In Defense of Bethesda


Here is a compilation of different posts at different places with one point in common: the defense of Bethesda and their vision of Fallout 3. This way, and although the views here are quite different from my own views in many regards, some perspective on what was the discussion during the first months of development of the game can be found, with other positions being found on other articles and the blog comments.

Reading and understanding all points of view is the best way to enrich the discussion, in my opinion.


aenemic on the Bethsoft Fallout 3 forum:

Let me start off by saying that Fallout 2 is my all-time favorite computer game. I’ve played most rpg’s out there since that is my favorite genre and only games such as Baldur’s Gate, System Shock 2 and Fallout 1 come anywhere close. I also happen to love fps, adventure, strategy and a whole other bunch of games, with fps being my second favorite to Fallout 2. What I like about an fps is that it allows you as a player to really see the world that surrounds you from the eyes of the character you’re playing. The environment seems so much more hands-on – you see something interesting in the distance, so you walk up to it and realize it’s something completely different than you thought… for example. Also, it makes the size of things really matter more. Walking up to the huge cliff outside of Arroyo in Fallout 2 doesn’t give you any idea at all of how deep it goes, and it doesn’t give you the feeling of fear that you might fall down if you were to look over the edge. Why? Because you can’t. In a 3D world with a first-person view, you could walk up to that cliff, look down and really see for youself how far it goes and if you can even see the bottom. It will most likely also give you the feeling that you probably should go back a few steps or you might fall down. Those are just two examples of what a well done 3D world viewed from your character’s own eyes has to offer.

Not only is Fallout 2 my favorite game, the post-apocalyptic world is my favorite setting as well. There’s nothing like survival in a blown-up, radioactive environment full of mutated animals and raiders who take whatever they want. But to be honest, how much ‘survival’ was actually involved in the gameplay of Fallout 1&2? Not that much. Throughout the two games, the times you actually had to worry about radiation can be counted on one hand. Survival consisted of having enough stims, enough ammo and the best possible weapon. Oh, and remembering to save the game often in case it would bug out or your companions would blast each other to bits during the next fight. So I like the idea of having to check your rad levels often and being able to drink water from different sources to regain some health. I’m hoping for more elements such as this – for example, I’d like to be able to eat food and regain some health from that, or maybe get sick instead. And knowing Bethesda, it wouldn’t surprise me if this is added.

Now, how about those super mutants… I’m interested in seeing what they’re doing all the way over on the east coast, and I’m sure Bethesda have a good explanation. They even said that they do and that they were suprised no one had figured it out yet. So that is really not an issue for me, there will be a good reason. They’ve also said that the super mutants will be the main villains in the game and that has made people compare them to orcs of Oblivion. First and foremost, orcs in Oblivion is a playable race and in no way are they any more evil or any more villains than any other race. So this accusation only shows that a lot of you people haven’t even played Oblivion. But that doesn’t really matter that much, because opinions are opinions and everyone has them and are entitled to them. More importantly, I’d like to make the comparison to the first Fallout instead. What was the role of super mutants in that game? That’s right, they were pretty much the main villains after a while.

As for the little bit of story we know so far, I’m already curious. I’m expecting at least a few major twists and several ways to uncover the story. That much we’ve already been promised. I’m also expecting an exciting hunt for clues and information as to the whereabouts of my father. However, I’m also looking forward to just leaving the vault and exploring the world around me, not really worrying about the main story until later on. At least I’m pretty sure there won’t be a deadline for finding my father. Now one might ask, why should I even bother going out into the real world looking for that old coot? I’m sure Bethesda has given us reasons just as good as the reasons for leaving the vault in Fallout 1&2. At least this time around I’m probably doing it for more personal reasons than “oh no, my people are going to die and I have to help them even though I’m a sadistic, child-killing grave-robber”.

