Experienced Points: Shamus Answers Your Fallout 4 Questions

By Shamus
on Dec 7, 2015
Filed under:

This week my column talks more about the Fallout 4 intro, and also about encumbrance. This was a hard column to write. I needed to stay on topic and not lash out every time one of Bethesda’s awkward, idiotic, or amateurish attempts as faux-worldbuilding came up in conversation.

Well, that’s fine for a column where you need to stay on topic, but this is my blog and I don’t need to hold back.

The new Fallout games are set 200 years after the bombs fell, over a century after the first game. And its set 3,000 miles away. And yet check out all these Fallout 1 ideas they thoughtlessly dragged along:

Bottlecaps as money: This makes sense as an ad-hoc currency when crawling out of the rubble and trying to build a new society a generation or so later. (Although I’ve always wondered why they didn’t use the existing coins, since coins will be more numerous, more durable, harder to “counterfeit”, and come in various denominations for convenience. Bottlecaps work if you’re basically rural farmers. But once you’ve got working machinery, some other system will arise.

Leftover food: Uh, no. Fallout 1 had almost no food from the old world. There was, I think, a box of macaroni someplace. And there was still Nuka Cola. But now we’re something like 150 years after Fallout 1 and suddenly every container is overflowing with still-edible prepackaged goods.

Jet: No Bethesda. Jet is not a pre-war drug. Jet was made in the aftermath. You can even meet the kid who invented it. It’s part of the ugly, seedy world that replaced the plastic, idyllic old one. And again: It was a west coast thing.

Supermutants: Created in a lab in southern California. But now they’re everywhere.

Radscorpions: Radscorpions were – and I hope Bethesda doesn’t find this concept too confusing – irradiated scorpions. Like, a species that was indigenous to the setting of Fallout 1 became mutated. But now I guess the whole world is just a copy of SoCal. If the first game had been set in Anchorage and Fallout 4 was set in Florida, then in this game we’d be wading through swamps, fighting irradiated polar bears.

The weather: Fallout 1 was set in a desert. So then Bethesda moves the game into a temperate climate, but makes it look like a desert anyway.

Brotherhood of Steel: I guess they also migrated 3,000 miles to the east coast. Whatever.

Deathclaws: They migrated northeast too? Okay, fine.

Molerats: Sure. I guess they migrated, too. Why not? How about The Hub? How about Killian’s Shop? Why can’t that migrate, too? Maybe that could be a chain of shops that somehow operates across a continent in a world with no long-distance communication or stable currency. Shit, why don’t we just say Vault 13 migrated?

Bethesda has done to Fallout what JJ Abrams did to Trek: They saw all the adventure and laser fights and assumed that’s what it was all about. They mistook the surface for the core.

At least they’ve embraced their brainless aesthetic and gave Fallout 4 a sense of fun. Fallout 4 is at least smart enough to not ask us to take this circus seriously. And despite my bellyaching, that change in tone really is a massive improvement. The worst part of Fallout 3 wasn’t its relentless stupidity, but its inept pathos and pretensions of being something more than a supermutant shooting gallery.

I’m sorry. I lost my chain of thought. Were we talking about Fallout 3 again? What was the question?

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From the Archives:

  1. Retsam says:

    > irradiated polar bears

    Radbears, I assume you mean.

    • Tektotherriggen says:

      I’m always slightly surprised they never went for nuclear winter as a theme, although that’s clearly impossible after the first game being hot.

      • Valthek says:

        We could have a fallout game in Anchorage. That’d be sweet. Radbears, Irradiated Snowstorms, other snow-things. Or, and this might be shocking, but a fallout game in a non-american environment? I bet the Eifel Tower would look great with a healthy green glow. Or posh british ghouls would be amazing.

        But Bethesda likes their existing setting too much.

        • Humanoid says:

          The Anchorage thing – well that ….already has happened.

          As for Europe, I’ve had this thought that it turns out no one ever bombed Europe and they’re all living perfectly normal lives and just choose to let the Americans be for the past 200 years. A few thrill-seeking nutjobs like Moriarty or those Russian brothers made the trip across to the East coast – land of opportunity and all that – which explains why they’ve still got the heavy accents.

          • Kobold Artificer says:

            According to Fallout canon the “European Commonwealth” (irl European Union) fell into civil war & dissolved after its war with the Middle East (over the last of the oil) around 2060. So it’s probably just as bad as the US, maybe a bit less radioactive?

            • 4th Dimension says:

              Maybe not necessarily. If it broke apart into smaller communities than the command lines were less affected by the collapse of the big government.

              Basically if California could do it, Euopeans with a lot less irradiation could probably do it too.

          • SlothfulCobra says:

            That was a virtual anchorage.

          • 4th Dimension says:

            Even with no nuking they still would have been affected by the nuclear fallout and the temporary cooling that would make crops fail that year. Plus the fall of the major free market economy and a major manufacturer getting bombed back to teh stone age would have caused a massive problems due to sudden scarcity of all kinds of manufactured goods and medicines. But 200 years later? Some form of government is probably back in action because if NCR can do it Europeans can do it too.

            The only question is did Russia participate in the nuclear exchange because they might have gone on the offensive in the aftermath (probably not united) in order to gain cleaner land and resources.

      • AileTheAlien says:

        They could just not set every single story (“game”) they tell in the same universe. Make them all thematically related, but not actually in the same universe/time-line/whatever, like how the Mad Max movies do it. Trying to wrangle all the stories into the same world just causes more problems than it solves. :)

        • Humanoid says:

          But then you wouldn’t need to call it Fallout, and wouldn’t need Bethesda’s permission to do it. You could just make a game called, say, Wasteland instead and do whatever the hell you liked. :D

        • Phobian says:

          Uh, that’s not what the mad max films do. They are technically in continuity, but loosely so.

          • Torsten says:

            That would make the films all happening within 20 or so years, with Max always being in his mid 30’s. Yet most knowledge of the world before the apocalypse has been lost in the films already. That does not make sense.

            • Joe Informatico says:

              It makes more sense if Max’s various adventures are the legends of later descendants of apocalypse survivors, and his tale grows in the telling. The voiceover narration by the grownup Feral Child in MM2/Road Warrior implies that.

          • AileTheAlien says:

            Max is the only character who is ever present in all the films. No other settlements or people are re-used. How do you justify saying that that’s all the same things, in the same universe?

          • SyrusRayne says:

            From what I’ve heard, even George Miller subscribes to the “Max as myth: various wasteland myths and events end up tied to him even though they happen in wildly different times” idea.

            Edit To Add: Although re-reading your comment and the one before, I think I actually agree with you now? Reading comprehension is a wonderful thing.

            The Mad Max movies take place in the same world, but Max himself isn’t always the same dude and the movies take place many years apart.

            • Cinebeast says:

              Yeah, the way I understand it, it’s kind of like the Zelda series. Different times with a different hero for each, except all of the heroes inexplicably look the same and do the same things and have the same name, and often have the same backstory, too.

        • Metal C0Mmander says:

          If Bethesda really wants to keep going with the “just after the apocalypse” setting they don’t even have to do anything fancy with the franchise. They just have to stop making their games take place after their last one and tell a story that take place in the timeline they already have. Like go back to 50 years after the apocalypse instead of 200.

    • ehlijen says:

      They’d be albino radbears, of course, because white fur = albino…

    • evileeyore says:

      We already have radbears… they’re called Yaoguai.

      Granted they aren’t Polar Yaoguai….

  2. Nandus says:

    At Abernathy Farm the player character can ask a few questions about the world but the responses don’t say much. Its almost like the player was suppose to run into this farm early on since its near both Sanctuary and Red Rocket but its easily missed early on.

  3. Tektotherriggen says:

    Regarding collecting/hoarding items: Torchlight and similar ARPGs allow you to give your unwanted items to a pet or companion, and they go off and sell it for you. There are also Town Portal spells (Diablo invented those?) that teleport you home, and then return you exactly where you were in the dungeon.

    Obviously those aren’t exact thematic matches for Fallout, but perhaps they could be adapted. E.g. you have a radio that summons a hovering shop drone that you can sell your junk to. Perhaps you could have a pack animal, with assumed infinite storage space, that waits outside buildings and dungeons.

    Or why not simply allow you to sort your inventory direct on your Pip Boy, with folders representing storage containers in your home. You can see what’s in them, and put stuff in them (effectively teleporting away your items), but not get stuff out (so as not to make the game too easy). Sure, there’s no in-universe explanation for this, but considering all the other suspensions of disbelief in games, this could be acceptable.

    • Bropocalypse says:

      Yeah, I was going to mention the pet in the Torchlight series, which more-or-less solves the encumbrance problem. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to ask your companions to take their stuff back to base for you, does it? Just dump it all in a container, I’ll sort it out when I get home.

      • John says:

        Avadon has a junk bag- a subset of inventory with nigh-infinite space and no weight limit. When talking to a shopkeeper, there’s a button you can click on to sell everything in the junk bag at once.

        • Humanoid says:

          Yeah, SWTOR has a “sell junk” button too. But looking even just below the surface you realise just how silly this is – the feature is a “fix” for a problem that only exists because the designers thought it a good idea to make enemies drop items that are explicitly junk in the first place, instead of just dropping more money. What is the gameplay purpose of this bandit dropping 5 gold and a “broken compass” or whatever worth 2 gold?

          I was quite pleased with how Dishonored instantly converted anything you looted into its cash value, there was no need to manually fence your stolen goods, which I don’t think would have added any meaningful gameplay value.

          • djw says:

            In SWTOR the “gameplay” purpose is to get you to fork over money for more inventory space.

          • Falterfire says:

            What is the gameplay purpose?

            Well, this is one of those gameplay VS lore things. By having the character drop bits and pieces of junk worth 178 GP instead of just dropping 178GP you can build the world for players who care about such things. The downside is that players then have to lug it around and sell it, but if you make that process convenient you can mostly get away with it.

            The alternate answer is to do what some games do and just immediately convert it to money, which has a similar purpose of showing off the world with a bit of an immersion break but also a more convenient way.

            Whether you think junk items are cool world building or just a chore depends on what sort of player you are and how well it’s implemented – good junk tells you something about the world, bad junk is just generic and doesn’t tell you anything.

            • VaporWare says:

              It’s also a very subtle anti-poopsock measure. Since vendor-trash occupies inventory space, it eventually adds up to a point where you have to take a break from hacking, slashing and looting to manage and refresh your inventory, either by actively deciding to continue by discarding vendortrash in the hopes of getting better/more valuable or useful items, or taking a longer break by returning to town to convert it into the liquid wealth it represents.

              • Ninety-Three says:

                I always traced the mechanic back to WoW, where the developers created trash so that they could have inventory upgrades, and they wanted inventory upgrades so that they could let the players craft them, thus adding depth to the crafting system.

                Of course because the MMO industry is all about copying WoW (“if we can make half as much money as them, we’ll be rich! Let’s do almost exactly what they did.”), there’s a lot of thoughtless copying, and it works out that people often copy the trash without copying in the craftable upgrades it was meant to enable.

                • guy says:

                  It definitely traces back further than that; there was vendor trash in Baulder’s Gate. Not to nearly the same extent, mostly gems, but same concept. I suspect it may come from RPGs where you might find yourself wanting to buy new stuff prior to being able to sell some of the vendor trash.

                  • Plus some of the gems were really valuable. And then later they added a gem bag to store your gems in one slot. So I don’t think they were trying to be annoying, they were just trying to go with the concept of D&D loot tables where you can find valuable stuff that isn’t just “gold pieces”.

                    The smart thing to do with this would be to have different gems/art be worth different amounts to different vendors, so it becomes a little cash-maximizing minigame if you want to play it. That way there’s a reason for it not just to be more cash.

