Fallout 4 EP2: The Apocalypse Builds Character

By Shamus Posted Thursday Jun 2, 2016

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 257 comments

Link (YouTube)

My take on Fallout 4: I think the voiced protagonist is the One Bad Decision from which most of the major flaws in this game originate. When my character spontaneously says things without my input or consent, the writer is kind of making a contract with me: I’m designing a specific character for you, so I’ll handle the characterization. And then they fail to follow up on that. My character’s voice is there to intrude on my internal attempts at roleplaying, but there’s not enough of it to form an interesting character with a personality and a proper arc. So the protagonist either has a shift personality as the writer and I play tug-of-war over them, or they have no personality at all.

But then the protagonist is voiced, and individual lines of dialog are often given some emotion. But I’m the one choosing these lines, and I’m doing so using vague prompts. I have no way of knowing what my character will say when I click on “Agree”, and even if I get a mod to reveal the text, I still can’t tell how the line will be delivered. The game designer is pretending to allow me to roleplay, but they haven’t given me the ability to make informed decisions. So my dialog ends up being wildly inconsistent.

In other news:

After playing through the introduction, my daughter came downstairs and said, “Dad, did you ever notice how there’s a bunch of Mr. Handy Fuel? Like, in your house at the start of the game?”

“Yes”, I said guardedly.

“So that means Codsworth needs fuel, right?”

I nodded knowingly.


I sighed. “He’s not just working, but he’s been HOVERING for two hundred years. Also, he claims he’s spent the whole time taking care of your house. And yet the place is totally trashed and hasn’t felt the touch of a broom in decades.”

[Peter] went wide-eyed with frustration. “Just… what… are they DOING?”

I’m so proud of her.


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257 thoughts on “Fallout 4 EP2: The Apocalypse Builds Character

  1. krellen says:

    “Just… what… are they DOING?”

    At least we know your legacy is secure.

    1. MrGuy says:

      It’s the robot equivalent of “But what do they eat????”

    2. James says:

      In 10-15 years there will be a whole new generation of Youngs blogging about how bad Bethesda are at roleplaying, yet still buying and putting 100hours into their games.

      This is the true cycle of life.

    3. tzeneth says:


      The perfect question. :P

      1. Ledel says:

        Apparently all of the neighbors. Don’t you see all the skeletons?

        1. Actually, there IS an answer to where his neighbors went. It’s a random encounter.

  2. I thought the same thing when I saw the Mr. Handy Fuel, as I’d read about the fusion cores for the power armor and thought this was going to be a really resource-intensive game.

    So are we taking bets on how Cuftbert will dispose of that wedding ring he stole (come on, there was no sentiment there, he corpse-robbed her)? Give it to Macready? Throw it in a radiated pool? Sell it to a chem dealer? We need a point spread if we’re going to bet accordingly.

    1. MrGuy says:

      Junk jet ammo.

      1. baseless_research says:

        enchant it with +10000 fortify restoration.

        1. MrGuy says:

          Enchant it with +10000 to carry weight. Refuse to equip it.

          1. Yummychickenblue says:

            No that enchant is reserved for the Incinerator.

            1. Wide And Nerdy â„¢ says:

              I really wish we had like buttons right now. I’d like this whole thread.

    2. guy says:

      Huh, I’d forgotten about the fuel tanks. Fallout mostly coasts on the excuse that gratuitously many things run on some sort of nuclear power core and those can last for a ludicrously long time.

      Incidentally, on my playthrough I did a little inventory dance: I deliberately ensured that my character sold her wedding ring and has continued wearing her husband’s as a memento.

      1. Tom says:

        Which of course largely torpedoes the entire starting premise of the series, given that the apocalypse was caused by the Resource Wars. I think the Bethesda Fallouts handwave this in the lore in some way, like they were only just beginning to roll out that technology when the war started, because apparently an obvious peaceful solution to all civilisation’s problems that’s already beginning to deliver is no reason for civilisation not to self-destruct over the original problem anyway… actually, I don’t even know if I’m being sarcastic there or not…

        The original Fallouts, of course, just made the wasteland an actual barren waste where everything, and I mean EVERYTHING of any remote practical value, was crazy scarce. I think it’s possible to beat Fallout 1 without ever laying eyes on an energy weapon.

        1. Echo Tango says:

          I too, was confused about the resource-war premise of the game. I mean, what the hell became scarce, when they had fission- and fusion-powered tech readily available? With dirt-cheap energy, you can afford to recycle pretty much *everything*, since the things we don’t recycle now are energy-intensive. You can also afford to synthesize physical materials from other stuff or even just the constituent elements; e.g. liquid fuels and other petrochemicals, fertilizers, etc. So, like…what are the mythical resources that were in short supply, and triggered the wars this game is based on? ^^;

          1. This is where it gets tricky for suspension of disbelief, I guess. From what I recall of the Fallout lore in total, the wars that broke out for resources were mostly over oil and hydrocarbons. This could still make sense given that fuel is only one use for such materials, though the Fallout universe doesn’t seem to have made much use of them (i.e. plastics), unless it was used in some way I’m not considering.

            When the switch was made to nuclear energy, it was done so when things were already kind of crappy with conflict going on, so that doesn’t lend itself well to creating infrastructure, and even today nuclear plants and so on aren’t that quick to come on-line. So they did things sloppily, hence the need for Rad-Away. Rad-Away was even put forth as a substance the population took regularly to fix the effects of drinking Nuka-Cola.

            So even with the high-tech stuff going on, the final nuclear war broke out, and we get the Fallout version of Earth. I’d also note that an attempt to switch over to nuclear stuff does support the idea of radioactive water (see the Fukushima disaster, currently ongoing) and areas of perpetual radioactivity from leaking reactors, batteries, waste, etc.

            I’m sure a more informed sci-fi writer-type could come up with the justification for what I’d call “technological blind spots,” but that’s kind of an anthropological thing as well, and I’d be out of my depth. It’s interesting to consider, though, imagining a society that developed A.I. of a sort and brain-run robots, but not color monitor displays. There’s an episode of Star Trek The Next Generation that delves into that, where a really isolated colony hadn’t developed the high-tech they thought they would because they hadn’t been challenged by their environment like the Federation had.

            1. Leonick says:

              Another thing to keep in mind is that it hasn’t been established who launched the first nuke. Considering what a crazy universe we’re talking about here it might as well have been Vault-tec or the Enclave so they could get their experiments started and eventually resettle the earth.

              I don’t have a lot of trouble seeing a conflict start in one place for one reason and then drag on even though a potential solution is available. China had been rather aggressively using bioweapons and wasn’t pushed out of Alaska until January 2077 but at this point the US had a clear tech advantage so why just end the war and share the tech when they can strike back and take Chinese territories instead? That’s not the kind of universe this is.

              Obviously it’s all just excuses made so we could get to the post-war world that was wanted but yea…

            2. Wide And Nerdy â„¢ says:

              But didn’t the opening establish that the new age of Atomic power started shortly after the war?

              1. Echo Tango says:

                The nuclear era happened between WW2 and the war that kicked off the game’s post-apocalyptic setting (i.e. WW3).

          2. guy says:

            Probably all the U-235 was in use. There’s only so much of the stuff available.

            1. Incunabulum says:

              There’s billions of tons of the stuff. And its far from the only isotope that’s useful for energy production. And remember – these people have access to *fusion* power also.

              The fact is the idea of resource wars for things like oil or uranium are ridiculous on their face – they come from a sorely lacking understanding of the difference between a ‘resource’ and a ‘reserve’ or ‘proved reserve’. We’ll never run out of oil – at least not for thousands of years – the worst you can say is that we’ll run out of oil we can extract at X dollars a barrel.

              Its one thing if you’re a pre-industrial revolution society and your local water source dries up, its a completely different thing in a globalized economy where you have the shipping infrastructure to ship water in from outside your area.

              Nuke plants take a long time to come on line because of the extensive amount of regulation and NIMBYism that surrounds them. Even getting rid of the latter would shorten the timeline by multiple years.

              Now, widespread, unmonitored use – that could certainly have some adverse environmental effects. Especially in the early years. Places like Hanover (IIRC)have extensively contaminated their surrounding area with low-level long-lasting radioactive materials from leaks and whatnot. Though Fukushima is not a good example of this as the radiation leakage is pretty close to neglible – we can track it as far as we can simply because we’ve gotten so damn good at making sensitive instruments.

              And as pointed out – if you have copious amounts of cheap energy then you can now afford to recycle everything (and make money doing it) so fighting over the remaining *economically viable for extraction* hydrocarbon reserves or fresh water ludicrous.

              1. Tom says:

                I’m afraid the future of oil isn’t quite so rosy. The quoted figures of hundreds or thousands of years of oil reserves left are usually based on the current rate of consumption, i.e. assuming no more expansion. However, all modern industrial economies are unstable by design and cannot function without constant expansion; it is an article of faith for modern governments that Expansion Is A Good Thing. Check out Al Bartlett’s video on Arithmetic, Population and Energy.

          3. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Hydrogen was all mined out,so they wared over that.

          4. Fists says:

            They ran out of Brawndo ™

          5. According to the Shoddycast Fallout Storyteller series (which is quite good, I’d highly recommend), they didn’t develop fusion till they were already in the war (or very close to it). Of course, I may have my fictional dates wrong, and yeah, uranium’s not uncommon.

            I think it was just an excuse for more jingoism, on both sides. Two huge empires, both needing to prove they’re the best and use their enemy as an excuse for why life at home isn’t better.

            1. The thing that annoyed me the most is that they use the terminology for fusion and fission interchangeably in the game and never seem to quite understand the difference.

              I also developed a theory that the Resource Wars were actually a war over where the heck they were gonna put all this radioactive waste. If you look, you can find quite a few places in the game where people were apparently storing it in their basement from lack of anywhere else to put it.

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                The biggest offenders are the fusion powered cars that spread radiation when they explode,which they shouldnt do.

                1. guy says:

                  Well, that actually can make sense depending on what they’re fusing. Hydrogen fusion produces neutron radiation, which transforms the reactor casing into radioactive isotopes. Helium-3 fusion does not do that, but Helium is notoriously slippery. Granted, they shouldn’t have a nuclear explosion from external damage, but a hydrogen-oxygen one is possible.

                  1. Octapode says:

                    As a counterpoint, hydrogen just about the slipperiest bugger of a molecule around, so after 200 YEARS (drink!) there is no way there’d be enough still around in the car to explode, and relatedly the quantities of fuel would be on the order of grams, if that, in a fusion reactor for something the size of a car, so even new you’d be hard pressed to get any sort of explosion whatsoever.

              2. guy says:

                I’m not sure if this was quite intended, but from looking through the various pre-war terminals I got the impression that regulatory enforcement of various things was incredibly shoddy and the companies just wrote “fusion” on a bunch of their fission systems, and everywhere seemed to either be facing pending legal action or had literally murdered an OSHA inspector before the bombs fell.

              3. Jace911 says:

                ShoddyCast’s explanation for this is that companies like Mass Fusion claimed their reactors were fusion-based, but actually operated on fission because it was cheaper for them to operate.

