I understand that comparing two games made by the same company that uses the same engine and are extremely similar to one another seems like a strange gimmick for an article, but the truth is, these two games are not as similar as people lay claim. While both are extremely enjoyable, I would like to present the argument that Fallout is a better game series than the Elder Scrolls games. I know this may cause some heat between fans, but hear me out before you find out where I live and ply my fingernails off while I scream in agony. I have truly enjoyed both game series’, and do think they both have very unique elements to bring to the table. I just genuinely believe the Fallout series is more accessible and less dragged down by weighty “high fantasy” tropes and dialogue.
So again, both series are great for anyone who missed that. Fallout is just superior. Here are 8 reasons why I came to that conclusion (and you will, too).
Skyrim vs Fallout
Let’s start with the most obvious factor. The combat. What Remy? But the Elder Scrolls series has much more depth and variety! No, but it really doesn’t. You are given the ILLUSION of multiple ways you to go through an area (stealth, aggression, magic etc), but it all boils down the same thing. No disrespect meant here, but it really comes down to one button combat. Really. Thing is, Fallout gives you no illusions about this. It is like “hey, we are an FPS, but if you activate this VATS combat system, you can pretty much blow any part of anyone’s body away (in awesome, gory detail). They are essentially the exact same combat system for both games, but the VATS system makes it ten times more gratifying.
Just the feeling of the moment when you drop into VATS and everything stops and you can pick a limb or skull to obliterate. I kept waiting for that to get old, but by hour 200, it still wasn’t. Thing is, by hour 100 of Skyrim I was already bored with “war hammering” people to death.
Let me ask you, what can you relate to better? A destroyed version of a major metropolis you already know, or some sprawling land from magical time of make believe? There is something eerily realistic about walking around a post-war America that just makes the Fallout series rise above the Elder Scrolls games. While there is no denying the beauty of those games and locations, it feels make believe. It feels like you are playing a fantasy game.
Where as, when you play the Fallout games, it feels very much what we imagine an irradiated America would be like. Yes, the color wheel may be limited (make everything golden-brown!), when you walk around Washington in part three, it is hard not to think:
Wow, it could really be like this one day.
That factor alone helps greatly with immersion.
High Fantasy BS
Let’s be real for a second. If you compare the story of Fallout 3 to the story of Skyrim, guess which one people can paraphrase in one sentence after? I will give you a hint:
I need to help my Dad restore fresh water to the wasteland.
Boom, Fallout 3 summed up. Now someone tell me what Skyrim is about in one sentence. Please? Oh, you can’t. The only thing you (or me, or anyone) remembers is that we are the dragonborn and can shout cool shit. That is because the world of high fantasy (think LOTR and GOT) can be very convoluted and pretentious, which makes it hard to follow. Here, I will write some high fantasy-esque fiction for your right now to show you exactly what I am talking about:
Gwenovere drew her blade over her head, fully aware that the curse of Kanowin could not be avoided. Over the land there fell a quiet hush, as the soldiers of Makenstaff slowly approached the gates of Thwininhelm. Elsewhere, the great mystic Bandodwarves was creating a spell that would stop the Swadlogrebs from breaking though the Dwindling gate and assuming power over the land of Whippingpuss.
Nah, f*ck that noise.
By the time you are in the third sidequest of Skyrim, you no longer have any idea what is even going on. Yet in Fallout, it is always clear. Clean water. Sorry, but that beats the shit out of name-heavy fantasy bullshit any day.
Super Mutant Behemoths Are Cooler Than Dragons
Aren’t we at a saturation point in pop culture with dragons right now? From dinosaurs invading the summer screen to Game of Thrones and the great dragon escape from last season, dragons are not the cool, rare creature they once seemed to be. Turn on TV, any video game, and most movies and dragons are f*cking everywhere. Hell, Sherlock Holmes even played one in the most recent Hobbit movies. The cool thing about dragons in fiction is, we used to not get them so much. They were a rare commodity, so when you saw one, you drooled and felt lucky. Thing is, that gimmick has worn thin by now. For me, at least.
Super mutant Behemoths were a f*cking trip. A giant, toxic, former-human turned massive, hulking, kill-hungry bastard. They would fill the screen, and you would get all pumped up as you pulled out your ‘Fat Man’ (mini nuke dropper for those un-schooled in Fallout) and you would get giddy at the thought of dropping a mushroom cloud on one of these nasty bitches. Once I fought my 20th random dragon encounter in Skyrim, the thrill of fighting dragons was gone (plus my game would glitch a shit-ton and give me double dragons at once. So much so, in fact, I contacted Bethesda to ask them how much this happened in game. They told me about 1% of players experienced that and I should feel lucky. Well played, guys). But I never got tired of blowing those massive-green f*ckers up, so Fallout wins again.