As Hines explained, there are several benefits to the VATS system.
Firstly, it means you can play the game exactly as you want to play it. If you’re more of an RPG person, you may want to err on the side of stats and will do a lot of the combat in VATS. If you’re a shooter fan, you may not use it at all. The choice is yours. We pointed out that the system is big on numbers, percentages, and so on, and is likely to be a bit heavy for the “general” player. Without skipping a beat, Hines answered that no one has to use it. Want to blast away in real-time? No worries.
Secondly, VATS is the “bridge” mechanic between shooter and RPG. Traditional RPG conventions permeate the entire game, but it’s still a 3D shooter. Bethesda needed a way to bring turned-based combat to the modern real-time shooter, and VATS was the answer. It’s unique: we’ve certainly never seen anything like it.
It must have been very challenging to beat that specific problem, we say. That’as why we’ve been working on it since 2004, says Hines.
Lastly, VATS adds a hugely enticing layer of depth. Hines gave an example. You’ve just been in a firefight and you’ve taken a kicking. You fix yourself with stimpacks – administered through the Pip-Boy 3000 to any body part you wish – then walk round a corner to find yourself facing another team of enemies. Instead of just blasting away, you drop into VATS and stop the action.
This isn’t just to take a breather. Now you’re in VATS mode you can assess what you’re facing, the strength of the enemies, where they are in relation to you, and so on. You can be tactical without the “twitch”. VATS makes Fallout 3 a game for everyone.[…]
Hines answers all our questions about platform differences, DLC, Dogmeat, system spec for PC, random encounters and FPS targets before telling us that the next time we see Fallout 3, it’ll be playable. Yep, the E3 build will be hands-on.
Fallout 3’s been stamped “game of the year” with good reason. The moniker’s subjective, obviously, but there’s no doubt that Bethesda’s RPG is up there with the likes of GTA IV and Gears of War 2 as one of the most anticipated of 2008. Now we’ve had a chance to see why, there really isn’t much more we’re looking forward to playing.