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Released on March 15, 2001, Fallout Tactics was the third video game to be set in the Fallout universe. The game is the first non-standard RPG and the first to feature a multiplayer mode in the Fallout series. The game chronicles the adventures of a Midwestern Brotherhood of Steel initiate and their squad.
Because of some minor inconsistencies with previous Fallout games, Fallout Tactics has been declared as non-canon by Bethesda Softworks except for its pivotal events. Some nonpivotal elements do not contradict canon, though, and as such, the game's content can be used as "flavor" material.
Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel is not to be confused with the similarly named Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel, released in 2004. The use of Fallout Tactics to name the game in articles is recommended to avoid confusion.
Fallout Tactics has gameplay similar to real-time strategy games. The game focuses on squad-based combat and introduces near real-time combat, called "continuous turn-based" by the developers.
Unlike the previous two Fallout games, Fallout Tactics emphasizes tactical combat and strategy, not roleplaying. Players are not able to respond to non-player characters, but they can still trade and gamble. Instead of towns, Fallout Tactics centers around Brotherhood bunkers and missions. The bunkers serve as a central point for the Brotherhood, and players can obtain the services of quartermasters, mechanics, personnel yeomen, and medics. Characters from completed missions occasionally visit the bunkers.
After receiving a mission briefing from the general in charge of the bunker, the player's squad can then move to the area where the mission will take place. Among these locations are towns, factories, military encampments, or even a Vault. There, the player is given a map of the area marked with objectives and notes.
Unlike the previous two Fallout games, which feature an individual turn-based system, and more recent ones which feature a real-time gameplay system, combat in Fallout Tactics operates differently. Fallout Tactics features three modes of combat: Continuous Turn-Based (CTB), Individual Turn-Based (ITB), and Squad Turn-Based (STB). In CTB, everyone can act at the same time, and action points are regenerated at a rate based on the Agility stat. ITB is the system used in the original games. STB is a variation of that wherein each turn is given to a squad. Other changes include the ability to change stance, modifiers for height, and setting sentry modes, which let characters shoot automatically in CTB upon encountering an enemy.
The game soundtrack for Fallout Tactics was composed by Inon Zur, which contains only Fallout style background music and is the only Fallout game that has no ambient music from the 1940s and 1950s.
It should be noted that the game difficulty setting does not affect how much experience characters will receive. However, when creating a character, there is a Tough Guy setting which awards 30% more experience at the cost of being unable to save while on a mission. (This is increased to a 100% increase in experience points with Patch 1.27) The game may still be saved inside Brotherhood bunkers.
Fallout Tactics has a multiplayer option of creating a squad and or person based on a value of how many points you can put into your person or squad. The game can be played on Gamespy Arcade. It can also be played online via Steam with its multiplayer option, using Steam's very own servers.
Despite not being a traditional RPG, Fallout Tactics uses the SPECIAL character system.
Traits and perks
Although the main character in the single-player campaign has to be human, recruits from the Brotherhood and characters in multiplayer matches can be of any of the six races featured in the game. These are as follows:
- Humans: Humans are the most common race in the wastelands. Their strength is versatility, able to specialize in the widest range of abilities, though lacking exceptional strength in any one area. Humans gain perks every three levels.
- Super mutants: Modified by the Forced Evolutionary Virus, super mutants are hulking beasts that are excellent at combat but lacking in intelligence and agility. Unfortunately, they can't use Small Weapons such as pistols or rifles. Super mutants gain perks every four levels.
- Ghouls: Ghouls are humans who have mutated due to the radiation of the wastes and have extremely long lifespans. Although not as strong as humans, ghouls are luckier and more perceptive. They gain perks every four levels.
- Deathclaws: Deathclaws are massive beasts that use their size and strength to tear their enemies apart. Unfortunately, they can't use most items or wear armor and can only use Melee Weapons (brass knuckles, etc.). Although lacking in intelligence and charisma, the bodies of deathclaws are far more durable than humans. They gain a perk every four levels.
- Dogs: Dogs are canines that have adapted to life in the Wastelands. Their main strengths are perception and agility, but they cannot use weapons or other tools. Dogs gain perks every two levels.
- Humanoid robots: Robots are machines created to fight. Although they always have an average amount of luck and no Charisma, robots are strong and tough, resistant to most attacks, and immune to poison and radiation. Robots never gain perks.
