Fallout 3, NV and 4 have all in turn nudged me to try the originals again, but they're just old-fashioned enough that I struggle to get into them, every time. These days I think I've resigned myself to only getting to play them properly in the event of a long stay in hospital.
What's odd to me is that the Fallout 4 Nuka-World DLC is much more engaging than the main story. Is this typical of games these days? Do a crappy "main" game but "fix it" with DLCs? Or is it just Bethesda and possibly even just Fallout?
Not so with FO1 and FO2 (my favorite being FO2) – I dread the day I can't play them anymore because they are too old.
Also, pro-tip: http://user.tninet.se/~jyg699a/fallout2.html
That guide has everything, it's awesome.
Your gut-feeling about Bethesda games lacking replay value is at odds with objective stats. Skyrim is even still in the top 10 played games today on Steam 5 years after release (and was a stubborn fixture in the top 10 even before the remaster). Fallout 3 + NV stayed there for years. Admittedly, FO4 dropped out quicker than usual, but a lot of people blame the constricting nature of a voiced protagonist. FO4 is nevertheless still in the top 20 for most players today a year after release.
So their games have definitely got replay value, they really get replay value. Their worlds are full of unique locations. I do admit they got something a bit wrong with FO4, but I think even they must realise that at this point given the player feedback.
Instead I thank you for encouraging to get back to the 1 & 2. I've bought the games off of GoG -- in several occasions mind you -- but never really got into them. Each generation of games is made easier and now it shows when you're supposed to get into the good ones. :( But I think I'll surrender myself to the spoilers and get Fo2 going.
Wasteland 2 is good but buggy. There were some balance issues with the original and even though they went back and made a director's cut it's still not great. I'm most annoyed by the way that certain factions are hostile depending on where you are on the map (e.g. not based on actions).
Warts and all I really enjoyed wasteland 2
Hopefully they have the budget to have it nice and polished before release.
Shadowrun Dragonfall is reasonably close.
From one angle, Fallout New Vegas.
Then they put in a little sting of failing some of these side quests if you don't play by their rules and jump on them before an undisclosed amount of time elapses. At that point, if you want go back to avoid the quest failure you need to revert to earlier save and lose some of your progress.
Thumb up! I still play both of them too! and I will give a try to this 1.5 :) this made my day.
> You really should try.
Good to know that Nuka-World delivers though - I've been saving it for the christmas break.
As far as "mediocre base - great DLC" goes, I'd guess it's a result of the modern DLC culture - where it used to be that if a game sold well enough there'd be a mission disk later down the line, most studios are already hard at work on the DLCs before the base game is even released, so the DLC teams (in as much as they're separate from the main team) get all the lessons, bug reports and player reaction from the trunk development, and longer deadlines to boot. Oblivion and Skyrim's expansions definitely reaped some benefit that way, imho - Shivering Isles in particular was an absolute masterpiece, for my money.
A lot of AAA devs have started using games as a platform for DLC. Valve, for example, just launched glove skins  - 300 USD for a texture. DLC is far more profitable than games, nowadays.
As for Bethesda, long-time fans have a general understanding that Bethesda games get worse with each iteration. Their DLCs are usually better than the main games, but not by much.
It actually has very little to do with the question at hand because the wow factor in this case, the price, is user defined, and also doesn't really affect gameplay at all (AFAIK).
It's still infamous as a horrible failure of game design, and puts a significant number of people off the game without ever seeing the part where diverse builds are actually viable. It's a bit liking firing up the original XCOM - it might be perfectly good, but the very beginning is so bizarrely hostile and underexplained that a modern player would never know.
It seems to me that the developers wanted to push players towards role playing a tribal who molds themselves to the wasteland. They wanted to discourage people from rolling a charming doctorate student with a Gatling laser.
I still think it's bad game design. It does make it less fun.
There's probably no clean fix while the weapons skills are divided, because the game needs item progression and investing in intermediate skills is so pricy. Really the only big improvement I can think of is offering a handful of quality, low-skill-requirement weapons like NV's Weathered 10mm to tide players over.
Still, the series has definitely advanced from the Temple of Trials approach, where it had been overdone to make the gameplay unpleasant.
First, perks (and to a degree points) felt scarce, especially with level caps. Dumping value into any combat other than Energy Weapons felt like you were backtracking when you switched over - though points were cheap if you took any of the meta-experience perks.