    3. Ledel says:

      I say put it on Kellog. It will be like one of those prize decoder rings he used to put in cereal boxes 200 years ago.

    4. Fists says:

      Yep, got me as well, it’s way worse than most of the illogical things and I don’t think you have to be a pedant to find it annoying since it looks like it’s supposed to be a game mechanic and you find it in the starting area. Just a very odd red herring.

  3. The Rocketeer says:

    Yea, verily the sins of the Father are visited alike upon the Daughter.

  4. Tuskin says:

    Just to point out regarding New Vegas, there are some references to it in the game, not anything major, but there are two references to House and a ‘New Vegas’ sign appears in the missile commander PipBoy game. I think that is about it.

    1. PlasmaPony says:

      They also refer to the NCR expanding their territory on the radio in Kellogg’s memory. And while I haven’t played it, I was told that there’s a reference to Vera Keys from the Dead Money DLC in Far Harbor. I don’t mind here not being many references. New Vegas is in a nice bubble where Bethesda can’t hurt it.

      1. I think Kellogg’s memories mention the Hub and maybe San Francisco.

        That part didn’t bug me, and for a lot of the NPC’s, their stories and characters were pretty well-written. I just wish I could’ve affected them more.

        They also put a ton of effort into giving the NPC’s stuff to say in places, like Curie talking about visiting various bits of Boston or Valentine commenting about places in the Glowing Sea. It was a nice touch, but again, I wanted more RP in my G.

      2. Wide And Nerdy â„¢ says:

        If anything, its relatively unrealistic given the state of things that people in the Commonwealth would even know New Vegas or the NCR even existed. I suppose word could have leaked out from the Brotherhood and/or their could be radio relays (though I don’t see the evidence of that) but info would be extremely dated.

        Heck, the NCR was surprised to discover the Hoover Dam and New Vegas were intact when they stumbled across them and they’re much closer to each other.

        If it weren’t for the Institute’s teleportation and the Prydwen, I’d have a hard time believing that Dr Li made it from the Capitol Wasteland to the Commonwealth.

        Good thing about that is, it means they can justify not mentioning the Courier. I’d prefer that Bethesda didn’t decide what my Courier did.

        1. I have no idea what’s between the Commonwealth and DC, but I know the Eastern Brotherhood went as far north as the Pitt, and the Enclave did have helicopters so they could have made it up there too.
          In fact, thinking about it, it’d make sense. The Brotherhood sent a bunch of people across the whole country in hopes of getting their hands on tech, and Boston had Fallout’s version of MIT so I can see them sending people north to see what they could get.

    2. It’s directly stated that Kellogg came from an NCR area. Saying more would risk spoilers, though. :P

  5. Izicata says:

    An entire episode of Josh picking up tin cans and empty bottles while the rest of the cast immediately begin exhausting everything interesting it is possible to say about the game.

    We’re off to a strong start, ladies and gentlemen. I give it another seven episodes before we run out of complaints and Shamus starts eating his own hair.

    1. ulrichomega says:

      Yeah. You’ve got to spread these things out. We might need to start rationing complaints.

      1. Fists says:

        Set up a balance tally where they need to spend one minute on praise for every one minute of groaning.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Then they shall run out of praise by half way through the next episode.

          1. Fists says:

            and the rest of the season can be stern disapproving silence, that’ll show Bethesda!

            1. Nah, they’ll have to start praising other games instead and we’ll end up with full reviews of why System Shock is great (fill in game of choice instead of System Shock, it was just the first game that came to mind).

              1. Shamus talking more about how the first two acts of Neverwinter Nights 2 were great and the ending was a wade through a sewer that leads into another sewer that’s so dark you have no choice but to use a torch?

  6. PlasmaPony says:

    Is there anything that can done about the frame rate on the video? It’s really janky to the point of being uncomfortable for me to watch on my TV. I know your recordings are done for now, but I hope you find a solution in the future.

    1. Brandon says:

      Yeah, that weird hitching every few frames actually is giving me a headache while I try to watch. It makes me sad, because I love Spoiler Warning.

      1. Jokerman says:

        I have been mostly listening because of this.

    2. Targetshopper says:

      I was wondering about that too, it only seems to happen when Josh is outside. Glad it isn’t just me though.

    3. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      Yes. Good lord -whatever you have to do -turn the bling off, record at half speed (hearing all of you chipmunked could be funny, come to think of it), something. About the time you started talking about the Institute Ending I had to open another window so I wouldn’t see this anymore.

      1. Josh says:

        Yeah I’m not sure what happened with the recordings for these episodes, because on my end the framerate was completely smooth. I suspect it may have something to do with the framerate going over 60 in larger areas, since I have V-Sync turned off and the framerate is uncapped. This may do weird things to the recording, because Bethesda’s engine hates high framerates. I’ll be messing around with these settings and running some tests so I can get it right for future recordings.

        Unfortunately I only noticed this problem after the fact, and we recorded both this week and next week’s episodes back to back, since I’m currently on vacation, so this’ll be a problem until next week. I apologize for all of this, but uh… it doesn’t look as bad if you don’t watch it full screen?

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          So if the framerate goes over 60fps,the recording will go under 30fps?Makes sense.

          1. Destrustor says:

            The framerate eats up all the effpee-esses, so there aren’t any left for the recording.

          2. Jace911 says:


        2. Did you run into a kind of “mosaic” problem in the game? I played it early on and every so often a surface that (I believe) was supposed to look rusty or corroded would, at a certain distance, look like it was made out of tiny Skittles-colored mosaic tiles. When I got closer, the textures would resolve, but for a while I thought there were old stained-glass windows in places or something.

          I hear they patched a few things since release, and I hope some kind of optimization or improvement to rendering was one of them.

  7. I know what would make this more fun- let’s go do Honest Hearts!

    1. Sunshine says:

      To go semi-serious, will this season include Far Harbor?

      1. winawer says:

        I sincerely hope so. Far Harbor was amazing, everything the base game should have been. The story and characters were genuinely interesting and well written, no radiant quests, and a wonderful Point Lookouty feel to it. It’s almost as if they hired other writers.

        The base game was genuinely underwhelming, I have so many criticisms about almost every part of it. But Far Harbor made up for so much.

  8. Gruhunchously says:

    Man, New Vegas. There’s a quest near Novac where a bunch of NCR guys are staking out a Legion occupied town, but are too afraid to launch an open assault. There’s a Ranger with them, and he complains that he can’t get the troops to follow his orders to charge the defenses, and at one point he muses that he wishes that he had some two dozen shots of Psycho he could inject them with. As it happened, my character was carrying about 30 doses of Psycho…and I got a dialogue option where I informed the Ranger as such and offered to hand over the two dozen shots he wanted. The Ranger laughed it off and said that he was just joking, and the quest continued as normal.

    Some of the details in that game were crazy.

    1. galacticplumber says:

      Fucking really?! I mean I knew obsidian loves detail but DAMN!

      1. I don’t know why more games don’t do this sort of thing, because it’s so incredible and yet not particularly expensive. The check it runs is a total “black box” type of thing, it hardly has to interact with anything so it’s very simple to program and debug. And if it bugs out due to some weird edge case and you don’t get the option when you “should” have, who’s to know? It’s pure gain and so much fun for the writers to do that it’s practically recreation. Can you think of any easier way to help hardworking computer game professionals love their work?

        1. Of course, if you have to voice and animate EVERYTHING it’s not so cheap any more, so there’s your answer.

          1. Nimas says:

            Assuming they have a script for voice animations (which I believe they do) as long as you’re writing this stuff out *prior* to getting the voice actor in the booth, the overall costs would be mostly negligible (I know it takes more then the time to read the line, but even adding on a full day to recording would likely not make too much of a dent overall in the voice budget).

    2. ….and on the flipside of that coin, I recall an experience in KotOR2, where Mr Bad and I were having a set-to somewhere near the end of the game. At one point he taunted me regarding my character’s supposed weakness and general inability to bring it. I peered thoughtfully at the literal mountain of high-level health packs and stims I had to hand and proceeded to calmly hand him his own arse with a side order of chips and salad.

  9. Humanoid says:

    I don’t like how the voiced protagonist worked out either, but then on reflection my gripes about Fallout 4 are pretty much the same ones I had about Fallout 3, so that doesn’t quite explain things.

    The voice thing is, I feel, building on an existing flaw instead, specifically that of attempting to compromise between the fully-customisable contextless Joes we expect their games to have, and having a fully pre-defined protagonists.

    It was a lazy compromise. Either end of the spectrum works: Skyrim worked for me in a way that both Bethesda Fallouts utterly failed to do, and I’ve long since run out of superlatives for The Witcher 3. Fallout combines the weaknesses of both while leveraging exactly none of the advantages.

    Geralt lives and breathes in his world. He shows extensive knowledge of the land and its inhabitants, he has friends, enemies, a font of knowledge about monsters, history, politics. That’s the kind of thing you can really push with a character like this. Bethesda twice has given us characters where they’ve given us a completely fixed background ….then plopped them into an alien world where none of it matters. They spent the tutorial of both games trying to show off this snowflake of a character they think they’ve created, then at the end of the tutorial say “that’s it, that’s all you’re getting, now off you go”. They’ve put us in this roleplaying straitjacket, for absolutely no raisin.

    1. What’s kind of irksome for me is that they could’ve had a skippable info-dump for the player to explain why they suddenly don’t freak out over a Deathclaw or how bottle caps are currency: A short film in the style of Aperture Science from Vault-Tec. Have it go on about the “possible” things that could be out there, assuming the worst. Have a speech from a very worried scientist who points out the potential for mutated creatures and the likelihood that even money will be worthless, “you might as well hoard bottle caps” and so on, with the announcer cutting him off with a jovial “Who let that gloomy Gus in here? Ha-ha, it probably won’t be that bad, but if it is, Vault-Tec is not liable for any damages.”

      1. Humanoid says:

        It might not be enough to save the game, but the first step in any attempt to repair Fallout 4 would involve ditching the whole pre-war thing. Bethesda don’t have the chops to pull that one off, not even close. Have the player character be some random guy not from Boston being arrested by the Imperials for crossing the border into Masse… Massa…, er, MA. That’s about the extent of their ability.

        1. Fists says:

          Yeah, having a character that off the bat knows less about the setting than the majority of players would just be obnoxious. Bottle caps an Deathclaws are cool set pieces for the first in a series but you can’t play out the same reveals every game. Develop the lore or retire it, don’t just stew it forever.

          Edit: and by would be I mean is, because they did it, thankfully they didn’t dwell on it too long.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Except that bottlecaps shouldnt even be a thing any more.Not to mention that your character does never ask about them.So they failed even in making the character ignorant.

            1. Huw Jones says:

              It is possible to ask about Caps (and Tatos and Raiders) at a nearby farm. And a meat-seller will explain Brahmin to you. And you can ask someone what ghouls are and supermutants. Mostly when you are sent to shoot them.

