I didn’t exactly grow up playing the Fallout series, but the games did play an enormous part in my early PC gaming days, namely Fallout and Fallout 2. They offered an exciting new world with ruthless tactical combat and dialogue so witty and complex that my adolescent mind understood about one third of the humor and undertones. The world felt alive, truly alive. Every action seemed to have a consequence and nothing was off the table.
You want to raid the local gun dealer? Done. You want to star in a porno? Sure, we’ve all been naked in front of a camera. Join the caravans? That works too. Basically, the amount of content the games provided both scripted – such as enthralling side missions with multiple choices and endings, twists and turns– and unscripted content like the above mentioned raid on the gun dealer, where the player is calling all the shots based on their character and their set of skills.
The feeling of exploration and freedom was and still is without equal. These games still sit at the top in my opinion. It’s almost like you could touch everything in the game; examine random piles of junk and so forth and the game would tell you what you were looking at with descriptive text prompts. The copious amount of these text prompts (which would vary based on your character’s skills and attributes) made the game for me, especially when I replayed them years later. They made you invested in everything, spruced up combat (although the visuals do a great job of depicting the action). Simply put, the original series did everything right to create a post-apocalyptic world atmosphere that was gritty, adult and interesting with an amazing amount of re-playability.
Years later, Bethesda gets their mitts on the franchise and being known for some really top-notch open world RPG games, it seemed like a good match. Information about the game surfaced as well as game play footage; “Explore the wasteland, through a First Person Perspective!”. “Holy shit, they are combining Fallout with their Elder Scrolls series.”
All the bells and whistles didn’t excite me at all. The biggest question going through my head (and many others’ I’m sure) was “How were they going to fuck it up?”. With a massive open world wasteland to explore and FPS combat, surely it would be filled with the same content and atmosphere that made the previous games so great? Not even close, but it made for a decent game.
After playing through Fallout 3 I was disappointed with most elements of the game. Not necessarily because they were bad, they just didn’t hold a candle to the previous entries. There was this strange appeal however and whilst playing I was enjoying myself with the actual game play as I was still wrecking shit, finding cool weapons and the like. There wasn’t much to complain about but it didn’t feel like a Fallout game other than having the same setting. For many this became their first Fallout game and it was praised to the heavens by the masses and this probably cemented the future of the franchise, it would never return to its roots.
Then came a twist; Obsidian Entertainment was to produce a Fallout game and it did a lot to improve on the formula presented in Fallout 3. While the game play remained the same, it was closer to an RPG again through expanded dialogue options, multiple meaningful endings and factions meaning actions once again had real consequences. Fallout: New Vegas was a better Fallout 3 in other words, it was closer to the originals while still being a fresh FPS/RPG hybrid.
That’s my recollection of what happened as well as my thoughts so far. The new games weren’t bad, they just didn’t reach the same level as the original games. Now, let us address this Fallout 4 situation and why it completely shattered the respect I had for Bethesda, because here I was thinking they would keep improving the game much like Obsidian’s New Vegas did. Bethesda had other things in mind: money.
A fair warning; I have not played this game. It’s probably a decent game in its own way. I don’t intend to find out though.
A list of things wrong with Fallout 4:
- Weapons are treated like “magical items” from any number of fantasy RPGs – who needs immersion? “My magical crowbar is better at crippling limbs than this other crowbar!” Give me a break with this shit.
- Combat was inspired by Destiny of all fucking games. Further moving away from the RPG roots and making the game a ‘shoot and loot’ game. The entire fucking world is constantly at your throat as well. “Sorry, Son. Daddy can’t get to the water distillery because the mole rats won’t stop biting his nut sack”. How did they rebuild anything in the first place? I wonder.
- Excessive focus on crafting shit. The game has you collecting trash “so you can build a brighter future!” (you have to read that part in an overly sarcastic voice). What was the thought here except that this nonsense has been a trend for a few years now? Once again, immersion and atmosphere is thrown in the garbage (only to be crafted into something else later I bet, probably DLC).
- Scripted encounters and linear story as well as a downgraded version of Mass effect’s dialogue system. Nothing is sacred, the entire backbone of the original games, fractured and broken. An obvious symptom of games becoming cinematic but hey, at least it’s all voice acted!
- Neutered character development, the game is essentially about getting the “biggest gun” and only that.
- Settlement building completely breaks immersion. They didn’t need to add this waste of time, it’s lifted straight from other games and a cheap trick for the developers to “increase” the lifespan of the game.
- Fallout “icons” plastered everywhere to make sure everyone knows that it’s still a Fallout game, for example the “Vault Boys”, “Nuka Colas” and so on. Bethesda seems to think this is enough to qualify as a Fallout game, it’s not like the original games had anything else going for them, right? Effortless, annoying PR trick which is then infinitely shared in online communities. What a fucking success story.
- The amount of bugs and glitches. This had to be on the list simply because the developers aren’t being held accountable for selling a game filled with them. A rare occasion when most seem to enjoy having been sold a broken product. Good stuff, Pete Hines!
- Immortal NPCs ruin any sense of importance and points to some very obvious flaws in the game. Why not write the game in a more complex way allowing the player to truly make their mark on the world and provide alternative solutions to missions instead of making “never fail” situations. Never mind, too much work and besides they’ve got DLCs to crank out!
That about sums up most of my thoughts on Fallout 4, a game that would be decent and fun had it not been associated with Fallout. While Fallout: New Vegas made a great effort to return to the roots it wasn’t enough to convince Bethesda how the game should have kept progressing. A business move that no one can disagree with I suppose, money is worth more than making great memorable games after all. I feel that I have to stand against it however, no matter how futile and ridiculous that is.
Recommendation: Install Fallout 2 and the fantastic “Restoration patch”. Huge shout out to the people behind that one. Hell, you could even play Fallout: New Vegas if you haven’t instead. Enjoy and happy gaming!
Alternatively, read an actual review of Fallout 4: RIGHT HERE