Is It Important That Fallout 4’s World Lacks Credibility?

So I’m wandering through Fallout 4 [official site], and I come across this old diner, sitting there, neon still lit, almost jaunty in a destroyed land. There’s a guy outside called Wolfgang, a leathered drug dealer, who explains that a mother and son have set up a shop in this diner, and that he wants paying for goods he’s sold to the son.

I go inside, aiming to resolve the problem between the dealer and the son, and get into conversation with the mother. But, looking down, I notice that, despite trading from this place, she hasn’t thought to remove a skeleton from one of the booths. Because why would you remove a skeleton from your shop? Or any of the filth that’s accumulated on the floor?

It’s just one of the weird little things about the world of Fallout 4 that I find confusing and alienating. Little things that nudge me out out my suspension of disbelief that this is a place. Instead of enveloping myself in all its detail, it just gets me wondering, absently, is this how it would be?

The neglected skeleton reminded me of the time I visited Fallout 3’s Three Dog. He’d presumably been broadcasting his radio station from his bunker for a good while, having apparently established it in 2272, five years beforehand, but for some reason his rooms were filled with rubbish and broken filing cabinets. Why wouldn’t he have cleaned up a little? He tapes his broadcasts; the guy had time.

And yet the wasteland is home to all kinds of weird personal touches. What’s this? Some raiders have taken care to put glasses on a teddy bear, prop a newspaper in its lap and perch it on a toilet seat in their base. But not also clear rooms of skeletons and filing cabinets? Are they just that anarchic?

Back to the skeleton in that diner, judging by the rolled-up pre-war newspaper in front of it, it’s a casualty of the Great War. If we’re in 2287 and it all kicked off in 2077, there it’s been sprawled, half on the seat, half off, for 210 years. 210 years ago from now is 1805. The year Napoleon claimed the crown of Italy, and the start of Thomas Jefferson’s second term as US president. While we’re at it, that neon sign works? The vinyl on the booth’s seats is weathered but still bright red, the window frames are only dusted with rust. Elsewhere, terminals chatter and glow, lights burn, radios buzz, and floors are scattered with paper.

Fallout seems quite resolute in its lack of care that this stuff makes no sense. Its wastelands’ tangles of buildings, sometimes weirdly intact and sometimes frozen in deterioration, are pretty much about two moments: the emotional impact of the point the bombs hit and the point you happily wander through the wreckage, possibly accompanied by a Shakespeare-quoting super mutant, perhaps brandishing a Fat Man and wearing novelty glasses, and about to stumble on a bar that references Cheers.

And that’s mostly OK – I think? Because open-world, because videogames, and because Fallout’s visual identity is so strong. It’s great to walk beneath towering suspended highways and through deserted city streets. That sharp prick of discovery when you see a can of pre-war Cram sitting on a picnic bench is a delight, and aren’t you _really_ playing a modern Fallout just to get to pick through detritus for loot?

But 210 years? It’s like someone made a typo during the writing of Fallout’s canonical timeline. Because while I appreciate that it doesn’t really matter and I should pretend otherwise, I spend far too much time wandering and wondering, ‘Would it really look like that?’ and just perplexed that so much effort has been put into making something that holds together so uneasily. And then the world starts threatening to devolve into sets of generic assets folded together in manifold configurations across tens of square miles of terrain. Not being much of a Matrix fan, I don’t really want that. I want to believe, right?

At the same time, it also makes me ask, what should Boston look like? So I read around how buildings deteriorate, and the truth is that we don’t really know. Modern steel cities haven’t had that much time to rot, and they tend to get maintained or simply razed anyway. But the fundamentals are pretty obvious. Water ingress leeches glue away from seals, allowing mould to grow and plants to take seed, their roots breaking up walls and floors. Wet and dry rot settles into wood and iron rusts, causing the reinforced steel in concrete to expand and crack it open, while its exterior is eaten away by weak carbolic acid in rainwater.

The model is Pripyat, the city that was evacuated in April 1986, 29 years ago, as a result of the Chernobyl disaster. Its level of decay seems very similar to Fallout 4’s Boston. Its concrete tower blocks still stand, paint peels from walls, and the plastic of Pripyat amusement park’s iconic ferris wheel seats retains its colour. But in Pripyat, vegetation has taken over, in contrast to the barrenness of Fallout’s wastelands. It’s a major point where Fallout’s universe diverges from our own; in reality, radiation can cause trees to grow slower, but in Fallout they never grew back.

That Fallout’s still stand is perhaps more credible. Chernobyl’s trees don’t decay normally because the radiation has affected decomposers like insects, microbes and fungi. For up to 20 years after the incident, the trees of the Red Forest, named for the colour they turned, hadn’t rotted away. On the flip side, the lack of rotting dramatically increases the risk of fire raging through the dry wood and litter, taking buildings with it.

And then there’s flooding. The Fallout universe’s reliance on nuclear energy has probably prevented sea levels from rising like ours, but Boston was hit by 49 tropical cyclones during the twentieth century. The worst was 1938’s Great New England Hurricane, its storm tide reaching 19.01 feet. Here’s a map of the effect of five-foot and 7.5-foot floods hitting central Boston today.

Boston is also built on soft clay, gravel and sand, entirely unsuited to skyscrapers. Its buildings are built on concrete piles which effectively float on this mushy ground, and when a building’s piles start to disintegrate, the building subsides.

So Boston would have burned, flooded and sunk. And probably be less than fun to explore. The familiar logic of Fallout 4’s semi-recognisable Boston makes it far more pleasurable and practical to pick through and fight than the chaos of half-submerged rubble that it would really have turned into over two centuries. And it also provides the powerful attraction of ruins, which seems most potent when they hit that sweet-spot between being recognisable, harbouring the ghost of what they were, and distance, allowing you to romantically imagine what happened in them.

Fallout, like The Walking Dead and countless other apocalypse fantasies, knows the thrill of exploring ruins and in imagining all we know scattered to the winds. They know the emotional resonance of realising what we have and what we stand to lose, and of feeling a hint of schadenfreude, too, in getting to witness terrible mistakes that that we’ve – so far – avoided. In this idea lies the binding point of what Fallout really is: a world of patchwork parables and allusions. Race relations, power politics and corruption, technological supremacy and ideological inflexibility: all are lampooned, and their victims lie all around you.

The backbone of all this is a transplantation of the brave American frontier, with which the wasteland resonates surprisingly harmoniously. Just as the wasteland is hardly an unpopulated wilderness, nor was America prior to European colonisation. Books like Charles Mann’s vivid 1491 describe it as a land strongly moulded by its indigenous peoples (here’s an article which outlines his thesis), but by the time Europeans actually started exploring widely, it was ravaged by European diseases like smallpox and typhus, which travelled faster than the colonists themselves, killing both people and their livestock. A 1792 survey of Puget Sound in British Columbia, for example, found human remains “promiscuously scattered about the beach, in great numbers”.

Incidentally, maybe there’s another echo with Fallout’s grab-all nature in the modern understanding that the colonists of the Mayflower survived their first winter by ransacking the houses of local native Americans and robbing their graves. Happy belated Thanksgiving!

All this allusion, whether to American history, foreign policy or to ‘50s sci-fi, sure means Fallout lacks a culture of its own. Instead, we’re forever forced to look back at the moment those bombs fell in that ancient war. It’s Fallout’s brute emotional core: the source of your motivations and understanding of this world. Without it, nothing would make sense at all, from Pip-Boy to the mountains of ephemera that we constantly search through.

Yet you never quite believe that people really live in its world, because they seem to be just plonked there. It lacks the sweep of all the time that’s passed. Other than through lending you the chance to make your own settlements, there’s no sense that something new has begun to grow from between the cracks of its cracked paving. When everything has to do the heavy lifting of referencing, Fallout’s own imagination seems to get crowded out.


Top comments

  1. oldtaku says:

    As an aside this comment thread is amazing - the occasional typical stinker, but it's mostly pretty civilized and insightful, even when I don't agree with you. Heck, especially when I don't, because you laid out your point enough that I can tell why we disagree. Maybe that's just an indictment of the whole rest of the internet, but it almost feels like parts of Usenet again.
  1. MrFinnishDude says:

    Yeah it really doesn’t seem like like 200 years have passed at all. But oh whatever, because it’s all 50’s retro-scifi and shit.

    • Tacroy says:

      in my head I just replace 210 with 70 and it works OK

      • carewolf says:

        I replaced it with 40-50 years, or just imagined the present time compared to a 50s years, that works.

        Also the games have has several characters in the 80s that supposedly remembers the war, and 60 years old companies that help build the bombs etc. It always seemed 210 years was just a cannonical intro-story nobody read including most the content authors.

        • MagisterMundi says:

          Wait, what? Who? Do you have any examples? I’ve played close to 200 hours at this point, and I haven’t encountered anyone that isn’t a Ghoul (and thus unaging) or otherwise artificially preserved that claims to remember the war. And I’m not sure what you’re talking about regarding companies.

          • StarkeRealm says:

            The original game had a few (if I remember correctly). But it was also set about 80 years after the war. So you had people who were kids when the war happened, but were old geezers by the time the game kicked over. The only one I remember specifically was Harold, though I’m pretty sure there were others.

            Of course, Fallout 2 moved the clock forward another 80 years, and then Fallout 3 moved it forward another 40, so by now that window is closed.

    • Razgovory says:

      Have you ever tried to pick up a skeleton in this game? Can’t be done. Presumably every NPC has the same problem as the player: inability to pick up certain objects. I did have a skeleton turn its head around to look at me once. After that I had a policy of live and unlive with them. I assume everyone else does the same.

      • oldtaku says:

        Bravo! That’s the first thing I’ve heard that makes sense on the skeletons. They’ve been eaten and glued to the ground by *hand wave* radiation mutated adamantium excreting bacteria and nothing can move them.

        ( Incidentally, this is how all physics works on Star Trek )

      • JohnGreenArt says:

        It’s impossible to pick up a skeleton, however you CAN pick something else up (like a bottle, can, whatever—hold it in your hands, don’t place it in your inventory) and PUSH the skeletons with it.

        I’m not sure if skeletons will return to their original positions eventually, though. I’ve got this dead naked raider right at the bridge to Sanctuary, and every time I dragged his ass into the river, a day later he’s back lying dead on the road at the foot of the bridge!

        • d0gmat1x says:

          I know the guy you mean! I threw him in the river and watched him float away. He came back. I placed a fragmine underneath him and shot it, blowing his legs off. I scattered the body parts far and wide. Next time I went back he was there again beside his severed legs. Spooky.

          • rallens says:

            you now have convinced me I need to craft the best heavy raider gear and dress his corpse so his dead body will be a display to all the wasteland not to mess with me forever.

          • MagisterMundi says:

            If you’re on console, he’s there forever and ever. Also, if you loot him, he’ll always be naked, because once dead NPCs won’t equip armor you give them for perhaps obvious reasons.

            If you’re on PC, however, bring up the console, click on him, then type “disable” without the quotes and it’ll disappear. Same goes for skeletons.

          • DuncUK says:

            I came to this thread to mention the skeletons and I@m amazed that nobody has mentioned one of the most nonsensical aspects of them… if you move them with other objects or a grenade, all the bones are mysteriously still attached by… errr… magic?

            It’s ridiculous. They ragdoll around just like any standard corpse and yet are held together by some unseen force. It’s especially annoying as the only way to get new oil for gun parts (other than scavenging it) is a recipe that requires bones. But as skeletons are clearly based on the same structures as humans, ghouls and super-mutants they don’t count as scavengable items and so this apparently rich source of bone is not available to you.

            The Fallouts since 3 inclusive are the sorts of games that are so consistently full of nonsensical inconsistencies that it really doesn’t pay to think too much about them, if you value your immersion.

          • Wolfie says:

            Well, the Fallout feel is 40s-70s style B-movies and kid’s comics … and those were NEVER meant to be thought through too hard (and no one did, because no one but kids read comics back then. The nitty-grittiest comic at the time was Sgt Rock – which featured character perma-death, even of very popular characters.)

            That’s why superheroes used to be so damn lame. Hey, superpowers! How? Oh, different sun colour, radiation, whatever people (especially kids) are too stupid to understand or research further into. Doesn’t matter, it’s FOR KIDS.

            And that’s kind of the undervibe of Beth’s Fallout (and I’m even going to put NV aside.) The entire feel of it is based on this old-timey stuff, when people did NOT deconstruct every little thing to death.

          • Fromage says:

            Yup, yet another thing that Beth failed to understand about the games they hijacked: The original games were just tinged with the 50’s flavor, the Beth games don’t seem to realize there was anything else to them.

    • p1nkbr0 says:

      Perhaps it’s an allusion to the old adage that “Things from that era are built to last forever.”

      Meaning, it may well have been 110 years in our world, but in the world of exaggerated 40s-60s tech, it could have easily lasted 210 years, and more.

      Regarding the skeleton in the diner: To me, I almost feel bad moving skeletons or sleeping in the beds they died in. I feel like I’m disrespecting them in a way. Knowing how sadistic raiders are, it wouldn’t surprise me that they don’t bother moving skeletons, let alone cleaning up after themselves. Supermutants have no single care regarding humans, and only use them to create more mutants. And if it comes right down to it, I don’t think the players care to regorganize and clean when they could just be looting.

      In fact, it’s pretty darn reasonable to believe that things are relatively untouched, or completely disheveled. It’s far more convenient to find a place that already has the requirements for a base, than to repair and clean an existing home. It’s far easier just to rummage through a home for the valuable stuff than to relocate and reorganize.

      That skeleton isn’t explained either. For all we know, it could have been a relative to the family. Perhaps it was somebody not mentioned in the lore and were expected to fill in the story with our own imagination.

      Yeah, it may be darn near implausible, but not unlikely to happen if such a situation arose.

    • Phier says:

      Fallout 3 had the exact same problem. Its like the bombs exploded 2 months ago, only it was a long time ago, only nothing grew back really only…only… only…

      Logic in design isn’t something Bethesda is good at. Its like finding the fresh food deep in a tomb that hasn’t been opened in 2000 years in skyrim.

  2. Risingson says:


    You never ask a sci fi, fantasy or horror story credibility. You ask for coherence. If the world follows the rules that it sets, then it’s fine. If not, if the rule of cool is strong enough, it’s fine.

    And always bear in mind that all fantasy, sci fi and horror stories are a big allegory for something else.

    • klops says:

      They are?

      • Conundrummer says:

        Let the boy use his college learnin’, dang-it!

        • whexican says:

          You see, the fallout series and more specifically its most recent installation, Fallout 4, represent the ultimate depiction of the duality of man and his struggle to both exist and not-exist within that which he is apart of and, arguably, shaping.

    • oldtaku says:

      Sure you do. That classifies it on the hard->soft spectrum which lets you know what you can expect from /rules which haven’t been made clear yet/. It’s extremely jarring if a hard sci-fi novel or series gets resolved with God(s) suddenly showing up and fixing things. On the other hand that could be a fine twist for the end of chapter one or a short story (Clarke did this a lot) because it was deliberately playing with your preconceptions and now you know there are new rules.

      Fallout 4 is obviously very soft so it can get away with a lot. But it also very obviously wants to set up some nostalgia and touching vignettes and to have you take things like the Minutemen with a certain amount of gravitas. So when it rubs your face in the fact that it’s a flimsy set (when it doesn’t even have to) it’s failing to live up to that – you’re right on the coherence, and that’s where it’s failing.

      • Shuck says:

        The Fallout games are also clearly pastiche – 1950s sci-fi and Mad Max (and other 1980s post-apocalyptic movies that were all shot in deserts). We have a sort of collection of different expectations because those various source materials force an evaluation of each element based on what, specifically, it’s referencing. But at the same time, that really doesn’t lend itself to any sort of coherent, sensical world that’s not chock-full of clichés.

    • Maltose says:

      Well, one of my companions keeps saying that they’d just need a broom and a few centuries to get everything looking like new. They’ve had two centuries and it still looks like the bombs fell last year, not two centuries ago.

      • JaggidEdje says:

        maybe they never found a broom..

        • 2lab says:

          I couldn’t find I broom but I did get a mop, the fucker didn’t even try to use it.

          • oldtaku says:

            I had to go with the Institute, because in the end, they are the only people in Boston willing to use mop and broom (and I have found some of those in closets).

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      The “rule of cool” can go to hell.

      First thing I noticed in Fallout 4 which stuck out like a sore thumb: your stupid posh English robo-butler still has some kind of combustible fuel after 200 years. Truly, I’m not asking for hard SF. Just basic coherence with what any fool knows about physics, that fire requires fuel and oxygen. If you happen to notice this detail, it is every bit as absurd as seeing a fire burning underwater.

      But hey, it looks “cool”, I guess?

      • AyeBraine says:

        Yes, it does look cool. It looks cooler than realistic robots. It was devised as a picture of pre-war excess, and it excels at its purpose – you’re asking how the hell (and most importantly WHY) the household robot would need to be floating, let alone equipped with a flamethrower and a circular saw. Well, maybe at some point people wanted atomic automobiles and floating hovercraft vacuum cleaners. And by God, they got the latter.

    • eliasfrost says:

      @Risingson That’s funny because JRR Tolkien said this:

      “I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence. I much prefer history – true or feigned– with its varied applicability to the thought and experience of readers. I think that many confuse applicability with allegory, but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the author.”

      • Archie _Toothis says:

        He later admitted Lord of the Rings was allegorical, unconsciously at first, but then deliberately so as he revised it.

        I dont agree with the OP’s assertion that all sci fi/fantasy is deliberate allegory, but that Tolkien quote gets used too often.

        • eliasfrost says:

          He did? I thought that was analysts saying that, Tolkien himself said often and clear that his work was not allegorical.

          Is there a quote or something for that? Because a quick google search didn’t give me anything. I’m interested because this is the first time I hear that he supposedly admitting it himself.

          • Archie _Toothis says:

            Well, yes there is, and no I don’t have it ready here, so feel free to disregard me if you wish. He did say however in retrospect in later years that LOTR was allegorical because of course it is. It was inevitable that he’d be influenced by certain things, and they would take the shape of his own beliefs and experiences. He clarified that LOTR was not *deleiberate* allegory at least at first.

            The first line of Wikipedia entry on Tolkien Influences reads:

            “Tolkien once described The Lord of the Rings to his friend, the English Jesuit Father Robert Murray, as “a fundamentally religious and Catholic work, unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision.”

          • ohminus says:

            But that’s not the same as using conscious allegory to make a point. When Tolkien railed against the notion of using allegory, he was referring to efforts to shoehorn LotR into a reference to WW2, including the One Ring as allegory to the Bomb.

          • eliasfrost says:

            Having influences in your work is surely not the same as allegory? Because of course all works of fiction will have influences from one place or another. I think Tolkien was talking about making concious deliberate parallels to real world events and concepts but he didn’t, hence the last part of the quote.

          • Archie _Toothis says:

            Well, for me it comes down to the admission to (eventually) consciously crafting LOTR as a specifically *Catholic* work. How do you do that without setting up parallels and analogs? It may not be *quite* the 1:1 allegory of a CS Lewis (This Lion is Jesus, yo). But the admission means you can’t readily dismiss people who read Aragorn or Frodo as a Christ surrogate.