              But at the same time it’s possible to never trigger those snippets, as opposed to having the first time you come across a new term regardless of who/were.

              See : Voice acting issues.

              1. Wide And Nerdy â„¢ says:

                In FO4, by the time I get to ask about Ghouls or Super Mutants, I’ve usually killed a bunch already.

            2. Fists says:

              Yeah, think it was a veritasium vid I watched recently talking about how we’d probably use gold as our form of currency again if the slate was wiped clean and we started from scratch. This wasteland is easily developed enough to have gold mining and recycling centres tearing stuff down for gold.

              I generally just ignore the 200 years thing though and assume its about 8, other than the text and dialogue there is nothing that suggests it’s been more than like 20 years.

              1. I doubt gold would make a comeback in this type of post-apocalyptic universe. Gold isn’t particularly useful until a fairly high level of economic development where people can once again enjoy things simply because they look nice rather than because of their overall utility. In order to function as a currency, something has to be in high demand *universally*. Tell me that Goodneighbor, The Institute, The Brotherhood, Vault 81, Diamond city, and all the little settlements all have the same demand for gold? Most of them probably have no use for it whatsoever.

                It’s much more likely that the global currency in Fallout would be RADAWAY. It’s rare, durable, fungible, divisible, and everyone needs it. It has all the perfect qualities of a currency.

                This is actually one of the things I really liked about Gothic–the game actually had a FULLY FUNCTIONING ECONOMY. You could (and did) just barter your stuff for other people’s stuff. But, and this gets neat–they HAD a currency (magical ore) and a reason WHY it was the currency (you were trapped in a prison colony that was created for the purpose of mining that ore–and ore was the ONLY thing that the people outside the colony would accept in exchange for goods).

                There were some things in the game (specifically, armor upgrades) that you HAD to buy with ore. Merchants had limited supplies of ore, so building up a stock could take a while–but if they ran out of ore you could still sell to them by swapping stuff. Or, if you wanted to, you could just go MINE ore yourself. There were also lots of little interesting things you could do like selling supplies to the ore smelter in the mine–he’d pay a higher price for supplies and always pay you in ore, because the supplies were harder to come by at the bottom of the mine but there was plenty of ore sitting around. It was BEAUTIFULLY well thought-out.

                1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Gold wasnt used for currency because it was pretty or useful,but because it was rare and (relatively) easy to mold into desired shapes.

                  Also,you dont want your currency to be something useful,because then you will start spending it in other places(as building components or through consumption),thus inflating its value beyond its usability as a unit of exchange.

                2. I want to say it was the first Wasteland game (though I may be thinking of a different game) that had a neat twist to the currency setup. Like Fallout, they had bottlecaps and pre-war money. However, the value of them differed depending on who you were dealing with. Those who were in places that survived from the old world or were trying to bring it back (i.e. Enclave-type factions, robot vendors, etc.) would give you the biggest value for pre-war cash, while people surviving in the ruins and wastes favored caps. It made for an interesting twist on the economy (and would make barter skills more valuable).

                3. It already has, actually. The Legion Aureus was made from gold for the same reasons it’s been used in history; rarity, ease of molding, and it’s hard to counterfeit, unlike Nuka-Cola bottle caps, which had a very small quest in New Vegas detailing that exact problem.

                  Granted, as much as I like New Vegas (enough to spend over 2,000 hours playing the damned game) the economy is borked beyond all reason, even though it makes more sense than Fallout 3 and is in an entirely different league than the cluster that is Fallout 4’s.

                  1. Jace911 says:

                    I read a blog post a while back that pointed out how the Crimson Caravan should’ve tried to sell the press to the NCR instead of destroying it, because without it the number of caps in the wasteland remains fixed while the population is slowly climbing up.

                4. Jace911 says:

                  In the post-apocalyptic future my personal kingdom’s currency will be backed by Sugar Bombs.

      2. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        Thus far, the character isn’t bugging me much. I think there should have been more reaction to Nora’s death by the character -he just kinda lolls around and then goes back to sleep. Then he wakes up and makes a big fuss. It kinda telegraphs the later plot spoiler in a way it wouldn’t have if he’d actually been fighting and then had the white smoke fill his view -then clear as the door opened.

        Coming around the corner and seeing a giant radroach, on the other hand, should have elicited something -ideally, they’d have set it up to jump-scare the player, not just the character. What’s the point of railroading if you don’t make use of it?

        1. The Rocketeer says:

          I think if you hit buttons during that sequence, you’ll pound on the glass. I might be remembering wrong, though.

          1. Wide And Nerdy â„¢ says:

            Yeah, if you run around interacting with things in the cryo room, your character will do a lot of freaking out, including an appropriate amount when you interact with your spouse. If you want, you can go around checking the other pods to see if anybody survived and get lots of appropriate angst. Which is what I did the first time I played. I figured a person in this situation would do that.

            1. MichaelGC says:

              I did that too – that bit actually worked reasonably well for me, actually. Right sorta tone. And I suspect I’d do something like that as well, in any similar situation, although likely I’d be a bit more panicky.

              Rocketeer is right also – during the part where your spouse gets shot you can ineffectually thump the glass by pressing ‘e’, whilst making a noise like you’re saying a sneeze and which gets subtitled as: *grunt*.

              I’m not kidding; they have the stars and everything. It’s very moving.

      3. Da Mage says:

        They do actually have the ‘What? Bottlecaps are currency?” dialogue in the game. If you go to Abernathy farm just south of Sanctuary you can get a back an forth about how the currency works.

        BUT…..while the town is close to the beginning, it’s not on the Sanctuary – Red Rocket – Concord track and you’re likely to miss it.

        1. They made another dumb mistake by having these “huh?” conversations take place in static places–in a game where you can go anywhere you want. Instead, the conversation should be set to take place the first time you encounter caps *no matter where you encounter it*. This is effortless to do in a text-based game and basically impossible in a voiced one.

          It’s not just the voiced protagonist that Bethesda doesn’t know how to handle, it’s voicing IN GENERAL. It’s been biting them in the ass since Oblivion.

          1. Wide and Nerdy says:

            They could have managed it. Just have your first companion be someone you meet on the way out. They realize what your deal is and so make a point to fill you in on some stuff.

            Yeah its kind of hack but it works.

            Basically make the player have to go through some kind of linear area to reach the open world, and drop the lore with mandatory interactions.

            But I share your wish that there were more text based games, thus allowing more conversational flexibility. I can’t wait till text to speech gets good enough that someone tries an all robot rpg so you can have both.

      4. Incunabulum says:

        Instead you have an info dump explaining what power armor, a fusion core, and a minigun are.

        It goes back to there no longer being a player character but you are there operating a player avatar. The character would have known what these things were (even as the lawyer wife) but the *player* might not.

        1. Wide And Nerdy â„¢ says:

          Its not like a soldier would have any use for those. And of course if you work in law, you know literally nothing about military stuff.

          1. Being married to a former soldier who’s probably from a military family, however, would probably at least cover those in some detail since that’s a conversation that would happen at some point in the years they’ve been together.

            1. Wide And Nerdy â„¢ says:

              I can believe she knows how to handle small arms and rifles. Its clear everyone saw the looming possibility of a war so I imagine Nora and her military hubby probably spent some of their dates at the firing range getting her up to speed.

              What I can’t believe is that she knows how to hop into power armor*, rip the minigun off a Vertibird and take down a Deathclaw. There’s no way she has experience with any of those things.

              The only way I can figure it to be plausible is that they met in the military. Maybe there’s a service requirement for full citizenship in the 2060’s and 70’s and she did the minimum while he stayed in, giving her time to go to law school while he finished his term. Or maybe she just did time to get the GI Bill. Or maybe she went the JAG route. And maybe all prewar soldiers get basic power armor training (though I’ve heard the armor was supposed to be high end experimental tech at the time).

              *which in FO3 and FNV required special training no matter how experience your action hero was

    2. Tizzy says:

      When the voiced protagonist was first announced, I was pretty indifferent. (I have been pretty indifferent to the whole game existing, to be honest).

      But now I see how it fundamentally clashes with everything. How can this possibly be the voice of Reginald Cuftbert? You cant have almost limitless freedom in character design, and pair it with one voice option.

      Remeber how even Baldur’s Gate gave you tons of voice options simply for your character’s taunts?

      1. Grudgeal says:

        Well, three options. Per game. And they didn’t even recycle the voices from the first game into the second one, so your dwarven character would go from a happy-go-lucky scot in the first game to a gruff midwestern american in the second.

        Now icewind dale, that game had voice options. The second game even had a bard voice who spoke only in rhyme. Too bad it was voiced by Jan Jansen’s VA, so you’d never use it unless you were making a gnomish bard.

        1. IFS says:

          BRB going to make a party of 6 Jan Jansens in IWD2.

          (Seriously though, how did I not notice that was his voice? I had him in my party all game in BG2)

        2. Tizzy says:

          What can I say? Three options felt like a lot back in those days. ;-)

          Seriously though, the game must have been the second non-adventure game I ever played that had made any attempt to have voices nonetheless. The first one being Warcraft 2.

          1. MrGuy says:

            Honestly, three options would probably be enough. I remember being blown away in SR2 with having voice choices. And I made a lot of different characters, and never felt that at least one of the three choices felt appropriate.

          2. Grudgeal says:

            True, and you could add your own with a sound editing software and a little patience for file renaming. Sorcerer’s Place had a ton of custom soundsets, including importing the ones from Icewind Dale and Planescape: Torment to Baldur’s Gate.

            I made a Darth Vader soundset for my evil cleric of Talos in the second game. Good times.

            1. Sorcerer’s Place! Ah, the memories of downloading BG2 mods on 26k dialup at 2 am because it was the only time I was allowed to tie up the phone line for that long. Baldur’s Gate 2 was the first game I ever used mods in, and Icewind Dale was my first RPG!

              Brb, need to go play it again. Thanks GoG!

              1. Grudgeal says:

                Ah, BG2 is perhaps the game I’ve played around with mods on the most. I’ve tried it all, from terrible terrible Mary Sue NPCs to some actually very decent rebalancing and added quest mods. I still regularly run with the Expanded Banter Pack, and of course Dungeon-Be-Gone because you can only play through Chà¢teau Irenicus before you start foaming around the mouth.

                …I couldn’t beat Ascension though.

                1. Is this where I mention that not only does that site still EXIST, but it’s where I was going for useful info for playing through Neverwinter Nights 2? :D

      2. tmtvl says:

        Just gonna mention Wizardry 8. For those of you who haven’t played that game: there were 9 ‘personalities’ for a character, 2 voices per personality, 2 genders, for a total of 36 unique voices. Your party could have up to 6 characters plus up to two NPCs, who have their own voices. There are a bunch of events which characters can react to, and characters can react differently if multiple reactions are triggered at once.

        There’s also full voice acting for talking NPCs, but the most important thing is that Wizardry 8 was released in 2001, so…

      3. I found it pretty crazy that they gave all those damaged and scarred facial options for a PRE-WAR person.

        They shouldn’t have let you design your character’s face until after the apocalypse. Or they should have left those options out of initial character creation. Alternatively, this would have been a GREAT game to have a “progressive damage” option where different events could permanently affect your look (unless you went to a doctor and got “fixed up”).

