I've recently started my first playthrough of Fallout 4 and have been having a quite a good time with it. The level of technical polish and sheer amount of things to do and see left me astounded, but as the atmosphere and slew of mechanics become more and more familiar to me, I start to notice issues in it's roleplay system.
Now most fans would claim the mayor issue in the four choice dialogue system is that it makes for a rigid, reactive style of conversation. You are now answering NPC's rather than brining up topics for them to discuss, and though I find that change welcome as it introduces some realism, I admit it's quite jarring at times, but the two main issues for me are:
- Personality types:
The dialogue system was built with four attitudes in mind; these are: good, bad, neutral and question. The main issue with this however, is that none of those are actual personalities, nor do they relate to the player character in any significant way. Mass Effect was quick to learn this, and tied several character traits to the personalities of evil and good Shepard early on (one was a co*ky prick, the other a by-the-books soldier/space Jesus, relating to both his backstory and life as a space marine). However in the Fallout universe, a questionable and adaptable morality was always central to life in the wasteland, meaning previous games chose to focus on the player's traits and skills instead, a much better approach. The question now is… How exactly do we boil Fallout playstyles down into three basic categories? Well I've come up with a sort of »class-based« way of determining a player's outlook on the world, that could mend some of the system's flaws. Instead of morality, the personalities would be as such:
-The »warrior«: A brash, imposing character type that cares only for vigilante justice, combat and the purging of immoral thugs (the morality of a character could be determined by a karma system, or early-game choice?). Their speech checks would resemble New Vegas's Intimidating Presence skill. How they succeed in speech checks would be determined by:
-Their Strength and Endurance stats.
-Their investment in Unarmed, Guns and Explosives or their perk equivalents.
– The »charmer«: An intelligent, silver-tongued protagonist that seeks peaceful solutions (in the case of positive moral alignment) or greater gain for themselves. Their checks would resemble New Vegas’s Speech, Medicine and Science checks. His success in those would be determined by:
-Their Intelligence and Charisma stats.
-Their investment in Energy Weapons, Science, Medicine or their perk equivalents.
– The “thief” : A sly, conniving personality that relies on haggling, stealing and sheer luck to sway wastelanders to their side. Their speech checks would resemble New Vegas’s Barter checks, as well as Skyrim’s ability to bribe or talk your way out of criminal acts and force individuals into self-sacrifice for the sake of their benefit. His success in those would be determined by:
-Their Luck and Perception stats.
-Their investment in Barter, Lockpicking, Sneaking or their perk equivalents.
Strangely enough, many of these personalities could very well apply to older Fallout quests. A great example is the confrontation in the Gommorah, where the Courier may convince several of the Gommorah’s crime lords to sabotage weapon shipments and the like, leading to their demise (Thief), convince them to abandon their jobs altogether (Charmer), or intimidate them into cooperation (Warrior). The standout in this example being the final conversation with the criminal overseers, where you may:
-Lie to your interrogator, convincing them that you were merely a puppet of one of the Gommorah’s bosses, causing them to attack one another. (Thief)
-Order Cachino to attack the bosses. (I understand this is highly contextual, but it could apply to the Warrior personality)
-Use a speech check to learn of their plan and proceed to make the choices mentioned above .(Charmer).
- Acquisition of information:
One of the four attitudes I mentioned above was “question”. Selecting this attitude results in (no shit), your player character asking a question. This leads to conversations proceeding as such:
“question” >> “answer, presenting more information” >> “question about information” >> “answer, presenting more information” etc.
Now I doubt I’m the only one who finds this a tad inefficient. The player usually holds a great amount of the knowledge presented already, and therefore has to hear it regurgitated to them over and over, before finally asking about a fact that poses a genuine unknown. A simple solution exists and it can be found in the Mass Effect series of games.
The option reserved for asking questions opens a separate dialogue wheel, which allows the player to select between a multitude of questions. This does actually happen in Fallout 4 very occasionally, though only if a question and answer precede it. I'd prefer to simply have an option named “investigate” that would open the separate wheel immediately.
I apologize for any of the bad English in this post, it is not my first language and though I feel I speak it quite well, there will obviously be mistakes. I wanted to keep this post shorter so I didn’t head into too many details, feel free to ask questions, correct me, or suggest something In the comments below.
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