Atomic Ninjas talk Fallout 3: The Sequel

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In late August I reported that No Mutants Allowed got inside the Fallout 3 demo presentations and got a few Q&A sessions with Pete Hines. They went to the Bethesda Games Fallout 3 forum and replied to questions about their viewing of the Fallout 3 demo. This is the fifth of a series of blogposts with an edited version of those sessions. You can find part 1 here, part 2 here, part 3 here, part 4 here, part 5 is here, and part 6 is here.

Thank you for all of you that made the questions, and the intrepid atomic ninjas for providing so many interesting answers.

—X—

Will ap become useless if you never use the V.A.T.S. system?

It does not appear to have any function outside of VATS

I hope npc reactions are improved allot more in the final game. Like when you pick up the laser rifle from the soldier the BoS soldiers should force you to give it to them and give you one of their Chinese assault rifles instead.

Considering their excessively possessive nature in FO1/2 when it came to technology… well. Pretty unlikely they’d even let you near the laser rifle.

The lack of helmets is also unsettling I would rather have BoS soldiers wearing patched up helmets and marking their armor to show rank or identification. If the only reason they don’t wear helmets is so you can identify them. Then just have them remove their helmets to talk to the PC when no combat is going on.

Not to mention (grandfather) Maxson was killed, hit in the head during a raid because he wasn’t wearing his helmet. I’m pretty sure the BoS learnt their lesson after that…

But of course, a helmet doesn’t let you show much facial expression during dialog. I could understand the leader being helmetless for that purpose, but nearly the entire squad? un-bloody-likely.
Will ap become useless if you never use the V.A.T.S. system?

From what we saw, probably, yes.

heh, so much attention paid to the crater… did it look like maybe they tunneled around it? It’s been a couple of hundred years. You figure a lot of this stuff would be covered/built upon/destroyed…

Can’t tell, but Megaton is basically a ramshackle Junktown-esque place built on the walls of the crater/hole/whatever
I’m more concerned about the disparity in rad counts between the too-ubiquitous mushroom clouds and the “tap” water… sure, one is ingested and that explains the rad count to an extent but… come on?

Probably just a demo thing, tho’

Relaxing? Or maybe tired of all the (endless) fighting? Like in war-weary and disenchanted by the whole mess? You know, like in the anti-war movies.

No, it’s definitely just bad/unfinished AI scripting, just like the soldier shouldering his gun the moment the bomb hits. They need to do some work there.

Which I think is the value here:

Remember how all those previewers were ecstatic about the improved RAI? Well, guess what, you don’t actually *see* improved RAI anywhere in the demo, all those previewers have to go on is the promise that RAI will be better. All the RAI I saw in the demo was *exactly* like it was in Oblivion (with the possible exception of combat AI).

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Does this mean that mutants are only out to kill you or what?

Basically, Pete Hines was talking about dialogue as a valid options and then just threw out “obviously, that doesn’t go for supermutants.” Might’ve been a joke, might’ve been inaccurate, it didn’t sound very definitive to me.

But supermutants are “the enemy”, that much is clear. Whether or not you can talk to them and how much backstory they have I don’t know

Weren’t ALL the mutants using heavy or melee weapons in both F1 and F2 precisely because they could not use small arms?

Yes, but with the note that this was partially because the Fallout devs simply didn’t have the time to waste on making supermutant animations with small guns, but they would’ve if it didn’t make sense that mutants can’t use small guns.
Wasn’t FEV supposed to trigger an uncontrollable growth of muscle mass? I think that was one of the reasons the original design showed them deformed and Hulk like. And the mutants we’ve seen so far in the few screenshots don’t look any smaller.

Smaller, no. Less deformed, yes. They’re just 7-8′ human beings, it’s possible their hands are small enough to use assault rifles. It didn’t look “wrong” in the demo, it looked like the size of the gun in relation to the mutant was fine.

As an added question: Were the mutants shooting weapons Rambo style ? Just staying in the middle of the road, spray and pray, or was there any attempt to seek cover/flank ?

Couldn’t tell. The combat AI wasn’t stunningly impressive, and there was a lot of stand shoot, spray and pray. From everyone, not just supermutants.