        And they should definitely have had an option whereby you could get downloaded and become a synth.

        1. To be fair, you get the same problem in Fallout 3. You grew up in a vault with no other outsiders (apart from your dad) or idea what the wasteland looks like, but you can give yourself a hairstyle and look that makes you way older than your dad or like you already know you’re going to be trekking through a Mad Max hellscape and you wanted your coif to match your spiked leather armor.

    3. guy says:

      My biggest complaint is that they went to the trouble of having a pre-war PC and then just kind of didn’t do anything with that except set up one specific plot twist that probably wasn’t worth it. There’s some little side conversations that capitalize on it, but it should have informed basically every conversation. Everyone who wants to find caches of pre-war tech should ask you for ideas, everyone with any interest in history should ask you about it, you should have the best “Back in my day…” speeches in human history, etc. But it barely comes up! It’s like if DA:I forgot that your character has a magical glowy thing on their hand.

      1. The Rocketeer says:

        They even try to tackle that head-on, once, with the new story Piper wants to do, taking your perspective as a man out of time.

        It’s remarkably limp.

        1. Humanoid says:

          It’s also a remarkably bad idea, surely, to just broadcast that kind information about yourself to all and sundry. I don’t know how it worked out since I refused the interview, which also meant that story thread was a dead end and I couldn’t recruit Piper.

          1. Speaking of Piper and her paper, two things royally bugged me about it:

            1. She has a printing press. Stuff elsewhere in the game is in print, in Times New Roman, but her press is in handwriting? What is it, a mimeograph? If it looked like an actual paper, that would’ve been kind of fun, too, with rotating ads or little bits of flavor in some sidebars here and there.

            2. One of the first thing she mentions is that the press keeps breaking down. I was 100% sure I’d have a quest to get parts to fix it or even get a whole new press. Then I saw there was a Boston Bugle building, but I had no such quest. I even dragged Piper there, and she said nothing about it, even though she and other NPCs will spout off at random about the sights or other weird things. How was this not even a stupid “find a location” fetch quest?!

          2. guy says:

            I haven’t gotten to it, but it doesn’t strike me as an unreasonable idea to agree to it; it certainly should draw a lot of attention from everyone, which has the downside that people are going to want to kidnap and interrogate you but the upside that it gives you a massive reputation to trade on; in particular the Underground Railroad and the Brotherhood Of Steel should be very keen on specifically recruiting someone with pre-war knowledge who isn’t with the Institute, since the Brotherhood Of Steel has a tech base but it’s still badly incomplete and the Railroad’s tech is all wonky custom jobs or recovered stuff. Granted, your character isn’t specifically a scientist, but they are a college grad and a male character has actual military experience at least alongside power armor and air power. If your character is already attracting a lot of attention, publicizing their past should tend to be helpful.

    4. I can’t tell if the ending of that is typo or Mobius…

  10. <voice type=”Classic Perlman”>Youngs… Youngs never change.</voice>

    1. MrGuy says:

      Bethesda. Bethesda never changes.

      1. Gruhunchously says:

        I can’t believe that the Young family is STILL bitching about Bethesda games after 200 years. Don’t they have anything better to do with their time? What do they eat, even?

        1. ehlijen says:

          You’d think all of their copies of ME3 and Fallout 4 had expired by now, but they keep finding more pristine ones in every random ruin…

        2. krellen says:

          Radiation, since they all became Ghouls in the war.

          1. acronix says:

            Considering that one Sidequest involving the ghoul kid who was stuck inside a fridge SINCE THE DAY THE BOMBS FELL…I think this explanation of what ghouls eat is actually canon.

            1. Tizzy says:

              And here I was thinking that a fridge would protect you from radiation. Oh Indiana jones, can’t you be trusted?

              1. MrGuy says:

                I have no idea what you’re talking about. None.

            2. krellen says:

              (It is. And too much exposure to radiation is what makes Ghouls into Glowing Ones.)

        3. Wide And Nerdy â„¢ says:

          I was wondering why I couldn’t find any Dinky the T-Rex toys in the Commonwealth.

    2. Sunshine says:

      “For generations, the Knight of Young have fought against the madness…”

      1. Grudgeal says:

        If I ever make another tabletop game involving the Far Realm or Dal Quor, that’s going in it.

    3. Daemian Lucifer says:

      “Youngs.Youngs never change.

      People in fallout 3,what do they eat?Raiders in the last of us,how do they survive?Codsworth,where does he get his fuel from?

      Youngs never change.

      In the 21st centry,games were still having stupid settings.Only this time,Youngs had access to the internet:A way to bring their gripes to the whole world.For this reason,russians joined the americans,australians were on the same ground with canadians,and the european geezers would unite with them all in their bickering,bent on nitpicking the last remaining plot holes in any game.

      In 2016,the blight on bethesda had come again.In two brief blog posts,fallout 4 was reduced to cinders.And from the very opening,a new generation would start noticing the flaws.

      A few games were able to reach relative safety of coherent settings.New vegas was part of that small group that was made by obsidian.Meticulously crafted from the bottom up,under good management,a game was made without being trashed by the geek world.

      Video games are about to change.”

  11. Ninety-Three says:

    My take on Fallout 4: I think the voiced protagonist is the One Bad Decision from which most of the major flaws in this game originate.

    The quest design suffers problems that don’t stem from that. The bad guy demands you surrender and walk into his obvious trap, and your only dialogue options are to do so (you can just chuck a grenade into the trap, but there’s no way within the system). Or you come to a standoff between some bandits and a woman at a diner, and you can talk to both of them to figure out what’s going on, but as soon as you agree “Okay, I’ll help you” the other side magically knows what you picked and starts attacking you.

    I feel like there’s a common element more specific than “Shitty quest design” tying a lot of it together, but I haven’t played enough Fallout to put my finger on it.

    1. I’d say it does, but only if you know how pointless the dialog is. Based on even Fallout 3’s dialog, the required voice acting for a decent level of choice and expression was probably prohibitive. When you look at the dialog trees or use the mod that states exactly what you can pick from, you can see the rails you have to follow if you want to advance along just about any questline. Any “choice” you have is how quickly you get to the shooting part, not an alternative to the shooting part or any real alternative at all.

      It may be a chicken-and-the-egg thing. Which came first? The lack of choice or the voiced dialog which required a lack of choice to be feasible?

    2. Andy_Panthro says:

      The diner one was hilariously bad for me, because I couldn’t really hear what they were saying (I didn’t have subtitles on at the time). So I decided to move closer, but of course I moved a little too close, and in about two seconds the guys went from “back off” to shooting at me. All I wanted to do was find out what all the fuss was about…

  12. ArchBlade says:

    But… Shamus… New Vegas HAD blackjack and hookers!

    1. MrGuy says:

      And whiskey! In fact, let’s skip the Fallout!

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Eh,screw the whole thing.

  13. Incunabulum says:

    I sighed. “He's not just working, but he's been HOVERING for two hundred years. Also, he claims he's spent the whole time taking care of your house. And yet the place is totally trashed and hasn't felt the touch of a broom in decades.”

    Did anyone notice that if you look out your back window during the prologue you have a stone tiled section of the backyard that the patio furniture is on and no hedges. Then look at the backyard in the rest of the game.

    Somebody’s dug up those tiles, left the furniture, and planted series of hedgerows around it.

    1. Also, we don’t know the extent of his programming (does housework = major repair? Can he paint? Can he do carpentry?), his access to resources (he likely didn’t leave the property), and the fact that any broom he had access to likely went up with the nuclear blast.

      1. Cedric says:

        My understanding was that he has traveled as far as the Red Rocket for fuel and supplies.

        1. Incunabulum says:

          He’s traveled as far as Concorde – he mentions people there shooting at him.

        2. modus0 says:

          He mentions having traveled into Concord, and getting shot at and hit with sticks.

    2. Cedric says:

      This is why one of my first mods is the one that replaces the post war house with the pre war one. It looks out of place certainly, but at least it makes Codsworths dialogue work.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Why was a mod required to make the visuals match the dialogue?Its just…just….*sigh*

        1. MichaelGC says:

          To encourage modding? After all, during FO4’s development it briefly looked like there was going to be money in it…


    3. Andy says:

      To be fair, this is not at all how I interpret what Codsworth says. The precise dialog in question:

      “Codsworth: Oh sir, it’s been just horrible! Two centuries with no one to talk to, no one to serve. I spent the first ten years trying to keep the floors waxed, but nothing gets out nuclear fallout from vinyl wood. Nothing! And don’t get me started about the futility of dusting a collapsed house. And the car! The car! How do you polish rust?”

      He QUIT taking care of the place because it was futile. (If he spent the first ten years trying to polish the floor, that means he stopped working on it two centuries ago.) He’s off his rocker because he CAN’T fulfill his programming.

  14. Tobias says:

    So, the Institute has no real agenda and just randomly does evil and stupid things without any connection to any plan.
    And Shamus worked for them, but he didn’t like it.

    They are literally Cerberus.

    1. NotSteve says:

      They do a lot of random things, but those were mostly done by rogue cells.

      1. tremor3258 says:

        Okay, that made me chuckle.

      2. Jace911 says:

        Well considering the synths are cloned from Shaun’s cells, and the Institute likes to blame it’s surface crimes (Night of the Broken Mask) on rogue synths…

    2. Gnoll Queen says:

      ….That works distressingly well actually.

    3. guy says:

      The Institute does have a plan; they’re doing research and experiments to make synths that can pefectly imitate humans. What they don’t have is an actual objective; there’s no clear indication of what they intend to do with said synths that they couldn’t have done with the synths they had a couple decades ago. They can kidnap or kill people and replace them with imitations, but there doesn’t seem to be anyone in particular they want to kill and replace and they only seem to do it in order to gather data so they can get better at doing it.

      1. I was under the impression that they wanted to make a “better human” that could survive in the wastelands. I think it was why they’re experimenting with new plants/animals and did some work with FEV. Correct me if I’m wrong, but their goal seemed to be to repopulate the wasteland with life forms and synths which were better suited to the Earth as it was currently than the human population.

        I also figured that they had some plan for how this repopulation & rebuilding was going to take place, and it required 100% obedience from their synths. I guess they wanted the synths to go out and put the world back as it was, then the Institute humans would move into the “cleared” areas, as that’s the only reason I can see them doing all this work. I think there’s a farm on the Easternmost area of the map that’s some kind of “test run” for this and other things, but it was vague on the endgame, I think.

        1. guy says:

          Yes, but why is it so terribly important that the Synths actually look like humans? Why weren’t they done when they made the Nick Valentine generation?

          1. Because it’s easier to use existing human models than create new art assets.

            Er, I mean, so the real humans outside wouldn’t suspect anything.

        2. acronix says:

          I thought the stated reason by their boss was to ensure humanity’s survival underground forever…how replacement synths work for that goal I have no idea and I bet Bethesda doesn’t either.

