You may have heard of a little video game series called Fallout. Recent releases in the series have had players exploring a post-apocalyptic wasteland, interacting with a wild range of characters affected by the… erm… fallout of nuclear war, and struggling to rebuild civilization in some form. With miles of landscape to explore, hundreds of characters to interact with, and an implausible amount of personal customization, can a board game really capture the experience?
Well, I wouldn’t say you’re going to get Fallout 4 in cardboard form, but you do get a story-driven game of exploration and adventure in a dangerous world.
This is clearly an expansive game, and a demo only gives a small taste of it, but there are certainly glimmers of some very interesting things. The game has 4 scenarios with different goals, usually involving two factions in competition. Players get cards that allow them to align with (and thereby score points for) aligning with one of the sides. It’s not necessarily a team game, it’s not necessarily cooperative, but players aren’t necessarily set directly against each other, either.
From there it’s just a matter of exploring. In some ways, each play of Fallout will be like a self-contained Legacy game. No, you’re not tearing up cards or marking things down in pen, but your choices in each encounter do have long term effects. Primarily, when you have an encounter, you end up making a choice. This choice not only dictates the challenge you face and your immediate reward, but it will require you to shuffle new cards into the encounter deck, gain experience and skills, and even earn reputation which will come into play later. Your player board has slots for different tokens and markers to track these things, so when you attack the lady in the ruins and take her stuff rather than dig into the rubble with her (she probably already found the best stuff anyway), my notorious reputation might cause individuals I encounter later to stay far away, or force me down a particular path.
We didn’t play long enough to see how these choices might eventually play out, but the potential for some really interesting stuff is there, and I look forward to seeing how far the rabbit hole goes. Oh, and there are plenty of enemies to fight, so make sure you find some guns and armor and all that good stuff so you’re not helpless when you run into something. Or when something runs into you…