Second, that redundancy felt crappy because the energy weapons didn't really feel impactful enough. Some were fine, like the pistols, but the high-end stuff couldn't outpace guns. They were really heavy, and things like the Tribeam just weren't very good. The Gauss Rifle was solid, but you got it so late and it was so tiresome to maintain and keep loaded that it was hard to justify.
Really the biggest perks of Energy Weapons in NV were the low Strength requirements and the Hyperbreeder Alpha, which was a hilariously cheap and easy way to fight petty enemies. On some level the balance decision just felt wrong - I understand spending more to use Energy Weapons, but why would I if they don't beat Paciencia and Ratslayer?
In practice, with a build that maximized small arms from the get go (which also made the early-to-mid game easy), and invested stat points into Perception for those crits, by the end of the game you would be killing Enclave patrolmen with one-shot eye criticals more often than not, making any extra damage kinda moot.
(As I recall, gauss vs pulse is a long standing holy war in Fallout 2 community.)
Fallout 1 only had the rat cave in the beginning, though, and that only took a minute.
For me -- who to my eternal shame wasn't aware of Wasteland, its spiritual parent -- Fallout was the first truly great RPG, a wonderful post-apocalyptic game in a world of Tolkien-wannabe copycats. No Elves, Orcs or magic -- mutants, ghouls and radiation instead!
I have been playing Fallout 2 Restoration project, and it is amazing. Tons of cut content restored, bugs fixed, and the random encounters often include little huts and farms to pick through.
Just don't add the extra talking head during installation. The modders had to do their own voice acting and it is sadly not good.
For the most part, it's just the plain fact that DLC is made at the end of the cycle, after all the creative people working on it have had the most time to get the feel for the worlds they create. And this experience translates in to better worldbuilding.
That reminds me of Neverwinter Nights. The main game's quest was straightforward and unimaginative, but a lot of the community-built quests and the expansions were great. Of course, this was BioWare and close to 15 years ago, so it certainly isn't just Bethesda, and it's also not just "games these days".
On the other hand, taking several thousand squares miles of real-world space and stuffing it into about ten square miles can make it feel like the world is awfully claustrophobic. In the real world, it would be perfectly sensible for a slightly out-of-the-way vault or something to be entirely undiscovered for decades at a time, even with our current pre-catastrophe civilization. In the Fallout gamespace it seems faintly silly... "seriously dude, nobody ever took a five minute break from work to talk a walk and noticed this big, hulking thing?"
For those who don't remember, what these guys did was make a seeded map generator that filled all those thousand square miles of real-world space between pre-designed locations with something appropriate. And you could literally leave a location, but just keep going without switching to the fast-travel "world map" - and if you went for long enough in the right direction, you'd get somewhere else. But, world size being to scale, you'd literally have to walk hours or days.
Consequently, when in fast travel, if you ran into some randomly generated monsters, the battle map would actually be that exact part of the generated world map. If you happened to run into something else again in the same spot (or close enough), you'd see the same map.
Of course, this made game design somewhat awkward, because if you knew the precise locations of things (they even used latitude/longtitude for map coordinates!), you could just go there right away - unless there was some choke point on the map that you couldn't avoid and that would require direct interaction (like, say, a lone bridge over a river with a bandit collecting toll from any passers-by). And the game was actually designed around that possibility!
The problem with all this is that it's a gargantuan effort to maintain a giant sandbox that most players will just ignore, or possibly never even discover.
I can still get into a book even though I've seen movies. I think it takes a certain type of individual to get into the Fallout 1/2 style of interface, but the overall game still holds up. Older games require more imagination though.
I've gone back in and played the original wasteland recently, and it's cluunky - but I was still able to get into it and enjoy myself.
I think back in the day gamers had more imagination. It's possible that's because gaming required it, and that it took better graphics and interaction to get it so that the mass-market could adopt them. It's possible there's a branch of gamers who just won't be able to get into games like Fallout 1/2, but I hope it's fewer than you are describing.
Try to save the results of those, then pick up from there next time you're in the mood. I've had all kinds of games I've played across years that way.
What would be awesome would be recognition of this by developers of AAA titles with long narratives - with the option to watch a dynamically generated cut scene comprised of both cut scene footage and significant in-game footage from the player's own gameplay.
'Previously, in Grand Theft Auto...'
It's sort of like watching Game of Thrones, and instead of seeing a prior episodes recap before the episode where it matters, you were able to check immediately after a scene to see if it would be worthy of a recap later. Sort of ruins some of the fun.
