An argument that will not ever die: are the many, many bugs and glitches which pepper Bethesda’s RPGs an unavoidable consequence of how much they cram in, or a sign of a studio so complacent about success that it believes it can get away with so many rough edges? Whatever the reality, at least Bethesda are getting on with patching Fallout 4 [official site]. Nonetheless, they claim that any issues are a side-effect of “the scale and complexity of the systems at work” and argue that the post-apocalyptic sequel is “our most robust and solid release ever.”
Well, yeah, but I could say that about the cake I tried to make for my partner’s last birthday. Sure, it wasn’t as disastrous as previous years’ efforts, but Mary Berry would still pass out in horror if she saw it.
In fairness, Fallout 4 is nowhere near as messy as Skyrim was at launch, despite having no shortage of bugs. And, interface headaches aside, it seemed built for modern PCs from the off this time. So a patch doesn’t feel urgent as such, but it’s nice to think that we might see a few less Escherian NPCs and perhaps a Dogmeat who knows how to avoid furniture before too long.
Besthesda try to justify the bugs and whatnot in this post here, arguing that “a hundred testers will never replicate the many millions playing the game now, and we’re hard at work addressing the top issues.” OK, but maybe hire more testers too?
Beyond “top issues”, Bethesda aren’t giving out any details on what the patch will entail, other than to say next week’s update will be a ‘beta’ release. You’ll have to opt-in, in other words. They’ve done it before – it basically enables them to live-trial the fixes before committing to them, which I imagine is most helpful to Bethesda in terms of the later console update, and all the long-winded certification that involves.
A full PC release will follow the beta version, with consoles after that. Say Bethesda, “This process has worked well for us in the past and allows us to get more fixes out faster. Expect to see more updates, that are smaller and more frequent, than a few big ones. This allows us to make sure each fix is working right, as any change can have unintentional side effects in a game this huge. We expect the first beta patch to be up next week.”
They also claim that confusions over exactly how some of the game’s mechanics and interface work is deliberate. “There are many moments of “How does this work? What do I do to survive?” and that’s how your character should be feeling as well. Those that push through should be able to look back at who they were when they stepped out of the Vault and say, “I made it. I understand this world now and it’s mine.” I’m not sure I’m buying that to be honest – a lot of things simply feel like UI obfuscation, and on top of that any claim that it’s all about discovery is negated by the fact that there are blow-by-blow in-game help screens if you can bothered to trawl through them. But big game companies never, ever make mistakes. Don’t forget that.
Anyway, I look forwards to the patch, though I secretly hope it doesn’t nuke the bug which enables me to infinitely pickpocket Fusion Cores from unsuspecting Brotherhood of Steel soldiers. Anything in particular you’d like to see fixed right away?