In the years leading to the nuclear apocalypse that would eventually destroy the world, a network of vaults were constructed to contain the best and brightest of humanity. By being shielded from the imminent death, the offspring of these people could reclaim and repopulate the Earth. However, before the entire network could be completed, nuclear war broke out. In California, a unit of military men were forced to take shelter in a scientific installation as the bombs fell. These men found out the scientists they were "bunked" with were performing immoral experiments on human subjects. They deserted the army, put an end to the tests, and bunkered down until they believed the outside to be safe. Emerging relatively unscathed and with ample supplies of pre-War technology, they soon developed into a regional power called the Brotherhood of Steel. Over the years they tamed the land of raiders and mutated threats as they searched for more technology, which they were dedicated to preserving in order to rebuild their civilization.
Although the Brotherhood was one of the most powerful forces in the wasteland, attrition was still an issue, and the group found itself at odds over the need for new recruits. One faction supported allowing tribals (human outsiders) to join the organization and bolster their ranks, while others wanted to keep the Brotherhood pure. In the end, the majority supported keeping the Brotherhood exclusive, and the minority supporting outside expansion was sent across the mountains on great airships to destroy the remnants of the super mutant army. However, a catastrophic lightning storm struck the convoy during the journey, destroying many of the ships and taking the leaders of the expedition with them. The survivors were forced to land outside the ruins of Chicago, unable to contact their main bases for assistance.
Despite the grim situation, the Brotherhood forces found they had much to offer the native population, many of whom had never seen such advanced equipment. They developed a working relationship with the locals, offering protection and medicines for food and labor. New recruits were eagerly welcomed. Free from the restrictive ideology of the main organization, the Midwestern Brotherhood of Steel was free to forge its own identity, which reflected the inclusive ideals they had fought for all along.
The plot of the game takes place in the American Midwest. When the game starts, the Brotherhood is trying to claim territory surrounding Chicago. By offering protection to villages of tribals, the Brotherhood is able to draft recruits from among the tribals. At the beginning of the game, the player character is an Initiate, a new recruit to the Brotherhood, tasked to lead a squad of soldiers made up of available initiates. Raiders in the area are the first challenge to the Brotherhood's authority, so the player's squad of initiates is dispatched to kill the bandit leaders and mop up the bandit threat. As the campaign against the raiders succeeds in dispersing them into the wasteland, the player character is accepted fully into the Brotherhood and learns the eventual goal of the Brotherhood: a campaign west across the Great Plains towards the Rocky Mountains in search of Vault Zero, the one-time nucleus and command center of the pre-War vault network, where the most senior government, scientific and military leaders were housed and the highest technology available was maintained.
The next challenge in the Brotherhood's campaign are the beastlords, humans who are able to control the animals of the wastes, and who have come to use deathclaws as their servants. Once again, the Brotherhood fights the menace, and once again the Brotherhood emerges victorious. Before the Brotherhood can rest, however, they encounter a new foe as they push into post-war Missouri, an area known as "the Belt": the remnants of the mutant army they were sent to destroy. The initial battles are costly to the Brotherhood. Outgunned and outmanned, the Brotherhood is overwhelmed outside of St. Louis. There General Barnaky, head of the Brotherhood, is captured by Toccomata, the leader of the mutant army. Although the Brotherhood is able to withdraw, they remain under constant attack. A squad dispatched to destroy a munitions manufacturing plant instead finds a laboratory dedicated to curing mutant sterility. The Brotherhood claims the lab in order to use it as a future bargaining chip. A few days later, at the ghoul town of Gravestone, in the ruins of Kansas City, Brotherhood scouts find an intact nuclear bomb. The Brotherhood defends the town from several mutant encroachments, and they are soon able to remove the weapon to a safe bunker.
Brotherhood scouting reveals the base of the mutants to be at Osceolla, near the ruins of one of the wrecked Brotherhood zeppelins. A squad fights its way into the base. Inside, they find Toccomata, who is dying. He reveals that General Barnaky had been lost to an unknown menace from the west that was too powerful for even the mutant army. As the squad enters the room where the mutant leader was hiding, they find Paladin Latham, one of the leaders of the Brotherhood air convoy. He tells the squad that after crashing, he fought Gammorin in hand-to-hand combat for leadership of the mutants. Latham won, but a head injury from the battle became infected, and he soon became delusional. Latham assumed the identity of Gammorin, and led his new army against his old allies. The squad kills Latham before he can endanger the Brotherhood even more.