                    • Actually, this would be the smart thing to do in Pen and Paper games, also. My group is very role-play heavy so many of them will actually keep art objects that sound cool–or give them as gifts, or otherwise use them as something other than “inconvenient source of cash”.

                    • Decius says:

                      Trading art objects for things other than GP or things that they would have bought with GP is even better. Allies, for example.

                    • There are some quests that ask for specific gems.

    • Valthek says:

      But if they wanted a way to sort the inventory, Bethesda would have to (gasp!) learn proper UI design. And as we’ve seen with the MANY UI improvement mods that are some of the most popular mods out there, they’re not very good at it. I had hoped they had improved the inventory management a bit in this new game, but it’s still about the same as that atrocity that passed for an inventory system in Skyrim.

    • Shoeboxjeddy says:

      Torchlight’s system was perfect for a single player game. In a multiplayer game, your friends often don’t or won’t wait for you to sort trash to the pet and then send the pet running off. It’d be nice if you could tell your inventory to just do things for you (automatically put gear below this quality in the garbage stack as soon as I pick it up), though maybe that would be too complex in some games.

  4. Kavonde says:

    I honestly think Fallout 4 did a better job explaining some of the stupid bits like pre-war food than F3 did. They specifically point out that all this old junk food is chock full of radioactive preservatives, which magically keep it from spoiling–at the cost of mild radiation poisoning with every bite. And whenever I’d nitpick F3’s setting, I’d always make a joke about how the world had yet to rediscover broom technology–and I was greatly amused to see that the Institute had, in fact, created sweet future-brooms.

    Radscorpions and deathclaws migrating also make some sense, given that they’re top-of-the-food-chain predators with useful adaptations and very few things capable of checking their population. And like it or not, the Brotherhood migrating was a tradition started back in the isometric 2D days of Fallout Tactics, and hell, at least these guys actually act like the Brotherhood.

    That said, Jet’s existence is still incredibly annoying to me, you’re absolutely right about the dumbness of still using bottlecaps as currency, and you didn’t even address everyone’s biggest headscratcher: how the hell 90% of humanity’s remaining population can subsist as raiders preying on the handful of farmers and merchants. (Especially when they’re competing with giant, bullet-sponging green Hulklings.)

    I’d love to see the setting actually advance a bit, with people (finally) making logical progress towards rebuilding civilization. It’s been 200 years; people should be able to build walls and ceilings properly at the very least.

    • Ninety-Three says:

      “And like it or not, the Brotherhood migrating was a tradition started back in the isometric 2D days of Fallout Tactics”
      I thought we’d collectively agreed that Tactics was non-canon, like the Matrix sequels.

      • evileeyore says:

        Nope. It’s even a bit referenced in F3.

        Also I liked Fallout Tactics.

        • ehlijen says:

          Same here.

          I think it was odd enough to not truly fit the story as set down by the ‘true’ fallout games, and it certainly had its share of annoying features, but for XCOM fans, it was still a very passable joyride through the fallout world.

          It continued the trend FO2 was already criticised for of using real world guns when its history was supposed to diverge from ours starting with the 50s and FO1 had deliberately avoided doing this.
          It included some rather odd things not as secret jokes, but as actual world content (eg Klingon replica weapons).
          It insisted on being set elsewhere but brought a ridiculous amount of FO1 setting material along (BoS, mutants)

          But it also did a few things well:
          While it used ‘ring pulls’ as a local currency in a silly attempt to continue the bottlecap->coaster->? line of fallout currency, the BoS actually created its own money as well, and won’t trade in ringpulls.
          There is no looting for prewar food. In fact the rarity of food and its transportation sets one of the more notable missions.
          Vault-Tec isn’t Umbrella. There are no stupid ‘FOR SCIENCE!’ vaults. The vault network was actually constructed around a plan to rebuild America, not just to entertain the Enclave and provide looters with obstacle courses.
          Both the brotherhood and the mutants had reasons to be there that were consistent with FO1 and 2 and those reasons are explored throughout the game. (Compare to how mutants in FO3 are ‘just there’ with nary a motive ever shown.)

          So yeah, a decent game (albeit not a true RPG) and a far more fitting entry in the fallout game line than Fallout 3 was.

          If you liked Fallout Tactics, thought it could be a bit more RPG like and understand German, also check out The Fall: Last days of Gaia.

      • Decius says:

        Also, the super mutant migration was part of the Fallout Epilogue. The Brotherhood following them is pretty likely, given what the Brotherhood does.

        I recall a jab at the semi-canon nature of Tactics, but I don’t recall exactly what or where.

        • Merkel says:

          I largely agree with this, in theory. It would have been cool, if in fallout 3, we heard rumors of giant, hulking, brutes early on, and didn’t see any Supermutants until at least mid-game, and even then, only a handful. And if the Brotherhood that we saw was also just a handful of guys hunting them down, and searching for tech along the way. You could have the Supermutants still be intelligent, but after being hunted by the Brotherhood (and fighting through robotic hell in Chicago), are wary to trust normal humans (like the Nightkin in FO:NV). This would have given the Brotherhood a much needed dark side, maybe they still wanted to help out civilians (although preferably not) but they were responsible for turning the Supermutants away from being willing to talk and towards mindless destruction. Also, as far as wildlife goes, the East Coast has a surprisingly large number of venomous snakes, bobcats, mountain lions, black bears, and snapping turtles, all of which could have been mutated in interesting ways.

        • Michael says:

          There’s dialog about the Midwestern Brotherhood in 3. Tactics was considered non-canon because of how it didn’t fit with the rest of the setting. 14 Degrees East even said they didn’t really have the time necessary to get a feel for the setting, when they were developing it. Apparently Bethesda never got the memo, and incorporated it into Fallout 3’s backstory without any thought. And it in turn informs the Brotherhood’s behavior in Fallout 4.

          • Tom says:

            “Apparently Bethesda never got the memo, and incorporated it into Fallout 3’s backstory without any thought.”

            Unsurprising. When thinking of adjectives to describe Bethesda’s general design ethic, “thoughtful” is not foremost among them.

    • Humanoid says:

      The world of New Vegas is more or less fully populated, with the obvious exceptions being Nipton, Searchlight and Boulder City – but even then the game relays that they were all very much settled towns until recent events. So it’s immediately striking in Fallout 4 that as soon as you exit the vault, the first place you see is an inexplicably deserted place. It would be inconceivable for New Vegas to have a place like Sanctuary Hills remain apparently uninhabited (and indeed unlooted) for 200 YEARS*.

      * Yes yes, I know, drink. But really the more relevant yardstick for measuring progress in Fallout isn’t the 200 years since the war, but the 120+ years it’s now been since you visited Shady Sands in Fallout 1. Look at a Bethesda shanty-town then look at Shady Sands. That’s where the real extent of the chronological dissonance kicks in.

      • Metal C0Mmander says:

        Well you can also see it as sanctuary was on the verge of being settled by the first group of people you meet and you just happened to wake up at the perfect time. As for being un-looted… yeah I’ve got nothing.

      • modus0 says:

        Perhaps Codsworth has something to do with Sanctuary Hills not having been settled?

        I believe Nick Valentine mentions having spent some time in Sanctuary Hills before ending up in Diamond City, but left because of the “crazy Mr. Handy”.

    • SKD says:

      Walls and ceilings….

      This has to be one of my biggest beefs, FO3 and FO4 both take place slightly above the middle of the East Cost and I don’t care what the war did to the environment, Winters get COLD. Not only have these people not rediscover even the most basic forms of insulation but even the buildings they construct are full of holes in the walls and ceilings. It doesn’t take much to build a roof that keeps the rain off your head. paper or rags would make for more than adequate insulation materials. But most of what you see is skeletal frames supporting a few pieces of lumber, plywood or sheet metal.

  5. Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

    The “Store All Junk”, supply lines and the Strong Back perks help horders out. I do think you shouldn’t have to spend four perks on it, the first two basically being a waste and the last perk coming a bit late. If someone really wants to spend two perks for the ability to fast travel with loot and burn AP to sprint, let them. I also think supply lines are something you should be able to do without a perk.

    Value to Weight ratio sorting would be helpful. There’s a mod that adds the value to the interface but they aren’t able to add a sorting function yet.

    It would also be really helpful to have a DPS calculator. I’m not sure how the games ROF stat works with its DMG stat and it was a little confusing to decide whether I wanted to mod my weapons to have automatic fire, if it was really worth it.

    The ability to mark certain items as being exempt from mass functions would help. Once you have them marked, that opens up other possibilities.

    1) A “Strip all mods” button.
    2) List available mods for modding.
    3) A “scrap all X” button. Like maybe scrap all unmodded armor.
    4) Put holotapes and notes in their own category, mark whether they’ve been “read” or not. Don’t list keys.

    • SKD says:

      Additional suggested feature:
      The ability to scrap stacks of items rather than just one at a time.

      I recently spent 2 hours just scrapping the assorted non-starred armor and weapons I didn’t want to keep. During which I found I had stockpiled over 100 complete sets of leather, metal and raider armor.

      • I’m not sure how you can manage that. I just rage quit after trying to scrap everything I wasn’t using, then having to reload a quicksave (for the fourth or fifth time) after the game glitched out and scrapped something I was actually using, and had modded to awesome degrees.

        • Greg says:

          There’s a bug with scrapping items in the modding interface – if you’ve just opened it and not yet modded anything, the cursor behaves as you would expect and you can scrap whatever it is on correctly. However, as soon as you make any alteration to an item, then immediately after the next time you scrap something the cursor is moved automatically to be over the item you last modded, so if you scrap 2 things in a row the second is what you were working on before. To avoid this problem, I keep my scrapping separate from modding, quitting the crafting table in between.

          Cursor behavior when you’re choosing which mod to make is also unreliable, it seems like you need to stick with either all mouse selection or all keyboard selection as otherwise it sometimes clicks on the wrong thing.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Most importantly:Dont use lists.Tables are much better.Especially now when you can graphically represent everything in a distinct way.

    • Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

      Also, do what so many mods have done and make it so that you can auto transfer all items of a type to a specific container.

  6. somebodys_kid says:

    I think the Witcher 3 spoiled me. I tried to take a break from it and play some Fallout 4 (now that there’s an SLI profile), and I just couldn’t get into it. I just got into the first town and it still hasn’t grabbed me. I don’t know whether it was the awkward gameplay mechanics or all the eye-rolling I did during the plot setup, but how long until it gets good?

    • MichaelGC says:

      They sorta covered this on the Diecast: all games you don’t like but that everyone else does like get good just after the point at which you stop.


    • Humanoid says:

      I went on for a good while trying to find that point, before just giving up. The correct answer might not be dependent on how long *you* spend looking for that point, but rather how long it’ll take the modders to get to it. :P

    • MichaelGC says:

      This guy has some advice on how to get the best out of it:


      (I haven’t actually played the game yet, so can’t really assess the vid’s helpfulness nor accuracy, but Noah Gervais does in general seem to know what he’s talking about, if y’arsk me!)

  7. andy says:

    My problem with Jet:

    Nobody ever uses it against you. Everyone is addicted to it – “the Jet will make you jittery” – but they never USE it. There should be Jetted-up raiders that fly across the room and slap you twenty times before you can say “boo” – because that’s what Jet does. But no, apparently nobody else actually gets the high, just the addiction.

    • Valthek says:

      It would make sense for other people to use drugs against you, but even if they did, without making it EXTREMELY obvious and really weird-looking. I mean, how do you represent the effects of buffout or mentats in a way that the player can see?
      But yeah, it should totally be a thing!
      Or maybe it shouldn’t. It’s certainly a thing that needs to be handled with EXTREME care. Imagine that rocket-launcher raider shamus talked about in his Permadeath post (previous F4 post) hopped up on Jet. Or a pack of ghouls stoned out of their mind on PsychoJet or Buffout.

