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Fallout 3: the full story

Our complete, uncut interview with Bethesda on Fallout's failings, DLC and the stuff that didn't make the final cut

It's Fallout 3 interview Friday! In our latest issue we've put together a feature looking back at one of the greatest RPGs on PS3, where we discuss how we feel about the game now that we've all had chance to explore every nook and cranny of the Capitol Wasteland. For the feature we bagged an exclusive interview with Emil Pagliarulo, the game's lead designer and writer, but we could only use a small part of it. Being the eco-friendly chaps that we are, we thought it was too good an interview to waste, so here it is, in all its glory:

Looking back, what aspect of Fallout 3 are you most proud of?
Wow, that's a tough question to answer. I'm honestly so proud of the game, and of all the hard work done by the dev team, it's difficult to pick out any specifics. I guess there are two things that really stand out for me. The first is V.A.T.S., and the way it really changes the way players engage in combat in first-person. It strikes a really good balance between player skill and character skill, and is always a rush to experience. The second is the game's story, and the reception the writing has received, including a few awards. That was really unexpected, especially considering some of the incredibly tough competition, like GTA IV; I respect the Rockstar guys immensely, so that was a real honour.

Which of the game's quests is your personal favourite, and why?
You know, I've always had a real soft spot in my heart for "Replicated Man," the quest that has you searching for the rogue android. It's part "Blade Runner," part "Logan's Run," and it introduces a place called the Institute, located in the Commonwealth; I'm from Boston, and that's a not-so-subtle reference to Massachusetts.
This quest was pretty simple (read: undeveloped) on paper, and our initial attempts to implement it were overcomplicated, convoluted, and not a whole lot of fun. We ended up scaling the gameplay paradigms way down, and the final quest is actually pretty simple. But it tells a really interesting story, and presents the player with a couple of very compelling choices. That's all I ever really wanted.

When it came to reviews, what criticisms of the game do you think were most valid? Do you think the game was under-scored?
As a hardcore gamer who spends way more money on games than he should, I'm usually of the opinion that any criticism is valid. When I spend sixty bucks on something, I feel like I've earned the right to bitch. So why shouldn't that rule apply to Fallout 3? It definitely should.

A lot of games are very limited in scope. They may have five gameplay elements, and they're each polished to 90%-%100%, if you're lucky. But with Fallout 3, the scope is enormous. You never run out of things to explore or do. But that comes with a bit of a price, meaning it's impossible to polish each of those elements to a 90%-100% level. In some instances, the game isn't as polished as it could be; the production values are maybe at, you know, 85% instead of 90%. Maybe there's an issue with an animation, or the voice acting, or whatever. And that bugs some people. We understand that, and we're constantly working on addressing those criticisms, because they're certainly valid.

As for the scores - overall, I think they're fantastic. The game's got a Metacritic score in the 90s for every platform, so what do I have to complain about? That's an achievement most devs never get to experience, so I consider myself truly fortunate in that regard.

Every Fallout game to date has been set in the United States - do you think we'll ever get to see how the Great War affected the rest of the world?
Who knows what the future will bring. But I will say I'm more a fan of the "write what you know" school of thought. That was one of the reasons we decided to set Fallout 3 in Washington, D.C. - who else, we thought, could really bring the nation's Capital to life in a video game the way we could? We're from the area, we know D.C. It just made sense. I think there are plenty more places in the United States that are ripe for discovery.

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