Fallout 4 EP13: I NEED This Mole Meat!

By Shamus
on Jun 29, 2016
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning


Link (YouTube)

How do I get into Diamond City? Charm my way past the gate guards? Sneak in through the sewer? Bribe my way in? Lockpick the back entrance? Wear a guard disguise and walk in? Make friends with a resident and enter the city as their guest? Pay a sketchy half-crazed ghoul with a persecution complex to build a bomb to blow a hole in the wall? Hack a terminal to make a bot go haywire and create a distraction? Get hired as a caravan guard and enter with the rest of the group when they reach the city?

Oh, sorry. Those are things you’d put in a Fallout game like New Vegas or the 2D Fallouts. But THIS is a Bethesda game, which means the only way in is through a nonsensical, scripted, non-branching, completely banal dialog / cutscene where the rules are made up and your choices don’t matter.

The Fallout 4 developers could’ve tried to put some light roleplaying into their alleged roleplaying game and handled entering Diamond City the way Obsidian handled entering New Vegas. But instead they just copied the same sophomoric approach they used for entering the Citadel back in Fallout 3: A stilted, awkwardly framed dialog that can’t decide if it wants to be cinema or interactive so it decides to split the difference and fail at both.

Having the four-choice “I have no idea what I’m about to say” dialog wheel is directly at odds with their idiotic no-choice plot. And both of those ideas are at odds with the concept of “roleplaying game”. And none of this is helped by their fully voiced pre-war protagonist who never seems interested or curious about the world around them or about connecting with people who have pre-war memories to find out what’s happened in the last 210 yearsSpoiler: Nothing. Nothing has happened. After the bombs fell, people crawled out the the rubble and then sat around shooting each other until you showed up with the plot..

It’s not that the various designers weren’t on the same page, it’s like they were deliberately working against one another.

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Footnotes:

[1] Spoiler: Nothing. Nothing has happened. After the bombs fell, people crawled out the the rubble and then sat around shooting each other until you showed up with the plot.



A Hundred!202020201I bet you won't even read all 181 comments before leaving your own.

From the Archives:

  1. Warclam says:

    Aw, you should have done the sarcastic answer for what life is like inside the vault, it’s great. He feeds her a line about fending off carnivorous guinea pigs.

  2. Da Mage says:

    To be fair, some stuff has happened in the 200 years. The biggest (and maybe only) development that happens before the game is when the Institute apparently undermined/killed everyone at a united commonwealth type council thing, where a bunch of settlements were trying to form an NCR type government. This would have been a really interesting plot point….but you never find out why the Institute does it, nor what exactly happened.

    Another piece of interesting storytelling completely undone by the rest of the game.

    • Gethsemani says:

      Except you can find out, at least in the endings where the Institute is destroyed. It is explained that the Institute was worried that it would be compromised and lose its’ position of power if the Commonwealth joined together, so they sabotaged the meeting in order to sow fear and discord and retain their power advantage. What happened was basically a synth killing everyone there.

      For me the problem is that the Institute seems to have been written by several different writers who couldn’t agree on what the Institute was. One wanted it to be this peaceful, well-intentioned shadow organization, another wanted it to be a bunch of mad scientists holed up in a bunker doing their stuff and not realizing the danger of their experiments and a third wanted them to be creepy, power hungry despots that present a veneer of civility to the PC and use their technological superiority to justify their atrocities in the Commonwealth.

      All three of these could have been cool, but when you mix them up you get the odd contrast of Father telling you that the Institute only wants to help the Commonwealth and its’ people and the next minute you are thwarting an unprovoked synth attack on a poor, undefended settlement. And this is even before we get into how the writers can’t make up their minds about if Synths are self-aware and conscious or not…

      So much wasted potential with the Institute.

      • Gruhunchously says:

        Isn’t it obvious? Those attacks on the settlers were carried out by a rogue cell.

        All of those unseemly experiments? Another rogue cell.

      • MrGuy says:

        The question, to me, is why the institute feared a strong united commonwealth.

        Synth tech is supposedly so good that they can replace a real person with a synth and nobody knows the difference. Imagine the power that gives you. You could replace the leader with a synth. Or maybe just several key advisors. You could certainly shape policy. What do you have to fear from a government you have the means to control?

        I mean, look at Diamond City. They replaced the mayor, and while Piper has a lot of bark, there’s not exactly much “bite” in terms of getting Diamond City riled up about the synth threat.

