Fallout

My thoughts on Fallout 4’s dialogue and game/quest design, and how it killed potential for subsequent playthroughs.

Lately, I feel as if Fallout 4 has been shown a lot of love on this subreddit. And I quite like that actually. I too enjoyed it for what it was, and it still remains my most played Fallout game simply because I'm a sucker for sandboxy games. However, as someone who has played all the Fallout games aside from Tactics and BoS, I also believe that Fallout 4 was easily the worst entry in the franchise.

Now, let me preface by saying that I absolutely adore Fallout 3. Not just because it was my first ever Fallout game, but also because, apart from the main story, Fallout 3 is proof that Bethesda is quite capable of making an excellent Fallout game.

The first time I played Fallout 3, I was absolutely blown away by just how open ended it was. Every time I finished exploring a location, and every time I completed a quest, I would jump on the wiki and read about all the other ways I could have resolved it, or all the different ways a particular dungeon could have been approached.

Fallout 4 completely threw this out the window in an effort to show you everything in the game. The whole game is structured so that you don't miss a single thing. Where in Fallout 3 a random encounter would continue happening if you were close by or not, all the set pieces in Fallout 4 remain static until the God Survivor blesses that place with his presence. Where every playthrough you would catch different snippets of dialogue in Fallout 3, really making each run unique and memorable, Fallout 4 made sure you wouldn't miss a thing your first time through by literally not initiating a conversation until you yourself weren't in the vicinity. You could stand a bit farther away and the people in the set piece would literally stay standing there forever.

Then there's the terrible, terrible dialogue. I've worked with the Creation Kit – a horribly outdated piece of junk that needs to be VATS criticalled in the balls – and I've seen the inner workings of Fallout 4. I do not kid you when I say, they made the dialogue system into a colorful, extremely simplified flowchart that a third grader could use. A colorful box with initial dialogue, connected by four lines to the four response options, each connected further by a line to a unique response to that said response, all then being fed back into a singular progression of the dialogue. Oftentimes, the four response straight up lead to the singular progression box with no change at all, an example being when you're first introduced to Mayor McDonough and Piper asks for your opinion on free speech in the press.

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This dialogue completely strips away any and all reason for a playthrough, other than seeing the different faction endings. Every subsequent playthrough, you experience the same set pieces, the same dialogue, and the same false dialogue choices that lead literally nowhere. There isn't a dialogue tree as much as there is a dialogue line that's straighter than my fucking sexuality. In just your second playthrough, you will feel like you're playing through a Call of Duty campaign rather than a Fallout game, and this is really bad.

Then there is the matter of the quest design and game design in general. Where in Fallout 3 and New Vegas each dungeon had something new going for it, with either a rewarding story or a fun item to collect at the end, Fallout 4's dungeons all follow the same pattern. Generic enemies -> loot junk items -> shitty steamer trunk.

The only real exception I can think of is the brilliantly written Cambridge Polymer Labs. A good story that doesn't point you to everything with a lousy quest marker, and an actual new reward that can't be found anywhere else. Unfortunately, this and the U.S.S Constitution are the only interesting places to visit. In a lazy attempt to randomize rewards with super crappy steamer trunks that pull garbage from a shitty loot pool, Bethesda have inadvertently stripped away any reason to explore these places other than to hoard around aluminum cans and desk fans, and subsequently removed anything new to gain in a different playthrough.

Every single side quest in Fallout 4 ends almost exactly the same way, with the only differences being an extra one or two bland characters dying. And each quest forces you to do it the way Bethesda wanted you to do it, with no variety offered at all. Look at Diamond City Blues for example. One of the worst written quests in the entire game. No matter what you do, the game forces you to find out about the drug deal. Leaving Trish alive is also pointless, and has no future ramifications, much like Nick Valentine's slight foray into mimicking Kellogg.

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Then there's The Dig, a quest that is so bad it doesn't even allow you to warn Mayor McDonough or anyone else in Diamond City. Oh and, figured McDonough's a synth from a terminal in the Institute? You're shit out of luck. You can't tell anyone and you can't even kill him because of the absolute epitome of horrible game design: the Essential tag.

Don't even get me started on Dogmeat teleporting to you when you need to track Kellogg. That was just laughably, painfully bad. There's also the Battle of Bunker Hill. Where the game yet again pretends you have a choice of letting the factions know, who still show up even if you keep them in the dark because "haha big battle go brr". The list goes on and on. My point is, once you've played through Fallout 4 the first time, there is nothing new left for you to see for 95% of the game. Absolutely nothing.

Gone too are the days when Bethesda didn't design their games for kindergartners. Convenient holotapes containing passwords lie next to their respective terminals everywhere. Lock picking and terminal hacking have lost their helpfulness. Terminals no longer lock you out lest the God Survivor miss anything. The thing that made Bethesda's games good was that the world didn't revolve around the player. And that has been completely scrapped for this childish Godlike power fantasy.

And finally, combat is abysmally bad. Instead of improving the A.I of the NPCs, Bethesda opted instead to make them bullet sponges. A raider will take seven bullets to the head and not give a flying fuck, but an eight would suddenly see him kneel over dead because the health bar was emptied. And remember when companions could die? So you actually felt tense when fighting alongside them, trying to keep them alive? Haha dog take mini nuke to face and live.

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I think I've said enough. I don't mean to be bitter, but I can't help but start to dislike, and maybe even hate, Fallout 4 every passing day. And if Starfield is going to be more of this lazyass "games are movies" design rather than an actual RPG that offers new content every playthrough, then I think I will truly have lost any interest in any future games from Bethestonks.

Source: reddit.com

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