            I realize I waded into this with my pants down a bit. But if you’re in to anecdotal accounts, I swear this was an admission I read somewhere.

          • Kayfabe says:

            Another thing to understand about Tolkien is that he was a pretty decent dude and didn’t really mean anything malicious by his work. As a result he failed to predict how his work could be twisted into rough alignment with various racial supremacy theories by sufficiently determined fascists. He understandably disliked this and took various small measures to distance himself from the sort of people who believe LotR is inspiring because it’s about good Nordic people fighting back the degenerate evil races.

          • Josh W says:

            I think it’s very easy to imagine how a work might be christian, even specifically catholic, and not actually have any of the moving parts or characters represent other characters. All you need is to have your that worldview as the narrative laws of motion of the world; in one particular moment, this dude is that saint, because they are acting like them and getting a similar result, at another moment, they have diverged from acting like them, and the result is a totally different effect.

            This diverges from allegory like granular synthesis diverges from a cover version, it uses his worldview for parts, but the result is very different.

            That analogy fits better than I thought it would actually, as if you’re using a really big sample, then the original sound is obviously present underneath, and it’s possible to say that for this period, the story is similar to this or that christian idea. To be more specific, the idea of evil as privation and creation as being associated with goodness helps to confuse the idea of the orcs; Tolkien makes up orcs, and then realises that he doesn’t actually have a justification for them that parallels his own theology: Evil cannot create, so what exactly is it making these orcs from? He goes for “ruined elves” for a bit, although still fundamentally has problems with it. The basic writing problem there is like wanting to make a song entirely from another song, and not being able to find the appropriate samples that will allow you to construct the right kind of sound in the new song. He wants orcs to exist, but he can’t find the right stuff in his worldview to justify the existence of non-angelic-ish innately evil creatures with the properties he wants.

        • ohminus says:

          The issue depend on your definition of allegory – if it is as in deliberately invoking a parallel, he didn’t do it except in some mostly inconsequential ways (e.g. Tom Bombadil). What he did do was being influenced by certain experiences in his life.

        • SupaMonkeh says:

          Or maybe he was lying :O

      • Urthman says:

        Yeah, but he was being a pedantic lit professor. For him, an “allegory” was a very specific kind of literature where characters personify abstract concepts and ideals. To him, LotR isn’t an allegory because Boromir, Frodo, and Samwise are three-dimensional characters rather than mere personifications of Hubris, Long-suffering, and Humble Service.

        • SupaMonkeh says:

          You see Frodo as long suffering? I see everyone that has to put up with the little emo twit as long-suffering, hell – Gollum has more redeemable qualities than Frodo.

          • ohminus says:

            I assume you only know the movies? Because in the books, Frodo has an understanding far beyond most other people at the end of the story.

    • ohminus says:

      Coherence is one of the most deciding factors in credibility, and Bethesda games have been sorely lacking in that department for a while.

      • Risingson says:

        That’s another different topic in which I agree.

        And also there is a personal attachment which makes you overlook some incoherences because you have fun with it. The FEAR thread shows much about it.

        About the rest of responses, well, it’s so obvious that fantasy/scifi races are reflections of other races (sometimes mixed together) that I won’t go further into it. Dwarves, ferengi, whatever you name it.

        I’ve also always considered the distinction between hard and soft scifi as crap that excuses some writers from writing properly because equations (e.g. Kim Stanley Robinson). And that excuses some writers from being considered good because equations (Greg Egan).

    • Phasma Felis says:

      You never ask a sci fi, fantasy or horror story credibility.

      The hell I don’t. You need to read better sci-fi and fantasy.

      Sci-fi is allowed to make up different rules, and we expect it to follow them coherently, but when its rules aren’t in effect we expect things to behave normally. A mutant superhero who can shrug off bullets to the face is fine; a random non-powered bystander who takes a bullet to the face without comment is not.

    • SupaMonkeh says:

      Ah see.. now that’s why havn’t played Undertale.. talking goatcowpeoplethings arn’t credible. And neither are bullet hell combat mechanics or 2D sprites…

    • hungrycookpot says:

      Fantasy yes, sci-fi no. Arguably the best known and loved sci-fi stories and authors stick by plausible science (or what could be theorized to be plausible), even if they have to do some handwaving and mental gymnastics to have the tech they want to write about.

  3. Siimon says:

    Well written and mirrors my thoughts pretty accurately. The strongest thing, to me, was when I started building up settlements. Why am I the first person to remove hazardous waste, sharp objects, broken crap blocking doorways in your house? I don’t care if you made the town clean, you’re trying to survive, but christ almighty how do you step over that half of a bookcase every day to reach your bed?

    • AyeBraine says:

      Because in the process of building a settlement (raising buildings in a second and assembling generators in a blink of an eye), you fulfill the anxiety you just expressed. You want to clean that shit up – the shit you’ve seen in every post-apocalyptic media since times immemorial. The game lets you do this personally, mirroring the act of “realisticking up” your part of the whimsical post-apocalypse to the standards of realism you see fit, and compressing the years of boring work into a “flat makeover” wonder that fills you with the sense of accomplishment.

      Of course, the alternative is that you collect several bundles of sticks for your settlers, they thank you, and then in the course of several months, build a small outhouse with them. If you happen to craft some nails (NB: nails specifically were a premium, highly sought-after commodity in frontier villages, at least in Russia). Anyway, now you can’t build a Mad Max settlement of your fantasies. You can just help them put up some clotheslines for their hand-weaved rags that don’t look anything like badass longcoats. Although this doesn’t matter, because you can’t protect them from bandits with magical perpetuum mobile turrets – you have to stand shifts in their village to actually prevent kidnappings for ransom and/or burning of your precious outhouse that you’ve collected wood for.

      • Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

        I would be able to understand or agree with this statement a little more if it hadn’t already been 200 bloody years. I mean are 2nd generation wastelanders really going to be moping about, lamenting the loss of society? I don’t really think so.

        The world rebuilds. It’s not quite the right analogy, but look at the Katarina victims. Many people were displaced; their lives ruined, but they rebuilt! When the government didn’t do shit for them they didn’t sit there moping about it, they rebuilt their lives and carried on.

        Humans are both adaptable and resourceful creatures, and without that quality we wouldn’t be where we are today, so it does kind of get under my skin to see it all go to shot because a little bit of MAD.

        • Spherical says:

          I think, perhaps, a better allegory would be the people of the year 200-250 BC and their relationship to Ancient Rome.

          They saw Rome as the height of human civilization and instead of moving forward they looked backwards in time to reclaim what was lost.

        • AyeBraine says:

          I really do not understand who or what are you replying to. I didn’t say anything you imply I’ve said.

  4. Thornback says:

    Just gonna throw it out there, but could it be argued that at the very least there would be almost no degredation in things from being broken down by bacteria?

    It’s what happened in Chernobyl (says some article I saw once) so that would keep some thing more intact maybe?

    Obviously weather and wind erosion should have done something in 200 years but hey it’s explaining a LITTLE right?

    Another sentence ending in a question mark?

    • Nereus says:

      No. Some microbes thrive on radiation and I know there’s fungus used in experiments to clean up radioactive waste because they feed off of certain kinds. Plants are also commonly used to help cleanup toxic waste, known as phytoremediation, and are often able to better withstand non-biological elements better than we can. Chernobyl sees slightly less microbial degradation but it still occurs. Additionally, bones are an excellent source of minerals and would make great fertiliser as well as being food for some animals (this is known as osteophagy) so there’s no justification for them just laying around.

      Chernobyl and other areas exposed to large amounts of radiation, such as Bikini Atoll and Lake Karachay, are all safe havens for wildlife because humans can’t or won’t live there. It stands to reason that the basis for life, the microbial loop, is still functioning even if not at its highest efficiency.

      • Alex Wiltshire says:

        Oh, that’s interesting. There seems to be something of a debate has to how much Chernobyl is rich in wildlife. Some researchers argue that the apparently vibrant populations of deer and wolves have actually migrated in from the outside and they don’t make it out again. Others vehemently disagree –and it all seems rather caught up in politics over the Zone. Interesting article about it here: link to

        • Nereus says:

          I skimmed the article, but it seemed to have two central points – that a trio of biologists are in disagreement over the effects of the fallout, and that the ultimate goal is to study how radiation effects humans.

          Point one seemed to be missing the question, there was emphasis on damage having been done – of course increased radionuclide exposure will have damaging effects. It increases mutation rate and overall stress of an organism by regularly damaging cells. However, the real question should be whether the effective protection the fallout has granted the area is doing more good than not. My argument is yes, because if you look at almost anywhere people have settled, land gets converted, trees felled, buildings constructed and animals farmed. A stretch of land with no development is going to house more of these species than a stretch of developed land whether or not it’s got nuclear fallout mixed in to the upper soil layer. If we were comparing it to a stretch of land that was given national park protection akin to the U.S. Yellowstone or similar, then the protected park will win out in terms of promoting biodiversity and species numbers, but that’s a very unlikely scenario especially when you consider that the area was not a national park before hand. Similar issues are present in the marine world (which is my specialty), where large sections of the ocean get declared “protected”, but that means nothing because nobody was exploiting it to begin with. There were no major fish stocks there and no oil or gas interests. Thus is becomes important to think about relative protection and I suspect that is still a net gain to wildlife in the Chernobyl area.

          The second point is just silly. If you’re addressing the issue that wildlife are doing well there then you probably shouldn’t be going on a tangent about humans with cancer. Especially since there are quite a few examples of areas where people do live with a constant elevated background radiation – near nuclear fuel storage sites, former nuclear testing sites, former nuclear waste disposal facilities. There are many parts of the former soviet union where this is possible and even U.S. protectorates – the Marshall Islands were used for quite a lot of human radiation tests.

      • Thornback says:

        Now I know, and knowing is half the battle.

      • Maltose says:

        Also, the fact that you don’t pick up rads in the vast majority of the Wasteland and that people have managed to reproduce normal looking offspring without massive deformities and mutations would suggest that the radiation is no longer limiting life.

        • bradcq says:

          I know I’m really late to the game here, but maybe someone will find this interesting. Due to the fact that where you are affected by radiation damage (what cells in your body mutate) is random to some extent and that only gametes (eggs and sperm) and the cells that split to make gametes (which is a tiny proportion of your body’s cells) would affect a child’s genetics, most people who have been seriously affected by radiation still have completely normal children because the mutated cells aren’t the ones passing on their DNA to the child.

          • Nereus says:

            Mutation does not only act on gametes though. Depending on the radiation level all kinds of failures could occur during development. 200 years is going to mean probably 10 generations or so, which should show some differences if we’re to believe a higher background radiation throughout those 200 years. At the very least, I’ve not encountered one NPC complaining about cancer so I’m not buying it.

      • brgillespie says:

        Interestingly enough, I’ve read a few articles stating that life within the Zone is slowly dying on a cellular level due to the radiation. Some species are not reproducing as well as they should. Everything’s dying a slow death.

        Things are vibrant within the Zone, for sure, but only taken in context of a human snapshot of time.

        • Nereus says:

          I suspect it is mainly fearmongering, the same thing was said about the Fukushima nuclear plant – that it was poisoning the ocean – when the average Tuna off the coast of Japan had less radiation in it than a banana or a transatlantic flight. I have certainly not seen any reports, other than a shift in microbial decay speed, that indicate life there is struggling. What I know about Chernobyl is that the radiation is concentrated in certain areas – like the concrete sarcophagus. The rest of the area is just elevated radiation and while more likely to lead to cancer in human populations, would not cause significant early mortality in animals that are usually brought down by natural selection. It would drive mutations, which are usually deleterious, but natural selection would take care of that. The populations are likely more sensitive to disturbances as a result, but the number 1 cause of species loss is habitat destruction and large amounts of habitat not being used by people is fantastic for the local ecosystem.

  5. Laini says:

    I find myself coming across things like that at times and it can be kind of off putting. I’m really enjoying the game but there are just these little things that take you out of it and remind you it is just a game.

    I went to a supermarket earlier and it still had tons of food scattered around. Locked doors are everywhere, people don’t care about skeletons in the workplace.
    The game needs all these things because exploring an empty world everyone else had looted would be boring but even so, my “I better take this, I might need it later” attitude means every location has enough stuff to load me and my companion to the limit that I need to offload it back in Sanctuary before I wander into the next building.
    And in my 50 hours in the Commonwealth so far I’ve managed to clean up tons of crap from various settlements.
    Though to be fair, for me it’s Hold V then press R on something and it’s gone :P

    One thing I have noticed is lots of little things that tell you about the world as the bombs fell. The Boston Mayoral Shelter for example has a bunch of skeletons outside and a bulldozer. It’s clear they tried to break in to the shelter in order to survive.

    But very little of the people you see now have the same kind of believability or story to them.

    • AyeBraine says:

      Considering the new settlement system that gives you almost unlimited abilities to personalize and spend resources, they’ve solved this too. You can clear locations all you want. They will respawn. Not only with enemies (with restrictions, main enemies don’t respawn, it looks more like new guys that moved in). But with the loot and junk. So you can only “blame” youself for hoarding. I certainly hoarded, though not to extent of making return trips. And I have about twenty settlements, with half of them containing some kind of my architectural experiment (or just a good bunkhouse and a bar). It’s still better that finding tons of absolutely useless thing thrown in as a filler.

  6. Premium User Badge

    gritz says:

    The Bethesda Fallout games have always had a cargo-cult relationship with established Fallout canon, which was always silly and over the top, but did a better job of staying plausibly consistent.

    Bethesda has never been good at worldbuilding. They’ve been great at making interesting locations and putting them in a world, but never really know how to integrate these islands of content into a cohesive overall environment, muchless one that is consistent with something resembling a story.

    • ohminus says:


      Bethesda pours out a big bag of features onto a sandbox, without any rhyme or reason.

    • catmorbid says:

      Yeah it feels like they really skip a lot of points in the world design department, and instead of a deep focus on the world, they just make general guidelines for a crowd of ignorant level design managers who then do their bidding and craft lots and lots of things that follow the vaguely made general guidelines with things like “there should be ruins, and skeletons and… loot!”, and in the end they manage to squeeze in a massive amount of mediocre content in short time, which was their goal all the time. And the sad part is that this all could’ve been avoided with some smart planning and proper leadership and actual enthusiasm in the really challenging parts of the game design, and Pete Hines not shouting about the awesomeness of violence in the background.

    • basilisk says:

      Come on, Fallout 2 was anything but consistent.

      I don’t disagree with your assessment of F3 and F4, but let’s face it, F2 was a fragmented mess.

      • stairmasternem says:

        Thank you! Fallout 2 had trees growing in one town and people living in ruins in another. And then in ANOTHER city you had mobsters. It took its stereotypes and ran with them.

        • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

          It’s almost as if nostalgia might indeed be capable of misguiding people’s memories.

          • Laurentius says:

            Why did you say that ? Instead frothing about nostalgia how about instead play that game ? Fallout 2 may not game that champion consistancy but it have completley different take on its worldbuilding. And btw given examples are ballocks that are actually pretty ingrained in that vision. Fallout2 shows different comunities and is anything but “sea of ruins” of Commonwaelth. Actually we see different states of humanity trying to survive and organize, we see “big players” Vault City and NCR and we see fresh buildings, we see San Franciso and their take ad we some run down comunities, surviving comunities and comunities on decline, being pressured by those bigger and more powerful. It’s all explained very well. I’m sorry but argument for F2 incostistence is that one town has trees and other is half ruined is just dumb. Look outisde you have sprawling cities and you have Detroit, what a mess.

          • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

            I said that not because i think Fallout 2 is bad, quite the opposite, but because i absolutely noted that it’s really easy for people to lose perspective.

            I mean, just look at old people and their reminiscing of the past as the only good times.

        • Anthile says:

          Actually, the reason for that is because they had different writers for different areas of the map. This is why New Reno is so jarring compared to the rest of the wasteland even though it still serves a purpose: delivering vice. The writers were definitely aware of that.

    • eliasfrost says:

      I thought Morrowind was very well realized, i guess mostly because of the works of Kirkbride. Their recent games just got lazier with their world building, going downhill since Oblivion, i think I see a parallel.

      I got to say though that they did actually do connect narrative and open world quite elegantly in Morrowind.

      • geisler says:

        Right you are sir, i was gonna write something along the same lines. Matter of fact, Morrowind is the last Bethesda game i really enjoyed (and bothered to finish).

        • bradcq says:

          I actually logged in to say that exact same thing. Morrowind had one of the most well realized and engrossing game worlds I’ve ever experienced. Not only was there a rich history that the developers created but the world had multiple different cultures each with their own unique architecture and attitudes, different types and layers of government structure, racial tensions and social stigmas, religious and political organizations. Not to mention that the shops had unique items rather than randomized stock and everywhere the things you saw be it items, enemies or npcs were put there because they belonged. There was no automatically leveling bandits that walked around in the best armor available just because you were a high level. And there was actually the feeling that you had to start small and work your way up to being great. All that is what I think Bethesda needs to bring back in their games.

        • ohminus says:

          Dito. With Morrowind, I had a feeling they knew what kind of place they wanted to show, what kind of feeling they wanted to evoke and what kind of story they wanted to tell. Never since. I did play the later games, but only heavily modded and bought from the bargain bin…

    • Press X to Gary Busey says:

      I can see correlations going on. Perhaps team size is inversely proportional to cohesion, although Bethesda’s team is absolutely tiny for their output… Perhaps it isn’t linear.
      Dev team examples:

  7. Yachmenev says:

    If this is important?

    Very much so. It’s one thing that has really bothered me with the series since Fallout 3, and it’s pretty weird that Bethesda and Obsidian put next to no effort at all in this.

    The skeletons in the diner is one good point, and in New Vegas, it was weird how people who were supposed to live in functional settlements, lived like they had discovered the place yesterday, with burnt out cars still standing in the middle of everything.

    It does kill the immersion a bit.

    • Sakai says:

      Obsidion put A LOT more effort into makin New Vegas believable. It might not be perfect, but still it’s not fair to lump them in with Bethesda, which don’t seem to care about that stuff at all.

      • Nereus says:

        They also only had 18 months to make the game IIRC. Parts of the Fallout 3 set of textures were copy and pasted, and I can imagine “go through the wasteland with a fine toothed comb to remove any unnecessary objects” was fairly low on their priority list considering they were working with a one-time payment from Bethesda and didn’t even make the bonus payment because the metacritic wasn’t high enough.

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        Yeah, that’s why they made more or less the very same “mistakes”. The style was very similar even when it didn’t make sense, like in some major settlements still not even remotely tidied up a little.

        Actually, it was arguably worse as it did little to improve this but it also suffered from severe technical issues, not to mention the immense amount of tiling.

        Can we please stick with the original version that Obsidian is about the writing, please? Everyone seemed to agree back then, only there wasn’t a new Bethesda Fallout to threaten the world and people were happy to live and let live.

        • Sakai says:

        • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

          They still made the same mistakes in various other places, it doesn’t matter if they’re better in “what do they eat”.

