Tag Archives: Boring

Political Propaganda and the Illinois Tax Amendment of 2020

The Most Boringest Post I’ve Ever Written…

Do you know what I’m going to bitch about here? Taxes. Yes, taxes. I might bitch about social media propaganda as well. Yay, right? Taxes, that thing that is as inevitable as death, the thing that got Al Capone tossed in jail because he avoided paying taxes, that thing that stresses everyone out at the beginning of each year because no one understands the US’s complicated and intricate tax law. Taxes. Yay.

Poor Phyllis. Strange that AARP is supporting the “Tax Hike Amendment”…

I thought I had a good segue lined up here, but I don’t. Anyways, lately on Instagram I keep seeing sponsored posts like this one. Something about Stop the Illinois Tax Hike Amendment. First off, this is unsettling because a few months ago I jumped ship from Facebook to get away from all the political shitposting/propaganda only to be greeted by this on Instagram. Luckily, this does seem isolated and for the most part Instagram is what you’d expect it to be; people posting pictures. Facebook has totally devolved into a political shit-tossing dump and even if it’s useful 10% of the time, the other 90% consists of people posting politically motivated shit in bad-faith arguments to ‘convince others’ about something that’s usually so dumbed down and logically flawed that it’s hard not to comment something picking it apart. Then the winds of shit really start blowing, Rand.

This Instagram image done got me all hyped up and pissy. Why? A bunch of reasons. The use of ‘trigger terms’ to make you think one thing. The poor old lady not wanting to pay more taxes. Something about “new powers to tax anyone at will.” Okay. The first thing about whatever this ad is trying to push is that it sounds too terrifying. No one wants higher taxes, duh, so why wouldn’t we all vote ‘no’ on whatever amendment it’s talking about? Hell, why did the Illinois State even put something so obviously dumb on the ballot for November when it’ll obviously be shot down by 90% of voters?

Oh wait, it’s because this image is flat-out propaganda sponsored by those who don’t want this amendment to pass, likely rich-ass Illinoisans. What does this amendment actually do?

Illinois, the state I reside in, has a simple flat income tax of 4.95%. Everyone is taxed at this rate no matter their income. I must admit it’s nice come tax time — you subtract any deductions, bust out a calculator, multiply your taxable income by 4.95% and, bam, there’s your tax rate — but this flat rate seems strange. If you look at the federal income tax, it’s a graduated tax, meaning the tax rate depends on your income, while our state has a flat rate. According to Ballotpedia, 11 other states have a flat income tax rate. Hmmm, that’s a strangely low number.

Speaking of Ballotpedia, they have a ton of information on this proposed amendment and if you’re a curious Illinois resident, check it out, do some research. It’s also interesting to see how the two sides speak about this amendment. The supporters, mostly democrats, have a PAC named “Vote Yes for Fair Tax,” while the oppositions, republicans and farmers, have PACs named “Say No to More Taxes” and “Coalition to Stop the Proposed Tax Hike.” Notice how one side claims ‘fairness’ while the other side claims ‘higher taxes.’ These are two totally different arguments. Will this amendment raise taxes? Maybe. Is it fair? Maybe. But these aren’t mutually exclusive.

Here’s a photo of the actual sample ballot and question regarding the proposed amendment. Surprisingly, it does a good job explaining what the hell the amendment actually does.

This doesn’t sound as bad as I was led to believe…

All this does is eliminate the requirement for a flat tax rate in the Illinois constitution. Is that fair? I don’t know, that depends on your view of taxation, but most other states do it this way. Is it going to raise taxes? Yeah, probably, but you’d also assume people with higher incomes, like really high incomes, are going to be taxed to death by Illinois while lower income households might see a small or moderate decrease. Is this good or bad? Well, it depends on what you think is good and bad.

My point here is that this is a subtle thing being voted on in a few months. It’s not the clear cut and dry “higher taxes!” that whatever PAC plopped this fucking ad up on Instagram is claiming. In my opinion the ‘fairness’ argument is a bit better because most people probably do feel that higher income households should pay more, but whatever. I was going to talk about that here, but that seems like it’d just make this an even messier rant. Maybe another time.

