Fallout 3

Fallout 3 is a 2008 action role-playing game developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks.

The third major installment in the Fallout series, it is the first game to be developed by Bethesda after acquiring the rights to the franchise from Interplay Entertainment. The game marks a major shift in the series by using 3D graphics and real-time combat, replacing the 2D isometric graphics and turn-based combat of previous installments. It was released worldwide in October 2008 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.

Fallout 3
Fallout 3
Developer(s)Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher(s)Bethesda Softworks
Director(s)Todd Howard
  • Ashley Cheng
  • Gavin Carter
Designer(s)Emil Pagliarulo
  • Guy Carver
  • Steve Meister
Artist(s)Istvan Pely
Writer(s)Emil Pagliarulo
Composer(s)Inon Zur
  • NA: October 28, 2008
  • PAL: October 31, 2008
Genre(s)Action role-playing

The game is set within a post-apocalyptic open world environment that encompasses a scaled region consisting of the ruins of Washington, D.C., and much of the countryside to the north and west of it in Maryland and Virginia, collectively referred to as the Capital Wasteland. Downloadable content is set in Pennsylvania, pre-War Alaska and outer space. It takes place within Fallout's usual setting of a world that deviated into an alternate timeline thanks to atomic age technology, which eventually led to its devastation by a nuclear apocalypse in the year 2077 (referred to as the Great War), caused by a major international conflict between the United States and China over natural resources. The main story takes place in the year 2277. Players take control of an inhabitant of Vault 101, one of several underground shelters created before the Great War to protect around 1,000 humans from the nuclear fallout, who is forced to venture out into the Capital Wasteland to find their father after he disappears from the Vault under mysterious circumstances. They find themselves seeking to complete their father's work while fighting against the Enclave, the corrupt remnants of the former US government that seeks to use it for their own purposes.

Fallout 3 received a number of Game of the Year awards, praising the game's open-ended gameplay and flexible character-leveling system, and is considered one of the best video games ever made. Fallout 3 shipped almost five million copies in its first week. The game received post-launch support, with Bethesda releasing five downloadable add-ons. The game was met with controversy upon release in Australia, for the recreational drug use and the ability to be addicted to alcohol and other drugs; in India, for cultural and religious sentiments over the mutated cattle in the game being called Brahmin, a varna (class) in Hinduism; and in Japan, where a questline involving the potential detonation of a nuclear bomb in a prominent town was heavily altered. The game was followed by a spin-off, Fallout: New Vegas, developed by Obsidian Entertainment in 2010. The fourth major installment in the Fallout series, Fallout 4, was released in 2015.


Fallout 3 is a action role-playing game that can be played from either a first-person or third-person perspective. It is set in the Washington metropolitan area, years after a nuclear war left much of the United States decimated. The player controls a 19 year old character who grew up in a fallout shelter called Vault 101. The goal of the game is to complete a series of quests to find the character's father, who unexpectedly left Vault 101.: 57  In addition to the main quests, the player can participate in optional unrelated quests known as side quests. Executive producer Todd Howard believes that there are over 100 hours worth of content in Fallout 3.

At the beginning of the game, the player can customize their character's physical appearance by choosing their gender and race. They can then allocate points into seven primary attributes: strength, perception, endurance, charisma, intelligence, agility, and luck. These attributes are known as S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats, and range from 1 to 10.: 4  Additionally, there are 13 secondary attributes whose point totals are affected by S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats: barter, big guns, energy weapons, explosives, lockpick, medicine, melee weapons, repair, science, small guns, sneak, speech, and unarmed.: 10  If the player has a high charisma stat for example, then they will be more proficient with the barter and speech skills at the beginning of the game.: 6  The player can add more points into skill stats whenever they earn enough experience points to level up. Experience points can be earned through several methods, such as killing an enemy or completing a quest. When the player reaches a new level, they can select a perk, which is a permanent beneficial upgrade. For example, the perk Master Trader reduces the price of items sold by vendors by 25 percent.: 18 

Fallout 3 
While in combat, the player can use V.A.T.S. to pause the game and target specific body parts of an enemy

