(Update 5th October 2011: The old “about” page for this story can be viewed here.)
Despite its harsh post-apocalyptic setting, Fallout 3 did little in the way of survivalism – though the wasteland was beautifully drawn to look hostile and inhospitable, in practice even a low level character could wander pretty much anywhere without serious danger.
A variety of food and water items, and the inbuilt radiation system, as well as several drugs, were included, but basically useless. You never needed to eat or sleep, it was almost impossible to get seriously irradiated by accident, and chances are you’d have a large stockpile of medicine to fix that anyway. Same goes for the plentiful ammunition.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s a great game and I still recommend it, and I’m not a hardcore roleplayer or anything. But just try playing it and not seeing the underused potential the setting and game world. Go ahead, try it. I’ll wait.
Fortunately, Bethesda released official modding tools, as is their habit, and fans soon got stuck in and produced a dizzying variety of mods to alter just about every aspect of the game.
Fallout Wanderers Edition is a popular compilation of many such mods, helpfully bashed into shape to prevent them from upsetting each other and crashing the game (a common problem with combining otherwise un-compiled mods). Among the most important changes are the need for regular food, sleep, and water, without which you’ll weaken and die, a more complex healing system that makes injuries harder to treat (no spamming stim packs or quaffing 20 tins of beans to instantly heal during a fight) and crippled body parts require special treatment, a complete overhaul of levelling and combat damage, as well as a wide array of new items and weaponry to play with.
Thanks to Mart’s Mutant Mod, more hostiles and creatures appear, each with unique stats, aggression levels and even size – a small wild dog might die as soon as look at you, while a pack of large dogs could cause significant harm. Among the many configurable options is one that gives a percentage chance that high-end hostiles will appear regardless of your level, and another which means that some usually populated areas will occasionally be empty.
Used together, these mods make can easily be tweaked to turn the game into a nightmarish (yet still fun) survival simulation. And that’s what this blog is about.
I will be setting almost everything to the absolute harshest, toughest setting, most notably item scarcity, and merchants, who will be absolutely ruthless. I will find that even items actively placed in the game by its designers will often be missing (aside from mission-critical ones, obviously), and containers that normally contain random loot will have far less, if any. When I do manage to find enough items to haul back to town, I will find that traders will only offer me a pittance, and will charge obscene markups for anything I buy, knowing full well that the only alternative I have is to go out and risk my life. Unless I’m incredibly lucky, it’ll be a long time before I can afford any luxury items, and every day will be a struggle to survive.
This is Fallout 3: Lonely as a Mushroom Cloud. Wish me luck!