        3. Jace911 says:

          I thought that too, especially with their motto (“Mankind Redefined”), but then everyone in the Institute kept reminding me that synths arent actually sentient and don’t have feelings, which is obviously false from your point of view but is what they truly believe. So they’ve created a race of immortal ubermensch who, to them, are little more than automatons that can imitate a personality and will never be capable of more than following orders. They devote fully half if not more of their resources to producing Gen-3 synths in staggering numbers (Visit robotics and you can watch them make a new synth once per minute, endlessly), even though a central plot point is their critical shortage of resources, and then they have them push a broom around the Institute.

          They make a big deal about how they’re redefining humanity, and then they refuse to accept that maybe they have redefined humanity, because…?

      2. ehlijen says:

        About the killing and replacing, and also the random murder sprees those replacer bots seem to go on:

        That was my big beef between the Institute and their antagonists:
        When you first get to Diamond city, the game makes a big deal about the terrible threat that the secret replacer bots are. But once you’ve met both sides and they both try to recruit you, neither side will talk about those events and you can’t ask them.
        They’re not even accusing each other, which would have made sense, the game simply refuses to let you bring up the question.

        Yes, you can sneak into the institute computers and learn that they are secretly replacing people, but not why or why the robots go bad or why they don’t seem to care.

        So in the absence of either side showing any willingness to say anything on the matter, that left me concluding both sides were insane and possibly responsible. And that left either joining the sky nazis (no thanks) or (shudder) talking to Preston…

        1. guy says:

          I got the impression that the Railroad was made up of replacement Synths that went off-mission but the Institute actually arranged the killing and replacing, so they’re the ones who are culpable. The incidents in Diamond City apparently resulted in the destruction of the specific Synths in question, so they aren’t with the Railroad and never were.

          1. ehlijen says:

            The problem I’m having is that the lack of a dialogue option creates a distinct impression of the situation in my head that I can’t tell if it was intended, since it results mostly from the dialogue option being missing:

            Since the railroad won’t ever acknowledge that the replacements happen, that creates a disturbing sense of cover up.
            Replacing a human would be an effective way to hide from the institute for a synth who doesn’t care about robots, after all. And if the rogue synths are in fact malfunctioning, that could explain the killing sprees and why the railroad doesn’t ever want to talk about the matter.

            On the other hand, the institute is pretty clearly being blamed for the abductions, killings and replacements, and in light of such accusations, they should have something to say when trying to recruit you. That they don’t bring it up again creates the impression that they’re hiding something, implying that they are behind it all, for unknown nefarious purposes.

            But in truth, I’m the one who didn’t bring it up because the game won’t let me! This ominous silence on the matter may simply be entirely unintended by the writers.

      3. winawer says:

        The Institute is an insidious and largely unknown presence in the Commonwealth. Their primary goal is to harvest all organic life on the surface, supplanting it in synthetic form, therefore ultimately replacing it in its own image.

        They lurk in the shadows, in the dark Commonwealth. No-one on the surface truly knows where they are and rumour has it they use an advanced technology called the Ma…Molecular relay to travel undetected.

        But there is a solution that can end the conflict. You can choose to destroy all synthetic life (Brotherhood of Steel), or instead try and control it (Institute). If these options don’t appeal then maybe try for a union, a synthesis if you will, where synthetic and organic life coexist happily as equals (Railroad).


    4. Lachlan the Mad says:

      “Invent robots that can perfectly imitate humans in every way, up to and including free will, and then keep them as our slaves” sounds exactly like what Cerberus would come up with.

      1. Gruhunchously says:

        I feel this is a good time for another derisive comparison of Cerberus to Aperture Science played seriously.

      2. Redingold says:

        That is exactly what Cerberus did with EDI’s body, no?

  15. Daemian Lucifer says:

    The plot wants you to save your infant son,but the game wants you to dick around.This creates a kind of rift between the story bits and the gamey bits.A sort of…howd you say…tell-play discrepancy?

    1. MrGuy says:

      A talky-gamey rift

      1. Ninety-Three says:

        No, we should use fancy words for it. A… narrato-ludic dissonance.

        1. SL128 says:

          Story play-ey problem?

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            If only we had some intellectual with a beard to tell us the proper term.Woe is us scrubs.

            1. Phill says:

              The term, I believe, is Lardo-Normative Resonance.

              Or was that the name for the earth tremors felt when a magnificently obese person walks past?

  16. Ninety-Three says:

    Rutskarn: You mentioned having trouble playing the Shadowrun games, there’s a solution! Alt-F1 to open the debug menu, then do addKarma 99 (or 54, or whatever the exact right amount is) and buy up all the otherwise-useless charisma to get the etiquettes you want. At least, it’s Alt-F1 in Dragonfall, I assume it’s the same in the other games, if not a quick Google should set you right.

    1. IFS says:

      I’ve always done a street samurai (guns or melee focus, no magic) and had plenty of points to spare for charisma. Its even easier if you play a shaman as charisma helps with their summoning. Plus Dragonfall and Hong Kong are much better than Returns about having skills besides charisma help in dialogue (and I’d honestly recommend skipping Returns entirely if you’re interested in the games). It helps that the difficulty is pretty low in those games so even a weak build can usually get through just fine.

      1. Grudgeal says:

        No kidding. I finished Hong Kong, on Hard, using an elven shaman with no offensive spells at all. I even wasted inordinate amounts of Karma maxing out my CHA to get every single etiquette, for no other reason than I could. Even with all the combat, the NPCs you get if you take the time to recruit Racter and Gaichû can carry you through fine even if your character is a wimpy buffbot.

        …He crashed in Shadows of Hong Kong, though. Hard. The Tiger’s Den mission does not mess around.

    2. John says:

      I’ve only just started Dragonfall, but in Shadowruns Returns you don’t really need more than 4 ranks in Charisma to get all the really useful dialogue options. My experience was that the dialogue options associated with etiquettes are cute but inessential, and very few of them come up more than once or twice. Of course, if you want a rich role-playing experience, I should stress that Shadowruns Returns is really not the game for you. When people say that it’s linear, they are very much not kidding.

      But I feel I must speak up in favor of Charisma heavy builds. I don’t care much for Summoning, but Conjuring is awesome. Haste is never not useful, and barriers are a lot of fun.

  17. Cinebeast says:

    I always thought it was funny that:

    You were stuck in a cryo tube, and likely suffer from some aftereffects. (You don’t, but you can role play that you do.)

    As soon as you’re out and about, one of the first weapons you find is a freezing gun. (Although you can’t use it yet.)

    And, assuming you play as a guy, your wife’s name is Nora.

    Plus, there’s a very good chance you’ll spend the majority of the game encased in powered armor.

    Sound familiar?

    1. Humanoid says:

      The [sarcastic] dialogue option should be replace with [cold pun].

      1. Cinebeast says:

        In fact, just about every RPG would be improved with a [pun] dialogue option, no matter the situation.

        1. Ninety-Three says:

          One of the worst indictments I can give of The Old Republic was that the Imperial Agent had a lot of sarcastic dialogue options and I could not tell which dialogue option corresponded to being a smart-ass.

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      I see where you are going with:The protagonist of fallout 4 is literally johnny storm.

  18. Ledel says:

    So in my first playthrough of the game, I did quite a bit of dicking around. In doing so I kept coming across these places filled with synths that are set to attack on sight. I finally make it to the Institute, and I ask “Why do you guys hate me?” or something equivalent. “Oh, no, we don’t hate you, or anyone in the commonwealth. We really just want to live in peace.”

    For a place that is supposed to recruit the brightest minds they can find, it sure is filled with idiots.

    1. It wasn’t just the synths. New Vegas spoiled me rotten on being able to approach NPCs and about half the time strike up a dialog, even if they weren’t keen on me. There were so many locations that seemed to have interesting setups and possible quests or at least lore to be sniffed out. For example, the racetrack: I thought maybe they’d include a gambling minigame, maybe some quests for the people running it, but no. You get close enough, they open fire, pretty much like everywhere else.

      1. Incunabulum says:

        But remember – FNV was ‘boring’ and ’empty’ because someone wasn’t there to shoot at you every 10 seconds.

        1. I can only think that people who said that never ran into Cazadores.

          Maybe they felt bad at having to instigate violence rather than having it always thrust upon them?

  19. Somniorum says:

    I didn’t feel as cynical about Bethesda’s attempt to make Fallout 4 their own answer to New Vegas.

    It did totally occur to me that there were lots of things in Fallout 4 that seemed to be attempting to address all the criticism people had for 3 in comparison to NV, and I think they genuinely did pay attention to what people were saying they liked so much about New Vegas, and tried to improve on things with 4! I don’t think of it as them going and snottily saying that they’re going to one-up Obsidian or anything.

    And honestly, I think they did learn a number of lessons – look at how differently the Brotherhood is characterised in 4 compared to 3, for instance.

    I just… unfortunately, don’t think they were quite up to the challenge of New Vegasifying Fallout 4 in the end. I think they genuinely tried, and I think they genuinely did improve on Fallout 3 in terms of writing and making a more believable, interesting wasteland to experience. But they just couldn’t quite get there and do what Obsidian did, which left me repeatedly thinking about how much I was enjoying the changes to the gameplay (compared with 3 or NV) – and gosh I sure hoped that Obsidian gets to make a New Vegas 2 with Fallout 4 gameplay so I could have this game with a *really* interesting story and some actual roleplaying too.

    1. Humanoid says:

      Can’t say I see a lot of New Vegas in the design. Indeed at times it feels like they were intentionally trying to undo the positive changes introduced by Obsidian. The complete absence of skill checks, the utterly opaque way dialogue checks are handled, how the alternate solution to most quests seems to be simply by walking away and ignoring them, how it doesn’t look like they’ve had over 200 YEARS of rebuilding in their communities.

      1. Somniorum says:

        Oh, no, I didn’t mean they were influenced in terms of game design – or at least, not in the mechanics of the game, but in terms of story and setting. The wasteland of Fallout 3… in fact, Fallout 3 in general felt like a kind of crummy fanfic (which I started to realise while playing it, despite that I hadn’t yet played 1 or 2 yet – there seemed to be lots of things in 3 that seemed incongruously shoved in, and I found myself repeatedly wondering if these were references to a previous game). New Vegas, on the other hand, genuinely felt like a step forward for the series, in terms of *story*.

        I think that Bethesda realised that they fell short in that department, and toned down somewhat on how preposterous a lot of the Capital Wasteland was in 3 when they did 4. Again, the Brotherhood is the best example I can think of with this, as in 3 they’d had their personalities changed completely (explained as being a splinter faction, but still). Another example are the raiders, who, in 3, were just Firefly reavers. In 4, they’re certainly not good people, but they ARE actually humans again.

        I totally agree that, in terms of the actual mechanics, and most definitely in terms of roleplaying, they didn’t follow Obsidian at all.

