Fallout 4 is dull. Really dull. Almost boringly so. Twenty+ hours after a stellar start, this game has just dive-bombed into eventless mush. It runs great, looks fine, and plays better than any previous outing from Bethesda Game Studios. Even the level design is a notch above what we’ve come to expect from Elder Scrolls-ish titles. It’s just a shame that the writers seem to have been given too much vacation time.
How dull is Fallout 4? Well, I recently came across a Vault. I got pretty excited as the Vaults were some of the most interesting (and scary) locations in Fallout 3. Guess how the residents of Vault 81 fared at the hands of the nefarious Vault-Tec?
They’re fine. They’re working hard on keeping the ol’ girl together, but they never asked me to help out. Someone’s cat got out, but I wasn’t tasked with finding it. I did get to tell a story about The Wasteland to a school class regarding the exciting events in the game’s first couple hours. They were amused. I left out the part about spending an hour picking through empty ruins looking for wood to build a wall around my village for nameless NPC who don’t even care if they have walls. Or the fact I repeated that hour for copper, ceramics, and circuits.
It’s still a fun game in terms of having random dudes to shoot and basic building to construct. It’s probably in the best shape, technically, than any other Bethesda game at launch. There’s plenty to do, especially if you want to customize a whole village of homes for drone AIs who never do anything interesting. A couple areas still shine like the previous entries in this series and the new gear modding system is fantastic. Just don’t expect it all to have much of a point.
Update: Well, after 35 hours and nearly half the map cleared, there does indeed appear to be a Fallout RPG in here after all. Even boring ol’ Vault 81 finally pays out some narrative. Sadly, the game is still lacking in interesting moral choices and, with the exception of the main plotline, quests that go beyond “Travel here and kill all the dudes,” are painfully rare. Still, the off-beat characters that epitomize the Fallout universe do actually exist beyond the fields of Settler, Settler, and Provisioner.
Here’s a tip for anyone looking to get stuck into Fallout4’s RPG rather than it’s watered-down Minecraft game: Follow the path to Diamond City, not the Minutemen.
It’s ironic to look at the new, pared down and quests in Fallout 4 following the next generation of open-world RPGs. GTA V and Witcher 3 have redefined how side content in an RPG can be handled. Both of these titles sprinkle every corner of their gameplay with interesting folks and curious happenings. It’s hard to return to the days of “Kill all the rats in my basement” quest givers after these titles. Even looking past these recent examples, I’d argue that Bethesda’s last outing, Skyrim, managed to deliver more compelling side content than this new Fallout title.
Bethesda took some real chances here. The sandbox ‘city’ building and repeatable activities are certainly worthy of notice and I look forward to seeing if this is something that will be expanded upon or written off as an amusing experiment in the future. I just hope that, if this flavor of gameplay is repeated, that it’ll be put a little further down the line so that player will have more of a chance to become invested in the world before being tasked with chores in it.