Fallout 3 is a 2008 post-apocalyptic action role-playing open world video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. The third major installment in the Fallout series, it is the first game to be created by Bethesda since it bought the franchise from Interplay Entertainment. The game marks a major shift in the series by using 3D graphics and real-time combat, replacing the 2D isometric graphics and turn-based combat of previous installments. It was released worldwide in October 2008 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.
The game is set within a post-apocalyptic, open world environment that encompasses a scaled region consisting of the ruins of Washington, D.C., and much of the countryside to the north and west of it, referred to as the Capital Wasteland. It takes place within Fallout’s usual setting of a world that deviated into an alternate timeline thanks to atomic age technology, which eventually led to its devastation by a nuclear apocalypse in the year 2077 (referred to as the Great War), caused by a major international conflict between the United States and China over natural resources and the last remaining supplies of untapped uranium and crude oil. The main story takes place in the year 2277, around 36 years after the events of Fallout 2, of which it is not a direct sequel. Players take control of an inhabitant of Vault 101, one of several underground shelters created before the Great War to protect around 1,000 humans from the nuclear fallout, who is forced to venture out into the Capital Wasteland to find their father after he disappears from the Vault under mysterious circumstances. They find themselves seeking to complete their father’s work while fighting against the Enclave, the corrupt remnants of the former U.S. Government that seeks to use it for their own purposes.
Fallout 3 was met with universal acclaim and received a number of Game of the Year awards, praising the game’s open-ended gameplay and flexible character-leveling system, and is considered one of the greatest video games ever made. The NPD Group estimated that Fallout 3 sold over 610,000 units during its initial month of release in October 2008, performing better than Bethesda’s previous game, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, which sold nearly 500,000 units in its first month. The game received post-launch support, with Bethesda releasing five downloadable add-ons. The game was met with controversy upon release in Australia, for the recreational drug use and the ability to be addicted to alcohol and drugs, and in India, for cultural and religious sentiments over the mutated cattle in the game being called Brahmin, a varna (class) in Hinduism.
Unlike previous titles of the series, Fallout 3 is played from the first-person perspective. The players have the option to switch between this and an “over-the-shoulder” third-person perspective at any time after the initial stages of the game. While many elements from previous titles are reused, such as the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system, and the enemies encountered, major elements in the combat system are changed and new features are introduced, e.g. the new V.A.T.S. system.