Recommend
13 
 Thumb up
 Hide
13 Posts

Fallout» Forums » Reviews

Subject: The Wasteland was never like this. rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Jason Farris
United States
Citrus Heights
California
flag msg tools
badge
There is a duck in every game. You may not see it, but it's there.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Whenever I play a game with a licensed property attached, I feel conflicting loyalties. I love games and I love some properties, but I don’t always love them together. Those torn loyalties doubly apply when a licensed property was a game itself. So a licensed game in the Fallout universe needs to have Fidelity to the sensibilities of the Fallout universe and to the Fallout computer game and it needs to be a good game in its own right. You can’t just rebrand an existing property and make it a Fallout edition. That sucks, does not allow for theme, and is plainly a cynical cash grab. So, The Fallout board game has many hurdles to get my approval that a normal adventure game does not. But hey, they expect to make money from the license, so they take the risk.

To be blunt, the Fallout board game is pretty much a disaster whose only redeeming and thematic quality is the artwork of the tiles and the plastic miniatures. I am going to just come out and say what many other diplomatic reviews hint at. The game has no real Fallout feel, and it’s best aspect, the choose-your-own-adventure part sucks unless you are playing solo. In fact, I think it is safe to say that this is the first game I would say that playing with more than 1 player is pretty bad. I have played 6-7 times now with my kids over multiple scenarios. They like it, because (with some language editing by yours truly), it’s an adventure game. And they haven’t played a lot of good ones before. Don’t get me wrong. I liked my first play okay, it was successive ones that made me realize just how much completely unlike fallout the game was.

Fallout is a world putting itself back together roughly 200 years after a nuclear apocalypse. It has that great ruined world exploration vibe mixed with some downright heartbreaking moments, and mixed in with a sly humor making fun of the “future 50’s” concept and the paranoia of that time. It’s really a brilliant theme that should make any decent attempt at a game that much more engaging. There are robots that are more human than human, Mad Max style raiders, insane cultists worshipping the bomb, mutant animals, and even zombies (sorry, “ghouls”). The source material is rich and could provide fodder for any number of games based on this property. Yet, Fallout the board game squanders this richness with characters that have limited differentiation, keyword types that rarely come up in the adventure deck, and basic mechanics that are so incredibly generic that they could be any game. You could retheme this game any way you wanted. Yep, even the levelling system could be easily rethemed.

Bu what about this Card Library that people talk about that moves the plot along, it’s supposed to be incredibly cool. The Card library (Think adventure deck) is the heart of the game and it’s best aspect. But it is really limited. Every time you complete a quest goal, it brings out new quests that change the game in minor ways and often help one of the two factions that are fighting that game. There are always two factions diametrically opposed and depending on who comes out on top, it will often allow one player to win. So it is important, but the scenarios and choices are uninspired. For example, one quest has you trying to find a new vault. You get it every game I have played so far as the vault is always one of the tiles on the board. You are presented with two choices. Kill a token of a certain enemy type or go to location X and spend caps (money for those not in the know). Inevitably you discover the vault and can go there and do its sub-quests, but you probably have just let someone else win the game as all the turns spent doing that are not helping you win. It’s like you have the option to explore but it’s a dead end. This works great in an adventure book but is lousy in an adventure game. Adventure games, if played to win are race games. You want to maximize actions that will win you the game and minimize actions that are cool but do not advance you toward winning. The text on the cards is not quite cringe-worthy, but it feels a bit forced to read it at times. I love a branching story as much as anyone, but it really does not work well here. And I imagine as you play the game more, the branches will be known and you will optimize to the point that you will entirely ignore many branches because it won’t get you to the win. Also, you may not want to finish a quest because, you will know what the next quest offers (like a cool weapon or armor) and if you do another player will swoop in and complete the next quest on their turn. Yep, everyone can complete every step of every quest. You want the Fatman? Then don’t complete the quest before you get it unless you can also complete the next one ASAP. Another example, you help out a stray dog. The proper Card library is shuffled into the appropriate encounter deck semi-randomly, But then player B draws that card that card for his encounter later and gets the dog (Dogmeat) as a companion when he hits the next settlement.