Fallout 3 features an open world map that the player can freely explore. Locations the player can discover range from small settlements and abandoned buildings, to larger locations like the Capitol building and the Washington Monument. The player is equipped with a wearable computer called the Pip-Boy 3000. The device serves as a menu, and allows the player to access items they have acquired, view detailed character statistics and active quests, and look at the map. The player can use the Pip-Boy 3000 map to fast travel to previously discovered locations.: 32  The player can also use the Pip-Boy 3000 as a radio, and listen songs from the 1940s and 1950s on makeshift radio broadcasts. While exploring, the player can recruit some non-playable characters as companions, who will accompany the player and assist them in combat.: 38  There a variety of weapons in the game, including standard guns, energy-based guns, melee weapons, and explosives.: 33–34  While in combat, the player can utilize a gameplay mechanic known as V.A.T.S., which pauses the game and allows the player to target specific body parts of an enemy. V.A.T.S. is dictated by a statistic known as Action Points. Each attack while in V.A.T.S. costs Action Points, and when the player runs out of Action Points they must wait a short period of time before they can use it again.

An important mechanic in Fallout 3 is the player's karma. Whenever the player commits an action that is deemed either good or bad, their karma will change accordingly. For example, if the player provides water to a beggar, their karma increases. Likewise, if the player breaks into a home, their karma decreases. The player's karma effects how other characters perceive them.: 30  Some companions can only be recruited if the player meets the companion's karmic expectation.: 30  Some non-recruitable characters will be more accepting of the player depending on their karma level.: 30  For example, slaver characters will be more accepting to players with negative karma, and provide services that would not be available to players with neutral or positive karma.: 30 


Fallout 3 
The plot of Fallout 3 revolves around a water purifier at the Jefferson Memorial

Fallout 3 takes place in the year 2277, 200 years after a devastating nuclear war between the United States and China. Survivors of the war took refuge in fallout shelters known as Vaults. The player character, nicknamed the Lone Wanderer, grew up in Vault 101, located near Washington, D.C. After the Lone Wanderer's 19th birthday, their father, a scientist named James, inexplicably leaves the Vault. The Vault Dweller decides to track down their father, and journeys the region in and around Washington, D.C., now known as the Capital Wasteland. Along the way, the Lone Wanderer learns about their father's background from other characters, including the residents of Megaton, a radio DJ named Three Dog, and a scientist named Madison Li. Before the Lone Wanderer's birth, James and his wife Catherine had been working on Project Purity, in which a water purifier built in the Jefferson Memorial would have purified the irradiated water in the Tidal Basin and Potomac River. However, Catherine died during childbirth, and James abandoned the project to raise his child in Vault 101.

The Lone Wanderer finds and rescues James from a virtual reality program in Vault 112. James reveals that he wanted to revive Project Purity, and left Vault 101 to seek the Garden of Eden Creation Kit (G.E.C.K.), a powerful piece of technology intended to assist in rebuilding civilization after a nuclear war. When work on Project Purity resumes, a powerful military organization known as the Enclave intervene. The Enclave wants to inject the purifier with a deadly virus that will kill any mutated organisms that drink the water, including humans. James sacrifices himself to protect the purifier. In response, the Lone Wanderer enlists the help of the Brotherhood of Steel, a military organization that protects the residents of the Capital Wasteland. The Lone Wanderer finds the G.E.C.K. in Vault 87, and is captured by the Enclave. The Lone Wanderer escapes imprisonment, and can choose to either leave the base peacefully or destroy it. Together with the Brotherhood of Steel, the Lone Wanderer retakes the Jefferson Memorial, and learns the water purifier needs to be manually activated. However, before James died, he flooded the control room with radiation. The player is presented with three potential endings: the Lone Wanderer sacrifices themself to initiate Project Purity; the Lone Wanderer forces a Brotherhood of Steel member to active the purifier; or the Lone Wanderer does nothing and lets the purifier explode.


The origins of Fallout 3 date back to the cancellation of Van Buren, which was intended to be the third game in the mainline Fallout series. Under the development of Black Isle Studios, Van Buren was to be set in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and Utah, and would have included a mixture of real-time and turn-based combat. Black Isle Studios' publisher Interplay Entertainment was struggling financially, and in December 2003 Van Buren was cancelled. In 2004, Bethesda Softworks purchased the rights to develop a third Fallout game for $1,175,000 minimum guaranteed advance against royalties, while Interplay retained the rights to develop a Fallout themed massively multiplayer online game. At the time, Bethesda was known for their work with The Elder Scrolls series, but wanted to expand their catalogue with another project. According to developer Joel Burgess, Bethesda's holding company ZeniMax Media turned down multiple offers from other companies who wanted to work on Fallout 3. Burgess remarked, "The sense was we had to make our own game."