      • Decius says:

        Put in the animations that show them using the drugs? Would that make it past the censors? (Looking at you Australia!)

        • Humanoid says:

          It’s okay as long as you show them collapsing into an incoherent gibbering wreck as soon as they put the needle in.

          • Nimas says:

            It’s ok! We have an R 18+ classification now. Oh, what’s that? You can’t show drug use in any positive light? But this classification is supposed to be only for adults who can make informed decisions and who are most likely past the so called “impressionable” stage of life where they immediately need to emulate what they see in media.

            No? Well back to ridiculous nanny-statism we go!

            (as an aside, please just take this as resigned snarkiness and not an endorsement of any political ideal, which is, as always, far more complex, nuanced and reliant on case by case then can be discussed via text on the internet)

      • YurikaGrant says:

        Pointing your crosshair at an enemy gives you their level and other stats, just put it in there if they’re under the effects of a drug.

      • IFS says:

        Could just have some enemy types like “Raider Junkie” or “Psycho Raider” that have a stat buff from the drug, maybe they also have to pause to take more if they run out leaving them briefly vulnerable? Or if you pickpocket it off them (don’t know if pickpocketing enemies is still a thing in FO4 but I assume so) they go into withdrawal and become much weaker or even go berserk on their allies accusing them of stealing their drugs? Just a few ideas but it could make for interesting gameplay.

        At the very least there should be some addicts around settlements who are looking for their next fix or something. NV had both a gang of crazy addicts, a source of all the drugs (the Khans made them) and a sidequest in Freeside to help addicts clean up if I remember right.

      • ehlijen says:

        That was the beauty of turn based gameplay. The player had time to see the enemy do stuff!

        In a hectic FPS, without glowing particle effects it’s really hard to keep an eye on things other than ‘that guy is shooting me, that guy is running at me with a nuke’.

      • Michael says:

        Hilariously, the effect of Jet in Fallout 4 is one of the withdrawal symptoms in Fallout 2.

    • djw says:

      They don’t use Jet but they do get to chuck super power grenades with impunity, so its a wash.

  8. Ninety-Three says:

    Wait, Shamus, people play the game by looting up to their carrying weight, then dropping the lowest value item whenever they pick up a new item? Good lord, that sounds miserable! I always played it as “Only pick up stuff with value/weight >= X” (where X is a number I make up, that tends to increase as I progress through the game), which cuts down on a lot of the junk-sorting.

    • Shamus says:

      It’s how I played Skyrim until I started playing hardcore / no fast travel.

      Yes, it’s… not the most fun way to spend your time.

    • guy says:

      Yeah, people do that. In Skyrim, it got about a million times easier when SkyUI let you click a button and put the item you most want to drop at the top of the list.

    • Humanoid says:

      How I played Skyrim (and then Fallout 4):

      ~ player.modav carryweight 1000

      • Benjamin Hilton says:

        oh god please tell me you glitched the vendors to have more money too….I shudder at the thought of the logistics of selling all that stuff otherwise.

        • Ninety-Three says:

          You could just use the Wait function to pass a few days and force a refresh on the vendors couldn’t you?

        • Humanoid says:

          I actually rarely found myself limited by the merchant’s gold pool. Thing is, I use the cheat out of convenience but still play fairly “normally”: I don’t go around looting everything on shelves or anything like that, nor do I go through a dozen dungeons without selling stuff.

          No, the main purpose is so I can go through one dungeon and just use the “loot all” function on dead bodies without being encumbered by worthless “Ancient Nord Greataxe” and such. It’s a massive timesaver to not have to manually select each item on the corpse of every Draugr in the game, and that alone is the overwhelming reason to use the cheat. Over a non-cheating player, I’ll have a lot more stuff weighing me down at the end of each dungeon, but that stuff is only worth a few pennies.

    • djw says:

      I just loot away until I’m overloaded. Then I drink a beer and fast travel somewhere to dump my junk.

    • Veylon says:

      I made it even more miserable (though this was in Morrowind) by refusing to drop anything.

      I’d hike back to town to sell everything I’d accumulated and then go back to finish the dungeon. Some dungeons took three or four trips. Sometimes I had to visit multiple towns to find shopkeepers with enough money. Eventually, I acquired a house and stashed the unsalable item in barrels. Which I kept sorted, first by general categories (armor, weapons) and then by more specific categories (helmets, gloves, boots) as they filled up.

      In time, I got a teleporting ring and a teleport spell so that I could use them in tandem to make the stashing much less time consuming. It wasn’t questing for anything particular; I was just wandering into random caves. It wasn’t even that I needed the money; no store carried anything superior to what I owned. It was purely the packrat mentality.

      I’ll grant that it wasn’t fun, exactly, but I felt a certain fulfillment at not “wasting” anything.

      • Nidokoenig says:

        Morrowind at least has Sujamma, which is cheap, plentiful and stacks with itself to allow you to carry as much as you have booze for. You can also use alchemy, enchanting and spells to up your strength enough to carry whatever you want(you can also buff carry weight directly for ten times the price, fuck that). Then there’s travel spells and corpses of holding and all manner of fun to be had and challenges to overcome if you truly, really, actually love to amass vast amounts of crap for no good reason.

        • Matt K says:

          Mark and Recall worked great for that. Use Almsi or the Imperial version to get to a town and sell everything and then pop right back to where you left off with an empty inventory. You could even make an item/potion that increased carrying capacity so you pretty much waited until you were over encumbered and then increase carrying capacity and go back to town. Plus Morrowind has a lot less junk than subsequent games. Most things were actually worth it to loot.

    • Mephane says:

      Of course I play like that in any game that does not feature respawning enemies or otherwise regenerative sources of money, resources etc. If there is a fixed, finite amount of stuff (e.g. money) in the game world, leaving stuff unused could mean at some point I am sitting there with just a bit too little of the stuff right when I need it. Or situations like if I had just a bit more, I could buy this shiny weapon. But I’ve already exhausted anything accessible before moving on to a new zone/main story quest/etc. I might end up neck-deep in a very long mission where after 15 minutes I had enough for the shiny weapon… but unable to go and buy the thing because I am stuck in the mission. (And in the worst case, maybe the gun isn’t there any more afterwards, or the entire location where it is sold becomes inaccessible because the writers demand it.)

      I am not hedging my bets on it “all sort of working out”, being properly “balanced”, or the extra stuff completely “unnecessary”. I don’t have that kind of trust in game designers any more.

      Give me a theoretically infinite supply of money and resources and I will happily let junk lie around; if I need more I can just return to the endless supply and gather more. See Borderlands 2 (and presumably Borderlands 1, too), lots of junk weapons but who cares, if you visit two other zones your first zone becomes repopulated with new lockers to open and bad guys to relieve of their possessions.

  9. Artur_CalDazar says:

    I think the games did an acceptable job of explaining the Brotherhood of Steel’s movement, its not like Jet where its just magically there ’cause why not.

    Hell Fallout 4 even lets us see what the airships actually look like in motion.

  10. VaporWare says:

    I can accept the presence of Super Mutants as part of their diaspora after the fall of the Master.

    I can accept that there are/were other factions experimenting with the FEV as a road to human enhancement and survival because sure why not.

    I just wish Bethesda showed any inclination of actually using them in a fashion more engaging than ‘big gun toting orcs for the player to fight’ and ‘token good(er) orc who travels with the player and/or maybe spits out wise sounding pablum to surprise the player with hypothetical depths of character hidden under their brutish exterior’.

    They have basically no real relation to or meaningful impact on anything outside of the original games and New Vegas, beyond filling the role of generic fantasy orc grafted into a sci-fi setting.

  11. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I’m sorry. I lost my chain of thought. Were we talking about Fallout 3 again?

    We were talking about how WEST SIDE IS DA BEST!

  12. James says:

    I’m actually willing to forgive the supermutents bit. It would actually make sense that their were multiple facilities testing and experimenting on different strains of the FEV. The ones in California were probably most successful creating a few smart ones. The tests in the capital wasteland not so much creating almost exclusively violent orange brutes. In fact I think they do not go far enough. If that’s what their going for they should get creative. I ran a fallout RPG set in the irradiated forests of Canada were the supermutent FEV created winterized super solider yetis and that’s just one example.

    Also I wish Bethesda would make up their minds what created ghouls. I thought that when the facility that held the original FEV in fallout 1 was bombed a weakened FEV was released into the atmosphere, with the dust clouds and fallout that must have covered the planet, this weakened FEV could have spread across the globe infecting those not in Vaults or other fallout shelters. This is why normal wasteland can’t be turned into mutants and that exposure to extreme radiation or other forms of FEV triggered or reactivated the weakened and now imperfect FEV strain already present int them creating a ghoul. Sigh their I go overthinking it again.

    • guy says:

      Fallout 1 clearly established that they largely originated from radiation poisoning; Necropolis had a sabotaged vault and was flooded with radiation, which turned the inhabitants into ghouls. Harold closely resembles a ghoul but is actually the product of a dip in a FEV tank, which he’ll tell you about if you ask after his background. He’d accompanied the Master to the research base.

      The weakened FEV was also a thing in Fallout 1 but had no connection to ghouls.

      • James says:

        OK so it is actually in the first game. Still very lame. Still would love more creativity in the FEV besides different collared super-mutants. Hairy ape men for winter combat? Perhaps a vault that caused people to become week and frail with psychic powers. This universe has this virus that they could do anything with and they do nothing. That’s also my biggest problem with Fallout 4, I like it but just so much squandered potential.

  13. Daemian Lucifer says:

    You know whats the best way to improve the inventory system?Portable shop/crafting station.Make it something really expensive,but once you get it,you can shop/craft anywhere there are no enemies around.Justify it as summonable caravan or something like that,if you want “realism”.

  14. SKD says:

    The Brotherhood’s presence on the East Coast is plausible given their stated mission of acquiring all tech and keeping it away from others. RadScorps, Deathclaws, and Molerats I can accept due to the presence of the root species throughout much of the U.S.

    Bottlecaps I have to agree with you on, they really make no sense with the existence of pre-existing metal currency. I think Bethesda missed an exceptional chance to hang a lampshade on the concept considering the PC is from before the war and would have had no reason to automatically accept the idea. I only really found instance where anyone addresses this and it was a random encounter with a guy trying to invent credit cards.

    No matter how well preserved the food was, none would be around 200 years later with the prevalence of scavengers of human, animal and insect varieties.

    The rest could almost be handwaved in various ways.

    • Shamus says:

      I’m not objecting on the grounds of “This PARTICULAR thing is too implausible”. I’m objecting on the grounds of “Taken together, nearly everything in the world is a mindless copy-paste of the first game”.

      The first game was amazing precisely because it was so fresh and new and strange and full of ideas. And now the franchise just keeps spreading those ideas thinner and thinner instead of making up something new.

      You can imagine being in Fallout 1 and looking out to the horizon. “Wow! If this is what life is like HERE, then what wild adventures must be happening in faraway lands? What other strange creates are there? The Brotherhood have this technology cult. I wonder what other strange societies, cults, and cultures I’d find if I headed east?”

      And then we find out it’s actually the same shit everywhere, all the way to the horizon.

    • Pyradox says:

      What’s weird is that pre-war money in Bethesda Fallouts is always plentiful, weightless, and more valuable than caps. If everyone values pre-war currency more than caps despite it not being backed by anything at all, why not just make it the standard?

  15. Hector says:

    Following on Shamus’s comments, I really want to see Bethesda innovate somewhat in terms of the world. They don’t have to leave this stuff to Obsidian – really! They keep ripping off the established ideas, but there’s no reason to.

