Hi, sorry for the tl;dr post, but I'm eager to give some feedback to you guys!
First off, I'd like to congratulate the whole team on this great achievement. I never thought that after nearly twenty years I would again experience the joy of playing a classic Fallout game without knowing what lies ahead. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for this. Just last night I finished the game so I wanted to share my thoughts and experiences and, hopefully, offer some constructive criticism.
My first game was, for the most part, good karma oriented. I did do a couple of slightly dubious quests at the very beginning, but after having to choose between helping Sanchez and the ghouls it became clear to me that this was not a game where you could work, Yojimbo-like, for both conflicting parties and still expect to solve all the quests. Some characters (Benicio, Kraig) even warn you that accepting to side with them will limit your options with the other party. For this design choice I wholeheartedly salute you. Every quest has an "evil" twist to it, so with that in mind, and with the option to join different factions, I can't wait to replay the game as a different character.
Unfortunately, doing a "noble" play-through meant that my character missed out on all the juicy Dead quarter hospital upgrades. I find the surgeons' practices to be despicable and I just had to kick their asses, for poor folks' sake. This left me with tens of thousands of caps that I didn't have much use for, as I could already trade the loot me and my NPC's were lugging around for all the gear that I want. Having a different, goody-two-shoes exclusive, upgrade available would be fun and would give you something to invest the caps into (it wouldn't even have to be stat increase). Still, I understand how this may have been intentional, what with a selfish character reaping more advantages than an emphatic one. Hmm, maybe I should donate all that cash to Rat Hole's church or something.
While I think that having to choose mutually exclusive sides in this game is a great feature, in one or two instances it would have been better to leave the player's options a bit more open, I think. For example, in the Empire quest involving a dweller named Cole, if you do not choose to side with the guard the first time around, you cannot report Cole afterwards even after you make him confess to the murder. I guess that, if you do not help the guard immediately, the game recognizes that as siding with Cole - only at that point, you are still not sure whether Cole is really a killer or not! Being able to "double cross" Cole after you learn the truth would not give you any extra rewards, so I don't see why the option would not be there.
I see that a lot of players are having problems with game difficulty. I found the beginning of the game to be the hardest. You have to be very careful while managing your limited resources (I had to use the crappy Zip gun and go around with no armor till nearly the end of Rat Hole storyline). I thought this was very well done. The random encounters with ghouls and mutants are difficult, but once you read all those Scout handbooks, that ceases to be a problem. I like how outdoorsman is a VERY useful skill as it allows you to avoid most of the difficult encounters.
It's also nice how traps and sneak are not completely useless in this game. I never spent a single skill point on sneak in Fallout 1 or 2, but here you can use it to give yourself an additional edge in the Anonym confrontation or sneak past the guard on Rebirth base's level 6. Very good! It would be even better if you needed to sneak in order to empty some of the "guarded" lockers in the game. As everyone else already noted, most critters are too forgiving when you try to take their belongings (although, to be fair, this was often the case in the original two games). Another instance where using sneak would have been nice is the Corath quest where you have to spring out the prisoner from the jail.
I also like how most of the traps, when set off, will destroy the contents of the trapped container. It makes the skill more useful as you can't get the loot without it. Wouldn't hurt to have a few more traps in the game, though.
The game locations are great, rich in content, well thought out, etc. One area that I had a slight problem with was PROGEMA*. Don't get me wrong, I loved the place BUT... it is too short. We know that there are more levels below the few that we can access. It would have been great to be able to explore it all. This is the only time I had to consult this forum for help, as I sincerely thought that I missed something when I could not go to level 3 and below. I know that not being able to explore everything is more realistic, but I still felt a bit disappointed. Other than that, the area progression and quest design are superb. I solved 56 quests and never needed any advice or help from the Internet. Even though it wasn't always easy, everything made sense and flowed naturally for me.