        And if maintaining power is the aim, and you can control any government you want, why wouldn’t you want a strong government? The stronger the government, the more power to be gained, and the less chance there’s some political faction out there who’s gunning for you.

        Not saying there can’t be an answer, but it bothers me the game doesn’t address it. If you’re fearful of enemies, blowing up the peace conference seems like an awkward way to get them to leave you alone.

        • MichaelGC says:

          I’ve only played through about half the story, but there’s that standoff where the guy gets shot in the head. That seemed pretty bitey! Am I to understand that afterwards it’s just left hanging and doesn’t go anywhere? I’m shocked!…

          • guy says:

            I’d have to say that they keep putting in hooks but don’t have them go anywhere that makes any sense. At least not on a Brotherhood playthrough; the Institute is kidnapping people and replacing them with undetectable copies so they can… uh… something. And they spent a long time making super mutants for no reason. Seriously, the terminal is full of emails over a period of decades to the effect of “we exposed a bunch of wastelanders to FEV and they turned into Super Mutants like the last hundred times we did that. Why did we start doing this and can we stop already?”

            The outline of the Synth plot is pretty well established, but I sort of get the sense that the writers didn’t agree on the overall shape of the arc. The new models have no externally detectable differences from humans, but people can notice that they’re acting differently or vanished for a week without explaination and catch on that something is up. Which then feeds into a “The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street” scenario where people get accused of being a Synth for various innocent things that strike someone as odd or out of character. Except apparently everyone who accuses people of being Synths has an infallible synth-detecting radar they aren’t sharing.

            And then there’s the problem that it’s not clear what the Institute actually wants beyond “not getting killed by the Brotherhood”. Maybe that’s answered down the Institute path, but it wasn’t in the recruitment conversation.

            -Logistics, “what do they eat?” Well, they have underground hydroponic farms, genetically enhanced crops, etc. More generally, they have a need for raw materials and advanced components, but their armies of old-generation synths can solve that much more effectively than any surface-dwellers absent a full alliance with the Brotherhood as a whole.
            -Security: their base is only accessible by teleporters that only they have and can only be breached with a nuclear warhead. And they have armies of robot minions for surface operations, so they don’t exactly need to enlist outside help for that. Until the Brotherhood arrives, the only significant outside threat is of their own making.
            -Territorial control: Okay, they do actually want to control some surface locations because mad scientists gonna science. But again, armies of robot minions. They can just pick any arbitrary location full of feral ghouls or what have you and take it over.

            In general, the surface factions don’t seem to have anything they want, and even if there is something there’s nothing they couldn’t simply take.

            • Artur CalDazar says:

              I’d have to go back and reread logs to remember why exactly I came to this conclusion, but I got the impression the reason for the FEV research was they were trying to cure Farthers cancer. The timeline of events doesnt allow for another leader to be the one ordering the experiments *must* continue, unless they really dragged their heels on capturing the one that got away.

              • guy says:

                According to a holotape, they had determined that experimenting on wastelanders was a dead end in 2224.

                • Yurika Grant says:

                  And the best part? The Fallout universe already has cures for cancer, because you use an everyday Auto-Doc to cure Caesar of his tumor in New Vegas. So the Institute is yet again barking up the wrong tree when they should already have the tech to cure Father, and should’ve had it since the War.

                  • guy says:

                    Eh, cancer isn’t that straightforward. The auto-doc just performs brain surgery to remove a tumor, which only cures it if all the cancer cells are in a detectable tumor. Cancer often spreads too extensively to simply cut it out.

                    • Writiosity says:

                      In a world like this, where we have rad-x, radaway, and radiation guns, cancer should be the least of their concerns. Bethesda could’ve come up with some cryo-related disease, something new and unseen before, something relating to the player character’s avatar in some way, something interesting and unique… and something it could have been hinted that the player would also suffer in later life, painting a rather less rosy picture of their possible future.
                      Connected in the here and now via a deadly, slow, and horrifying new illness that came about as a direct result of the cryo freezing process, something the vault scientists could never have predicted (kinda the point of these tests is to discover new data, right?). Give us a damn reason to care about the main plot line and the effect it’ll have on our character now and in the future, rather than the assumed empathy approach because it’s the player avatar’s son but has no relation to ‘US’, the player.

