Teddy Bear Swapsies & Drunken Tomfoolery In Fallout 4

The other day I grumped a little at the idea of our dutifully posting all seven of the Fallout 4 [official site] S.P.E.C.I.A.L. videos over the coming weeks, but you lot rightfully called me out on my cynicism. These cute animated shorts are doing a handy job of summarising Fallout’s systems and general attitude.

So here’s the fourth one then, this time looking at that most alien of concepts to me, Charisma. I particularly liked its depiction of Ye Archetypal Roleplaying Inn.

It’s bittersweet that Fallout 4 is unlikely to have quite this level of wit and whismy outside of Vault Boy cutscenes and whatnot, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be in love with it if I can make a snarling thug smile by giving him a teddy bear. And I’ll never say no to a naked bear fight.

Three more of these to go, anyway. The S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system is potentially more important to Fallout 4 than ever, given that they recently announced they’re dispensing with the traditional Fallout Skills system in favour of expanded Perks.

Fallout 4 is released on November 10th – a little over a month away. As if you didn’t know that already, eh?

36 Comments

  1. Raoul Duke says:

    I’m with you Alec… no need for RPS to post this marketing hype fuel every week. Why not integrate it into one of the no doubt many articles you will be writing in the lead up to FO4 being released?

    Meanwhile, I remained concerned that if the ‘systems’ require 7 videos to explain them, then the game is going to make itself a chore to play. Shouldn’t all of this be intuitive and organic, rather than having a crapload of rules?

    • LionsPhil says:

      Ditto. Or at least batch them up into one, rather than doing the marketing job of perpetuating a dripfeed that keeps it bubbling to the top of the hype-pot.

    • Babymech says:

      “Shouldn’t all of this be intuitive and organic, rather than having a crapload of rules?”

      Agreed – games should essentially be a finely tuned combination of 1. GO 2. PUNCH/SHOOT 3. HIDE IN MASS GRAVE. Anything more than that becomes a chore to play and distances the player from experiencing the game-world. This is especially important in an RPG, which FO4 still supposedly aspires to be – who ever heard of a role-playing game with rule books and complex systems? Sounds like they’ve lost track of their roots, trying to please a mass audience.

      • Asurmen says:

        The Sarcasm is strong with this one.

      • LexW1 says:

        Hate to spoil the sarcasm, but over time, the average size of the rulebooks for well-designed TT RPGs has shrunk drastically, and the rules have become increasingly intuitive and unnecessary to explain.

        It’s a mark of a badly-designed RPG if the rules themselves are huge and complex, generally-speaking (before anyone tries “BUT D&D IS THREE BIG BOOKS AND LOOK HOW WELL THAT DOES!”, I should point out the actual rules for both 4E and especially 5E are relatively straightforward, and that most of what is in those books is discussion of the rules, flavour, stats for enemies/magic items, and so on, or rules that would be “under the hood” in a computer game, like for weather effects, rather than actual rules the players need to know), especially if they’re counter-intuitive.

        • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

          Sure, but yours is an extreme example just as much as it was pretty far fetched to consider FO4’s mechanics overly complex and dependent on a lot of explanations.

        • Babymech says:

          What makes the mechanics not be ‘under the hood’ in Fallout 4? Do you have to know how (I)nt works in Fallout 4 for it to affect XP gains? Do you have to manually add a multiplier to XP when you play a high-int character? I’m hoping no.

          The videos are there because players want to know about the rules and the systems, not because they need to in order to play the game. They will still be ‘under the hood’, as the game will make the calculations for you, but it’s still entertaining and reassuring to know what they are. RPG gamers generally want their games to be complex without being complicated, and the FO4 videos try to give the players an entertaining view of the complexity.

          • Relnor says:

            I’m pretty sure the videos are mainly for marketing/entertainment, the actual mechanics around the stats are unlikely to be that different from all the previous Fallouts so far.

