Following the Bethesda announcements at E3, my daughter and I were talking about Fallout 4 and why some people didn’t like the game. All of the things that people complain about really don’t bother me in the least.
So I figured I’d take a look at some of the most common complaints and explain why I not only don’t have a problem with them, but why I think some of them are actual positives. Keep in mind, these are my opinions, yours may vary. Let’s get started.
Now a lot of these observations apply both to Bethesda’s Fallout series as well as their Elder Scrolls series, so I may mention both here and there.
What doesn’t bother me:
Voiced protagonist: Frankly, I just don’t care. But then again, I’m not playing this, or any game, primarily as an RPG, but as a FPS. My avatar is a means of getting through the story, not of being a focus for me to identify with. I get that I’m not playing the game for the same reason as some, even though Fallout is probably my favorite video game franchise ever. The voiced protagonist didn’t bother me a bit because he’s a character, he’s not me. I am not a 200 year old vault dweller wandering a post-apocalyptic wasteland. People need to get over themselves and stop taking games so seriously.
Lack of dialog choices: This was a huge complaint, that people wanted many, many, many more options and you were limited to 4. Some of this has to do with console support, but to be honest, a lot of it, at least IMO, had to do with more options being unnecessary. Sure, there were times when what I might have picked wasn’t among the options, but more often than not, there didn’t need to be 4 options, they could have done it in 2. And I think this is true throughout all of the Fallout games, even when you had more options, most were a complete waste of time. This is the same over in Elder Scrolls too. How many options did Skyrim need? Not as many as they had.
Lack of a universal karma system: Lots of people complain about this and it doesn’t bug me a bit. In fact, having a universal karma system is more of a problem. The fact is, you exist in a massive world, it makes no sense whatsoever for everyone in that world to have even heard of you, much less be aware of all of the details of your exploits. The idea that you do something on one side of the map and then fast travel to the other side and they’re talking about how wonderful you are is absurd. Most of them should be scratching their head and wondering who you are. But you know who should have opinions about your actions? Your companions. The people who travel with you and see your actions first hand. That’s what we see in Fallout 4, the people most invested in you are your companions and those are the people upon whom your actions have the most impact.
The graphics: Plenty of people complained about the graphics in Fallout 4, noting that they were not video realistic. So what? Fallout is a stylized game. I really don’t care about immersion, I care about fun. Fallout 4 was a hell of a lot of fun. To a certain degree, they were limited by the capabilities of the consoles and I understand that. If you have a high-end PC, there are plenty of mods that will improve the look. Deal with it.
You can’t be evil: This is true and I agree, it can be a problem, but let’s be honest, in every Fallout game, and every Elder Scrolls game too, the story is written for you to be a hero. It’s the whole purpose of the game. The expectation is always that you’re going to do the right thing. In Fallout 3, the expectation was that you’ll find your father and activate the water purifier. In Fallout New Vegas, the expectation was that you’ll defeat Caesar’s Legion and bring peace to the Mojave Wasteland. The stories are written that way and the overwhelming majority of people play that way. If you don’t, then maybe you’re just a dick. It’s like playing a law abiding citizen in Grand Theft Auto. Maybe you can do it, but that’s not what the game is about. Now granted, there is a little less latitude in Fallout 4, but you have 4 factions to deal with and you can, and in fact almost must, destroy 2 of them to complete the story. If totally wiping out 2 factions isn’t evil enough for you, you have issues.
No leveling cap: I find this to be one of the silliest complaints out there, the idea that you’ll become a god because you’ll eventually have the best armor and the best weapons and all of the perks. But by the time you get there, you’ve long since beat the game. All you’re doing is making settlements. Who cares what you can do? Even if you’re not playing with mods, even if you wander the wasteland looking for resources so you can build, your purpose is not to hunt down raiders and Super Mutants, it’s to grind for resources. I think being effectively invulnerable at that point is a positive thing. I don’t want to get jumped by a dozen ghouls when I’m trying to collect things, I want to get back to building. Really stupid complaint.
What does bother me:
Your character is too good: This is something that has always bothered me in all of the games, including Elder Scrolls, especially the more recent games. There is an expectation that you’re going to become the king of everything. In Skyrim, you are going to become the head of the Mage’s College. You are going to become the head of the Companions. You are going to lead the Thieves Guild, you are going to wipe out one of the fighting factions and kill Alduin and become a hero to all of Skyrim. It’s part of the story. The same is true in Fallout 4. You are going to be the head of the Minutemen from the very start. You are going to run the Institute if you go that way. You are going to be high ranking in the Brotherhood if you go in that direction and you are going to be high ranking in the Railroad. You don’t have the option of being average. You don’t have the option of going your own way. You are destined for greatness whether you like it or not. And it isn’t like you really have a choice. In Fallout 4, you are probably going to wipe out 2 factions, while effectively running the other 2. You are god because that’s what the games want. But I don’t hear a lot of people complaining about this. How is this not getting in the way of playing your character the way you want? What if I just want to hole up in Sanctuary, build a bunch of walls and life out my days in solitude? I can’t do that, can I? Not and play the game.
Game stability: Now I don’t know if this has anything to do with mods, but it seems to me that it happened just as much before I ever installed one. This game crashes. A lot. Sometimes, it will run for hours and hours without a glitch, others it bombs every 5 minutes. I can’t tell you how many things I’ve had to redo, how many things I’ve had to rebuild, because the game blows up in my face. Sometimes, it will just exit back to the Xbox One home screen. Sometimes, it will make horrible noises, requiring me to manually and forcibly restart the console. I’ve taken to quicksaving a lot, but I still lose gameplay now and then. In fact, that’s usually how I decide to stop playing, when the game crashes and I can’t be bothered to start it up again. I don’t remember this being an issue with any other games on the Xbox One, although I seem to remember Skyrim doing the same thing, just not as often.
Honestly, while no game is without bugs and no game is perfect, I think the problems with Fallout 4 are dramatically overstated. But then again, maybe some people have dramatically different expectations of the game than I do. It’s been out for nearly 2 years and I’m still playing. I have hundreds of hours invested into the game and it’s every bit as fun as it was the day I started it. There aren’t many games that I can say that about, including Fallout 3 and New Vegas or any of the Elder Scrolls games. When you finish those games, you go off and do something else. But with Fallout 4, you can play forever. I have games that I’ve never even played that I’m putting off because I’m so invested in Fallout 4. I have games that I want to buy that I’m ignoring because I’ve got too much to do in the Commonwealth. For all of the money that I’ve invested into Fallout, I consider it ridiculously worthwhile. I only wish Bethesda was still putting out official DLC because they’d have my money in a heartbeat. This game is that good. I don’t care what others say, it just is.