November 2008 marked the first time I ventured out into the Capital Wasteland, armed with little more than a BB gun and a handful of stimpaks as I began the search for my deserted father. Three years and five months later — after countless battles with Ghouls, the Enclave, Super Mutants, Deathclaws, and other mutated freaks — my journey finally came to an end.
Well, the end of the main campaign, anyway.
For years, I’ve struggled to finish Fallout 3. I’ve played, and beaten, huge open-world games before, but every time I left the Wastelands for any extended period of time, I found it harder and harder to jump back into it. First it was only days and weeks that would pass in between play sessions; then it became months, and at one point, even a year.
You see, I was very meticulous with the game, making sure to explore almost every nook and cranny in the hopes of discovering some awesome location or cool weapon. I’d pick up and store anything I’d find, even it was just some common Turpentine or medical braces. I was so OCD about this that I dumped more than a fair share of skill points just to increase the carrying load in my pack — let’s just say that if Hoarders ever did an episode on Fallout 3, I’d be their number one pick.
Coupled with the high stack of side missions I’d always accrue, not to mention the story missions I had yet to explore, it was easy for me to feel overwhelmed whenever I returned from an extended vacation from the game. At times, I debated about starting fresh with a clean slate so I didn’t have to remember what’s going on; then I realized how much effort I had already put into my first playthrough, and decided to just push through it.
I hesitate to call playing the game a “chore”, but at times it did feel like work: I’m pretty sure that half of my 90+ hour adventure was just dedicated to walking around abandoned shacks, talking to NPCs, engaging in some useless fights, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret playing it, but it’s not exactly something I’d do all over again. Given the (rather paltry) amount of time I had put into my first run, spread across a couple of years, I honestly can’t fathom how some people can beat a game like this multiple times.
For my tastes, I found that the game was best enjoyed by playing it in a piecemeal fashion: every couple of months, I would sink a few hours into the game, but not so much that it would overstay its welcome. These “breaks” would only be further extended whenever I bought a shiny new game, however, and Fallout 3 would just be placed back at the bottom of the backlog pile.
In short, Fallout 3 quickly became the red-headed step child of my gaming collection: it was still part of the family, but it barely got any love from me. Definitely no hugs.
In the time since I started, not only have I played and beaten dozens of other games, but both a new Fallout game (which I, being a masochist, bought on day one) and a new Elder Scrolls title (which I refuse to buy until both Fallout titles are complete) have been released. I’ve even been sitting on the complete collection of the Fallout 3 DLC expansions that I bought from a half-off sale on Xbox Live Arcade more than two years ago.
So yes, I definitely have a bit of a backlog problem. But I’m slowly chipping away at it, and at this rate, I’m hoping to complete the DLC missions (and any remaining side quests) by the end of year. Fallout New Vegas? Perhaps 2013. Skyrim? TBA.
I found it very therapeutic to finally push through the last couple of hours of Fallout 3. How's your pile of shame looking these days? Looking at mine, even without Fallout 3, I have trouble understanding why so many people want new consoles to come out already . . .