I got Fallout 4 during Christmas of 2015, not too long after it was released. I played it, got sort of far through the game, and then just burned out on it. I didn’t remember much about the game, and didn’t feel very into it. It didn’t seem very memorable. And now, in March at least, I decided to pick the game back up and finish it properly. I don’t want to write a proper review to the game, because it’s 1.5 years old and no one cares now, but I can still write a post about how damn shitty it was thanks to my refresher course over the past few weeks.
In case you’ve been stuck in a real life vault somehow, Fallout 4 is a post-apocalyptic RPG (role-playing gaem) from Bethesda. You might know Bethesda from their other games, all of which have very stiff characters and tons of stupid glitches and shit. Shit clips all over the place and their games can randomly freeze, usually after you’ve forgotten to save in the past 20 minutes. Hell, in Fallout 4 I seen a rock from the “back side,” and there was no texture at all.
Half the rock had a face and texture, and the other half was invisible. That’s a stereotypical Bethesda trait right there. Nevertheless, people love their games because they offer decent role-playing and adventuring elements as well as interesting quests and storytelling (sometimes). These make up for the awful technical aspects that Bethesda games are known and “loved” for.
But Fallout 4 just sucks and here’s why. Obviously, spoilers, but if you haven’t played the game since it came out then that’s your fault.
My first gripe about the game involves what everyone sees most of the time (besides the damn Pip Boy menu): the overworld. Getting directly to the point, the overworld looks like shit. I don’t mean it looks like shit because it is a post-nuclear wasteland; that part is understandable. I mean it looks like shit because that’s how the game was designed to look. Everything is grey, dreary, and ugly looking. Plants aren’t really green; they’re sort of greyish-greenish-yellowish. Even far up in the northern terrain of the game, the world is as ugly as everywhere else. They cities and towns are junk. The sky is often covered in an ugly haze with radioactive thunderstorms half the time. You’re probably thinking “Duh, nuclear wasteland, idiot.” but still. Not everything in a post-apocalyptic world will look like shit. Having some really gorgeous terrain would contrast the shitty areas in a shocking way. Maybe away from the destruction there is a pretty forest that reminds us of what the world was like before? Nope. Grey. Shit. Everywhere.
The world looking like shit has two consequences. First off, I don’t give two shits about exploring because the world looks the same everywhere I went. In Skyrim, another Bethesda game, I could climb snowy, rocky cliffs, go look at ice floes on the Sea of Ghosts, watch animals graze in the grasslands, or see some hot springs caused by the eruption of Red Mountain to the East. There were places to go and things to look at and they gave the overworld some delicious variety. In Fallout 4 I have nuclear wasteland to explore here, and some nuclear wasteland to explore over there, and guess what?! Some nuclear wasteland over there as well! I guess the swampy shit to the south was kinda cool, and the Glowing Sea was amazing, but everything else looks gloomy and vomited out onto the screen which overkills the whole nuclear wasteland motif.
The second aspect of the world looking like shit is that you don’t care about the world because it’s a dump. Everything is a nuclear wasteland, and there isn’t much left to be enthusiastic about. Many games have you attempting to stop the end of the world; since the end of the world already occurred there doesn’t seem to be much at stake. There isn’t that pretty forest depicting life before the war, there isn’t any beauty yearning you to return the world to it’s pre-war days. It’s shit, everything is shit, so why even care? More on that later…
But what about exploring inside the places you discover in the overworld?
There’s Nothing “Special” in the Game
Nope. Those all suck too. Every building or “cave” or whatever I go inside has the same shit: enemies to shoot at, loot to haul off and sell, and a wrecked and fucked up interior. The underground areas don’t look as bad, but those only go as far as “generic underground factory” shit. Bethesda games have always had an issue with that as far as I can remember, with the interior areas you can explore seemingly very boring and copy-pasted, but The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind made it work just fine. They did this by having cool shit you could actually find in its fairly bland dungeons.
Most of Morrowind’s dungeons were shit just like Fallout 4′s except they were caves and tombs instead of buildings. The one saving grace with Morrowind was that there was cool shit you could find inside certain caves. Most of the dungeons had generic shit you’d haul away and sell, but some had overpowered and/or unique weapons/armor/spells/magic items that made dungeon diving feel useful. You really could stumble upon something special that would make your character overpowered. This isn’t the case in Fallout 4. I think there are certain special items, but they don’t feel really special. Like I might find a gun with a certain effect, but it looks the same as the other guns I have and isn’t much cooler. It’s special, but it’s still just a shitty gun to pew pew the bad guys with.
In Fallout 4, confronted with boring dungeon after boring dungeon, you simply stop caring about exploring. You won’t find anything special or interesting, and any location you happen to discover, even though there are over a hundred locations, you won’t explore because it’s all the same. Junk, ammo, enemies, and guns.
As a side note, I think I did find a few “unique” dungeons, such as Vault 81 that might’ve been interesting, but they were locked off and are only accessible through a dedicated quest. That’s good for making the quests better, but awful for exploring. Basically if I found a locked door that required a key or a special password, I’d know it was a quest location that was currently off limits.
Stupid Quests and Factions
How about the quests and the factions? As stated these can be the saving grace of Bethesda games. The Brotherhood of Steel is okay at first, but the logic they show in their factions belief system is fucking ridiculous. They want to wipe out the synthetic humans (called “synths”), not because they have a clear reason but because their scared of them and how they might be harmful to humans in the future. There are no complexities to this train of thought and it really seems to be “synths are bad, kill them.” Okay.
