From the Bethesda blog:
This week is a special Q&A for Inside the Vault in honor of the 10th anniversary of Fallout. One question. Lots of answers. We asked the team: What did you like best about the original Fallout games? This was a fun one to put together, a terrific read. Even a couple of developers from our sister studio, Zenimax Online Studios, chimed in.
A few examples of the answers:
Todd Howard, Executive Producer
It’s always been the initial opening for me. It’s one of the all-time great intros. From the opening strums of the Ink Spots, Vault Boy watering his plants while being locked in a Vault, Galaxy News, “our boys” in Canada executing someone and waving at the camera, a car that does 0 to 60 in .5 seconds with “no electronics”, the final pull-back to a destroyed world, to the opening line of “War. War never changes.” Within one minute, you’re completely sold.
Emil Pagliarulo, Designer
I loved the true open-endedness of the world, and the fact that I was this lone guy in a completely unknown world, and had the power to shape my own destiny in whatever way I saw fit. In Fallout, the Vault Dweller could be anything I wanted. So in a lot of ways Fallout was the progenitor of the “sandbox” game, and its principles have been replicated in everything from Oblivion to Grand Theft Auto.
Orin Tresnjak, Programmer
I loved the level of freedom—the way they dropped you into the world with little guidance and let you discover things for yourself, with multiple ways to handle most situations. The bleakness and moral ambiguity of the setting was another big one—rather than giving you a choice between mustache-twirling evil and total virtue, they let you develop an organic, complex character. They’re probably the only games that have made me stop to think about the moral implications of the choices I was making.
Gavin Carter, Producer
The best thing about Fallout was how singular it was, and even today, how singular it remains. While most RPGs were content with riffs on the swords-and-sorcery motif, Fallout rejected any notion of standard. The setting and basis for the game are so bizarrely unique that trying to sum it up in a few sentences is nearly futile. It’s Mad Max meets Leave It to Beaver, Flash Gordon meets Barefoot Gen, The Jetsons meets global thermonuclear war. Fallout managed to maintain a near-perfect atmosphere of gritty seriousness without losing its sense of humor. Combine that with the freedom, violence, depth of plot and characters, and it’s little wonder that people are still carrying the torch for the game, even ten years later.