In a way this singular ad is representative of what is wrong with our current politics. An ad, one shitty ad on social media funded by people with money, can make people believe one thing when it is nowhere near true or accurate. They toss out a few trigger terms and bad words like ‘higher’ and ‘taxes’ and people immediately foam at the mouth, forming opinions from biases without even looking deeper than their Instagram/Facebook feed. That’s it. They’ll walk into the polling station, vote ‘no,’ possibly against their own benefit, just because something told them that “voting yes” will mean their taxes will go up. Like Billy Bob making $20k a year is going to be taxed at the same 20% that multimillionaires will be taxed at. No, probably not. But he didn’t do any goddamn research and follows right along with what is being spoon-fed to him by people that actually have reason to oppose the amendment.

My entire point is “Don’t be an ignorant voter.” When you see a political ad on social media or anywhere that claims something fucking ridiculously awful, look into it. Honestly I had no idea what this tax amendment was until I saw a ‘vote no on higher taxes’ ad and looked into it. Was Illinois trying to raise taxes? Was it really called “The Tax Hike Amendment?” No one would be that stupid to raise taxes with an amendment named that. When I found the actual proposal, I found nothing wrong with it. “Hey, wait, this is to eliminate the flat-tax rate. Fuck, I like that idea!” I’ve been telling everyone I know what the amendment does and suggesting they vote ‘yes’ on it. I guess that’s the end of my rant. Just don’t be a fucking troglodyte and do your fucking homework. Things you vote on do have real consequences, so go to the voting place knowing something. Don’t see the word ‘tax’ and vote no just because ‘tax’ is a scary word. Don’t think everyone in the government is trying to pilfer your wallet (but be wary at all times!). Don’t let social media sway your goddamn opinions. Google things, read about them, learn a little about taxes, fucking educate yourself.

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing.

Or my Facebook page where I don’t do much of anything at all, but I do appreciate more followers.

Rockford Sucks: A Love-Letter to my Home Town

Rockford is one of those cities that’s hard to explain to other people. It’s not an important city like Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit, or any other “big name” cities you’ve heard of. You can’t mention Rockford, Illinois to someone and have them understand what you’re actually talking about. Is Rockford a classy, small town in Illinois? A larger college town with a fancy economy supported by the mass of college kids in the fall and spring? An old, rundown, ex-industrial town like Pittsburgh? What exactly is Rockford? Hell, even people understand something upon mentioning “Omaha, Nebraska” as bland of a place as that actually is; Rockford is somehow even blander. Rockford doesn’t mean anything and it’s hard to explain something when it really isn’t anything at all. I can tell you what Rockford isn’t and that would be easier than describing what it is. Rockford is a lack of character. A shell in a way.

Rockford is close enough to Chicago to be described by it (“Rockford is close to Chicago…”) but far enough away for it to not really mean anything. Rockford is about 30 minutes away from the outer suburbs of Chicago like Elgin and Schaumburg and the miles of farmland in between excludes it from being a Chicago suburb. Sadly, Rockford would be more notable in this way. Rockford isn’t like Peoria, Moline, or Champaign where it’s its own shitty, solitary city, but isn’t close enough to Chicago to be a suburb. This leaves it in it’s own unique category of being “sorta near Chicago” but not actually part of the Chicago ecosystem.

Hell, we even renamed our airport years ago “The Chicago/Rockford International Airport” because being sixty miles away from Chicago still requires our airport to be named something-Chicago-something to be “notable.” Our airport, despite the name, has nothing to do with Chicago at all, except serving as a convenient location for diversions given heavy storms around the Chicago O’Hare Airport. That’s it.

Rockford is one of those derelict midwestern cities that has its days of glory well past it. The neighborhood I grew up in was surrounded by large and abandoned factories and buildings, and as a kid I always wondered what exactly was in them. I’m talking buildings that take up numerous city blocks that are five or six stories tall: what was left in their remnants? They weren’t being used anymore, but surely someone owned them? What was left in their carcasses? Most of the lower windows had long been shattered and boarded up after bored and mischievous teenagers busted them all out with rocks; you couldn’t even look in and see what the interior was like. The unbusted and boarded windows on the third story and above were obviously impossible to look through. These buildings always mystified me, long-dead symbols of something that Rockford used to be decades ago. Something that it wasn’t any longer.

