Fallout 4: Retrospective Rambling

As I pen (type) this piece, I’m currently waiting on the final Trophy to unlock for my Fallout 4 playthrough. I’m sat here, waiting, for something to eventually happen.

And in a nutshell, that’s pretty much an accurate description of my 80+ hours spent with Fallout 4.

I’ll admit, I’m no superfan of the Fallout series. I outright prefer the Elder Scrolls series, viewing it as undoubtedly the better game series from developer Bethesda. Still, I had some fairly lofty expectations for Fallout 4, and this may or may not have had something to do with the hundreds upon hundreds of hours poured into Fallout 3 many moons ago.

I was a little taken aback by the intro section of Fallout 4. Introduced in a very linear, narrative driven section (for reasons I won’t spoil here) the game then forced me into another linear experience in a nearby town, in which I encountered quite possibly the bane of my existence: Preston Garvey.

The character of Preston Garvey somewhat embodies all that is wrong with Fallout 4. He’s focussed, offering very little character development or surprises, and constantly throws repetitive fetch quests at you.

And this is highly reflective of the entirety of the game. In all my time spent in Fallout 4, I’ve been constantly looking for something new and exciting, whether it be a new character to interact with or a brand new quest to embark upon.

However, the game never really offered me any of these things, instead showering me with “go here, shoot this” type quests, instead of actual character or world building. I’m 90% sure I can say I’ve seen the vast majority of what Fallout 4 has to offer, and I’m almost disappointed.

As mentioned, the quests are indeed very combat heavy, and the same could be said of the map. I seriously doubt you could walk for 200 metres without running into some vicious creature dead set on ripping you apart. Yes, I get that the wasteland is supposed to be a dangerous place, but this insistence on near-constant combat detracts from any feeling of discovery you might otherwise have with the map.

Back to the quests, and I have a certain feeling I know why the majority of them are so insistent on combat. Fallout 4 is a massive game at heart, one that took years and years of preparation and then development to complete, all to a standard of which Bethesda was happy with.

However in all this time you also have to recruit, and subsequently pay, voice actors to perform for you. Bethesda may be a wealthy company, sure, but they definitely don’t have the funds to keep actors on payroll while they experiment with different paths or outcomes in quests, forcing them to keep actual dialogue and discussion to a fair minimum in the game.

This ultimately produces the “shoot first” quests mentality, giving each quest an easy finish with comparatively little work required from the voice actors. This leaves the team at Bethesd free to work on each quest without having the voice actors waiting in the wings to go, cutting costs for them that could ultimately amount to a lot.

Back to the map then, which I found to be largely boring and empty, with the one exception being the “Glowing Sea” area in the bottom left corner. The problem with the map is that it all relatively looks the same. I could be dropped in any area of Oblivion or Skyrim’s map and I’d instantly be able to pinpoint where I was. Not so much with Fallout 4.

Although the Glowing Sea really is somewhere special, it’s scarcely used throughout the entire main campaign of Fallout 4, or any of the side quests. I can count on one hand the amount of times the Glowing Sea was utilised, and as a place brimming with mystery and intrigue, this simply isn’t good enough.

Fallout 4 ultimately felt slightly mundane to me. A solid game, sure, but in the end the entire thing felt like an update of Fallout 3, unfortunately not something at all new or innovative.

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