1) so the gun says it does 5-12 (or something like that) damage. why did i hit something and do 3 damage?
2) why did i get a "critical hit" and do ONE damage?
3) i've got incredibly high "unarmed" skill, does that mean i'm better off with my fists than with a knife or brass knuckles?
4) what the eff is armor class and what is it doing for me? i couldn't tell the difference between 7 and 25.
5) and what the hell are all these items supposed to do?
6) how does resting work vs. first aid vs. doctor?
7) so i accidentally started a fight, how do i get out of it without having to kill the entire raider camp?
8) and why does my wingman go running headlong into a group of 4 of them and die in 2 turns, even though i thought i told him to stay close?
9) how do i outfit him anyway? CAN i outfit him?
Note: As I answer these questions, I'm going to be indicating whether or not the information can be found in the manual and/or in-game. I'm not trying to be condescending, but as the quality of the in- and out-of-game documentation as in question, it seems worth noting.
1 & 2) Your gun's base damage, per shot, is 5 - 12. This does not reflect effects that adjust damage to the target, like the target's armor. Armor, in Fallout
, has a threshold, and a percentage reduction. For example, against normal damage, a piece of armor might be rated 4/15%. In that example, a hit from your 5 - 12 damage pistol is knocked down to 1 - 8 damage by the threshold, and reduced another 15% to a minimum of one from there. A zero damage hit would result from the threshold being higher than the damage roll from that hit. The percentage reduction can only reduce the hit's damage to one. As to your one-damage critical, your gun's damage roll came out such that, after the threshold and percentage reductions, only one point of damage got through. (This is explained both in the manual and to a lesser extent on the character screen.)
3) In Fallout
, your weapon skill affects your likelihood to hit and, in the case of guns and thrown weapons, the effective range. If you focus on your unarmed skill, you will be able to frequently hit with punching weapons, such as your fists, brass knuckles, and spiked knuckles. (This is explained both in the manual and on the character screen.)
4) Armor class is an indication of your ability to avoid being hit altogether. The number is an abstraction, not a direct percentage chance of avoiding a hit, but higher is definately better. (This is explained both in the manual and on the character screen.)
5) In your inventory, hold the right mouse down, and move the mouse up/down, until the binoculars are highlighted. Upon releasing the mouse button, the item description will open in the info panel. (This is explained in the manual.)
6) First Aid is a skill check that, when successful heals a small amount of damage. It takes time, regardless of success. Doctor is a skill check that functions similarly, except that it heals more damage and can repair wounded limbs. First Aid and Doctor can be used three times each between periods of rest. Rest heals hit point damage at a rate based on your Endurance stat. Depending on how skilled in First Aid and/or Doctor you are, resting will generally take more in-game time than healing via those skills. If you're not highly skilled with First Aid/Doctor, though, then the time eaten up by failed checks can make resting the faster means of healing. (This is explained in the manual and in-game.)
7) You can escape a fight by fleeing the map. If it's a big map, and you can manage to get outside of all enemies' awareness, before leaving the map, you can try the end combat button, below the end turn button, but be aware that most enemies will keep searching for you, once combat is ended. Generally speaking, the fight will resume, if you are found or return to the area. Random encounters don't plop a location down on the map, though, so if you flee a random encounter, you don't need to worry about getting jumped by the same group of enemies over and over again in that specific spot. (The end combat button is discussed in the manual. Fleeing the area you're supposed to be able to deduce on your own.)
8) Indicating to party members that you want them to stay close only affects their following distance out of combat. The combat AI for NPCs is pretty simplistic. The combat AI for allies is the same as the one for enemies, but your enemies have a bit of a numbers advantage, so the headlong rush is typically more effective and sensible for them than your allies. (Allies are not addressed in the game's documentation.)
9) In Fallout 1
, you can barter with your AI allies to provide them with better equipment. When combat starts, they'll select the best weapon and armor in their possession that they're capable of using. (Allies are not addressed in the game's documentation. As a side-note, Fallout 2
is a little more fully-featured, with regards to allies. In the sequel, bartering to swap out equipment is no longer necessary, and there's more robust behavior controls.)
10) You'll have to be more specific.
On the subject of in-game tutorials, Fallout 1
and Fallout 2
provide an object lesson in no tutorial being better than a bad tutorial. The Temple of Trials is the tutorial stage of Fallout 2
, and it's a giant pain in the ass. In a game that allowed for a surprising number of diplomatic solutions, the Temple of Trials was almost solely focused on combat that could not be bypassed. In a game that strongly favored the use of firearms, the Temple of Trials only made unarmed and melee class weapons available. A character well-built for the Temple of Trials would have trouble with much of the rest of the game due to the poor selection of unarmed and melee weapons, until the mid-late/late-late game, and a character well-built for the rest of the game will have a very tough time in the Temple of Trials, due to the lack of weapons more advanced than knives and spears or any means of bypassing most of the combat encounters.Fallout
, like most RPGs of its era, came with an exhaustive manual and expected you to read it or keep it around to reference, should you have questions like the ones above. That being said, it's not impossible or even all that difficult to learn the basics of the game without that documentation. I originally picked up Fallout
and its sequel as a dual-jewel bundle that Interplay released, many moons ago, without any supporting documentation included. There's ample in-game information by which to learn the game, even though it isn't presented as a tutorial. You just have to make a point to read it, as it's presented. If there's something on the character generation screen that leaves you wondering, click on it, and read the info-box. If something about combat leaves you wondering, look at your own character's stats, and you can probably figure out what's going on upon closer inspection.
's difficulty curve may come across as harsh, but that's a separate issue. It's true that the random encounter system pulls no punches, particularly in the early game, and particularly if you've a low outdoorsman skill. You're not meant to win every fight that the random encounter system can throw at you, early on. Most of those possible encounters, though, involve enemies that must close to melee range before attacking, and unless you've deliberately nerfed your character, you can either run fast enough to get away without them getting an attack in (or you can run fast enough to kite them all over the map, whilst taking pot shots, until everything is dead, and you're two levels ahead of what the next few areas expect you to be.)
In short, Fallout
won't coddle you, but it will certainly make sure you have the information you need to be successful.