Fallout 4 has been released for almost a year now. Developed by Bethesda Studio the creator of the very popular Fallout 3, Fallout 4 has been divisive to say the least. Yet, what exactly did Bethesda do to split the fan base of such a beloved franchise? Where did the developers stray away from the formula that had established this series as the ultimate post-apocalyptic survival RPG? Well… for starters the core of its gameplay had been altered into something it was never meant to be.
That is because Fallout 4 is a First Person Shooter action game (with some RPG elements) instead of an RPG with FPS elements. Bethesda took out the complex structure which allowed the player nearly limitless choice. Fallout has always been about the journey, not the destination. The variety of ways in which you could journey through the first, second and New Vegas were enormous (especially in FO2). But, this was partly because your characters were simply blank slates in which you could project your own identity.
One of the Steam user reviews even stated that this was a huge discrepancy between 4 and the previous iterations. Fallout 1 you were a random member of the vault. In Fallout 2 your character was a random descendant of the original PC. 3 the PC was the child of two scientists, and in New Vegas a courier from the Mojave Express. You were not a military/law practitioner looking for his kid (Shaun) in the future after your perfect suburb life got flipped turned upside-down. This is a lot of pre-determined back-story for a character which is in essence supposed to represent the player. This is made worse by the fact that the player characters are for the first time in main series history… voiced.
Regardless of how players felt about the voice acting quality in Fallout 4, one thing is certain. It limited the amount of lines that players could choose from during dialogue with NPCs. As stated earlier this limited the ability to choose from in dialogue and streamlined it into 4 choices (one for each of the main buttons). What made this worse was the once again streamlining of the skills/abilities setting when leveling up. Players can no longer assign points to one of the many categories of skills you could choose from in the previous games. Having no skill points meant choices such as [Repair] (perhaps we could salvage your broken rifles into a single functioning one) are now gone.
These added so much variety to the game and they were simply taken away in order to streamline the game mechanics. But, streamlined mechanics are not what most RPGs are about, especially already established ones like the Fallout series. Bethesda made Fallout 4 into a shooter and the worst part is that it’s not even a particularly good FPS. All of the “unique” features that Bethesda touted for FO4 have been implemented into other games in a much better way and if they weren’t then they aren’t particularly fun either. Case in point, protecting settlements, in paper this sounds like an extremely fun idea, but on execution it is a pain in the ass to have to backtrack to them in order to defend them. Even if you fortify the outlying area of the settlement, unless you’re personally there it’s going to fall because the NPCs are worthless.
Speaking of the generic NPCs in the settlement, these will populate the majority of characters in a settlement. They don’t have anything interesting to say and are simply there to be cannon fodder. Whatever happened to memorable characters and NPCs who even if they weren’t important had something fun to say? Voice acting in FO4 probably took those away. There is very little in FO4 which could be called a RPG element. Whether the designers lost sight of their goal to create an amazing Fallout game, in an effort to modernize it is unknown. But, this is not the Fallout game which true fanatics wanted.
Once the dust settled and people have had time to experience the game in full the fresh car smell wore out. The shine is gone and it’s easy to realize that Fallout 4 is not a “true” Fallout game. It is a modern first person shooter with a Fallout skin. This was not enough to deter people from buying the game, and who knows how the next iteration will be different. But, I hope they bring back the mechanics that the original players came to know and love. Perhaps it will be Obsidian who creates the next installment of the series, seeing as their staff has members from Black Isle Studios (the original developers of 2).