Fallout 3 | The Game That Defines Upon Completion

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The Games That Define Us features carefully chosen music and remixes from the franchise of the game represented. Music is a key component of sharing the emotions one feels about a game, so we hope you will press the play button if you’re in a position to do so. 

introduction

Just a brief summary if this is your first time here: This collaboration is a 34-day long adventure through video games. Each piece is its own unique audiovisual experience, complete with artwork, designs, music, and (most importantly) amazing works of prose by brilliant bloggers around the world. This adventure will take you through nostalgia, joy, ambition, self-discovery, regret, anxiety, frustration, mourning, and every human experience in between. Video games exist as fragments on the timeline of our lives, and each one of us have chosen the adventure we feel most defines us.

Their tagline may be “one day we will finish a game,” but my goodness their content doesn’t show it. There sure is a lot of text in italics in this post, an indication of vast cultural knowledge. Today we’re joined by the amazing Khinjarsi of Upon Completion, a fantastic writer with an encyclopedic knowledge of the gaming zeitgeist. You’re going to love today’s piece — it’s insanely detailed and cultural references abound. After you finish here, you should enjoy these recent favorites over on Upon Completion:

Only nine pieces remain, but it’s not the end of the world. We hope you enjoy the next chapter of The Games That Define Us!

– Matthew, Normal Happenings

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Khinjarsi @ Upon Completion 

Twitter: @Khinjarsi_

For the brave…

Game: Fallout 3
System: XBOX 360
Release Date: October 28, 2008

1P Start

Fallout 3 was one of a few things I experienced (since I think games like Fallout are experiences) that helped skew my brain toward a more curious nature. I always tend to be curious about things, but I think Fallout 3 encouraged me to explore those new things, try out new tactics and try something new.

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War. War never changes.

Perhaps not, but I owe a lot to Fallout 3 for changing me. It may seem an odd choice of game to write about in this context, but it didn’t actually take me long to think of a game that has more meaning to me than most. I would love to have written a huge tome about going through a difficult patch and Fallout keeping me going through it. I’ve been through many of those rough patches, and sometimes there is a Fallout game waiting for me at the end of a long, difficult day to shoot things at long range and revel in joining the Legion the Brotherhood. Hell, it would make writing this and taking part in The Games That Define Us a lot easier. But it would also be doing Fallout 3 an injustice. You see, Fallout 3 changed smaller parts of me that have had small but, I feel, important aspects of who I am, what I play, and how I play.

Before I start, I want to put it out there than I prefer Fallout 3 to Fallout: New Vegas. Each have their faults, each have their shining moments. However, Fallout 3 was my first Fallout, and therefore I am biased in two respects. First, that in most cases, the first version of a series you play will likely be your favourite (as another example, I prefer FFX to all other Final Fantasy games, and prefer Persona 4 to the rest). Second, that Fallout 3 had a much bigger impact on me and my relationship with video games. Would New Vegas have had the same impact? Possibly. I’m not here to talk about what ifs. I ask that you just leave your opinions of which is better here (yes, specifically here) and learn a thing or two about me.

Fallout 3 marked a turn in my gaming self. I stuck to fantasy adventure and RPGs for most of the years I was gaming. Occasionally I would branch out into a platformer or point and click. Then I was introduced to the Xbox 360 and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (which, yes, I adore). None of my gaming friends back then had dabbled in the Fallout universe either, sticking to brightly coloured fantasy JRPGs or occasional action-adventure games. I had noone to adventure with and noone to seek a recommendation from before I bought the game. We didn’t exactly wander far out of our comfort zones back then.

You see, the box of Fallout 3 and the general descriptions and reviews of the game presented this post nuclear apocalypse as a 50 Shades of Brown first person shooter. My past experiences with the likes of Call of Duty and similar titles most definitely turned me off the genre and things that looked like it. At the time this included Fallout. It looked drab, it looked like a hundred other shoot ’em ups at the time, and I was not interested.

A cheap discovery in the local GAME store prodded me in the direction of the wasteland after learning Fallout 3 had come from the same developers as Elder Scrolls. I bought it, and challenged myself to play it for a while after being encouraged by my adventures spent in Cyrodiil. I loved it. It surprised me that I did, and perhaps more importantly it showed me that I shouldn’t be afraid to try games that I may not immediately gravitate to. I sank so many hours into my characters, as I did with my Cyrodiil character. I loved the depth of the lore, the mysteries to stumble across, and the sense of achievement felling Super Mutant Behemoths gave me. I have never regretted picking up a Fallout game since.

So what did Fallout 3 change?

At the core of it, Fallout 3 made me a braver player, and ultimately helped me be a braver person. Not only am I happier to explore games I wouldn’t normally look twice at (I usually give the indie games on PS Plus a go before deciding if they are my bag or not), but it made me braver in the games themselves. Take for instance, Ghouls in the Metro system of the DC ruins.

I’m not the biggest fan of zombie fiction. Partially because I’m not 100% convinced that the zombies are necessarily the real horror (why I liked the first couple of series of The Walking Dead), but also the right ones in the right fiction at the right time can give me the real creeps – Mira Grant’s Feed, Charlie Higson’s The Enemy, Max Brooks’ World War Z.

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In the same way I don’t actively seek out gorilla houses in zoos (yay recurring nightmares about one specific gorilla house at one specific zoo), I don’t actively seek out zombies in fiction, particularly gaming. The ghouls in the Fallout games are the nearest you get in the series to zombies; poor souls who survived the nuclear bomb but succumbed to years of radiation. There are a few friendly ones like Hancock (or perhaps Moira Brown) but generally they want to bite your kneecaps off. The odd one on its own is no real threat, but get three or four, or a Tenpenny Tower-ful, and you’ve had it, and that can be a terrifying thought sometimes. (It’s the same feeling I have with ants, only ants are more real and currently can give me an allergic reaction).

