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Fallout 3

aka: FO3
Windows Specs [ all ]

Description official descriptions

After World War II, rapid technology development carried humans towards a supposedly bright future, fulfilling their eternal dream. But eventually war raged again and in the year 2077, the dream suddenly came to a halt and mushroom clouds dominated the sky. A few communities survived in their underground bunkers called "Vaults"; others mutated heavily. Overall, what was left of the world was nothing more than a nuclear wasteland filled with ruins of a once great civilization. Two hundred years later, the human kind slowly but surely leaves the vaults and reclaims the lands of Earth.

The protagonist is one of them. As a member of Vault 101 in the wasteland surrounding the city formerly known as Washington D.C. and now called "Capital Wasteland", raised under the tight rule of the Overseer and the watchful eye of his father, he doesn't know anything about what is outside. But on his nineteenth birthday, his father unexpectedly leaves the vault. The hero's goal is to find him, learning part of the truth about what the Overseer concealed all these years on the way.

Fallout 3 is a role-playing game with elements of a 3D shooter. It retains many elements of the previous games in the series, while somewhat shifting the emphasis from social interaction and ethical role-playing to exploration of an open, continuous 3D world and combat. The player is free to explore the game's world from the beginning, visiting many optional locations, talking to characters and completing side quests. The main quest line, however, is largely linear, posing moral choices to the player only during its final phase.

Character creation and customization are similar to those of the previous games. The player shapes the main character by allocating points into the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. (Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck) attributes. The skill system has been mostly carried over from the preceding installments, including weapon specializations (small and big guns, energy weapons, etc.), and active skills such as Science, Repair, Lockpick, and others. Passive skills, particularly Speech, play a lesser role than in earlier Fallout games. A few skills have been removed completely. Skill points and perks are acquired when the protagonist levels up.

Combat system has undergone a major overhaul. Tactical turn-based battles from the previous games have been replaced with two different combat modes; the player is able to switch between them at any time. The simpler system of these two is action-oriented, nearly indistinguishable from traditional 3D shooter combat. The player character equips a weapon (ranging from a baseball bat to the destructive mini-nuke-launcher) and attacks enemies with it; damage calculation is based on the participants' statistics more than on the player's dexterity, though the latter plays a role as well. In addition, the player can opt to switch to Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System (V.A.T.S.) combat mode, a real-time system that allows the player to pause the game at any time and target specific regions of one or more enemies until the available action points are used. After all the actions have been assigned, the game plays them out in a slow motion.

The Karma system from the previous installments is back, keeping track of the main character's actions and decisions made by the player throughout the course of the game. Ethically unacceptable actions reduce the player character's Karma points.


  • 異塵餘生3 - Traditional Chinese spelling
  • 辐射3 - Simplified Chinese spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

473 People (446 developers, 27 thanks) · View all

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Average score: 90% (based on 143 ratings)


Average score: 3.7 out of 5 (based on 265 ratings with 12 reviews)

Brilliant But Not Black Isle.

The Good
Ok. Its massive. Its huge. Its just bigger than any other game I’ve ever played. You can easily beat the game without encountering two thirds of the stuff that Bethesda has created for this game. Unusual NPCs, Bizarre and breathtaking scenery, and challenging enemies are all here.

I like the fact that the designers mixed it up a bit with different factions and alliances too.

The graphics come very close to being photorealistic, especially when looking at the outdoors, with broken roads and burnt up buildings. I freak out when I see how the inside of the buildings are torn apart and crumbing. The rusted sheet metal of the Megatown buildings gives a real post war atmosphere to the game. There are so many little touches that you’d miss if you weren’t looking, like the various phases of the moon at night. The character models are very detailed and articulated. The don’t just stand around. They wander throughout the world, ready to interact with you and others.

You can play as a straight FPS, or use the VATS, which usually ends with a spectacular if not blurry death of your foes. You can size up your weapons and decide which one will be the most useful against your enemies.

There is an assortment of moral choices with long reaching implications, which is refreshing in a game. You can also make choices and add perks. The perks can really change some of the game play, making some fights and quests a great deal easier. Bethesda does know how to balance gameplay. You can play as any kind of character as you want, as long as you learn how to play with the character’s weaknesses and strengths.