    F1 & F2 established almost everything about the franchise, and it’s sad to see Bethsoft content to just re-use that when there are potential ideas to be explored. Why, for example, don’t they just put in a different faction that uses power armor? They can put in their own ideas and mesh with the mechanics they want to use, in a way that might feel a lot more interesting to players. It’s not like they have to drop all kinds of time on this, either, or include long lore-dumps on the player. They excel at environmental storytelling, so they can just use that and work some of it into dialogues.

    It seems lately that they’re almost afraid to try anything too outside the “norm” as it was around ten years ago. Maybe this is a side effect of expensive game development cycles. Even so, if they’re honestly worried, they should just ask Obsidian to help develop some interesting factions. I know people who didn’t take much to New Vegas – but I don’t know anyone who didn’t immediately have an opinion (generally negative) on Caesar’s Legion. I have criticized them, but Obsidian’s team are masters of putting together interesting factions which you can understand with just a glance at their clothing and attitude.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Hey,they introduced two headed deer in fallout 4!What more innovation do you want?!

    • manofsteles says:

      I also lean towards the explanation that Bethesda’s relative lack of innovation is likely due to high development costs. This is why SuperBunnyhop argued recently that Bethesda should try spinning off Fallout a little more.

      Fallout Shelter worked spectacularly as a modest experimental spin-off. It’s smaller budget meant that Bethesda could afford to try a style of game that didn’t have a Fallout game before (that I know of); even if it did lose a little bit of money (which it didn’t), it could have been written off as a marketing tool that went bust. Instead, they made a nice little game that also helped to tease the main game.

      SuperBunnyhop specifically mentioned that modestly budgeted spinoffs (maybe even developed by another studio like Obsidian) could be reasonable attempts at gameplay experimentation. While Fallout spinoffs before Fallout Shelter have been mixed bags (Fallout Tactics had fine gameplay, while Brotherhood of Steel affirmed my hatred of the in-game Brotherhood of Steel), Bethesda’s current financial situation should give them at least some leeway to experiment.

  16. guy says:

    Fallout 1 actually explained the bottlecaps; they were backed by the Water Merchants. It’s not clear why they picked bottlecaps, but they did. Probably they had a bunch of them on hand.

    Fallout 2 had the NCR running with an actual currency and a practical joke sidequest where you track down a treasure horde and it’s a bunch of worthless bottlecaps (and I think also some other stuff).

    I’m not sure exactly what it is, but Fallout 4 marks the first Bethesda game where I’ve had space in my inventory and thought to myself “I could loot that corpse over there, or alternately I could not” and picked the second option. I think it’s that there’s a more limited supply of shopkeepers early on and most gear isn’t good for salvage, so I knew that if I hiked everyone’s guns and shirts back home I would not be any better off for it.

    • Decius says:

      Fallout 2 actually had three different kinds of currency. There were chips (weightless gold), and then there were two different script currencies in Reding. They weren’t well integrated into the game, but they had that kind of worldbuilding vibe as to “how did people solve their problems?”

      Bottlecaps being used in the Capitol Wasteland and Commonwealth stretches the setting. Cowrie would have made a better currency in the Commonwealth, and I didn’t even think for five minutes to come up with that.

      • manofsteles says:

        As in several things, New Vegas did it best, with currency forms whose differences spoke volumes about the peoples that used them and the world that they inhabited.

        The NCR’s use of paper money (no longer backed by gold IIRC) was partly an attempt to emulate the Old World United States while simultaneously showing their desire to impose their ways on the people of the Mojave (no matter that the exchange rate was unfavorably low).

        Ironically, pre-war money from the Old World United States has little (but not zero) value in the Mojave, and is worth the most in the old world Sierra Madre Casino (both being tied to a time and place full of unfulfilled promise and frightening possibilities made real). Tellingly, while exchanging other currency at a casino uses a set exchange rate, using old world money outside of the Sierra Madre requires the use of the Barter skill.

        Caesar’s use of Roman coin over paper money implies a rejection of paper money (and the printing presses to make them), and coincides with his hatred for the greed (profligacy?) of the NCR. His use of metallic currency can even be interpreted to reflect his outright rejection of diplomacy, except when deception is used. To Caesar, metal (especially iron) and actions matter more than paper and words, especially the linguistics that he learned from the Followers of the Apocalypse.

        Notably, every casino in the Mojave Wasteland would accept any source of currency (except pre-war money IIRC) in exchange for their chips, representing a base (!) desire for money and the decadence that it can buy.

        Even the Mojave’s use of bottlecaps is tied to the Old West-type setting that Obsidian tried to emulate. While Nuka-Cola bottlecaps are very common, it is possible that the continuous, automated bottling and delivery of Sunset Sarsaparilla served as a continuous source of bottlecaps for the economy (which was a source that none of the major factions controlled, unless it turns out that House actually kept the bottling plant going)

        • YurikaGrant says:

          Remember also that if you speak to Lafferty about bottlecaps she actually states that the NCR prints them themselves for currency purposes, restricting and controlling the supply, hence why there’s that bottlecap counterfeiting operation you can come across.

          • manofsteles says:

            Oh, I don’t remember that! That would change things, and it makes me wonder even more about the Sunset Sarsaparilla bottling operation too.

            While it’s most likely that the bottling plant kept going simply because it was programmed to (and was largely able to defend itself with its security robots), I wonder how things would have gone without the plant functioning for so long. Even with the plant operating, the value of NCR currency was low (though that was mostly because of the conversion from hard to soft money and doubt that the NRC would even survive against the Legion).

            I can easily see the NCR having the tech to press more caps into circulation, but do you remember if she said anything about why they would want to keep inflation from eating away the value of caps relative to NCR currency? Or am I just thinking waaaay too much about this? (the answer to the last question is “the house favors yes”)

            EDIT: You were right! According to the Fallout wiki, she remarks “We can’t have anyone devaluing our currency by mass producing new bottle caps.” But again, I wonder how a glut in the supply of caps would undermine the value of NCR currency? Unless she by “we” she means the Crimson Caravan company and not the NCR. (The house odds on me thinking about this too much now stand at a 1000-1)

            • guy says:

              I don’t remember if the NCR specifically was named as being responsible for the bottlecaps. The Crimson Caravan had a vested interest in keeping the currency stable because they traded in it directly and presumably didn’t want to devalue their stock. IIRC they’ve actually got at least one cap press of their own and would make more on their own if they thought that would be productive.

              I honestly think people are reading too much into the $NCR vs. everything else exchange rate. Sure, it’s something like 100 to 40 relative to bottlecaps, but that’s an entirely meaningless ratio in isolation. It could just be that the NCR has decided to print in denominations that are more convenient to use and people get paid 100 $NCR for 40 caps worth of work and buy things worth 40 caps with 100 $NCR. There’s no indication that they should be in some way comparable. With the NCR running fiat currency, it can set its money supply to anything it wants. If they’re also backing the bottlecaps, then the exchange rate is purely based on what the NCR wants it to be; if they wanted to change it they’d issue more bottlecaps and less paper. Since they’ve absolutely got the technical capacity to do that if it’s strategically important even if they aren’t formally backing the currency, they presumably don’t care much.

              Actually, the NCR probably has a vested interest in keeping $NCR low against the others; they’re a net exporter to the Mojave, so they sell goods for bottlecaps. If the $NCR rose against the bottlecap but had the same buying power in California, they’d have to sell goods for more caps to turn a profit, giving the locals an incentive to buy locally instead of importing and making exports to the NCR more profitable.

              What the currencies really say is that the NCR has a sufficiently stable and trusted government that it can issue fiat currency that is accepted outside its borders and Caesar’s Legion does not.

              • Decius says:

                I thought that Cesear was using Roman coins for their own sake. NCR issued fiat money to break the water merchants and keep the caravans from being too powerful, and the caravans backed caps because they didn’t want anyone else to be in control of currency.

                Casinos take all of them because they like money.

              • manofsteles says:

                Actually, Legion coin is accepted by most merchants, it’s just that you have to use the barter skill to either get caps or goods for them (just like you had to do with the Sierra Madre casino using old-world bills).

                It makes sense for even the NCR to accept Legion coin if for no other reason than they and its citizens could easily melt them down for the Gold and Silver; Josh Sawyer was very specific when he pointed out that Legion coin is made of Gold and Silver.

                Don’t forget that in New Vegas, they experience inflation because of the loss of the gold reserves at the hands of the Brotherhood of Steel, and the loss of confidence in their ability to survive against the Legion when they can barely defend against the Fiends.

      • Syal says:

        I think the Redding currencies were in reference to the Company Sto’.

      • ehlijen says:

        Really, the basic money in Fallout 2 was just money? I remember it being translated into ‘bierdeckel’ for the german version (coasters).

    • 4th Dimension says:

      The reason I find the bottle caps or any for of currency in Eastern Wasteland to be ridiculous is that NOBODY IS BACKING THAT CURRENCY. The reason why we think of paper and coin money as having some value is because the institution issueing is backing it with some kind of valuable thing or concept that they have. So in theory you could go and exchange your money for that concept. In older ages that thing was gold, but now it’s more nebulous because there is a lot more worth in the world than gold.

      But back to the point. If nobody is backing and controlling the bottle caps, and if the bottle caps are a thing that some Mercantile house issued back in the West, how come they decided to use them in the East. How come a bunch of raiders suddenly decided that shiny unusable inedible pieces of metal had intrinsic worth. With no centralized government or other economically strong organization (apart from the slavers I guess but to whom do they sell the slaves?) they probably would have been stuck with barter system. Or some sort of usable, nonperishable and relatively plentiful type of object that exists in small enough denominations could have been used. Like METRO did with bullets.

      But otherwise no currency based on basically waste would have bee possible because you can not eat the bottle caps, you can not process them since they have no artisans (other than those that strap spikes to everything) and there are no plentiful merchants who can sell you food for those caps. And in a case of a hypotherticall peasant that grew food, with no artisans in settlements what would he use those caps for after he sold his surplus to the merchant.

    • Von Krieger says:

      My guess is because if you put a bottle cap on a bottle and twist, you’ve got yourself a little sealed portable water supply.

      • Nidokoenig says:

        These aren’t threaded caps, though, they’re generic glass bottle caps that are pressed on mechanically. Though I do now want to see a French Fallout with corks as currency.

        • ? says:

          All twist-off beer/soft drinks I ever encountered had threaded bottle and regular cap, and putting the cap back on was a possibility.

          • Shamus says:

            Fun fact: Fallout, being based on the faux-50’s, included bottlecaps because bottlecap litter was a relic of the past. Pop-off caps were being phased out in the 70’s and 80’s, and it’s easy to see why: They sucked. You got a drink, and then needed a tool to open it. Hopefully you had a bottle opener on your keychain. And once you got it off, you couldn’t re-seal your drink.

            Some drink machines had a little alcove with a bottle-opener in them. I *THINK* these are depicted in the Fallout 3 + 4 vending machines.

            So every vending machine, convenience store, bar, and gas station would have this constant scattering of caps around it.

            I actually collected bottlecaps somewhere around ~82 or so. I’d hunt around on the ground in those places, looking for rare / obscure brands of soda and beer.

            So “bottlecaps as currency” was kind of a joke for people over twenty: All that litter that was everywhere when you were young? It’s money now!

  17. IFS says:

    For Super Mutants there was an east coast facility in FO3 that they were coming from (and that the mutants abducted people to take them to in order to make more mutants). You may have blocked it out along with Little Lamplight, seeing as you get into it through Little Lamplight (its where you find the GECK).

    Everything else though… yeah Bethesda just threw stuff in because it was in the originals. Jet, various wildlife and food being particularly egregious. Bottlecaps get some handwaving in NV at least for how they’re still around, though I doubt Bethesda gave any thought to doing so in FO4. If I remember right NCR and Legion have their own currencies, but NCR also prints/regulates Bottlecaps as currency since their own is so devalued and everyone is already used to trading with caps (it helps that Vegas itself takes caps as currency giving them some legitimacy). NV even has a sidequest where you help find and shut down a machine some guy is using to make more ‘counterfeit’ caps for himself.