Development on Fallout 3 began in late 2004 with a small team of around 10 people, as most of Bethesda's staff was busy working on The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. After the release of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion in 2006, the size of the team drastically increased. Programmer Jean Simonet estimates that when development concluded, there were around 75 team members. Bethesda Softworks made Fallout 3 similar to the previous two games, focusing upon non-linear gameplay, story, and black comedy. Bethesda pursued an ESRB rating of M (for "mature") by including the adult themes, violence, and depravity characteristic of the Fallout series. They shied away from the self-referential gags of the game's predecessors that broke the illusion that the world of Fallout is real. Fallout 3 uses a version of the same Gamebryo engine as Oblivion, and was developed by the team responsible for that game. Liam Neeson was cast as the voice of the player's father.

In February 2007, Bethesda stated that the game was "a fairly good ways away" from release but that detailed information and previews would be available later in the year. Following a statement made by Pete Hines that the team wanted to make the game a "multiple platform title", the game was announced by Game Informer to be in development for Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. According to game director Todd Howard, the original plan was to recreate Washington, D.C., entirely in the game, but it was reconstructed by half; this was because a full implementation would require too complicated a job and an excessive long-term development.

During a March 21, 2008, Official Xbox Magazine podcast interview, Todd Howard revealed that the game had expanded to nearly the same scope as Oblivion. There were originally at least 12 versions of the final cutscene, but, with further development, this expanded to over 200 possible permutations in the final release, all of which are determined by the actions taken by the player. Bethesda Softworks attended E3 2008 to showcase Fallout 3. The first live demo of the Xbox 360 version of the game was shown and demonstrated by Todd Howard, taking place in downtown Washington, D.C. The demo showcased various weapons such as the Fat Man nuclear catapult, the V.A.T.S. system and the functions of the Pip-Boy 3000 as well as combat with several enemies. The demo concluded as the player neared the Brotherhood of Steel-controlled Pentagon and was attacked by an Enclave patrol.

Howard confirmed that, in addition to thematics about slavery and cannibalism, there would be the presence of splatter scenes and exposition of evident mutilations on enemies with release of gibs. The inspiration to include scenes with such explicit violence came from the "crash mode" of the driving simulator series Burnout. Instead of cars that disintegrated because of the damage, the idea of applying kinematics on bodies who suffered wounds and mutilations due to ballistic trauma or beatings.

Emil Pagliarulo, a writer formerly at Looking Glass Studios, was commissioned by Bethesda to write the main script of Fallout 3. He also worked in part on The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion's script. Pagliarulo took charge of writing the incipit of Fallout 3, then played by Ron Perlman, and he tried to be inspired by first Fallout's incipit, in 1997, which he considered vitally important to describe the story that Fallout 3 would have to tell. To succeed in making this script effective, Pagliarulo had to go in the opposite direction of his previous work on Oblivion, which both for setting and characters, represented an extreme Fallout inverse.

The main model to follow, for Pagliarulo, was always the first Fallout, which by his own admission had more the peculiarity of synthesis in dialogues, rather than Fallout 2, which had a more blear and muddled screenplay written by Chris Avellone, who Pagliarulo would nonetheless describe as "a fantastic writer."

Music and audio

The score was composed by Inon Zur, who does not consider himself the only person responsible for the musical work on Fallout 3. Zur cited game director Todd Howard and the sound designer Mark Lampert for helping him to manage the in-game sound implementation, stating he made only 50%. Zur also said that he conceived the soundtrack based on what the player would perceive on psychological level, rather than on what the player would see on the screen, so placing the listener musically ahead over the environment in which he or she moves. Apart from a few exceptions, Zur said that the soundtrack of the game was mainly composed using a sampler.

