Where to Start? Fallout 1

The first 2 Fallouts are among my most favorite games of all time. I can talk about them for hours, because of their depth, creativity, freedom, irony and mostly, how they let me feel like I could be anything I wanted within the world they created.

I’ll spare you that, though. Maybe some other time. I’ve got a friend or two who are just picking up the almost 12-year-old game now (available for about US$6 at www.gog.com), and I have some advice for them. Fallout can seem a little unfriendly at first. I remember being devoured by rats (the lowliest creatures in the game) several times before I even made my way to the wasteland proper when I first played. It’s a side effect of having a game that allows you to make any sort of character you want, who can go anywhere they want in a vast world. It’s very easy to create a character that is ill-suited for wasteland survival, at least before the player has a handle on the gameplay. So below are a few pointers that might help first-time wastelanders get started, get their feet wet, and see the possibilities open to them for more advanced and complicated approaches to the game.

The general points I think beginners should keep in mind:

– Expect to play several characters, that will not make it all the way, if very far at all.

– Don’t try to complete every quest you encounter. Do the ones your character is capable of. In other words, roleplay.

– Create characters that are specialists. One or two strong skills to live by that get the majority of your skill points. Better to be one-sided than average at everything.

– Don’t be afraid to have a flawed character. Most perks have 2 edges. This can make the game great fun, if you’re not afraid to take a little risk.

– Don’t tackle the same sidequests with each character. You’ll just get bored.

– Cowardice is essential; running away is often better than fighting. (At least until you’ve got that Power Armor!)

In most games we’re used to being the Hero: the Archetypal badass who can defeat legions of marines with only a crowbar. And this you can become in Fallout. But you have to start somewhere, and everybody starts out a soft, wet behind the ears vault dweller, with only a crappy pistol and a jumpsuit. From humble beginnings, right?

Building your first characters
I’ve never used the pre-fab characters in Fallout, so I don’t know if they’re useful or not. I don’t see the point in them in a game like this that offers so many choices in rolling your own.

– Decide how you’re going to want to defend yourself. You’ve heard that you can talk your way out of almost anything in the game, if your attributes and skills are high enough? Yeah, well rats don’t talk. And you’re wet behind the ears, remember? Your skills ain’t gonna be too high at first. So pick a combat skill. Don’t pick Big Guns, Explosives or Energy weapons, you won’t find any of those for a while. So, Melee, Unarmed, Thrown or Small Weapons (my favorite). Each skill is modified by 2 Attributes (click on the skill in the menu, and the info panel will tell you which). Those are the 2 attributes you’re going to want to pump.

– Attributes: Pump the 2 attributes that affect your chosen combat skill to 7 or 8. You may have to reduce another attribute to get the points you’ll need. CHA is the most commonly reduced attribute. DO NOT REDUCE LUCK TO LESS THAN 4. Unless you enjoy critical misses. I do not. I recommend reducing INT and CHA, and even touching LK up a little. Most folks don’t think middling LK scores affect the game much, but a head start on luck now can be useful much later when you’re able to modify some of your attributes.

– Tag Skills: Obviously, one of your tag skills should be the combat skill I mentioned above. The other 2 should be skills you intend to use frequently– this means for a starting character, Outdoorsman and the other combat skills and Barter are on your short list.