    • guy says:

      IIRC, the bottle caps in New Vegas actually aren’t backed by anything and are just used out of tradition and because the locals don’t trust the backing of either national currency. As far as I can tell, back in California they just use the NCR currency exclusively.

      • StashAugustine says:

        From Josh Sawyer himself: “NCR’s currency is (inflated) fiat currency. Caps are water-backed by merchants in the Hub (which works reasonably well due to the Hub’s distance from natural sources of fresh water). Legion denarii and aurei aren’t backed by silver and gold; they are silver and gold.”

    • manofsteles says:

      It seemed notable to me that it was the Crimson Caravan company that wanted the counterfeit bottlecap press to be destroyed. While they were headquartered in and affiliated with the NCR, the Crimson Caravan was a separate entity.

      Given that NCR currency had a low value compared to bottlecaps, one would think that the NCR would want the press to remain, inflating the supply of bottlecaps and undermining trust in its use as currency (thus making NCR currency more favorable in the eyes of the Mojave inhabitants).

      In contrast, it made sense that the Crimson Caravan would want the press destroyed since they would likely have to keep a large supply of bottlecaps on hand for transactions in the Mojave and would not want that supply to lose value.

      I don’t think this was intentional on Obsidian’s part (and I am refuse to call it head-canon since in no way is this explanation canon), but I love how the rich world they created was so full of possibilities that explanation such as this can be contemplated by fans.

      • IFS says:

        Could be they wanted some currency to remain competitive with the legion denarius, which was backed by the fact that the coins were made of valuable metals. If bottlecaps fell dramatically in price then legion coins would quickly become the most stable and valuable currency.

  18. Abnaxis says:

    For a nice, juicy little bit of trolling, I would like to point out that is encumbrance is a gradient in Dark Souls.


    • Merlin says:

      And it’s kind of a great argument AGAINST tiered encumbrance, because it mostly just makes your practical weight cap a percentage of the displayed weight cap.

      • Chauzuvoy says:

        Although some of that is a failure of presentation more than a failure of design. The fact that the movement and roll speeds slow down as your encumbrance reaches a certain proportion of the max is (like most of the mechanics of Dark Souls) never really communicated well. You just put lighter armor on and notice that your roll animation is more responsive. Even working out the thresholds is a pain. They could have presented it better (put roll class in that part of the character sheet somewhere, have the encumbrance numbers turn white-yellow-red as you become encumbered, something else that took more than 30 seconds of consideration), but the mechanic is sound.

      • poiumty says:

        You can play the game with as close to the weight cap as you want, though. Heavy armor and shields make the game quite easier than having do learn the dodge timing.

        Apples and oranges, though – dark souls only counted equipped weight. Demon’s Souls didn’t. And it was pretty bad.

    • IFS says:

      More of tiers in Demon’s Souls (fat roll at 50% fast roll otherwise) and Dark Souls 1 (fast roll at <25%, mid roll between 25% and 50% fat roll above 50% and I think a complete lack of rolling past a certain point). Dark Souls 2 made it more of a gradient where up until 70% encumbrance you had the fast roll it just covered less distance (but had the same number of invincibility frames I think) past 70% you had the fat roll. Dark Souls 2 also made the fantastic design choice of finally displaying what percent you were at (rather than giving you the numbers and letting you work it out in your head) and even showed how that percent would change when you looked at different equipment.

      One thing I really like with Dark Souls is that encumbrance is only determined by what you have equipped. You can carry as much crap as you want (up to a point, if you have a full stack of a consumable you can't pick up more) but only the armor and weapons you have equipped weigh you down.

      • Loa Vecre says:

        Also keep in mind that Demon’s Souls had an actual carrying capacity stat, which required putting points into a completely different stat than the one that governed equipment encumbrance.
        Also, you couldn’t go over your capacity. If you tried, you’d immediately drop whatever item you were trying to loot (thus making it count as looted, which meant it would disappear forever as soon as you went back to the hub or reloaded for whatever reason).
        It sucked pretty badly (mostly the fact that if you hit your limit, you practically had no choice but to either dump irreplacable stuff to make room, or continue on and accept that the item would be lost forever until NG+) and I’m eternally grateful that From dropped it in the sequels.

        • GloatingSwine says:

          That’s why you carried the Ring of Great Strength which was easy enough to cheese out of those two dragons on 1-1, so you could equip it when you found something heavy that you wanted to keep.

          Though the carry limit was much better dropped and only caring about equip limit.

  19. Alrenous says:

    The solution to scouring the game world for every broken fork tine you can sell to someone for half of a half of a bottlecap is to automate by hiring in-game characters to do it for you.

    You get a bit of minecraft from these things. First time I played Ultima 7, I knew forks and cups didn’t do anything, but I carried one around anyway so I could pretend my Avatar ate in style. I therefore like the design philosophy that makes them not mere static textures.

    There’s also the part of me that cleaned Monitor by picking up every pick-up-able item and placing it on the crematorium. It annoyed me that I couldn’t clean up all the pikemen, since the generic ones respawn. (Yes, I ‘cleaned’ up all the people too. I did the guy who pays you for bodies last, of course.)

    These days I have better control over this, but I do sometimes get the twinge to clean up, say, Dark Souls 2. Just pacify the entire game.

    I’d love to clean up the entire island of Morrowind. As long as I could sell the entire stack of every pen on the island at once, instead of having to sell them all individually. Ideally making my minions do the busywork of distributing the loot to the finite-cash merchants, so I get the full value.

  20. Chris Robertson says:

    Hmmm. As a resident of Anchorage, I have only ever seen a live polar bear in the zoo. Moose we have pleanty of, but polar bear’s range is seriously far north of Anchorage.

    RadMoose in the swamps of Florida. That’s a concept I can get behind.

    *Edit – Found an image that actually labels Anchorage. It (coincidentally) puts the range of polar bears further from Anchorage.

  21. ehlijen says:

    It’s true, Fallout 4 isn’t a world. It’s a game sandbox.

    Most places are just filled with mooks to shoot and boxes to loot. And they (mooks and boxes) reset!

    The ‘What do they eat’ is answered, but not really the ‘how do they communicate’ question. I was sent by the railroad to meet with a runner. On the way I had to fight my way through two raider bands, a mirelurk ambush, a wandering deathclaw and a pack of mongrels. And then, when following the runner, the path went past two more raider and one supermutant camp, all of which the runner got aggro’ed into taking out because they started shooting as we walked past.
    It’s quite easy to walk through the inner city and encounter constant firefights between different groups of hostile squatters.
    This isn’t a world. It’s a shooting gallery. Diamond city should be cut off from the outside world and no one should know it’s still holding out inside that respawning mess of gun nutty punks and orcs.

    You can send single people to establish supply routes between your villages, but if you try to walk those paths, you might get killed by raiders or worse.

    And then there are the suicide enemies. This is a postapocalypse. Supermuntants are sterile (last I heard?). Why are they wasting lives using a ridiculously dangerous strategy to take out lone enemies (when you risk blowing up your own camp in exchange for taking at out at most two foes, is that really worth it)? Why are they suicide running when they have the perfect build to be throwing those mininukes?
    Answer: it makes for new gameplay. That is all.

    Fallout 4 is built to provide a game, not a story (though it’s better than FO3), not a world, just a game. And it’s an entertaining game. It just won’t slake a thirst for a world or story.

    • Pyradox says:

      Yeah, Super Mutants are also supposed to be pretty intelligent, despite their appearance, and definitely capable of rational conversations. So which of them decide “I’m going to blow up the next random human that I see, along with myself, even though I’m perfectly capable of throwing this thing instead”?

      • Corsair says:

        Actually no, its pretty well established in FO1 that most Super Mutants are dumb as a box of rocks, and its only Prime Normals – untainted stock – that regularly produce intelligent mutants like The Lieutenant and Marcus.

    • AdamS says:

      That’s an even bigger knock on Fo3, if the story of 4 is better when the game itself isn’t even trying to have a story.

    • manofsteles says:

      In an excellent video titled “How Does Fallout 4 Compare to Previous Fallouts,” Youtuber Noah Caldwell-Gervais summed up his idea that I wholeheartedly agree with, and which makes me mourn the game we could have gotten (but didn’t):

      “It’s clear that Fallout 4’s conception of what’s meaningful about Fallout is more a part of Bethesda’s exploration of new gameplay rythms than a modernization of the francise’s traditional elements.

      Fallout 4 is a wonderful game and a real technical achivement for Bethesda. It succeeds in all its ambitions, but all its ambitions are in the direction of the game being a responsive, recognizable open-world action title.

      They seem to have taken more than just customizable weapons from Destiny. They’ve also taken the idea that a good game is one that encourages faithful repetition, an enjoyable and addictive gameplay loop. Fallout 4 has that, and to get that they sacrificed more than I’m comfortable with.”

      Like him, I will not argue that the gameplay changes and new mechanics are bad; they are intriguing in a lot of ways, and are great experimental changes that I’m surprised were made by Bethesda. I just lament the continued loss of world-building and narrative that drew me (and a lot of other players) into this franchise in the first place.

    • Decius says:

      I can kinda accept that there is a skill to travelling in the Commonwealth without getting spotted by the natives, and that the natives have that skill while the pre-war PC does not. That’s only a little handwavy.

  22. Andrew says:

    Shamus, your point about supermutants is incorrect. Yes, the West Coast supermutants all originated in the Mariposa Facility, that was blown up by the original Vault Dweller in Fallout 1. And in Fallout 2 and New Vegas all the supermutants you encounter are the remnants of the Master’s army, and sterile. It’s a plot point with them in both games that their numbers are ever diminishing.
    The East Coast supermutants are completely different in origin and characteristics: the overwhelming majority of them have diminished intelect, they get bigger and stronger (and stupider) as they age – see supermutant behemoths, and they also kinda look different. They originate in Vault 85, as part of that Vault’s secret experiment, are also sterile but they abduct people to make more of themselves by whatever process is used. You go there as part of the Fallout 3 main quest, to get the GECK, but I don’t think it’s ever said that the facility is completely destroyed, either in FO3 or in the period between 3 and 4. So you can say that the East Coast supermutant is a continued threat to the good folks of the Wasteland.

    • ehlijen says:

      That’s the place the Enclave, ie a brutally anti-mutation faction with more tech and ordnance than even the BoS, sneaks in to ambush the player character, yes?

      If they’ve left that place intact, then Presibot Haden was even dumber than your conversation with him made him look.

    • Ayegill says:

      Actually, the Commonwealth supermutants originate from the institute, who were doing some sort of experiment with FEV and sending their rejects to the surface. As opposed to just killing them, because apparently a scientific organization can only exist for so long in the fallout universe before turning into aperture science.

      • evileeyore says:

        “…because apparently a [FNORD] organization can only exist for so long in the fallout universe before turning into Cerberus.”

        Mass Effected It For You.

        • Incunabulum says:

          “…because apparently a [FNORD] organization can only exist for so long in the fallout universe before turning into Umbrella Corporation.”

          So many games would lose their central plot conflict it the villains just acted with a bit of common-sense.

    • Corpital says:

      Didn’t the mutants pretty much run out of FEV by the time you storm the vault to get the GECK? There are some notes about them swarming the wasteland to get more ‘green stuff’ to dunk people into.

  23. SlothfulCobra says:

    I think the real reason is that Bethesda had no interest in creating new things for the Fallout world. That was the entire point of buying up an IP; you don’t have to create a lore and creatures, they’re already there. How many new creatures are even in the new Fallout game?