Several actors of film and video games lent their voices to Fallout 3, including Liam Neeson as James, Ron Perlman as the game's narrator, Malcolm McDowell as President John Henry Eden, Craig Sechler as Butch DeLoria, Erik Todd Dellums as Three Dog, and Odette Yustman as Amata Almodovar. Veteran voice actors Dee Bradley Baker, Wes Johnson, Paul Eiding, and Stephen Russell also provided voice-overs. Blindlight manager Lev Chapelsky told Edge that his company tried to get former US President Bill Clinton to voice Eden, though Bethesda said he was never seriously considered. The Fallout 3 soundtrack continued the series' convention of featuring sentimental 1940s American big band music, including the main theme, a few other incidental songs recorded by The Ink Spots and The Andrews Sisters, and songs by other artists such as Roy Brown, Billie Holiday, Billy Munn, Cole Porter, and Bob Crosby.


An internal ZeniMax presentation, dated to 2020 and released as part of the FTC v. Microsoft case in 2023, indicated that a Fallout 3 Remaster was earmarked for a release in 2024, among other unannounced titles. The document was produced prior to Microsoft's acquisition of ZeniMax in 2021; it is unclear whether the project is in development.

Marketing and release


Fallout 3 
Bethesda's Fallout 3 booth at the 2008 Games Convention

A teaser site appeared on May 2, 2007, and featured music of Fallout 3 and concept art, along with a timer that counted down to June 5, 2007. The artists and developers involved later confirmed that the concept art, commissioned before Oblivion had been released, did not reveal anything from the actual game. When the countdown finished, the site hosted the first teaser trailer, and unveiled a release date of fall 2008. The press kit released with the trailer indicated that Ron Perlman would be on board with the project. The trailer featured The Ink Spots song "I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire", which the previous Fallout developer Black Isle Studios originally intended to license for use in the first Fallout game. The trailer, which was completely done with in-engine assets, closed with Perlman saying his trademark line which he also spoke in the original Fallout: "War. War never changes". The trailer showed a devastated Washington, D.C., evidenced by the partially damaged Washington Monument in the background as well as the crumbling buildings that surrounded a rubble-choked city thoroughfare.

A second trailer was first shown during a GameTrailers TV E3 special on July 12, 2008. The trailer zoomed out from a ruined house in the Washington, D.C., suburbs, and provided a wider view of the capital's skyline including the Capitol Building and Washington Monument in the distance. On July 14, 2008, an extended version of this trailer was made available, which besides the original content, included a Vault-Tec advertisement and actual gameplay. Both versions of the trailer featured the song "Dear Hearts and Gentle People" as recorded by Bob Crosby and the Bobcats.

Film festival

On July 11, 2008, as a part of promoting Fallout 3, Bethesda Softworks partnered with American Cinematheque and Geek Monthly to sponsor A Post-Apocalyptic Film Festival Presented by Fallout 3. The festival took place on August 22–23 at Santa Monica's Aero Theater. Six post-apocalyptic films were shown which depict life and events that could occur after a world-changing disaster, including Wizards, Damnation Alley, A Boy and His Dog, The Last Man on Earth, The Omega Man, and Twelve Monkeys.

Retail versions

Features Edition
Standard Collector's Limited Survival Game of the Year
Game disc and manual Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bonus DVD No Yes No Yes No
Concept artbook No Yes No Yes No
Vault Boy Bobblehead No Yes No Yes No
Lunchbox case No Yes No Yes No
Power Armor figurine No No Yes No No
Pip-Boy 3000 clock No No No Yes No
Downloadable content No No No No Yes

Fallout 3 was released in five separate versions, three of which were made available worldwide:

  • The Standard Edition includes the game disc and instruction manual.
  • The Collector's Edition includes the game disc, manual, a bonus making-of disc, a concept artbook, and a 5" Vault Boy Bobblehead, all of which is contained in a Vault-Tec lunchbox. In Australia, the Collector's Edition was available at Gametraders and EB Games.
  • The Limited Edition includes the game disc and manual, as well as a Brotherhood of Steel Power Armor figurine. This edition was available only in the UK through the retailer Game.
  • The Survival Edition includes everything from the Collector's Edition, as well as a model of the Pip-Boy 3000 from the game which functions as a digital clock. The Survival Edition is available from Amazon.com to U.S. customers only.
  • The Game of the Year Edition, which includes the original Fallout 3 game as well as all five of the downloadable content packs, was released on October 13, 2009, in North America and October 16, 2009 in Europe. It was released in Australia on October 22, 2009, and in Japan on December 3, 2009. It was made available on Steam on December 17, 2009. Xbox 360 and PC versions of Fallout 3 and Oblivion double pack was announced for release in North America on April 3, 2012.

