Dear Mr. Todd Howard
Hi Todd, I take it you didn’t receive my last letter? Worry not Mr. Howard as upon reflection I’ve realized I have another proverbial bone to pick with Bethesda Game Studios, that bone being Fallout 4.
One of my fondest gaming-related memories is leaving Vault 101 at the beginning of Fallout 3. The world you’re thrust into is a cold, haunting shadow of 1950s America, purged in a nuclear fire… The year is 2227 and you, the Sole Survivor, are cast out into the Capital Wasteland in search of your father. As far as intro’s go, Fallout 3’s introduction of its world is exceptional. The game itself however, is pretty mediocre. Despite this, I loved my first playthrough of Fallout 3, I thought its RPG systems were great, it’s worldbuilding engaging and writing inspired. I was wrong, but for those blissful 100 odd hours, I was completely and utterly lost in Bethesda’s Capital wasteland and was convinced that this was Fallout, until I played Fallout: New Vegas.
From the very get-go New Vegas distinguishes itself from its predecessor. You are Courrier 6, hired to deliver a mysterious platinum chip to the elusive Mr. House on the New Vegas strip. You start the game in the small town of Goodsprings having been robbed of the platinum chip and left for dead, your memory of everything before the robbery gone. You are Courrier 6, a blank slate. Now compare this to Fallout 4s beginning where you are forced to choose between playing as Nate, a retired soldier or his spouse Nora, a lawyer. Fallout New Vegas allows you, the player, to create a character, who you were before you arrived in Goodsprings is up to you, allowing you to write a backstory for your character to…well…roleplay, a common theme in half-decent RPGs.
Fallout 4’s insistence on railroading players and removing player agency is emblematic of the shifting priorities at Bethesda. Since Morrowind’s release, Bethesda’s games have been unceremoniously stripped of their RPG systems as subsequent games have removed classes, gutted factions, decimated speech choices, and the usefulness of the speech perk in both the Elder Scrolls and Fallout franchises as well as continually outdoing themselves in their ability to write truly uninspired stories.
I’m gonna bullet point a few more issues I’ve got with Fallout 4. Had I the time, this list could very well go on for 10 or 12 pages. Alas, I’m afforded no such luxury.
- The new speech system which doesn’t tell you what your character is going to say for option A or B but instead gives you a poorly written, often wildly inaccurate summary.
- Mama Murphy, perhaps the single worst character ever written?
- At the very beginning of the game, upon your arrival in Concord, you are given no choice in whether or not you help the Minutemen. Bethesda go so far as to force you to help the MinuteMen even if you blatantly refuse their leaders’ call for help.
- The only way to progress the story from Concord is to talk to crackhead mystic, Mama Murphy. Thankfully Mama Murphy is one of the few non-essential characters in the game, meaning you can kill her.
- The World Design: This is a big one but in a nutshell, Fallout 4 is set in 2287, 210 years after the nuclear Holocoust. Despite 2 centuries having passed, Boston is a mess, skeletons litter the road to Diamond City and are a common sight in ‘settled areas’. Do these people just not care about human skeletons littering the foundations of their new society?
- The Railroad. The Railroad, a secret society of self proclaimed synth liberators are perhaps the stupidest thing about Fallout 4. Synths in the fallout universe are humanesque robots but that’s beside the point. To find the Railroad you have to follow ‘The Freedom Trail’ which leads you through Boston’s winding streets to the Railroad’s ‘top secret’ hideout, a hideout which requires a password to enter. The password to the Railroads top secret base is, and I shit you not, Railroad. Needless to say, I have opted to annihilate the Railroad every time I’ve suffered through a Fallout 4 playthrough.
- Bethesda’s writing.
- Bethesda can’t keep their lore straight. Do ghouls need to drink water or not? The ‘Kid in the Fridge’ quest seems to say no?!?! Make up your mind.
- Radiant Quests.
- The Settlement System.
- Writing the Brotherhood of Steel with as much care and grace as a T-Rex trying to open a tin of sardines.
- Enclave power armor is now pre-war?!?! Despite the Enclave being founded post-war? Another example of Bethesda’s ability to ruin Black Isles’ brilliant world-building.
- ‘The Kid in the Fridge’ Quest.
- The Gunners.
- The Triggermen, a bunch of guys playing Mafia hanging out in the sewers doing….nothing? Nothing until you, the player, arrive. Without your existence they simply exist.
- Pipe Weapons, everyone uses pipe weapons. While I’m talking about weapons, they’re aren’t a lot of ‘em in Fallout 4. Why? I haven’t a clue. Fallout 4 had 7 years of dev time and only shipped with 50 unique weapons. Fallout New Vegas (Developed by Obsidian, not Bethesda) had 18 months of development time and shipped with 106 guns. 106.
With despair in my heart,
November 10th 2015,
A day foretold by Todd the King,
Fallout 4 on this day arrived,
Holy fuck was I in for a suprise
We’d been promised the world,
And what did we get?
A hot crock of shit
A game I wish I’d forget
My disappointment was immeasurable,
And my week was ruined,
Todd Howard had fucked me,
And the fallout franchise too.
The game was shit,
And Even back then
I knew Fallout was on a steep downward trend.
Plagued by bad writing,
Performance issues and bugs,
The lore had been fucked
Without so much as a hug
Fallout 4 was a mess,
A good reason to start doing drugs.
Who do I blame?
I blame Todd.
Give us a good Fallout,
For the sweet love of god.