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WHO WANTS TO LIVE IN A GARBAGE CAN?

10 November 2010

Fallout 3 is a much-acclaimed game with a long-standing legacy. I’ve never been a fan of the series, simply for the fact that I never played it.

But after the franchise reboot by Bethesda who made possibly my favorite game, Morrowind, I had to give it a go. For real, this time. I had created and abandoned a character a couple of times before, due to time pressure and general lack of interest. To give it a fair shot, I wanted to play the game until at least well into the wasteland. To see what the hubbub was about.

The game has yet to capture me in the way the worlds of Morrowind and its sequel Oblivion did. Superficially this seems strange, as the core gameplay is practically the same on a macro level. A sandboxy world created in lavish detail, innumerable quests to follow, interesting NPCs and plenty of options to go off the beaten path and carve your own adventure. So why doesn’t Fallout 3 win me over? The Western RPG fan in me should have jumped at the thought of creating a character in total freedom and roaming an undiscovered land. Was I not the explorer type, whose very aim in a game is to discover its mythology and landscape?

Certainly. But simply not Fallout’s. I’ve discovered that the main reason for my general apathy towards the game and the long time it’s taking for me to really want to delve into it is that the setting doesn’t appeal to me. Not one jot. What’s the difference between Morrowind, Oblivion and Fallout? The former two are placed in richly fantastical fantasy worlds, rife with beauty and splendor. The latter presents a world that is literally a junk yard. The post-apocalyptic paradigm just doesn’t do it for me. It might be the reason why steam-punk isn’t a favorite thing of mine either: I don’t want to exist in a world composed of garbage, fantasize about living in debris and waste.

Is the thought just too depressing to cope with? Or do I find that our world as it is is already filled enough with scrap and filth, that I am repulsed by the idea of spending more time with it digitally? Whatever the answer, I’m having a hard time loving Fallout 3. Perhaps I’ll latch onto it eventually, but it will be completely in spite of, instead of thanks to, its depressing, rusting, wasteland setting.

Roderick