Fallout 3 is an expansive, post-apocalyptic RPG released in 2008 by Bethesda Game Studios. Well known for their work on the RPG series The Elder Scrolls, Bethesda combines the setting and tone of the Fallout series with their signature RPG gameplay to create a unique product. As a Fallout title, Fallout 3 is a huge change from the franchise's normal formula. Instead of a highly strategic RPG played from a top-down perspective (like the original Fallout and Fallout 2), Fallout 3 feels more like a first person shooter with a huge map and tons of missions. While it's a definite change from what fans are used to, Fallout 3 manages to be both surprisingly deep and fun to play. Some franchise veterans will be upset with some of the changes, but for the most part, Fallout 3 is a greatly rewarding and personalized RPG.
The story starts off with you creating a custom character before starting your life inside Vault 101. Buried deep underground, Vault 101 is one of many vaults designed to protect citizens from the nuclear fallout on the surface. You experience your early life inside the vault, until the age of 19, when you brave an adventure to the surface to find your father. You enter into the “Capital Wasteland”, a fictional version of Washington D.C. that has been decimated by nuclear attacks. Among the chaos, factions of survivors attempt to hold land and protect themselves. Armed with a small knowledge of the world around you, you set off to retrieve your father and take on the Wasteland. Fallout 3 deserves praise for its huge narrative, which features branching paths and moral decisions. As the player, you are tasked with often making huge decisions that have major impacts on the game. As you explore the world and meet characters, you'll have to go on various missions to help them out. These missions will have you investigating a huge variety of locations, from abandoned subway tunnels to crumbling buildings. The world of Fallout is harsh and dangerous, but if your arm yourself well and keep your wits about you, you'll find it easier to survive.
Unlike the past Fallout games, Fallout 3 plays from either a first-person or third-person point of view. Combat has also changed, as Fallout 3 feels more quick and active than any previous entry. When you encounter an enemy, you're free to shoot at it normally, as you would in any other shooting game. You can also zoom in on the creature using the VATS system, which allows you to select different body parts to shoot at. Your combat effectiveness is tied into the game's interesting leveling and crafting system, which has you earning experience and selecting new “perks” for your character. As you craft and discover stronger weaponry and complete missions, you'll quickly have an impressive arsenal at your disposal. However, you'll have to manage your inventory and items, as your character can only hold a limited amount of weight.
There are a huge amount of quests and locations to discover in Fallout 3, and ultimately, the game is about freedom. You're encouraged to follow the main quest and discover more information about your missing father, but you're also free to disregard it entirely and forge your own path. The decisions you make along the way have lasting effects, which makes the game feel personal to your experience. The story has numerous endings, which provides another layer of replayability. Between leveling up your character, exploring the Wasteland, and completing missions, you'll easily spend hundreds of hours in the world of Fallout 3. Even once you've seen most of the narrative content, you can always replay the game and make different decisions, which leads to new missions and activities. When it comes to pure gameplay, there's more than enough to keep you interested in Fallout 3. Luckily, that fantastic gameplay is wrapped in a compelling story that focuses on player choice. It's easily one of the most impressive RPGs of all time, regardless of your familiarity with the Fallout franchise.