        (edit – as for the mention of nobody rebuilding after 200 years, well, honestly, Obsidian is just as guilty. New Vegas wasn’t lacking in people living in ruins with skeletons that nobody would bother to sweep up, even though there certainly were some quite liveable places too – most notably the Strip. But, that said, 4 also had liveable places too – Diamond City, and certain other settlements elsewhere are doing alright)

    2. Incunabulum says:

      I think the problem isn’t even that they’re not up to the challenge – its that the challenge is fundamentally more difficult for them. Yes, FNV had to be done in less than two years but the engine and assets were mostly already there, a few bugfixes (built on top of the bugfixes already released for the FO3 engine) and a smattering of unique assets (but nowhere near as much as doing it all from scratch).

      BGS is (re)building the engine, creating the assets from scratch, rebalancing the stat/skills *in addition* to writing and implementing quests and dialogue.

      Obsidian didn’t have that workload. I don’t think BGS could do it as well as Obsidian, but I do think they could do the RP part a lot better if they weren’t dividing attention and resources among so many parts of the game. And the positive reception of Far Harbor (and Point Lookout before it) is evidence of that – though, in the end, the mechanics changes are going to hamstring their efforts.

  20. SL128 says:

    Even keeping the same plot, I think the intro would have been so much better if you didn’t wake up to see the shooting and kidnapping.

    1. Gnoll Queen says:

      That’s a good idea Actually. it would turn the main quest from find these people to figure out what happened. And may encourage exploring around and talking to people. Add some false leads as well and let you chose between them and it would be even better. The plot would still not be good without a substantial rewrite but well every idea helps.

      1. Fists says:

        Wow, that would totally have maybe fixed the game, I love a bit of mystery and it would make asking around and hunting for clues a reveal to the player rather a shopping list.

  21. Somniorum says:

    Also – this game shouldn’t have had anything to do with a spouse or a child. Or, if they DID want to do the whole “find my son” thing, they should’ve set it up right at the start precisely what *I* was thinking, which was “I’m likely a hundred or more years in the future past when my son was taken away. I have no leads about where he is – this is horrible, but my son is likely dead. Either killed by these people, or dead of old age for now. I’ll never see him again.” Unfortunately, the protagonist just *assumes* that their son is just around the corner and they’ll find him any minute, if they just have a bit of gumption. Turns out they were right, I suppose, but realistically it’s a ridiculous long shot – the moment you’re told it’s 200 years later, your character’s heart should basically drop in to their shoes and they should lose about all hope.

    IF they really wanted to do the whole stolen-son-thing, they could’ve introduced him much later as a result of your character becoming famous due to their actions in the wasteland, what SHOULD have been the major focus on the game’s story: REBUILDING THE WORLD. I mean, this is the first game where you craft settlements, and there are SO many settlements across the land. THIS should’ve been the prime focus of the story, where your character remembers what the world once was and is – for whatever reason (could roleplay this easily, lots of options) – trying to rebuild that greatness. This progressively sends you to various parts of the Commonwealth to establish new settlements, procure resources to ensure your people are sustained and defended, establish trading with the other important (and less important) settlements… doing this, then, would draw you into the broader *political* struggles in the Commonwealth, where you, as not simply some drifter but as a genuine *faction leader* chooses to ally with one side or another (or stay independent). They could shove the whole thing with your son in there somewhere around this point (if they still wanted to go with this), and potentially (with some good writing) make for some painful decisions, where you might have to abandon your reconstruction work in favour of your son, or your son in favour of your work.

    I didn’t finish the game, but I got fairly far into it, and the impression I always had was that the settlement stuff was always a sideshow. You get to play with the settlements a bit, but you feel bad about it because omgmysongottafindmyson, and, story-wise, the settlements don’t matter for just about anything, as far as I recall (nothing significant and central to the main story, anyway).

    1. Chauzuvoy says:

      Yeah. The problem is that Bethesda came up with some really interesting new mechanic sets, particularly the crafting and settlement management mechanics, but then had no real way to make them matter. So they stuck the settlements in the minutemen faction and turned them into a major annoyance. There’s no real reason or impetus to invest in these places. They never fill with actual interesting or meaningful characters, the quests associated with them are almost universally the abominable radiant quests in this game, and there’s no real mechanical reward to it. Bethesda’s open world paradigm has gotten frustratingly a la carte. There is no other game where you can explore an open world this well-crafted, manage settlements with this degree of customization and fidelity, craft equipment with this level of variety, and play through a story this well-handled. But it never really ties in to a concrete whole, and if you can tolerate losing the unique Fallout setting, every aspect is handled far better in other games that make crafting, exploring/dungeon-diving, or narrative into the main focus of the game. It’s amazing that you can do all of them in the same game, and there’s enough depth and content to each of them to keep you busy for a minimum of 30 hours if you get into it, but whenever I was messing with my settlements, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d rather be playing Minecraft. Whenever I was caught up in the narrative, I was caught up in how awful it was compared to New Vegas or The Witcher. I mean, the dungeon-diving doesn’t have a good parallel, and the core loop between exploring a dungeon, getting a bunch of stuff, and then taking that stuff back to base to create better equipment for yourself and get a lead on the next dungeon is the best part of the game. But it makes the amount of effort put into the voiced protagonist and her dialogue “choices,” the settlement-building mechanics, the factions, most of the already few non-radiant sidequests, and basically everything else about the game feel really unnecessary and disconnected.

      1. Ninety-Three says:

        There is no other game where you can explore an open world this well-crafted, manage settlements with this degree of customization and fidelity, craft equipment with this level of variety, and play through a story this well-handled.

        Haha what?

  22. Darren says:

    I don’t particularly mind the voiced protagonist. I don’t generally find player characters to be particularly engaging; there are only a handful of lines from all the games I’ve played over the years where a player response is memorable, and most of those are from the sexbot conversation in Fallout: New Vegas. I think voiced RPG protagonists can work extremely well, as shown by The Witcher series and the Dragon Age series; sarcastic Hawke in DA2 might be closer to my actual personality than any voiceless PC I’ve used over the years, and even if he wasn’t he’d still be more memorable. Fallout 4 just fumbled the execution with a bland approach that makes the character mostly a doormat, with clunky Dad Jokes for most of your humor.

    For me the main problem with FO4 is that the Institute, the villains around which the entire plot revolves, had a fraction of the care put into them as the rest of the game. You learn how Freeside and Diamond City operate–down to how they get clean water–but you never get a direct explanation for why the Institute creates Synths or replaces them with people. That’s the core conflict of the game! Two of the three anti-Institute factions want to destroy the Institute because of it! This oversight is where the game reveals its hollowness, and all the effort Bethesda put into making the Commonwealth a better realized gamespace than the Capital Wasteland gets flushed down the toilet.

    1. Darren says:

      I’m going to reply to myself just to note that Shamus perfectly articulated my stance on the Institute.

    2. MrGuy says:

      So, here’s the thing. The did the same thing if FO3.

      Specifically, they latched on to a minor faction from a previous game (the BoS in FO3, the Institue in FO4) that had a potentially intriguing hook but a narrow “one trick pony” focus on it. In both cases, they decided to try to let that faction carry the next game.

      This isn’t a terrible idea. But they failed in both cases, because they didn’t know how to build on the intriguing premise the faction offered. In FO3, they destroyed the central premise of the BoS, and in the process destroyed everything that made the faction interesting and replaced it with generic paragons. In FO4, they apparently thought the synth idea was enough to carry the game without much more to say.

      It’s the same reason why it was a mistake to give Kramer from Seinfeld his own show and expecting him to carry it. What makes for an intriguing side character doesn’t make for a good lead unless you have something else to say.

      1. Darren says:

        I think this is actually worse than FO3. In FO3, the Brotherhood of Steel under Lyons (was that his name?) was specifically noted to have diverted from their original mission, to the point that many members split. You can encounter dissenters wandering the Capital Wasteland looking for technology (you know, like they’re supposed to) and this is also used as the setup for the Anchorage DLC. It’s not the most well-realized plot point in the world, but it is there, and I actually like the idea from FO4 that Lyons was something of a blip and that his tenure just set up a more traditional successor as a stronger regional power. Bethesda doesn’t really explore this much at all, and I think it’s more accident than anything else, but it still worked out to be a nice touch in the long run.

        In FO4, they present a genuine mystery–why is the Institute doing this?–and then never follow up. One is a poorly handled change that somehow kind of works better after being reversed, and one is a complete dereliction of authorial duty.

  23. Artur CalDazar says:

    I don’t know if the issue is on my end but the video gets really choppy once Josh is outside. It plays fine but the actually gameplay is choppy.
    Am I alone in this?

    Anyway regarding junk I gave up by my third playthrough and just mod my carry weight so I can have my core gear, and also loot as if I held nothing. Because eventually I just stop caring.

  24. Henson says:

    There’s something that’s always bugged me about Codsworth and the Mr. Handy models: their eyes are too wide to fit past the openings into their ‘heads’. And yet, they still have faceplates attached under each eye in the exact shape of the open hole, as if they are supposed to fit inside. What’s the deal with that? I know this isn’t how Mr. Handy looked in Fallouts 1&2, so what happened?

    1. Incunabulum says:

      I think those are just supposed to be the equivalent of shin guards for the eyestalks – to protect them.

  25. Spongioblast says:

    Anyone else want a mod to change all the bobbleheads to the bobblebert model?

    1. Henson says:


  26. Hello chopped frames my old friend
    I’ve come to deal with you again
    Cause my visions slightly bleeding
    Single digit frames are creeping
    And this frame rate that you’re shoving my brain
    Creates migraines
    Within the sound of silence

    1. Shamus says:

      I can look back through the history of your comments, and you literally NEVER have anything nice to say. The only time you post anything is to gainsay the author (me or Ruts) or to bitch about something that isn’t to your liking. This is the nicest thing you’ve had to say in weeks, and it’s complaining about dropped frames, which many other people have already done.

      While I appreciate the time spend adapting the lyrics, I’m starting to suspect that maybe my website just isn’t your thing, you know?

      1. You…you’re mad I don’t say enough nice things about you in the comments section? Seriously?


        Alright, if you can look back on my history, you may also notice I don’t post all that often, leastways when compared to others who’ve frequented the site as long as I have. That being because I work seven days a week and have a significantly finite amount of time to spend absorbing internet content. I’m sorry that you feel I don’t spend enough of that time placating your ego, but I wasn’t aware saying something ‘nice’ – whatever that means – was a quota I needed to fill.

        As I’ve said repeatedly before when this always comes up with you, I come to this site because I enjoy the content, and to my knowledge doing so does not come with a requirement that I agree with that content. If that has changed, by all means let me know.

        1. Shamus says:

          “I'm sorry that you feel I don't spend enough of that time placating your ego, but I wasn't aware saying something “˜nice' ““ whatever that means ““ was a quota I needed to fill.”

          See, this is exactly what I’m talking about. Instead of asking yourself if you’ve been rude, you throw it back in my face and sneer at me. You claim you like my content, but I’ve never seen any hint of that. I don’t need you to “placate my ego”, but if you could stop treating me like a fucking asshole it would probably be good for both of us.