In the earlier Fallouts, only the military had most of the access to robots and the only real AI was rare. But how now in Washington DC there is a Protectron and the “Stupid Git” robot in the demo? Was any of this explained? or is my (usually bad) memory of Fallout off?

No, not explained. Nor could I really tell from the demo if the robot density will be higher, but I don’t think it’d be a huge problem if it were. Sure, Fallout didn’t have many, but the one big city in Fallout had been hit pretty bad by the war and rioting, it might simply be different on the other coast. The pre-war world had plenty of robots, so it could make sense for a lot to survive

I don’t think the “stupid git” remark by the robot makes any sense because the only machines in the fallout universe that had any “personality” were A.I. like ZAX which was a huge computer.

It makes even less sense when you consider it’s a posh, thick, kinda fake British accent.

It’s really, really bad. I pray they remove it

So the slow-mo in VATS would get pretty tiresome after a while. Do you think it would make more sense to keep VATS without the slowmo.

Sure, it’s a RTwP system with aiming, the mechanics are what’s important, the slow motion is just for cool points and doesn’t actually relate to the mechanics

I’m interested if Brother None or SuAside can recall exactly or as close to exactly what Mr Burke says to the player. Other previews have mentioned things from building a residential suburb on the sight to building a shopping mall on the site to just wanting to blow it up because it is a “blight”. Can one of you guys remember the exact reason why?

He does go on for quite a while, but I don’t think he mentions his own, personal motives. It’s quite possible there’re dialogue lines in which he’ll name more reasons to convince the player, but Pete chose to accept the quest immediately (for the pace of the demo, I guess).

He mentions that it’s a blight, I don’t remember him elucidating that further, and the real estate remarks are just jokes.

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From what Ausir has told me BethSoft does use the wiki quite a bit.

Yip. And it shows, I have yet to see them get any lore wrong, even though we still have to wait for the explanation for the supermutants and BoS

If we were all optimists around here, we’d all say that the reason they didn’t explain it is that it was too long and complicated to explain in 30 minutes…

The reason they give for not explaining is it that they want people to see it in the game. That sounds fairly reasonable to me, though they could be handling it better.

I kinda of a have a pre-exception mode to this because I think no matter how well you explain it you’re always inspiring the feeling of “why move it cross-continent just to rehash the same factions/monsters.” I’m fine with supermutants, especially if they were bred locally, though not with their look. The BoS, different from the originals in look, behavior, goals and location, I honestly just don’t get

Ever since the first reviews of the preview demo came out I was struck by how many of the reviewers talked about the glare when the PC first emerges from the vault and sees the sun “for the first time in his life” or lines to that effect. Someone commenting on it was one thing, but I became curious and cynical when I read the exact same response in a second and more reviews.

The glare/blur is impossible to miss and has a cool effect, so it doesn’t surprise me a lot would talk about it. “For the first time in his life” might just be a sign of having played the original Fallout, where that is heavily emphasized.

So, my question is, “Was that mentioned during the demo, or is that moment really that effective?”

No. But note that while a lot is similar (“is that his eye” joke, “destruction is our new trees” remark), Pete doesn’t usually do the presentation, Todd does. So maybe Todd mentioned it, while Pete doesn’t.

heh, so much attention paid to the crater… did it look like maybe they tunneled around it? It’s been a couple of hundred years. You figure a lot of this stuff would be covered/built upon/destroyed…

Sua: Bigass crater really… and nearly totally intact bomb. i’d almost wager it was dropped by parachute (for delay and airburst purposes).

Anyway, the thing that struck me as odd the most in the whole thing (next to the crater from an undetonated bomb) is the fact that INSIDE the crater, there was a perfectly intact sewer/metro grate used by Pete to enter the subway station part.

The soldier sitting down after the fight.
Relaxing? Or maybe tired of all the (endless) fighting? Like in war-weary and disenchanted by the whole mess? You know, like in the anti-war movies.