Soon, the menace from the west reveals itself: a robot army is sweeping across the American Midwest. The Reavers, a cult dedicated to technology worship, is caught between the Brotherhood and the robots as the two armies clash in Kansas. Although the Reavers try to wage a two-fronted war, they are soon beaten, and seek sanctuary among the Brotherhood in exchange for an electromagnetic pulse weapon. The Brotherhood agrees, and a squad armed with the new technology destroys a robot repair plant as they push into Colorado, towards Vault Zero. It is revealed that the robots are originating from Vault Zero, and are being directed by an enigmatic enemy known as the Calculator. Evidence uncovered by the Brotherhood points to a catastrophic experiment in the Vault that created the Calculator from a fusion of computers and human brains. The robots regroup, but the Brotherhood is able to use the momentum to destroy a robot manufacturing plant. The robots disrupt this plan when they capture Bartholemew Kerr, a merchant who had roamed among the Brotherhood bunkers. If the robots could gain this information from him, they would be able to destroy the Brotherhood. The squad arrives in time, however, and they put an end to the merchant's life. While there, they also discover the lobotomized body of General Barnaky.
As the robots press hard, the Brotherhood creates a plan to destroy the robots at their base at Vault Zero, located in Cheyenne Mountain. Using the captured nuclear warhead, the Brotherhood hopes to blast an entrance into the vault. After a tough fight up the slopes of Cheyenne Mountain, a Brotherhood squad places the warhead. The explosion does its job, and two squads enter into the bunker. The power was disabled by the blast, however, so one of the squads must find the auxiliary power so the elevators can be used. Meanwhile, the robots are attacking the Brotherhood's bunker. At the vault, the power is soon back on, and the squad proceeds to the bottom level. There they encounter the last of the robot army, led by a cyborg General Barnaky. The General does not attack, however, when he is reminded of his promise to make the world safe for his wife, Maria. The squad then makes it to the Calculator.
After defeating the last robots that guard the bunker and destroying the brains that kept the Calculator alive, the squad is asked by the Calculator to join minds with it in order to end the war and bring peace to the world. The squad is given the choice to either destroy the Calculator, sacrifice a character to join with it (although any squad mate can be used, the story assumes that the Warrior was the one who joined with the Calculator), or (if he has been kept alive) allow General Barnaky to join with it.
Allowing the Calculator to self-destruct allows the Brotherhood to capture Vault 0 and use it as its primary base of operations. However, the Calculator itself was in fact the most valuable asset the Vault housed - without its databanks, the vault is just another cache of old technology, not a new industrial resource. Nevertheless, Vault 0 becomes the new Brotherhood of Steel base. From here, the Brotherhood rebuilds by deepening its technology and information trade with tribals and other settlers gaining new recruits and survival techniques in return. While at first the Brotherhood is damaged and unable to fight raiders as well as they could previously, guerrilla tactics and swelled recruit ranks eventually allow the Brotherhood to bring some order to the Wasteland. Unfortunately, despite the recovery and improvement of the environment, the Brotherhood has to put any plans on going back west to reunite with the original Brotherhood of Steel on indefinite hold (this may be the canon ending as it has been stated that by 2277 the Midwestern Brotherhood is only a small detachment, though this could be just the brothers loyal to the West Coast Brotherhood).
Repairing the Calculator with a character's brain means the Vault's resources are fully available to the Brotherhood, increasing its power exponentially. The Midwest will be restored to its former glory in decades, not centuries. However, that character's ethics now guide the Calculator's actions.
If Barnaky becomes the donor, the new Calculator will start a campaign of genocide against all "unpure" humans, eventually driving them back to the West Coast where the original Brotherhood of Steel awaits. Nevertheless, Barnaky will lead mankind to a brighter future, giving humanity a second chance at civilization.
If the squad member in question has committed unethical acts throughout the game, the new Calculator outlaws discrimination against mutated species (mutants, ghouls, deathclaws and humans) in the name of expediency. For the same reason, it has the Brotherhood's elders quietly assassinated and takes control, planning a similar fate for the Brotherhood in California.