I loved the collection of old time songs, and really wish they had more. I really liked how many of the songs had themes that matched with the game. The environmental music was ok, and pleasant at times but a tiny bit repetitive. The voiceovers of Malcolm McDowell as President Eaton were well done. Liam Nelson was almost unnecessary. Good job on the sound effects and foley effects.

Major Kudos to whomever designed the Dunwich Building. The Temple made my skin crawl.

The Bad
I miss the “everything but the Kitchen Sink” approach to design that Black Isle was famous for. Bethesda touches on it, but don’t go all out. The black humor that was characteristic of the first 2 Fallout games is missing or at least muted.

By their very nature, RPGs tend to be buggy. Fallout 3 had a couple bugs, but nothing too bad in comparison to others. The character models were a bit repetitive, but not excessive.

Now on to the stuff that REALLY bothered me.

A hard limit of 20? You have to upgrade to Broken Steel to get to 30? Ugh… The 3 voice actors were used repeatedly for all the same characters. Some of the quests were breakable by bugs. I had an experience where an explosion occurred on the west side of the map and when I fast traveled to the east, the NPCs acted like they heard the explosion.

The Bottom Line
Its great! It will take a while to get through. But it may also make you boot up your old copy of Fallout for nostalgia reasons.

Xbox 360 · by Scott Monster (985) · 2010

The prostitute of the year

The Good
Full 3D world, good graphics.

Very entertaining when playing without questioning things.

The Bad
Bugs and crashes.Lots of them.

Failed to establish the same atmosphere from the predecessors.

The Bottom Line
Being an old school player, I had the privilege of being able to play the series back in the day. They were something completely new then, and still are, since there is a lack of successors. However fallout 3, which caused me much anxiety, was something different.

When I first got the game, I had problems trying to run it, every time I clicked in new game, the game closed. After just a few hours of useless patching (yes, it took hours), I discovered that I was not the only one with this problem and just gave up, gave the dvd to a friend of mime, just to find later that he had no problems to run it, except for recurring crashes, that look like everybody else had.

The game extinguished the isometric theme of the series, adding a new 3D world, which is a very good thing, but apparently the attention to the graphics are not reflected in the rest of the game: the optional missions are varied, but with tenuous motivation. The VATS system seems to be a murdering tool, implemented to disguise the FPS nature of the game, instead of a remake of the old system of post-apocalyptic atmosphere combat. The atmosphere did not save the game to resemble "Oblivion with guns", an unhappily true cliche by now. There are many small illogical details, as the fact that you cannot sleep in a bed you don't own. All this leads me to believe that this is not only an unreliable sequence of fallout, but even not a pure RPG (consider the fact that the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system has only a fraction of the game effect from the previous), just a commercial exploit with the name of the series and most of their elements.

Nevertheless, the title is interesting as a FPS dressed up like a RPG. If seen this way, it offers a good deal of action (since gun blazing it's the way to go, unlike the previous two games when you could beat the game killing only the final boss, not necessarily fighting) and the bonus of good music and a bit (or a lot,if you like) of wandering mixed with a different background of most contemporary action games, which are settled almost exclusively in WWII and modern warfare environments. Therefore, it's recommended for a large audience, and should earn a higher score if it wasn't the bugs and crashes.

Windows · by Open_Sights (466) · 2010

A gaming legend gets a new lease on life.

The Good
Fallout 3 is a game that I have been waiting for from the moment I finished Fallout 2.

Of course, back then I never visualized anything like Bethesda's Oblivion-like treatment of the game. I was thinking of - and wanting - another iteration of the classic 2d isometric game style. And if that is what we had gotten, then I would have been ecstatic.

When I found out that it was Bethesda which was going to make a new Fallout, I was somewhat apprehensive. I had played the stuffing out of their last two Elder Scrolls games - Morrowind and Oblivion. However, I have to admit that I was finding their formula a bit stale. In particular, Oblivion is a game which I gave an earnest effort to getting into, but never found compelling enough to complete.

The worry which I had was whether Fallout 3 would remain true to the series or simply be Oblivion With Guns. Well...the good news is that it is true to the series. The bad news is that it is also Oblivion With Guns.

