Slow Down and Walk Sometimes in Fallout 2
Fallout 2 is an enjoyable game due to the depth of its plot and side quests. But just focusing on quests and missions doesn't do the game justice. The designers incorporated a great deal of dark humor and pop culture references that only stand out of the player slows down and looks for them.
For Full Enjoyment of Fallout 2, Don't Always Run
Of all the Fallout 2 gameplay options available to players, including combat difficulty and non-player character taunts, one of the most easily overlooked yet most important to consider is the "always run" option. To fully experience a game of Fallout 2, walk sometimes, and don't give in to the temptation to always run everywhere. Although it can be annoying sometimes to have to double click on a location in order to get the character to run and arrive as quickly as possible, the time devoted to walking is time well spent.
Fallout 2 is a fairly unique game due to its longevity - people are still playing the game through even when Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas are available on a number of systems. It is still so readily enjoyed in no small part due to the attention to detail paid by its designers, who included Easter Eggs both big and small throughout the Northern California Wasteland. One of the best features of the game mechanics is the "look" function: hold down the mouse key when hovering over an on-screen object until a binocular icon appears, then select that icon. In the status screen on the bottom left a description of the object will appear that often contains key game hints or, often, a humorous description that adds depth to the gameplay and demonstrates the designer's care when making the game.
But most players won't notice nearly as much of this detail and thereby miss out on a significant component of the game world because they simply run everywhere they go. While it can be boring to wander slowly through piles of rocks and mutated crops, more often than not taking the time to do so will result in finding unexpected hidden zones and objects or at least rewarding the thorough gamer by providing a message humorously acknowledging the player's dedication.
Walking and Managing Character Interactions
There is another reason to walk in Fallout 2 rather than auto-run. Many character interactions will change depending on the player's pace of approach.
Just as in the real world, people in Fallout 2 aren't always particularly happy to see someone running at them. Especially during random encounters in the wasteland, running up to someone who might otherwise be friendly to the player, or at least neutral, can trigger a bloody firefight that lowers karma and can lead to other people automatically trying to kill the player when otherwise they might have been willing to trade decent loot.
A perfect example of this involves the caravans that crisscross the wastes. In a world full of raiders, slavers, rogue super mutants, and bandits of every stripe, caravans have to be on guard against attack. Most have guards, who tend to be well armed. And most also will not allow anyone to come at the caravan master who has a gun visible. Here's where walking comes into play. Most players during a random encounter want to have both guns available without having to spend action points accessing their inventory. Many also want one gun to be loaded and ready just in case an encounter turns hostile. Caravans understand this prudence, and almost all will warn an approaching player to put away any visible weapons and only attack if an armed person comes too close. However here's the rub: if running, the player may not even see the warning until so close that the guards go hostile and attack.
The same dynamic exists around New Reno mob bosses and even some locked doors or lockers. Go running up to them and the warning may come and go before the player even realizes that there was a problem. Then the firefight will begin, which can lead to non-player characters getting killed that could otherwise have been a big help in offering trade goods or special assistance.
Walk to Find Special Characters like the Drill Sergeant
One particular unique character that a player will likely encounter only if moving carefully and walking in Fallout 2 is the Drill Sergeant of the Enclave base at Navarro.
The Drill Sergeant is tucked away in an office close to the entrance of the base, but is awfully easy to miss considering that most Enclave personnel are encased in their Power Armor. The only way to even notice that the character is in fact the Drill Sergeant is to actually take the time to view the character when moving around the base. Here again, walking in lieu of running is optimal because it is all too easy to run around so quickly that the character is missed.
The Fallout 2 Drill Sergeant is one of the more fun characters to interact with because the Enclave trooper is true to the Full Metal Jacket stereotype: loud, mean, and hate, hates, HATES new recruits! Of course, a character with a decent speech skill and perks to help manage conversations can get some interesting information out of the Drill Sergeant, such as the location of the Power Armor on the base and the location of certain personnel. But there are downsides as well- piss off the Drill, and the player is likely to get shot at close range. In addition, the Drill will place the player on guard duty, and if the player is caught not fulfilling that duty, yep, you guessed it- the player gets shot.
In truth, this is another reason to walk rather than always run: if the player doesn't want to meet the Drill Sergeant, then walking will make it easier to spot and avoid the unfriendly trooper.
The example of the Drill Sergeant holds true for numerous other characters in Fallout 2. Walk around rather than run, and unpleasant encounters can be avoided if needed. Or, if the mood strikes, the character can walk right into the situation and have some fun.
Traps and Sneaking: Walking for Stealthy Types
Needless to say, it’s easier to spot a trap if the character isn't always running around. Many players go through Fallout 2 happily ignoring traps and just use a Stimpack or three to heal up if they step on a land mine or get hit by a flying spear. But especially for characters that are at relatively low levels or who don't have Power Armor, this can be an incredibly lethal habit.
Many of the traps in Fallout 2 are extremely lethal. While early level traps aren't usually that threatening, often consisting of pools of radioactive waste that is only slightly dangerous in the short term, later traps will involve powerful plastic explosives or plasma mines. Walking onto one of these can lead to extremely violent consequences and major hit point loss. Not every character, even at high levels, will be able to stand up to such punishment.
Fortunately such traps can usually be avoided, but only by moving slowly and paying attention to the status screen, which will indicate when the character has seen a trap. Here again, auto-running can be quite dangerous to the player's health.
Sneaking is also reliant upon walking, since it is fairly difficult to sneak around while at a dead run. Sneak is probably an underutilized skill in Fallout 2 because it doesn't have any immediate positive effects. However, being able to sneak through a particularly dangerous situation or sneak to steal a powerful and expensive weapon can be a game changer. In addition, sneaking up to a powerful enemy and planting an explosive can provide a quick means of defeating said enemy.
So from avoiding turning a situation hostile to finding hidden areas and other Easter Eggs to sneaking about disarming traps, walking is important in Fallout 2. Players who want to have the best Fallout 2 experience possible would be well advised to turn off auto-run and walk around the wasteland.
- Fallout 2 User Manual, Black Isle Studios
- All images are screenshots taken by Andrew Tanner