However, if the squad member in question acted with distinction (a difficult feat, as the Calculator's former brains are considered innocent), discrimination is still outlawed, but no harmful acts are committed. Mankind, both Prime and not, prospers greatly at the hands of the benevolent Brotherhood and the Warrior-Calculator hybrid's machine legions. However, both the Brotherhood Elders and the Warrior-Calculator wonder how things will turn out when this great expanded sphere of justice and control meets with the dogmatic original Brotherhood.
Inconsistencies and canon status
According to Bethesda's Emil Pagliarulo, high-level events of the Fallout Tactics plot are considered canon for Bethesda Softworks. There are two references to the Midwestern Brotherhood of Steel: In Fallout 3, where Scribe Rothchild states that there is a small, rogue detachment of Brotherhood of Steel in Chicago, and in Fallout 4, where Lancer Captain Kells tells the Sole Survivor that the Brotherhood has built airships in the west long ago which are likely to be destroyed. Some story elements that cause the game to be considered semi-canon include:
- The Brotherhood of Steel originating from a military vault, a mistake since they were an organization formed by Mariposa Military Base personnel and their families.
- While the first two Fallout games, especially Fallout 2, feature modern real-life weapons, Fallout Tactics has a greater abundance of them, diverging a little from the retro-futuristic concept.
- The new species of deathclaws, the hairy deathclaws, are portrayed as intelligent and capable of speech. They bear little resemblance to the deathclaws seen in previous games, and appear to be unrelated to the intelligent deathclaws created by the Enclave in Fallout 2.
- Due to limitations of the game engine, "normal" ghouls suffer from radiation poisoning.
- If Interplay had allowed more time (and money), MicroForte would have been in a position to deliver a better game. That's fairly typical of the publisher/developer relationship. It just hurts more in this particular case, because there was a higher expectation of quality due to the Fallout name. The project wasn't completely on schedule in reality, but that was due to a couple of changes in direction during development and wasn't due to any major problems with the developer. Interplay should have taken a step back, slipped the game 3-4 months and released a higher quality game. That doesn't mean I take any less responsibility for my duties on FOT and my failure to keep the FO lore as close to canon as possible. - Chris Taylor (RPG Codex forum)
- Something else that I remembered: when we (IP and MF) sat down for that original week of pre-production design, the game was strictly turn-based. We had discussed how we wanted to implement TB/RT or some sort of hybrid, and the decision was made to do TB combat only (RT until combat, just like FO1/2).
The TB combat wasn't ready in time for the 2000 E3, so we showed a quickie RT combat (as is common for those demos, much was faked under the hood). That particular demo was one of the main reasons RT combat went in. - Chris Taylor (RPG Codex forum)
- Keep in mind that the amount of testing on Fallout Tactics was tragically short. IIRC, Interplay received the first full beta/fully playable to the end on a Saturday. The following Wednesday, after one - maybe two - revs, it was sent off for mastering. That's an amazingly short amount of time (most projects have at least a month between fully playable and gold mastering, RPGs usually have longer). Myself and a few others asked for more time to do more testing and we were denied. There was a strong desire to get the game out as fast as possible by someone at Interplay. I don't think it helped that I had walked out of a marketing meeting a month or so earlier, so my opinion towards the end wasn't well received.
Additional testing time would have allowed: more bug fixes, better balancing (especially in Turn-Based, since the limited amount of testing time, most of QA was testing in real-time) and more tweaks to the game system. It would not have allowed for any major changes to the story, characters, plot and game system.
In hindsight, we should have not implemented both TB and RT. It did end up costing us a substantial amount of QA time and resources. Or, we should have kept RT only for multiplayer. That would have given us a little more time for balancing the single-player campaign.
MicroForte wasn't responsible for nearly as many problems on FOT as Interplay was. And I would be surprised at the amount of problems Interplay's QA department was able to find, except I know how hard they worked and the problems they were working against. They did as good as job as anyone could have done under the circumstances.
Of all things, I'm still bummed we never got a song in for the intro movie. I had wanted "Jesus Just Left Chicago" by ZZ Top. Chris Taylor (RPG Codex forum)
- Official Game Guide
- Armor and clothing
- Special encounters
- Fallout Tactics 2
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