          I don’t need you to agree. Many people disagree with me on a regular basis. The fact that they do so without insinuating that I’m stupid, lazy, dishonest, or inattentive is why I enjoy the back-and-forth with them.

          1. “You claim you like my content, but I've never seen any hint of that.”

            I’ve drawn fanart dude.

        2. Jace911 says:

          Funnily enough I looked back on your history and was both surprised and unsurprised to learn that you’re the same person who almost singlehandedly turned me off visiting the forums.

          Perhaps since you don’t post all that often you may wish to put a little more thought into what you do post? Our only snapshot of who you are comes through the words you put on the site, and that snapshot sure isn’t pretty.

  27. Gruhunchously says:

    I hadn’t noticed it until now, but I rather miss the menu theme of the game being played at the beginning of every episode.

    1. Indeed. And while I like Rutz’s Vault-Boy, I was hoping for more photoshopped titles on some Boston scenery.

      By the way, we need to know what perk that bobblehead gives. It’s important, for reasons.

      1. Henson says:

        I’m just hoping the bobble changes every so often to incorporate little things, like the acquisition of a bonnet or the crippling of a limb.

        1. Bad news: There’s no bonnet in Fallout 4. It’s like they were trying to ruin the character of Reginald Cuftbert from the get-go.

          1. Humanoid says:

            No time like the present to lift the no-mods policy.

  28. howdoilogin says:

    Shamus, your daughter is a success. You can rest easy, you did your job as a parent quite well.

  29. Incunabulum says:

    I’ve been thinking and I don’t think the voiced protagonist was a mistake in itself – but that they didn’t commit to it was.

    Thinking back to Geralt and Shepard – both those characters have fully fleshed out personalities that come out through the dialogue. These two (Nora and Nate) do not. The lingering attachment to the ‘blank slate character’ is a problem. You need to do one or the other not half-ass both.

    Its the same with the RPG part – what little there remains of a roleplaying game is not close enough on its own to satisfy us RPGers but it is enough to screw up the sandboxy aRPG gameplay.

    its a soup sandwich. definitely its own thing, even good, but you keep thing that it’d have been better as just a soup or a sandwich alone.

    1. Zaxares says:

      Pretty much this. The trouble for RPG players like me who love blank slate characters is that developers seem to be gunning pretty hard for voiced protagonists (my guess is because they’re easier to write dialogue for) in recent games.

      1. Incunabulum says:

        I think its because players keep asking for them.

        I’ve been playing Grim Dawn through EA to release – there were people constantly asking for voice acting for the NPC’s thorughout EA (until the studio caved and put it in).

        VA does two things – 1) players don’t have to read – and they hate reading. Which is weird to me because they just skip through the convos *anyway* and then come to the forums asking ‘what I do?’ and all you can do is point out that they’ve already been given that info in an in-game info-dump they ignored.

        2) The added cost of VA gives the dev an excuse for not putting in a lot of optional dialogue an ensuring that what is in there is short and to the point. Which makes it even more crazy that the average player still won’t sit still long enough to find out what’s going on.

        Its a major complaint in the new Shadowrun games – so many people bitching that there’s not enough fighting and too much reading and are they ever going to do voice acting . . .

        1. Andy_Panthro says:

          My favourite Shadowrun missions are the ones where I can avoid fighting altogether!

          I don’t mind a little voice-acting, but prefer it to be minimal so it doesn’t get in the way of writing interesting conversations.

        2. IFS says:

          I’m so glad Harebrained hasn’t caved to those people with regards to the Shadowrun games, my favorite mission in Hong Kong was one where I never fired a shot and some of the dialogue and flavor text in that game is brilliant and I certainly wouldn’t trade it for some mediocre voice acting that I’d skip past because I’d already finished reading the subtitles.

  30. Jonathan Scinto says:

    The Institute ending is the only one where you are in charge of the faction, which is why I sided with them. I figured I could force them and the Minutemen to work together and rebuild shit. In game it doesn’t mean anything, but I was kind of able to make it work in my head.

  31. Content Consumer says:

    Rutskarn: Imagine how emotional this could have felt.

    That line fits pretty much anywhere in the game.

    I get that I’m supposed to be emotionally invested in my spouse’s death, but like many games, they don’t do enough setup. The “child in peril” as a stock trope isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s not too poorly done here, at any rate, even though the concept of “role playing” takes another hit, and I personally am completely uninvested in the whole thing.
    But the dead spouse? We only knew this individual for like three minutes, and the only actual interaction we had with him/her was very brief and deliberately truncated. And even in those brief moments between the bathroom mirror and his/her death, there’s no actual characterization.
    Player dialogue and action when interacting with his/her frozen corpse doesn’t help any – saying “I’ll find Shaun” and ripping the wedding ring off his/her finger just serves to reinforce a vague feeling that he/she’s an unnecessary encumbrance to the story. I gather your companions have unique dialogue if you ever take them back into the vault to gaze at your recently deceased spousecicle, but I’ve never had a strong enough desire to spend the time it takes to get past the loading screen to see. That shows just how much I care.

    When the clean-suit woman and your spouse are yanking on Shaun, do either of them consider what that’s doing to the kid? Aside from shaken baby syndrome, we’re risking turning him into Stretch Armstrong here. Probably not the best thing for a youngster of such tender years.


    It’s brown everywhere

    “In a land of brown scrub and brown wooden buildings and brown dirt and brown rusty metal buildings and brown rocks, filled with hostile entities (often brown) bent on either robbing her cold corpse or consuming her warm flesh (brown too, as a matter of fact), here she walks in her blue and yellow jumpsuit with which she cannot bear to part. Camouflage does not appear to be a word in her lexicon. I mean, can’t she see how she stands out? She has eyes, right? Brown ones, now that I think about it. The world is a dangerous (and brown) place, she really should be more careful.”

    1. Richard says:



  32. Lachlan the Mad says:

    Something that I love about the Reginald character model, by the way, is his hair. You see, the original Reginald Cuftbert wasn’t balding — you basically slapped the muttonstache onto the default face. He had a full head of hair in both Fallout 3 and New Vegas. But “Reginald = Bald” seems to have become part of the mythology, seeing as how you made a bald Reginald for both Salt & Sanctuary and this game. It might go back to the blog post for New Vegas episode 41, which had some wonderful art of a bald Reginald?

  33. Ryan Maxey says:

    I don’t want everyone to move too quickly past Ruts’ point about Codsworth acting like the worst improv partner in history. There’s a bit in this conversation that goes as follows:

    Codsworth: “Not eating properly for 200 years will do that, I’m afraid”.

    Reginald: “It doesn’t matter how long it’s been. I feel fine.”

    Codsworth (in my mind, visibly annoyed that you didn’t pick up his lead): “A bit over 210, actually, sir.

  34. Yerushalmi says:

    My son, when he was three, asked how the Angry Birds can hold things if they don’t have hands.

    So proud.

    1. Henson says:

      Dear Strong Bad, how do you type with boxing gloves on?

  35. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I think the voiced protagonist is the One Bad Decision from which most of the major flaws in this game originate.

    I disagree.Personally,Id blame two things:The writing and the sparse dialogue wheel.Compare bethesda to mass effect and human revolution.Shepard is just as empty as the protagonist of fallout 4,while jensen is a defined character.Shepard can act just as schizophrenic as this protagonist,while jensen is relatively consistent no matter the options you pick for his dialogue.

  36. Grudgeal says:

    This game seems like it wants to combine the freedom of choice of a Skyrim game with the defined character arc of, say, a jRPG protagonist. Like, in FFX, you’re controlling Tidus. You aren’t defining Tidus as a character or deciding the direction of his arc or role in the story, you’re just controlling him in the gameplay.

    I’m not saying this can’t be done — see Witcher 2, or better yet 3, for what I’d call a moderately successful example at combining Geralt as a pre-defined character with having some freedom of choice of which direction you want Geralt’s arc to develop. And even then you are locked out of character creation: You take Geralt as he is presented at the beginning of each game, and that’s it. Fallout 4, though, just doesn’t get it right. A million faces to choose from, but only one voice to talk from. A million places to go, but only one motivation. A million things to look at, or think about, or consider, but only four things to say about it at a time.

  37. RTBones says:

    Going to enjoy this ride, as I havent gotten to the ending credits in my playthroughs either, though I am quite a ways through the game.

    I will say, though, that the one consistent thing I do is use the backyard of that yellow house as a storage point for all my Power Armour. For whatever reason, I tend to collect it instead of actually wear it – and that yellow house is where I dump it all. I carry one fusion core around, and abuse the fact that fast travel doesnt deplete it all that much. Fast travel back, walk power armour to where I park it, and remove the same core.

    The one thing I *do* wish they had done with this game, though, is make two DIFFERENT stories, depending on whether you played as a male or female.

  38. Shoeboxjeddy says:

    Mr. Handy is working the same way Wall-E still works. He found other Handies and cannibalized them for parts.

  39. Grudgeal says:

    By the way, could someone help me clear out the cryo-timeline here? Apparently your character gets cryo-frozen at the end of the last episode, X years presumably pass, you conveniently thaw out slightly just in time to see your son get kidnapped, you get cryo-frozen again just as they take him away, Y amount of time passes, and you awaken? Is that it? Or did Vault-Tec somehow kidnap your son directly after you stepped in the pod? That’s some shonky (or remarkably drama-savvy) hardware right there.

    1. The Other Matt K says:

      I think actual dates are intentionally left unclear, but I believe the overall timeline is supposed to be:

      1) You (and others) are cryo-frozen in the vault, for science.
      2) If the plan was ever to release you from cryo, it never happened and you (and everyone else) are left frozen.
      3) At some point, much later, some folks break in, and kidnap your son. Presumably they are monkeying around with the pods in the process, which might be why you temporarily wake up.
      4) At some point after that, your cryo-pod malfunctions (?) and you emerge, and discover that all the other cryo-pods failed and killed their inhabitants instead. You head out into town, and learn it has been over 200 years since you were frozen.

      1. guy says:

        Pretty much; the group that breaks in wakes everyone in the entire array, then opens only the one pod and switches the array back on when they leave. Then the array automatically wakes you when critically low on power, after all the other pod have malfunctioned and killed the occupants. We do eventually get a proper time factor, but for the moment the game expects us to pretend that the two wakings were definitely a week apart.

        1. tmtvl says:

          This game was just released and me and a friend ran it for the first time. When the awakening happened, my first reaction was saying “one hundred years later…”

          We were calling out the time shift (be it a bit exaggerated) from the very beginning.

          1. To be fair, the game makes most people think the time that’s passed is pretty short, but it requires the player to be familiar with the setting a bit. Kellog and his pals are dressed as raiders, which is the standard post-apoc uniform. Later, we find out Kellog is still alive and therefore assume the Shawn is still alive. The reason WHY Kellog is still alive and looks the same is revealed later, and that’s when the player should figure out that they’re no longer looking for an infant or young kid. I won’t spoil the rest, but I can’t fault them for not leaving enough for the player to assume that Shawn was in need of rescue.