When you search places, you draw encounter cards to see what happens. These end up being boring and repetitive. After the third or fourth time you run across scavengers who decide to have a race to scavenge goods, you will be snoozing. Yes, in the Wasteland people regularly have time to race through dangerous ruins for fun and profit. It’s silly, and the consequences of just taking their stuff is almost non-existent. You get the “Vilified” status that you would think has consequences but there are very few cards that even reference it. There are also only two types of places, settlements and ruins. You almost always shop in settlements, you almost always scavenge free stuff in ruins. There are some quests that trigger, but most of the time it’s a choice between buying/selling stuff and getting stuff for free. Did I already sarcastically say woohoo? No? WoOHoO…

Which brings us to stuff. The fallout series is basically an RPG/action RPG which means you are collecting stuff to get better stuff to kill more things or complete objectives that give you experience and better stuff until you reach the end of the main storyline and all you experience and stuff helps you defeat the boss. Guns are plentiful in Fallout and weapons are everywhere. This is the post-apocalypse, if you are not armed by now, you are dead. In the computer games, you kill bad guys and take their stuff. So killing someone gives you armor and weapons. Killing animals give you things that can be made into stuff like armor and weapons. In Fallout the Boardgame, there are no armor or weapons. Okay, there are some but they are few and far between. One character starts with Power Armor, yay. Another character starts with a tire iron. A third has a vault suit. That’s three right there, except that the only other power armor you will ever find in the game is through special quests that have to show up before someone wins (which means not often). Most weapons are also in the branch quests as well. The actual town shopping deck and loot deck only have about 3-4 total weapons. The loot deck includes such awe-inspiring weapons as the combat knife and the pipe rifle (pipe weapons are some of the weakest weapons in Fallout). The town deck has a single plasma pistol and a single sniper rifle which are better. In a regular fallout game, you would be using a knife as a last resort because you have a plethora of ranged weapons, even at low levels. In Fallout the board game, you feel blessed when you find even the crappiest weapon. Armor is about the same. It’s about as uncommon as weapons but can also be incredibly lame. Lab coats give you better armor than raider armor for instance. Other things you will find cluttering the decks are all kinds of drugs, food, free caps, and companions. This is cool except most companions are only useful in very specific situations, as are the drugs. I won’t lie, food and free caps are useful, but not very interesting.

So let’s talk about companions. Companions are famous people, robots or animals from prior Fallout computer games. How cool, I get X from Fallout 4 to hang out with me. Great except that X has an ability that I might never use, and if I do, I have to discard them unless a specific criterion is met on the card. The abilities and criteria make little sense for many of them, although a few are thematic of their character from the computer game (e.g. you have to pitch Caite if you have no drugs). Companions often have almost nothing to do with their counterparts in the Fallout franchise and essentially feel tacked on. They are the most visible nods to the computer games but also the least utilized in my opinion. You have to have the right SPECIAL trait to get them (more on that later), then they need to have an ability you want to use, then you need a situation to use it, and then they go away unless you meet their requirement. I find that companions are often chucked for better things, maybe used once, but otherwise sit out the game.

The levelling system in Fallout the board game, is modelled on the “SPECIAL” system from the computer game, almost entirely in name only. As you level up you gain random letters from the word special which improve your ability to pass “Skill tests” for that particular letter. And the use of these letters can be somewhat random as you never know what type of card you will draw. Skill tests may allow you rerolls if you have the right letter(s). Weapons will give you rerolls if you have the right letters. Unfortunately, knowing which random weapon you may get or random letter which will help you is impossible until that card shows up on the board. You may choose I over C and the next quest requires a skill test for C. Too bad for you. You can waste one of your precious actions to try and trade someone for an item they have that uses your special skills, but the other player better think that through carefully. This is a competitive game and helping another person better help you more. The game does make up a little for the random letters by allowing you to grab one-use perks that are often very powerful if you happen to draw a letter you already have. In fact, as other reviewerss have noted, the perks are often the better choice. I know what I’m getting and that it will benefit me. So when you level you don’t get stronger, more hit points, more damage resistance, or better at what you do. You just get another situationally useful letter or an awesome one-time use ability. There is effectively no sense of progression or specialization. In fact leveling up makes you more of a generalist.