          Look, the dude think that 150 hours in NV is something huge. Well, i put 367 in it, ok? The shandification was indeed the biggest draw for me, and it was a better game than FO3 although most DLCs sucked, but the reason why i’ll absolutely put even more hours in FO4 is that it offers PLENTY of many other games neither game before, or even the original 2, ever offered.

          It doesn’t matter if certain elements were better with certain studios, at the end of they day it’s all down to weighting the pros and the cons against what you’re looking for at the moment.

          • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

            *Plenty of things neither…”

            INB4 edit button.

    • ohminus says:

      Not to mention fairly intact houses still being boarded up while people sleep in the streets and in bombed-out rubble. Hello? Do people LOVE not having a roof over their head? In the Mojave???

      First thing I would have done is go and find a crowbar. I mean, it’s not like the original owner will be coming back any time now…

      Or look at Mick&Ralph’s – they have a crier pointing people on the main street to their store, but with a shady drug dealer hanging out in front of their shop and a ruined building housing addicts opposite it, how likely is it that John Doe Freeside resident is going to seek them out? At the same time, there are boarded up stores on the main street which look perfectly serviceable…

      • poliovaccine says:

        Well, if I were that John Doe Freeside resident, that’d be my one-stop shopping right there. It’s the irradiated apocalypse, after all – if just so much as drinking water can give you cancer, and Deathclaws are clearly the new top of the food chain and genetic superiors of the planet, I think I’ll take my chances with going “one stimpak over the line,” as they say… what have I got to lose?? My health?? (Not to mention, this is a future where they seem to have finally perfected the questionable practice of curing addiction by administering other drugs… in seconds, no less! I’ve never actually waited to see if just suffering withdrawals long enough would kick my character’s habit – easier to just eat a dose of the cure… boy, they give you the problem, they give you the solution…!)

        • ohminus says:

          Not sure what you mean in relation to what I said or rather wrote.

          My point was a)they seem not to want a roof over their head and b)some folks seem to set up shop in the about least presentable places, even when going somewhere more accessible is perfectly possible.

  8. AyeBraine says:

    Ok, I did a PhD thesis on post-apocalyptic media and it’s not important that all of this lack credibility. That’s the whole point. Literally nothing in any kind of postapocalyptica is realistic in any way. Even in things like The Road.

    It is a fantasy of tearing free of the modern tyranny – the tyranny of social mores, but more importantly, the dependence on complex systems outside of your personal reach. Every modern PA fiction after A Boy And His Dog movie and then Mad Max 2 is a playground. It’s a postmodernist fun MTV playground where you can do all things that the modern society forbids you from doing, but hails as “cool”. It is also a place where hopelessly outdated, but still enticing stereotypes work flawlessly. Every PA fiction has “evil outsiders” that are OK to kill no matter what – monsters and raiders alike; they take the empty space left by the Injuns, Commies, Oriental scare, non-convincing terrorist horde (because they don’t do large numbers), 1990s LA gangs and so on. Basically recreating a good old Viking world structure where your settlement, and your settlement only, was surrounded by endless chaos populated by fickle gods and monsters. You can also kill to endear, kill to avenge, and kill to have fun. You can even kill (nay, exterminate) to CIVILIZE.

    In Mad Max / Fallout / Waterworld the Manifest Destiny still works and is the best solution. In this universe, the cowboy’s still a hero.

    And most importantly, in this world, you don’t have to fulfill impossible, contradicting social, economic, professional and personality demands to be even a half decent human being. You just have to refrain from eating babies while you kill. That is all. If you don’t eat babies while you kill, you are the hero this wretched world had awaited for all these years. If you don’t eat babies, you can right the follies of the old world and start anew. If you don’t eat babies, you can steal this Fat Man, because what the hell, it’s not like there’s police here, and I’m a good guy, right?

    • AyeBraine says:

      (And of course without standing remnants of the lost world, with everything intact – the perennial “like they just went out for a break” feeling – the game would just be about people with stick fighting for mounds of dirt. See Threads TV film. This is hell of a conscious decision on part of developers, and finding a sturdy handwave mechanism for it – fusion batteries and super-materials implemented due to super-capitalism – is quite ingenious and unique in post-apocalyptic oeuvre.)

    • Nereus says:

      Your comment has me making connections between the internet’s love of supposed libertarianism and especially among so called gamers a love of the politically incorrect, borderline hate speech and general lack of consequences that the internet has brought forth – and the popularity of the post apocalyptic scenario. That is worrying.

      • AyeBraine says:

        No, it’s the opposite. The purpose of genre entertainment (so called “formulaic” entertainment according to one researcher) is to safely explore boundaries and cross the line without risking your identity. It’s not unhealthy, it’s healthy instead. It allows you to establish or refine your sensibilities. More than that, when new societal problems come along, old genres mutate and incorporate these problems as “lines” you can “cross”. So every “dumb” genre is in fact a giant machine of solving big societal anxieties.

        The trick is to use basic carcass (a story type, like tragedy or drama), and put a familiar set of cultural signs on it (cactuses, six-shooters, saloon, hooker with a heart-o-gold). Then you either reinforce existing good notions, or try to introduce and discuss new ones. In the Western example, it’s rotten railroad executives that became villains in revisionist westerns, as a reflection of people’s anxiety with big business.

        You can see that internet communication is the same. It’s broken down into genres. Most of them involve crossing the line as potential therapy and discovery, and at worst a reinforcement for already internalized notions from people you’ve learnt from.

        The point of this article is analyzing how the “old world” trope is important to Fallout. Well, it’s thoroughly satirical, no less than A Boy And His Dog, and whimsical, like Six-String Samurait. It’s also sometimes deep and impressionistic, like HARDWARE. It’s also sometimes epic (in the old sense of the world) and hero-journeyish like Mad Max. And most of all, it’s filled with what translates poorly onto a cinema screen: a postmortem for humanity’s follies.

        There are a few movies that do this. The Noah, Letters of a Dead Man, On The Beach come to mind. The “found recordings” angle is overused in game thrillers, but here it’s the perfect embodiment of the genre. The oral history of apocalypse. Developers of Fallout 4 just went further and conserved all the buildings like they were bombed 2 years ago. Because that’s what fascinates us about “burnt silhouettes” in Hiroshima, or flight recorders, or suicide notes.

        • LennyLeonardo says:

          Love this thread. What you’re saying reminds me of the whole Festival thing, the one day in the year where roles are reversed, as a way to actually reinforce societal roles the rest of the year. You transgress in a strictly limited and controlled way in order to integrate more effectively. Exploring a highly stylised apocalyptic wasteland is a good example.

        • InternetBatman says:

          I think that’s an awfully limited version of the purpose of genre fiction. Genre fiction can also be aspirational, like Star Trek rather than merely a way to define limits. Or in the case of harder sci-fi, it can also be a space to explore the ramifications of a specific idea.

          • AyeBraine says:

            It includes all that. My goal was to see where the hell postapocalyptic and zombie “genres” even came from, what are they, how old are they, what ideas made them possible and why – WHY – did they explode in popularity so much, even though the Cold War ended. Results were surprising.

        • Drumclem says:

          That’s really interesting! Is your thesis available for reading anywhere? I would love to dive into it.

          • AyeBraine says:

            Sorry, it’s in Russian. I mainly used the theory of literary formulas laid out by John G. Cawelti. It’s not really authoritative as far as I know. But I’m a shitty scientist. I was going to get a PhD anyway, so I weaseled my taste for movies in there. Besides, there’s not very much written on the topic. All in all, it was worth it to find out exactly when and how postapocalyptic formula was even born, and why it looks like Western so often. Other poster here mentioned Carnival, yeah that’s a popular concept by M. Bakhtin here in Russia. Plus a bunch of ideas from different scholars that I unceremoniously fit into my own narrative. Sadly most of the books on the matter are basically lists of movies.

            Yeah in relation to Fallout, one really interesting book is by Ira Chernus: Apocalypse Management: Eisenhower and the Discourse of National Insecurity. Just the general idea of that weird worldview, that Soviets will end the world inevitably, so US must eternally prepare to defend the world and will always fail.

        • Nereus says:

          I think you misunderstood my comment. I wasn’t arguing that genre entertainment was unhealthy. More that the popularity of the genre reflects the zeitgeist of the time. I don’t know if promoting more post-apocalyptic wastelands where the “Every man for himself” mantra is applied word for word encourages more young people to start turning to a certain branch of modern conservatism and pushing for lack of regulation, lack of government and general lack of order. I hope it doesn’t. I hope it is just a case of those people turning to post-apocalyptic fiction as an outlet rather than as a gateway. I can recognise that exploration is a healthy thing I am just concerned about whether there are any social consequences for societies as a whole by embracing it.

          Your English is excellent by the way, for somebody that can write to a doctorate level in Russian and speak English that well is something to be commended.

          • AyeBraine says:

            Thank you!

            I kind of went on a tangent there, as I’m prone to. But what Cawelti argues, basically (and some media scholars say things close to it), is that the mass media is more of a way of normalizing values, not marginalizing them. So in response to your concerns, I meant that genre fiction crosses the line to reinforce the value that has been “put to the test”. Some media scholars argue that nowadays when people watch/play things, they don’t identify directly with a hero, as in earlier times. They instead act as observers, who observe themselves doing things as a hero. So in observing transgression, they playfully reinforce the norm. Or something like this =)

            Thing with genre fiction is that it is extremely “safe”. It sits very much on the side of norms and values. In it, the world always returns to norm, that’s a pact, a promise that a genre piece has to always fulfill (on the contrary, arthouse and experimental pieces can break the norm up to eleven and leave it there). You have your familiar metagenre, like epic or comedy, and your familiar setting with familiar characters. And they sorta always do what they’re supposed to. “Crossing the line” is also prescribed in the package.

            The innovative aspect of genre entertainment, though, is that these formulas are not set in stone, they mutate. Authors introduce new real-life problems, contradictions and facts into these formulas. So the benefit is that the formula stays safe enough, the pact is not broken, but the spectator/player has taken a trip into the problem zone and returned to the norm a little wiser. Of course, the opposite of that would be an extremely conservative genre piece, which either tickles nostalgia and nothing else (but if it really doesn’t bring anything new to the table, it’s boring and bad, and will be perceived as such); or reinforces outdated values and notions, thus dragging the spectator “back”, as it were.

          • AyeBraine says:

            So in case of post-apocalyptic example, I argue that it kinda updates the western and mixes it with sci-fi and whatever else the author might fancy. “Cross-genre” is long since a standard, anyway. You can see it as a “joke” on contemporary issues, just like any genre is in some sense a “joke” on them. And jokes get outdated. The western joke got old (and turned into another, self-referencing joke, either dark or farcical). Post-apocalyptic “joke” is a mishmash of fear of violence and war; of protest against complex systems governing our helpless selves (from crowds, corps and state governments to science and technology); of pure desire for aggression outlet without any viable targets for it; and so on.

            I realize this looks like a blanket handwave. But maybe it really is that “postmodern” in that it bunches all the problems into one big wad and lets you play with them, in case of Fallout, literally. It’s not a genre, after all – it can support character drama (including Walking Dead TV soap and one-actor-movies), tragedy, comedy, heroic action, happy-go-lucky adventure, dystopias, utopias, whatever. But it’s not just a setting, either.

      • nrvsNRG says:

        @ Nebulous, Of course you made the connections, you are just that dumb, fuck off and get triggered somewhere else. AyeBraine, you did good son.

        • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

          I like your style.

        • AyeBraine says:

          I’m not your son, and don’t be an asshole.

        • Nereus says:

          Don’t you have some female journalists to harrass? You must do, I’ve never seen anybody use the word “triggered” as a pejorative outside of a few very Men’s Rights centric internet circles.

    • Eight Rooks says:

      Ok, I did a PhD thesis on post-apocalyptic media and it’s not important that all of this lack credibility

      Define “important”. Sure, the majority, possibly all of post-apocalyptic fiction is completely unrealistic and a stand-in for various other issues, subtexts, so on, so forth. But I prefer my creative types to have put some thought into this stuff. I prefer the zombie novel that dreams up a post-apocalypse where walking corpses freeze as winter sets in, rot in spring and are generally kind of ineffectual after a while. It suggests the author actually wanted me not to have to work quite so hard suspending my disbelief – that they thought their story was good enough it was worth tweaking these little details even if the whole thing was, on some level, ridiculous. Saying it’s not important suggests there’s no difference between Dawn of the Dead and Cockneys vs. Zombies.

      Not that loudly acknowledging how ridiculous it is is worth that much in my book. My dad struggles to see a point in any speculative fiction that violates the laws of the universe as we understand them. He likes some of it, but he’s the guy who can’t take Pacific Rim in large part because giant robots on that scale are fundamentally impossible – his choice, obviously, but I can’t help but pity him. Then again, I suppose as far as he’s concerned it’s supremely important that every detail in fiction is credible.

      • AyeBraine says:

        I covered zombie apocalypse in there, and its gimmick was that it’s “realistic”. In quote marks. It’s definitely more realistic, because it’s five minutes into the future, and also it touches on a completely real scenario of worldwide pandemic that epidemiologists warn us about for years.

        But even for zombie fiction, realism is just a crutch that reinforces the “everyman hero”‘s resourcefullness. Instead of tracking the epic hero’s progress through the epic, we associate more closely with a zombie holocaust survivor. Zombie media is more centered on small social circles and – again – how a decent person can win every social challenge if he’s decent and rational. Like YOU!

        Fallout universe is unique. It goes on its own tangent, where it’s supposed that Twinkies (steaks, chips, cram) DO last forever, like in the stereotype. Where it’s supposed that cars DID get atomic engines. That corps DID go to space and polluted the hell of it. That people DO freeze dead when caught by an atomic blast, like in popular imaginagion. That radiation DOES glow green and mutates people and critters, exactly like in the old movies, not as a slipped-in campy detail in a “realistic, gritty” world. It’s a much more mature, refined and consistent premise than spewing off vague, solemn words about “wars for black juice that ended the old world” and cutting to people driving around in gasoline cars.

        I’m sorry if I sound confrontational, but I really do believe I can explain the whole thing and by that, only reinforce your positive feelings about Fallout 4 and post-apocalyptica in general. But I’m not good enough to do so in several sentences, so I’m rambling. And that’s not good or effective.

        • ohminus says:

          That still says nothing about an intrinsic logic. And your focus on postapocalyptic issues ignores the fact that Bethesda works precisely the same way in TES by now.

          You are assuming deliberation where there was quite obviously none – no underlying concept, no grand plan, no vision of how this world works, because parts of it are massively mutually contradictory.

        • Geebs says:

          I think that zombie fiction is less about people succeeding because they’re reasonable, and more about people failing because they’re dicks. I do agree with your thesis that, for example, the prepper/isolationist types failing despite being well equipped is a moral judgement on behalf of the creators, rather than a serious attempt to figure out who is best equipped to survive an apocalypse.

          • AyeBraine says:

            Yes, it’s a morality play that is aimed at pleasing the viewer, who associates with the everyman character. Of course the character can’t be too smart or too reasonable, or he wouldn’t be an everyman. The mechanism of instant karma is the way of relieving anxieties not unlike that in pulpy US “gang movies” of the 80-90s that vented the fear of unchecked city violence. Especially vigilante ones, like Death Wish (that was inspired by a real urban “hero”, an absolute everyman, some guy from engineering, who bought a revolver and shot 4 guys on the subway because they maybe started to mug him; he was lauded by public).

          • AyeBraine says:

            (PS sorry may be wrong in that Death Wish was inspired by it, but you can see the connection. And The Brave One (2007) replays that exact situation.)

          • Wolfie says:

            AyeBraine: I wasn’t going to register, but your discourse moved me so.

            I think you’re thinking of Bernie Goetz, and that happened well after the original Death Wish. And Goetz was raked over the coals, at least by the media, for appearing (to them, at least) as just a racist white guy who over-reacted to blacks asking for a smoke (and this was before “political correctness” was even coined as a term or part of the cultural conciousness – but it may have been part of what sparked it.) Death Wish was seen as being overly paranoid about American big-city crime rates of the 1970s.

            But yes, they were both, to one extent or another, popular with certain segments of the public (that demographic that is most reviled today, actually.)

            I agree with your analysis on Fallout and the PA thing in general. I don’t know how old you are, but I grew up throughout the 1970s, came of age in the 80s, and remember the atmosphere of the Cold War quite well; it’s pretty much stamped in my soul (though as a Canadian, there were many Russian refugees at my school – good folks.) Fallout captures that feeling – and what we saw in various media including COMIC BOOKS of the time. People back then didn’t hide this stuff from kids, as parents might try to shelter their kids today. In fact, they felt it important that we know that we could die in a flash of nuclear radiation AT ANY MOMENT. Just on someone’s whim to be “pre-emptive” (Reagan, Breszhnev) or because of “evil computers”/computer glitches. Kruschev’s rant really DID scare people, as “We will bury you” does NOT mean the same in English as it apparently does to Russians (cultural misunderstandings.) In English, it IS a death-threat – just try it in front of, say, an RCMP officer and see what happens.

            While I haven’t played 1 and 2, I do have 3, NV and 4. 3 and 4 to me speak very loud and clear to me – they are my childhood nightmares, as described both in real terms (“If you Love This Planet” was required viewing in high school) and in popular media (B movies, comic books). Younger folk, especially those born after 1990, well, I don’t expect them to connect so well with this, because they grew up in an ENTIRELY different world, and I really can’t expect them to “jive with the groove” 3 and 4 present.

            I played 3 first (and this only a few months ago, actually, I AM new to the franchise) – first time I walked out of that vault, oh, baby. I can’t even describe how that felt on a pscho-emotional level. I just can’t. And when watching the trailer for 4, both my husband and I _cringed_ when that nuke went off. The in-game scene still makes my heart skip a beat. I wouldn’t expect a 20-something to get that visceral a feeling.

            The skeletons and mess are kind of a minor thing after that – and I, too, like another poster, just kind of mentally retcon things to be a bit closer in time to the War than, say, a ridiculous 200-210 years. As for the mess, I think people just stopped really caring about being all neat and 50s (and it is kind of an allegory TO ME – The post-war society of the 40s and 50s were blown away by the hippie era to bring in the post-PET mess we have today here in Canada.) And hell, I’ve seen pictures of the Third World – gah, looks very Fallout. Hell, Detroit looks very Fallout now (used to be a nice city, honestly. I remember when Hudson’s was still open, and had awesome Christmas window displays; I was very young.)

            The skeletons do kind of get me, too, though. The question is really “why did they not give these poor bastards a proper burial/burning?” But I do realize they are there to provide a snapshot of pre-war life; I consider them simply invisible to the NPCs, and I’m just seeing ghosts. :P The funny teddy bears are just comic relief of the sort that a person would need in a grim scenario, *shrug*

            As for the escapism/boundary exploring, well, that’s what video games are FOR, especially open-world RPGs (and that goes for tabletop, too. ESPECIALLY tabletop, because it can be anything the GM/group WANTS it to be, regardless of what the books say – White Wolf has always maintained that their books are not to be taken as “hard and fast”, it’s YOUR GAME, do as you will with it; they just provide some rules and background structure, for instance.) And as society becomes more and more restrictive (as it is in the West – our level of censorship is getting almost as bad as it was in the USSR, only it’s a bottom-up thing, rather than a top down thing. And my analysis of “1984” is that “Big Brother” is actually THE PEOPLE, not the government – the people’s will is REFLECTED in the government they have, and that is what we’re seeing here, now. THE PEOPLE spy on each other, and demanded the government be complicit in such spying, with cameras everywhere “for your safety”. Yeah, it’s pretty scary, and something I also wouldn’t expect 20 somethings to understand, because they remember not.)