All this makes traversing the mid to late game of Fallout 3 really challenging for me. A huge amount of time is spent in the Washington Metro system where it seems most of the city’s population ran to when the bombs dropped, and where most of the feral ghoul population seems to be now. And so a lot of my Fallout time was spent creepy-crawling around every corner and sniping things from far away. As I got more powerful things got a bit easier and I could deal with the odd surprise attack. The low level ghouls became another mole rat, another skeever to deal with. The higher level ones became predictable bosses I could pick off from a distance, or avoid altogether. I became less intimidated by the challenge and eventually made my way out of the tunnels.

So, how has that changed me?

When I did the first draft of this post, I wrote the following:

“I wouldn’t say this thing with ghouls has massively affected my offline self but it has made a difference in my gaming.”

On re-reading my thoughts, I stopped and wondered if I truly meant this. I say this because I think actually, Fallout 3 was one of a few things I experienced (since I think games like Fallout are experiences) that helped skew my brain toward a more curious nature. I always tend to be curious about things, but I think Fallout 3 encouraged me to explore those new things, try out new tactics and try something new. At the end of the day, if I didn’t enjoy it, I didn’t have to continue, and that principle still stands. It helped me strengthen my resolve and ability to reject things I don’t like.

It wasn’t the only game to encourage this, and wasn’t the only thing in my life to do it either, but I think it’s an important part of who I am today. In gaming, it certainly made a difference to how I approach new games I wouldn’t normally try, and even how I play in games I know I will love. I’ve said in many of my posts, I’m a sneaky sort. Bows, sniper rifles and sneaking are my jam and usually how I play my first characters in games like Fallout and Elder Scrolls. Since playing with Fallout 3 and having a go with different builds, I can cope better with sudden close quarter attacks and sudden spoops. I can cope with the zombies in the Elder Scrolls series better and I’m marginally happier in the tunnels of games than I was. Except maybe that one zombie at the start of Elder Scrolls Oblivion which always makes me jump.

Having said all that, I still don’t actively seek out zombies hordes or underground lairs, but I’m much less averse to the Metro system than I was when I started. Mind you, having a Ghoul Mask also helps.

And now, to focus less specifically on Fallout 3 but the series as a whole; Fallout has helped me embrace the 1940s and 1950s culture. You see, since discovering my great-grand-uncle was at the Battle of the Somme and my grandfather (who I sadly never met) was an REME engineer in the Second World War, my dad and I got into visiting 1940s recreation events. There’s a fair few of these in the UK, and after visiting a few, my parents and I now attend at least one a year in outfits of the time. “How does this relate to your experiences in the Fallout universe?”, I hear you ask. Let’s use the music as an example here.

The Fallout universe is set in an timeline where the bombs dropped across the world; our reality and the Fallout reality split shortly after the Second World War. Where our reality sped through the 1950s, 60s and onwards into the world we have today, the Fallout reality embraced the styles and tech of the 1950s and stuck with the Golden Age – think Worlds of Tomorrow meets the Jetsons. Everything from the advertising to the fashion looks like the styles we had in the 1950s. When the nukes were dropped in Fallout in 2077, the radio was still playing tracks dating from that time; the Fallout Wiki lists tracks for Galaxy News Radio from Fallout 3 as dating from 1935 through until 1954, whilst Fallout 4 has tracks that stretch into the early 1960s. Of course, attending 1940s events means we miss out on some of the more rockabilly style songs. Luckily there are still a few, however, that I learned the words to whilst travelling the wastes, and can sing along with whilst sampling the Camp coffee. In particular Civilization (Bongo Bongo Bongo) by Danny Kaye and The Andrews Sisters and I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire by The Ink Spots. It helped me embrace more of the 1940’s events than perhaps I would have otherwise, and helps me feel more a part of those events.

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I am sure Fallout 3 has impacted me in so many other ways that I don’t notice or am not aware of. I wish I was able to write about all those. Sadly, without being aware of them, I can’t, but I hope this short essay gave you an insight into why Fallout 3 is so important to me and my gaming self; why I prefer it over Fallout: New Vegas, and perhaps why you like the games that you do.

If you found this kind of post interesting, I encourage you to read the rest of The Games That Define Us. It covers a huge range of people, personalities, writing styles, games and eras. Despite the procrastination on my part, I’ve actually quite enjoyed taking part in this massive collaboration, and examining Fallout 3 in a personal kind of way. I’d love to hear your thoughts on Fallout, the games you love or what games mean for you, and if you want more of this kind of writing, please do let me know. It takes me a lot longer to get a post out in this style, but it turns out I enjoy it.

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WordPress Reader viewers, please consider enjoying this post again on the site. While we designed with you in mind, you miss some of the nuances of the piece by not enjoying it in its original form. 

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This collaboration took an overwhelming amount of time and dedication from 34 exceptionally creative, incredible makers! Help us with the resources to make more, even better, collaborations in the future! We also have aspirations of developing a podcast called Normal Talks about optimistically appreciating everyday life! Please consider becoming a patron of Normal Happenings and help us try to make the world a better, more positive place!
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Matthew // Normal Happenings

Matthew Estes. STL-based Blogger. Graphic Designer. Happily Married. One day I'll actually complete a book I'm happy with. I love pizza, video games, and using way too many ellipses...

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