So what about combat and the enemies. Combat is… okay. I like the VATS nod with hit locations but they don’t make much sense other than as a probability reducer. I can only hit this bug in the hands. This creature cannot be shot in the head (which makes sense until you realize that all the creatures in the board game have definite heads). This creature can only be shot in the legs/torso. Anyway, as long as you just look at it and say, “These are cool looking dice, but they could have just had numbers and pips,” then you will find combat to be okay. Because enemies are tokens, there is limited space for information. So they may have 1 or two abilities but that’s it, and their level, hit points, damage, and experience points are all the same number. In general, if you don’t get armor, you will be trading damage with creatures you kill and they will wipe you out eventually unless you find good stuff to heal. . But don’t worry, you get to restart at base camp if you die. Because critters are always get replaced when killed, you will quickly see the same ones over and over. It gets pretty tedious pretty quickly. One might think that having an “expansion” would help as it will add more critters, but combat is so simple that there really isn’t a whole lot they can do with more special abilities to liven it up. So enemies will start feeling samey no matter what. If you manage to get decent armor or start with it, you will eventually just ignore the monsters and complete quests until you have to kill one that got in your way. They are often speedbumps or quest targets more than anything.

Fallout the board game offers a few mechanics that do fit the computer game, such as taking rads (radiation). The more you take, the lower your permanent hit points. Of course, there are limited ways to get rid of rads so that can be problematic. The quests are generally plots of the video games so there are some nice references if you are in the know. However, if you are not a Fallout fan, some of the quests might not make a whole lot of sense. Just what are the motivations for the Railroad and institute really? And as I said before, the artwork is top notch and captures the Fallout feel.

Unfortunately Fallout the board game, overall, is not really like Fallout the property. If you removed the fallout License, you would have a pretty boring adventure game as all the quests would become generic. And the quests are the best part of this game. So why didn’t they just make a Fallout game book for the iPad instead of this mishmash of board game concepts. That’s its strength. Play to it and cut away the rest. Instead we get this mass of cardboard waiting to be recycled. But wait you say! What about the expansions? Come on people, FFG fixing things through expansions is so old it’s become cliché. Think about it. We’ll make you pay us more money to fix a mediocre game. Do you really want to be that rube? And even better, the expansion will not really fix the game and it will add more problems that will be fixed in the next expansion. FFG has been doing this to the gaming community for years and people continue to thank them for it. “I love X so I was going to buy the expansion anyway.” If you really loved X, you would not let companies slap a license onto poor quality goods and then buy it. Stop the insanity and let go of the “expansion = fix” mentality.

I bought this game with my cold hard cash. I am not an “internet influencer” who is given free product to then write a glowing review that will make the masses buy the product. I played Fallout multiple times. I played the rules correctly (even the order of combat in the big rulebook which made my kids sad that sacrifice attacks were ineffective). I am well aware that simplifying concepts to fit a board game is required and that they cannot mimic computer games. However, I am also aware that what makes a brilliant licensed game over a tedious one is how that simplification is implemented. The game is pretty and passes the eye candy test. However, underneath there is nothing of Fallout that could not be done better in a simple choose-your-own-adventure book. Of course, they would need a much better writer for that. Or maybe they just need a much better game design. Frankly, there are so many games out these days that we all can be much more discriminating. You don’t need to spend your hard earned or even throw-away money on this game. If you are a Fallout fan, you don’t need this game. The fact is that there are far better games out there. Go spend your money on a worthy game instead. Vote with your wallet.
30 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
J.M. Diller
United States
North Street
Michigan
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for your review. I will agree that it's not an exceptional game and it doesn't really capture what makes Fallout special. That said, we've enjoyed a few plays of it and I suspect we will enjoy several more(although we are going to try some scoring variants).

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Aaron White
Australia
Bathurst
New South Wales
flag msg tools
Bennett from Brawl
badge
Slow and Thoughtful
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Sorry it was a miss for your, I really like it.

I will say that everyone who did not like Fallout had their own ideas of what it should be - rather than what it is. This cannot be helped because Fallout has much love and the games offer so much.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Elijah
United States
Raleigh
North Carolina
flag msg tools
You think that's air you're breathing?
badge
We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant That We Should voyage far.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for your review.

Translating IP into a game is tough because you can’t make it exact. You can’t please everyone. Clearly there has to be some compromise.

That said, it seems like FFG could have refined this game more?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ernie Barrett
United States
Warren
Ohio
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I have never played the video game so am going on just playing the board game but I enjoyed it so far solo. I actually like the card library/quest concept.

I will say that I don't care for how you win the game. With such a cool choose your own adventure questing type of story to follow, it would have been nice to have it culminate into some sort of showdown or story plot or something. Anything is better than just abruptly ending the game when someone reached a predetermined influence total.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Vadim Golembo
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I really wanted a Fallout re-skin of Mage Knight the Board game.

What we got so far if fine. There is definitely room for major improvements with thoughtful expansions that would take a fair-to-passable-IP-boardgame to a classic.