          • Babymech says:

            Relnor, I agree entirely with what you say, yet at the same time I can’t really bring myself to reply to your post and actually say that. No, literally. I can’t click Reply on your post. What the hell, RPS.

        • blackmyron says:

          4E is a classic example of what happens when you try to dumb down a game to make for a broader appeal – it pleases no one. “3.75E” aka “Pathfinder” has often been outselling D&D.

          If you need a genre-specific example of ‘simplifying’ a game to everyone’s dismay, look no further than the atrocious Deus Ex: Invisible War.

    • dorobo says:

      But they are entertaining! They are a thing in itself. No need to buy a game to appreciate these.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      I honestly don’t know how you’d make it more intuitive other than dropping the whole character building mechanics, or if you seriously think explanations are needed.

      What if they simply thought this system was a nice excuse for some entertaining videos in place of boring old trailer, with no strings attached?

  2. Lakshmi says:

    I’m enjoying them, thanks, more than the many MGS posts. I just scroll past those I’m not that interested in, I’m sure others can do the same.

    • Frank says:

      Ditto. (Guessing yours was a reply to the top comment.)

      • Lakshmi says:

        It was, but when I failed to hit reply properly I tried to play it cool. Now I’m busted :(

  3. The Sombrero Kid says:

    The thing that bugs me about using these videos as ad’s is that they are almost certainly in the game and I think i’d enjoy them a lot more in that context, so I haven’t watched any since the first one.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Harlander says:

    You shouldn’t confuse “can be complex” with “must be maximally complex”, though.

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      This was supposed to be a reply to.. oh, forget it.

    • LionsPhil says:

      There’s also a massive difference between combinatorial complexity, where simple, elegant rules fit together beautifully as a pinnacle of design to make an expressive and versatile system, and making a huge big tangle of conflicting special-cases and redundant options for every occasion.

      …not that I think Bethesda are in any danger of creating the latter. They increasingly lean to trying for the former, and sorta-merging skills and perks in FO4 shows they’re still on that track.

  5. Philopoemen says:

    I’m not sure how the SPECIAL system is going to matter more now they’ve got rid of the skills. Intelligence is not required for skill points anymore, possibly for used to get perks related to using terminals. (No point saying Science and Repair anymore, is there?)

    The various SPECIAL ranks will be Perk gates, but knowing Betheseda, you’ll be able to raise them without much difficulty in any case.

    I’m not a huge fan of the new Fallouts, as choices in character design don’t really matter. If you want to be able to do everything, you generally can. Great for one playthrough, but no longevity otherwise.

    • LionsPhil says:

      It’s what comes of being a game where you can concurrently ascend to being the leader of every guild in the setting within a few short weeks, but with guns.

      • fish99 says:

        Well technically that’s the Elder Scrolls games since there’s no guilds in Fallout 3, but yeah that always struck me as very silly. Bethesda seem to think that if the player can’t become head of every guild, they’ll become instantly bored.

        It was especially silly in Skyrim where I played a pure melee class on my 2nd playthrough, barely touched magic, but became head of the Mages guild.

        • Premium User Badge

          Qazinsky says:

          Listen, if someone walks into my little robed community holding a big honking greatsword, with arm muscles the size of hams and draped in a dead dragon and asks if he can be the boss, I am not gonna be the one to say no.

        • LionsPhil says:

          (Hence the “but with guns”.)

          And, yeah. I hammered my way through most of the mage quests in Skyrim, with only the smallest nods to magical dabbling for flavour’s sake. Wizards are so squishy, it is funny to me!

