So a lot of people have been talking recently about whats wrong with the newer fallout games, and it got me thinking a bit. It's kind of hard to sum it up but I think this article does a good job at squaring up something that really niggles me about Fallout 4/76. Now I don't particularly agree with everything in this article, but the beginning section certainly has a lot of merit.
"Fallout 76 is the first game in the Fallout franchise to treat nuclear weapons as toys instead of looming, terrifying threats."
These words really got me thinking about something important to the series. There's an odd lack of accountability in these games in comparison to older titles. In fallout 2, working with slavers would get the player ostracized from civilized places, in Fallout 3 bad deeds and good would see the player hunted down, and Fallout New Vegas' factions would respond to the players actions dynamically. That's just to name a few things.
Following Fallout 4 however, things seem to take an odd nose dive into a strange world of power fantasy. You can do terrible things wherever and however you want and no one aside from companions really holds you accountable. There's a lack of impact to our actions. I can wipe out or enslave settlements as I please, yet stroll into Diamond City to be greeted just as eagerly as ever.
That's not to say Fallout 4 lacks good faction diversity. I'd argue it's portrayal of the Brotherhood is one of the best in the series, but the issue is that the same shades of grey and depth are lost on the player. There's a lack of impact in dialogue moments that feel more like short interactive cutscenes, that all conclude the same way, before throwing the player out into the next action sequence, as opposed to a core mechanic of the game. Our impact is reserved to riding around in mechanical armour, blowing away our foes with high powered weapons, and while that's always been an impact of the series, there's a certain something lacking, and I'm fairly certain it's accountability.
This is even more exemplified in fallout 76, where there's a lack of any NPCs. Merely a sandbox to go wild with all these cool toys. It is precisely what I said above taken one step further.
That's not to say the games are objectively bad. You can enjoy it if that's what you like, but when compared with older titles, 4/76 are missing something that's always stood out as a core part of the fallout experience. No one truly cares about the character's actions beyond purely superficial dialogue moments. Long term effects and consequences are nearly non existent, and even the worst options in the game, siding with the raiders and enslaving the commonwealth, can be undone by simply turning on them, and becoming General of the Minutemen, at which point everyone quickly forgets what a tyrant you once were…
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