Nah, he just shouldered his weapon (after the behemoth had been hit, but before the behemoth had fallen, he must have magical powers to tell the hit would be fatal, looking through the huge explosion before it cleared.) and then sat down, staring blankly.
You could say it’s shellshock.

Both if you guys said some of the mutants were using Chinese ARs (in 5,56 ? weird but possible since Norico sells hundred of thousands of M16 copies each year ….anyway…). Weren’t ALL the mutants using heavy or melee weapons in both F1 and F2 precisely because they could not use small arms? Wasn’t FEV supposed to trigger an uncontrollable growth of muscle mass? I think that was one of the reasons the original design showed them deformed and Hulk like. And the mutants we’ve seen so far in the few screenshots don’t look any smaller. How could a creature with such huge limbs manipulate an assault rifle (magazine release and trigger guard should be really large or in the case of the latter omitted all together)? Now I can see a mutant using a heavy machine gun that uses an ammo belt (50 cal have such proportions that even a mutant would have room to operate) but an assault rifle? If they’ve tied this decision to the “cannibalizing” part of the design why not give mutants machine guns that are part of a weapon family ? Like the PK and AK and AKSU share almost 90% of the parts? Or the HK 21 share with the G3 AR in the western world. Not to mention that the newest Chinese Type 95 series has light MG, AR and Sniper sharing a lot of parts.

You’ll note that some assault rifles (especially those in nordic countries) have very large triggerguards to allow for very thick gloves in -40°c environments. a good example would be the AK5 (a modified FNC assault rifle). so if thick gloves fit, i guess mutant fingers might too? comfortable is another matter ofc…
As for the magazine release etc, it looked like a modified AK style rifle (with hints of Galil), so the magazine release is very big and bulky. no problem for mutant fingers (though this is speculation, i didnt get to see the chinese ARs trigger guards or magazine release. i should have seen it during the reload cycle, but i was furiously taking notes about other stuff).

As an added question: Were the mutants shooting weapons Rambo style ? Just staying in the middle of the road, spray and pray, or was there any attempt to seek cover/flank ?

Only one mutant really went off to flank, but i’m guessing that was more to illustrate aiming at partially covered targets than it was for AI combat…

The thing about behemoth and corpses on the back… that was actually said by Pete? I know you wouldnt invent such a thing but just to make it clear…

He pointed it out, that the behemoth had it on his back (though ofc empty at the time).

In other previews, journalists talked about about the improved RAI, people talking to each other by name, logical conversations.
In the demo, at least in mine, you don’t actually see that. The combat AI is different, but the RAI behaviour of NPCs all throughout the demo is exactly like RAI NPC behaviour in Oblivion. Pete says it’s improved, but I couldn’t actually tell, in the demo, apart from some events which just seem too obviously scripted. The conversation about the radio might’ve been RAI, and that’d be good, but it strikes me more as scripted, since it’s the point in the demo where Pete talks about the PipBoy radio.

So will it be improved? They promise, but nobody can tell at this point, and some statements made by journalists on the topic are a bit weird, considering they also probably did not see RAI in action.

Okay BN, assuming that the game won’t change and it will be pretty much like in the preview- ya think ya’ll buy it?

I operate by the assumption that I will get a press review copy.

But seriously, if it were a lengthened version of the demo, no. But it’s a linear demo with much violence and little talk, who knows how representative it is.

The demo simply doesn’t provide enough information on certain points (dialogue, quests, storyline) to make an educated “buy or don’t buy” decision. So can’t tell yet.

Is this a Fallout sequel?
Or is this a sequel to Oblivion, done in a Fallout universe?

Neither. Though more the latter than the former.

As I recall, Fallout 3 is not supposed to be a linear game. Perhaps that was just for the demo, ya?

Of course. You can’t have a 45-minute press demo that’s free-roaming, you’d have to spend 30 of the 45 minutes looking for stuff to do, it wouldn’t work

Could you give more details about the enclave radio?

No. I don’t know anything else. Pete doesn’t tune in to them, he doesn’t explain it, you just see them on the list, and the man and woman discuss the station coming in well.

Behemoth was taken down with only one shot from the nukular catapult?