    Also, interestingly about currency, pre-war currency might as well be still valid. I picked it up all the times in the previous fallouts (mainly because I wanted to fill my bed and bathtub with cash), but it turns out that pre-war money is everywhere, and you can trade it for a fair amount of caps per unit, it’s practically legal tender.

    • manofsteles says:

      Regarding the creation of new ideas for the IP, it seems that Bethesda made a specific decision to base Fallout 4 in Boston and that many players feel that transplanting Western wasteland elements to the new setting is just lazy and seems inconsistent enough to take them out of the game.

      Bethesda could have created new or different things to int he gameworld while still feeling like Fallout. For example, Fallout 3 added Yao Guai and Mirelurks, and (ragdoll physics notwithstanding) they were largely accepted as being consistent with the Fallout setting (though Mirelurks kept making me think of “GIANT ENEMY CRAB!!!”). Or at least they weren’t Fallout 3’s biggest problem.

      Regarding pre-war currency, it makes little sense for the major governments or small communities to not try to use something else. While bottlecaps, bank notes, or metallic coins are just as arbitrary as pre-war bills, the factions and communities could print or manufacture more of what they used if they needed to. Which worked hand-in-hand with the promise of water (in the case of bottlecaps), gold (NCR notes before New Vegas), and not getting crucified by the Legion (but only for their subjects).

  24. Pandabearparade says:

    I agreed with most of your complaints about Fallout 3, but most of the ones you have listed for Fallout 4 seem to be stemming from the fact that you missed various explanations they gave. You can call them garbage explanations if you like, but they’re there. Minor spoilers ahead.

    Super mutants exist in multiple varieties of FEV. Vault 87 is one of them, as stupid a concept as that was, an the Institute also created super mutants with their own strain of FEV.

    They explain the Brotherhood coming east in Fallout 3, and coming to the Commonwealth specifically in Fallout 4. Maxson, for some reason, wants to nuke the Institute and destroy all of their technology because it’s a threat to humanity. Now, I don’t think that’s an especially well-reasoned goal, but it is explained and does justify the Brotherhood being present. Honestly I’m surprised you didn’t like the Brotherhood in this game, it’s something of a return to form. They’re jerks with a tech obsession more than boy scouts again.

    Deathclaws and Radscorpions… well, yeah, they could just have migrated. They’re alpha predators and might seek out new things to eat. Also the Enclave presumably brought breeding pairs of deathclaws with them. Of all the things in Fallout 4 that don’t make any sense, this shouldn’t even make a list.

    • ehlijen says:

      Those aren’t really explanations. That’s the game saying ‘these things happened, so now there’s all the Fallout stuff here’.

      Why did the BoS go that far east? Why did everyone make supermutants? Why do the supermutants respawn even though the institute has stopped making more?

      Why is it just the same stuff all over again when Fallout 2 and New Vegas, as an example, managed to offer so much new to explore?

      It’s not like they did interesting stuff with them. The muties are just tougher raiders. The brotherhood was just a reskinned FO3 enclave (why was that back anyway? it was conclusively blown up in 2). And the random deathclaw at the end of the raider fight in concord could have been anything and made just as much/little sense.

      The game offers lip service as to why we see all the same stuff again, sure. But why did the writers contrive that lip service instead of trying to make up new things to explore?
      The railroad, institute and minutemen were new, and they were way more interesting as a result (though that’s still not saying much).

      • “Why did the BoS go that far east?”

        By the sound of it the BoS sent out scouting parties all over America in search of technology, then the scouts report back what they find.

        If it’s of interest then the BoS goes there and fetch it or if there is a lot of tech then they set up a outpost there.

        Also remember that the BoS are sort of a apocalyptic templar organization so they are essentially fanatics. So asking “why?” may not bring a logical answer. (very convenient for the writers though).

        A lot of the stuff in Fallout can be explained some way, the issue though is whether Bethesda explained/filled in the backstory of stuff good enough or not.
        It sucks if a player has to go to a fallout wiki to understand why something is the way it is.

        The game should ideally be self-contained and first-timer friendly, especially Fallout 4 had that opportunity.

        • ehlijen says:

          But it all comes back down to ‘why is the BoS that powerful and omnipresent, and no one else?’

          Why is everyone breeding supermutants? Sure, everyone has an FEV stockpile, but why? And why doesn’t anyone choose not to use it or do something else with it?

          And if the BoS and mutants are to be in the game, what function do they serve that warrants bending over backwards to include them? FO4 makes some use of the BoS, fair enough. But the mutants? Purely for gameplay. Because it’s a game, not a world or story.

          • Decius says:

            >why is the BoS that powerful and omnipresent, and no one else?

            Because the BoS, Airship Chapter was willing and able to able to ruthlessly recruit from outside their group, send the new recruits out with marginal (to the BoS) training and equipment, promote the survivors, and iterate. They got food by recruiting starving people and sending them out with guns to secure food, and they got tech by giving people food and education in exchange for a lifetime of research.

            NCR killed the western chapter by sharply reducing the supply of starving outsiders, but the real work was done by the western chapter elders when they sent everyone even remotely tolerant east after the super mutants. “Remotely tolerant”, in this case, means not executing subordinates who saved ghouls, didn’t destroy helpless brains, and otherwise took the diplomacy action when it was strictly easier.

    • GloatingSwine says:

      The vault 87 supermutants being from a different strain of FEV was a backported in explanation for why they’re so much stupider than the originals, to cover for the fact that Bethesda just put them in as big orcs for the player to shoot.

      • guy says:

        Actually, in the original most of the Super Mutants were pretty stupid. The Master and The Lieutenant disagreed on the precise mechanics of why, but basically people who came out of Vaults got enhanced intelligence and wastelanders became really dumb. The Master thinks it’s radiation, The Lieutenant thinks an airborne mutant FEV strain got released and altered wastelander DNA and the two strains interact poorly.

    • YurikaGrant says:

      Interestingly, if you talk to Maxson in Fallout 3, you can kind of get why he turns out the way he does.

  25. Darren says:

    >pre-war food

    This is the one new touch that I think really works in the setting, Fallout 1 & 2 be damned. If the world of Fallout is the 1950’s taken to an extreme, then ultra-preserved, mass produced junk food and TV dinners are a perfect touch.

    >supermutants, deathclaws, mole rats, and radscorpions

    If we’re going to accept the 200 years thing, then this kind of makes sense. These creatures have had 200 years to spread and multiply, and the east coast supermutants are explicitly stated to be the byproduct of a different batch of FEV. I haven’t played Fallout 1, so I have no clue about the logistics of FEV, but based on New Vegas supermutants are at least capable of living for a very long time, so the idea that they could’ve spread at least is not particularly far-fetched. And aren’t deathclaws supposed to be mutated variants of laboratory geckos? If they were common lab animals and the whole continent was subjected to nuclear fire, isn’t it likely that there’d be more than one population of them? Mole rats…I don’t know about. Mole rats aren’t native to the US at all, so I don’t see why you accept them in the Southwest but not in other places, especially when Vault 81 explicitly says that Vault-Tec, at least, was using them as lab animals. And the Fallout 4 variety is clearly an actual mole rat, complete with matriarchal structure. Actually, “scientists did it” is the “a wizard did it” of Fallout, isn’t it?

    >the climate

    Pretty sure the idea is that the nuclear war completely destroyed the local environment. No, that’s not how atomic bombs work, but they also don’t turn people into immortal corpse-lepers and nobody complains about ghouls. And lest you bring it up, I don’t think this is a violation of logic on par with the water purifier from Fallout 3, which had far more problems than just “radiation and water don’t mix like that in real life.”

    • StashAugustine says:

      Deathclaws are mutated chameleons. Which, uhh, doesn’t explain why they’re in California.

    • ehlijen says:

      >prewar food

      The issue isn’t that it lasted. It’s that there’s any left. There was actually some prewar food in FO1 and 2, and it doesn’t make you sick or anything. But you only find it in places that have a very good reason as to why they haven’t been looted several times by everyone and their dog.

      The only uninhabited prewar facilities you visit in those games are uninhabited for good reason: the glow is irradiated, the sierra army base is hidden and defended by rows of turrets and mines etc

      Easily collected food anywhere else will have been eaten long before 200 years are up. It’ll have been eaten long before 20 years are up.

  26. Christopher says:

    For Bottle Caps being the standard currency.

    Everyone has access to bottle caps, because bottles were so common pre war. Not everyone is going to have access to NCR Bucks or Caeser Coins, because those things are being produced in a specific area. However, if I’m a trader traveling from Vegas to Omaha, or Omaha to Detroit, or DC to The Pitt, then there’s a universal currency that I can deal in that pretty much everyone has access to. But considering how native Americans had a robust trading system with an accepted barter currency before the Europeans ever showed up I don’t see why it couldn’t happen in the post apocalypse.

    I think there’s a failure in not giving Diamond City its own currency, especially since they have access to a printing press.

    • GloatingSwine says:

      Everyone has access to bottle caps, but nobody outside of a few miles from Hub has any reason to use them as a token of currency.

      People in the west used them because the Water Merchants backed them as a currency, not just because they were common.

      There’s no reason that the east cost, which has basically no infrastructure and is stupid and shit would alight on the same token of currency, indeed with no infrastructure there’s no reason for them to have progressed beyond a barter economy at all.

      • Christopher says:

        Except for the trade routes. The NCR represents a large and stable nation that has bottlecaps as a currency and it has trade routes that stretch at least to the great plains. The great plains trade reasonably stretches at least into Appalachia, and Appalachia into the coast.

        This happened in real life. What your saying can’t happen actually did happen and has historical basis. In fact, we know explicitly that there is continental level trade happening because it’s brought up during the main story line of Fallout 4.

        Also, the water merchants backed them BECAUSE they were common.

        The biggest issue or gap in this is that Diamond City and the Pitt and other major settlements would also most likely have their own currency on top of being willing to trade in bottle caps as a basic universal currency. The same way the american dollar today is accepted almost everywhere, but local places still have a local currency.

        The people of the wastesland are not starting from step 0 of technology and ideas. They know about capitalism, understand the ideas behind it, because their society is a direct evolution of an ultra-capitalistic consumer society. The nuclear war didn’t reset the world to 0, it reset it to roughly the wild west.

        Another thing we have in real life is the idea that things can happen totally independent of each other. Mankind, for example, didn’t have to wait for the axe to be invented in Egypt to have it turn up all over the planet. Lots of people in lots of isolated places realized that a good way to cut wood was to make a sharp wedge that would chop into the bark and flesh of the tree. Then they realized that they could cut the wood into planks if they made something with a jagged edge. Hence the saw, which again popped up all over the world and didn’t have to have an origin point before spreading.

        When you have a resource that is common and ubiquitous, and a basic idea (We need currency), it’s not surprising that multiple people may have the same idea despite vast distances between them, especially when it’s a fairly obvious idea. They couldn’t print or coin money anymore, but they knew they needed a form of currency, some way to convey the idea of value.

      • Nidokoenig says:

        The Native American currency he mentioned would presumably be “backed” by social convention and inter-tribal diplomacy assuring a given value, but that requires transport and communication links beyond the two guys and a cow we normally see. To be honest, before electricity, silver and gold aren’t objectively useful, unless you want to be sure your goblets aren’t tainted with lead, so it was primarily rarity and social convention that made them useful, even across national and cultural boundaries.

        • Couscous says:

          The shells used were not very common and making the wampum was very labor intensive. The wampu also served other purpses like working as as memost at ais and serving to show a person had specific authority like as a messenger. You want something not so insanely rare that it cannot really work as money but it usually needs to be made of something uncommon, be hard to make, very useful in itself, or some variation of those.