Other than that, this would be awesome. Maybe if there was some way to offer a recap immediately prior to it being relevant, so someone who was consistently playing could ignore and someone that might have forgotten portions could take advantage of. That does make it quite a bit more complicated though.
(Am playing Diablo III at the rate of about 3 hours every 3 months...)
And now I have to replay FNV, VtMB and KOTOR2 to immerse myself in the obsidian writing.
My statement was intended to convey that most of the underlying plot did not come from VB; just a number of particularly meaty bones, rather than the spine.
To be fair, Fallout 3 had a more immersive environment and atmosphere. It captured the setting and feeling of a post apocalyptic world. You dont feel as compelled to follow the game's questline... exploring the world was more satisfying. Bethesda and Rockstar have a penchant for making games where you can have so much fund just walking around.
I often times wish that a colloaborarive rpg between comapnies could be made. Obsidian would do quest design, CD Project Red would do the writing, Bioware would do the voice acting and character design, FromSoftware would do the world-building map design and lore, Platinum games is responsible for gameplay, Square Enix would provide the music, Naughty Dog handles graphics and motion capture, Blizzard would do the QA, Bethesda would do the mod kit, and Valve would be the publisher....
As someone who prefers FNV:
FNV is a lot grittier and fits better to earlier Fallouts that way. It leaves the player more choices (more companions, more decisions in quests that influence the story, just more stuff to do) and IMHO tells the grander story. Great DLC stories. Hardcore mode helps against the RPG-typical issue that the player character turns into a demi-god the environment doesn't react properly to.
It has a few more potentially game-breaking bugs, which is annoying, and you can tell that they planned for more content that they weren't given the time to finish, most other critiques IMHO apply to both games (graphics aren't great by modern standards, at some point you look to hard at the world and immersion just breaks, enemy AI and other mechanics don't help in that regard)
That said, you can get them for 10 bucks each with DLCs, so if you have the time it's worth trying both.
This moral ambiguity is present in most Obsidian games and it makes for a completely different experience when compared to the typical "hero saves the world" storyline. In FO3 it's pretty clear who the good and bad guys are, whereas in FNV it gets muddy very fast. This is pronounced at points where you're to make a choice - in FO3 it's very easy whereas in FNV you're stuck asking yourself "Is this really good/bad? Should I be helping this NPC? Am I really on the right side in this? What if they're manipulating me?."
As for the humor part - FNV is more in line with the tongue in cheek style of F1 and F2. Yeah, the world burned to hell, why not spend the day chasing down a telepathic mole rat?
The empire behind the front line is meant to be secure (read: no raiders), have plenty of electricity, water, and food, even if the inhabitants have comparatively little freedom compared with the NCR.
NV is built around a narrative world. The NCR is coming from the west, the Legion is coming from the east and New Vegas represents a third powerful entity. Almost every settlement is defined by their relationships to these groups and it brings the world together.
The gameplay may be similar but the worlds are very different.
But it lacked the quirky humor and characters that were part of the originals just as much, as well as how the world reacts to your build and actions.
I remember that if you set your INT stat in FO2 low enough, basically EVERY character in the game treats you like an idiot, making most of the quests impossible to finish normally. The exception would be a "village idiot" NPC, with which a normal character has limited dialogue options, but a low int character can have an erudite conversation... FO1/2 are full of touches like that.
It is admittedly much harder to program this flexibility in a fully voiced/animated/scripted 3D game, but NV came much closer to capture this aspect of the originals.
For instance, asking a doctor to treat you from radiation poisoning:
"- Me glow in dark".
And yes, I missed the humor in FO3. And the easter egg. Fallout 2 is like an explosion in an easter egg factory. There are references to everything everywhere. From "TK-421" and "AA-23" etched at the edges of the world map, to random encounters with a crashed whale and a bowl of petunias.
That said, you can wander around the wasteland and find a lot of nice subquests and hidden nuggets. In this regard, F3 really looks like Oblivion with guns, since in my opinion that game had the same exact issues (lame main story, beautiful side quests).
NV's DLCs are also better in my opinion.
Obsidian Entertainment are very good at few things that turn original games into the cult: world and locations lore, characters and storytelling.
All that said, 3 and 4 are still quality games. There's nothing all that wrong with "Oblivion + guns" in my view ;)
Actually, I can't help but feeling that Bethesda games treat me like an idiot and hold my hand all the time. I hate that "special snowflake-retard" handling and couldn't finish any of their games, even though I really loved these beautiful worlds (Oblivion, Skyrim, Fallout3).
