You then jump forward a year later to the age of a toddler, where you use a basic movement tutorial to crawl out of your playpen and access the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. book--a book that lets you choose your character's abilities by way of the classic attribute system from the Fallout games (strength, perception, endurance, charisma, intelligence, agility, and luck). You then jump ahead nine years to your 10th birthday, at which point you gain the ability to speak with other characters (such as the other children at your birthday party) and use the PipBoy 3000 portable wrist computer, which is given to you by the vault's "overseer," or head administrator. The PipBoy acts as a journal, status indicator, and quest log that will help you keep track of any tasks you need to perform. You'll even get to take on a few rudimentary quests at your party or just watch the many-armed robot of the future, Mr. Handy, mangle your birthday cake with one of its buzz saw-arm extensions. Later, you'll be whisked away to additional tutorial areas, such as a target range, where you can practice the game's real-time first-person shooter combat.
We then skipped ahead to a few different areas in the main game, including a random encounter that all players will face. In a sprawling junkyard scene, two desert raiders have assaulted and killed a nameless man, leaving his feisty canine companion to fend for himself. The dog is none other than Fallout's Dogmeat, the swift-moving, loyal, pugnacious pooch from the original 1997 game. After disposing of the raiders yourself, you can invite Dogmeat to join you, and from then on, although you can't have any meaningful conversations with him or have him carry a ton of inventory, you can give him plenty of orders, such as having him go out to search for food, medicine, or even fallen weapons (if there are none nearby, Dogmeat will disappear for an hour or so of in-game time before returning). You can also praise or scold him--this won't affect his morale or loyalty, though it will reflect whether your character is naughty or nice--but more on that later.
We then jumped ahead to a different sequence where we were explored a ruined tenement infested by feral ghouls. Those familiar with Fallout lore will remember that "ghoul" is just a term used to describe any human that has been exposed to such severe amounts of radiation as to become severely deformed physically, but feral ghouls have actually lost their minds and have become aggressive animals. Their deadlier brethren, "glowing feral ghouls," have an unhealthy fluorescent green glow that sets off your PipBoy's Geiger counter and eventually make your character extremely ill if you let them zap you with their radiation-based attacks. Feral ghouls are extremely swift and vicious, leaping at you with tremendous speed. We dealt with them primarily using real-time combat, using the old Fallout favorite 9mm submachine gun, which did a good job of inflicting lots of damage when fired in bursts. A few times, we watched as combat switched to the turn-based VATS mode, which lets you target various body parts on your enemies (as in the original Fallout games). In these cases, the final shots to our enemies were delivered in dramatic slow motion, sometimes even turning the ghouls' limbs and skulls into bloody pulp (though we're told that the infamous Bloody Mess perk, which causes everyone around you to die spectacularly, looks even more insane in practice).
Looks to be promising. Though I hope it offers lots of extra gameplay than the main quest. 20 hours alone isn't much, but I hope the dozens of extra hours of side quests adds up!