          I do not get why people in Fallout are using currency except for very big deals instead of barter and debt to be paid off when the person needs help and decides to call in the debt. But if they are going to have a currency, it would not even be hard to make a specific type of ammunition the base unit of exchange. The people apparently have ready access to guns. Bullets are very useful so would work like money based on grains. They are used up so they are removed from the money supply like using grains as money. It is not that insanely easy to make and people could apply quality standards and only accept bullets made to certain standards like how people might reject debased metal currency. It is already weightless in the game. It is very postapocalyptic and has been done in at least Metro 2033.

  27. acronix says:

    I’m fairly sure the reason Bethesda keeps recycling all the elements has more to do with trying to convince the Fallout fans that this TRULY is Fallout(tm) and not something different. They are totally being faithful to the series!(tm).

    Look, the whole game world is a desert! This truly is Fallout!
    Look! A dog companion called dogmeat! This truly is Fallout!
    Look! Nuka-cola! This truly is Fallout!
    Look! Supermutants! This truly is Fallout!
    Look! Deathclaws! This truly is Fallout! No, really! It is!
    Look, the Brotherhood of Steel! This truly is Fallout! Stop saying otherwise!

    • Well, if a Fallout 4 lacked those things then the fans would most likely cry out “this is not Fallout”.

      A fallout game without Nuka Cola would be like a Star Wars without space.

      Technically Bethesda could make a Fallout game without a single Vault in it but the fans would cause an uproar.

      How can you make the progress fans want if the fans still hold on to the past?

      This is even reflected in the Fallout universe itself where men are men and women are women (and not really doing any mans work) of around the 50s. They are stuck in a time bubble (refusing to let go of the old).

      Thematically Fallout “is” Vaults, Nuka-Cola, Ghouls and mutated animals, in a half dead/half alive wasteland, and Vault-Boy and bottlecaps for some reason.
      Remove all that Fallout’y stuff and you might as well change the title and it’ll seem like generic “a post-apocalyptic 3rd person shooter”.

      If they change Fallout too much Bethesda get angry fans, if they give fans what they want/more of the same they get angry fans. It’s not easy to please fans these days.
      A few decades ago there where less games and much smaller/simpler games, gamers have become gourmet critics over the decades now.

      I’d love to hear how you’d throw out the classic Fallout stuff yet actually still keep it “Fallout” themed, I certainly have issues imagining that.

      • guy says:

        Again, Fallout 2 did not use bottlecaps. They would have been on entirely safe ground dropping those.

      • krellen says:

        Who are these fictional fans holding on to the past? Where is this hypothetical audience demanding these things be included? I have never met one, ever. Not a single one.

        • GloatingSwine says:

          They’re over on No Mutants Allowed complaining about how Bethesda has ruined Fallout forever.

          • Incunabulum says:

            Not because Bethesda did or did not include bottlecaps.

            • krellen says:

              Indeed. NMA’s arguments against Bethesda’s Fallout are very similar to Shamus’s, actually. Bethesda is still completely lacking in replicating the spirit of Fallout (like it’s key design directive: all major quests must have three paths to victory: combat, sneaking, and talking.)

              • acronix says:

                Well, they have kept the three ways to complete the main quests: Ballistic combat, energy combat and melee combat!

                Wait, what do you mean those count as only one?!

              • krellen says:

                Just to support my claim, here’s NMA’s actual review of Fallout 3.

              • Couscous says:

                I am trying to think of anything major in Fallout 3 you could do through optional talking and not just avoid some very minor subboss or whatever. The only one I can think of is Tenpenny Tower. It had a twist I did not dislike. Is Fallout 4 even worse?

                I am going to say it is like a lot of the lesser parts of the Star Wars EU. Slavish in many ways to the original movies but usually failing to capture the spirit and the tone of the movies. Also things becoming caricatures of their depiction in the original movies. Both too slavish in many ways by feeling the need to have a bunch of stuff that was in the movies even when it stretches credulity or is not necessary but also missing the spirit and tone that made the movies beloved. You have a blue drink in Star Wars Episode IV so now it is everywhere in the galaxy as bacta milk instead of just being a Tatooine thing.

                • Decius says:

                  There are a few “Fetch the thing” quests that you can skip with high Intelligence. There’s maybe a couple of times I used max Charisma to convince someone of something, but that’s largely because as soon as I learned enough about them and their stupid/selfish/evil/inscrutable motives I wanted to put bullets in their brain and very often did.

      • GloatingSwine says:

        They were always things that Fallout contained but they weren’t what it was built on.

        It was built on the idea of people getting along and building anew in strange ways in the post-apocalypse.

      • ehlijen says:

        There were only a handful of vaults in the first two games, and Vault Tec wasn’t turned into an off-brand Umbrella either.

        It took Fallout 3 to plaster the wasteland with vaults and make them all a lol-evil experiments gone wrong for the player to uncover.

        Keeping Nuka Cola makes sense, as they are an established ubiquitous background element. Keeping super mutants does not as they were established as a region specific, unusual foe.
        If you made an indiana jones movie, you’d keep the hat and whip, but you wouldn’t hamfist the arc of the covenant into every scene, right?

        You can keep a game very Fallouty without breaking the setting, but you need to understand it first. Indy’s hat an whip are part of the character, where the character goes, they’ll go. The arc of the covenant was the mcguffin of one story, it shouldn’t be in other stories unless it is once again the mcguffin in which case, why is it the mcguffin again?

        Bethesda chose to set the game in a completely new region. They didn’t need to, and NV showed that a fallout game closer to Vault 13 is perfectly capable of being new and fresh.
        So new region, cool. Can’t wait to see what’s different about this region that made them want to set a game here…
        Nope, it’s not new. More mutants, more BoS, more vaults more ‘FALLOUT!’.

        The reason their games wouldn’t have been very Fallouty without constantly shoving it in the player’s face was because deep down they weren’t.
        They were survival loot-to-live games in a setting that should have (and did in the original games) evolved past that stage decades ago. FO1 and 2 were about shaping the reemerging civilisation, not about finding more supplies at the dilapidated super market.

        Without the superficial imagery, FO3 and 4 aren’t Fallout. That’s why the branding is so plastered all over the place, to hide that fact.

        Note that I’m not saying they’re bad games because they’re not Fallout. I’m saying whether good or bad, they are their own games.
        I’m saying if Bethesda had truly tried to make a Fallout game, they wouldn’t have needed to fill the world with setting elements that didn’t belong in their new places.
        Instead, for better or worse, they made their own games and branded them with a branding iron they bought off someone.

        • guy says:

          Vaults as experiments dates back to at least Fallout 2 and isn’t really inconsistent with Fallout 1, though Fallout 3 introduced the inexplicable murder ones. The earlier ones had clear scientific objectives that could be tied to considerations that a space ship would have to deal with; Vault 13 studying both society and technology in long-term isolation, Vault 11 studying massive radiation exposure, Vault 8 as a control, Vault 15’s is unknown.

          There was also Fallout 2’s hilarious little “damnit, you guys” moment in Vault 8, when you went to ask after a GECK (I think by this point you had found records indicating Vault 8 got two) and were told that no, they’d used their only GECK forever ago, and also for some reason they had a gigantic stockpile of water chips, even though their original one was in perfect working order. Because someone in shipping screwed up and sent the GECK to 13 and 13’s spare water chips to 8.

          • ehlijen says:

            There were experiments, yes. But all that came back to no one really knowing how to practically survive an apocalypse and all vaults basically being trial and error.
            It made sense that each would use different tech or methods to survive to increase the odds some would make it, even if not all.

            But they weren’t ‘let’s lock people up and torture them’ rat cages until FO3. They were still meant to survive and help the rebuilding. They were also not quite as densely packed as they became from FO3 onwards.

            It was the Enclave that decided to raid them for tech and specimens, not Vault Tec before the war.

            The waterchip stockpile in vault 8 was just a bit of dark humour. It worked off the idea that the idyllic past wasn’t so perfect after all.
            But turning one such joke up to 11 and repeating it for every vault would turn the setting into just as much of a farce as Umbrellafying Vault Tec did.

            • guy says:

              No, I’m finding that dating back to the Fallout Bible and mentioning cut content from Fallout 2. I mean, the Fallout Bible is semi-canon and some of the experiments it mentions are almost certainly jokes by the designers, but it includes the Necropolis vault door being deliberately sabotaged to see what happens to humans exposed to massive amounts of radiation.

            • manofsteles says:

              I suspect that Fallout 2 would have included “‘let’s lock people up and torture them’ rat cages” if given the chance, or Interplay would have included them in Project Van Buren. Look at how the Fallout 2 team amped the dark humor to 11, and the revelations in Avellone’s (now semi-canon to non-canon) Fallout Bible; he pointed out that the Enclave was relatively stupid and paranoid, It’s likely that the game writers used that as an excuse to keep pushing their brand of humor even further with increasingly inane vault ideas simply because they could. As Avellone wrote:

              “Secondly, as proven time and again in Fallout 2, the Enclave isn’t a particularly rational bunch of fellows. Thematically, they embrace a paranoid view of the world and a heightened sense of superiority over everyone else in Fallout.

              “Third, the federal government (or whatever branch of federal government was responsible – it was not necessarily the Enclave) may not have ever considered the Vaults as society’s best chance for survival – the government may have considered themselves the best candidates for rebuilding the world and already had their asses covered in the event of a nuclear or biological war by relocating to other remote installations across the nation (and elsewhere) that weren’t necessarily vaults.

              “Nonetheless, even members of the Enclave probably could not answer the question of who created the Vault experiments and their reasons, as many of the people responsible for the creation of the Vaults died long ago, and many records were lost in the great static of 2077. President Richardson was familiar with the purpose of the Vaults, but he never saw them as more than little test tubes of preserved humans he could mess with.”

              Notice that Avellone completely sidesteps the stupidity of many (but not all) of the Vault experiments. His Fallout Bible even includes a bunch that they couldn’t include in the game that essentially were torture chambers (such as Vaults 68 and 69).

              EDIT: I just remembered about Vault 106, which was added to Fallout 3 from the Fallout Bible.

  28. Bottlecaps
    That seemed odd to me as well, especially that it’s used all over the Fallout universe (why not icecream sticks in one area and keychains in another?).
    As to why not coins? Well maybe they got melted down?
    I always found it odd that there where no coins but lots of paper money laying around.

    Leftover food
    This is not that odd, most food as a Best Before date (not the same as Use By date or Expires Date).
    Only a few items has a Expires date (meat etc.) eggs can last months if properly chilled/stored.
    When I was in the service we eat canned food that was 20 years old (from long term emergency food storage, they where “rotating out” the cans with new ones.)
    200 years might be a stretch, but if properly prepeared/packaged/stored canned food could last 50 to 100 years I’m sure.
    Oh and certain dried and sealed foods can last as long as if not longer than canned food.
    It may not taste that nice eventually but if it’s air tight and there are no alive bacteria inside then food can last “forever”.
    The way you find stuff in old “surface” stores like in Fallout is weird though, first of all if it’s still there then people left it for a reason, if not it would have been gone ages ago.

    Mild spoiler One of the characters you must meet to get into the institute turned himself into a supermutant on purpose it’s possible that the FEV virus was worked on in multiple places (considering how Vault Tech was messing with vaults all over, who knows what other weird projects others where working on.

    Radscorpions and weather
    I know too little of how a nuclear war or high radiation will affect the environment. Are there scorpions in the Boston area today? If so it would not seem odd but if not it’s really odd.
    The weather I got no clue. Would nature recover? Would storms change? (the storms in the Boston area are nasty and frequent, if it seems dead/desolate then that would make sense or?

    Brotherhood of Steel doesn’t this get explain when you start doing stuff for the brothehood? That they sent out patrols (which went missing, you get a quest related to solving this even) and then some years later they sent a search party which did not find any and now they are moving a large force here to deal with the institute.
    If any has technology to move far and wide it’s the brotherhood.