The Fallout series had its start back in 1997. Game wizards Black Isle developed the title, as well as its later sequel Fallout 2, for publisher Interplay. Heavily influenced by classic DOS title Wasteland, the plot involved people living in the aftermath of a massive global nuclear war which almost destroyed humanity. The player, known as the "Vault Dweller", was among a select group of people who had been living in underground protective vaults since the apocalypse. Your vault, number 13 (a number which hints at the dark humor of the series), has run into an emergency when the computer chip controlling the water purification system needs replacement. Armed with a weak pistol, an even weaker knife, and dressed in a spiffy blue jumpsuit, you are dumped unceremoniously into the bitter wasteland to save your people. In the process, you find out that there is something much worse than a water purification crisis facing the world. So the legend of the vault dweller began. And from the quirky 50's/futuretech stylings of the world to the visceral combat, gamers loved it.

As classic as the first Fallout games were, the combination of key staff members going elsewhere and a lack of success with spin-off games made it so that fans of the series eventually saw a third game as unlikely. So it was that the news that Bethesda Softworks had acquired rights to the IP sent an electric shock through the gaming world. Strong opinions abounded, as they still do, about whether or not it was a good thing that a company known for a very different style of RPG would do justice to a series which was so iconic.

Fallout 3 is, if nothing else, a loving homage to its predecessors. From the Pip Boy character to the use of the Inkspots for the opening music, there is a great deal of classic series nostalgia here. There is no doubt that this is meant to be a continuation in true spirit.

While the first two Fallout games took place in California, Fallout 3 takes place in the wasteland around Washington D.C., including southern Maryland and northern Virginia. The player character grows up as the son of a brilliant scientist in one of the underground protective vaults - Vault 101. It is in this environment that the player gets their first experience with the game, going through a few different stages of early life while working out their initial stats, looks, and such. Some parts, like the GOAT exam, are reminiscent of the old Ultima series where you would be asked a series of situational questions to determine what your character would be like. However, if this is not for you or if the test gives you results contrary to what you wanted, you can adjust things accordingly.

One of the most important aspects of the Fallout tradition is the "S.P.E.C.I.A.L." system for stats. In my earnest opinion, it is one of the finest roleplaying systems ever created. The system is based upon the primary statistics of Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck. Each of these has possible scores from 1 to 10 and in turn effects a variety of derived statistics. Then there is a large set of skills, from combat related abilities to speech and bartering, which are influenced by the primary stats as well as points applied directly by the player. SPECIAL is essential to the full experience of Fallout. Bethesda knew this and reproduced it mostly intact. The few changes they did make I have to say I enjoyed. Having new perks - special bonuses or abilities - every level more than made up for the removal of the two starting traits from the first games.

All seems to be going reasonably well in the placid but slightly uneasy atmosphere of the vault until one day everything falls apart in a hurry. Suffice it to say that your father has left the vault and you need to go after him, starting the game in earnest and beginning the main quest line. And once you enter the outside world, you find that it is a place where even if you are skilled with words, some things have to be solved with a bullet (or a sledgehammer...or a missile...or a laser bolt....or a power fist.....etc)

The variety of weapons in Fallout 3 does not disappoint. You can choose from small guns (eg. sniper rifles, assault rifles, pistols), energy weapons (eg. laser rifles, plasma rifles), melee weapons (eg. sledgehammers, swords, baseball bats), big guns (eg. missile launchers, miniguns, a tactical nuclear bomb launcher), explosives (mines and grenades), and "unarmed" (which actually includes things like brass knuckles and power fists). Within each category there is a decent selection of options, each with different strengths and weaknesses. The assault rifle puts out a lot of bullets, but does not have very impressive critical strike performance. Meanwhile, the sniper rifle has a higher chance to cause a critical strike and packs a punch when it does. Different weapons have distinct situational uses as well as play style uses.

There are also schematics available to craft your own weapons from wasteland salvage. It is a nice way to use all that clutter which you are constantly wading through in the game. All I will say about the specific weapons is that firing the railroad rifle is very satisfying.

Combat itself is a mixture of real time and turn-based, as compared to the original turn-based style of Fallout 1 and 2. You can play entirely in real time if you wish and some weapons work much better this way - especially those with high rates of fire. However, aiming is not quite like a normal FPS where things go pretty much where you aim them. Rather, the RPG engine is underneath the action calculating your accuracy and effectiveness based on a variety of factors.

