I once worked in a machine shop with a man who just happened to be born and raised in Boston some years ago... And he liked to talk about life "back East" and in particular how the locals could say "fuck you" just by saying the words: good morning. I was slightly doubtful even though he could pull his old accent straight from thin air and given he was a few years older than I, pretty much was in that old man phase of hating everything that was aimed at the under 30 age demographic.
Two days later he walked past my work center and happily let out a cheerful GOOD MORNING! Complete with his Boston accent, gave me a nod and walked away... It then hits me a few minutes later that I had just been told to go fuck myself. It was insanely subtle and honestly took a few of my co-workers at the time, a wee bit longer to figure it out too. For a split second there was a minor change in tone or something that my West coast speech patterns are unable to fully digest and replicate.
Playing Fallout 4... Feels like Bethesda has happily said - GOOD MORNING! To me, to you, to everyone.
--->Warning: This may become a longer blog than need be, no TL:DR version available. <---
--->I will try not to spoil too much, make too many comparisons to FO:NV (As that was Obsidian)<---
--->Nor shall I bitch like an entitled pussy about the graphics or bugs!<---
Part 1: In game... No reason to give a flying shit!
There is virtually none. But let us start at the beginning, before the war. A good RPG like Fallout is marketed as has an important element. Actually many, but among the first is individual ownership. As much as I hate the living monkey shit out of EA Games... My version of Commander Shepard felt like my... MY Shepard! My friends played their own versions and swapping stories or play tactics was part of the fun. FO-4 on the other hand as an RPG goes compared to previous titles in the same franchise is exactly the same as yours. She is a lawyer or he is a former soldier... the only variables is the face and where I put my attributes. Unlike Elder Scrolls games I can't make some shit up and it's kosher. (In Oblivion for example I said my Dunmer was imprisoned merely for jaywalking.) Many other RPGS at the very least give an ambigious or cherry pick some background setting pieces.
Mass Effect did a good job at this letting you pick a few pieces and even much later in the game having your choices pop back up to remind you where your from. FO-4 eschewed this formula. So right from the get go, your put in the shoes of someones creation, not your own. The story from there is a downhill slippery slope because your individual ownership has been shoved aside. (Which is a bit of a shock given Bethesdas history with RPGs.)
Another massive fail in my jaded impressions of this "RPG" is coerced/forced caring for an NPC. And at present time I'm seriously on the hunt now for baby Shaun... Not to save him mind you. But I hate him enough that I want to put a 10mm round into his brain. In fact I'm at a crossroads to join a faction I despise just for the satisfaction of atomizing his loopy ass and walking away. Why? Well I have no incentive to care, never have. From the beginning it's a few lines of dialogue and a forced look in the crib and go Awwwww moment. Same as my spouse.
But in Skyrim I adored and worshipped Serana more than any other companion... The key Bethesda missed on this one is INTERACTION. If the game opened up with a more interactive beginning I might give half a mole rats crusted ass. Perhaps a friendly chat with the neighbor shooting the shit on a lazy afternoon or helping a neighbor start his car. A goddamned sit down at the table lunch with the other half discussing mundane shit... Something. Even when the bombs dropped everyone either ignored me or repeated the same line. This was the life I'm supposed to miss. The son I'm so desperate to find but it was all such a 2 dimensional ride to the vault, it renders the past irrelevant. We players get to look at but not touch the past... our friends, neighbors, spouse and child have no true connection with the player. Which is probably why it is so easy to wander off and build settlements and gun down every raider in sight rather than stay true to the main storyline.
Part 2: Nobody is really likable! (Also everyone has a heart of sugar...)