    Deatchlaws and mutated bears (forgot the name)
    Same as radscorpions, are the origin (pre-war) of these native to the Boston area?

    Moles exist all over the US right? And if radiation mutated them in one area then it’s not odd if radiation mutated them in similar ways elsewhere.
    Also (very mild spoiler) in the vault where you find the companion CURIE scientists did experiment with mutating/mutated molerats. Again Vault Tech (and other companies and the government) did really weird things all over the US pre-war and during the time people locked in the vaults.
    It’s also been 150 to 200 years since the bombs, it’s possible there was multiple generations of failed molerats until the successful strain appeared (in multiple independent locations).
    No clue of the lifespans of molerats if it’s less than humans then mutation would also be faster than for humans.

    I agree with your Escapist article though, in that Bethesda missed an opportunity for te player (through their character) to question a lot of this stuff (and thus let the game/Bethesda explain it).

    Also male player with the military background might know how to operate a power armor, but the female lawyer too?

    Also I think at one point somebody calls the ghouls zombies (sorry, I can’t recall where/what context though, maybe you’ll find it on youtube).

    Fallout 4 suffers from well, everything being a game mechanic.
    Either something that the player shoot at or shoot with or that protects against or improves damage or stats.

    There are two ways to design items for a game like this. You design the item then give it purpose, or you design the stats/numbers and assign an item to that.
    One way is more lore/world building friendly while the other is gameplay/stats friendly.
    NPCs are probably affected the same way as items during the design phase.

    Maybe for Fallout 5 they need to “reset” the Fallout universe (kinda like Disney did with Star Wars).

    • Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

      Shamus point above is that its weird that we’re seeing all of this stuff copied. That all of it migrated. You could explain one or two things but it increasingly looks contrived the more stuff you move from west to east. Also, given the wild mutants you encounter, different areas should have wide varieties of mutants (operating under radiation creates mutant monsters rules).

      The series has enough of an identity with the wasteland and the 50’s aesthetic for surviving prewar culture and relics. Give us mutant monsters and struggling factions and we’ll feel like we’re playing fallout. It doesn’t have to be the same mutants and factions each time.

      • Metal C0Mmander says:

        So what if it’s a overexplained, convoluted and immersion breaking story. As long as it’s got an acceptable explanation and it allows you to explore an interesting concept it should be fine. Bethesda seem to like these story elements for more than the vague sense of wonder they brought to the world so why should they always have to come up with something original all the time. Mind you sometimes it does feel like they really did bring these thing over not for story building but just for brand appeal and they also don’t seem to quite understand what these story elements were actually about in the first games but I think that’s an other problem than the one I’m speaking of right now. Anyway, to me it seems peoples desire to be imersed in a game is making them unable to appreciate the concepts(good or bad) of a story.

        I should also mention that if this comment sounds accusatory I didn’t mean it like that and I’m sorry about it.

        • Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

          Shamus had more to his point and I don’t want him to have to defend this on the basis of my faulty representation of him so here’s his comment found in a thread above repasted here for the sake of rebooting this discussion:

          I’m not objecting on the grounds of “This PARTICULAR thing is too implausible”. I’m objecting on the grounds of “Taken together, nearly everything in the world is a mindless copy-paste of the first game”.

          The first game was amazing precisely because it was so fresh and new and strange and full of ideas. And now the franchise just keeps spreading those ideas thinner and thinner instead of making up something new.

          You can imagine being in Fallout 1 and looking out to the horizon. “Wow! If this is what life is like HERE, then what wild adventures must be happening in faraway lands? What other strange creates are there? The Brotherhood have this technology cult. I wonder what other strange societies, cults, and cultures I’d find if I headed east?”

          And then we find out it’s actually the same shit everywhere, all the way to the horizon.

          The one place where I’d differ with his general objections is that I like that there’s so much faux-50s stuff lying around even if it is implausible. I wouldn’t be able to play a straight wasteland survival game without elements like this and the 50’s sci fi tropes to inject levity and wackiness. I’d find it all too bleak and miserable to be worth it. New Vegas manages to make up for it by being the Wild Weird West and coming up with a plausible explanation for why there’s a big old chunk of the 50’s that survived. The titular New Vegas.

          • Metal C0Mmander says:

            Yeah but what I’m saying is that they can copy and paste the previous games if they try to do something different with it. But to be fair I really shouldn’t be trying to defend a game I haven’t even played so I’ll shut up now.

      • “given the wild mutants you encounter, different areas should have wide varieties of mutants (operating under radiation creates mutant monsters rules).”

        Can’t argue with that, that’s purely due to budget/design/time constraints.
        I’m sure a Shamus clone at Bethesda could have whipped up a procedural mutation algorithm that modified base textures to create mutation variations (different in the mountain area from the ocean etc.) if given time though.

    • Darren says:

      Scorpions are not native to Massachusetts, and mole rats are not native to North America (I believe they are African). Deathclaws are apparently mutated chameleons, which also are not native to North America. There are some issues with the wildlife that exists in Fallout, but virtually anything can be handwaved away as the result of laboratory animals and/or pets.

      Incidentally, exotic pets are a concern in real life. In Shamus’ Florida example, it would be very realistic to encounter mutated Burmese pythons, even though Burmese pythons are not native to North America; escaped and released pets have allowed them to establish an extremely healthy and ecologically devastating population in the Everglades.

    • Syal says:

      There are no coins because people have crimped their edges and turned them all into bottlecaps.

  29. Alex says:

    Gooood. I can finally feel the bitterness coming through. When I heard your first DieCasts about it, I got worried that maybe you didn’t see IT. As in, the way this game is almost as bad as Fallout 3, from a writing/worldbuilding perspective.

    Also, you mentioned why the Hub didn’t move? I guess it did, because there is a plant called Hubflower… in the Commonwealth. About 3000 miles away from the Hub, in a place where no one could have ever heard of it. And no, there is no way in hell that Kellogg actually traveled from the Hub. I reject that notion. Even if he did, there is no way he named the plant. At least in New Vegas, you play as someone who was a PART of the Wasteland, and would know these plants and their common names.

    Which brings up another thing: The Bethesda Fallouts seem to spend sooo much time pining for the world that was. That’s why I didn’t find New Vegas to be dull: the people in it (and to an extent, the developers) were focused on building something new. Despite the settlement mechanic in Fallout 4, I still get a distinct feeling that these people are trying to hold onto a world that they’ve never known. Kind of like Bethesda.

    • ehlijen says:

      I don’t think the hubflower was necessarily named after The Hub. ‘Hub’ is an english word after all, and it was before The Hub was built.

      But I agree, Kellogg being pointlessly connected to both FO1 and FO2 felt as contrived as most of the Fallout branding in this game.

      That said, I thought FO4 wasn’t nearly as bad in a story sense as FO3. Not nearly as good as NV either, of course, but somewhat of a middle ground, probably closer to FO3 though.

    • Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

      Yes! Thats the big thing the Settlement systems feels like its missing. What you’re building feels like its there to address immediate survival needs. Maybe if I were a bit more creative I could use whats available to start building something that feels like a society, but I don’t feel like the tools support that as I places rows of beds in giant bunker rooms. We have food, water, medicine, defenses and housing, but it feels like what I’ve built is something akin to a refugee camp.

      Also, I can build turrets that auto target and spew endless bullets but my settlers have to manually work the land? Something seems off here. I want to be able to harness my excess purified water to farm vertically like Japan is doing. It would be nice if you have to build something basic at first to get your resources going then use the generated resources to build a more advanced infrastructure that gives a sense that we’re building from a refugee camp towards the beginning of a society where people can lead fulfilling, if simple, lives.

      But again, maybe I’m not being creative enough.

      The result is that I am filled with immense regret when I have to attack either the Brotherhood or the Institute because they have both managed to develop or at least harness technology that could get a proper civilization going again. Its such a waste to have to destroy that and its hard to care about any of the factions when their solution is always “blow all the enemy’s stuff up.”

      Like heres a thought. Main quest spoilers Once you have the explosives planted on the Prydwen, couldn’t you just tell the Brotherhood to evacuate or risk having a giant ball of burning hydrogen dropped on them? They have techies in the Railroad, the could use the Prydwen’s stocks and facilities to arm their faction against a reprisal.

  30. Disc says:

    I don’t think it’s entirely unreasonable to have Jet in the east, but it could definitely do with an explanation. Plenty of things could have happened between the 30 or so years between Fallout 2 and 3 to explain why it’s everywhere on the East Coast. I wish Bethesda wasn’t so damn lazy/incompetent to properly fill in details like this.

  31. Incunabulum says:

    “Molerats: Sure. I guess they migrated, too. Why not? How about The Hub? How about Killian’s Shop? Why can’t that migrate, too?”

    Don’t forget Harold.

  32. Starker says:

    Tisk tisk, Shamus. Have you ever thought that Bethesda’s radcorpions might be totally different scorpions that just happen to have the same name? They might for example be radscropions as in “radical scorpions” as in “scorpions who are cool in a late 70s/early 80s kind of way”.

  33. Disc says:

    Haven’t seen it for myself and probably won’t ever go near in-game, but following the link to NMA from earlier in the comments, I took a peek at their forum and stumbled upon the worst bit of Bethesda writing ever: http://fallout.wikia.com/wiki/Kid_in_a_Fridge

    Kid crawled inside a fridge when the bombs hit, got stuck inside for 200 years, turned into a ghoul and is somehow still alive and sane. And apparently the rest of the quest isn’t much better. His parents are still alive as ghouls and still living in their old, intact house right next to the Gunner-infested Quincy ruins and you’re supposed to bring him home to have a happy reunion. Or to sell him to a Gunner goon for no reason.

    I have no words.

    • SKD says:

      I haven’t run across that particular quest but just the quick writeup offends my sensibilities more than anything Shamus has pointed out in this post or the past. It is even worse than the MQ in FO3. I can possibly accept that ghouls need nothing more than radiation to survive… But I can’t accept that one could spend 200+ years locked in a fridge and still be sane. Feral or completely catatonic, but not sane.

    • Decius says:

      Ghouls require neither air nor food nor water for sustenance, and the Brotherhood would kill them all rather than use a series of hamster wheels to generate limitless power?

      Why did the Necropolis ghouls insist that you fix their water pump?

  34. Grampy_bone says:

    I love Myron. His description text was, “You see Myron! Myron baby, Myron!” He’d lecherously hit on you if you were female. When he leveled up he’d say, “Level baby, level!” Cassidy would threaten to kill him. He’d run away in combat. When you asked him what kind of weapons he was good with he’d say, “Beats me.” You had to drill through a lot of dialogue with him to get to the Jet cure. It was well-written, far ahead of anything in any Fallout game before or after (Fallout 1 had mostly dry, info-dump dialogues).

    I wonder if any RPG dev would intentionally make such a hilariously useless party member in this day and age?

  35. vacantVisionary says:

    So here’s a fun tidbit that I think you’ll appreciate. About 40 hours into the game, I was wandering around the northwest corner of the map, when I stumbled on a random settlement. When you go inside, one of the settlers will offer to pay you caps for a job – and you have the opportunity to ask them why they’re using caps as currency! My guess is that this is the first settlement that Preston Garvey sends you to help if you go with him back to Sanctuary? But like, that’s not an excuse, there’s no actual reason to assume all players would do that. I know I certainly didn’t, and so it was pretty hilarious to stumble on that bit of dialog so many hours into the game.

  36. Jay-Dawg says:

    Not trying to defend the game’s flaws that you pointed out, but didn’t Tactics have the Brotherhood migrating eastward? I mean, the game takes place in Chicago, so it’s not too far out there to suggest that they eventually settled on the East Coast. Considering the fact that The Enclave had working Vertibirds in 2, it’s not too farfetched to assume the BOS acquired that technology and were using it, as acquiring working tech has been their MO from the beginning.

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