Along side the real time action, there is a turn based mode known as V.A.T.S.. Hitting the VATS button causes the action to pause. At this point, the player can choose to target various parts specific locations on one or more enemies with ranged weapons, depending on how many action points are available. Melee, unarmed, and grenades can also use VATS but they cannot target specific body locations. I found that this setup was gracefully instituted in general. It works very well for quick and accurate head shots or, when facing a powerful enemy, for tactical attacks on limbs. And shooting a grenade while it is still in the enemy's hand is always a great moment.

Combat in general is visceral and brutal in the game. Slow motion critical strike take-downs can be quite entertaining. In the tradition of the earlier titles, deaths can get gruesome, with blood and gore spilling out liberally over battlefield. Adding the infamous Bloody Mess perk just ramps up the carnage.

Using the same engine as Oblivion, the graphics in Fallout 3 to be technically excellent. The overall sense of devastation after a nuclear war is impressive and leaving the vault for the first time is one of the best moments of gaming, no doubt. The models and textures that are used are all very well done.

Character interaction was somewhat faithful to the earlier games. There are some genuinely fun characters in the game.

As far as quests, the side quests are really the shining point of Fallout 3. Most of the smaller quests and side quest lines are fun to play and some are quite memorable I think that I had the most fun with the character of Moira and the quirky missions she sends you on in order to complete research for a book. But that is just the beginning. Exploring the wastes, you find yourself rescuing mercenaries, retrieving historical documents, dealing with costumed crazies, and more.

While you are taking care of business, your exploits are announced to the world via one of the in game radio stations - Galaxy News Radio. In general, GNR serves as an extra soundtrack, providing a list of old big band and jazz classics, including the iconic "Maybe" by the Inkspots. During interludes between the music, DJ "Three Dog" will make news and public service announcements. Being able to hear about your adventures over the radio is one of the coolest ideas I have seen in gaming. Bethesda gets a big thumbs up for that one.

Thanks to the release of the modding utility, a robust modding community has now sprung up around Fallout 3. They have introduced a variety of possible changes, extensions, and fixes to the game which can significantly improve the experience. I highly recommend checking out what is available.

The Bad
As I said, Fallout 3 is Oblivion With Guns in many ways.

To start out with, I have always found that in Bethesda games there is a strange sense of things being incomplete regarding how people react to your accomplishments. For instance, in Morrowind, I was head of the Fighter's Guild and yet when I needed to hire them to guard my new house, I still had to do quests for the Fighter's Guild.

In Fallout 3, I found myself disappointed that when I finally did return to the vault briefly, no one really noticed that I had come back as a seasoned wasteland warrior in a suit of power armor. I might as well have been walking in wearing my vault suit and carrying a baseball bat for a weapon.

Repetition is another major issue. Just like in Oblivion, while Fallout 3 is massive, the set of models and textures is just too small. After exploring for awhile, the continual sameness of many of the locations saps away some of the life of the experience. Variety is the spice of life. Bethesda needs to get a bigger spice rack.

Now I will stop here and say that I do realize one could say the same for Fallout and Fallout 2. Absolutely. But those games were made a long time ago and, furthermore, were not 3d first-person games. As soon as you go into that realm, any sameness becomes much more noticeable.

I would much rather have a smaller world with more interesting places to see.

For contrast, look at Bioshock. Yes, Bioshock is much smaller. However, every place had a very strong sense of reality to it and was distinct from the others. Exploration of the Bioshock game world was extremely rich because every location was fully unique.

Also the same are NPC's - both in models and vocalizations. There were a few big name actors who, naturally, provided good work to the game. However, most of the voice work for the minor characters in the game sounds as if Bethesda had something like five total voice actors available. Indeed, as far as I can tell, there is only one male and one female VA for ghouls period. And, unfortunately, the dialogue often sounds unnatural and stilted.

It became quickly tiresome to run into the same voices and models all the time. And, worse, it destroys immersion and makes it harder to take the characters seriously.