          • AyeBraine says:


            Dear Wolfie, I am very grateful for your response. I am not a first-hand witness – I’m something in between, being born in 1984 in USSR. But I was always fascinated by all these topics – not only the Cold War, but the spirit of the times, the differences in culture between two sides, the history of popular psyche. Your descriptions of feelings that Fallout evokes in you are amazing; of course, for better or for worse, I don’t experience it so strongly – only enjoying it on a cerebral level. I was moved deeply by similar accounts from people who watched Threads when it first came out on British TV, or Soviet people who watched cartoons and movies about nuclear war in the 80’s.

            I must also say that I fully agree with you on all the various interesting points you’ve brought up, most of them are surprisingly close to my perceptions and feelings – not that I’d have to necessarily agree to enjoy them, of course.

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        You imply there’s no thought put into it, yet he spent many words, in a very believable way i’d add, describing how much thought can be put into it while still giving less importance to making the most sense at all costs.

        I mean, i’m not saying a PhD is always right, but it sure gets my preference over the typical “safe” rule book comment one feels he/she can easily get away with.

        • Eight Rooks says:

          No, I’d argue they really did no such thing. I’m certainly not saying the original poster’s comments were wrong or contained nothing of value, but everything in there was basically leading up to “None of the superfluities matter because the point of the story is X, so as long as the writer is enjoying themselves and everything drives X then that’s fine”. Which, well, isn’t wrong per se, but it doesn’t win the argument by a long shot. If one method of tackling a narrative problem drives X, and another method drives X but also builds internal consistency – which a lot of Fallout’s storytelling fails to do in some way – I know which method I prefer. Doesn’t mean I’ll rule the other one out or ignore it. I can still have fun with either. But I know I would be happier with one in particular (as would a significant number of other people), so it frustrates me when the developers don’t use it.

          • AyeBraine says:

            My goal was always to find out not if they did something on purpose, but why they happened to do it. A Boy And His Dog was filmed by an old cowboy movie actor who really liked the short story by Harlan Ellison. He happened to start a whole genre and basically create Fallout. Mad Max II was basically a development of a road thriller about gangs, but happened to create the vocabulary of wasteland post-apocalypse (because it was, well, filmed on the cheap in Australia and also its director was crazy). And so on. Most of the literature and cinema works that way.

            I think I know where you’re coming from. The ultra-rational approach to writing fiction esp. sci-fi and all that. It’s very good. I like io9 and these writing websites very much, they fight for sci-fi and try to explore how we should quantify it. But their methods work best when applied inside their working space, their “writer salons”, and applied to hard sci-fi and its many interesting subgenres and experiments. I think Fallout benefits best when looked at from the more general cultural direction. It’s not hard sci-fi nor did it ever tried to be one.

          • ohminus says:

            Hard SF is an entirely different issue. No one is arguing Fallout should be Hard SF.

            Let me put it like this – Winston Churchill supposedly said “A joke is a very serious thing.”

            A joke is funny. It can be pure hyperbole. But it needs to treat ITSELF seriously. It needs to do its own thing. When it uses hyperbole, it needs to convince you that in the tiny little world that joke conjures up, things are that way.

            Fallout 3+4 are like they are made from pieces from jigsaw puzzles. Unfortunately, they are pieces from a whole bunch of jigsaw puzzles. They all have hilarious pictures on them, they all look quite similar, but they just don’t fit together.

    • ohminus says:

      You are confusing realism with intrinsic credibility. Intrinsic credibility is a major part of allowing suspension of disbelief.

      • Gilead says:

        Yep. Internal consistency is the main thing. As soon as I catch myself thinking ‘But why do they not just do this obvious thing to solve their problems, they’ve clearly got all the tools and motivation to do so’ then my suspension of disbelief is already slipping.

        • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

          Don’t ever watch any horror movie then. Hell, most movies actually.

          • Eight Rooks says:

            Oh, come on. I could easily argue most horror movies explain that: I don’t like slasher movies, but even if they are just a parade of stupid people dying, at least the movie is making it clear (sometimes explicitly) that they’re stupid. I get no enjoyment out of it, but at least I can say “But why are you doing that???” and get an answer. If I say “But why wouldn’t these people take a few hours to clean up their damned houses?”, then all I get is crickets.

          • Wolfie says:

            Eight Rooks – Well, maybe post-apocalyptic people are too stupid or just too culture-shocked (even after all that time) to clean up. Or just too worried about day to day survival to worry about aesthetics, or, hell, germs; as for germs, they do seem to have some super-medicine, and radiation would be their bigger bugaboo.

            In a CBC show (CBC, of all things) had a show that was meant to demonize plastic shopping bags, a whole hour of it. They actually blamed these bags for scenes they showed in the slums of Africa – Kenya, I think it was. “Oh, they use these bags to crap in and then just throw the bags in ditches around their houses”. Wot? That’s the bags’ fault? The people can’t dig a proper bog away from their houses and go there? Why not?

      • Ootmians says:

        This, all the way. You have to earn suspension of disbelief, not rely on it to be lazy with your worldbuilding.

        • AyeBraine says:

          Suspension of disbelief and especially worldbuilding are very new, geeky concepts. They came from fantasy and hard sci-fi world, and while they’re quite good at disciplining young writers and so on, and already entered academic analysis, I don’t think you should apply them to everything, always.

          For example, Mad Maxes had incredibly, appalingly bad worldbuilding… because nobody who did them did conscious “worldbuilding”, like the writing websites for sci-fi recommend you nowadays. They just created a world out of their imagination. Its success at suspending disbelief (as with any other fiction) does NOT hinge only on its consistency or logicality.

          • Oozo says:

            “Suspension of disbelief” as a term was coined in 1817, and I’m sure you could find predecessors to the idea before that. So it’s really not that “new and geeky” a concept. (Even though I’m sure that the introduction of hard sci-fi and the likes have changed the concept somewhat. Don’t know about ‘wordbuilding’, though, which might indeed be a more recent concept.) Don’t want to pick a fight, though, I like a lot of your other comments in the thread.

          • AyeBraine says:

            Yes, you’re right! I meant new as a demand, as a tehnical specification that a piece must have a certain rating for. Some pieces respond well to picking apart with all these words like “intrinsic credibility”. Some don’t. But the mistake in logic would be to consider that if a world is built shakily, or there are internal contradictions, a fiction piece cannot suspend disbelief. That these things are connected rigidly. This notion’s new and it’s coming out of the sci-fi crowd.

          • Wolfie says:

            You just have to understand what the world is built upon. Beth’s fallout is a distillation and a mash-up of Cold War hopes and fears. Every house having its own nuclear generator (free, “clean” unlimited power).. nuclear powered cars (again, “clean” unlimited energy.) That dream died with Three Mile Island, as I recall .. that was about the time this stuff tapered off when I was a kid, but the ideas were still around in comics and such (we had more than superhero and Disney/Archie stuff back then, without horror or sci-fi comics being called “graphic novels” or “manga”. We also had war comics.)

            It also shows the fears of the Cold War – that the Bombs WOULD inevitably be used, leaving the rest of us to shift in some post-apocalyptic nightmare THAT WE DID NOT UNDERSTAND.

            Fallout is not, and is not meant to be, “hard” sci fi, and in fact, isn’t sci fi AT ALL. They took the fears and nightmares of those of us who lived through even the last couple of decades of that era, and made a bloody game out of it. That’s it. And I really don’t expect anyone born after 1990 to “get it” – and that’s the problem, too many young people putting their own post-Cold War ideas onto what is basically a Cold War interactive comic book/B-movie.

          • Wolfie says:

            And heck, haven’t any of you found Cheers yet?

          • AyeBraine says:

            Funny how Three Mile Island didn’t even release any radioactive contaminants at all. I was quite surprised to learn this about one of the most famous nuclear disasters in history.

          • ohminus says:

            Aside from the fact that you keep muddling the medium – a movie is something SUBSTANTIALLY different than a book or a game, as it forces a certain pacing – the reason why the concept has become so common is quite simply because actual analysis of fantastic works has mushroomed. Where it was still seen as trivial several decades ago, research and criticism on it is not the niche discipline it once was.

    • jon7985 says:

      After reading geography thesis proposals, I’d sure like to read something interesting and I’ll be damned if this doesn’t sound much more interesting. Is your thesis online anywhere because I really want to read it instead of another demographic analysis!

    • suibhne says:

      Well, I’ve also done academic work on PA film at a high-prestige institution (not that it matters), and I don’t think you’re that on-point (tho I’m sure I’d be interested in your doctoral dissertation in another context). You cite The Road Warrior, e.g., but there’s nothing in that movie that violates its own claims. You seem to be arguing about realism, i.e. similarity to our “real” world, which isn’t what anyone here is talking about. We’re discussing internal consistency, which The Road Warrior has in spades – despite being wildly unrealistic.

      The point here is that Bethesda seems to make certain claims about its gameworld, then rampantly contradict those claims. I have no issue with a game (or literary, or cinematic) world that’s wildly unrealistic, but I have much less patience with one that’s wildly inconsistent in its own logic.

      • steer9 says:

        Fallout 4 is internally consistent the way Alice in Wonderland is. Neither is a world that attempts to be a sensible logical extension of some starting premise. Neither sets up any kind of cohesive rule set that it then makes itself obey. But both are artistic visions that make sense, that aren’t mere montages of cool ideas jumbled up together.

        Sure, there is something attractive – especially to a kind of geeky rule-loving mindset – in ‘realistic’ futuristic worlds with consistent themes and rulesets. But that’s only one approach to imagination. A painting with two different perspectives at the same time isn’t a mistake or a bad painting. It’s a painting deliberately doing something a photo can’t do, an artist having fun. It might annoy people who just like all paintings to basically be realistic and kind of a bit like a photo, but that’s not its fault. Likewise an imagined world that contains things from the very near future and the distant future at the same time isn’t a bad imagination. It’s just a way to imagine things.

        • ohminus says:

          You miss that Alice in Wonderland never tried or claimed to try to conjure up a world at all, and wasn’t an FPS to begin with, let alone an RPG. Even more, at its end, it quite clearly describes itself to be a dream. Not so with Fallout.

        • suibhne says:

          That’s a bizarre contention, to my view. Lewis Carroll’s world is remarkably consistent – which is to say, it establishes and subverts expectations in a remarkably consistent way – and it clearly establishes itself as a dream, with associated dream-logic. FO4, on the other hand, does not seem to be intentionally subverting expectations when it, e.g., situates long-time human communities sharing their dwellings with detritus and human skeletons.

        • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

          Nitpick warning: you can do that in photography with multiple exposures.

          Sorry, i really am.

          No, i mean it. I couldn’t resist, but i like your post.

          • suibhne says:

            Even more tangential, but fascinating: you can now do that in stereoscopic 3D, too, as Godard did in “Goodbye to Language”.

            (But none of that betokens the kind of artistic/logical inconsistency that characterizes Bethesda’s output.)

        • Geebs says:

          This point is one of the things that bugged me about the complaints that Dark Souls 2’s geography didn’t make any sense. In my mind, the flavour text made it clear that Drangleic/Lordran had been built and rebuilt on top of itself so many times that space and time had both become fragmented.

          In that setting, sudden day/night transitions and ridiculous spatial relationships between areas actually make more sense than the “you can see everything from everywhere” approach of DS1, and fit better with the new teleport-heavy travel system.

      • AyeBraine says:

        All Fallouts have internal artistic consistency. For this example – nobody in Fallouts is ever fazed by death. (If it’s not a set up for a cool suicide or a frenzy.) It’s an internal fact of the piece. So even this accidental juxtaposing of a trader and a bunch of skeletons is more or less consistent with the weird tone of the piece. Weird props and unpractical costumes are not just “campy” or “B-grade”, they’re sometimes the style of the piece.

        I’m glad that there are much more important kinds of consistency. For example, consistently good and in-canon stories of Vault-Tec atrocities. Or consistently smart use of established lore to create vignettes about “last days” in various locations. Or consistent use of invented material culture (items, props) for differing gameplay purposes in every installment, the way it turns out cool and funny every time. Or consistency in depicting (absolutely unbelievable and unsustainable) Raiders – it’s heavy-handed, but cool, it adheres to mythos of Mad Max (evil bandits who are beyond our world), and in F4, it became even better because they were humanized, just a little bit. And so on.

        • suibhne says:

          That’s more than a bit of a stretch, I think. FO4 and FO3 exhibit consistency on those metrics, sure, but that’s because they’re made by the same designers with the same glaring weaknesses. FO:NV’s long-time human communities don’t have that “unfazed by skeletons” characteristic, nor do FO1 and FO2 (despite FO2’s nuttiness in other ways). And those titles don’t have the same crazy mismatch between in-game history/timeline and the appearance of the world.

          These ubiquitous Bethesda issues may not bother you, but you can’t simply hand-wave them away because “Fallout is consistent”.

          On the other hand, I’ll agree that Bethesda does present more artistic consistency than logical consistency. But even that isn’t always a good thing – e.g., the consistently plastic look of the models, coupled with undergrad-level facial animation.

        • suibhne says:

          And re. your comments on Raiders – yes, it is unbelievable, and FO4 barely improves this problem. All Raiders, everywhere, use the same architecture and aesthetic. They all behave the same. The Gunners make sense, because they have a military-like chain of command and presumably a common approach to provisioning and resource investment, but Raiders have no such in-game excuse.

          I liked that FO4 started depicting leaders of individual Raider groups, and even hinting at some of their interrelationships. I loved that there was a sense of some stories having already occurred, within the year or so prior to your exit from the Vault, and the way in which you could stumble on those backstories. But c’mon, it’s pretty insane to think that every Raider group would decorate its living room with decapitated heads and bloody torsos. Those are signs of pathology, not interior decorating, and it’s totally bizarre – and yes, deeply inconsistent – that the game’s narrative trimmings attempt to humanize the Raiders somewhat while its art direction continues to show them as unitary, generic, and essentially inhuman.

          • AyeBraine says:

            I would dare to say this is an instance of expectation scaling. When developers make the game better and more sophisticated, we automatically get new expectations. It’s normal. (Note that not all aspects of F4 expand on expectations – it’s clear that quest design is not Fallout 4’s strong suit, and is simply on par with good RPGs.)

            But certainly world design, emergent mechanics and social complexity scales enormously, and your comments show that expectations skyrocket in stride. I’m OK with that because it’s what drives innovation. But while wishing for new and better things, it’s good also to value the already existing things that are new at the moment. Of course, science marches on and you can’t say that Fallout 4 reached undefeated heights in the scale and complexity – other game come out that are close or exceed its level. But it’s pretty much on the very height of these criteria.

            I mean, it’s nice to wish all raider camps would have their own atmosphere, named characters you can get quests from with proper alignment, and dynamic racket relationships with nearby settlements. OK, now somebody has to code it and test it…

            So far, Raiders already got an enormous upgrade. They (as well as everyone else) are personalized due to armor and clothes choices, and carry randomly rolled weapons; they have legendary mini-bosses; they now have named leaders with backstories and relationships, that even dynamically react to your victories over other Raider leaders; they have a TON of fluff dialogue; and also you can intimidate them and force them to surrender or fight for you. Wouldn’t you agree it’s a hell of a bunch of innovation for one faction of regular mobs for one installment of a franhchise?

          • AyeBraine says:

            BTW Bethesda developers seem to have kept the Raiders style for aesthetic reasons (it’s a strong tie that maintains the connection to classics of “wasteland” post-apocalyptica like Road Warrior et al.), and worked around it in humanizing them. They have random barks and backstories that show that this is pure tradition, fashion and intimidation tactic. There are Forged raiders, who are a genuine cult of strength, pain and brutality (“Yancey. Crime: refused to change name. Punishment: Fed to the forge.”). There are Blood Pact raiders who mentally break new members with torture and force them to sign, well, blood pacts. Regular raiders are afraid to appear non-psychotic and non-junkies (apart from the familiar line about “Jet will make you jittery – don’t talk crazy [forced laughtr]” there are “C’mon, it’s not my fault, they were asking for it, just do my job”, “Hate it when they beg, it’s all fair”, “This is the last run”, and others). In combat they show emotions, both devastated at deaths of others and afraid of an Intimidator (CH10 skill).

            So it’s a given in the universe’s style that Raiders are ultra-punks. Giving them belivable emotional trim is, in my opinion, an elegant choice.

    • Muzman says:

      You’re not wrong over all but I don’t think that leads to the conclusion that it is not at all important
      There’s a reason why some kinds of PA fiction are more well known than others (well, a few). The gonzo acting out of A Boy and His Dog seems so divorced from any realism its influence couldn’t be much more than superficial.

      Now, you might repeat again that none of it makes sense if you stop and think and observe. Well the problem games like this face is they give you ample time to stop and think and observe. Heck, they encourage it. So if they want something more than bewildering post-modernity where history isn’t even history because all is lost, that truthful seeming foundation of the world being built starts to matter quite a bit. It’d matter more with some players more than others, but that is mattering.
      Thing is there’s not a lot of reason they couldn’t have their cake and eat it too with a bit of careful fiction writing. Personally I’d like the good design providing that sense of adventure thing. I liked the way Stalker did it, for instance. The more accessible places are picked clean and/or re-purposed. But the more remote and dangerous places still show those marks of the history and the ‘incident’ etc. But maybe that’s just me. It does give that sense of place more than an apocalypse theme park style I find.

  9. fish99 says:

    If you analyze any game to this extent, they’re almost all flawed experiences.

    • horsemedic says:

      Because the standard for world building and storytelling in games is so low. Because so many players accept those low standards, and so few reviewers offer thoughtful critiques like this one.

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        Really? Most movies, actually most artistical things are.

        Besides, games are an incredibly different experience, there are far more priorities to fulfill first.

        That’s opinion based, true, but it’s a factor. You’ll just tend to like more the games that prioritize what you value the most.

        • horsemedic says:

          Yes, really. The problem is so bad that we praise the writing in The Witcher 3, in which the protagonist reunites with an old flame after many years, and within five minutes she asks him to go fetch a sack out of a river. Then they go kill rats together. And that game was an exponentially better cinematic experience than anything before it, but at least half of the dialog was still pure exposition delivered by wooden-faced drones.

          It’s so bad that most game reviewers will never even think to mention that the set design in Fallout 4 is incoherent, because they probably don’t even notice, because they’ve been conditioned for decades to live with shoddy productions values that would resign any film to a hate-watch list.

  10. K_Sezegedin says:

    I agree this kinda thing is important and rather off putting.

