So if you crawled out from underneath that rock this weekend, you may have noticed Steam going at another one of its “hold you upside-down and shake all the money out of your pockets” sales. As usual, I’m a sucker for a good deal so I picked up a copy of Fallout 3. To be clear, I already have a very illegal copy of the game, so this was really just a chance to pay for a game I’ve previously enjoyed. Anyway, while downloading I figured I’d might as well bounce around the internets and see what’s changed in the past 2 years. Along with 8 major updates, a load of hacks and .ini file fixes, I ran into the Fallout Interoperability Program, along with about 40m of video for how to properly mod Fallout without breaking everything.

The videos walk you through how to properly install and integrate the largest mods available to overhaul the Vanilla version of the game. Things like the Weapon Mod Kits that allow you to tack on features to your weapons add a lot of depth to the game. Putting Auto-Fire and Extended Clip on a Combat Shotgun makes all the difference in the world. You’ll need it too since Mart’s Mutant Mod kinda goes overboard with the amount of enemies you’ll fight compared to Vanilla. Although, it does mean a lot more loot too… Fallout Wanderers Edition adds a lot of sandbox elements, along with more hardcore elements as well. After a few hours of struggling, I had to revert a lot of its changes due to lack of enjoyability at lower levels. Looking forward to turning them back on when I get more established. There’s a lot more (like, thousands) of mods out there to compliment not only Vanilla Fallout, but the official add ons as well. The problem however is the vast amount of bugs they have the potential to introduce.

Things like the VATS system that have been horribly broken since 1.2 really put off the enjoyment of the game. For you uneducated heathens, VATS stops the game mid combat so you can pick out specific points on an enemy to target. Targeting a weapon can cause them to drop it, arms reduce accuracy, legs reduce movement speed, and headshots crit much more often, on humanoids anyway. The problem many people have with VATS is the resource sucking death-spiral that happens after the first time you use it each play session. So far, the only luck that I’ve had with it is simply not using VATS at all, which really sucks because it’s super goddamn cool.

The game tends to have crash fits as well, which I recall fixing in the past with some .ini file changes. Turning your graphical settings down a fair amount tends to stabilize things, but I can rarely get through a full hour of gameplay before I smack face first into the desktop praying that my auto-save was something from the past ten minutes or so. As a side note, make sure auto-save is set to do so every time you hit a loading screen. Unless you’re wandering the wasteland it’ll save your ass a lot of time. For wasteland wanderers, just try to hit the auto-save hotkey pretty much anytime you leave or anticipate combat.

Aside those fairly major flaws in the game, there’s nothing quite like a vast and expansive wasteland to wander around. They always manage to suck me in, and the more hardcore elements involved the better. I hear whispers of a Fallout MMO going on the market sometime before the world ends in 2012, but I really don’t think it’s going to have the same appeal. The best part of the Oblivion engine is by far it’s modifiability. Once you’re online in a vast persistent world that’s shared by tens of thousands of other players, you lose all chances for it. Not that the Fallout wasteland isn’t a GREAT potential place for an MMO, I just think most of its charms will have to be stripped away for one to work reasonably, especially if it’s going to be truly open-world instead of the instanced hell that plagues new MMO’s these days.

At any rate, if a Fallout MMO were announced using the Oblivion Engine, I’d be all over it regardless of how much would be scrapped. In the meantime, modding my way through the Capitol Wasteland via Fallout 3 is definitely more than deserving of my time.