The Railroad (a faction dedicated to freeing synths) isn’t any better although they are the complete opposite. They believe that synths are people too! While the Brotherhood is totally anti-synths The Railroad is totally pro-synth. Now, I don’t know if a synthetic, robotic human could be considered a person or not, or if these things would be dangerous, but that isn’t my complaint here. These factions have simple, one-sided views with no subtleties or anything. Robots are either good or bad, to be saved or destroyed, and no one seems to stop and think about the larger, complex issue at all.
Another gripe about the factions and the quests is that they give you some serious responsibilities almost immediately. No one thinks twice if you’re a good fit for their faction, and you never have to “prove your worth” to the group. You show up, do a single quest, and suddenly you’re the savior of the organization and are given some ridiculous influence even though you literally just showed up a few days ago. Where the fuck does this occur in the real world? No where. You get a job and you’re stuck there for years until you can notably move anywhere in the company. According to Fallout 4, some people can get hired at a place and in 3 or 4 days be a mid-level manager, or maybe even higher up, like a director on the board! This makes the factions lose their element of immersion. You show up and you’re amazing. It’s not hard and you don’t have to do any work. You’re that special.
Then I Almost Cared…
I must admit this entire post so far was written without me making it through the main quest. Well, I finally discovered The Institute and suddenly started to enjoy the game a bit more. The Institute isn’t a fucking dump like everywhere else in the game, they seem to actually want to improve and fix the world, and that spurred me on to actually care a little.
Here I found a place that was wonderful, and it would be great if I, as part of this group, could bring this level of society to the rest of the Commonwealth! So even if the game does get better, I still have to ask why the fuck it take so long to actually become interested in the main quest. The fact that it took me twenty or thirty hours to actually give a damn is sad, and I gave up a year ago because I couldn’t bother with the game anymore.
So I finished the main quest – the meat-and-potatoes of the game – the one thing that should’ve been great, and it was just as shitty as I’d had feared. It started off sort of meh, got slightly better when I found The Institute, and then went downhill quickly as the questline drew to a close.
In case you didn’t know, the leader of The Institute is your son, Shaun, who is also a dick. The final few missions he sends you on are to assassinate an enemy faction’s leader and to totally fuck over the Brotherhood of Steel. I was hoping I could reason with him a bit (“Maybe we could let the Railroad survive, and adopt their view on Synth morality?”) but nope, Shaun said to kill their leader, and there was no other choice even though I was #2 in the entire organization. So I walked in and put a shotgun shell in her face. When I was told to wipe out the Brotherhood I tried to argue against all out war (“Maybe we should wait a bit? I don’t think they’re that big of a threat.”), but nope! “You’re wrong. Go wipe the Brotherhood out!” I had no choice other than to destroy them with the help of a giant, Communist-hating robot. Damn, it sure is cool to know that my abducted son who I was desperate to find turned into a ruthless leader on par with Kim Jong Un, with hardly any sense of morality, and no qualms against using me, his own father, as his personal pawn and assassin. I’m so proud of you son.
So anyways, the game ends, The Institute wins (in my playthrough), and nothing really happens. The main quest is just a power struggle for the overworld. That’s it. Remember in Fallout 3 when you had to fix a water purifier to help the people around Washington D.C. and you felt good for helping people? Remember in Skyrim where you had to save the world from some dragon that wanted to destroy it (for some reason) and you were a big-time hero? Remember in Oblivion when you had to save the world again from some demon dudes? Remember in New Vegas when you were stuck in a power struggle but you actually seemed to have an influence in the world and weren’t just a stupid errand boy? Yeah. Those were the good ole days…
I Just Don’t Care
By far the worst part about the game was its inability to make players give a fuck about the world. This was also a problem I had in Fallout: New Vegas but luckily the game gave you a way to not care. They had a faction in that game called The Legion who we’re basically a knockoff of ancient Rome down to their leader being called “Caesar.” They were also a terrible organization that wanted to bring the current fractured society under the wing of their Legion and even enslave everyone. My not giving a fuck about post-apocalyptic society could manifest itself by joining The Legion because they didn’t give a fuck, I didn’t give a fuck, so why not say to hell with trying to have a nice, peaceful society?
Fallout 4 doesn’t even give you that option. The world is shit – everywhere you travel is full of rubble, junk, horrible monsters, and radiation – and no one is trying to fix it. They all simply want power in the world. The world is bleak and shitty, the NPCs and factions boring and one-sided, and it’s just so hard to give a damn about the world and the people in it.
And somehow, even though the game is an “open world” game, I figured it wasn’t really, and you’d still have a limited amount of ways you can help people. Like I said, at the end of the game, nothing really changed. The organization you picked wins the power struggle, and maybe that will have some lasting effect on the world, but…who cares?
I did sort of enjoy the game, and it has its moments where it’s fun, but more often than not it felt like a chore where I wasn’t sure why I was doing anything in the game. It’s a game to keep you busy with no purpose. Gun modding was fun, and there were a few characters that were memorable (detective Valentine?), but the game had some insane ability to just make me not give a shit, and that apathy isn’t a good thing to have in a game. It leaves you with no reason to play, no reason to get involved, and in a world meant to be engrossing and interesting, you end up just being bored as hell.