Two, one direct hit, one aimed shot. It took more in other demos. I remind you the Fatman does 90 times as much damage as the Chinese assault rifle.

There was only one instance when a boS soldier was caught in the blast of it?

Once in the blast of the Fatman, once in the blast of a car. No reaction either times.
But, to avoid such complications maybe you can damage only hostiles? Or the friendlies always remain friendly?

I just assumed they were immortal for purposes of the demo.

In general terms how would you compare Van buren demo and this one? Which one felt more complete in gameplay mechanics presented.

They’re incomparable. This one is more polished, but I could play the Van Buren demo where I could only watch this one. So I can’t compare directly.

Was there ever any combat done from the 3rd person perspective?

No.

Does this mean we have no control over which stats we choose and that GOAT does that for us or does it just advice but we can manualy set and choose stats and skills?

It sounded like it advises you, and you set it.

Was there any weather effects seen through the demo?

Did night ever fall?

No and no.

But anyway, I have a question. How does the AP actually work? Does it regenerate even if you are shooting (in non-VATS mode) so could use it on VATS later on? Or does AP degrades while shooting in realtime as well?

I didn’t see it degrade in realtime, but AP had a pumped-up regeneration rate in the demo. It was regenerating even while Pete was running and gunning, but I don’t know if that’s how it works in the real game.

It’s basically just a fatigue counter, when full you get a super-move, when taking actions it doesn’t regenerate.

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Noteable voices from Oblivion, or unique sounding?

Couldn’t tell. I haven’t played enough Oblivion to instantly recognize voices.

I have another question: How did the interface look?

What interface? The combat one? The PipBoy one? Both were simplified into the console sense of the word, PipBoy looked good, the combat interface functional.

How was the battle between the BoS and mutants? Was there a lot of physical space in the battle? Oblivion had so little space for battles.

You mean room to move? Plenty.
The battle was pretty messy, hard to follow. Pretty intense, FPS vibe, to be honest, until Pete paused it a couple of time.

One thing that really got on my tits (in both Obliv and MW) was that every time you walked through an entrance, there was a loading sequence. From the screen shots it looks like there’s some walk in buildings – is that the case? or are there still lots of immersion killing ‘teleporter’ doors?

For the buildings in the supermutant/BoS area (the ones you see in the screenshot), no, Pete moved in and out with no loading screens.

The game did have to load Moriarty’s bar when the PC entered, seperately.
It might be ruined buildings = no loading, alive buildings = loading.
Don’t remember teleporting PCs, I agree that needs to go.

There wasn’t any new skills … but did You notice what was out?
The other thing that I noticed was, that in Your demo it took one shot to kill behemoth – and in one of the first previous they mentioned several… I guess they changed that…

We never said it took one shot. you’ll need to reread the preview again, more attentively. it always took at least 2 fatmans (and 2 exploding cars upon entry), coupled to the damage done by the BoS squad that is firing away at the beast.

Did you see a ‘puddle of goo’ death animation?
Anything akin to the flamethrower death animation?

Nope & nope.
But there were only a hunting rifle, Chinese assault rifles, laser rifles and the Fatman in the demo.
I didn’t like the “splatter bonus” death animations. Looked unpersonalized, indistinct and not special at all. They lacked character, like most of the things we saw.

But again, did You notice any lack of skill in PC character sheet, or are there every from first Fallout?

As mentioned previously by others, there are slightly less skills, but in a quick glance we were unable to spot the missing ones (or modified ones for that matter).

How does the Behemoth look like it’d handle mellee? Does it look like hitting it in the face repeatedly with a Power Fist is a viable strategy to killing it?

Not really. I mean “I don’t know,” all it attacked was a BoS soldier in SuA’s demo, and they seem to be immortal, but Pete Hines notes it dealt “tons” of damage and could take it too. I think you’re supposed to keep your distance from him, and considering you needa 3550 DPS weapon to kill him, it struck me that only that weapon offers a sane mode to kill him with.

With regards to my question in another thread about player’s movement whilst performing VATS scheduled attacks (BN said there was none, IIRC), could I ask what happens whilst the player performs his actions? Do the enemies just stand there and take hits whilst the player is in VATS mode, or do they get to move? Do they get to shoot at the player who is just standing still?

