At this point the tale of the Vault Dweller has been obscured by the mists of time but it’s assumed that he thwarted the villainous Mutant Master and was exiled from Vault 13. Being a symbol of connectedness to the wastes he was sent into the Northwest so that the Vault members would leave en masse. There he met a tribe and led them with wisdom and experience — and more than a little resentment about the whole exile thing. This tribe settled in a little village they called Arroyo and thrived for a generation. Sadly, ill fortune has begun to plague the small village. Failing crops, spreading sickness, and afflicted children mark Arroyo’s decline. As a descendant of the Vault Dweller the people turn to you, their Chosen One, to find something called a Garden of Eden Creation Kit. A GECK is a device that can make any plot of barren, irradiated wasteland into a flourishing paradise. If you can find it in time then Arroyo can be saved but a GECK is a rare thing and the wasteland is a dangerous place… what I’m saying is good luck.
Fallout 2 was developed by Black Isle Studios and published by Interplay Entertainment, just like its predecessor. Tim Cain still directed and Brian Fargo still produced but lots of the team changed around. Between Fallout 1 and 2 there was a mass exodus from Black Isle as team members couldn’t get satisfying answers from Interplay concerning the structuring of their new team. Having an engine and a setting all ready made more time for developers to create a larger world with more items and more systems.
Fun fact: This exodus created Troika, the developers who would create Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines.
Fallout 2 was released on September 30th, 1998. It’s competition was Pokemon Red and Blue (Gameboy), Metal Gear Solid (PS1), and Resident Evil: Director’s Cut (PS1).
This game is difficult and expansive. I’ve spent hours wandering the wastes in my Highwayman or on foot trying to find cities, hidden encounters, and taunting raiders into ill conceived fights for caps and experience points. All this in order to grind in the empty hopes that someday I’ll have enough health to survive a Super Mutant’s mini-gun barrage. There are a lot of towns and a lot of quests, far more than Fallout 1. If you’re willing to risk nasty encounters and radiation poisoning you can find interesting things — although this creates a bizarre situation where it’s unclear whether radiation means ‘go away’ or ‘come closer’. I ventured out in search of new places and new people to help — or murder and rob — but it was never enough. I was never strong enough to reliably defeat my enemies and never tough enough to reliably survive. I’m not sure if I was playing the game wrong. I eventually resorted to using a character creation guide to make what the community regarded as the strongest character. This incredible difficulty might just be a result of the game’s 90s game design sensibilities. Save early and save often, I suppose.
What I wrote in the Fallout 1 review concerning gameplay will basically cover things here. Different quests, same mechanics, more perks, more items.
The major gameplay inclusion is idiot mode. If your character has 2 intelligence or lower they will be known as the Dim One. This completely changes the game as your character will be too dumb to communicate with normal people. That being said among other idiots and the occasional animal your character is considered a genius. Your only hope for a sensible interaction with the non-dim of the wasteland is to munch on some brain-boosting Mentats — but be careful to not get addicted. So if you’re looking for something silly then go forward, Dim One.
There is only one game in the Fallout series in which it is possible to recruit a Deathclaw as a companion. It’s this one. If you be pure of heart then you can convince the erudite albino beast to join your quest. Even though he can’t equip anything his hide serves as decent armor and his claws can rip through enemies like a blade through tender Brahmin steak.
New Vegas was good at offering multiple ways of completing a quest and it learned everything it knows from Fallout 2. But as the saying goes New Vegas didn’t teach everything it knew so it’s got some tricks up its sleeves. So broaden your mind, think about the ramifications of your actions, and how you want to solve a problem. Because if you think it will work, it probably will.
The cast of returning characters from Fallout 1 is respectable but not too immense. Harold and Tandi return — I always love to have a chat with Harold — but they’re joined by Mr. Bishop, Marcus the mutant sherrif, and First Citizen Lynette of Vault City. All these characters come with their own custom portraits and distinct attitudes and stories. And these are just the really big major characters because there are so many out there just waiting to be met!
This game has got a lot of humor in it, straight up. Some of the jokes land, some of them don’t, some of them break the fourth wall but in the end it left me in stitches.
This game has got a lot of blind corners, so to speak. There are a lot of quest solutions with unforseen circumstances and a lot of quest circumstances with unforseen solutions. I’ve spent too much time talking to every character wondering if they’re able to help with one of the many quests I have active. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell which NPCs are vital, simply important, or mere peasants that spout off stock dialog because of the model re-use. It’s also difficult to tell sometimes what will set certain characters off and force an unwanted firefight. In short, I said to save early and save often and I meant it. This is the 90s, saving and reloading was the solution to this problem. But I don’t find it to be a satisfactory one.
Fallout 2 is hard as balls. I’ve made characters who were nearly unable to pass through the tutorial area despite being created to be as powerful as a level 1 wastelander can be. It wasn’t made with modern sensibilities in mind and sometimes your character literally will not have the skills to complete a quest to your satisfaction. It’s just incredibly difficult to create a satisfactory balance between making a character who can survive to the late game and being able to dominate late game threats. In short, do you remember that point in Fallout 3 where you got your power armor and became an unkillable death machine? That never happens here. At least Ron Perlman has something sarcastic to say every time you die.
Do you remember my Might and Magic VII: For Blood and Honor review? I said there that the enjoyment derived from the game was from mastering a series of systems and sending the game a big F U by beating it. Fallout 2 is like that but with more characters that I give a damn about and far more ways to influence the world. You’ll more likely need the guide than you did in M&M VII but the wasteland you’ll be exploring is so much more diverse and interesting than most other game worlds, especially of the time. This game will make you care in a way that M&M VII doesn’t. You can purchase it on Good Old Games or Steam for $10. If you were still interested in exploring the wastes then I suggest picking it up and keeping the Fallout wiki open on your browser for WHEN you get stuck or lost.
Next Week: Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel.
Just kidding, I meant to say Fallout: Tactics
Still joking, it’s actually Inside