Additionally, while I loved GNR, the same small list of tracks plays over and over again until you start to become really tired of it. For an A-List title, I really find that problematic. And the fact that there is no built-in utility to have a custom playlist (as there is in the much lower tech Grand Theft Auto games) is a sever omission. However, the modding community has come to the rescue on this with custom playlist mods and even a wonderful library of classic music to extend the GNR library by as many as 100 songs. The latter mod is called More Where That Came From and it greatly enhances the game experience.

In general, I did not find the plot of the game to be as well put together as that of Fallout 1 and 2. There were some severe holes, especially in the ending (which thankfully was changed by the Broken Steel expansion), and it was too short. Further, some things in the game seemed too gimmicky, which also hurt the overall sense of narrative.

Finally, there are numerous bugs, including quest breaking ones. Things like character walking off of high ledges and falling to their deaths should not happen in an A-list title. Even with patches, things are still messy and that is unfortunate.

The Bottom Line
Fallout 3 is a very enjoyable and engaging action RPG with a classic post-apocalyptic setting. A must-play for Fallout fans. But it is not without its flaws.

Windows · by Steelysama (82) · 2009

[ View all 12 player reviews ]


Subject By Date
BOS-in-a-BOX bubbleman1987 Dec 9th, 2012
(no subject) bubbleman1987 Sep 5th, 2012
Minor complaint time! *spoilers* Simoneer (29) Feb 19th, 2011
Melee character? BurningStickMan (17916) Jan 8th, 2011
Teh Ultimate Fallout 3 Mod Guides! Slug Camargo (583) May 13th, 2010


1001 Video Games

Fallout 3 appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Australian release

Fallout 3 was originally banned in Australia in July 2008, but an edited version was re-submitted to the country's Classification Board. Funnily enough, this is also the version that was released in all regions.

German version

In the German version all blood and removed limbs were removed. This includes robot parts, e.g. the arms of Mister Gutsy.

References to the game

Fallout 3 was parodied in an episode of "Die Redaktion" (The Editorial Team), a monthly comedy video produced by the German gaming magazine GameStar. It was published on the DVD of issue 02/2009.


  • 1UP
    • 2009 - "Digital Delivarence" Award for Best DLC in 2009 (Editor's Choice)
    • 2009 - "Digital Delivarence" Award for Best DLC in 2009 (Reader's Choice)
  • GamePro
    • February 2009 (issue 245) - PC Game of the Year 2008
  • GamePro (Germany)
    • February 26, 2009 - Best Console RPG in 2008 (Readers Voting)
  • GameStar (Germany)
    • February 26, 2009 - Best PC Game in 2008 (Reader's Voting)
    • February 26, 2009 - Best PC RPG in 2008 (Reader's Voting)
  • Gamespot
    • 2009 - Best Downloadable Content/Expansion in 2009 (Reader's Choice; for the DLCs)
  • GameSpy
    • 2008 – Game of the Year
    • 2008 – PC Game of the Year
    • 2008 – Xbox 360 Game of the Year
    • 2008 – PC Game of the Year (Readers' Vote)
    • 2008 – Xbox 360 Game of the Year (Readers' Vote)
    • 2008 – #2 PS3 Game of the Year
    • 2008 – PC RPG of the Year
    • 2008 – Xbox 360 RPG of the Year
    • 2008 – PS3 RPG of the Year
    • 2012 – #10 Top PC Gaming Intro
  • GameTrailers
    • December 25, 2009 - Best Expansion/DLC in 2009 (for the DLCs)
  • Golden Joystick Awards
    • 2009 - Ultimate Game of the Year
    • 2009 - PC Game of the Year
  • IGN
    • 2009 - Best Xbox 360 Aftermarket Support in 2009 (Reader's Awards; for the DLCs)
  • Machinima 2009 - Best DLC in 2009 (for the DLCs)

Information was also provided by Big John WV, PCGamer77 and piltdown man

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Sicarius.

Xbox One added by MAT.

Additional contributors: Katakis | カタキス, Jeanne, Apogee IV, Carl Ratcliff, Solid Flamingo, Zeppin, Paulus18950, Lizzy Carft, Patrick Bregger, Starbuck the Third, Plok, FatherJack.

Game added October 31st, 2008. Last modified August 13th, 2023.