    Witcher 3 also suffered from really strange timelining, would be nice if when devs want to depict an area which is hundreds of years old they’d take a moment and look at what actually happens to structures and remains that are exposed for those lengths of time.

    • Moogie says:

      It’s the Jurassic Park problem. What does the audience expect? The answer is rarely an accurate representation of the subject matter. Sure, it would please those of us educated enough to have a better idea of what it would really be like, but that’s a minority opinion– most people can’t imagine that far into the future, or that dinosaurs had feathers, and will rate your product lesser if you subvert their expectations.

  11. NephilimNexus says:

    The real problem with the franchise from day one has been the juxtaposition of trying to tell deep stories of heroism & sacrifice in one hand and trying to be goofy & funny in the other.

    So far we’ve had stories where the protagonist goes out to rescue everyone in community by finding a water chip, only to find himself exiled from that same community at the end of the story. We’ve had the protagonist told to sacrifice themselves in a nuclear reactor to bring clean water to the people. Now we’ve had the protagonist have to deal with losing his family twice in one lifetime.

    Against this emotionally moving backdrop we see supermutants in flower print dresses & sunglasses, a gang of Elvis impersonators, talking Deathclaws and enough bad jokes to fill five seasons of SNL.

    It’s a franchise that is too discombobulated to know what it’s even trying to do anymore… other than sell more copies, I guess.

    It’s still fun, but that’s only because they’ve gone so far off the goofy end over the years that the deep, moving story parts no longer even register as meaningful. It’s a comedy shoot ’em up now, and I’m ok with that I guess.

    • AyeBraine says:

      OK, I have one question on the matter of the franchise going to shit.

      Water Chip? What is that?

      • vecordae says:

        The control chip to a Vault’s water purification/recycling system. Without it, the Vault is no longer nominally self-sustaining. It’s the premise for booting the main character out of the Vault and into the wastes in the very first Fallout game.

        Sending a single kid with a tablet and a pistol out into the wastes on an nearly impossible mission to save an entire community of functional adults is, of course, just as absurd as every other oddity the Fallout setting tosses at the player.

        • ohminus says:

          Not really, when you have a bunch of agoraphobic people who, when asked, “Volunteers, step forward” all take a step back…safe the one who is too slow…

          • Sin Vega says:

            Plus there’s nothing stopping you from making the character a capable 35 year old survivalist.

          • vecordae says:

            Not at all. How one becomes a crazy-prepared survivalist when they’ve lived their entire lives in a relatively small underground shelter, however, we shall leave to the philosophers. One can always invent one’s own backstory, even if the narrative doesn’t jive well with it.

            Fallout’s setting has always been silly and unrealistic. I love it, I really do. I just find the notion that the earlier games are somehow exempt from the series’ propensity to trip over its own lore and mechanical complexity to be…odd. I didn’t play FO1 or 2 until not very long ago, mind, so perhaps my experiences with those games was colored by my enjoyment of 3, NV, and 4.

        • AyeBraine says:

          I know what it means in Fallout. I meant that the original commenter used the water chip plot as an example of a serious conflict of the kind that franchise doesn’t show anymore.

          Because, really, WATER CHIP? WHAT IS THAT?

  12. goettel says:

    I’ve limited, pre-refund exposure to FO4, but instead of the instant impact seeing that desolate world outside the vault for the first time in 3, or the relentless piece-meal quirkyness of NV after r̶o̶b̶b̶i̶n̶g̶ leaving doc, 4 post-vault just felt instantly contrived and tired. I’ll probably pick it up in a sale – it’s effing Fallout! But -dammit- I’m afraid it’s not me but the game.
    Seeing how many folk are enjoying it, I hope I’m just wrong.

    • oldtaku says:

      The biggest thing is it is no longer an RPG. It’s a collectathon shooter with some Minecraft bolted on. You will no longer talk your way out of things to any significant degree with your high IQ or play the super-strong moron, everything gets railroaded back to shooting things.

      You won’t have your stories of how you married a guy, hooked him on drugs, then sold him as a slave in the next town. Or how you saved/kersploded Megaton. You’re just going from little diorama to little diorama shooting things and crafting your armor and weapons. I admit I enjoy it, but YMMV.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      Precisely what happened to me.

      I left the vault, saw a bit of the environment, and then the doubt set it. How i could i do that all over again?

      Then something happened, and now i’m 19.872 hours in.

      Most people with mixed feeling also seem to have found something that will make it work, plus i’d advise against giving too much credit to the shooting complaints. People think there’s more shooting just because it’s a better shooter, but the truth is that it’s the same as FO3 and a bit less flexible than NV, at least on the strictly RP side.

      This time it’s less buggy ( or at least less crashy ), better looking, and with better action.

    • goettel says:

      Two obviously well-considered opinions towards trying it again, thank you Sirs.

  13. Sam says:

    I think I read somewhere that during Fallout 3’s development they changed their mind on when it was set. Originally it was going to be much sooner after the Great War, making the disorganised populace and pristine ruins more plausible. I think they then realised that would mean missing out on key features of the Fallout world so shifted it forward so they could have the Brotherhood of Steel and so on.

    The nonsense world does provide a useful datapoint for looking at player engagement in a game’s world. We like to get dewy-eyed about wonderful complete and consistent immersive worlds. How important it is that there’s a long history behind Novigrad, Ironforge, or Vivec. But most players seem to have no trouble getting deeply involved in the modern Fallout games despite all the ways they make no sense.

    An alternate Fallout game written by Jonas Kyratzes (one of the writers on Talos Principle, and several of his own games) would be quite something. He tends to bring a positive humanist approach to worlds. I’d like to explore a post apocalypse world that’s actually getting along fairly well because people have been sensible, cleaned up the environmental storytelling scenes, and made a place to live. Rebuilding from near scratch but with access to the past’s knowledge.

  14. padger says:

    As with a bunch of things, Fallout 4 doesn’t compare favourably with The Witcher 3 in this regard. That game’s world seems like people actually live in it. The ravaged warzone borderland makes sense, the cities are a good illusion.

    Fallout 4 is a terrible, fever-dream of an illusion. And actually I think that’s a reason people don’t care. It does nothing to appear coherent, and just rolls along in its delirium, making funny noises and being weird. It’s a clown of a game. If people still found clowns worth paying to see.

    • Archonsod says:

      I think it’s more likely most people don’t care for the same reason few people complained Space Invaders wasn’t a realistic simulation of orbital combat. The majority are playing games for the gameplay elements – as long as they’re solid you can drape them in just about anything and still be successful. In fact I’d go as far as to say historically it’s when the ‘frippery’ imposes on the gameplay that people tend to complain rather than the reverse.

    • ilitarist says:

      I’m sorry but Witcher 3 too has the same problems as Fallout 3 & 4. You can personally see *everything* in this world and it has to be condensed. So villages are very close to each other. Monsters capable of killing a professional monster hunter live in a minute’s walk from a village. Cities are still small compared to bandit/monster populace.

      Where you should look for plausibility is, for example, Pillars of Eternity. It doesn’t claim to show you everything so when you go anywhere in the city you really just visit “interesting” places, boring streets containing tens of thousands of people are of little interest to you. Same for wilderness and distance between places: you only visit points of interest on the map and when you leave it you don’t really now how long you have to go till you reach next one.

      Witcher 3 as well as Fallout are destined to be implausible. For each raider they let you kill they have to show you several farmers providing food for those farmers. To be realistic they would have you to cross miles of boring empty space or quarters of a big city with hundreds of NPCs you don’t want to talk to. They’ll have to be Daggerfall. Or Assassin’s Creed.

  15. Archie _Toothis says:

    Like many whimsical fantasy settings, the Fallout world falls apart if you start to pick at it too hard. The retro 50s aesthetic of the future makes little sense. Radiation doesn’t glow green or imbue life forms with gigantism. These are decisions made for thematic and artistic reasons. You either accept that as part of the fun, or you don’t.

    The separate issue of whether the npcs react to the environment in what a player considers to be a plausible fashion, has always been a limitation of the Bethesda game machine. In some ways, the Bethesda games are a victim of their own ambition here. They render so much realistically, and create this illusion of a vast world of people going about their day amongst a mountain of physicalized objects, that it stands out all the more when they don’t react to something the way a player would. Whereas, if this were an old school 2d rpg, where much of the reality was abstracted and rendered in static 2D backgrounds, it wouldn’t bother the player at all. So yes, I wish that my settlers would realize that a human skeleton object is a different object from a coffee cup, and would find its presence distasteful. I realize, however that someone would have to code that distinction in, and you can never do every little thing in a game that you want to do, being constrained by time and resources, and the Beth devs already have their hands pretty full with these sprawling, complicated games.

    So I am one of those people that infuriates a vocal segment of detractors for these games, in that I am willing to suspend my disbelief and meet the developers half way. Ill gloss over the quirks of the engine in exchange for all the other things the game does well, in delivering me an experience that no other game quite delivers in the same way. I’ve played better written RPGs this year, and I’ve played open world games with better action gameplay. But I have hundreds of hours into Fallout 4, and no other game series lets me just “move in” the way these games do. As soon as some other big budget game series manages to do that, and *also* makes their NPCs react convincingly to a smoking corpse on the ground, I’ll probably play that game instead.

    • rommel102 says:

      Agreed 100%. Not to mention the suspension of disbelief at being able to conceal carry the following:

      Fat Man
      Missle Launcher
      Laser Rifle
      Laser Musket
      Combat Rifle
      Kellogg’s Pistol
      25 Frag grenades
      20 bags cement
      5 bench press bars with 25 lb weights
      250 assorted items of junk ranging from 14 desk fans to 32 tv dinner trays.

      What’s always amazing to me is that such a small and tight team of developers is able to produce such an amazingly large and content filled world to play in. They have just over a hundred devs. Compare to the 1000 devs for the latest Assassin’s Creed, and then still complain about how much better Obsidian is than Bethesda.

      • AyeBraine says:

        I still think that people were just kind of shocked with Fallout 4. Including game journalists. Not because it’s the timeless masterpiece that will be diplayed in the Louvre. But because it promised so much and delivered so much more, it’s really disorienting, and the only defensive reaction against this is pointing out flaws (of which there are many). The veritable obsession of game press with Fallout may be an aftershock; then there may come a recovery period; and then, finally, people will admit, in simple, non-inflated words, how the developers of Fallout 4 achieved the things they did. Maybe it’s not unprecedented (I still haven’t got out of the first area in Witcher 3), but it’s clearly without precedent. Meaning there was nothing like Fallout earlier, and now there’s even less things even remotely like Fallout. It’s an astonishing accomplishment that shows its scale simply by hooking people by their throats, even while they (rightfully) complain about bad conversations and plot holes. It’s generally not a sign of a bad or unambitious game when its main problem is that it makes you feel anxiety, because you can’t choose what to do first (for dozens of hours) in the game.

        • ohminus says:

          “It’s generally not a sign of a bad or unambitious game when its main problem is that it makes you feel anxiety, because you can’t choose what to do first (for dozens of hours) in the game.”

          That’s saying that quantity is a perfect substitute for quality.

          • vecordae says:

            In the case of game design, this is, within certain constraints, absolutely true.

            One of the way to make a game more compelling is to offer the player several different kinds of play. If the player gets tired of activity A, then can take a break and do activity B, or C for a bit. Fallout lets the player explore, fight enemies, solve various small mysteries, build settlements, tinker with weapons, make omelettes, and prioritize resource collection. Ideally, every subsystem is well-thought-out and offers a sense of progression for your other subsystems, but it doesn’t always work out this way.

          • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

            Not necessarily the case there. If quality was indeed the problem, it would likely be easier to pick what to do, like going for what “sucks less” or, even easier, stop playing.

            But that is not the case. Well, not for those who don’t spend all their time begging the interwebz to stop talking even remotely favorably about the game, that is.

          • ohminus says:


            That’s not how things work, alas. Resources are limited and the more features you build in, the less resources you have per feature. And at the end of the day, that means that plenty of these features will be rather meaningless, inconsequential fluff falling apart at the seams.

        • Coming Second says:

          Steady on now. I don’t think Fallout 4 is a bad game, but this claim that’s a genuine groundbreaker the likes of which we’ve never seen is very specious. It’s a post-apocalyptic Skyrim with some extremely clumsy Minecraft elements attached to it.

          • tomtom13666 says:

            Like Fallout was ever different to what you’ve describbed here:
            – crashed StarTrek shuttle site ?
            – remains of blue whale in the middle of post apocalyptic dessert
            – bridge from Monthy Python
            – Wandamingo
            f***, list just goes one …

          • AyeBraine says:

            It simply shows a lot of hard and good work.

            For example, I’m a gun nut. And I know that every firearms in the game is not realistic. BUT every firearm shows enormous amount of work and research and design put into it. It’s an incredible ecstasy. I saw a comment by one of the designers who made the “pipe weapon” models, on the The Firearm Blog, thanking them for their hundreds of posts with impovised weapons over the years. Because yeah, he spent a lot of hours looking at them and it shows. I “see what they did there” almost with every weapon and mod (a Lewis-Maxim-aviator-PKM-space-age-machine-gun-assault-rifle? hell yeah), and it’s never random. It was handcrafted to please. Same with the whole game.

          • Coming Second says:

            Good craftsmanship =/= Innovation. And as a matter of fact, if we’re going to single out pipe weapons for specific praise, I’ve read discussions between gun nuts about how annoying they find the fact their side magazines are situated below their chambers, amongst half a dozen nitpicking details.

            It’s not an issue that interests me, but it is Fallout 4 in a nutshell – full of moments of superficial wonder, with frustratingly little substance behind them. The world is designed to pander patronizingly to the player – *you* are the first person to explore these ruins so they are exactly as they were 200 years ago, *you* saw some people probably die here 200 years ago so here are some skeletons in this exact spot – but ironically the world fails to react to the player, to who you are. The dialogue has been simplified to the point where four options are presented which all lead to the exact same point, NPCs brushing off any rudeness or reluctance on your part to immediately rope you into their boring, lazily explained causes. Causes that cannot be changed or manipulated by you in any way, no matter what title they give you, and no matter how obviously nonsensical and destructive they are. Every mission is to be solved in exactly the same way – go here and shoot all of the people. Such rich environments, and they stop figuring after a little while because there’s so little interactivity involved, stuff that changes how I approach a problem. Laughably the plot is about the sanctity of human life; are you sure you want to be asking the numb mass-murdering trash collector about this?

            The aesthetic craftsmanship involved is wonderful. Unfortunately and maybe unfairly, I take that for granted now in a Bethesda game. It will look pretty and will wow me the first time I play it. Then I begin to notice the skeletons. Then I begin to crave New Vegas again, which did all of the same things you passionately described in terms of creating a post-apocalyptic experience, but also chose to populate it with thoughtful, intriguing premises and people, and allowed the player to approach them however they wanted.

          • AyeBraine says:

            @Coming Second

            I am adamant in dividing bad dialogues involving the player (they are extremely bad) from everything else. It seems it was a very specific failing that stemmed from a set of strict guidelines, maybe in attempt to make it more accessible. Don’t know, don’t care, they’re awful. These dialogues infuriate.

            Quest design, though, I would explain with maybe time constraints. I clearly see in many instances how they could do much more convoluted and intriguing quest lines (not to mention deep) with the same amount of scripts and voice lines. But still, there are cool quests. Even the most primitive of them are hand crafted, and a little more varying than Skyrim dungeons (aside from Preston automatic quests of course).

            But everything else is great. Other people’s dialogues, monologues, character barks, terminals, setpiece narratives to explore, the geography and feel of the place… I refuse to take them for granted. I see enormous work and I’m thankfully able to enjoy it.

            And concerning guns… Well, research and thought doesn’t mean slavish realism. You can create a fictional gun that doesn’t make sense, but is cool. Or it can be just stupid. I love what they did, taking the coolest things there are (like impractical awful drum magazines or cooling fins) and doing things not possible in reality, and dressing them like it was some weird richly textured reality. If pipe guns were built with internal mechanisms done correct, they would look more like ugly regular guns. It’s like Bastard from Metro 2033 – one of the most memorable, because preposterous and cool and faux-realistic.

      • Urthman says:

        And really, most of that army of AssCreed developers are just artists churning out lots and lots of beautiful art to look at and climb around on. There’s nothing remotely like the variety of creatures, characters, and quests, nor the thousands of persistent, interactive, physics-enabled objects that a Bethesda game has.

    • Laini says:

      So yes, I wish that my settlers would realize that a human skeleton object is a different object from a coffee cup, and would find its presence distasteful.

      That’s not really the issue at all though.
      No-one is expecting the NPCs to react to things dynamically but in the instance Alex is talking about the diner has been built, items included corpses placed in it and then the NPCs added on top.

      If the diner is going to be set up as a shop these people run then things like “Would they leave these skeletons around?” should come up before the player even starts the game.

    • ohminus says:

      “So yes, I wish that my settlers would realize that a human skeleton object is a different object from a coffee cup, and would find its presence distasteful. I realize, however that someone would have to code that distinction in, and you can never do every little thing in a game that you want to do, being constrained by time and resources, and the Beth devs already have their hands pretty full with these sprawling, complicated games.”

      Nope. It’s precisely the other way round – that skeleton is there because some believed it was a good idea for it to be there.

      • oldtaku says:

        Hmmm, not necessarily. I think the designers just grabbed another diner interior from elsewhere in the game which had the skeletons (they all do), and cloned it here. There’s a lot of that. Then just didn’t bother removing the skeletons.

        • gbrading says:

          I don’t agree with that; every one of the diners I’ve been into in the game has skeletons posed in different ways and positions. Someone took the time to place them like that. The game is positively riddled with skeletons in sombre/funny positions.

          • AyeBraine says:

            Yeah I wanted to argue with people who say that Bethesda copy/pasted much of the world. No. They didn’t. I even think about doing a visual comparison for some standard assets like diners, Pulowski booths or shelves. I’m almost positive that I never met an identically laid out combination of objects. Even the trivial stuff, like coffee cups, papers and junk around seemingly identical buildings is clearly hand-placed; and I suspect they even all have different floor plans.

    • ohminus says:

      “The separate issue of whether the npcs react to the environment in what a player considers to be a plausible fashion, has always been a limitation of the Bethesda game machine. In some ways, the Bethesda games are a victim of their own ambition here. They render so much realistically, and create this illusion of a vast world of people going about their day amongst a mountain of physicalized objects, that it stands out all the more when they don’t react to something the way a player would.”

      Aside from the fact that you’d expect that things improve at least to some degree in that aspect in the decade since Oblivion, I never really had that impression of an actual world to begin with, and decreasingly so with every following game. Why? Because a world consists of interrelated networks, of dependencies and consequently of limits – you cannot do both A and B, you have to make decisions. This kind of choices has been more and more eliminated with characters starting more and more as a blank slate and becoming jack of all trades as the game progresses.

  16. Ootmians says:

    Really good article that touches on a lot of the stuff I’ve discussed with friends. The whole sense of time is very vague and hand-wavy throughout the game. It definitely does not feel like 200 years have passed since the war. Why would someone still be living in a bombed-out shell of a building with no roof and walls, when it would be easy enough to just build a new shack with a hammer and some wood? Maybe a year after the bombs dropped, but not 200.