Apparently the city used to be a heavily industrialized city, and I was told (I’m not sure about the factual basis here) that during the Cold War the Soviets even had our quaint and shitty city targeted by their ICBMs; decades ago Rockford used to be important enough that someone on the other side of the planet felt it needed to be destroyed in a nuclear first-strike against the USA. That’s something right? Sadly (not sadly?), this isn’t the case anymore. I was never concerned for a 9/11-style terrorist attack because of Rockford’s total lack of notability. If anyone wanted to make news, they’d hit a high-profile target. Not Rockford. Communism is long gone and no one feels the need to hurl nukes at Rockford anymore.

Rockford does have a few notable things about it though, if you could call them that. You might’ve heard of the Rockford Peaches, the female baseball team depicted in the Tom Hanks’ film A League of Their Own. You can even see the nearly-forgotten ticket booth that still stands near the river in a fairly run-down and shady looking neighborhood. The actual baseball diamond has long since been demolished and turned into a school. But the ticket booth still stands next to a bunch of shitty houses and small businesses in a neighborhood you probably wouldn’t want to linger in for too long.

I could’ve driven down here and took my own picture, but I also didn’t want to be bothered doing so. It’s not that big of a deal and it’s cold outside. Google Maps works just fine. Image from Google (obviously).

Rockford is also known for Sock Monkeys. No one ever explained to me why this was a thing. And I don’t want to read up on why it’s a thing either.

Cheap Trick, a fairly famous rock band popular in the 70s and 80s also came from Rockford. Strangely I’ve never really listened to them. In fact I feel less inclined to listen to them because they came from Rockford, like I feel pressured to be a fan because of the city I live in or some shit. Their most famous work is At Bufokado (really At Budokan but my attempt at spelling it as “Bufokado” was hilarious enough to leave in place) which actually is a pretty decent album. As for the rest of their discography? I have no idea. At Bufokado was good at least. All I do know is Rockford — the city, the actual government apparatus that is Rockford — felt that Cheap Trick was notable enough to plop signs up of them randomly around the city. I’m especially aware of the one on Spring Creek Road. It shows a bunch of old musicians with Rick Nielsen, their guitarist, looking like a fucking immature kid. Like that’s his look or something. With the stupid guitar with the five necks to it for some reason. He always has this goofy smirk on his face and something about him is immensely punchable (maybe he isn’t that bad). Cheap Trick. Rockford. Yay.

CHEAP TRICK!!1!!1 I’m kinda tempted to find the signs depicting the other band members — like a Rockfordian scavenger hunt — and since I’m a Good Rockford Residence and kinda a nerd for random classic rock knowledge, let me name the other three members: Bun E. Carlos, Tom Peterson, and Robin Muthafuckin’ Zander. Did I get them right? I don’t know.

Note: Rick Nielsen looks even worse when he was sporting a beard/goatee thing. Everything about that look oozes child molester. I don’t know how he ever thought that was a good look for him. Go Google it.

OOoo and before I forget, Fred VanVleet, a big basketball player dude, also grew up in Rockford. He won the 2019 NBA Championship playing with the Toronto Raptors. Yay? I mean cool for him, great job!, but who gives a shit that he grew up in Rockford? It doesn’t make Rockford any cooler; it’s not Rockford that made him win the NBA Championship.

The biggest thing Rockford has going for it (if you could call it that) is the aforementioned and terribly-titled Chicago/Rockford International Airport. UPS set up a fancy air hub back in the 90s — supposedly UPS’s second-largest sort facility — which drove literal tons of cargo volume to the airport. In the past few years Amazon has also begun setting up shop at the field and appears to rival UPS in the package delivery business. While air cargo companies don’t make the biggest news, the airport is rather lively, employing thousands of people to sort, ship, and load packages onto airplanes. In a city of 150,000 (as the sign on West State Street claims it to be at least) package and cargo companies might employee perhaps 1 or 2% of the entire city’s population. While no one really knows about it, the Rockford Airport Chicago/Rockford International Airport is a large cargo airport, one of the largest in the US (according to the link, the 19th largest. Well…). This is probably helped by the total lack of passenger and airline traffic allowing cargo companies to have the airport all to themselves. As the meme goes, it’s ain’t much but it’s honest work. It’s also where I work. (Surprise)

It is the popular and chic thing to talk total shit about Rockford. Everyone who lives here rips on the place nonstop. You can’t help but understand them to some degree. Rockford, as I’ve described, is kinda a black hole of nothingness. There is nothing notable about this place at all besides a few kinda random bullshit things. Old, derelict buildings. An old baseball team they made a movie about. The goddamn infernal sock monkeys. Fred VanVleet. AND CHEAP FUCKIN’ TRICK! It is your typical, bland, and unremarkable midwestern city seemingly well past its prime with nothing for its citizens to be proud of. You can’t make a career here outside of retail and customer service. Even if you find a cushy upper-management job in Rockford you’d almost certainly be working in customer service. Even shipping packages is another form of customer service. To really make something of your life you need to escape, at least to attend a college or a university, only returning with a degree to do something semi-notable.