Downloadable content

Bethesda's Todd Howard confirmed during E3 2008 that downloadable content (DLC) would be prepared for the Xbox 360 and Windows versions of Fallout 3. There are five DLCs: Operation: Anchorage, The Pitt, Broken Steel, Point Lookout, and Mothership Zeta, released in that order. Of the five, Broken Steel has the largest effect on the game, altering the ending and allowing the player to continue playing past the end of the main quest line.

Originally, there was no downloadable content announced for the PlayStation 3 version of the game. Although Bethesda had not offered an explanation as to why the content was not released for PlayStation 3, Lazard Capital Markets analyst Colin Sebastian speculated that it may have been the result of a money deal with Bethesda by Sony's competitor, Microsoft. When asked if the PlayStation 3 version would receive an update that would enable gameplay beyond the main quest's completion, Todd Howard responded: "Not at this time, no." In May 2009, Bethesda announced that the existing DLC packs (Operation: Anchorage, The Pitt and Broken Steel) would be made available for the PlayStation 3; the later two (Point Lookout and Mothership Zeta) were released for all platforms.

On October 1, 2009, a New Xbox Experience premium theme for the game was released for the Xbox 360. Consumers could pay 240 Microsoft Points, or by having downloaded all other downloadable content. The PlayStation 3 received a free theme, featuring a Brotherhood of Steel Knight in the background, and includes symbols from the game as icons on the PS3 home menu. In December 2008, the editor known as the G.E.C.K. (Garden of Eden Creation Kit) was made available for the Windows version of the game as a free download from the Fallout 3 website.



Fallout 3 received "universal acclaim" from critics, according to review aggregator Metacritic. 1UP.com's Demian Linn praised its open-ended gameplay and flexible character-leveling system. While the V.A.T.S. system was called fun, enemy encounters were said to suffer from a lack of precision in real-time combat and little variety in enemy types. The review concluded, Fallout 3 is a "hugely ambitious game that doesn't come around very often." IGN editor Erik Brudvig praised the game's "minimalist" sound design, observing how "you might find yourself with nothing but the sound of wind rustling through decaying trees and blowing dust across the barren plains ... Fallout 3 proves that less can be more." The review noted that the "unusual amount of realism" combined with the "endless conversation permutations" produces "one of the most truly interactive experiences of the generation." In a review of the game for Kotaku, Mike Fahey commented: "While Inon Zur's score is filled with epic goodness, the real stars of Fallout 3's music are the vintage songs from the 1940s."

Tim Cain, Fallout and Fallout 2 game director, praised the art direction and the attention to details but did not like the way the endings were not enough constructed around player's actions and decisions. He was also critical of how Fallout 3 recycled plot elements from the first two games, such as Super Mutants and the Enclave, saying that if his company, Troika Games, had acquired the license, he would have come up with a completely original story for the East coast. Chris Avellone, Fallout 2's main writer, described the game as having "enough options and tools at [his] disposal to insure [he] was having fun no matter what the challenges", praising the immersion in Fallout's world, the success in carrying on the legacy of the previous two games, and the fulfilling open-world component; he criticized the writing of some characters and some of gameplay's choices in balancing the skills of the player character. Will Tuttle of GameSpy commended the game for its "engaging storyline, impeccable presentation, and hundreds of hours of addictive gameplay." Although Edge awarded the game 7 out of 10, in a later anniversary issue it placed the game 37th in a "100 best games to play today" list, saying "Fallout 3 empowers, engages and rewards to extents that few games have ever achieved."

Some criticisms concerned the bugs in regards to the physics and crashes, some of which broke quests and prevented progression. The AI and stiff character animations are another common point of criticism, as is the ending. Edge stated that "the game is cumbersome in design and frequently incompetent in the details of execution", taking particular issue with the nakedness of the HUD, the clarity of the menu interface, and that the smaller problems are carried over from Oblivion. Edge liked the central story but said "the writing isn't quite as consistent as the ideas that underpin" and that the "voice-acting is even less reliable."

