Let’s talk about Fallout’s VATS Game Design and why I think and feel it’s somewhat… Failed in a way

fallout 7 - Let's talk about Fallout's VATS Game Design and why I think and feel it's somewhat... Failed in a way

Okay, first of all, I want to make it clear I have still not completed any of Fallout games yet so far. I've been playing many of them, including the classics and the moderns, all at the same time a little bit and I'm still doing the same thing for other games, so I'm _very_ split between this series to even have reached the half of any FO title, and thus I may be prone commit some mistake. In that case, correct me, please. But there's one thing I noticed in the modern Fallouts that kinda messes with me, especially considering that I'm studying game design: How VATS works in the first person Fallouts.

Let me get straight with this: It doesn't make the same impact on the modern titles as it used to have in the classic ones when it was only known as "aimed shot".

Why do I say that? Because it doesn't feel it has "weight" on your gameplay or playstyle anymore. In the first Fallout titles, when we had turned based combat and the combat system put more emphasis on tactical planning rather than quick reflexes or good hand eye coordination for aiming, aimed shots used to play a much bigger role in combat than it does nowadays. The idea was quite simple: Target of specific body parts of an enemy at the cost of burning out more AP (and we'll talk more about how AP also plays a big role on the importance of VATS as a mechaninc latter) and taking a huge risk of having a _much_ higher chance of missing and not causing any damage to the enemy at all. If you hit the shot, you'll have another chance of the specific body part you aimed for being crippled, causing varied negative effects on your enemy depending on where you hit them. Back in those days, you had to think twice before deciding to use an aimed shot at an enemy. This for me was an incredible thing in the design of combat, as it deepens all the strategy of the game and adds to the stakes of your decision making during combat. You had to choose wisely, at least in theory, before not only aiming for the eyes, for example, but before doing almost any other action. It really gave you a sense of sacrificing something for another. Paying a price for something you consider worth it. "Each choice, a waiver". This saying defines perfectly what I'm trying to say. You felt the strengths and weaknesses of focusing either on aimed shots or on non-aimed shots. You had, for example, the fast shot trait, which did not allow you to use the aimed shot feature, but makes you waste 1 less action point for the normal shots. Perfect for an automatic guns build.

In the modern Fallouts, however, this sentence doesn't apply that much. VATS practically stopped being an actual mechanic for combat in game to become more of a noob aim assist feature or a key to reach extreme OPNESS for people who just like to be OP. Now, I'm not saying that wanting to be OP is a necessarily a bad thing, but it shouldn't be the straight strongest way to go with absolutely no weakness. The problem with VATS is that it only gives you the upper hand in practically all situations with apparently no drawbacks at the same time it doesn't make you pay a big "price" when you waste all of your action points and can just keep shooting normally. You just won't do it in slow mo, but fine. Just wait for the AP to reacharge again and then send your wave of bullets in multiple enemies in a few seconds once again. It doesn't have the same stakes as before. If offers only advantages for its use and no technical advantages for focusing on normal shots. As a result, this makes combat not feel so… Varied. even though there's still a lot of ways to play these games anyways, when it comes to combat, you don't feel the strong and weak points of each build. After all, that's the point of RPG's, right? Playing with different characters and playstyles, each one with its unique davantages and weaknesses and then working around these particular strong and weak aspects. That's what makes combat and general gameplay fun, IMO.


This is, in my point of of view, a crucial aspect of game design and balancing, because if there's a feature which causes a win win situation, then most players will begin to solely focusing and using that thing and in consequence, other features, playstyles, builds or combat mechanics will have no purpose at all and will hence become useless inside the game. It's the Chekhov's Gun principle applied to games: If it has no purpose, then it's like it doesn't actually exist. In my opinion, what should be done is raise the stakes and offering more strong, defined and unique advantages and equally strong, defined and specific drawbacks for the same thing. An example for why this was not so much the case in FO1 and 2, is because of how AP worked and how much important it was in those games. Every single action of yours drained your action points: Walking, normal shooting, aiming shooting, reloading, using stimpacks, open doors and checking containers and even opening and cheking your inventory. Damn, I'm even surprised you did not have to use AP to switch the weapons. And using aimed shots made you waste one more action point, most times making so that you could not shoot two times in the same turn. AP in modern Fallouts don't play thaaat much of importance and influence anymore. Of course, FO4 improved this a little bit more by making you be able to use AP to sprint, but somehow that's not enough in my opinion. Come on, AP should your equivalent "mana" from fantasy RPG's. It should play a bigger hole than it does right now. I'm still not sure _exactly_ in what else AP could be set to be spent on in a way that doesn't entirely breaks the game balance overall, though I possibly may have a few sugestions, but focusing on it should definitely be more rewarding at a higher cost of rejecting all the possible benefits from a non-VATS build in combat. Each choice must have a sacrifice of same value.

"Each choice, a waiver"

But that's just my point of view I'd like to share to you guys and discuss so I can actually open this conversation. What do you really think about this? Do you actually agree with me? If not, why? remember that I'm still starting recently with the franchise, but I would like to open this conversation to reflect with you guys and see what do you think about it.

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