The problem with “roleplaying” in Fallout and other BGS games

fallout 3 - The problem with "roleplaying" in Fallout and other BGS games

First, this is not a "I hate Bethesda because…". I enjoy playing F3, I enjoy Oblivion, Skyrim…Bethesda games are fun, but there´s a lot of people calling them "RPG´s" and talking about roleplay builds, but the more I play these games the more I realize that they are far from being RPG´s. This is something that youtubers like Zaric and The Cantina have mentioned, so you can also check their channels.

It´s hard to define a genre. But we can all agree that a genre always has some innate rules to it. And the newer BGS games lack these rules. The old games like Morrowind had them at some extent, Oblivion and F3 had some of these RPG mechanics (I´m not counting Daggerfall because it was a dungeon crawler-fantasy life simulator). Specially in F3, where the dialogue system was way better than in Oblivion, because you could make your character rude or kind, while in Oblivion you were a Yes Man. These games weren´t RPG´s, but they had a portion. You have skills, dialogue checks in F3, dice rolls in Morrowind, Fame and Infamy in Oblivion…But with Skyrim and F4 something felt weird. Because these games are just adventure-looting games.

The best example I can think of in Skyrim is that the game treats you like a dumb warrior. Look, I love mages in fantasy. I ALWAYS play as a mage (or it´s sci fi counterpart, the scientist) in RPG´s. And I did the same in Skyrim. And all the time when starting a quest or talking to people they always say "Hey, could you do x work for me? You look STRONG". Strong? WTF man, I´m wearing mage robes, I´m walking around with summoned daedra at my side, and the worst part is when playing questlines like the thieves guild. The game literally force you to say "I rely on my skill, not magic or luck" or something like that.

The dialogue system in Skyrim is atrocious. And the game intro also has an impact in roleplay (this has been a problem since Morrowind but they continue for some reason). You can´t roleplay as a travelling merchant, or an adept mage coming to the province to study in the CoW. No. You are a prisioner, and you are thE MIGHTY DRAGONBORN. FUS RO DAH. In F4 is even worse. You don´t play as your character. You are limited to be a grieving father/mother. It doesn´t matter if you make your own explanations in your head. Why would a pshycopath who doesn´t feel love start his/her own family and then pursue his/her baby? These games doesn´t support your roleplaying ideas. It´s just stuff in your head.

Now, the next point. Your actions don´t have consequences. I remember how in F3 you could change the world around you with the Megaton quest. Also almost every side quest (which btw were way better than the main story lmao) had 2 or more outcomes, and depending on how they ended, you triggered new encounters, radio quotes, your karma changed…


Because of this I was massively dissapointed with F4. Side quest are boring, I only know of 1 quest with skill checks (I haven´t played the Nuka World expansion), you are a complete Yes Man, and most of these quests doesn´t have any impact on the world. But not only the sidequest. Oh no. The same goes for the MAIN quest.

From the 4 factions, 3 have the exact same ending (which is the most stupid ending ever. But I´ll talk about that in another post), and the Institute is the only one who has something "different". It´s also a lot of shotting but AT LEAST it has different context (and is not absolutely retarded like the others). But the worst part its that it doesn´t matter who controls the Commonwealth. There is NO difference. Only a flag in Diamond City and some skirmishes as random encounters. And radiant quests. That´s it. And this is why F4 should END with the last main quest, like many RPG´s. To give a conclussion. But nope. Of course, it´s cool at first to be able to continue, but the consequences kill immersion.

"But the factions need time to establish!". Yes, but even taking that in mind, almost NO ONE in the Commonwealth talks about the outcome of the main story. If the Institute wins, there are no revolts, no complaining. Everyone is just like before. Sigh.

Now, these are the two main reasons why BGS games are not longer adventure games with RPG mechanics. They are pure action games disguised as RPG´s. But no. Having "roleplay", or character progression systems doesn´t make a game an RPG.

However, I would like to compare these games to true RPG´s. In this case, Pillars of Eternity. This franchise has an interesting and developed dialogue system, with lots of options on how you want to make your character (you even have a reputation system, and depending on how you talk to others, people will react differently), it has interesting side quests and tasks with more than 1 outcome, and your decisions make CHANGES on the game. I could give lots of examples, but just play it or read the wiki. There is a lot of interaction. Also the second game has a faction system way better than the one in F4 (the factions make sense, because the Railroad is the worst excuse for a faction ever made)

I´m not asking Bethesda to make now a CRPG, but their games would be way better if they had some RPG elements. But looks like the newer Fallout fans don´t like those things, and some of them keep saying that these games are good RPG´s. Lol. They are fun action games. But they are NOT RPG´s.

Again. It doesn´t matter how much imagination you put in your Dragonborn/Sole Survivor. When the game slaps you in the face with the "YOU ARE A DRAGONBORN WARRIOR/GRIEVING PARENT", all roleplay ends up being just your ideas. And RPG´s are such because they put YOUR ideas into the game. New BGS games put THEIR ideas into the game. That´s the difference.


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