In a review of Fallout 3 in Black Gate, Connor Gormley said "every little caveat and crevice of this world tells its own story, either outright or implied, and it's all designed with such attention to detail that it's impossible not to find yourself drowning in it all."


During first week of publication, Fallout 3 beat all previous Fallout chapters' combined sales, making 57% stronger sales than the first week's performance of Bethesda's The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion in 2006. As of early November 2008, Fallout 3 shipped over 4.7 million units, grossing $300 million. According to NPD Group, as of January 2009, the Xbox 360 version had sold 1.14 million units, and the PlayStation 3 version had sold 552,000 units. The Xbox 360 version was the 14th best-selling game of December 2008 in the United States, while the PlayStation 3 version was the 8th best-selling PlayStation 3 game in that region and month. The Xbox 360 version received a "Platinum" sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA), indicating sales of at least 300,000 copies in the United Kingdom. Sales in the United Kingdom reached 750,000 units by May 2009.

Fallout 3 was one of the most played titles in Xbox Live in 2009 and Games for Windows – Live in 2009, 2011, and 2012. In June 2015, following Fallout 4's announcement at Electronic Entertainment Expo, Fallout 3's sales were boosted up to 1000%. In November 2015, Electronic Entertainment Design and Research, a market research firm, estimated that the game had sold 12.4 million copies worldwide.

Awards and legacy

Fallout 3 won several awards following its showcasing at E3 2007. IGN gave it the Game of E3 2007 award, and GameSpot gave it the Best Role-Playing Game of E3 2007 award. Following the game's demonstration at E3 2008, IGN also gave it Best Overall RPG, Best Overall Console Game, and Overall Game of the Show for E3 2008. Game Critics Awards gave the game Best Role-Playing Game and Best of Show for E3 2008.

After its release, Fallout 3 won numerous awards from gaming journalists and websites. At the 2009 Game Developers Choice Awards, it won overall Game of the Year along with Best Writing. It was also awarded Game of the Year by IGN, GamesRadar, GameSpy, UGO Networks, Gamasutra and the Golden Joystick Awards. The game also won Xbox 360 Game of the Year from Official Xbox Magazine, GameSpy, and IGN, while winning PC Game of the Year from GamePro, GameSpy, GameTrailers and GameSpot, with the latter two also awarding it Best RPG.

During the 12th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards (now known as the D.I.C.E. Awards), the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences awarded Fallout 3 with Role-Playing Game of the Year and Outstanding Achievement in Original Story, along with receiving nominations for Overall Game of the Year, Computer Game of the Year, Console Game of the Year, and outstanding achievement in Game Direction, Game Design, and Gameplay Engineering.

Fallout 3 is considered to be one of the best video games of all time. At the end of 2009, Fallout 3 was featured in IGN's "Best Video and Computer Games of the Decade", with the game being placed top game of 2008 and seventh overall game of the 2000–2009 decade. Fallout 3 was voted for and won the Adventure section for the platform Modern Windows. That same year, G4tv ranked it as the 75th top video game of all time. IGN put Fallout 3 at number 10 in the "Top 100 RPGs of All Time" list, saying "Fallout 3 is the epitome of the deep, modern RPG and the archetype that many developers will mimic moving forward."

In 2012, Fallout 3 was also exhibited in The Art of Video Games, at Smithsonian American Art Museum. In November 2015, Fallout 3 has been made available on Xbox One via download from Xbox Live, as part of the initial 104 titles dedicated to the backward compatibility with Xbox 360.

Technical issues on PlayStation 3

Shortly before the game's release, IGN posted a review of the game, citing numerous bugs and crashes in the PlayStation 3 release. The game also contained a bug, causing the game to freeze and the screen to blur when friends signed out of and into the PlayStation Network. The IGN review was edited shortly thereafter, removing all references to the PS3 version's bugs, causing controversy in the PlayStation communities. Reviewing PlayStation 3 Game of the Year edition, Digital Chumps and Spawn Kill confirmed that most bugs remained, citing occasional freezes, several animation and scripting issues, along with other bugs, requiring a restart of the game. IGN retroactively cited bugs with the original release as well as the Game of the Year edition, calling it "a fantastic game" but warned players to "be aware that you might have to deal with some crashes and bugs."

