on Jun 17, 2016
This episode touches on the New Vegas vs. Fallout 3 debate, which isn’t really a debate at all. Or at least, it shouldn’t be.
The Fallout 3 story was infantile, the characters were paper-thin, and the setting made no sense, but it was a pretty good open-world funhouse ride of murder and mayhem. In contrast, New Vegas was an actual roleplaying game, where your character could make decisions, meet characters that had their own motivations and reasons to exist, and interact with factions built around ideas. The game set a mood, told a number of stories, and and gave you a great deal of agency. On the downside, the “roam around and find a dungeon full of monsters with a treasure chest at the end” thing was kind of gone. The game was more focused on the main story and less interested in freelance mayhem.
The moment you exit the vault in Fallout 3 you can strike out on your own, looking for adventure. Try that with New Vegas and you’ll probably meet something that will kill you in two hits. There’s not a lot out there to discover through roaming. It’s best to stick to the intended path, because that’s where the content is.
I hate how this is always framed as an either / or kind of deal. The argument always begins with a premise with you can’t please one group of fans without alienating the other. As if adding one vibrant, coherent character to the game requires you to cut two dungeons somewhere else. As if coming up with a discernible theme and a proper motivation for the main character means you have to shrink the world map. As if giving us agency in the story means the game feel needs to be shitty and the weapons need to be unbalanced.
But Fallout 3 fans don’t hate good stories and New Vegas Fans don’t hate viscerally satisfying combat. Just because you prefer one doesn’t mean you scorn the other, and we could all be winners if we could get both things in the same game. And I don’t think that’s an unreasonable thing to ask for. You could fix the story-based problems of Fallout 4 without spending any extra moneyWell, a better writer might cost more than a poor writer, but the difference between the two is trivial when considered in context of the whole budget.. The game doesn’t need more dialog. It doesn’t need more cutscenes. It doesn’t need more characters. It just requires that the existing dialog and cutscenes fit into some kind of coherent whole. That’s not “easy”, but it’s also not an unreasonable thing to expect when a company is spending this much money on a AAA game.
Sadly, I imagine the problems have less to do with budget and more to do with company culture. And I have no idea how you fix that.