Latest posts by Jake Wilson (see all)
- Enderal – Skyrim Mod – Review - September 12, 2016
- Rise of the Tomb Raider – Review - August 23, 2016
- Simone Bernacchia – Amiga Homebrew Composer Interview - August 22, 2016
Watch the video or read the article, the choice is yours!
Let me start by saying that Fallout 4 is not a bad game. Nevertheless…I quit Fallout 4. I didn’t finish the main story. I barely did any side quests and as I approached the final quarter of the game, I found myself utterly bored and begging for it to end.
“…but Jake, don’t you like Bethesda open world RPGs?!”
Yes. I fucking love them. When I first played Oblivion I had no prior knowledge of the Elder Scrolls series. I had never experienced anything like it, I was awestruck. That exact feeling was true when I played Fallout 3 and then Skyrim. Despite the massive amount of mods now available for these games, I feel that they have a perfectly adequate vanilla experience which I could easily go back to over and over again.
Fallout 4, to my dismay, is simply not like that. So here are the biggest issues I found with the game:
Awful Keyboard & Mouse Controls
From the very moment I landed on the title menu, the game was fighting against my simple (and what many would deem correct) decision to use a keyboard and mouse in a PC game. Despite the button on my mouse which adjusts the DPI up to a maximum of 6400, the mouse cursor’s epic journey across the screen to the new game option was an arduous one due to the game’s bizarre mouse acceleration effect. Needless to say, I immediately checked the Fallout 4 Nexus for a mod that would fix this. The mod was the ‘Fallout 4 Configuration Tool’ and it was the first step in making Fallout 4 playable but somehow the mouse still has the strange slowdown effect when hovering over a lootable object or when in dialogue.
Speaking of the dialogue, choosing between the 4 response options is designed with controller users in mind, to the detriment of everyone else. WASD remain the movement keys while speaking to NPCs, the arrow keys choose one of your 4 options. Luckily for me I could map the directional buttons to my left thumb via my Razer Nostromo, but anyone with a standard set-up is gonna have to move their left hand across to the right of their keyboard, every single time they want to pick any dialogue option.
Shallow Dialogue System
When Skyrim was released a lot of people complained about the various features that were tweaked. Many felt the changes were simply ”dumbing down” the Elder Scrolls series but I strongly believe that the vast majority of tweaks were improvements. The dialogue system in Fallout 4 is the biggest dumbing down of any feature I’ve seen in a series to date. Not only that, it’s clear that Bethesda’s intentions were simply to copy Bioware’s dialogue system from games such as Mass Effect. Whether this was to try to appeal to a wider, broader audience or to trim the amount of work needed in terms of voice acting or coding. It doesn’t matter, it’s plain wrong.
Not only has this harmed my initial playthrough of the game, this will be the biggest flaw affecting any replayability of Fallout 4. Most of all, because different choices often result in the exact same response in seemingly critical story moments. Towards the end of the main story was when this shallow dialogue system became too frustrating to bear. So many questions were raised and the story presented no real time constraints to stop you from asking them. Except, rather than give you a long list of questions for you to ask in whichever order you feel your character would ask them, you are instead limited to the 4 tonally different responses to the other characters exposition.
I should elaborate. A massive revelation came towards the end of the game and as soon as this came I asked myself: what would my character’s immediate thoughts be?…My character’s immediate thoughts called the integrity of the entire story into question by way of a massive plot hole. The other character rambled on and on without addressing this plot hole that my character would have clearly picked up on but eventually got to the issue on their own with no meaningful input from me whatsoever.
The above issue goes even deeper. Consider that this marks the first time in a Bethesda RPG where the role-playing takes a backseat to the story and while the story is a strong one overall, the lack of choice is a major hindrance compared to other Bethesda games. This was apparent to me right from the very first scene in the pre-war house. I had no problems with the characters already having been married and had a baby, it gave a real focus and drive to the story. What I did have a massive problem with is the character’s pre-dispositions towards certain skills or character traits, which you can then either ignore or be inclined to follow. The man is a retired soldier and the woman is a housewife who studied law.
If you wanted to you could base your character off these dispositions, giving the woman higher intelligence, or the man higher strength. But why, in a game like this should we have to? It’s a massive hinderance to anyone wanting to properly roleplay, it’s also sexist and downright nonsensical if you ask me.