Controversy and fandom

It's not a Fallout game. It's not even a game inspired by Fallout, as I had hoped. It's a game that contains a loose assortment of familiar Fallout concepts and names ... Electricity, pre-war electronic equipment, powered and still working computers (just think about that for a second), working cola & snack machines, weapons, ammo, scrap metal (needed by many), and even unlooted first aid boxes are everywhere.

—Vince D. Weller, long-time No Mutants Allowed member, former RPG news site director, and lead developer of The Age of Decadence

Not all fans were happy with the direction the Fallout series was taken in after its acquisition by Bethesda Softworks. Notorious for their support of the series' first two games, Fallout and Fallout 2, members centered on one of the oldest Fallout fansites, No Mutants Allowed, have criticized departures from the original games' stories, gameplay mechanics and setting. Criticisms include the prevalence of unspoiled food after 200 years, the survival of wood-framed dwellings following a nuclear blast, and the ubiquity of Super Mutants at early levels in the game. Also criticized are the quality of the game's writing, its relative lack of verisimilitude, the switch to a first-person action game format, and the level of reactiveness of the surrounding game world to player actions. In response, Jim Sterling of Destructoid has called fan groups like No Mutants Allowed "selfish" and "arrogant", stating that a new audience deserves a chance to play a Fallout game; and that if the series had stayed the way it was back in 1997, new titles would never have been made and brought to market. Luke Winkie of Kotaku tempers these sentiments, saying that it is a matter of ownership; and that in the case of Fallout 3, hardcore fans of the original series witnessed their favorite games become transformed into something else.

Regional variations

Drug references

On July 4, 2008, Fallout 3 was refused classification by the Australian Classification Board (ACB) in Australia, thus making it illegal to distribute or purchase the game in the country. To be reclassified, the offending content in the Australian version of the game had to be removed by Bethesda Softworks and be resubmitted to the ACB. According to the ACB board report, Fallout 3 was refused classification due to the "realistic visual representations of drugs and their delivery method [bringing] the 'science-fiction' drugs in line with 'real-world' drugs."

A revised version was resubmitted to the ACB and reclassified as MA 15+ on August 7, 2008, or not suitable for people under the age of 15 unless accompanied by a parent or adult guardian; this new rating ensured that the game could retail legally in Australia. According to the ACB board report, the drug content was not removed entirely from the revised version, but the animation showing the actual usage of the drugs was removed; the minority view on the decision stated that the drug content was still enough to warrant a refused classification rating.

In a later interview with UK gaming magazine Edge, Bethesda Softworks revealed that there would be only one version of Fallout 3 released worldwide, and that this version would have all real-world drug references removed. It was later clarified that the only change made would be that morphine, a real-world drug that would have appeared in the game, would instead be renamed to the more generic Med-X.

Release in India

On October 22, 2008, Microsoft announced that the game would not be released in India on the Xbox 360 platform. Religious and cultural sentiments were cited as the reason. The statement read that "Microsoft constantly endeavors to bring the best games to Indian consumers in sync with their international release. However, in light of cultural sensitivities in India, we have made the business decision to not bring Fallout 3 into the country." Although the specific reason was not revealed, it is possible that it is because the game contains two-headed mutated cows called Brahmin, or that Brahmin is the name of a caste of Hindu priests and religious scholars, or its similarity to the spelling of brahman, a type of cow that originated in India. Brahman, a breed of Zebu, are revered by Hindus.

Sensitivity in Japan

Bethesda Softworks changed the side quest "The Power of the Atom" in the Japanese version of Fallout 3 to relieve concerns about depictions of atomic detonation in inhabited areas, as the memory of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki remains strong in the country. In non-Japanese versions, players are given the option of either defusing, ignoring, or detonating the dormant atomic bomb in the town of Megaton; in the Japanese version, the character of Mr. Burke is absent, making it impossible to choose the detonation option. Also in the Japanese release, the Fat Man nuclear catapult weapon was renamed Nuka Launcher, as the original name was a reference to Fat Man, the bomb used on Nagasaki. According to Tetsu Takahashi, responsible for localizing Fallout 3 to Japan under his company ZeniMax Asia, the available actions prior to localizing "The Power of the Atom" and the ability to kill civilians almost got the game banned by CERO before it received an Adult Only Rating.



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