Alright! Let’s load up Fallout! Click play on Steam… Let’s hit new game… Oh man, these animations are pretty solid for 1997… Character created, Locke is ready to go… Aw yeah, I’m in a cave… uh… um… Someone want to tell me how to shoot?!
That encapsulates my first few moments with Fallout. I was thrown into a cave with some basic equipment and a time sensitive task. No tutorial, no overview of the controls, nothing. I had to learn how to do even the simplest tasks in the game the hard way, through trial-and-error.
I couldn’t have been happier. Eventually the lightbulb clicked and I began culling cave rats with indiscriminate murderous intent. They shall proclaim me King of the Wasteland in no time.
I’m not a big fan of timed tasks because they prevent me from really getting to sink my teeth into each new area I come across, but I had a job to do and the clock was running. I figured I might as well get it out of the way as quickly as possible.
After a few weeks of searching the Wastes I’d found what I was sent from the Vault for. Unfortunately I was only level 4 and between me and my objective was a large super mutant named Harry with a laser rifle. For those who haven’t played a Fallout game, super mutants are some of the toughest enemies in the game, but they’re also extremely stupid.
Harry was guarding the area against normal humans – “prime normals” as he put it. If I could convince him I wasn’t normal I’d be able to achieve my primary objective in what had to be record time. I still had 120 days left to get it done!
While Harry was as stupid as super mutants come, it turned out I wasn’t smooth talking enough to get past him. Each time I tried to convince him I wasn’t normal he’d get mad and literally blast me in half. I saw a smidge of hope though, so I tried a few more times to convince Harry to let me through.
Then something glorious happened, a prime example of what makes RPGs so engrossing. I pissed Harry off for the third time, he wasn’t buying that I wasn’t normal, but as he revved up his laser rifle it exploded! A critical miss occurred, Harry got knocked on his ass and lost all his ammo.
He was still a super mutant though, a massive hulking creature that didn’t need a laser rifle to end my life. To make matters worse, three other super mutants came running to his aid upon hearing the concussive blast. The stars had aligned in a one-in-a-million chance and I still wasn’t going to get what I came for.
Insert Dogmeat. During my short travels along the wasteland a dog had decided to follow me around. He didn’t ever listen to me, but he was a nice traveling companion and even helped me kill a few pesky Radscorpions.
Dogmeat didn’t like Harry any more than I did. Seeing an opportunity, Dogmeat decided to jump on Harry while he was down and began chowing down like Harry was a new chew toy.
I chose to back away from the situation as Harry’s friends started jumping into the fray. Luckily the dolts came after me one at a time. I dropped the first one with three shots from my FMJ loaded hunting rifle and was working on the second when I noticed the third turn towards Dogmeat and his chew toy.
I saw the mutant’s massive flamethrower just as he toasted Dogmeat into oblivion, but my short-lived canine companion didn’t die in vain. While charring Dogmeat the stupid mutant had roasted Harry too! I dropped the second mutant, used my range advantage to finish the flamethrower mutant and finally retrieved the item I had been sent for, collecting a ton of experience and a few levels in the process.
I’ll miss Dogmeat, but his valiant sacrifice eliminated what could’ve been a very pesky objective timer. For that, I’ll be forever grateful.