I love the new weapons. Being mostly a small gun specialist, my favorites were the Annihilator shotgun, DKS-501 Pistol and Kriss Super V SMG which I used to confidently blow Power Armored people to bits. I never needed another combat skill.
The NPCs are AWESOME. I loved chatting with them and hearing what they have to say. Shame there aren't more of them, though. Vodka would have been a great companion, I think (or maybe there is a way to recruit him???). The moment when my NPCs told me that I look like shit after my IN went to 3 (as the after-effect of Mentats use) was pure brilliance.
Some of the things that I thought could have been done a bit better are:
-The part where you get to control the robot in PROGEMA. I loved that bit but it seemed a little clunky. When you open your inventory, you see your main character's model and if you try to go to combat things get a bit buggy. It would be better to lock some of the options in the regular interface for the duration of this sequence, although I don't know if the engine will allow that.
-While I agree that the "rest until healed" option was a tad cheap in the originals, having some sort of alternative "wait" function would be very useful. While in most locations you can rent a room, as far as I know there is no place in the Rebirth base where you can safely wait. This is annoying because it means that, in order to wait for the Gauss rifle to get made, you have to go outside of the base and run around the world map for 24 hours. In this case and in some others (like waiting for 23:00h to meet with one of the kidnappers in Sedit) it would be beneficial to have a dialog option to wait, like the one you have with the Corath undertaker. Oh, and Corath could use a safe spot for rest as well.
-I don't care much for the HiRes settings so I played the game in the original resolution, but some maps still show those ugly black boarders. I know that this is nitpicking and that it would take too much work to correct this minor aesthetic issue, but I still wish that those boarders were not there.
-While I like the idea of having a sort of outlaw zone near the "official" city, I still find that the way Lost town connects to Sedit is a bit... strange? Why is Senor Rodriguez so hell-bent on evicting Rene and his women? I get that he's a criminal and that everybody hates ghouls, but they are not exactly located on his turf and they do nothing to cramp his dealings, as far as I know. Also, how can it be good for Mr Rodriguez's business to be in such a hard-to-get-to location? Doesn't it limit his customers?
-The main villain is a bit underwhelming. It would have been cool if he had a unique sprite (I'm spoiled I know) and if his real motivation was a bit more developed... With that in mind, I still have to say that I DO appreciate the irony of his real origins.
-You need to make a female model for the end-game animation. My character was a girl and I got treated to a video of some guy in a vault suit walking away into the desert. Fallout 1 had this animation and so should 1.5! Other than that, every character in the game recognized my PC as a woman and gave the appropriate dialog. Even in the official games, some NPC kept referring to my female character as a man, so kudos for that. Although, the pseudonym that my character used in the Rebirth base was a bit... strange? Max? Not sure that is gender neutral. Might want to go for something else for female characters.
-The status list can get buggy if you complete too many quests in one area. I’m pretty sure that this problem was fixed in Killap's unofficial patch, so it shouldn’t be too difficult for you guys to correct this.
-I know this will never happen, but some of the characters would make great talking heads. Scott the glowing ghoul is particularly hilarious.
And that's all I can remember for now. I plan on doing, at the very least, two more playthroughs - one with a completely evil melee/unarmed specialist and one with a big, stupid (IN 3) big guns/energy weapons user. I may wait for the next update to start that, so any ATA on version 1.5?
With everything else out of the way, I have to say again that your game blew my expectations to bits. It is every bit a worthy sequel to the originals and its strongest points are precisely those elements that make up a great CRPG.
Below is my character sheet from the very beginning and the very end and of the game
(This printed out version is slightly incorrect - my Imperial City reputation is Idolized and my sequence is 12. I never messed with any character editors so I have no idea why it does not show correctly when you print it out???):
*Btw, is it possible to get the location of PROGEMA from somewhere, other than just going there? I assume that you can get it if you joined the Mutant hunters which I didn't do. Even if that's not the case I actually don't have a problem with that because I think that just turning "left" of Albuquerque is an absolutely hilarious Bugs Bunny reference.