I tried to like those around me. (Okay I admit, I can count on one hand NPCs I actually do like.) However companions have many fatal flaws, but outside the AI and technical side, I have utter loathing to call on their aid... More on that in Part 3. When it comes to factions one has a lunatic who tries to convince you to inject battery acid into your veins and their mouthpiece who you do most of the talking with always lies, even when he is telling the truth he is lying to you... Another is a combination of the worst traits of the PC master race crossed with MURICA! FUCK YEAH. And I shit you not their big poobah leader is out to start a war to prevent a war... Circular logic sandwich anyone... Oh President Eden lives on. Another Faction is supposed to be a loosely collected citizen army... in which your job is EVERY-FUCKING-THING, because they can't even do a thing to help themselves. The last are the big spooky bad guys who have cool androids as slaves... Wait does that mean a certain toaster is up for equal rights?
Settlers in your villages may as well be toddlers because again, like your citizen army, they are useless. The look of disgust on my face was nearing critical mass as a settler holding a damage modded, fully automatic plasma ejector stood there fully clad in sturdy combat armor whining about nearby raiders messing with the locals... The other 19 locals in the same settlement also fully armed and armored scuttled about waiting for me to kill a mere seven raiders one of whom just happened to be legendary. (I have 29 settlements, all miniature battle fortresses of badassery and doom... yet these fucktards always call the minutemen... aka the player for help.)
And just as appalling if not a wee bit more. Is the fact that one of the few things that make you, the player character unique is hamstringed without remorse. I give Daisy in Goodneighbor leeway given pre-war ghouls are lore. Plus it's actually one of the few redeeming moments in the game where you can have a casual conversation with an NPC about the good old days. But there is alot more people out there and not ghouls, who are also pre-war... which frankly shits all over being a individual and unique snowflake.
But by far the worst offender in this list, is nearly everyone has a gooey nice place in their heart. People your supposed to hate, (Which you don't because they shot your wife of 5 minutes to death...) And even the slightly more almost a bag of assholes companions all have redeeming qualities... Even the asshat raiders have individuals among their ranks who are evil but have a soft nice spot. Nobody is pure fucking evil. Well maybe that baseball loving dumbfuck selling swattahs in Diamond city. I have so many issues with that used cock-balloon.
Which brings me to my next point... And GODDAMN IT!!!
Part 3: Forced Morality!
This is where I fucking come unhinged and my scrotum tightens up just before my murder boner ejects blood all over my keyboard.
We all know the karma system went bye-bye... I figured that out about 20 hours in. What pisses in my bag of Doritos is that I have to be the hero, or in Cherrys case the heroine... The worst you can be is slightly sarcastic... but you are actively punished for being a gun-toting murder hobo. Some quests wont complete if you go with the evil-lite option. Companions may ditch you, or some such douche-tard built in system for just letting loose.
Yet like character creation, your again railroaded into a particular mold. I spend 40 hours at my day job making nice with people who need cleansed from the land of the living and another 12 at my side job tolerating being locked behind a counter waiting on people to make up their fucking minds if they want a pack of magic cards or a hotdog and dew. Ive' always been an advocate for video game violence, it's therapy so you don't lose your shit go outside and rack up a ton of XP before the police aggro your ass. And many gamers like me, have shit jobs and could use a bit of therapy time.
Yet we don't get the option for being utterly depraved and homicidal in a safe virtual space to work out pent up rage. And the companions we get to travel with us force us to change how we act based on the like/dislike mechanic. Worse is if we find a companion we like to have around who hates our habits of shooting up psycho, running around naked and getting into brawls with jackasses who are hiring hitmen. There are so many times I would like to get all Ameri-Do-Te on some ass-clown, yet my companion is dangerously close to walking away because I just happened to be sarcastic once too often. I mean seriously, waking up 200 years out of time in a land that wants to kill you would leave serious mental scars, but heavens no, Your still forced to be Polly Polite. I'm not asking for a Light side / Dark side chat wheel... But damn, some variety would be nice.
Part 4: A politically correct wasteland...
