Comparing Diablo against Fallout is like, to use a tired old saying, comparing apples to oranges. The former is an action oriented RPG with a heavy emphasis on fast paced combat, loads of phat lewt and multiplayer interaction, whereas the latter was an exclusively single player role playing experience where narrative and characterisation dominated the fore. In order to compare these two acclaimed series, it becomes necessary to focus on their common gameplay denominator: that they are both role playing games.
Broadly speaking, a role playing game is any game in which the participants assume the role of characters within a fictional setting and play by a certain set of rules and mechanics through which a consistent gameplay experience can be achieved. A storyline is generally a key mechanic to these games as they provide substance to the world in which the game takes place and also provide the player(s) with goals to strive towards and incentives to help sweeten the prize.
Ever since the first intrepid adventurers suppressed their fear (and that awful churning sensation in their stomachs) and stepped forth into the foreboding darkness of Tristram’s haunted cathedral, Diablo has kept gamers glued to their monitors for hours and days at a time with its simple yet marvellously addictive gameplay, rapid pace and buckets after steaming buckets of carnage. Yet at the end of the day, the Diablo games were focused around nothing more than the acquisition of loot and statistics; their back stories were trivial at the best, characterisation was non-existent and plot completely linear and one dimensional.
I played Diablo 2 extensively; I also played it offline. Little wonder that the game held next to no appeal to me after I finished the campaign a few times; with no other players around, there was nobody to boast to about that new Malodorous Fisherman’s Chain Mail Hauberk of Butt Fisting +43 I just picked off the corpse of a quill rat, nor were there any opportunities to join other players in attempts to more efficiently harvest bosses in order to better optimise the time/drop ratio of the world’s favourite online slot machine.
Nobody will doubt that the Diablo series is diabolically addictive, but that is the case only because its rote, repetitive gameplay allowed your brain to switch on to cruise control while your mouse finger mechanically clicks away.
Fallout was a game that actually let you roleplay. Set against the backdrop of a world in which humanity has reverted to tribalism due to a Sino-American nuclear holocaust, Fallout let you create your unique player character before it unleashed you on the barren, unforgiving world. Your moral dictates, or more accurately, the moral dictates of your character determined the path the plot would flow, and had a visible effect on how the population of the game world perceived you.
Your skills and attributes would determine the manner in which you approached quests and situations. Whether through strength, guile or diplomacy, the Fallout games were notable in that they made a determined effort to try and provide the player with a full range of options for enjoying the game your way. You could run around the irradiated plains of the Mojave wearing nothing but a cowboy hat and wielding a combat knife while sticking to a strict vegan diet if you wanted to.
And the winner is …
Perhaps this was not an entirely objective match-up. Diablo was always more of an action game with some RPG elements, whereas Fallout was built from the ground up to provide a unique RPG experience for gamers who wanted miniguns, plasma rifles and powered armour mixed with a liberal dash of “Up yours!” in lieu of swords, magic, stupid hats and Ye Olde English. This combined with the greater degree of freedom the Fallout games granted its players make it the winner for this round.
Fallout takes round 1 in the RPG division of our Video Game Face Off Tournament! What are your thoughts on the decision? Chime in below and let us know!
Also be sure to follow the bracket for the latest in the tournament.