately do evil. Unless you're an outsized supervillian like Lex Luthor or Sean Bean, you don't knowingly act malevolently toward the world (Sean Bean, in most cases, does knowingly act malevolently toward the world -- more specifically, toward Frodo, James Bond and occasionally Nicolas Cage). Most people generally considered evil thought they were doing good all along.

Take the Master from Fallout. His plan sounds great at first -- unite the people of the post-nuclear world by wiping away the differences that divide them as a way of achieving a lasting peace. The only problem is that he wants to do this by forcibly mutating every lifeform remaining into grotesque, warped versions of themselves.

Just goes to show you that atrocities can be committed in the name of peace. Especially if the guy who's proposing the road to peace looks like the picture above.


4.) A direct confrontation isn't always necessary.



The climax of the game! Or not!

subverts conventional RPG standards in several senses. Instead of the typical sword, shield and spells, you have machineguns and grenades. Instead of orcs and goblins, you face anarchists and irradiated scorpions. But maybe the biggest departure from the norms of past videogames is that Fallout doesn't have a mandatory final boss battle.

That's right. It's in there, if you want to do it. And it's as tough and intense as any final boss battle you'll ever play. But if you don't feel like taking on a twin-gatling-gun-wielding mutant-goo psychopath, you can do a couple things (spoiler alert!). You can:

A.) Talk him down. Convince him of his folly. That's right, you can actually use diplomacy to prevent the final boss battle in this game.

Or you can:

B.) Just walk past his lair and nuke the entire fucking base. Boom. Goodbye.

Imagine if Mario got to the final stage and encountered his arch-nemesis Bowser, and instead of fighting just reasoned with him until Bowser agreed he had a point and gave up the princess? Or what if Link from Zelda: a Link to the Past was transported to the Dark World, but instead of freeing maidens from crystals and engaging in a final confrontation with Gannon, just hooked up a nuke and blew the entire place to hell?

Sound crazy? Sure. But that type of crazy is what makes Fallout a classic.


5.) Some things never change.



Throughout time, a hero's most consistent adversary.

Even in a groundbreaking, mould-defying game like Fallout, some conventions of the RPG genre are going to still apply. Like, for instance, the fact that before your character can do any real damage he is going to have to stab six hundred rats to death for their sweet experience points.

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