Fallout 4- An exercise in wasted potential

For all you game loving people out there, I’m sure most of you’ve played fallout 4 at some point in the last few years. After all, It’s yet another installment of Bethesda’s giant wander round collect all the things and occasionally shoot things game of the year!

Having played oblivion and skyrim for so long, I was instantly filled with the realisation that it more of the same. They could have done something really cool with the franchise. You get ushered into some vault and frozen for over 200 years. Next thing you know you’re waking up and someone takes your baby and ends up killing your spouse. you go back to sleep and wake up god knows how much later. The game never really seems to try to make this mean anything, or give it impact. It all just feels so half-hearted. Oh, your husband/Wife died? Hey look! A town with people in it! A suit of abandoned power armor! Go fight this deathclaw for us with a minigun that dispenses nerf darts.

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Fear my mighty foam projectiles!

Speaking of Power armour, The new system is a wonderful step forward in the right direction. It feels really powerful, the only trouble is that the game isn’t challenging enough and the batteries drain faster than is acceptable. So in the end it collects dust.

Some might say that mods can fix all these problems. Some of them, Sure. But you can change the coat of paint and give her a service but at its core it’s still the same. I’ve seen a disturbing trend in games where they become so “video gamey” that they miss the point. I think the kicker for me was when I spent hours upon hours upgrading a suit of power armor with radiation resistance to go into the glowing sea (for the main quest), and When I got there It turned out I could have just walked around in my vault suit, wiping the floor with everything. It should have felt oppressive, Lonely.

Flesh hiding beneath steel with guns blazing, Deathclaw bearing down on me,  My rifle runs empty. Closer. Closer… Wham! My world goes black for a moment. I can hear the groaning and scraping of steel as it tries to pry my world apart. I raise my arm and with a Pneumatic hiss my fist careers into its leg. It wasn’t enough to dislodge it. It can hear the metal groaning as I desperately keep it’s head at bay. I reach for my machine pistol, bringing it up blazing along the chest. It’s grip loosens with a roar as my heart races ever so quickly… 

Does this sound much cooler than what happens in the game currently? It sure does to me. Yes, maybe it’s a bit cliché. But it’s exactly what I felt at times. I’ve had this experience many times in dark souls. And ohhh, does it feel good. (Whipping out a crossbow at the last second to hear that oh so satisfying ching is fun)

I didn’t get to have it in fallout. Instead you can beat deathclaw with a pool cue. (yes, really) Last I checked the minigun fired Nerf darts in the standard game. I didn’t get any of that.

Not too long after that also I realised that fallout 4’s locations are essentially reskinned dungeons, complete with a treasure chest at the end. The world is inexplicably filled with super mutants, bandits, all of which want to kill you for no other reason than because it’s a video game, and well duh! You have guns and that’s how video games are supposed to work. Sometimes I’ve found myself getting irritated at a turret and going out of my way to blow it up. I didn’t need to do it. I could easily have gone another way. But it gives Xp when you do it. Why are you fighting? What is going to be accomplished? we don’t need to blow up every single thing in our path except to level up.

That way you can finally fulfil your dreams of being able to stand butt naked and take a whole clip to the face. In become more video gamey, the experience seem to lose something. What’s the point of me having a flamer if It doesn’t scorch flesh and send people running? What is a minigun that can’t tear someone to shreds in a heartbeat? Why does my sword feel like a stick of foam?

How can it be power armor when Punching someone with it doesn’t shatter their ribcage and send them carrering into the ground? It’s not about making it harder, or less casual. It’s about things acting the way they should. It’s what makes things worth it. I can’t express how heartbroken I was when I discovered I couldn’t light fires with fire magic, Or that nobody seems to care that I’m walking around in a steel can and they are not the slightest bit intimidated by this. Or that I couldn’t just barge through those stupid flimsy locked doors by charging into them. What’s the point if the world doesn’t respond and let you interact with it?

You’re only human, after all. And if you want better? That’s what Technology is for. Maybe the reason you can clear out a whole raider camp is because you have A bunch of high tech gizmos like thermal vision, Plasma rifles, a cloaking suit… Maybe power armour?

There are things you can’t fight, acts of God. You see a hurricane coming, you have to get out of the way. But when you’re in a Jaeger, suddenly, you can fight the hurricane. You can win.-Raleigh Becket (Pacific Rim)

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I guess at this point I’m talking about science fiction in general. There is something about the juxtaposition of vulnerability and a sense of protection that you simultaneously experience. If you haven’t seen the opening scene of pacific rim then You should totally go do that! It exemplifies everything I just said. Instead of magically gaining more hitpoints from leveling up, What if you gradually recovered high-tech equipment that allowed you to step up your game?

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There is a game that is slightly similar That I very much enjoyed for exactly these reasons. It’s Called S.T.A.L.K.E.R. To be perfectly honest I never ever want to play it again because it scares the bejebus out of me because of that one horrible forest with the creepy sounds and oh god one of those things run.

I felt like A human being wandering a desolate place. It had lots of bugs and was rough around the edges but it had something. The Deathclaws never instilled this kind of fear in me. I just started mashing the VATS button and took the poor thing down.

I guess you could call it ambiance? I had to keep my wits about me and There were moments where I got to do cool stuff because of it. It also felt like a world, not a series of tedious combat encounters the game threw at me when I just wanted to take my time to scrounge and wander. Anyway, A game made with a big budget that satisfies all of these things probably isn’t going to appear any one of these days, But It’s still fun to dream. I hope you enjoyed this. Thanks for reading.

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