          • socrate says:

            its really what happened to most triple A game they always reward you for stupid stuff that you could do with your eyes closed…i literally one shot dragon from the beginning to the end at the highest difficulty in the beginning of skyrim it was the most dull and boring experience of my life…i think these game have no real rpg element to them they feel like CoD perk and such and even less interesting since perk in the fallout FPS so far were usually extremely simple like 50% crit bonus dmg and other such nonsense…not like i already kill every single thing in a matter of second anyway without a sweat…gamer today seem either extremely boring or extremely lazy and want to be rewarded each time they fart in real life,its kind of pathetic…to me at least

            On the other hand i think Dark soul is more an RPG in every sense then any of these so call RPG…i actually enjoy Dark soul game and although its not the extremely hard game people claim it is…it is a fun rpg experience that i enjoy replaying with various spec and tactic…but i do really miss these old rpg…fallout 1 and 2 weren’t just horrible 1 liner speech thing that you would blaze through in a few second you actually had to pick your answer and decide how to approach these situation…they were extremely clever and well made…the universe made sense…now the enclave,a stupid secret organisation, is all over the place and have model of vertibird in museum i mean cmon…

    • The Sombrero Kid says:

      So you’re saying now that SPECIAL stats have replaced Skills to be the main form of progression as opposed to a peripheral one, they’re going to become less important?

      • Philopoemen says:

        No, the comment is related to Alec saying that they’re more important. The main progression now is Perks; and your choice of perks will be based on your SPECIAL stats, but from past experience Bethesda will speed progression along, so either plenty of stat boosts, or low requirements to begin with.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      Well, i think both systems had stats that were less important and little changed with that, only which ones are now a priority to you as opposed to back then.

      Besides, i’d say we still haven’t seen the one stat that might benefit in intresting ways the most from this whole new system, which would be LUCK.

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        But to actually answer your question, Intelligence is now also responsible for increased EXP, which is kind of a big deal with no level cap.

  6. Turkey says:

    What’s the point in getting good at bartering if you’re only going to get level appropriate equipment out of it anyway?

  7. Michael Fogg says:

    I really like to the idea that high Cha can make potential oponents reconsider their hostility. I imagine that in a conflict-saturated environment people are calculating and go for the gun only when they think they have a high chance of winning. I always found it immersion breaking in many rpgs having to fight waves of kamikaze-bandits etc. A high Cha-character that just exudes enough badassery and resourcefullness to walk through the toughest communities is an underused idea in rpgs.

    • ffordesoon says:

      You’ll be disappointed.

      The problem with Charisma from a game design perspective is that it’s either a dump stat or a god stat, with little in between. This is because it has to affect dialogue, and dialogue in computer RPGs is generally a binary proposition – you pick the right choice and you win, or you pick the wrong choice and you lose. Static, binary outcomes like that generally aren’t as exciting or interesting to players as more dynamic systems like combat, which allow for a larger range of outcomes. Combat is favored in mass-market RPGs like Fallout 4 especially, both because it’s what less game-literate players have come to expect from their videogames and because the extra work it entails if done “right” is prohibitively expensive for relatively small returns. Studios that create niche RPGs have more leeway in this regard, but they still have to deal with the basic design quandary above, and a combat-centric game is simply easier to make well. The whole team needs to be strongly committed to a pacifist playthrough from the beginning and design around it for a great videogame to emerge.

      All of which is to say that I agree with you, and prefer dialogue-centric builds in theory, but there are reasons why RPGs tend to operate the way they do.

      • Michael Fogg says:

        You make good points, that the implementation of diplomacy-style options is difficult from a gameplay design standpoint. And I also dislike the idea of diplomacy being segregated exclusively to dialogue options. But I really hope F4 will at least try a broader systemic implementation. Maybe simply a Charisma based ‘charm’-type spell-like ability that you can use once per day that allows you to shout a random pacyfying phrase at approaching baddies (‘Don’t come near me! It’s contagious!’) that makes them sheathe the weapons if the roll is successful.

  8. Enkinan says:

    I’m still enjoying these.

    I’m not sure why others who already know what the videos are continue to click the articles, watch them, and then complain about them for what is now the 4th time.

    • Dominare says:

      This is where I say “welcome to the internet” right?

    • qrter says:

      RPS has made posts containing only a couple of new screenshots from an upcoming game – that is ridiculous. At least these Fallout 4 animations are fun.