As I’ve written before Game Informer Unlimited is online, with exclusive video interviews with Todd Howard and Istvan Pely, and the exclusive Ask Miller about Fallout 3 feature.
Well I’ve read the entire feature, if you have questions put them on the comments of this blog post. And you can see the videos, first this one with Todd Howard, then another one with Todd, and this one with Lead Artist Istvan Pely.
Here are some highlights of the feature:
Q: Is this another Oblivion but with a Fallout theme?
A: In short: no. Sure, Fallout 3 plays primarily from a first-person perspective like Oblivion, and conversations with NPCs use a similar style of dialogue tree, but combat, questing, character creation and most importantly the tone and style of the gameplay shares more in common with Fallout 1 and 2 than Oblivion.
Q: Is the game turn based or real time?
How’s the V.A.T.S. combat system work again?
A: I talk about this a good bit in the July magazine article, but to be clear, Fallout 3 plays in both real time and a paused tactical combat mode. It’s not really turn based, however. Instead, you can pause the real-time action in order to make aimed ranged or melee attacks on your opponents, smashing their legs to slow them down, or perhaps shooting an arm to hurt their weapon aim. Like in the original Fallout games, doing these aimed shots take action points, but since there are no turns, those AP recharge over time after unpausing the game. You can shoot in real time, but that will then slow your recharge rate. In practice, this means players have the option to play the game very much like an RPG, but with a good bit more action than traditional RPGs. Are there other details to the way this system works? Almost definitely, yes. Do we know all the answers to how V.A.T.S. works after seeing it in one demo? No. We’re waiting just like you to find out more.[...]
Q: Will Fallout 3 be as open-ended as Oblivion?
A: In many ways, Fallout 3 is being designed to be more open-ended than Oblivion, offering choices to players that alter the course of the game world in dramatic ways. In Oblivion, for instance, you either do the Dark Brotherhood missions or not. But imagine if you had the choice to either become the leader of the Dark Brotherhood, or infiltrate it and bring it down from the inside. Alternately, pretend you had an unstable nuclear bomb, and you put it outside the Dark Brotherhood hideaway and blew it up. That’s the level of open-endedness they’re shooting for with Fallout 3. [...]
Q: How is the art style? Does it maintain the feel of the original games?
A: I’ll answer this with an example. In the opening minutes of the demo, I saw, the character is in a lab inside Vault 101. On a table beside him I spied a stimpak. This tiny object in the world was the first of many times in the game that I felt tiny twinges of nostalgia for how they’ve carried over individual objects and ideas from the original in the artistic presentation of the game. The post-WWII, Cold War feel of the franchise is very much intact, but Bethesda definitely has its own unique take on the art style. One big part of this art style is a focus on making everything in the game world have a purpose–when designing a new gun, the art team spends a lot of time making sure that if there is some weird knob on the weapon that there is a reason for it to be there. They’re hoping to bring a certain level of authenticity to the game world in this way.
Q: Is the game first or third person? Isometric?
A: It’s both first and third–a point I mention in the article. It does not use the isometric view of the original games. It is possible to pan the third person camera pretty far back, but it definitely isn’t meant to be played in a view that is anything like the original. However, almost half of the questions we received were about the camera view, so I thought I should address it here. To clarify, unlike in Oblivion, with its wonky third-person camera, a big focus has been placed on making Fallout 3 fun and playable in both first and third person. The third person camera, when panned close, is very much like the over-the-shoulder view of a game like Gears of War or Resident Evil 4. The first person camera is very much like any other first person camera, but the game definitely does not play like a first-person shooter, at least in the demo I saw.[...]
Q: Can you play the game without doing any combat?
A: I never got a hard and fast answer on this point, though I did ask the development team about it. On a general level, they did say that they’re trying to build multiple solutions into almost any quest or situation you encounter, and that using stealth and diplomacy were very useable routes to overcome different obstacles. Whether you’ll be able to play through the whole game without committing any violence is a point they’re still hammering out, to my memory.
Q: How is the story going to work, how many quests are there, how much branching is there, etc?
A: I received a bunch of questions from you all on this point, and it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that I don’t really have the answers. With over a year of development ahead, I’m sure even Bethesda doesn’t know all the details about exactly how many quests will be in the final version. However, you can certainly look at the story elements that were included in the magazine article and draw a few conclusions. In the demo that was narrated throughout the article, the character chose to arm and detonate a nuclear bomb in the town of Megaton. This choice effectively closed off a whole slew of events and quests that could only be found in Megaton. Go back to that town afterwards for the rest of the game and all the people, homes, and shops will be gone, replaced by a big irradiated hole in the ground. However, having blown up Megaton, a previously unfriendly settlement that your employer is affiliated with might open up, and new quests, (probably some pretty evil ones) might become available. Had the character not blown up Megaton, there are all sorts of quests there that would open up in Megaton, but that other town and its quests might never become an option. You might be asking yourself: “Well, wouldn’t that mean I could have a dramatically different playthrough the second time through?” That’s sort of the idea, I think, at least if Bethesda manages to successfully implement this idea.[...]
Q: I’ve never played a Fallout game. Will I be able to enjoy Fallout 3?
A: I don’t know, but I do know that Bethesda sure hopes you will. While there are certainly a lot of big Fallout fans out there in the world, there are plenty of gamers who have never had the chance to play the old PC classic. While staying true to the game universe, Bethesda seemed to indicate to me that they are trying very hard to create a game that new and old fans alike will be able to enjoy.[...]
Q: I love Oblivion, and am hoping that Fallout 3 is just like that. Is it just like Oblivion?
A: No. There are definitely things it has in common with the game you like, but Fallout 3 is its own game, independent of previous releases by Bethesda or any other studio.[...]
Q: What is your overall impression of the game?
A: To be clear, I was and continue to be a big fan of the original Fallout games. Believe it or not, so are the guys over at Bethesda. From my perspective as someone who loved the originals, I have to say that my feeling of the direction that Bethesda is taking the franchise is very strongly positive. If you are a fan who is adamantly against some significant changes to the way gameplay occurs in the Fallout series, I’m going to tell you right now and save you the disappointment: I don’t think you’ll like Fallout 3. However, if you’re a fan of the Fallout universe, of the unique look of the world, of the moral ambiguity, of the dark and often violent humor, and the invigorating branching story paths, then everything about what I’ve seen of Fallout 3 should please you.
My take on this is that the game seems to be a cross between Deus Ex/Gears of War/Resistance:Fall of Man with some sprinkling of Oblivion and some art clues from Fallout, for nostalgia sake,but I’m more interested about your opinion.