Content of the article: "Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas: A Comparison Through the Tales of Two Wastelands Experience"
Recently I have mentioned here that I have been going through Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas thanks to the Tales of Two Wastelands, and having finally beat both main games and their dlcs I now have some thoughts. First on Fallout 3.
Fallout 3 was my introduction to the Fallout series and man was it strange to go back and see just how much I had forgotten since it's release. The game opens beautifully with your own birth that ties directly into the later plot and story of the main characters, with the death of your mother.
You transition just a couple of years later in the vault where your father Liam Neeson, you have no idea how both funny and awkward that fact is (especially since when he leaves the Vault his black Assistant is murdered), and shares with you your mother's favorite Biblical passage.
More Years pass and you go through several more passages of your life with the last being introducing you to your character's dynamics with your classmates and discovering what your future will be with the GOAT Exam. I got Vault Chaplain this time around!
Then you are awoken by your childhood friend Amata when all hell has broken loose and end up fighting your way out, saving or killing those in your way (which ends up dynamically changing a later quest COMPLETELY Dozens of hours into the game) and leave the vault. You are left in a barren dark and dusty mine shaft, surrounded by skeletons, and exit into the outside world . . .and are instantly blinded from the light. Your sight fades back in. . .and you see the desolation of the world. But life still exists, as you can see a strange scrap heap in the distance, and floating down the street a strange floating robot hums down the road singing Patriotic songs with comforting words coming over it's radio.
Fallout 3's introduction/prologue (roughly 20 minutes if you speed read through everything) does a fantastic job introducing you to the world that you have stepped into with a genuinely shocking amount of choices/decisions/actions that change how people interact with you as well as things down the line. It is a Giant Set Piece that neither of the later two mainline games in the series have matched in setting the tone of the game and story.
Now this is a side note where I mention that Tales of Two Wastelands greatly affected how the game controls with Iron Sight Aiming as well including New Vega's Damage systems and Ammo Types so discussions of Difficulty and Enemy Stats will be biased with this in mind
For a game that many in recent years decried as boring or nonsensical. . . I was well surprised to see just how much the world felt like it was alive. Megaton is a very unique design for a town, a giant Junk Heap of Scrap Metal, Scaffolding, and Engineering based around a unexploded Megaton Nuclear Bomb, and it is filled with lively characters who all interact with one another somehow or another.
And this is one of the main points I want to compare to Fallout 3 and New Vegas.
The world of the Wasteland in Fallout 3 feels alive. No matter what direction you go you will find wild dogs, Molerats, Bloat Flies, Wild Brahmin, Raiders, Miscellaneous Towns and factions.
You can find Caravans traversing the Wasteland between each of the major settlements, and your freedom of movement is not limited in the slightest.
Did y'all know that there is a unlockable radio station filled with Classical Music? I only found Agatha and her little home this playthrough.
It took me ages until I found a Deathclaw in Fallout 3. . . literally not until the Broken Steel quest that leads you to the town of Olney. . . where even in End Game Power Armor and literally cheated in Stats for Charon (50000 HP). . .. a single Deathclaw slaughtered him when I wasn't paying attention.
Which is why when I finally got to New Vegas and saw 20 Deathclaws just out on the road between Black Mountain and Westside, not in the Quarry, ON THE ROAD I got seriously pissed at the railroading that I was only able to bypass because I was a end-game character with loads of ammo and weaponry and power armor.
The Wasteland of the Mojave does not feel alive. There is SO much wasted space on the map filled with absolutely nothing but things to kill. Which when compared to Fallout 3 where it feels like there is always a new dungeon, building, or cave to explore makes the world feel barren by comparison. The towns as well as you never really see any named Travelling Trade Caravans, I can only think of two instances of this with the caravan that spawns on the road to the Mojave Outpost, but doesnt travel between towns, and the two that get attacked by a Legion Ambushed and later despawn.
I also want to mention the sheer density of the Fallout 3 map once you get to the "Downtown" area of DC where you will be constantly lost because it and it's Metro tunnels seemingly never end. It is STUPIDLY dense. . . .and New Vegas really doesn't compare. The City of New Vegas simply does not feel big to feel important enough for everyone to be fighting over. I have some thoughts on the Endings. . . but I'll get to that once I get to discussing Broken Steel.
But. . . .I got a bit distracted there. Back to the Story.
So Fallout 3's Story is pretty straightforward all the way through. Go find Dad, Meet New Character and Factions, Explore, Go Grab Object, Bring Back Object, go Find Dad again, Go Get, Object, Kill enemies, you get the idea.
But for all it's objectives are rather simplistic, and designed around getting you to see new vistas and areas of the game, roughly half of the entire story can be skipped by you just wandering into a random building and finding your father in another Vault. Which is AWESOME.