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jason Farris
United States
Citrus Heights
California
flag msg tools
badge
There is a duck in every game. You may not see it, but it's there.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
ErnieB wrote:
I have never played the video game so am going on just playing the board game but I enjoyed it so far solo. I actually like the card library/quest concept.

I will say that I don't care for how you win the game. With such a cool choose your own adventure questing type of story to follow, it would have been nice to have it culminate into some sort of showdown or story plot or something. Anything is better than just abruptly ending the game when someone reached a predetermined influence total.


I think solo is okay, but when you are actually playing a competitive game, then the system goes to hell really quickly. When anyone, anywhere can complete a quest goal, you need to almost precognitively know what's coming next (or have played through the quest before} to avoid inadvertently helping someone else.

If you want to play it as truly cooperative, there is nothing stopping you, but I think the game would lose tension. Adventure games are really tough to get right, especially if the players are competing.

Based on your dislike of how this game ends, you might like Tales of the Arabian nights better. It is just as random yet feels more like a complete story by the end.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jason Farris
United States
Citrus Heights
California
flag msg tools
badge
There is a duck in every game. You may not see it, but it's there.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
N0mE wrote:
I really wanted a Fallout re-skin of Mage Knight the Board game.

What we got so far if fine. There is definitely room for major improvements with thoughtful expansions that would take a fair-to-passable-IP-boardgame to a classic.



Well yes, the hypothetical expansion could fix things... but I feel we really give companies too much free money to fix things they should have gotten right in the beginning.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Christian Marcussen
Denmark
Odense C
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I agree 100%. Such a shame.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
Unspecified
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Huh. I've played the Fallouts and this feels like Fallout.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Keith Reeves
United States
Saint Peters
Missouri
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmb
Now that must have taken some time to type up! Your comments were very well thought out.

I personally, have played ever single Fallout game multiple times. Each time choosing a different play style, quests, decisions, companions, etc. I rolled a character and made choices based on how that character would respond. Role Playing Fallout is exhilarating! I could site examples or write short stories about how my character 'SHARK' survived the wasteland.

I will adamantly disagree that Fallout board game is a disaster. There are several unique aspects that make it feel like a post apocalypse wasteland. And the integration of the use of SPECIAL, was very well done. You have to think like a developer to understand.

Yes, it needs so minor tweaking, but I personally enjoy role playing my character through the stories. Each time I play, I am a different character making unique decisions. That is what makes it fun.

To your point:

weapon availability and access to stuff needs some work
companion play needs some work.

I challenge you to suggest how to improve or change (variant rules) the game to meet what you are looking for while not copying directly what other games have done. I look forward to your suggestions.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Daniel Davis
United States
Seattle
Washington
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
SanguinousRex wrote:
Huh. I've played the Fallouts and this feels like Fallout.


It sure does. Very good representation. Love it.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jason Farris
United States
Citrus Heights
California
flag msg tools
badge
There is a duck in every game. You may not see it, but it's there.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Temujinjr wrote:
Now that must have taken some time to type up! Your comments were very well thought out.

I personally, have played ever single Fallout game multiple times. Each time choosing a different play style, quests, decisions, companions, etc. I rolled a character and made choices based on how that character would respond. Role Playing Fallout is exhilarating! I could site examples or write short stories about how my character 'SHARK' survived the wasteland.

I will adamantly disagree that Fallout board game is a disaster. There are several unique aspects that make it feel like a post apocalypse wasteland. And the integration of the use of SPECIAL, was very well done. You have to think like a developer to understand.

Yes, it needs so minor tweaking, but I personally enjoy role playing my character through the stories. Each time I play, I am a different character making unique decisions. That is what makes it fun.

To your point:

weapon availability and access to stuff needs some work
companion play needs some work.

I challenge you to suggest how to improve or change (variant rules) the game to meet what you are looking for while not copying directly what other games have done. I look forward to your suggestions.


Well now, that's the problem isn't it. To increase weapon availability or making weapon mods part of the game, you are effectively changing the game. You are not challenging me to fix something, you are challenging me to design a whole new game. And the fact is that, as a reviewer, it is not my job to be a game designer. It's my job to be a reviewer. If I have to be a game designer to appreciate Fallout, then Fallout is a very niche game indeed.

I did not say that the game mechanics do not work together. I said that the game is mechanically blah, and even the Fallout paint job doesn't make it a good adventure game. The game works, it's just very superficial.

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.