Fallout and the splendid sound of silence

fallout3xbox360“Speak to Colin Moriarty”. It was the task that will always define Fallout 3 for me. As I traversed the wasteland in search of high adventure, there it was, always sitting at the top of my quest log.  It was at around the 60 hour mark I finally made my way to Moriarty’s Saloon, took a seat at the bar next to a lady of the night, and used my way with words to convince Moriarty to tell me the whereabouts of my father.

And then the true adventure began.

But I joke about the time it took to speak to Moriarty because it, in a lot of ways, defines my long and enduring relationship with Fallout 3.  So captured by the Capital Wasteland that simply existing in it was enough, so much so that hours were spent traipsing aimlessly about the wasteland, taking in the sights and the sounds.  It would be weird to call Fallout 3 some sort of escapism from the vicissitudes of everyday life, because it was hardly a beacon of light for humanity, but in some ways it became the game I’d go to merely to exist and explore somewhere other than the here and now.  To get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

If you’ve ever driven along an empty country road alone, no other cars in sight, you’ll know just how soothing spending time in your head with just the radio and the road for company is.  Fallout 3 recreates this feeling almost perfectly with walks in nature to the soothing tunes of the Ink Spots or Billie Holiday proving to be a veritable dalliance with luxury in a world that can barely offer them to its inhabitants.  Because those moments of respite, when you’re not fighting for your life against the men and mutants that want to take it from you, are some of the most relaxing video gaming has to offer.

More than once I found myself finding a seat alongside an irradiated lake or an abandoned cabin next to a collapsed freeway and just sitting.  Sitting and starting at the screen watching the world go by.  Watching the occasional crop of dust fly by or a stranger with his lone brahmin walking alone a dusty trail way off in the distance.  Because amongst all of the despair humanity brought upon itself and if you look closely, past the derelict buildings and the mutilated corpses, post-apocalyptic Earth is a beautiful place.

After the hours upon hours spent in the decrepit former capital of the United States, I felt as though I was actually the long wanderer.  I was the guy that rigged the election in the Republic of Dave.  I was the guy that ended poor Harold’s life in Utopia. But more importantly for me, it was me walking around in my own company, watching the sunrise and sunset. It was me enjoying the silence of the wasteland.  And as I looked I up at the stars it was easy to forget that humanity was on its last legs.  And that for me was some kind of bliss.  Who knew the end of the world could be so relaxing?