The most important thing though, is probably combat. When playing an rpg I love being able to take my time deciding what to do next. I love planning ahead and looking at all those little numbers to see what the best move might be. That’s why I find combat in Fallout 1 and 2 so tedious. Sure, it’s classic. There’s pretty much no other games where you can walk up to your enemy and fire that machinegun while seeing in great detail how all these little bloody bits are flying all over the place. And I’m glad that element is implemented in Fallout 3 as well, this time even more exciting and detailed. But back to the original games… and what I disliked about combat in them. It’s too simplistic. Here I am in the middle of a firefight between 10 people, in the middle of a city with it’s inhabitants running for cover and screaming for their lives. Bullets flying everywhere and I need to move from cover to cover to get closer to that guy with the minigun… wait a minute, that never happened. What really happened? 10 people moved around randomly, not really caring where they were standing for the moment and who was standing next to them. All the while, neutral people walked around like nothing special was going on or running away screaming… in the wrong direction. Even worse, you had to sit through several minutes of this during a lot of big fights, just waiting for your turn. Now, what did you actually do when it was your turn? You moved closer to the enemy, watching that hit % go up and maybe fire a few shots or hit them with a melee weapon. Where’s the excitement? Where’s the strategy? I’d rather be running for cover and throw myself to the ground while trying to avoid that gatling laser on the other side of the road.

Now there’s only one more thing I’d like to bring up: realism. The Fallout world isn’t supposed to be based on realism. The amount of realism in the first two games is extremely low. A lot of the small guns and a couple big guns were realistic in looks and description, but that’s that. The one areas where at least Fallout 2 had the most realism was the actual role-playing. You had a lot of freedom, you could go anywhere from the very beginning of the game. You could complete whatever quests you wanted, or skip all of them and still be able to find your way to the end-game. You could be a total dick or the savior of the people. It was all friggin’ great. Now, what part of all this are you so afraid won’t be in Fallout 3? I can’t say I’m sure Fallout 3 will have the same freedom, but from what they’ve told us so far I’d say I’m willing to bet it will be pretty close. You had a lot of freedom in Oblivion, almost the same amount of freedom actually. And I doubt they will go backwards in their game design rather that forward. As you might have noticed, realism is one of the major points of this whole post. Because that is one topic that seems to be coming back time and time again, wether with intention or not. A lot of the things you Fallout 3 haters ask from Fallout 3 are based on realism, or the sense of realism you got from Fallout 2. While at the same time, a lot of the things you complain about in Fallout 3 are actually things that will lend the game more realism than what Fallout 2 had. Just think about it for a while.

All that said, there are a lot of things I’m going to miss from Fallout 2. But hell, that game is so damn old now… there’s no way they could make the same game again but with better graphics. Even though that’s what I wanted. When Fallout 3 was announced by Bethesda I was disappointed at first. But I’ve accepted the facts and moved on. I’m already certain that Fallout 3 is going to give me that same special feeling I get from playing Fallout 2. But I’m also certain that the game will lend itself to some really nostalgic moments. And I’m pretty sure (however, not exactly certain) that it WILL feel like Fallout 3. I’m really looking forward to its release and I’m going to keep up with the development with much excitement.


BB at NMA:

About VATS: I don’t care if it’s turn-based or not. While I’m sure those of you who heard of it dislike Tycho‘s perspective on things, that’s how it works for me too. For me, the setting and the atmosphere were what made Fallout. I understand that for many of you it was a lot more than that, but that’s how it is for me. As such, I’m more concerned with stylistic inadequacies than the game not being isometric turn-based.

Combat was one of Fallout’s weakest points. There was nothing wrong with it, mind you, but the rest of the game was ahead of it by leaps and bounds. It was always fun and interesting meeting interesting characters, finding new areas, completing quests (especially if you found a tricky way to do it), and so on. But when the combat screen came up, for me it was never “Oh boy, combat! This’ll be great!” Again, it’s not like it was unfun either, but combat was only really interesting in terms of getting powerful criticals. Other than that it was mostly trying to pick off the enemies before your party members died.

I can understand why those of you who really liked Fallout’s combat or just want another isometric turn-based game would be really disappointed without it intact. That’s fine, but for me, personally – I’m not just a Fallout fan or even just a CRPG fan, I’m a gamer. I play games in every genre – as long as the game is good. So how they implement Fallout’s setting and atmosphere doesn’t faze me unless it fundamentally changes either one. A straight-up FPS game would do that. This won’t. I know that a lot of you point to a game like FOBoS for how drastically changing things (though FOBoS changed more than just combat) can end up in the entire product getting screwed. But there’s other examples of the opposite happening. Case in point: Metroid Prime. Took a 2-D platformer and turned it into a 3-D FPS. Retained the style and atmosphere of previous Metroid games and became one of the highest rated games of all time. The initial reaction from Metroid fans was the same as from Fallout fans here – “get your FPS out of my RPG/platformer.” So they started calling Metroid Prime an FPA – it’s a first-person shooter and you shoot, but it’s not Doom or Halo. The same thing’s happening here.

