Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tranquil Wastes

Note: This is the fourth post in a series this week themed around Fallout 3. Today I look at some of the quests in the game. Potential SPOILERS ahead.

After talking about the personality Fallout 3 has yesterday, I couldn't help but be reminded of the quests you receive in the game and how they themselves are examples of that personality. I name-dropped a few quests in that post, so now I think it is time to look at a few of them in a bit more detail.

The first quest that comes to mind is Tranquility Lane, one that occurs inside a virtual reality simulation where the residents of Vault 112 live their lives in a simulated suburbia street. Through the lens of a Sepia-Tone filtered camera, the player speaks with the simulated residents in the search of information about the whereabouts of James, the in-game character's father. The way this quest is presented was a surprise as I wasn't expecting it at all and it seems so different to the gritty Wastelands that you spend most of your time in. The way it suggest an older, more tranquil way of living while also remaining in the future that the game is set in, fits within the context of the game wonderfully while also demonstrating the sort of personality I alluded to in my last post. The combination of the Sepia-Toned filter, the way in which the residents speak to you and how their houses are presented as well as showings of the 'real' game through the quest's tasks you end up doing make the quest thoroughly enjoyable and is something that you wouldn't find in any other game. The upcoming downloadable content for the game, Operation Anchorage, will also be using a simulation for the quests received and is set in the snowy areas of Alaska. Obviously this colder weather will be a direct contrast to what is seen throughout The Wastelands and like Tranquility Lane, everything will still remain with context of the game. That is fascinating to me and if it means adding even more unexpected places for us to explore while also continuing to inject personality, then I seriously hope Bethesda continue to take advantage of these simulators for quests in the future.

Another quest that comes to mind is Oasis, another area in The Wastelands that is in direct contrast to what you would normally see in your travels. As the name implies, green blossoming trees and almost blue (it's still radiated) water are seen in place of the brown and grey and it makes for a nice change. I haven't finished this quest yet due to only finding it in my last session with the game, but already I am appreciating the different look and feel of the place because it is keeping the game fresh and interesting.

To move away from how certain quests look, a few other places that come to mind are both The Republic of Dave and the Canterbury Commons, with the former just being a unique place of The Wastelands and the latter containing a quest. While they are essentially just detours, or places to find to reward your exploration, they still are interesting enough to make Fallout's experience fresh. I won't spoil them because then you will enjoy them more when you come across them, but needless to say they are interesting and add to the overall experience with the game. To repeat the point I was trying to make with yesterday's post, Fallout 3's elements -- quests, narrative, exploration, art direction and so on -- all combine to make the game unique.

Okay so I didn't go into too much detail after all. Honestly, I couldn't do that to you guys. I don't want to spoil the game's quests when they play such an important part in the overall scheme of things, so let me end this post by saying that if you want to play a game that is different and features a unique setting that changes in unexpected ways, then you need to play Fallout 3.

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