People ask me, "Oh whats Fallout like?!?" To which I often respond, It's Mad Max without cars fueled by the main story line from Taken, boiled down to a PG rating then add enough swearing to bring it back up to about PG-13. Really it doesn't feel like the wasteland to me. Other than swearing and gore, there is nothing dangerous out there but leather daddies with guns. Like I mentioned everyone for the most part is welcoming, or nice, or not nice but somehow still have a nice place hidden deep inside.
Early on I noticed something horribly missing. Aside from the lack of real towns to visit. No cannibals, technically one, if you buy the perk. Then I noticed no prostitutes... Even FO-3 had Nova... No Mad-Scientists, No slaves/slavers... Not even a polygamous Republic of Dave. The only things really "bad" in the wasteland are cardboard raiders/gunners who just shoot at you. The only danger is combat based purely. All the other stuff such as Andale that made the Capitol Wasteland dangerous or even slid toward the darker side of the morality spectrum... Gone.
I'm surprised with as much as cigarettes have become a crucifiction worthy taboo, that's still in the game. Even the vaults seem slightly toned down, yes we get backstories which some are truly fucked up. But even the end results of those are missing. Either everyone is dead, jumped ship, or somehow still living peacefully opening their doors for traders. Outside of combat and a few rads on the ticker, there is no danger of being chased by cannibals, no slavers offering quests to collect merchandise... It really shows the current FO-4 wasteland to be, sadly, a open world shooting gallery.
Part 5: in closing...
Ive' ranted on long enough, and honestly after well over 250 hours of playtime partly due to calling in sick to work a few times or bribing others to cover my shift, I still have alot of things that are quite unkind about FO-4. (Especially that goddamned dog. Fable 3 flashbacks AAAARG!!!)
I'm changing gears here just to say, what I feel, they did right...
---> Companions: Variety is good. Although some are dangerously close to be carbon copies of another and all too often fall into basic two dimensional personalities like Strong. (Violent dumb Super-Mutant + Abnormal curiosity about unknown things.) After picking up, testing out, getting annoyed and subsequently sending to companion concentration camp, I finally found Hancock around Companion #8. He gets to stay in Sanctuary where I allow people to live.
---> Voiced protagonist: I know alot of people HATE this one. But it worked in Mass Effect and a few other games. And FO-$ err FO-4, could have vastly done a better job. The writing needs tightened up sure, I'll grant that a pass. But honestly (Back to Individual Ownership) They should have taken the route that Saints Row went down. As in - Pick your voice... Tara Strong (The voice actress for Rikku and Lolipop Chainsaw) would have been a shoo in for a younger more peppy sole survivor, While Jennifer Hale could have easily done a more mature and angry survivor. I'm quite sure if they had an option for Ron Pearlman to be the male survivors voice it would have been EPIC.
--->Sneaky things: Falling under customization, I had a quest in Bunker Hill and got a fringe benefit from it by sheer surprise. Nothing big just a new unique buildable for my settlements. While nothing major, it gives unusual incentive to explore and interact with the world. I won't spoil what it is for those who have yet to get there, but sometimes the little things make a quest worthwhile. Honestly the game desperately needs tiny things or off center rewards for exploration and questing.
--->Settlements: A - 30 is too fucking many, B - Some locations are beyond useless. (I'm looking at you Hangmans Alley and Jamaica Plain)
However the ability to alter the landscape and build a fortress of doom is awesome as a clean pinch after a massive steamer drop. While I could go on about how it really needed to be fleshed out more, or better thought out. I can't help but to build small walled in fortresses of death. Plus with the map being such a clusterfuck... There's nothing like shooting your super mutant neighbors and watching them run over toward a wall of turrets.
--->Music: Another one of those small things, But have you heard the song "Good Neighbor"? Well done at recording a song now but capturing the sound of then. I thought at first the song really was vintage. But it's not. FO-4 could use more thematic music like that. It really adds to the game.
That's all folks, Share your thoughts below. Am I spot on, and absolutely right? Or perhaps my ramblings just a basket of fetid kitten turds?