But outside of all of this, what else does someone want from a city? I really think while some other cities are nicer, have more “going on,” have some semblance of a “scene,” especially in their downtowns, they’re all more or less the same. Sure, while Madison might be nicer, it isn’t some Eden-tier paradise to escape to. I don’t think any city is perfect, and while some are much better than Rockford by whatever metrics you want to measure, who actually gives a shit? While I hate Rockford just as much as the next Rockfordian, I guess I realize that it is home to me. These bombed-out, potholed roads are my bombed-out potholed roads. And the shitty Walmarts that constantly smell like marijuana? Well, they’re my pot-filled Walmarts. The forgotten husks of factories gave my childhood some mystery to think about. The bike path along the river, the lighted Morgan Street Bridge, the uneventful and dead downtown, the bums on the corners begging for money, and the drunkards stumbling around on the roads at 11 p.m., well, it’s all home to me.

Hotel Rooms Suck

I’m currently out of town and sitting around totally bored in a hotel room. I really don’t want to write a blog post or anything but there is literally nothing else to do so why not try to be productive? After this I’ll probably try to work on some stories or something. While I don’t exactly know where this post is headed I’m going to write it anyways. This has never before been attempted on the Everything Sucks blog!

It’s already uncomfortable enough being in a city that you’ve never been in. In this case it’s Waterloo, Iowa (yay…). And it’s also discomforting knowing that the city you’re currently in which you’ve never been in before is also exactly the same as nearly every other city you’ve been in. Even though you’ve drive hundreds — even thousands of miles — across the wide open expanses of the United State of America, you always find yourself in the exact same places that you’ve already been. Our current hotel is situated less than a mile from a mall, a Target, a CVS, a handful of other hotels, a handful of gas stations, and a handful of restaurants. You already know those too: Applebees, Olive Garden, Burger King, McDonalds, Arbys, and so on.

This is America. Seriously. Zoom in on any city and its “business section” and you’ll find the same general theme of businesses. Coast to fucking coast…

My point here is that while being holed up in a hotel room is boring, you also can’t go outside and find anything else that isn’t boring. There’s no culture to explore and discover. This city is the same city I live in even if it has a different name. The streets have different names and everything is laid out differently but it’s the exact same city I’m used too: there just isn’t anything new out there and it’s not like I’m in a different country or anything. For all purposes Iowa and Illinois are exactly the same thing. No new and exciting accents, geography, or anything. Not even a new time zone.

Hotel rooms are fit nicely into this because they’re all exactly the same too. Each room of a hotel is superficially the same layout, even if one room is a mirror image of the room next to it. Each room has a shower, bed, sink, a bunch of mirrors (to make the room look bigger I’m assuming), and usually a table or a desk with a “work chair” or something like that. These rooms are cookie-cutter rooms that you’re just meant to sleep in because there isn’t much else you can do in them. Besides type bored blog posts that is.

Work in progress on “The Work Desk” feature of every hotel room.

They’re also surprisingly devoid of life as well. When you go into people’s houses or rooms they each have their own design, layout, and unique smells. People usually have their belongings/clothes/artwork/pictures/junk around that makes these places feel “lived in” and alive. Hotel rooms feel clinically clean and totally devoid of life even if they are, microbally, diverse and thriving (eww). It’s strange because the room I’m in has also been lived in by countless other people over the years and I don’t even want to think about how many babies were conceived and how many STDs were contracted on the mattress I’m laying on right now. But even knowing the amount of people and “stuff” that has actually occurred where I’m at there are no signs of anything really. It’s as clean and bland as a doctor’s waiting room. Hell, even more so as our room doesn’t have the classic “doctor’s office artwork” on the walls. A hotel room is probably the blandest living space you can find in our society.

