For the purposes of this play session, Bethesda set us up with a pre-made character, fresh out of the game's childhood phase where its creation aspects come into play. We were told that this was in order to get us playing around in the Wasteland faster; we suspect that it was simply a way to steer us clear of any potential plot bombshells (literally and figuratively).
With a flip of a switch, the Vault's nigh-impenetrable door noisily maneuvered open, allowing us to step from the antiseptic confines of our character's youth into the blistering expanse of (what seemed like) nothingness outside. We proceeded cautiously, cresting a hill and gazing out on what looked to be the remains of a once pleasant little burg below. We'd discovered Springvale, an on-screen prompt informed us.
Before setting off to investigate the ruins, we had our first chance to assign skill points and pick our inaugural perk. (We went with "Gun Nut," which gave us an edge in handling and repairing all manner of firearms.)
"The only 'life' was a floating 'eyebot' blaring a recorded message of hope from someone calling himself 'the president.' Whatever. We shot it."
Springvale was, well, a ghost town. The only "life" was a floating "eyebot" blaring a recorded message of hope from someone calling himself "the president." Whatever. We shot it.
The sun began to set as we left Springvale and headed toward another rise. It turned out that just beyond it was Megaton, the first populated town players will encounter. After a chat with a clothing merchant named Crow and a greeting from the robotic Deputy Weld, we ventured inside.
We'd seen this place before in a previous hands-on session
. Megaton is built around an unexploded nuke that has given rise to a cult who worship it like a god. We heard them out (weirdos!) and chatted with some of the other denizens of Megaton, including Sherriff Simms, who asked us if we wouldn't mind disarming the thing. Unfortunately, our requisite skills weren't high enough yet or we'd have gladly obliged. We did decide on this playthrough, however, not to listen to the dastardly Burke in the town saloon and set the damn thing off.
When we asked how doing so would change the game (if at all), Bethesda's Pete Hines said that it would make things tougher on us, since Megaton is an early one-stop outpost for reliable food, supplies, and rest. We didn't want to muck with that, even if we only had a couple of hours to play.
"It's not on the same level as Mass Effect's, but the dialog system does its job well."
Conversing with NPCs was fairly basic stuff; we could ask them about the Wasteland, the town, themselves, and, in some cases, missions they had. It's not on the same level as Mass Effect
's, but the dialog system does its job well.
A young lady in the saloon, who asked us to deliver a letter to her folks in a town called Arefu, gave our first task to us. It turns out that Arefu was actually built on top of what remained of an old freeway overpass, but that hadn't protected it from the many Raiders wandering the Wasteland. We ran into a few of them while en route (along with some mutated dogs and other radioactive beasts) which we took down using the V.A.T.S. (Vault-tec Assisted Targeting System).
One of the combat highlights from our play session was using the V.A.T.S.' ability to pinpoint-target specific body parts to shoot the pistol out of a Raider's hand, then watching him try to run for cover as we capped him in the legs. (Ouch.)