Fallout 3, like Metroid Prime, is in terms of obvious definitions a first-person shooter (or third-person, I suppose, depending on your options). That doesn’t mean it’s going to completely bastardize the entire series. That’s also why they’re calling it an Action RPG instead of an FPS. The gameplay choices they’re making are, as they said, not going to accommodate twich-based gaming. And although you guys don’t like the “Action” part of that title, you should know that the only reason Bethesda is calling it an Action RPG is to reassure you that the atmosphere will be the same (obviously their assurance didn’t work, but that’s why they did it). We get the opposite from BioShock. Despite it being a first-person game where you shoot things, originally they were touting it as an RPG or an RPG/FPS hybrid. Now they’re just calling it a straight-up FPS, because an FPS will sell more. Game hasn’t changed. As many of you evidently feel betrayed by Bethesda I’m not sure how much you’ll appreciate the gesture, but Bethesda is actually sacrificing sales from the massive FPS gaming market by refusing to give it that label. And the only reason they’re refusing to give it that label is to appeal to you.

On the other hand, the gameplay changes themselves are not being done for you. An isometric turn-based Fallout game would not do well enough it today’s market for the amount of work Bethesda puts into their games. If, say, Troika had gotten a hold o the license, it would’ve been fine. Small dev, can do what it wants. Bethesda needs its games to be big. It’s going to make the best Fallout game they can, but they’re also going to make it appeal to the biggest market they can while doing so. Although you guys, as hardcore Fallout fans, may not (and evidently do not) appreciate that, know that this game will get wider exposure because of it. And if it maintains Fallout’s setting and atmosphere – and don’t judge a game that’s over a year from release, not counting inevitable delays, from the way a super mutant model looks now or a single weapon they added – I will appreciate it being spread to a wider audience than Fallout or Fallout 2 ever reached.

As for those of you here, you’re not all of Fallout’s fans, and you’re not a majority. Numbers alone should tell you that. But you’re obviously the most dedicated. So rather than sitting here making snide remarks about Orcs and writing off the whole thing as “Oblivion with guns,” I’d do whatever I could to try to get Bethesda to implement everything in the way that best matches Fallout’s setting and atmosphere. And it would help if you guys seemed genuinely interested in helping Bethesda rather than in bending Bethesda to your will. They’re not going to listen to you any more than they already have if you go in with “WE, the FANS of FALLOUT, who KNOW what Fallout TRULY is,” you’re not going to make a lot of headway. Especially when you start going into “[X] is just not Fallout.” You have two options: demand that Fallout 3 is tailored to your exact specifications, or compromise with Bethesda, accept that some things will change, and try to help them make the game as good as it can be.

So far you’ve doing the first. If you don’t think you have, that’s what the perception of this community from anyone on the outside looking in. Either way, it hasn’t worked, because Bethesda is going to make the game they want to. They’ll listen to fans, but they won’t take orders from them. It’s the difference between ten pages of bitching about Orcs and making a concerted effort to get in touch with developers and politely telling them that you’re concerned because one of the neatest things about Fallout was the style. Without any self-righteous indignation whatsoever. Bethesda will take your opinions into consideration, but if you’re dicks about it, past a certain point they’re going to say “fuck it.” Now might be that point, given that most people who have heard of this outside of these forums seems to think it looks pretty awesome – and yes, I am talking about people who were fans of Fallout, not the random console gamers many of you seem to think are ruining everything. So either help Bethesda, the owners of the IP, make Fallout 3 as good as it can be and give it a chance when it comes out, or keep saying “Fallout 3 will never be Fallout 3” and go back to waiting for a game that will never come out.

Bethesda’s only going to listen to you if you work with it rather than against it. And telling them how much you think all their older games and pet series suck over and over again probably doesn’t get you on their good side either, although you can differentiate how you would want certain things to be as opposed to their completely separate fantasy RPGs.


s001 on FO3:PNB :

Don’t you think Fallout fans did it to themselves? I mean, you have to look really, really, really hard to find ANY type of positive (or you could even debate fair) comment on NMA, for example, and they aren’t even the worse offenders.