I’m also staying at a fucking Motel 6 which is about as bottom of the barrel as you can get in terms of lodging. This is partly due to procrastinating the reservation as well as being fucking cheap. I’m notoriously cheap! A hotel room is just a place to sleep when you’re away from town and I’m not trying to stay at a place with a “fitness room” or a place that offers a “free continental breakfast” which I’m never awake in time to attend anyways. A room is a room and a bed is a bed and so be it. Anyways, Motel 6 is stupidly cheap and you can tell this from the room I’m in: this place isn’t trying to lie about its cheapness or to pamper you at all. Hell, it doesn’t even have a coffee maker which I’ve assumed was standard in all hotel rooms. This makes the room feel even more “hotely” than usual, once again pointing to the lack of stereotypical “hotel art” on the walls. These walls are bare: there is literally nothing on them besides the white and brownish-orange paint on the walls.

Next to our cheap Motel 6 is a Holiday Inn Express, and while not a 5-star place itself it is much higher up on the hotel food-chain than our Motel 6 is (Their rooms are around $90 per night while ours were around $70). In fact the building itself is higher up with its four floors overlooking our paltry two floors. Sometimes I will look out the window and see curious Holiday Inners curiously glancing out — and downwards, metaphorically and physically — into our Motel 6 rooms. And hey, I’m looking right back at them as well, a kinda passive curiosity exchanged between us. I ask in my imagination to them, “Hello, fellow traveler, what exactly are you doing in Waterloo, Iowa of all places? Are you on a business trip or are you on vacation with your family? Is this hellhole your actual destination or are you headed for more elaborate locations in the USA? Are you stopping for the night on a long journey to the West Coast or are you heading out East? Perhaps to see New York or Washington? Niagara Falls? Or maybe the Grand Canyon?” Then again maybe the man looking down on me from over there is just picking up a prostitute for the night. Who knows. I’m imaging them wondering the same thing about me as well: Who is this guy sitting in a rolly-chair with a hat on at 8 p.m.? Why is he rolling around in his hotel room in said chair? Why does he look angry? And what is he typing on his computer and why is he taking pictures of his hotel room? And why the fuck does he keep looking up at me and then typing something on his computer?

(Note: I also doubt that anyone is staying in Waterloo during a transcontinental adventure. Waterloo, IA doesn’t even have a giant interstate running through connecting anything important. 380 connectes Cedar Rapids to Waterloo but doesn’t really do much other than that. Why anyone is here is anyone’s guess.)

I’m new to staying in hotel rooms and usually only deal with them for the rare vacation and then only for a few days at most. I’m imaging the people who stay in these lifeless boxes frequently, like pilots, business travelers, musicians, etc. and I wonder what the hell they think of these places. I don’t even know what jobs require you to frequent these bland, all-the-same-but-kinda-different rooms and buildings, but it almost seems like it would be draining in a way. Like if you stay in these rooms for too long you go crazy. I’m thinking like the movie Fight Club or in the Stephen King stories 1408 or The Shining where the hotel room/hotel itself is haunted. Hotel rooms seem to have some mystery to them simply because they’ve been around for so long and have had so many people stay in them. Over time there’s bound to be something crazy happen in them. But maybe that’s the wrong outlook and that some people find these rooms comforting in a way. As all the rooms are the same I could seem them turing into “home” for the frequent traveler; a little slice of comfort and familiarity to come home to in the total blandness of them. Like if you stay in bland and drab rooms long enough you start to find them comforting in a way. Like you find yourself used to and comforted by the neutered lamp-on-desk, undecorated white walls, and wrapped up single-ply toilet papers. The white, undecorated towels. Not to mention the little shampoo bottles as well! As for me, luckily they’re only boring, even if they are intensely boring. I’m just trying to pass the time here. I’m not returning to just another hotel room on a month’s long job assignment, nor am I terrified that the room is haunted or that I’m losing my mind. Maybe boring isn’t so bad after all.

Fallout 4 Sucks

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.

Fallout 4_20170404150135

My coat slicing through my wrists as I relax.

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.

Ugly Overworld

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.

Fallout 4_20170404145520

Looking North from some bridge. At least the sky looks nice.

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.

Fallout 4_20170404150738

Hanging out at The Institute. It doesn’t look like shit.

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.

…Almost

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.

Fallout 4_20170404145405

The flaming wreckage of the Brotherhood of Steel. This means you’ve won!

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.

Fallout 4_20170402114725

This is probably the best part of the game IMHO.

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.