They move and shoot while your queued actions play out.
This makes it quite likely that you’ll be able to target the head, and the PC will keep shooting at the head while you move around with WASD. But I don’t know.

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Did Pete explain that? Did a lot of people scratch their heads wondering what he meant? Since no one enters and no one leaves, the only possible jumpsuit he could have seen was the father’s, right? And I got the sense your long-lost dad didn’t leave “a long time” before your quest began.

I assumed he was talking about vault suits in general, not 101 suits. It’s conceivable there’d be more than one vault in D.C.
But no further explanation offered, no. I had a feeling that the reference might actually be to your specific vault (since i believe he also mentions it is nearby).

If you view it that way, it could easily be an intrigue. Afterall ‘no one ever leaves’ etc, that might be what you’re told, but your father left, didn’t he?
He might not be the first (FO1 style? the overseer’s ‘last hope’ jada jada jada, but turns out he sent out other dudes with the same mission), nor was he the last (you)…

Watching the demo, what was your “gut” feeling? Was there anything “fallouty”? Did you feel like you were in front of a Fallout game or a generic FPS? Or an Oblivion spin-off?
Did you want the game to have gone gold already so to being able to buy it, or were you indifferent?
Sorry if already being asked, didn’t check all well… ;P

It has been asked before or it has been written in the preview…

Fallout feeling/atmosphere is very hit & miss, though the vault itself seemed rather well done.
Dialogues missed ‘the fallout feeling’ though. none of the NPCs we spoke to (including Liam Neeson’s character) seem to radiate the personality found in the originals. every talkinghead used to have very distinct tics or characteristics that were hard to miss. here is was pretty vanilla (for now).
Yes, I’d buy it, though mostly to 1) be able to review/judge it myself & 2) mod the ‘crap’ out of it.

And what did you see of the insides of the buildings? How much it was used? Can it be used?
Suaside commented that instead of staying inside the building “brotherhood” soldiers ran out to fight…

VATS shows you that walls and debris can be used as cover, so yes, you can use it as cover. however, none of the NPCs seemed to care (RADIANT AI!), except the one scripted specifically to demonstrate its use in VATS.

Is it possible to go into every building and climb up to the upper floors and shoot from there? how much of this have you seen?

Every building? I doubt all buildings will grant you access to higher levels, but yes, a few buildings did have access to other floors and the roof. Bethesda placed one mutant on the first floor of the school, as you can see in the released screenshots.

What was like inside the galaxy news building where you meet dastardly Burke? Did the PC climb the stairs or was it a loading screen and suddenly you are on top?

Entering the building (using the doors outside) immediately teleported us to the roof. though i guess that was just for demo purposes and that you’ll be able to visit the building (since they supposedly broadcast radio from there).

Alright, thanks. can i get some meassures already? how big was the Behemoth and how big was the blast from the Fatman in metric system….pleeeeeaaasseeeee.

Sjeezes man… we didn’t have our measuring tools handy you know. to me the blast looked like 5 meter in diameter but very [censored] high (mushroom, duh).
But I could be off by a huge margin… kinda hard to guess if you primary object to compare it to is an out of proportion huge ass mutant, ye know…

What res was the demo? If it was high-res, did the display scale well to the res, or were the interface items “hueg”?

I’m guessing it was lower than the normal 720p resolution used by the Xbrick360. if it was 720p (or even 1080i) than they are having HUUUUUUGE anti-aliasing problems. Pete made a comment about VGA (which would be 640×480 in 16bit), but i doubt he meant that with it (since it was on widescreen anyway)…

The interface items were the same as on the screenshots released. (check the mutant with aimed bodyparts)

Was the subway, described as being like Oblivion’s caves, behind a “loading…” door?

As said before, he entered a grate and it loaded. so yes. or maybe more like oblivion sewers than caves.

Few points your review made me wonder about: if you’d listened to your radio in the same room as the cafe one, what would it have sounded like?

It just made the radio louder and closer to you. drowned out the other radio which was playing the same.

