Sorry for the confusion. Let me clarify that a bit.
I meant, in general, the game is fully playable in third person. You can run around, adventure, get into combat (“run and gun”) etc. all in third person, and the camera was designed to accommodate that kind of gameplay, unlike the third-person camera in Oblivion, which was more of a “vanity mode.”
You can zoom the camera back pretty far in third-person, but there comes a point where it becomes less and less effective the farther back you pull the camera, just because you’re so damn small and it’s hard to gauge where the crosshair is at that point. So yeah, you can use third-person for combat, but the game wasn’t really designed to be played with the camera pulled ALL the way back, isometric style. That’s more for fun, and to survey the scene. It’s really no different than any game that lets you zoom a third-person camera back.
A couple other points of clarification:
— When you enter dialogue, the camera zooms into first-person.
— When you enter V.A.T.S. the camera zooms into first-person.
If you were in third-person when you went into one of those mode, you’re back in third-person when you come out.