But there is more to this. The Story of Fallout 3 is straightforward and tight in it's writing. It has quite a few set pieces and cutscenes that you cannot miss and even if you make the decision to help the villain by the end of it. . . you still see the same Set Pieces and cut-scenes going forward.
And so you get to the final room of the game. You convince the Main Antagonist to Stand down and leave peacefully by arguing down his own dogma. . . and you make the final sacrifice to save, or destroy, the Capital Wasteland. Three Lives given and Sacrificed towards purifying the Waters of the Wasteland.
It is a fantastic story that is tightly written and makes for a good, if unsatisfying for some, ending.
. . . . Which is where Broken Steel comes in.
Broken Steel is a both a terrible and great DLC.
Terrible because it's Main Story/Epilogue is legitimately terrible. The only benefit being seeing Liberty Prime be destroyed, as well as a true end-game dungeon (A Group of Ghouls who tried to make a new settlement similar to Underworld) in Old Olney filled with ALL of the Deathclaws leading to getting the "Tesla Cannon".
The real upside to Broken Steel was allowing the Player to continue to explore the Wasteland as well as see the affects of your actions from the Main Story come forth. The Brotherhood trying to organize and provide water to every settlement in the region, the one in charge of that branch in near total breakdown from all of the work and frustrations, to Shucksters trying to trick innocents, to people dying off if you sided with the Villain. . .this kind of Post Game Epilogue DLC was great and I kind of wish New Vegas had something similar. . .speaking of which! DLC Time!
So just to cut this off at the pass, Lonesome Road is infinitely better then Broken Steel in terms of actual story and environments. I have complaints about Lonesome Road's writing, mainly Avelone's Hatred of Post-Post-Apocalyptic Fallout, but overall and in general it is a MUCH better DLC.
Now as for what I thought were the best DLCs in both game?
The Pitt and Honest Hearts.
The Pitt is a masterwork in setting design and making a area in a game feel oppressive and unlivable and it shares the one thing with Honest Hearts that sets them both above the rest.
The Choices. Specifically the moral and ethical choice that you have to make that decides the fates of hundreds.
Do you free the slaves of the Pitt and doom them all to the extremely unlikely chance that Madea will be able to synthesize a cure from Marie? Or do you trust Ashur to live up to his words, and hidden holotapes, to free the Slaves once a Cure has been synthesized by his Wife?
All of this being twisted by the very nightmarish context of life in the Pitt and the Trog Disease.
And in Honest Hearts will you listen to the White Savior Daniel who patronizes and views the Sorrows as Children to be Guided. . . Or do you side with Joshua Graham who was chosen to lead the Dead Horses and who wishes to protect Zion from Caesar's Legion? All the while feeding his rage ultimately to be tempered or enflamed by your words?
For both choices I ended up siding with Ashur and Graham respectively. Though it is odd how over the years the former choice has become a lot more difficult to make while the latter has become so the much easier.
Old World Blues. . . is still not something I am a fan of. The Humor was funny once, I am always distracted by one of the AI being Dr. Venture, and it just never hit me as humorous again. The Zanyness with the Mothership Zeta DLC also had that issue of cool once but meh later.
Point Lookout is kind of neat and it has a oppressive feel like the Dead Money DLC. . . but the latter is infinitely better in that aspect.
Then there is the Operation Anchorage. . . . which is meh. Like cool set pieces and the opportunity to get some good equipment, and early power armor training, but otherwise it's just a combat DLC. Nothing much to talk about there.
Now I am running out of time to right this so I'm going to hurry along before I have to run off to work. I have gained a new appreciation for characters in both games, Elder Lyons is a AWFUL Leader, and I now want to say the summed down synopsis/conclusion I have come to.
Fallout 3 has the better story and world/design of the two games. . . but Fallout New Vegas overall has the much superior writing. Like so much better, and I think this is ultimately New Vega's major flaw (other then the SUPREMELY angering and obnoxious railroading via Cazador and Deathclaws) that infects some of Obsidian's other games (like Pillers of Eternity).
Obsidian likes to do a lot of paths with a lot of choices. . . .but they over do it so much so that their endings are never really all that satisfying. Because the writing, though fantastic, isn't tight. It's all over the place and so the story feels less like a coherent story and more a series of events that lead to a climatic conclusion. . . if that makes any sense? I'm sure that someone could word that better then I.
Both are great games and it was phenomenal to go through them once more.
What do the rest of y'all think? Do you disagree? Have you had a different experience going through both games?
And a final side note? . . . Every ending in New Vegas Sucks except for the NCR ending. Independent wouldn't be so bad if you were actively trying to convince the tribes of the region to work together to build a new nation. . .something that Yes-Man INSTANTLY dismisses in favor of you gaining power.
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- Why Fallout 3 is my favorite one
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