Would he have greeted you with that comment about the jumpsuit if you stripped naked and hidden the jumpsuit and pipboy behind a rock before approaching, as I would probably do if I was RPing: being viewed as a vault-dweller makes you too vulnerable. At least being a naked guy makes it obvious someone’s already rolled you and you’ve nothing else left to steal.

I wonder if the jumpsuit is even removable.

I wonder if the pipboy is removable: I doubt it, sadly.


I doubt that you can take off the suit at all.Wearing something over it is no problem ofc.

But no, obviously VATS doesnt show you the nice spots to take cover. however it was used to illustrate that hidden bodyparts of an enemy have a 0% chance to hit. The preview states, “This encouraged them to build their town around this bomb, using salvaged parts including a downed airline carrier.”

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Is the carrier a transport plane or is it some kind of futuristic flying aircraft carrier? I was thinking about the carrier shown in the concept art and wondering if it could be related. Thanks.

Flying aircraft carrier? haha, no… none of the concept art pictures represent Megaton.
And the only evidence i saw of any plane parts being used in Megaton was the gate construction. the rest seems mostly like a shantytown, though the building at the foot of the crater might have used a part or two.
I suppose there will be more, but Pete didnt exactly look around much… focusing on his footsteps and on the bomb mostly.

Is the carrier a transport plane or is it some kind of futuristic flying aircraft carrier? I was thinking about the carrier shown in the concept art and wondering if it could be related. Thanks.

Megaton is built with some salvaged plane parts.

The settlement built inside the stranded remains of the aircraft carrier is called Rivet City. Wasn’t in the demo.

Not constructive I know but, unexploded bomb crater? Is that like a strait hook or an empty tube of smarties. note, not an empty smarties tube.

On that note, Desslock noted this:

It doesn’t. The town was created around the impact crater of an unexploded bomb (which is in the center of the town) – the town isn’t IN the crater.

Not sure how he knows that or if he’s just making assumptions, though. I just quoted Pete

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WAS IT THE T-SHIRT OR THE PROTECTRON, ADMIT IT!

Probably the Protectron. If I could, I would stand under the Protectron’s balcony, serenading his awesominity

Heh. The graphics ain’t it. If it were graphics, I’d have gone for the nukular explosions, which are very pretty. The Protectron is just well designed.

Call it a man-crush. Shaun Alexander, Maurice Jones-Drew and the Protectron; my man-crushes.

PS: damn Zoidberg, tho’

Sua: undercover Brother always had a crush on the famous Robby the Robot…

As for Megaton, I doubt it is useful to speculate for now. Sure was a weird town though, sitting in a crater (or just a ditch according to Desslock) in which the bomb just happened to land smack center of.

As for the demo, yeah, we spent like 5 minutes looking at soil and feet. not to mention how nicely the character walks up stairs! that was a load off my mind seeing that the character actually used the stairs correctly (though it didnt work @ BN’s showing), certainly worth the time spent right there.

Did the Brotherhood really spoke (beside some raw language) and behave like some do-gooders ?

They (except the squad leader) spoke like American soldiers in Iraq. or the American marines in FMJ.

Were they working for Burke ? Or just went the same direction ?

Just going in the same direction, I think. I doubt they have anything to do with Burke.

Did you guys had a feeling that Bethesda misinterpreted The Brotherhood from Fallout 1 and 2 ?
I mean we had to convince them that They have to do something else about the mutants than rather hide in thier bunker in F1.

Of course they misinterpreted the BoS… for [censored]s sake, they said the BoS were the noble knights of the wasteland, clearing the mutants out of the city. how more wrong can you friggin’ be?

Not to mention their utterly moronic squad behavior (paladins are meant to be elite fighters), their macho cursing (yes, nicely disciplined they are…), them allowing you to pick up a far more advanced weapon than they are carrying from a fallen comrade (can you imagine the BoS handing over tech like that in FO1 without being a member? I think not) and the state of their equipment (sure it might be war, but if a perfectly fine powerarmor doesn’t pass muster due to the solder line on a friggin’ eyepiece… well, then these heaps of trash certainly don’t either).

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