“… out of all the legitimate complaints about this game, “I had to actually pay attention and look around” just seems a bit out of place.”
-Deadpool, from the Twenty Sided comments
I think this excerpt pretty much exemplifies a lot of responses I received for my Fallout review.
Most of you viewing my blog at this point probably learned about it from Shamus Young. He made a post about my blog two days ago, and hoo boy, my views and comments skyrocketed.
I’m not surprised by how many people disagree with the points I made. Fallout is a very beloved old game, and I understand that. Some people responded to me with contempt, but that’s inevitable on the Internet.
What I’m surprised by is how many people actually agreed with me, both on my blog and on Shamus’s. Kind of reminds me of Shamus’s response to Halo, actually. I thought everyone loved this game, so I went in expecting it to be all sunshine and unicorns. Then I post my angry rant on it and realize that it has as many haters as it has lovers. Huh. Guess my opinion wasn’t as radically outrageous as I thought it was.
Anyway, I want to respond to what a lot of people are saying. Essentially they’re saying that by focusing my efforts on getting through Vault 15 and consulting GameFAQs instead of just exploring and wandering to figure out what to do next, I was playing the game wrong. And they’re saying that it’s my fault, not the fault of the game.
I still think it’s the game’s fault because the game gave me no sense of direction whatsoever. And considering how many people are agreeing with me on that (a lot of people) I think it most certainly is a valid complaint.
Some gamers are alright with exploring and figuring everything out on their own, but most gamers need at least some sense of direction from the game or else they won’t see any reason to continue. You can’t blame us for this, it’s just how most of us are.
You’ll notice that nobody develops games like this anymore, even the people who used to make games like Fallout. Take Obsidian, which if I recall correctly contains members of the original Fallout dev team. When they made Fallout: New Vegas they left us a tangible trail of bread crumbs (so to speak) wherein each piece of the trail pointed us to the next one. That way the player always has a sense of direction, and is never left thinking “Uh… Where do I go now?” It gave you a sense of freedom while still having structure. Fallout 1, on the other hand, had no structure and still didn’t give me a sense of freedom.
Some people call that “not handholding.” I call it “bad design.” Yeah, some people might like it, but most people don’t, and if most gamers don’t like your game, you’ve failed as a designer.
I get that Fallout was meant to appeal more to “explorers,” the kinds of people who want to uncover everything themselves. And those people are probably upset that games don’t give them that feeling anymore. And you know what? I can actually empathize with them on that, because most modern-day shooters follow certain trends that really make me miss the old days as well.
The one that frustrates me the most is the fact that you can typically only carry two or three guns. I can understand how that helps keep things balanced in a multiplayer setting, but in single player it adds more depth to the gameplay when you can carry all the weapons in your arsenal at once. It lets you approach each challenge in a multitude of ways and helps bring more strategy to the field. By only letting the player hold a few guns, you have to make sure that every challenge in the game can be defeated with any of the guns, and it ends up feeling like either the challenges, the guns, or both have been dumbed down.
But now I’m getting way off-topic. Anyway, I’m open to the idea that in some parallel universe where I had a different first experience with Fallout I may have ended up loving it. People have said that it gets better elsewhere, and while I’ve never really liked that excuse before I have to admit that I didn’t really love Deus Ex at first either, but the more I played through it the more I became enamored with it. But my first impressions for Fallout were really awful, and I think that if I continue to push through it I’ll probably be focusing on the bad instead of the good. I think it would be best for me to shelve it for now. Maybe I’ll come back to it eventually.
Evidently a lot of people liked my Deus Ex review, and I enjoy playing these old games, so I’m going to continue this. To anybody who cares, the next game I’m gonna be neo-retro-reviewing is Thief: The Dark Project. I’ve had the disk for awhile, but whenever I tried to run it on this computer it would freeze up every ten seconds. Thankfully some kind soul on Twenty Sided named Daemian Lucifer let me in on how to fix that problem, and it seems to be working alright now.
I just beat the second level. So far it’s been very entertaining, interesting, and frustrating. Reminds me a lot of System Shock 2.