It is sad, because the good stuff gets lost in the noise. I used to read NMA pretty much everyday, but the negativity has gotten so ridiculous that I pretty much quit reading altogether and come here for my fallout information. I love debating and discussing games (anything, really) on fair and impartial merits buts its impossible on these sites.

There are whole forums out there mocking NMA and the similar sites, and I’m sure they didn’t earn any respect at the Escapist over the last few days. Just too damn zealous.

brios, I think you said “…Pretty contradictory stuff, but every guy on the podcast were coherent enough in laughing at us and criticizing us, while we seem not to be allowed to do the same about other people.”

What do you mean you aren’t allowed to do the same? You guys (NMA, DaC, Codex) make fun of people EVERY.DAY. You guys ridicule Bethesda ad nauseum, and Todd gets it pretty bad. You guys ridicule the press for being on the take. You guys ridicule anyone who likes the game as not being a true fan. EVERY.DAY. Even just reporting the news is spinned with the negative comments of the poster. So whats fair is fair, right?

I wish everyone would just chill the hell out but that’s not gonna happen. Oh well.[…]

The Gamespy comment was a little over the top, but I saw the thread that sparked that article, so yeah, I’m sure he was pissed at NMA being NMA. I don’t agree with it though.

And “How many times (except Fallout:BoS) has NMA used a newspost to mock or attack a person or group?” On the face of the article you guys do much better than others at just reporting the news, but go into the comments of that article and we can really see the people posting the news bashing the game just as hard as everyone else, so ultimately there isn’t a single bit of impartiality to anything posted there. I guess that’s fine though, you aren’t a professional outlet so you certainly aren’t obligated to attempt to abide by a professional outlets code of ethics (whether perceived or attained).

And hey, maybe there are some cool discussions going on at NMA, good luck finding them though, cause the negative shit just kind of hits you in the face the moment you look at a news articles comments.

NEWS ARTICLE: Fallout 3 at E3: Gamezone

First comment:

“Todd Howard wrote:

We’re trying to overwhelm the player with visual density.

I think that’s a typo, I believe he meant to say

Todd Howard wrote:

We’re trying to overwhelm the player with our density.”

NEWS ARTICLE: Fallout 3 at E3: BBPS, Bit Tech, Joystiq

Second comment:

“Gears of War also had Curbstomping, black Characters named Cole Train (His first line was “Yo, yo, yo”) and a final boss named General RAAM…

None of that was funny, as a matter of fact I now wish to smash Cliffy B’s head against a brick wall…


NEWS ARTICLE: Liam Neesons Role Gets Homeland Recognition

First Comment:

“Whoever wrote that crap didn’t have fucking clue about what he was doing. He talks about the game as it was Atari’s E.T. back on 83… Rolling Eyes

Oh wait, it’s metro… No wonder… Fucking piece of toilet paper with letters printed on it…”

And thats just the first 3 articles that are currently up there, and a part of the problem is that the mods are right there with ‘em. I actually had more to say but I’m tired, and nothings going to change anyway.[…]

Brother None, didn’t see your second comment, but it’s funny you should say that because as I mentioned, you guys mock the press a lot yourselves, and a random sampling of NMA would probably tell Bethesda to burn in hell. So how is what the other forums do different from what you do? Isn’t that hypocritical to deride another website for dedicating time to mocking a group of people?

I often wondered why even spend so much time obsessing about something you don’t even like (the average NMA member I’m referring to) I mean, I hated that Michael Bay got a hold of the Transformers and I hated the movie, but ultimately I just decided not to go see the movie and move on. I don’t feel like I have to yell to the world that Bethesda sucks, and Fallout 3 sucks, or speak about the original Transformers like gospel to anyone else. Why exert that much energy towards something you’ve already decided you won’t like?




One thought on “In Defense of Bethesda

  1. Let me start off by saying that Fallout 2 is my all-time favorite computer game. I’ve played most rpg’s out there since that is my favorite genre and only games such as Baldur’s Gate

    What the fuck?! Baldur’s Gate?! Ahah, this surely does it. I’ll finally finish that one review I was making a while ago… Baldur’s Gate’s review. A bit late, but I think it will be fun.

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