The reason? Well, consider how much more sense it would make to have the character you chose be the one that had been in the army, regardless of sex. Players of Fallout 4 cannot deny that shooting is a massive part of the game, so playing as a woman (as I did) felt unimmersive from the moment I grabbed a minigun and took down 50 bandits and a deathclaw. (Which happens in the first fucking half hour of the game!) If my character had been the army veteran, I wouldn’t have had to injure myself from rolling my eyes so hard.
The power armour in Fallout 4 is a brilliant idea executed in the worst possible way. Not only does the armour get damaged and have to be taken back to the repair bay, but it runs on fusion cores, a finite item in the game. Fair enough, you need to pick and choose the best situations to use the power armour in but let’s just think for a second the process we have to go through to get the most out of our power armour.
We come across a settlement overrun by super mutants. We fast travel to where we left our power armour. We fast travel back to the super mutants and take them out. We fast travel again to drop the armour off for repair.We fast travel to the dead super mutants and continue our journey.
This is all because fast travelling does not use up fusion cores, therefore, any time you walk anywhere in your power armour, no matter how close, you are essentially pissing away the game’s most precious and useful resource. Bethesda couldn’t have made using the power armour more unintuitive if they had tried.
Difficulty is all over the place
Bullet sponge enemies have been an issue in many recent Bethesda games, but I feel it’s even more pronounced here due to how the game’s map is laid out. The game would have you believe that enemies get stronger the further south you go. In reality, you get to a certain point and there is an almost literal wall of powerful super mutants and raiders which carries on all the way to the bottom. Barely any real settlements exist with named NPCs or shops aside from Diamond City, your first real destination in the main quest.
Diamond City is of course behind this wall of enemies and playing on hard mode I found myself trapped at the top of the map, with no ammo, no shops to buy from, no quests to do and just generally nothing of interest to do at all. The story context suggests you go to Diamond City as a matter of utmost priority, but this bizarre difficulty spike caused me to re-start the game entirely to find a different method.
This time, instead of using junk doing the pointless settlement building, I used it all for armour and weapons upgrading. With everything maxed out with not much effort at all, I breezed through every enemy I encountered with no challenge whatsoever. One of the few times I did die, was when a legendary radscorpion spawned right next to me and just about one-hit-killed me.
Unrewarding Settlement building
Very close to your starting position, on the way to one of the first main missions, is the garage featured in the trailers. Upon searching this garage you can activate a workbench, after you do this, button prompts appear and remain on screen telling you to open the settlement building UI. I kept asking myself, why? What do I need to do specifically? Turns out it was just telling me I could build things, even though I had no reason to whatsoever until a little later in the game.
This epitomises the settlement building in Fallout 4. It is overly complex but has no tutorial whatsoever beyond the obtrusive button prompts. You can use junk items for crafting even when stored in the workbench, but the game doesn’t tell you this, so I spent hours wandering around verging on being overencumbered. It is insanely clunky to perform pretty much any action when in the build mode and this only accentuates the fact that 90% of the settlement building activities are absolutely unrewarding and downright pointless.
Every detail of this tacked on system (like not even being shown whether a specific settler has been assigned to a task) just screams pure and utter laziness from Bethesda. If you’re going to do something like this, similar to what some Skyrim mods have done in the past, then at least do it better than the mods. Not only lazy, but disingenuous too, the trailers showed you would have to defend your settlements. Mine have not been attacked once in my many hours of playtime.
So, I quit Fallout 4. I didn’t finish the main quest and I probably won’t be going back to it for a couple of years. I don’t want to ruin it for myself any more. Most of the problems I’ve mentioned can and will be fixed by mods in a year or two. So to me, a person who’s played hundreds of hours of a modded to hel Skyrim, even after getting the platinum trophy for it on the Playstation 3 Fallout 4 feels like an unfinished product…and Skyrim on the PS3 was an unfinished product that ran like garbage, but that’s a different debate.
When in the first couple of weeks, we have a mod which adds many craftable items to the bare bones settlement building, using assets already present in the game, before the creation kit has even been released. You have to ask (as the mod author does) “why is this stuff not already in the game” How long would it have taken Bethesda to deliver on what they claimed the settlement building would be?
Fallout 4’s vanilla experience is just not up to the standard of the games preceding it. It seems quite clear to me that Bethesda had no interest in perfecting their formula. They have created a streamlined, story focused framework for the hundreds of mods that will eventually make Fallout 4 the game it could have been from the start.
Of course, feel free to let us know in the comments whether you agree or disagree with any of these points and tell us your thoughts on Fallout 4.