Fallout 4 stresses me out, on an existential level.
1) Should I do the main quest or just dick around? Which is the ‘true’ Fallout 4? When I played Skyrim for the first time I pretty much ignored the campaign in favour of roaming far and wide, but that meant I didn’t see a dragon (beyond the one in the intro) for about 40 hours. So if I explore I might miss out on COOL STUFF. But then again the stories are historically the weakest aspect of Bethesda RPGs so…
2) Why does this campaign keep going on and on and on and on, it’s been like 40 hours and I just want to know how it ends now and oh god I have to finish but now it’s 2am and my kid will scream me awake at 7am and…
3) I just sat down and did the maths on how many of those 40 hours were in fact spent scavenging for specific junk in order to make incremental weapon and armour upgrades that I absolutely convinced myself were vital if in order to be ready for the campaign’s end game. Whoops.
4) The companion AI and pathfinding is so diabolical that I just can’t stand to have any of them with me, even Dogmeat and he’s only small. So I’ve spent most of the time playing alone, and this means I still don’t know exactly who’s available, who is ‘best’, or let alone if it’s possible to sleep with anyone. And I don’t think I want to sleep with anyone anyway. Imagine how terrible that would look in this engine, with those animations.
5) All these years and all these games, and my overriding purpose is still to steal everything that isn’t nailed down. What does this say about me? Do I have some sort of problem? And how can I call myself a hero when the vast majority of my time is spent filling my pockets with other people’s money, clothing and random rolls of duct tape?
6) Is it genuinely the case that almost every quest is resolved by shooting everyone in sight? It sure seems like it, which kind of sucks, but what if I’ve somehow missed something, some clever way of talking to people, and I wind up looking like a fool if I complain that ‘there’s too much shooting?’ if anyone asks me what I think of this game?
7) And is the shooting as bad – weightless, puppety, repetitive – as I think it is, or I am just getting old and tired of shooting things? No, can’t be. I enjoyed shooting things in Metal Gear Solid V, after all. BUT WHAT IF I’M WRONG?
8) I didn’t play much of New Vegas because I just couldn’t stand that profoundly rickety engine and the anaemic palette any more. I hated it in Fallout 3, so to willing go back to it would be outright masochism. I did try, and I could see that the writing and acting was far better than Fallout 3 or Oblivion’s lacklustre efforts in that regard, but I just couldn’t spend any more time there because its world looked and felt so uninspiring. How much is that going to matter? This is the sequel to Fallout 3, not New Vegas, after all. But is there something important I won’t know about? And, more overridingly, am I wasting my time playing this given that people are saying New Vegas is so much better despite its age and appearance?
9) I have now spent 52 hours playing this game. I haven’t so much as thought about any other game. This makes me uncomfortable – both intellectually and professionally. There’s so much more I could be doing with my mind. (And professionally, there are so many more, more intriguing games I could be telling people about instead). And it’s not like this is a game I can truly complete, that some grand revelation awaits once I’ve seen everything, spoken to everyone, collected everything. All it can do is continue. But that’s why I can’t stop. It keeps feeding me more. And the hunger doesn’t stop.
10) My two year old daughter just gave me a look of infinite sadness that a face that young should not be capable of because I said “not now Connie, I need to… work, go find Mummy” while my screen was full of gunfire and mutants.