            A solution to the “my kid is in peril, but I’m going to screw around for a while sidequesting” problem was discussed before on this site. Since they’re making Synth replicas of everyone, finding Shawn’s 8-year-old-kid “corpse” early on would’ve been an easy thing to do, making the quest one for apparent revenge or to just find out why he was killed. In reality, the Shawn you find is an unsuccessful synth, the origin of which could lead you to siding with the Railroad (maybe the Shawn-synth was a killed escapee) or the Brotherhood (you’re upset at this Shawn-abomination you’ve found). It would also give stakes to the whole “those who are Synth-cloned are killed” concept, since if you found a Shawn-synth, you may assume they murdered the original. All of this would help with the fact that you probably won’t be Shawn-hunting throughout a lot of the early to mid game.

        2. Grudgeal says:

          And the game never gives you the option to question this? Heck, all you know is that at some point during the 200 years you were under there was a brief interlude where your kid got stolen. For all you know Shaun could already be dead from old age, and all you can find is his grandchildren.

          The kidnappers didn’t even have the courtesy of leaving the pod open so you could get a hint from Nora’s state of decomposition. Now that’s just rude.

          1. Ninety-Three says:

            In fact, the Vault is littered with skeletons. Presumably those are people who died when the Institute showed up (the alternative is that the Vault suffered an unrelated and unmentioned cataclysm beforehand), their decomposition is a clear cue that it’s been a while since Shaun’s kidnapping.

            1. guy says:

              The Vault did suffer an unrelated disaster beforehand; you can get some info from the terminals. The security staff was supposed to stay in lockdown for half a year or so until they got a signal from Vault-Tec telling them it was safe to unseal or vertibirds showed up to relocate them to a different secure facility. Signal never came and they ran out of supplies, there was a mutiny, and they popped the hatch.

              Fallout 4 continues the plot point that the Vaults are mad science experiments, but has the grace to have most of them actually make sense as experiments for a long-term space journey. Your Vault was just a test run of the cyro system to find out if it would malfunction and kill people. The Vault with Curie was planned to be an experiment in how a sealed environment would handle a catastrophic plague. The Vault with the Gunners, however, returns to being totally nuts; first having a bunch of drug addicts confined together with no drugs avaliable to see how well they’d recover when it was literally impossible to take drugs, then opening a sealed storeroom containing approximately all of the drugs and leaving the armory unlocked.

              1. Wide And Nerdy â„¢ says:

                Thats awesome. I never knew why the experiments were happening. I assumed it was meant to be unexplained. Like part of the humor was that these scientists were just performing these bizarre experiments for who knows what reason.

                Where was this established?

                Does it have anything to do with the aliens?

                Or is it just about finding a new place with fresh resources?

                1. guy says:

                  It’s presently available in various production sources; Fallout Bible and stuff about Van Bruen. Fallout 2 was apparently intended to let you discover it explicitly but that got cut; it’s still got foreshadowing with the relative circumstances and originally intended supplies for Vault 8 and Vault 13 and the Hubologists and their spaceship.

                  Given the nature of the experiments, this seems to still be cannon.

                  1. Wide And Nerdy says:

                    Yeah. Every experiment fits, you’re right. At the very least, its clear they’re all about dealing with some aspect of surviving in a self contained environment.

                    1. guy says:

                      Well, a bunch of them are social experiments of dubious practical utility, as they involved filling a Vault with a deliberately skewed demographic makeup and preparing an obvious disaster. Like how the Boomers came from a Vault filled entirely with people who were overly fond of explosions and with an overstocked armory. But then there’s the long-term confinement Vaults and the control Vaults (like 8) and the medical experiment Vaults, like 12 (AKA Necropolis) having a deliberately sabotaged door to test the effects of extreme radiation exposure, which could be an issue on a long-term spaceflight.

                    2. Wide And Nerdy â„¢ says:

                      Oh yeah. What I said above I meant in a loose sense. Their experiments are ridiculous.

            2. You’ve hit on Fallout 4’s “skeleton problem.” A lot of them seem to be set up to be taken as the remains of those who died at the same time, yet some are fully clothed while the others were apparently nudists.

              I suppose there’s a chance some of the bones belong to ghouls who eventually died or were killed, but that’s unclear.

    2. Incunabulum says:


      you are frozen for a long time

      The Institute unfreezes you and Nora (I guess there was no ‘single pod selection’ functionality) and take the baby,

      They refreeze you ‘as backup’. And you stay that way for years.

      The cryosystem fails and you’re dumped out.

      Doesn’t explain why

      1) They didn’t take Shaun, Nora, *and* you at that time. This would have avoided all the violence and the follow-on story.

      2) Why they didn’t take a vault full of people ‘who hadn’t been exposed to radiation’. Everyone else should have been alive at the time of the first thawing (or at least most of them) and if the cryosystem *was* failing, it makes no sense to leave you there ‘as backup’.

    3. Jonathan Scinto says:

      2077 – Sole Survivor is frozen.
      2227 – Nate/Nora is killed. Shaun is taken.
      2287 – Sole Survivor is released by Father.

      1. Wide And Nerdy says:

        Could someone spoiler text this post? The twist is partially revealed here.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          To be fair,its not like anyone watching this season doesnt know about it.Plus,the crew kind of spoiled it already when the baby was stolen.

  40. Mattias42 says:

    I know that many people consider it a dirty word on the subject of RPGs, but I really liked how Dragon Age 2 did a semi-preset character.

    You’ll always play as Hawk, yes, but the way they handled the personality system felt really neat and organic to me.

    (Three-ish options, a hidden point system determines what type of personality s/he has based on your prior choices.)

    Meant that you could, say, play as Snark! Hawk, but still throw in the odd somber or charming line and still have it feel like your Hawk was saying it, becuse there were these subtle nuances to quite a few lines depending on just what your main personality type was.

    Really something I wish got more credit and got aped.

    …Then again, it feels sometimes I’m the only person on the planet that unironically loves that game, so your mileage may vary.

    1. IFS says:

      You are not alone! I too love DA2 in spite of all its faults, it’s my favorite of the DA series and I still get the urge to replay it every now and then. The way it handled Hawke’s personality as well as the rivalry/freindship system was great and it annoys me they dropped it in Inquisition. I just wish I could see the universe where it got another year or two of development time, almost all its problems seem to come from being rushed and I would love to see how amazing it could have been. Not to mention if it had been received better then maybe Inquisition would have been willing to take more risks instead of going completely back to formula (I also wish that you could have Hawke be the Inquisitor, but that’s another matter entirely).

      1. Ronixis says:

        I’ve heard some interviews regarding DA2, and I think just about everything I had a problem with in that game was mentioned as something that was affected by time constraints and got cut. I liked it fairly well even as it came, but it’s really too bad they couldn’t work on it more.

    2. I enjoyed DA2 very much.

      What I don’t get is why people claim that the protagonists in games where you get dialog options are somehow NOT a “set” protagonist. You still get a finite number of options, most of which don’t actually change anything.

      Morrowind is about the only CRPG I’ve played where you could legitimately say that you have real control over what your character does and doesn’t say, due to that whole Keyword system. Granted, the NPC’s just don’t react to the vast number of things you can say, but at least you’re genuinely in control of what you DO say.

      Computer role playing games aren’t and can’t be simulated tabletop games. They are (and should be) their own animal and be evaluated on THOSE merits, not on the basis of how closely they pretend to be something they aren’t.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        What I don't get is why people claim that the protagonists in games where you get dialog options are somehow NOT a “set” protagonist.

        It depends on how you characterize them.Specifically,its not that fallout 4 protagonist and shepard arent set,its that they are blank.Meanwhile,jensen is a set protagonist,and so is geralt.

    3. Andrew_C says:

      I haven’t played it much, but DA2 feels like it could have been as good as DA:O if EA had given them more time.

  41. Andy_Panthro says:

    I’m slightly amused that it never occurred to me to open my partner’s cryo tube. I just glanced at it and wandered off, keen to leave this overly long introduction behind. Didn’t realise you could get their wedding ring, which would have been nice to have (although mine got left in a safe along with other unique items).

    1. My housemate, who basically played this as “settlement builder, the game” and who hasn’t finished the main plot as far as I know, wore his wedding ring for the ENTIRE GAME and fussed and went searching to get it back when he accidentally sold it.

      It was kinda cute. People will be oddly sentimental about the strangest things.

      1. Andy_Panthro says:

        Well, I obviously felt enough about it not to sell it, even if it was just in a safe with my Nuka Cola Quantums and other similar stuff. I did wear it for quite a while, if only because it was on by default and there’s not much of a reason to take it off.

        It’s a shame that there was no real hope that Bethesda would write an intro section that would have made me invested in the relationship (and child, for whom I also cared nothing). That’s the worst part of it really, that what effort was put into that intro was essentially a waste of time.

  42. Philadelphus says:

    Wow, Shamus wasn’t kidding about the “perfunctory” part. (I have no experience with the game whatsoever, so this is my first look.) I’m not sure you could make that scene with the PC discovering their spouse’s frozen corpse have any less emotional weight if you tried.

  43. MichaelGC says:

    Heh – just to rub it in, if you look at the calendar on the fridge before the bomb goes off, 4 October 2077 is circled, with above it a little handwritten note saying: “Refill handy fuel.”

  44. BounderTree says:

    I thought the fuel was for the flamer, the one that MUST see regular use in the average american household.

    Bugs? FLAMER!
    Autumn leafs? FLAMER!
    Thanksgiving turkey? FLAMER!
    Warming shauns bottle? FLAMER!
    Unsolicited flyers? FLAMER!
    Door to door salesmen? FLAMER!
    Dog needs to go to the groomer? FLAMER!

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Mac wants the what?!

    2. You forgot….
      Remove dangerous tree branch? FLAMER!
      Accidentally set house on fire? FLAMER!
      Firemen trying to take away flamer? FLAMER!
      Angry mob of singed neighbors/firemen/police/army coming after you with pitchforks? FLAMER!
      Getaway car break down? FLAMER!

      It’s the tool with the million and one uses!

  45. Nimas says:

    Ok, watching this series (or to be honest, after reading comment section) I decided I might try picking Fallout 4 up and giving it a go.

    So I head to Steam, go to the page, then see $80. Think to myself, that’s odd, normally games are discounted by now. Then I look at the price again. Oh, it’s in US $ (I’m in Australia). So I look up game price for a new game on Amazon. It costs $60 US (actually discounted to $38 with $6 shipping & tax atm).

    So overall it would cost me just over half to buy a *physical copy* of a game and have it shipped overseas then buying a digital copy and downloading it? What the actual hell? (At the moment Fallout 4 on Steam would cost me about $110 AUD)

    1. Fists says:

      Yeah, they’re pricing is broken for people in aus, I bought two launch copies at JB for less than I would have paid for one through steam, they just seem to not realise that they’re listing in USD when they set the regional price for Aus. Happens with many big publishers but not so much with indies and other smaller companies.

      1. Fists says:

        Damnit, just clicked back to this tab and immediately noticed I used ‘they’re’ instead of ‘their’ and it’s too late to edit. Must, proof, read.

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