  17. pfooti says:

    In my headcanon, it’s not been 200 years. That’s the easiest solution, because yeah: there’s _no way_ a newspaper lasts two years sitting out in the elements, let alone two hundred. I just do my best to ignore that part of the story.

    Personally, I’d pay money yet again for *another* fallout that actually took the time differential seriously. Of course, that would be a fundamentally different game – you can’t have old buildings laying around semi-destroyed, or people throwing out silly references to pop culture from the old days. It’d be a much more interesting game, even with the same gamebryo mechanics. But hey, that’s just my wish list.

    • oldtaku says:

      Well, there’s Wasteland 2. Assuming everyone here hasn’t played it already, and you can enjoy the isometric viewpoint rather than FPS/TPS, Wasteland tries pretty hard to be at least plausible. Things actually look old, but people have cleaned up and improved their own little areas, it’s all at least as plausible as a post-apocalyptic movie.

      Obviously Fallout came from Wasteland so I think it’s appropriate that Wasteland 2 is the serious branch, where Fallout 4 is the action comedy branch.

    • rommel102 says:

      If you look at it as 200 “in game years” it makes more sense. A “day” in Fallout 4 is what, 40 minutes IRL? Suddenly 200 years makes a lot more sense.

  18. Conundrummer says:

    My big issue with anything is that there are still storefronts outside of major settlements with useful, processed food containers just sitting on shelves… as if Diamond City wasn’t organized enough in 20 years to send a supply squad across the damn street.

    • The Velour Fog says:

      I just assume they were put there recently, probably by the raiders that are undoubtedly taking up residence. Kinda like the meat bags the mutants leave everywhere

  19. anHorse says:

    Skyrim isn’t a convincing world but it at least convinces us that the ruins and caves wouldn’t have been cleared out thus the player (or at least me) can happily get immersed in it

    But Fallout 3 and 4 have things that are so fucking jarring it’s hard to ignore, skeletons and trash being the biggest ones. I’m fine with some lore violations (mutie suiciders make no sense) but when the world itself doesn’t at least try to convince it’s hard to stick with the game

    • DevilishEggs says:

      My favorite mod for FO3 was the one that removed the incessant papers. Yeah, it’s all cartoonish to a degree and played over the top, but that’s not an aesthetic license to throw so many broken filing cabinets at you that they begin to blend in with the floor. And the skeletons. Don’t get me started about the skeletons.

  20. ExitDose says:

    If the intent was to realistically portray the aftermath of an apocalyptic disaster then I’d agree, but I don’t see that intent at any point in the series. Maybe the issue is with me. I don’t see simulation as an important goal in every game’s design, just like I don’t see photorealism as an important goal for every painting.

  21. Viral Frog says:

    I still don’t understand why things like this bother people about video games. You’re playing a fictional interactive story, in a fictional universe, with a highly exaggerated and unreleastic storyline, setting, etc. And then you’re concerned by the lack of realism? It’s mind boggling to me. These “issues” are #1 on my list of things I don’t care about in video games.

    If the game were a movie, it would be different. I would likely complain if I wasted my time watching the movie in the first place. Which is unlikely, because I don’t like movies…

    • oldtaku says:

      What you’re seeing here and in the comments are two different types of players: People who think games don’t need stories at all, just mechanics, and people who think games need good stories. Of course that’s a spectrum. Game devs argue about this A LOT. You lean more to the first group apparently.

      But many people who’ve played Fallout games a long time go in expecting some good stories, even the ones we make ourselves, and we enjoy those. But if you go into Fallout 4 expecting traditional ‘Fallout’ and writing and meaningful choices you are going to be disappointed. It jettisons that to be a shooter collectathon.

      As soon as I realized that, it was enjoyable again, as a different kind of game, but it’s legitimately disappointing for some people.

      • suibhne says:

        That may be one distinction you’re seeing, but it’s not the only one. You’re also seeing a conversation here between people who expect gameworlds to be internally consistent – i.e., to actually play by the rules they claim to follow, no matter how fantastic those rules and that setting are – and people who think it’s enough to just have lots of cool or interesting stuff to do/see, even if the setting lacks any recognizable consistency and internal logic. It’s not an issue of story, but of basic consistency. There’s no question that FO4’s consistency could be greatly improved, even if its mostly crap story were retained.

        • oldtaku says:

          I was lumping that under story since the pure game mechanics are usually completely consistent (you’d have to code exceptions). You’re telling a story with all these little details.

          But looking at everything posted I’d say you’re right to call that out separately – the story needs to be consistent (in certain ways) or it’s a failure. Just like pure mechanics are a failure if they’re inconsistent – we just don’t usually see that.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Fallout 4 is quite clearly on the wannabe-cinematic spectrum of games (full voice acting, hand-crafted 3D world, etc), so why would you treat it differently from a movie in that way?

      It makes no sense to just shrug and accept that games are a bit shit because they’re games. The community’s standards are shockingly low in a number of important aspects, and they really shouldn’t be.

      • Archie _Toothis says:

        The community’s standards are shockingly low in a number of important aspects, and they really shouldn’t be.

        Your standards are not universal. People value different things, and weigh them differently. Some people may feel that the implausible placement of a background decoration ruins the game for them. Other people may play another game, and find the absence of the ability to found a settlement where you dress all the gentlemen in freshly laundered dresses, and all the ladies in dapper suits horribly distressing.

        Ok, that last thing may be only me, but the point is that many people probably find things in FO4 that weigh more heavily towards their enjoyment than a lack of rigid attention to detail in decor placement. It has nothing to do with standards. Your standards are yours.

      • Archonsod says:

        “It makes no sense to just shrug and accept that games are a bit shit because they’re games. The community’s standards are shockingly low in a number of important aspects, and they really shouldn’t be.”

        Those are your standards. If I want to get a good story, I’d read a book. I don’t give a damn about it in a game since that’s not why I’m there – if I’m playing a game I want to be challenged mentally or physically without having to leave the house.
        To put it another way your statement makes about as much sense to me as complaining movies are a bit shit because you can complete them in two hours without actually having to do anything.

        • amaranthe says:

          While I agree people have different standards, I don’t see what harm there is in pointing out the shortcomings of a story, or the flaws in world building that many games have. You may not care about that stuff, but many people do, and I don’t see how the devs fixing this by building better worlds would ever hurt YOUR enjoyment of the game, while NOT having strong world building clearly hurts many players’ enjoyment of the game. Keeping in mind that these criticisms aren’t meant to say that the game sucked or anything of that sort, but are merely a way for us to open a discussion on what could be done better.

          Point is, by constructively criticizing the games and their failures as story telling mediums, we can hopefully get better games.

          (And yes, I know not all games are about story telling, and a strong story in a game without good game PLAY is also going to crash and burn–but RPGs are the obvious ones where world building kind of matters.)

          • Archie _Toothis says:

            While I agree people have different standards, I don’t see what harm there is in pointing out the shortcomings of a story, or the flaws…

            I don’t see any harm in pointing out, what in your opinion, are the flaws of a game either. That wasn’t, however, what the statement I initially responded to was doing. That poster condemned “The Community” for having low standards if they liked the game, which is a bit dickish.

            I’ve spewed as much puritanical CRPG vitriol as anyone. I denounced Skyrim and FO3, was disappointed by Pillars of Eternity, ambivalent about The Witcher 3, got bored with Dragon Age Inquisition half way through, tried twice to make it through Wasteland 2 (vanilla and DC), but found it too sparse. The last couple CRPGs I really enjoyed on balance were Shadowrun Dragonfall Directors Cut (story/dialogue/setting), and Divinity Original Sin (Tactical combat).

            The truth of the matter is that sometimes, the things that matter to you, don’t matter to other people, or at least not to the degree you believe they should bother people. As evidenced by the popularity of some of the above titles, it’s clear that my own standards are picky and elusive, and I would never dream of assuming they are a universal standard.

            FO4 may not be one of the best RPGs I’ve played in recent memory (and if not as well done as x aspect of game y, I find it to be an improvement over the last few Bethesda games), but it is one of the more memorable game experiences I’ve had this year, and on balance I’m enjoying it enough to sink hundreds of hours into it. If that doesn’t meet your personal standards, you will have to find some way to live with the fact that I don’t care the slightest.

      • Viral Frog says:

        “The community’s standards are shockingly low in a number of important aspects, and they really shouldn’t be.”

        To me, a skeleton or certain clutter in areas of the map where it “realistically” probably shouldn’t be hardly speak to the quality of a game. I only care if the game is fun to play. In the case of recent Fallout, I don’t play for the story. Bethesda hasn’t written a good plot since… sometime. I play Fallout for the stories that I get to make myself, and the mechanics. I thoroughly enjoy how the games play, and how I am able to play with the game. I would hardly say my standards are low in regards to any important aspects. I don’t care how “realistic” or “credible” the game world is if the game isn’t fun to play. Fun per hour is the only important metric for a game.

    • ohminus says:

      You don’t understand it because you are confusing realism and internal logic.

  22. steer9 says:

    Yeah, it’s not accurate. But nor was The Road. Nor was The Stand. And hey the physics in all space games ever are hopelessly inaccurate.

    How much that’s a problem is of course subjective. I thought The Road was a good book, even though the whole cannibal thing *just doesn’t work* with the timelines. It simply couldn’t be that way. But if you can suspend your disbelief, it works as a story.

    And in a world where people are organised enough to make laser muskets from scavenged tech, they’d probably have managed to get a few old cars working right? And they’d have cleaned up the corpses and that, sure. So no, none of it is realistic. But it is coherent. And it’s a game, not an interactive novel or a realistic simulation. You can get shot 15 times in every limb and make it all better instantly by eat Mutt Chops. That’s makes the skeleton thing kind of trivial in comparison, if realism is the issue.

    Realism can’t ever be he goal of a game. Sure, a game can use bits of ‘realism’ to make an impact, but overall, nothing realistic is a game. Chess isn’t a realistic battle. Monopoly isn’t a realistic investment simulation. Boxing isn’t actually how humans fight each other.

    I’m loving Fallout4 just as I loved the other games, because it’s a fun world to wander around, with interesting vignettes and moments. Fun, not accurate. Giant mutated animals are a not a remotely realistic result of nuclear war, especially only 200 years later. But we accept the whole trope of post-apocalypse mutants. Because mutants are fun. So, we can also accept the compressed time frame of “still bits of wreckage everywhere but also laser muskets too”.

    • Eight Rooks says:

      Define “accept”. I can roll my eyes and gloss over it, sure, because Fallout games are fun. But accepting the presence of Super Mutants is a completely different thing from accepting the idea someone couldn’t just take five minutes to clear the trash out of their house.

      Yet again, I urge people to read KillScreen’s Fallout 4 review, because their introduction to it was basically this article (and several of the comments) writ large, and it was comedy gold. It was one of the best pieces I’ve ever read on why we put up with all this – because videogames are fun – but it still acknowledged that it is ridiculous, and calling it out for being ridiculous isn’t remotely a waste of time.

    • oldtaku says:

      We’re willing to accept a lot, but there’s a point at which they’re not even trying and it’s so jarring my suspension of disbelief completely breaks.

      And story realism is much different from mechanical realism. The mechanics where you can get shot 15 times in a limb and heal by eating some food isn’t jarring because we’ve been conditioned by decades of video games to accept that.

      Supermutants running around in tutus aren’t too bad either, because why not? But people not bothering to clean dead bodies out of their restaurant is extremely jarring because it signals they’ve reverted to complete savagery – I expect this of the raiders, who have, but these particular people are presented as decent human beings otherwise.

      • Archonsod says:

        The amusing thing about the skeleton argument is that it only works if you apply an assumption based on modern, western ideas of how dead bodies should be dealt with. That said even in the West there’s plenty of people who have skeletons in their living spaces – most of them work for the church. I’d be incredibly surprised if such attitudes would still hold in a post apocalyptic world like that portrayed in Fallout.

        • oldtaku says:

          The people in the game act like normal, modern western people who just happen to be living in a post nuclear hellhole. Other than the raiders, who have gone full Mad Max, there is zero indication that any of them have done any sort of acclimation or adjusting or changed their attitudes at all. If there were, then sure, the skeletons wouldn’t be a thing. But they’re 2010 people in 2287.

          • oldtaku says:

            I mean, I know why this was done, so you can relate to them. But it also means the skeletons should bother them. Other than just how inconvenient it is to have them taking up your booths.

        • sfoumatou says:

          Ah yes, we all forgot about those foreign cultures where people move into century-old ruins and leave perfectly preserved human skeletons in their living spaces.

  23. Sarfrin says:

    Very nice article. More of this of thing please.

    • SnE says:

      I agree! This article both schooled me on some post-Fallout reality, made me super interested in Pripyat, and answered the question that has dogged me since about 15 hours into the game, “why am i so tired of playing so much more quickly.” It’s become a loot simulator for me, which i enjoy, but i think if i meet the game on it’s own terms (power spontaneously sprouting at convenient places – terminals, etc.), then i’ll enjoy the game more.

      Good work!

  24. Viggo says:

    Super glad my brain isn’t as nitpicky as yours :P

  25. Carcer says:

    I’m personally finding that I am more aggrieved by the junk and rubbish in the world in Fallout 4 than I ever was playing Fallout 3. I think it’s because now I can settle places, but no matter how much I would like to pretty them up and make them presentable, there will always be trash lying around. There will always be leaves piled up inside the houses of Sanctuary Hills. There will always be wooden scraps on the floor of the General’s Quarters at the Castle. There will always be a ruined house that I can neither tear down for materials nor convert into something useful at County Crossing, and I will never be able to build a proper roof on Mercer safehouse. Sure, there are many things you can delete from settlements and many things you can build, but the game will never let me do the work of one man and a broom, or fix a wall, or mow the grass and cut away the brambles.

    I was genuinely amazed when I returned from a trip away from the Castle to discover the Minutemen had actually cleared out all the Mirelurk detritus, such expectations the game had set in me that I would have to just try and build around all the crap – and even then, they still went ahead and left piles of uneven rubble spotted all over the floors, as if uneven surfaces were wards against the dangers of the wasteland. The leftover corpses and skeletons can at least be consoled away if they don’t give in to the passage of time.

    • thetruegentleman says:

      Good news! You can totally delete stuff that’s supposed to be permanent: open the console, click on the object, and type “markfordelete” (destroys the object upon reload) or “Disable”, which makes it invisible/no-cliped, but otherwise keeps the object around. “setpos z 10” may also work; it moves he object deep under ground.

      This mod (link to also makes vines and leafs invisible, thus cleaning the settlement, but also removing those same leafs and vines from existence in the rest of the world.

      • Carcer says:

        My issue is that much of the stuff that annoys me is part of the world geometry and not an object which can be consoled away. I’ve been markfordeleting aplenty to get rid of corpses and the like which I wanted to be shot of.

        The mod linked looks nice, but I’d rather not wander the rest of the world with all the foliage missing. Once they can do it only cleaning up the settlement areas specifically I’d install it without a second though.

  26. jonfitt says:

    Then there’s the language. 200 years in the past people spoke English considerably differently to the way we do today. Imagine 200 years of pockets of people not really interacting, and with very little or any formal education.
    The Vault dwellers with their pre-war information and classrooms would speak 1950s English, but everyone else would speak who knows what.
    There would be crazy dialects and speech patterns everywhere you went.

    Also how would a person know about old social constructs? It would have been something like 10 generations since any government or society existed. With little time or material for writing you’d be relying on an aural tradition of behaviour.
    Yes Fallout always has the crazy settlement setups, but they don’t seem to have been all affected by 10 generations of fighting for subsistence survival. That would have bled into every aspect of life. There’s no way you’d end up with a largely preserved Las Vegas lifestyle. Every generation would be thinking “Why am I doing this again? There are Radscorpions outside the walls and food is extremely rare”. Every settlement would have had to go for some period in a pure survival state, and then possibly later reformed their own idea of a civilisation. Instead we see places which are pretty much as they always were but now everyone is a little bit kooky in some way.

    • Eight Rooks says:

      And the thing is, the annoying thing – for me at least – is you don’t really get any games which do try to model this stuff. (As someone else pointed out above, even The Witcher 3 doesn’t go that far with it.) I’m not saying they all should and to an extent I’m not even saying Fallout should, but I’d be less inclined to pick holes in Fallout’s world if some developer could do a game of comparable detail – if maybe not scope – that did take these things into account. Not necessarily a hardcore immersive sim, even. Just something that acknowledges a lot of us would see that they’d put the effort in and think “Damn, this is really neat”. I mean, I reread books by authors who do the same and buy their future work with little or no prompting, so if I feel like that about videogames too I can’t be that unique, surely?

      • jonfitt says:

        Mass Effect and Dragon Age have had a lot of work put into their world building. Far more than many games. But we’ve never seen this applied to post-apocalyptic fiction.

        You want someone like a Tolkien who will say “Excuse me while I go and write a detailed history of the intervening 200 years as a companion piece to the main game. Oh yes, and I explore the evolution of language and class dynamics in tribal societies. Oh and the rat mutants speak an entirely new language that I made up based on only syllables they would have heard in the biochemistry lab where they were created”.

    • Sin Vega says:

      Yeah, this in particular bothers me about these games. It’s not just that the world hasn’t moved on, but even the language and culture are utterly static and lifeless. There’s not even basic slang, which is utterly ridiculous and boring too.

      • jonfitt says:

        The Walking Dead does a reasonable job at this in their names for Walkers (13 recorded so far):
        link to

        Take Mirelurk as a counter example. Really? Everyone just agrees that a giant mutant crab shall be called a Mirelurk?
        No Radcrab, or Mutant Crab?

  27. oldtaku says:

    As an aside this comment thread is amazing – the occasional typical stinker, but it’s mostly pretty civilized and insightful, even when I don’t agree with you. Heck, especially when I don’t, because you laid out your point enough that I can tell why we disagree. Maybe that’s just an indictment of the whole rest of the internet, but it almost feels like parts of Usenet again.

    • Stedios says:

      It’s like squatterville, they never tidy up!, Humans are tidy animals, I wondered this, it’s much more ordered and tidy in Fallout 1 and 2.

    • DimentoGraven says:

      I totally agree with this article.

      According to Steam, I’ve played this game almost 200 hours and kept having the ‘suspension of disbelief’ knocked right out from under me, every time I saw a place, occupied by people, but completely cluttered, unrepaired (not even sufficiently to keep the weather our, what? Did everyone suddenly become too stupid to get out of the rain after the bombs fell?), and with detritus that ABSOLUTELY after 200+ expletive years, SOMEONE, would have gotten rid of, just for the simple reason of “it’s in the damn way”!

      I’ve heard the story in FallOut4 described as ‘broad as an ocean, deep as a puddle” and I have to say, really agree with that assessment. The repetitive nature of a lot of the quests that ultimately provide little plot progression as far as I could tell, and then lack of FO:NV’s faction interplay.

      Why weren’t the Super Mutants a faction you could interact with, instead of a never ending source of trouble for the farmers and unceasing random encounters in the city?

