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And you thought Fallout: New Vegas Hardcore Mode was tough…
Honestly, Hardcore Mode was pretty simple. Keep some food around, a couple of water bottles and rest on the road. Plus, keeping your carrying weight is simple as long as you stick to a few reliable rifles and sold your junk on occasion. The original Fallout, however, will make you reconsider your thoughts on difficulty in a game. Having never played the series before the third installment left me feeling like an outsider, which the game was kind enough to consider when it was taken over by Bethesda, but there were certain lines of dialogue and touches placed in the world that made me want to go back to basics. One holiday Steam sale later, I have Fallout, Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics loaded to my computer. Now, I’ve begun my journey and there’s a long way to go.
Gotta love a good character sheet.
The first and most obvious difference for a neophyte to the first game is the control scheme. Most of the games I played made at this time were strategy games with incredible tutorials, but this one drops you right in, surrounded by rats, the common RPG punching bag. A little trial and error, a trip to GameFAQs and a Youtube video later, I’ve got the basics down. My character, Guinness, is a young hooligan gifted in Melee Weapons, gifted in Sneaking and Stealing. So far, the only skills that have been used are the combat ones…
Currently there is only one mission that matters; find a water chip to replace the broken one at home, Vault 13 (methinks there was a purpose to that unlucky number). After a trip to the neighboring Vault, fighting a bunch of rats, mole rats and ROUS’s, it appears the Vault is beyond repair, the water chip buried under a mountain of rubble, if it was even there at all.
Moving between towns takes place on an overworld map, which takes some of the fun away from exploring. Random encounters are common on your journey, taking you from the map to a small combat area. Now fighting a gang is fine. Your opponents seem to be scaled to your level and as long as you’re not screwing around, you come out ok. Combat with a radscorpion is suicide, however. The first one I saw brought back a disastrous memory of when one of the Giant variety spawned early on in a New Vegas playthrough, but I figured a regular one wasn’t going to be too tough. I am dumb for thinking that. Two stings and a third of my health were down in the first combat round. I hastily regrouped and bravely used every action point I had to run like hell away.
The lack of a shop has also been a little painful. Instead of a list of items with a cost in caps, I’ve been using a Barter system involving picking items from an NPC’s inventory and matching the value with my own items. Hopefully this is just because I’m not too far in, but if this is the trade system of the entire game, there are worse things. Hell, it’s post-apocalyptic California, I’m just happy they accept trade. It also adds a nice flavor to the survivalist aspects, even if it irritates modern gaming sensibilities.
I’m currently looking for a new lead on a water chip. I’ve upgraded my armor to a shiny Leather Jacket, started using pistols more frequently and even have a new friend, Ian! Friend may be too strong a word though, as I had to promise him a piece of the action. Hopefully he doesn’t try to collect, as there hasn’t been much loot…
So far the game is a welcome callback to my early gaming days and learning a new gaming system has been a welcome challenge compared to all the FPS shooting. Whether it’s the inventory system, the insane enemies (at times) and the wandering without a clue where to go, this game is completely unforgiving, though I feel like if the game had come with an instruction manual, most of these problems may have been explained to me. Hopefully the rest of the game pulls me in a little further, but you’ll find out in the coming weeks!