Entertainment series with many entries inevitably have internal conflicts. So series writers choose which stories are considered to be 'true' going forward.
For instance there were 30 years of Star Wars novels that established many new characters and events that came after the movies. Disney declared them all non-canon. So in the new movies none of those characters exist and none of those events happened.
Myself, I prefer the murky old corners of the Alpha Quadrant, fending off treacherous Cardassian freighters in the Trek Universe.
Meet Leland Chee, the Star Wars Franchise Continuity Cop
His official title is continuity database administrator for the Lucas Licensing arm of Lucasfilm—which means Chee keeps meticulous track of not just the six live-action movies but also cartoons, TV specials, scores of videogames and reference books, and hundreds of novels and comics.
Also the new Shadowrun games (isometric/turn based) are worth a look.
These mods fix bugs and carefully re-add to the game bits that was cut off before release, but later on exposed in Fallout Bible by Chris Avellone (and some other sources probably).
Please don't let this be good! ;-)
If you want to give it a shot but get annoyed by the fighting system, try it as a social character, zero-fight gameplays are possible.
I can do play the game just fine but I end up missing a lot because I can't tell if from rocks.
I couldn't find anything similar for Linux distros, though.
Edit: thinking about it more, the easiest way to get something like this would be to just put an overlay on my monitor with the coating that the enchroma uses. This would pretty much solve my issues.
These days I use Enchroma  glasses. I still can't identify colors that well, but it helps with differentiation.
EDIT: It seems in this case it would have to go further than BG2, but I stand by the claim that BG2 style highlighting is a useful accessibility/convenience feature, and I personally did not find it immersion-breaking.
It also makes exploring more efficient, as you can search containers and interact with objects and characters a quasi 3D world without the need for 3D rotation. Which I think is important for the kind of game Fallout is.
There's really no way to make a more atmospheric game with that engine than FOT itself.
I've also read about "Restoration Project" mods and I am bit confused.
The gameplay in F2 is a little better than F1 -- more freedom, I think, and less pressure to finish a major quest part within a time limit. However, F1 does an _amazing_ job introducing the setting, and making you feel like you want to play in that world (IMO). There are some things in F1 that have no analogue in F2 (that I recall), and vice-versa, which make them both awesome.
In Fallout 1, there are parts where you really care about radiation, for reasons which would be spoilers, whereas in Fallout 2 I don't recall that ever really feeling like something I was worried about. Fallout 2 has a whole quest hub (New Reno) which was very memorable, whereas I don't recall as much about F1 (granted, that was almost two decades ago. ;))
I recommend making a custom character; if you try to play a Sneaky or "Face" type character, the game seemed much harder; then again, I always ended up effectively going the sniper route, so I am admittedly a little biased.
Some fans were unhappy with certain thematic changes in F2, e.g. the (at that time) excessive increase in pop culture references and muddying of the 50s retro sci-fi backstory.
For the uninitiated: There's a reason one of the original major Fallout communities was derided as "glittering gems of hatred" at one point. Fallout 1 had a very emotional following and what happened after Fallout 2 was a series of bad business decisions around a franchise with fans that just wanted another game in the series.
Basically Interplay tried to open the franchise to the combat strategy demographic with Fallout Tactics but had outsourced the entire game to a study with no sensibilities for the established setting or even premise of the first two games beyond "kinda like Mad Max with retro sci-fi".
Then they followed up by trying to do a console shmup with desperately oversexualised marketing (press packages contained actual condoms). Again, outsourced, and with no resemblence to the original two games at all.
In the meantime they killed off the actual in-development Fallout sequel codenamed Van Buren, which was the closest the fans ever got to a successor to Fallout 2.
Then they announced plans to create a Fallout based online game with another external company, which luckily never went anywhere (fans referred to the hypothetical Fallout Online as "FOOL" even before anyone took the idea serious).
At some point all the mismanagement and continued failures caught up with Interplay, long-time employees managed to sue for lost wages and a certain company that gave the world cookie-cutter fantasy combat RPGs with two dimensional characters bought the rights to Fallout 3, 4 and 5 (and possibly more) and created what people born in the late 1990s or later think of as Fallout today.
There were some other tearful events with ex-developers creating Fallout-like RPGs (in gameplay, not in story) at other companies (just to namedrop a few: Lionheart and Arcanum) but let's just say there were good reasons to be very angry and disappointed even before Bethesda had any chance to screw anything up.