I'm still paying Fallout 4. Whilst I'm enjoying it I'd quite like to reach the end because once I'm done I don't plan on ever playing through it again. Not in a bad way - I just can't see my future self sinking this much time into a single game.

I don't like ridiculously short games but equally if a game is over a certain length it's almost an immediate non-starter - assuming I know the approximate length of the game going in of course.

This has lead me to wish that Bethesda could do several things with a future Fallout game. I don't think there's any chance of them doing these things and that's pretty much why I'm writing about them. Furthermore as a player I only think I know what I want. Customers often say they want one thing but then purchasing patterns don't actually support that and I suspect the same would be true here. I'd like some of the following tried though!

1. A smaller game world.

As much fun as a sprawling game world is it's still too small. Y'see when it comes to worlds Bethesda doesn't make them to scale. Most developers don't. Reality is big and that's not actually all that fun to traverse. Add to that the task of detailing everywhere being immense and we're at a situation where it's either a matter of procedural generation (hard to do right) or lots of hours of work for a small army of developers (ruinously expensive and also hard).

Modern incarnations of the Gamebryo engine can at least handle tens of NPCs so the place doesn't feel quite as empty but the idea of an in-game location being a "city" is still painfully jarring. It works fine for a "settlement" but no, that's not a city. That's not even a town.

As with many things creativity is often spurred on by limitations. I wish Bethesda would embrace their limitations and try to tell a compelling and reactive story within those rather than aiming for something beyond the scope of what they can realistically realise.

2. A more reactive game world.

I'm making my way through Fallout 4's story but before I really got started I took the time to build a network of well-populated settlements. I dragged many of them kicking and screaming into civilisation. By that I mean I'd take over a settlement with people living in pathetic shacks that would in no way be suitable for the climate they live in. I'd define a perimeter to be defended and build with concrete. Proper structures that could be defended. Solid concrete walls thick enough to provide a barrier against the radiation storms that often blow in from the south west. Lighting. Water. Food.

This sort of thing is very rarely commented on in the game's story though. It's not programmed to react to my exploits most of the time. When I encountered the character of Deacon I was incredibly pleased that he was on my side on the basis of my exploits. He knew that I'd done things and should be allied with as soon as possible.

Similarly I enjoyed having the option to tell a journalist:
"You're all living in rusty shacks, killing each other, and my God, the smell..."
I'm trying to roleplay as my character and whilst she's generally a force for good I also try to remember that she's a pre-war lawyer. She is intelligent, incisive, and doesn't take any bullshit. Sometimes she will ask questions she knows the answers to in order to see what the other party thinks about the matter.

So upon being presented with Bethesda's idea of what 200 years after a nuclear war looks like I would expect her to think "Really? This is the best you could do?"

Note that this contrasts with what 200 years after the war looks like in Black Isle's Fallout universe. There they've realised that they can, in fact, build... new structures. Mind blowing.

The general point being that most of the time my character doesn't seem to be recognised by the game world. It is unaffected by her and she is unaffected by it. Companions will comment on an area but she remains silent. It's pretty immersion breaking.

Scale it down and make it react more. If I do remarkable things or establish trade networks that's a big deal. It's a big deal because everyone else seems to mostly be sitting around sulking rather than getting their shit together.

3. Stop being scared to create.

There's the headquarters of a toy company. They're a Bethesda creation (and their toy, Giddyup Buttercup is too). Well done. On a terminal one can read about possible future models of the toy that would have tie-in branding. Which companies are named? Nuka cola, Vault-Tec, and Rob-co.

Wow. Yes, obviously. Such natural fits and certainly not chosen because barely any other notable named companies exist within the canon. Would it have killed them to create some plausible tie-ins?

Similarly many of the enemies that exist in the Bethesda Fallout games have at best a very flimsy justification for being there. The same is true for various drugs found in the games. Psycho, for example, is a military drug:
A unique delivery system filled with strange and unknown chemicals of probably military origin. It is supposed to increase the combat potential of a soldier.
But of course you find it all over the place in Bethesda's games because why not?
The drug "Jet" was invented during the events of Fallout 2. You can have its creator join your party.

Fuck it though, let's ignore that and have it spread across America rather than California. We could invent a similar drug and call it something else but we didn't buy the Fallout IP not to use it.

Yeah, it's dumb, it's lazy, and it takes me out of the moment. If you need something in the game check if it already exists and could plausibly be found there. If it isn't plausible create something else to fit the bill.

In general I want a tighter experience that feels less like a load of addictive game mechanics strung together and more like a roleplaying environment. Not much point in creating a roleplaying game if the player's actions don't really matter.

0 responses to "Also do you know how long most concrete lasts? It's not hundreds of years."

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