Crispy Gamer

I Survived Four Hours of Fallout 3, Part 2

My Fallout 3 experience continues. Fresh from the Vault I've been exploring the wasteland, killing and looting with glee. I'm purposefully avoiding Megaton and the quest that leads to my long, lost father. With me in spirit is Pete Hines, product manager from Bethesda Softworks. His commentary on my actions appears in italics.

I can see my Vault from here!

I've turned my attention toward the buildings in the distance. There's a wrecked farmhouse and silo, and further out, I see the remains of a settlement -- a church house's steeple juts into the sky. At the farm I overhear two survivors discussing an oasis to the north. Not so friendly, they insist on killing me for eavesdropping. I arm the Flamer and torch the both of them. The ruins of the farmhouse, roof now collapsed and open to the air, are full of interesting stuff. In the hayloft I find a desiccated skeleton slumped before a working ham radio. I shove the bones to a side and take his chair, but I can't pick up a signal. Downstairs are a couple shelves of what passes for treasure in this dead land: a wood chipper and a bunch of lawnmower blades. The wood chipper is heavy, but it seems valuable, so I clear some room for it in my inventory.

I find myself futzing with my swag frequently. When I grab too much stuff, I become overencumbered -- unable to run. But there are ways to deal with such problems. I can repair items, basically combining two near-broken items to make one less-broken item. The better my repair skill gets, the better combinations I can make. I also start readjusting the kind of stuff I pick up. At first I grabbed every little trinket I could find, but when space becomes more and more scarce, I start dropping spare combat knives and police batons. (They're a dime a dozen.)

The mortgage crisis hit this neighborhood particularly hard.

In the nearby town, I find a dilapidated Streamline trailer -- the remains of Dot's Diner. Behind the charred counter there's an oven. I peek inside to find that it's empty, and get the wise idea to stash some stuff in there while I explore. I want to unload as much of my accumulated loot as I can before I make the dive into the underground (across the way I'd noticed the entrance to The Jury Street Metro Station), so I stuff the wood chipper and everything else that doesn't seem vital into the appliance's innards. I'll come back for that stuff later.

You've got to be careful about that, because it won't be there when you get back. You stick stuff in a Nuka Cola vending machine and come back 10 days later and it's probably gone. Don't leave stuff in containers that don't belong to you, because it may not be there when you come back.

You live and learn.

I climb down the stairs of the Jury Street Metro Station and head towards the train platforms. Deep beneath the earth, the shattered remnants of a public rail system lie in ruins. The Renegades have set up their makeshift living quarters on a risen platform. Dirty mattresses and tin cans are strewn about. I rifle through the junk looking for useful bits; a pile of surgical tubing looks promising. Nearby I discover a work table -- a place where these ingredients can be crafted into useful tools. But I lack the skills or schematics to create anything.

Maybe I should have gone to Megaton first. I ponder turning back, grabbing my stuff out of the oven in Dot's and finding some place to unload what I've accumulated -- all the extra guns, armor and items. But the lure of the subway tunnels is just too tempting. What fascinating stuff will I find as I plunge deeper?

Down on the tracks, I am immediately beset upon by more Renegades who pick at me with firearms. When they're feeling brave they run up close to whack me, but with VATS, I'm able to stop most of them dead in their tracks. Rounding a corner I'm met with another nasty surprise: a giant mole rat. The hideous thing charges; I unload my pistol, but it's not quite dead. It makes a leap for me and I put one last bullet in its thick hide. The horror collapses to the ground quivering. I swallow my disgust and pull one mole rat steak out of the creature's hide.

More mole rats and Renegades wait for me in the twists and turns of the tunnels. I claim a potent assault rifle from one enemy before coming face-to-face with Ryan Briggs. He's got a swagger to him, and he's not like the rest of the thugs I've been fighting. This guy looks like he's in charge.

You can find named folks all over the place. They're not necessarily quest targets; they're just named folks. There are scavengers wandering around the world. It's the same as in the school: When you go in that elementary school, there are a bunch of random raiders, but then you find a named guy -- a boss guy -- and he has the key that gets you down to the basement. But it's a self-contained [quest]. There's nobody who says, "Can you go to Springdale Elementary and get rid of this guy?" It's set up as its own self-contained little story. And if you look at a computer terminal, then the leader of these guys will talk about what they've been up to.

Making a stealthy approach.

Briggs puts up a fight. I'm already low on heath and fresh out of stimpacks, but through trial and error I come up with a strategy for taking this Renegade leader down. I noticed a series of bear traps in the tunnels leading up to Briggs, but I didn't have the skill to set them, make them deadly. I tried chucking a pair of grenades at Briggs before he spotted me, but they fell just short of him, exploding harmlessly in the space between us. After falling to his aggressive machine gun fire over and over again, I finally come up with an approach that works. I crouch into a squat and sneak up behind Briggs as he patrols the tunnels outside his lair. When I get as close to him as I can, I use VATS to crack several assault rifle rounds at him. I'm granted a "surprise attack" bonus: The camera follows the bullet in slow motion as it extends from my barrel, through the darkness and into Briggs' unsuspecting back. My second salvo does the same. It's not long before Ryan Briggs is facedown in the dirt.

Briggs' living quarters are full of curiosities. I try to hack into his computer and read his diary, but fail to discover the guy's password and the terminal locks. Briggs kept mole rats as pets, and their husks rot in their individual cages (one of them is named Pumpkin). On Briggs' workbench, I discover a press for crafting Wondermeat. I cook up a slab of the stuff by combining one slice of mole rat meat with a tube of glue. Sounds disgusting, but I'm low on health -- I choke down the patty and make my way out of the tunnels. It's time, finally, to visit Megaton.

This feature is based on early code of the game for the Xbox 360. The game was played in one sitting at a media event.

Don't forget to read Part 1 and Part 3 of this feature.