      In fact, the lack of any ‘permanent’ solution to the various raider factions, feral ghouls (of which I think I emptied the population of a mid-sized city AND THEY WERE STILL SPAWNING), super mutants, et al. became an annoyance.

      While progressing in the extremely shallow plot lines, it felt like I was doing little if anything to ‘improve’ the world as a whole. There’s little motivation to continue playing after you’ve completed the main story line. The frickin’ settlements will be endlessly troubled by raiders, feral ghouls and super mutants, regardless of the defenses you put in place. No one EVER fixes a damn roof, or wall, or picks up the frickin’ trash around their hovels. If they happen to live in an intact structure, they seem to be quite happy to exist in the squalor of the refuse of the past 200 years.

      Again, these things became so annoying, truthfully, I started to hate the people and wanted them dead, all of them…

      Bethesda needs to come out with a game mode where not only plot progression is important, but also, permanent change to the ‘sandbox world’ is important.

  28. MaxMcG says:

    I was struggling to enjoy this game. Then I ended up in Diamond City. At the back there was this guy painting a wall green. So I talk to him and he gives me an important mission. I had to go to risk life and limb to get him… a can of paint. One can. To paint a vast wall. I muttered FFS and that’s the last I played of F4.It’s just a more tedious version of F3.

    • Archie _Toothis says:

      Come now. Nonsensical fetch quests are a part of every RPG. Whether you like the game or not is all the same to me, but name ANY of your favorite CRPGs, and somewhere there’s an NPC that wants you to find them some golden leotards for their interpretive dance routine.

      • ohminus says:

        Nonsensical fetch quests are a subgroup of fetch quests, but not their entirety.

        • Archie _Toothis says:

          A subgroup that, again, every CRPG of note has. Of the list of legitimate nitpicks with the game I’ve read, singling out a genre convention as the reason you bailed on the game seems a little far-fetched to me. (SWIDT?)

      • MaxMcG says:

        Yes but you see, I’ve played the Witcher 3 now.

        • Archie _Toothis says:

          Oh, so you’re familiar with NPCs who want you, as a magic sword wielding mercenary, to find rare playing cards for them, or busty woman who can bend the fabric of reality who wants you to find rare cheeses for them for a dinner they can cook you to entice you to have sex with them, because you as the pre-defined (as opposed to player choice) protagonist are an irresistible suitor?

          Please. Please.

          • mavrik says:

            Yes. See how you actually had to use more than a few words to describe the whys and whats of a quest!

          • Archie _Toothis says:

            If we’re having a battle of semantics, I would say that I provided *two* separate examples, each with as many words or more as it takes to say “NPC wants you to find specific paint can”, as it takes to say, “NPC wants you to find rare playing card”

            But please, continue to bore me with your non-argument.

          • ohminus says:

            You provided two out of a huge number of quests that you misrepresented as representative and distorted to make them sound simplistic.

            That’s usually called cherrypicking and fraud. The vast and overwhelming majority of quests doesn’t look that way. In fact, quests to get cards are quite rare.

      • DimentoGraven says:

        Yes, but does that damn wall ever turn GREEN?!?!?

        These games become the most immersive, and have MUCH longer playability, if after completing the quest, every other time you pass the wall, more of it’s green, until finally the whole dang thing is actually green.

        It’s perpetuating the idea of the player making a difference, and allowing the player the satisfaction of accomplishment.

        Having a quest to fetch a can a paint, then having the NPC endlessly painting the same dang spot… Corrupts the immersiveness of the game, to say the least.

    • Zenicetus says:

      It wasn’t totally meaningless. It was a homage to the location of Diamond City, built into a historic baseball stadium where that wall — “The Green Monster” — has been there since 1912 (although not green until the 1940’s).

      IIRC, the guy painting it says something about how it’s important to get that specific green for symbolic reasons, but he doesn’t actually understand the history. Just that’s it’s important to the town.

      Probably helps if you know the history. Even though I’m not a baseball fan, I thought it was a cute idea for a quest.

      • Blackcompany says:

        I think you just made me want this game.

        You…you…Green Monster…you.

  29. MadJax says:

    This is my biggest gripe against the Bethesda Fallouts, the main point of Fallout (Black Isle) versions, was the fallout AFTER the war, how humanity started rebuilding, not the literal nuclear fallout. Sure, in Fallout 1, 80 years after the bombs dropped, things were still a bit of a mess, but you had the likes of Shady Sands, built from scratch and consisted of stone buildings, mixed with the likes of Junktown (Made from the literal junk, not a den of genitalia) and Hubtown (A settlement in a burnt out city, which Bethesda seem to be stuck with). Fallout 2 however, things had obviously moved on in 70 years, with more advanced reconstruction, and re-civilisation. Even New Vegas stuck to the events of Fallout 2 and didn’t degenerate into shootybangbang, and it is rightly lauded as an excellent entry into the series…

    Bethesda’s east coast Fallouts seem more obsessed with the war itself, and the entire cast of characters come across as a bunch of bloody layabouts. In 200 years they’ve built a small junk city around a bomb, but otherwise have taken over pre-war structures and hung up fairy lights everywhere. Fallout 4 is worse in the fact the only reconstruction is undertaken by the player…

    Still having great fun with the latest entry, but I can’t help but think Bethesda missed the point with their world building…

    • Zenicetus says:

      “Fallout 4 is worse in the fact the only reconstruction is undertaken by the player…”

      Not exactly true (minor spoiler follows). One of the major factions is flying around in Vertibirds and airships. Another major faction lives in a sparkling clean futuristic settlement that looks every bit of 200 years post-atomic with full reconstruction.

      It’s that contrast with the barely hanging on survivors living in rustic camps and Diamond City that helps drive the player’s choice of which factions to support.

    • Blackcompany says:

      A cynical part of me that has witnessed multiple disasters here in the US has no trouble believing that a goodly number of people would simply…sit and wait. For someone else to come along. To do their heavy lifting. To improve their lot. Because they are emotionally or intellectually incapable of coping with their present circumstances sufficiently to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get to work.

      Another group might simply…lack the knowledge. Arthor and Ford Prefect end up on Prehistoric earth, with naught to show for it but a couch…and the ability to improve life for the savages by…making sandwiches. Relatively few people lack the special – or in this case, perhaps its S.P.E.C.I.A.L. – knowledge to rebuild civilization. So, they dont try, content to make due with their lot and what they have.

      Still others would absolutely pull themselves up and rebuild. Perhaps these would go on to form one of the factions living in relative splendor when compared to common wastelanders. These folk would scrape and scrounge and do whatever they could to make things better despite horrid circumstances.

      There are are kinds of people. Some wouldnt rebuild due to emotional or intellectual lack of capacity to cope or find the motivation. Others would lack the knowledge. Others would absolutely seek out the knowledge and do all they could to improve things. Hopefully the game represents all kinds, and does not make the player the only example of the latter.

  30. caff says:

    Interesting article, but having spent nearly 120 hours (and counting) in Fallout 4, none of the strangeness matters.

    • oldtaku says:

      Well, to you. To me it lowers it from ‘Holy crap everyone you have to play this amazing game’ to a fun timekiller which I dropped for Trails in the Sky SC, Just Cause 3, and now Xenoblade X. I’ll go back to it, but it’s not compelling me like those do. And it’s not the mechanics, it’s all the little things that keep reminding me it’s just a stage set.

      Obviously your mileage varies. But it does matter for many people.

      • Eight Rooks says:

        …although much as I love Falcom games, they’re as guilty of this silliness as anyone else. As are most JRPGs. Not played Chronicles X and most likely never will (don’t own a Wii U, don’t want one), but the worldbuilding in Chronicles was mediocre at best – one attention-grabbing idea for the setting and little else.

        Presumably you think it’s not such a big deal for the genre, but it still bothers me, if admittedly not as much. To bring my dad up for the second time in these comments, I still remember trying to explain to him why no-one in… I think it was Skies of Arcadia or Grandia II? had a bathroom.

        • oldtaku says:

          I’ll agree with that in general (Ys, for example), but Trails in the Sky tries pretty darn hard for an anchored world if you can accept the orbal tech. The architecture is consistent and mostly plausible (even bathrooms, though some are community), every single NPC has a name and a story and a place in society. You won’t find any random things where they don’t belong. It’s crazy planned out, though it helps that the world isn’t huge.

          So pretty much the opposite of Fallout 4 there.

          • Eight Rooks says:

            Sorry, yes, they do put more effort in than most. But it’s still… I don’t know, a lot of copy-and-pasted detail far more obvious than Fallout? And while I’ve not got that far in SC (at least not in English) I’m pretty sure the world wouldn’t hold up too well once you started picking at it. Obviously a lot of this is just videogames, if you prefer one set of compromises to another, more power to you – and I mean that most sincerely, I own plenty of Falcom games, I love their stuff…

            …just saying they do still have compromises and shortcuts, some necessitated by the medium (and the age of the games), some not so much. Compromises to which I can imagine someone else reacting much the same way you do with Fallout. Fantastic games, sure. Complete opposite? Not really, no.

  31. Stevostin says:

    It’s really that 210 year thing that seems silly. As you say, it has to be a typo. It *looks* 20 years at worst. It wouldn’t change a lot (well… in most Fallouts stories… ok not for this one, which btw is at least on a conceptual level the most interesting one of all) and it would make it so much easier to believe in.

    That being said FNV is a good illustration on how less cool and more consistency is both more consistent and… less cool. It’s my fav over F3 but F3 is just more enjoyable on a first run IMHO.

    So far F4 is… too much fights. And to make it worse those fights are too easy, at least when you’re experienced with the previous games. Still, characters are interesting, story has its moments, side quest are sometimes very good and they did learn from FNV (long walk to Diamond City, factions to pick during the main quests). Still, too much fights, not enough alternative. A good exemple is how right out of the beginning in FNV you reach that prison. You can kill them all, are establish relation, trade etc with them. Typical FNV but in F4, that would just be raider which would shoot you on sight and that after a while you’d shoot on sight too. For loot. But hey, you’re a super nice guy with those other guys (called “settlers”).

    • ohminus says:

      “That being said FNV is a good illustration on how less cool and more consistency is both more consistent and… less cool. It’s my fav over F3 but F3 is just more enjoyable on a first run IMHO.”

      Well, as I pointed out elsewhere, FNV has its own load of inconsistencies. For sitting in the middle of the Mojave, people seem awfully tolerant for spending their time outdoors, despite plenty of apparently intact housing around.

  32. pasports31 says:

    No, the game doesn’t really make any sense. No, I don’t really care. The game is fun and I like the theme/gameworld. It’d be better if the world was more consistent and made sense, but whatever. It’s not something I often find myself thinking about actively while wandering the world.

  33. toshiro says:

    This, and stuff like it, suddenly just make me stop playing. It’s fun, but… it’s all a bit too silly. And if there wasn’t an article like this here, I’d slowly be getting less interesting to visit the site. I actually think one could take it a lot further, comparing the sheer feeling of unbelievability to that of other AAA games of recent, like The Witcher 3, just makes this game look bad, full stop. This is the American version of that game, dumbed down and just lacking in creativity.

  34. oldtaku says:

    One thing I think we’ve missed saying explicitly here is that this is probably all a result of time savings. This is how you get such a ‘large’ world with everything individually placed with such a small team in a relatively short amount of time – you have a bunch of different people running around building separate areas as fast as they can – the tools specifically let them do this without stomping on each other.

    The skeletons in that diner probably aren’t there on purpose because someone thought it’d be subversive – they’re there because someone copied the diner, with skeletons, from another area. Deeper dialogues and plot lines are gone because it’s faster that way (and requires less coordination). Everything is just thrown together because it’s faster and easier. Which gives them more time to work on the very time consuming building mechanic.

    If you look at it that way you can say ‘Well, yeah, okay, I can see why this is why it is.’ Then you can decide whether it matters or not or whether it excuses it or not. But that deeper authorial intent we’re reading into some things probably isn’t there.

  35. hjarg says:

    What actually bugs me the most is are the “new” buildings. You know, the ones from thin metal sheets or wood so thin and with so much holes in it that it is mostly decorative. Basically, shacks.

    This makes me always wonder- Boston is in pretty northern climate. Winters can be quite severe. Heating one of these buildings basically means that you have to heat the entire world and still can’t keep the freezing wind out. And somewhere in the world, there is some leftover concrete. Or there are trees. Enough to build you a sturdy house that offers some protection against climate and raiders, not build shacks that big bad wolf has an easy time blowing over.

    • toshiro says:

      Very true. All I feel is like “yeah ok.. but why?”. To me, it just feels like it’s been done by immature people that just doesn’t have the will or the ability to think things through. It’s not exactly rocket science. I mean building the game IS, but the content, what is appropriate and not, is definitely not. I have a feeling that the persons capable of actually building the game, has little or no interests in anything else BUT building games. You know, the old meaning of the word “nerd”, meaning a person that is only interested in one thing.

  36. Arglebargle says:

    Bethesda’s work has been sloppy for a long time. Fallout 4 is apparently equally sloppy. I’ve given up on them. Maybe I buy their stuff when the GOTY version hits $5 or $10.

    There’s just too much stuff that could be done better with the same amount of work. They just don’t care enough. Sloppy.

  37. montorsi says:

    I was all “lock n’ load” and added a couple more skeletons to the diner.

  38. amaranthe says:

    Did… did you just turn my comment into an article? Because I legit posted a comment earlier today to this effect (admittedly a comment vs an entire article) but I find the timing strangely suspicious :P

    Anyhoo, this is what I would have written were I writing an article! This aspect of Fallout has always seemed like such an oversight — like I think the Bethesda writers forgot they were 200 years in the future, instead of 2. I don’t think this disparity was as big in Fallout 1 and 2 — the world was certainly decayed, but because of the different art/style/limitations, there wasn’t nearly as much detritus apparent, and in fact some of the areas where people lived, like Vaults, seemed rather clean and well kept, and while places like the Hub were rundown, they didn’t seem particularly dirty or gross. It was only with Fallout 3 that the world was clearly defined such as this weird amalgam of 50’s “future tech” + garbage and decay.

    Don’t get me wrong though, I still love it! The entire vibe Bethesda managed to inject into these games has been incredible. But I still have to shake my head at the idea that a town full of people still has skeletons and piles of garbage in every corner. Like, seriously, people would have figured it out by now. You can’t even compare it to medieval times or something, because these people have tech and science and knowledge of germs and disease, etc. It wouldn’t be this way!

    All’s forgiven though because the atmosphere is still great despite that. Just don’t think too hard about it.

    • mrbright01 says:

      Fallout 1 and 2 had random skeletons and detritus all over the place, and the time difference was still more than a generation from the war, which is more than enough to remove all of that in a realistic world. They still had old cardboard boxes.

      The difference is that Fallout 3 and onward don’t treat that aspect as “cool post apocalyptic window dressing, because there has to be dead bodies”. 1 and 2 just kinda had the bodies and garbage almost at random, and to block movement over areas of the map. Fallout 3 and 4 recognize the bodies to be a useful storytelling device, and instead of random bodies, many of them tell little stories, as the article mentioned.

      I half suspect that the more egregious moments, like the mentioned diner, are oversights that were missed during programming. i would not be surprised if the diner lady was added after the diner design was complete, maybe as an available vendor before you got into the city, and somebody forget to toss the bodies after it was added.

      Personally, I would love to be able to get rid of them, or maybe even gain karma with Preston by burying them, but ehhh, I prefer the priorities they set.

      • DrollRemark says:

        Fallout 1 and 2 had random skeletons and detritus all over the place

        They did? I honestly can’t remember that many skeletons in either of the first two games.

        From what I remember of playing the first game, any dead bodies, unless in the middle of nowhere, where recently dead. What’s jarring about the bodies in the Bethesda FOs is that they’ve obviously been there for quite some time (the layout of it all seems to suggest right from the actual cataclsym, but that admittedly might not be the case), and people have just built society around them. As though a skeleton or a collapsed bookcase isn’t just something that’s there, but an impediment that cannot be fixed at all.

  39. tomtom13666 says:

    But honestly, it seems that this article was written but not somebody that was a part of a Fallout generation … and I don’t mean any cliché of advertisement, but seriously there was a group of people back in nineties that did actually get this game. Not sure whenever this was as prominent in US but it was very noticeable in Europe.

    Essentially Fallout portraits a alternative time line where US stayed in good old fifties, everything peppered for “The War”, everything made from concrete to survive nuclear blast and millennium, all food being pumped so hard with preservatives that could glow in the dark. I know that this might be hard to comprehend by some folks in US nowadays but in Europe (specially Central) we’ve experienced this sort of attitude first hand – it was an old USSR that essentially still lived in the ages of cold war.

    For us this was Fallout. It was a world where unfortunately US of A was a bunch of same spec morons as USSR that sacrificed normal people, cultural / technological progress, cost efficiency in vane of some stupid ideology of “winning the war that will lead to world peace”.

    If you are in doubt, just look at the architecture in US or Europe in early to mid 80’s – compare that to “grey concrete slab, nuke proof” architecture of 80’s in USSR (c’mon – Chernobyl ?!?!?!). USSR did follow this crazy logic (it did help them to keep people enslaved) – but US and Europe didn’t … because they did wake up.

    Here we are in Fallout world that is XYZ years after a “great war that lead to peace”, in ex US of A, where everything seized to exist in 2077 … and it still looks like 1952.

    If you are seriously neglect to the whole political and ideological insanity aspect, ask your self this question:
    “How many vehicles manufactured in US during 50’s drive on the streets and are reworked etc … and how many from 80’s or 90’s.

    About cleaning skeletons:
    (rant mode ON)
    So you live in post apocalypse word, where you struggle to survive and everything arround you got death written all over it – is removing a skeleton a real f****ng priority ? Mate have you seen “hoarder next door” ??????? This problem is so prominent in our extremely clean times and you mount about skeleton in post apocalyptic word ? Have you seen a f****ng “Terminator 2” ??? They didn’t clean all the skeletons in the future, and somehow nobody moaned when some terminator stepped over a handful of sculls !!!
    (rant mode OFF)

    Anyway, good to see that there is some sort of pickiness toward a nostalgia game from a citizen of country responsible for:
    – spray on cheese
    – gastric bypass
    – keeping up with Kardashians

    • oldtaku says:

      “So you live in post apocalypse word, where you struggle to survive and everything arround you got death written all over it – is removing a skeleton a real f****ng priority ?”

      Yeah, it is, because the game makes clear these people are just hanging around in their diner all day. They’ve got plenty of time to toss a few bones outside. There’s no desperate struggle for survival here. Just look how much food is still lying around after 200 years.

      This is why the coherency and consistency matters. None of it makes sense, and we’re trying to make sense of it, and the skeletons are a prime example of how absurd it is. If they were actually ratscrabble bare edge of subsistence, your point might apply (though even then, even people in warzones and refugee camps generally clear corpses out of their living areas, or enshrine them). But as shown in the game they’re doing okay.

      • tomtom13666 says:

        Yes, to normal people … this is an apocalypse, right ?

