Bethesda are one of my favourite game producers and make some of the best games I’ve ever played and the two games in their vast catalogue that stick out are Fallout 3 and Skyrim, both sequels, both incredible and full of gameplay. So my question is…which is better? This will be an impossible question to answer but it’s one I want to solve.
Story and Quests:
The main story and quests for Fallout 3 lead you to finding yourself within the Capital Wasteland, with the added story dimension of having two paths to take. With Good Karma, you become the hero of the Wastes, the role model in a bleak world, one people could turn to if they were struggling with added help along the way from strangers. But with Bad Karma you can become the most feared person in the Wasteland, a slaver, a murder and an all-round tough guy. Playing both these levels many times, you find yourself possible to switch mid-game and either rights your wrongs or dirty your reputation with the blood of those you murder. Each quests have a negative or positive karma outcome, and it all depends on your morale choosing throughout game, but it is possible to pick both and remain neutral throughout the game, factions reacting to you in kind with your karma balance. The story is what excels in Fallout, with a deep and meaningful backstory to your journey in the Wastes, finding your Dad, voiced by Liam Neeson, drives your final outcome and it leads you to side quests and completing main quests makes you quite sad as you know you’re close to the end. An end I was thoroughly impressed with.
For a game made in 2008, with the likes of Grand Theft Auto IV and the newly released Wii to compete with, Fallout 3 reached game of the year status with its graphics and overall good reception. The games palette was mainly brown and grey, creating the dark and dusty atomic wasteland, the cities busy and falling apart at the seams, but a community was there, you could even feel it. Rivet City is a good example of the diverse use of graphics in the game, the city itself is made from a beached aircraft carrier in the radiated water near the Jefferson Memorial, from the outside it looks like nothing, just another piece if abandoned scenery but it is so much more, the silver steel houses a civilization put together by the founders, Madison Li, Bannon and Harkness, Rivet City becomes the end game for many side quests and the main quests as well. The only issue is the loading times and glitches, but I find the glitches oddly charming and amusing.
I am referring to the V.A.T.S system in the game. The Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System is the individual shooting aim for limbs, creating messes and convenient crippling during combat. This is what separates Fallout from formulaic shooters, with heads exploding under the force of a shotgun, the crippling that can lead the dismemberment which can ultimately kill the opponent you are targeting.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Story and Quests:
Dragons. That is what you have to look forward to in the main story in Skyrim, Dragons. And a lot of epic music to help that, Skyrim can only be explained as epic. The music, the quests, the characters, everything is so large in proportion, it is the definition of the open world. But lacks the karma way that Fallout looks at gaming, with the only real choice is between the Stormcloaks and the Imperials for the battle of Skyrim. Even then I wouldn’t say that the Stormcloak and Imperial battle story was important to the actual story, even though negotiations are needed at one point, I found this only a side quest to the colossal battle you faced with the Worldeater, Alduin. The story itself was pretty basic, with the end a little predictable, but the way it lead you there was unimaginable. The game took you to places you didn’t know were going to be possible, taking you to the Nord Heaven, Sovngarde. But one thing about Skyrim that made me love it were the little and often pointless side quests, it’s what I lived for in this game. The little minor quests I adored, with 100 hours under my belt, I am still finding playable quests. The world is so subversive, it’s wonderful to be apart of it.
The 2011 Game of the Year was incredible to look at, I found myself enjoying watching my friends playing it as well as playing it myself, because of the detailed graphics and beautiful skylines. The graphics didn’t load as you moved, much like Fallout, each world had each tree, rock and flower placed out already before you. The most beautiful thing to look at was the sky, the lights above were just magical, with blues and greens some nights and pinks and yellows the next. The only weakness was the blood, it was very splat horror and I thought Bethesda had grown out of this fake blood. The faces of the people are you from all races looks similar, I don’t know if this was intentional, but it didn’t work for me. Again glitches were present but I didn’t ever mind them.
Magic…it’s too useful. You can train yourself as a Mage and get as many spells as you wish, or not and have a helpful healing spell, saving you on money and inventory space. I found these incredibly useful throughout gameplay but found the glitches coming out more during using magic. Another feature that is the stamina bar, and this really annoyed me, whereas Fallout had unlimited and you were at one pace, you had to use your stamina up. I got a little annoyed at this feature.
Similarities and Differences:
Two things Bethesda does well is level progression and map size. In Fallout, your level progression and skill upgrades are all personalised, with you choosing a new trait at every other level and using skill points to add to the overall level of your needed and chosen skills. Although Skyrim offers this at the level up, you have mini levels in the skills you have shown to use the most. For example, I crouch a lot and have made my approach to combat sneaky with a bow and arrow, so my archery is at level 80 and my sneak is level 92, it adapts. At the top of the level, you then chose a new trait or advantage within the level of skill. Another thing that is amazing is the scope of the open world. Skyrim’s world is mountainous and full of fantasy, Fallout’s world is flat and rocky, with both holding an open world of new cities, points of interests you couldn’t even imagine. But Skyrim has more cities and places to discover, with the map being almost impossible to navigate at times! But that is not a complaint.
So my final verdict…
Fallout 3 wins.
If anyone were to ask me what Bethesda game they should try, this would be it. Fallout throws you into a world you didn’t even know you wanted and the story kicks off straight away, unlike Skyrim. I bought Skyrim in the first days of it being out and played a few hours and sold it, I was that bored at first, but a few years later, I watched a friend play it once more, and I knew I had to stick with it, it just takes a while to get into, unlike Fallout. When you start the game, your Dad leaves you and you decide the fate of a town you’ve just discovered, it’s an explosive start to a game (pun intended for those Fallout players). Fallout’s creatures, people and cities have depth, like Skyrim, but Fallout holds something darker than Skyrim. With stories you hear creating a moral dilemma, whereas Skyrim never offers you the karma that made Fallout replayable. I would never start Skyrim again, as it’s a game that develops into your favourite game, whereas Fallout already is even before you’ve scratched the surface.