On January 19th, 2014, Many A True Nerd started a new playthrough of Fallout 3. Not just any playthrough, though: his goal was to eradicate everyone from the capital wasteland.
"It was a way to make a series that I love immensely feel fresh," Many A True Nerd explained to me over email. "Fallout 3 and New Vegas are outstanding games, and I really wanted to recapture that feeling of experiencing them as if it was the first time, so I decided to play them with self-imposed rule-sets, which completely change how you approach the game."
What he means becomes immediately obvious while watching the series—while Fallout 3 lets you kill tonnes of people, the game doesn't actually want you to do that. The game wants to tell you a story! Sure, there are characters that the game simply won't allow you to kill (not that this stops Many A True Nerd from knocking these characters unconscious during his playthrough), but things get super funky when you play Fallout 3 as a serial killer of sorts.
"[Fallout 3] gives you a fair amount of freedom, but it also does have a side it clearly wants you to join, and who are identified as the good guys," Many A True Nerd said. "I wanted to see how far the plot could stretch; how would the game respond to me intentionally trying to break the plot, by constantly attacking the people it really wants me to be friends with?"
The AI doesn't always how to cope. At times, people will be psychic and can tell when you kill someone from their faction, even if they never actually saw you do it. Other times, Many A True Nerd would kill a key character, and nobody around seemed to give a shit. Kids—which the game doesn't normally let you kill—became orphans thanks to this deranged quest, and yet they're often rather friendly to Many a True Nerd's character, for example.
On some occasions, characters will care about murder sprees in strange ways—if you kill the overseer at the start of the game, for example, his daughter Amata will go "pay respects" to his body. In action, what this means is that her character will go to wherever the overseer's body is—and Many a True Nerd couldn't help but start dragging the dead body everywhere, just to have her chase him. In the first video of the series, you see him get obsessed with which specific part of his body she's programmed to follow—and in order to find out, he chops the body into pieces and tests out what she'll chase after. (It's the torso. She doesn't care about anything other than the torso. Not even his head!)
...if the premise didn't make it obvious, things get a little disturbing during the run. But that's exactly what makes it entertaining.
"The best bits have been exactly when the game surprised me," Many a True Nerd said. "In a world as big and sometimes buggy as Fallout, things I've never seen before can happen, and it accidentally creates a fantastic new experience. My ffavouritemoment was when I discovered that, for some reason, the giant robot Liberty Prime had his path tied to another character called Vargas. I had already killed Vargas, so Liberty Prime just stood their in the final mission of the game, refusing to move.
Things get a little disturbing during the run. But that's exactly what makes it entertaining.
"According to the Fallout wiki itself, that's a game breaking bug, and there's no solution other than console commands on PC. So I found a solution, by murdering members of the robot's faction until he turned on me, and then leading him into the barriers that only he can tear down.
"Quite simply, something that everybody had written off as a glitch turned that mission from a walk-in-the-park to an almost impossible challenge, and it was vastly more exciting for it. That sort of brand new experience was exactly what I was looking for."
The series is full of curious stories like this.
" ...a minor NPC called Shrapnel [is a] merchant who works in Rivet City, and he's completely unremarkable. He's involved in no quests, and isn't even the only weapon vendor in that city.
"But if you enslave the other weapon vendor, Flak, Shrapnel mysteriously leaves Rivet City and starts to wander the wasteland alone. If you run into him during combat, you realise that, for no obvious reason, the game has marked him as essential, meaning he cannot be killed. So he just wanders around in his terrible armour with his terrible gun, picking fights against vastly superior opponents, he chips a bit off their health bar, they knock him down, he jumps up and chips a bit more off their health bar, they knock him down again, and eventually he wins. He always wins, against the Enclave, and Deathclaws, and Albino Radscorpions.
"I ran into him 3 times in the wastes (and tried to kill him all three times too), so he just became part of the series' mythos. Shrapnel became an NPC who was on his own Kill Everything quest, seeking his lost companion Flak."
While the game reacts in great ways, it also helps that Many a True Nerd knows how to put on a show. In one instance during the series, he kills everyone in Megaton—and then, to rub salt into the wound, he finishes the Tenpenny quest that lets you destroy Megaton with an atom bomb. Then, he kills Tenpenny himself, because of course he does.
While the series came to an end on August 31st, you can watch it in its entirety here. The run goes through five different pieces of DLC, and the final body count comes to a whopping 3,012 dead folk.
And then, when you're done, you can start getting hyped on Many a True Nerd's next series, where he'll be playing Fallout: New Vegas with no healing and permadeath:
"It's probably impossible, but if I've learned one thing from one of my other favourite games, FTL: Faster Than Light, failing with style is a noble goal too," he mused.