        My view my be incredibly skewed by I was born an raised in beautiful city of Auschwitz (jokes later on), and I’ve seen what a horrid reality can do with people in examples … heard plenty of examples etc. This does not mean that this is an ultimate answer to a “skeleton left alone” question, but picking on this in in an artistic portrait of “post apocalyptic world where nonsense is the norm” is a bit trying to f****ng prat out of them self.

        Personally I’m very glad that Fallout games exist with their all faults, paying often homage to greater works ( fallout 2 and bridge crossing ? :D ) … so walking into a diner with a billion skeletons on the floor will raise my eyebrow thinking “yeah, some shiet went down here” rather than writing the article “this game makes no sense, there is an skeleton in the diner, ghaaaaaa”

        As the boy at the back of the bus said: “everybody’s a critic” :P

        • AyeBraine says:

          If you grew up in Oswenzim, what is that “hardcore reality of suffering” that you’ve experienced? If you’re not in your 80s or 90s, of course, in which case, mad props granddad. Otherwise, you grew up in a small, prospering Polish factory town with a tourist destination.

          We Russians always thought of Poland as a more European and refined country as far as Socialist republics go, and we would object very much to any hint of human remains on our floors. Even after “some shit gone down”, as you so vividly described it. If some shit gone down, you should clean it up. So don’t play a badass on the Internet, even when you play STALKER it doesn’t make you mor stronk.

    • amaranthe says:

      “So you live in post apocalypse word, where you struggle to survive and everything arround you got death written all over it – is removing a skeleton a real f****ng priority ?”

      For normal people, yes it would be. Normal people aren’t “hoarders”. Normal people would want clean places to live, not just for sanitary reasons but also because they don’t want to be constantly reminded of, you know, death.

      Also, the Terminator example is terrible because A) it was the robots living on the surface, and they’re robots so of course they don’t care and B) this was still very recent after the bombs, so no cleanup either way. The main issue we are pointing out with Fallout 3/4 is that this is 200 years after the fact. At least 8-10 generations. People would have gotten their sh*t together by this point.

      And nice jab at the end there. I’m sure Fallout players are real fans of the Kardashians so that makes TOTAL sense. (sarcasm)

      • tomtom13666 says:

        “For normal people, yes it would be. Normal people aren’t “hoarders”. Normal people would want clean places to live, not just for sanitary reasons but also because they don’t want to be constantly reminded of, you know, death.”

        As I’ve said in previous reply in this regards: Fallout is an post APOCALYPTIC world … nothing is normal any more. To us normal is what we’ve created for over a ten thousand ears in this beautiful and pathetic attempt to create something called civilization.

        If you really think that people don’t want to surround them self with reminders of death – what about all those people collecting hunted animals ? Please stop trying to make to much sense from post apocalyptic world, where whole world was ended in wane by a push of the button in name of ideology.

        • amaranthe says:

          I think you don’t quite understand that an apocalypse doesn’t mean a complete rewrite of human DNA and psychology. There will still be “normal” after something like this. I’m not saying it would be immediate–I’m saying that after 200 years it would likely have come back.

          And the way humans behave isn’t some random fluke. There are logical and quantifiable reasons why we behave the way we do. If you want a lesson I suggest finding any anthropologist who would be happy to go into it.

          As far as animals heads: I really wish you’d stop pulling random “examples” of completely unrelated things. Hunting trophies are not nearly the same thing as dead relatives rotting on your doorstep.

          Anyway, I can see trying to reason with you is completely futile. If you want to believe that a nuclear fallout can completely change the way humans interact and work, that’s fine. More power to you. But if you understand anything about human psychology or even biology, you’d know that there’s a good reason the majority of NORMAL people don’t live with dead bodies, trash, and feces inside our houses.

          • tomtom13666 says:

            “As far as animals heads: I really wish you’d stop pulling random “examples” of completely unrelated things. Hunting trophies are not nearly the same thing as dead relatives rotting on your doorstep.”

            Well all anthropologist will tell you that for a very long time Humans (YES US) did keep their dead in main room of their houses … until a fashion came and renamed a saloon into a “living room” – there fore no dead were allowed. Also a lot of people used to keep their relatives for longer than a “funeral” date – keep in mind that funeral was not the same as burial. How long did they keep it? Not more than two hundred year ago “we” did that and it was perfectly normal … no DNA coding etc required.

            So based on that, spare me: “Anyway, I can see trying to reason with you is completely futile.” You are not trying to reason with anybody, it’s either your way or nothing. You live in your bubble of “normal people”, check out Yugoslavia, they were normal “civilized people” not touched by apocalypse. Read a man kind history you f****ng neglecting hypocritical douche.

            And as a mute point to you and “somebody stealing your post blah blah” – who gives a flying f*** about your opinion ? Interpretation in art is anyones will and Fallout is closer to that than Sims. A lot of people will play that game no matter how many plot point it will have and will praise it for long time, Bethesda will cash in on pretty good work (maybe not 100% accurate) and nobody will remember your comments and your sorry arse here.

            Take care and reason with your unrecognizable Swedish metal band.

    • AyeBraine says:

      I’m sick to death of this “look at me I’m an Eastern European, we’re hardcore and suffered, WE KNOW LIFE” schtick. Just shut up. US and UK citizens actually were scared of nuclear war much MORE than people in USSR. Source: Russian culturologist, wrote a PhD on Western post-apocalyptic media.

      And BTW that awful 80’s brutalist architecture in USSR wasn’t for nuke proofing. It was because of a long-living clique of Moscow architects who defined the stylistic approach for the whole bloc. It just looked brutal and indestructible. It was just bad architecture.

      PS: And yeah, other countries also went through that period in architecture, just earlier, so many 50s-70s govt buildings are like that, from Africa and Australia to Germany and US). And maniacally cheery 80’s in US were exactly the reaction to fear and paranoia of worsening Cold War tensions.

      • Archie _Toothis says:

        As a US Citizen, I find your response problematic, which is not to say *wrong*, you understand…just “off”. It’s true that as a US Citizen, if you grew up in the 80s, you were especially subject to Nationalist propaganda from the cold war. Which was, not to put too fine a point on it, fucking terrifying. You were raised with the certainty of nuclear war in the form of primetime network dramas and assorted B movies.

        As an aside, Douglas Coupland, the Canadian Gen X spokesperson has a chilling chapter in his book “Life After God”, with vingnettes from the Nuclear apocalypse from people raised in the 80s. That is neither here nor there. But I like to shout that shit out.

        On the subject of Fallout, however, I fear you are missing the point entirely. The setting of Fallout was not chosen because “retro 50s shit would be cool”. Or at least, not entirely. It’s to draw contrasts between American cultural and commercial attitudes of that time in the primacy of the cold war, which were…how do I say this gently…really fucked up? …and a theoretical nuclear apocalypse. The setting, while not plausible in a realistic sense, was chosen for artistic reasons.

        People from outside the US that point that out may not be taking every opportunity to own their own nation’s misteps, but they’re not wrong. As one US citizen to another, I recommend you take it in stride, own the unflattering legacy your chosen art brings to light, and let it inform your present day decisions.

        Or, you know, just write an angry response on a video game blog about it. Either way. I mean, fuck it, right?

        • AyeBraine says:

          Thanks for replying, but I’m a little puzzled. I didn’t say things you say I’ve said.

          First, I’m from Russia, not from US. A citizen of the Russian Federation, born 1984.

          Second, I never said the Fallout setting was chosen «because “retro 50s shit would be cool”». I can’t even find anything remotely resembling that in my comment. Although it really was chosen for both reasons – because it’s some seriously cool gernsbackian shit, and because it’s hilariously ironic and relevantly satirical. I love self-satire that US has, it’s one of the best (Bioshock Infinite is one of the other of my favorite narrative games).

          On the topic of Fallout’s US pre-war policy (one of my favorite parts of the game is to read terminals), I recommend the book by Ira Chernus, Apocalypse Management: Eisenhower and the Discourse of National Insecurity. Judging by it, Fallout writers really did nail the era, and the conceptual roots of the whole Cold War US ideology.

          • Archie _Toothis says:

            First of all, AyeBraine, I’m sorry. I completely misinterpreted your statement. You must understand, it’s so rare for an external US source to speak apologetically about the US in any fashion these days (which I interpreted your statement as), and so common for certain segments of my own population to respond aggressively when they feel they are being challenged, I just responded as if the latter was happening. Given the state of US and Russian relations at present (which I have nothing to do with, and would rather be otherwise), your statement is especially refreshing.

            Please don’t interpret this as me in any way trying to wiggle out of the commentary the Fallout series makes on US cultural attitudes from that era. I own that. You just surprised me, is all. Which is a good thing.

          • AyeBraine says:

            It is really fine. There is absolutely nothing to apologize for.

            And don’t take all this political stuff too seriously – Fallout sure doesn’t. Everyone always did and still does some stupid shit. Most of our clever educated guesses as to how this all works are even stupider and farther off the mark. The only thing that almost never adds even more stupidity to the equation is good humor.

      • Premium User Badge

        alison says:

        Completely agree. I don’t really have a horse in this race because i haven’t played Fallout 4 and probably never will, but i am loving the RPS articles about it. I grew up in a Western military family in the Soviet era, and we were fucking terrified of the bomb. The Americans is a great show that exemplifies the paranoia of the West back then. We were in West Germany at the time and our biggest fear was that we were going to be the first place hit when the Commies pressed the button.

        Of course it all seems ridiculous in retrospect, especially now that i live and work in Eastern Europe. That depressing image of endless gray tower blocks and Brutalist architecture turned out to all be Western propaganda, designed to dehumanize the guys on the other side of the Iron Curtain. In reality Eastern Europe had all the wonderful history and fabulous food and cultural depth that Western Europe had. But the propaganda told it different, and i imagine the propaganda in my parents’ generation was even stronger. I haven’t played Fallout 3 or 4, but i played New Vegas, and i loved it. Certainly it is a silly world seen through the eyes of a 21st century video gamer, but the point is that it’s a pastiche of the post-apocalyptic FUD spread by Western propagandists of the era. Of course it’s not realistic. But it’s a piss-take of duck-and-cover. It’s not trying to show how hopeless and awful a real nuclear fallout might be (for that perhaps Metro 2033 is a better game) – it’s making a point about the absurdity of the propaganda. And in that i think it succeeds very well.

        But perhaps it’s better appreciated by people who grew up in that environment.

        • ohminus says:

          As someone who has seen both Eastern Germany and Prague before and after the fall of the Iron Curtain, careful – the changes since then have been massive. Yes, of course Eastern Europe always had cultural and historical depth. That doesn’t mean that reminiscence to such “decadent” times was not seen as undesirable. Heck, Dresden never bothered to either tear down or repair the old palace. They just let it rot as a monument to the failure of aristocracy.

  40. Von Uber says:

    Interesting point. I think this is why I prefer the elder scrolls over fallout, as the world feels believable in a way.
    Having ancient ruins around speaking of a history alongside the new organised settlements of the present reflects what we experience in the real world more and that subconsciously helps I think.

    Also, this is the sort of in depth article it would have been nice to have on last month’s game of the month, just saying.

  41. mrbright01 says:

    My person head cannon is that, as the rest of the world works on 1950’s Sci-Fi science (Radion causes bugs! Mutants! hey, look, aliens!), Fallout’s world works as the 1950’s view of the apocalypse suggests: Mild decay in a remarkably preserved world.

    Unreal? Absolutely. So are giant insects, and mutants, and man portable laser weapons, and Artificial Intelligence. It’s a stylistic choice, one that makes the game work on a fun, adventurous level. It is not an adventure game in the real world, it is science fiction, as envisioned during the era it represents.

    Also, if I wanted boring realistic, there is a CoD every year to scratch that itch ;)

  42. wombat191 says:

    i do tend to agree over the time thing. it does feel like 20-30 years have passed not 200+. makes even less sense considering that medical kits, etc are laying untouched for that long.

    as for items in the world lasting that long i always put it down to decades of material science over us, with things that say look like vinyl but is actually something much much longer lasting, etc still doesnt explain computers left out in the elements for 2 centuries however

  43. 1Life0Continues says:

    These aren’t the only inconsistencies we could pick on.
    Where are the children?

    No, seriously. I’m not that far into the game admittedly, but in that time the number of children I’ve seen I could count on one hand, not counting Vault 81 (where the small number of children was actually explained).

    The wasteland would value labour right? So why not more children? Also, children of different ages, babies and toddlers and teens etc. They are all markedly absent.

    Or going further back, why would nuclear technology forgo inventing transistor microchips? The tech clearly exists, but they aren’t using it? Why?

    On a unique note that makes me shudder, why do Assaultrons have defined bums? No, why? But why? What purpose does this serve in any feasible dimension? No, but why?

    I miss the RPG aspect of the Fallout games. I’m one of the awful people that found New Vegas bland and boring (without Wild Wasteland on; with it on, it was still bland and boring but I giggled at multiple points with the goofy encounters) and I adore Fallout 3 as I find it a much more interesting game to explore than a blank, featureless desert. That setting worked for the first two game because of the instanced nature of locations, but in a fully open world, it is boring. To me anyway, opinions being like grains of sand on a beach. But I am still enjoying myself in Fallout 4 because the thrill of exploration is still there for me. The story can and does wait for you (speaking of inconsistencies let’s play with that idea shall we? Why does the world wait for you? Shouldn’t it move regardless of your position in it?)

    I think Bethesda crafts great open worlds, but uses copy/paste a lot for efficiency/time constraint reasons and can’t tell a story to save its life. I think Obsidian crafts great stories, but sucks big time at crafting open worlds that are fun to explore. I have never had fun exploring in an Obsidian OW game (repeat *I* have never had fun. I am not you, don’t stand on the table with your knickers on your face ranting about opinions) but their stories engross me. I have had oodles of fun exploring in Bethesda OW games, but I’ve spent over 187 hours in Fallout 4 and have only JUST gotten to Diamond City because I could give a rats twaddle about the forced fridged family (no pun intended) story.

    Huh. I think I just lost the main point of my comment here. Oh yeah. Consistency is grand, but I can forgive lack of it when I’m having a good time. I can and do still question things, but I don’t let that stop me from enjoying myself.

    As always YMMV, but I get the distinct impression that for some people, Bethesda are just the devil. I think they could always improve, but so long as action is what people buy, and reading is anaethema to mainstream “gamers” (god I still hate that word) this is what we get.

  44. s1473492 says:

    A tiny mistake in the article: “…while its exterior is eaten away by weak carbolic acid in rainwater.” I believe it was supposed to be carbonic acid produced by CO2 dissolving in water, not a solution of toxic phenol in water.

  45. spardeous says:

    The main problem with Bethesda’s Fallout world is that it completely lacks any sense of progression since the bombs fell.

    If Fallout 3 had happened prior to Fallout 1, it would have made their world-building much more believable.

    • Zenicetus says:

      There are two main factions in Fallout 4 that have made massive progress since the bombs fell, and look like they belong in that era. Maybe you haven’t met them yet.

  46. PancakeWizard says:

    I gave up expecting any kind of adherence to the 50s futurism from Bethesda in FO3, seeing computers being not just common place, but still working and reasonably compact.

  47. TheTorontoTiger says:

    All the talk about the state of the Diner and skeletons lol, meanwhile this kid can’t just take an Addictol like the rest of us and move on from there with Mom :C

    • AyeBraine says:

      Another funny thing is, whether you object to the skeletons in the diner or support them, many people don’t recognize that there shouldn’t be any skeletons at all. Skeletons don’t hold together. Ever. They only hold together as medical visual aids, carefully drilled and tied with wire. But if there was no skeletons in Fallout 4, it would be at least 20% less interesting. So to hell with “realism” I say.

      • toxicfiend1957 says:

        i agree with you and i just absolutely and totally love this AWESOME game most of my time is spent roaming the Commonwealth watching random battles take place or joining in it is one of my all time fave games and i have been playing games for a long time.

    • JohnGreenArt says:


      It’s more aggravating to me that once you resolve the diner scenario, the characters stay in that state, in that place, for the rest of the game. You go back ten days later and Wolfgang still greats you saying “Thanks for helping out”, like it just happened.

      It’s almost as if Bethesda designs these little vignettes to be played through, and then they expect the player to move on and never come back again, so they didn’t actually create a routine for those characters should the player do so. In a linear game, that’d make perfect sense, but I pass by that diner constantly, and there they are, caught in that tiny loop. They don’t even seem to have sleep schedules like most of the NPCs in the game.

      • AyeBraine says:

        To be fair, 99% of games are not good enough for you to keep playing them for hundreds of hours and walking dozens of times through old, oft-visited locations. There really aren’t many such games. For most of the other games, even having such vignette is a point of pride and reason for praise. =)

  48. Brian Seiler says:

    Do you want to know the real reason why the time is so screwed up? I can’t speak with any expertise, but I’d be surprised if it wasn’t a combination of a general lack of worry (people are pretty relaxed with their fiction – thousands of years passed in the star Wars universe and nothing really changed, for instance, which is sheer insanity) and the fact that it showed up at Bethesda this way. When the first Fallout came out it was a different kind of game set in a different environment, probably built by people who weren’t nearly worried enough about it to bother researching the accurate aftermath of a global thermonuclear war. So they picked a date and ran with it, then Bethesda brought the property, decided to implement the Bethesda game in it, and they had to play the hand they were dealt.

    Of course, there’s the other part of the problem – the public perception of the aftermath of a nuclear war is dramatically different from our best understanding of what would actually happen, and trying to correct that understanding is…problematic. For instance, people just EXPECT there to be a bunch of dead plants. Why? What would kill all those plants? A few decades ago, the thought was that massive nuclear war would yield a nuclear winter that would inhibit the ability of any survivors to grow crops, but the thing nobody tells you is that the “nuclear” part of that term doesn’t really belong. “Nuclear Winter” had nothing whatsoever to do with nuclear war in particular – the theory was that if you set every city in the world on fire at once, so much smoke would be barfed into the atmosphere that it would reduce available sunlight on the surface to the point that plants would have a problem. The only thing is…we’ve gotten better data since that was first postulated, and the best guess we can make now is that that probably wouldn’t happen. If we were to nuke the world Cold War style, probably the worst we could expect is a sort of nuclear autumn – things would be cooler, but it would be possible to adapt. However, try telling anybody that and not having them turn around and accuse you of defending nuclear war. As such, the idea never changes. Nuclear war kills all the plants which makes everything a desert.

    All that being the case, I try not to worry about it so much. Apocalypse games take place in the imagination future apocalypse. It might be interesting to see a more accurate depiction, but I can live without it. I don’t come to fall out expecting scientific accuracy. I mean…come on…there are ROUS and aliens and a guy in a stupid hat that occasionally shows up and shoots people in the face before vanishing. This is clearly not the reality that I’m accustomed to.

  49. wyrm4701 says:

    It’s important to me. My time with it is a laundry list of abject failures to suspend disbelief, despite an effort on my part that’s become disheartening.

    It’s a damn shame – Fallout 4 is Bethesda’s best game yet, but that’s seems due to the richness of the world established by others, decades gone. The modern contribution appears to be a fantastic legacy of art direction, and little else. Everything outside of that seems somehow a bit’ve pedestrian shit, these days.