I hated Fallout 4.
There, I said it.
Fallout 4 came at a time in my life when I couldn’t be more enamored for a Fallout game to release. Near the limits of my attention span with Skyrim, I began to go back into the archives of Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas. These two games came out of nowhere and into my life like a Miley Cyrus wrecking ball. I was somewhat familiar with Bethesda’s games before this, being a huge fan of Morrowind’s dusty Dark Elf home world. I became immersed in Bethesda’s ability to create a world that truly felt dynamic and real.
I recently went back to play Morrowind again and nearly threw away my router for allowing me to download such a game and ruin my fond memories. I’m beginning to find that fewer and fewer games hold up their replay value. Remember Goldeneye? Don’t play it. For the love of all things holy keep the precious “Slappers Only” memories in your head and do not try to relive the glory days.
Fallout 3’s story line was such a shock to me. It was radiating (see what I did there?) with lore. As soon as you exit the vault the screen flashes white (a product of living in the underground Vault 101) one of the many nuclear fallout shelters of the vast D.C. landscape. Insert prolonged “sigh of longing” here. Okay well, the way you thought that sigh sounded was creepy, that’s not on me.
As the flash effect wears off you see a makeshift scrap-metal town in the distance: Megaton.
Off, into the great grey-green yonder. I still vividly remember travelling to the Tenpenny Tower and meeting Allistair Tenpenny. Tenpenny gives you a quest in which you have to make a pretty major decision which I will omit for purposes of spoilers. This is all within the first hour of game play.
Mosey on over to Fallout: New Vegas. You start in the sleepy desert town of Good Springs. The people there seem kind but they like to keep to themselves. You find out rather quickly that there is a group of escaped prison convicts called the Powder Gangers that want to pillage Good Springs and kill the good people there. Another decision must be made – do you help the townsfolk or the Powder Gangers? This is also all within the first hour of game play.
*Side note, you can totally see your end destination, the eponymous “New Vegas”, from a cemetery in Good Springs but SURPRISE, you ain’t about to walk that dusty trail. Instead you have to make a loop around the whole map, encountering different factions who are all vying for power in the Nevada desert. Attempting to take the shortcut to New Vegas will see you getting mauled by Radscorpions and Deathclaws. Believe me. I tried. For more than a few hours.
So what about Fallout 4? Was I excited about it? Yes. Did I make a Vault 111 vault suit for Halloween complete with homemade PIP boy? Duh. Did I download the PIP boy app and make a slot for my cell phone to go into that PIP boy thus completing my nerd simulation? Of course. Did I then wear that same costume to the midnight release of Fallout 4 at my local Game Stop? Did you even have to ask?
I was so hyped to delve into a new story in what is, undoubtedly, my favorite franchise of all time. That night I went home and downloaded whatever content you need to download to play the game. I waited on baited breath. I watched all of the time-killing cinematic and animation they put into that loading screen. When it was done, I played the HELL out of Fallout 4. I explored every nook and cranny. I beat down every raider. I built every settlement. The game is set in Boston and the surrounding area, a location I spent several of my formative years. I was excited to see what that place would look like after it was all… Nukified. I even got to explore Walden Pond, where I once went on an elementary school trip.
Very quickly, though, my excitement faded. I started to… notice things. Like how it really seemed like I was doing the same mission over and over again. Or how the combat seemed stale and lacking. The map seemed incredibly small compared to previous games. When I finally made it to Boston, I found that the city was tiny and lacked any real substance. You weren’t able to enter very many buildings.
I still enjoyed my time in the Commonwealth, but it was mainly because of the common themes that I liked from the Fallout franchise were there. The fun music, the desolation, the weird mysteries. It was enough to keep me playing through to the end of the game, but not enough for me to continue playing when the expansion content released.
You may say, “Yeah, if you didn’t love the game, why buy the expansion content?”. Which is valid, but you misunderstand. Being such a huge Fallout fanboy, I bought the season pass, meaning; I own all of the expansion content. I just don’t want to play it. Maybe in the future I’ll slog through it for the sake of updating this post, but with Red Dead 2 on the horizon, I seriously doubt it.
This is all coming over me in waves as I look at the upcoming release of Fallout 76. When I heard there was a new Fallout game, I squee’d with joy. Maybe they heard us. Maybe they are going to do it right. Then I heard there was multiplayer and I nearly fainted. I can FINALLY play a Bethesda game with my friends? Listen, don’t even bother me with that Elder Scrolls Online nonsense. I mean a real game. I mean going on Skyrim adventures with my best buddies. I mean clearing the sewers of DC with all my pals. Then the game play started leaking.
My concerns are not news to anyone who has been keeping up with this title’s release: no non-player humans, the PvP system, trolls and griefing, etc.
We’ve heard from early journalists who have played the game that despite their worries, they were “surprised by the game”. This, for some reason, is supposed to make me interested in it.
I hope I’m wrong. I hope that the game just looks like it’s going to be bad. I hope that “surprisingly good” means just that, and isn’t some veiled attempt to be kind to a developer for personal gain. In an ever changing industry there was one thing I didn’t think ever would.
War. War may never change, but Fallout certainly has.