        • acronix says:

          Interestingly, the idea of replacing the leaders and controlling groups of people through those replacements is a major plot ploint in the Far Harbor DLC.

          Of course, the ‘real’ reason is that the Institute had to rank up their evil karma.

      • “the Institute seems to have been written by several different writers who couldn’t agree on what the Institute was. One wanted it to be this peaceful, well-intentioned shadow organization, another wanted it to be a bunch of mad scientists holed up in a bunker doing their stuff”

        (light spoiler)
        Remember that “Father” was not the first director. Also the Institute has a board and the board members has changed over the years and so has their decisions.

        (medium spoiler)
        If going the institute route and doing all their quests you get to see how this works. And each department head are sometimes at odds with each other.

        (strong spoiler)
        It’s a shame that you only get to do that one choice at the meeting. I’m guessing that a Obsidian approach would have let you make more sweeping changes to the institute after you become director. As the institute ending is now the only result is you hear your recording on diamond city radio and you see friendly synths all over the commonwealth and diamond city citizens saying they aren’t comfortable with all these synths walking around among them. I don’t mind “open” endings but that seems just way too open IMO.

    • Pax says:

      I’m pretty sure you can talk to Father about this, and he tells you that they “honestly” tried to organize and get along with the surface dwellers at the council, but there was endless bickering, so they gave up.

      What you learn elsewhere is that afterwards the Institute sent in a synth to murder everyone.

      And of course you can never confront anyone about these contradictions!

  3. No One says:

    Heh, I never saw the proper intro to Piper outside Diamond City. When I played, I accidentally shot a DC guard during the DC guards vs Super Mutant battle just outside and the whole of DC security force attacked me. I ran to the DC gate, and was attacked by Piper and the Mayor and the rest of the cast that were supposed to be there for the sequence. This situation forced the DC gate to be open so I ran toward it and hopped in the elevator to the Mayor’s office. The secretary lady attacked me so I jumped out the window (or rode the other elevator down I don’t remember) to the city proper… and everyone calmed down and the game went on as normal.

    I liked my version better.

    • Wide And Nerdy says:

      I’d have loved that outcome. I hated being railroaded into interacting with Piper. They paint her as this hero but she doesn’t do anything.

      Its clear Bethesda wants you to view Piper as a hero but they hilariously undermine themselves when you run into a pair of brothers and one is about to shoot the other because he thinks he’s a synth. Piper is actively contributing to this paranoia about the synths and the Institute. She complains that people try to ignore it and go on with their lives and yet what she wants leads to this paranoia. She does nothing more than say “bad things are happening, be scared.” In that way, she’s a perfect representation of her profession.

      On to the interview. I’m not that far into the episode yet.

      I wanted to go along with the interview. I wanted to tell everybody I ran into that my character was pre War because I found that interesting about the character. I was sorely disappointed with the reactions I got for the most part. Over the course of the game, it eventually added up to about the bare minimum I could have expected simply because you end up running into several people who have a special interest in or connection to your time period.

      I’d think probably most players would want to see that play out. But there are also the ones who won’t, like our contrarian Spoiler Warning crew. And Bethesda fails to make either camp happy because you’ll keep stumbling back into the main quest and being reminded that the way you want to play the game makes your character a terrible person.

      Personally, I think they missed an opportunity for this whole thing to be a really haunting experience for the Sole Survivor. Imagine you suddenly woke up and everything around you had fallen into two hundred years of disrepair. The occasional gadget might spark to life for a brief moment presenting a slurred worn down mockery of something you cherish. The people you do run into are not like the people you know. They’re thin and hungry. Civilization has been stripped away. They eye you warily.

      And its not like the people of the past are completely gone either. A few remain. Some are grotesque ghouls who can barely remember your time and in some cases are losing their grip and becoming feral. Others turn out to be tattered simulacra.

      I don’t think you’d just be despondent over what you lost. You’d be frightened by the ghoulish twisted mockery of the familiar that sits in front of you.

      It would be something like this. (The Garfield Halloween story. I was a kid and a Garfield fan and this scared the crap out of me. I link to this version because I think its scarier in the original black and white. The version on the official site has since been colorized.)

      http://subjunctive.net/klog/2006/08/scary_garfield/

      • MrGuy says:

        The idea of Piper as “the last real journalist” doesn’t bother me (though I’d ask “how does she eat?” if she gives away the paper).

        It doesn’t bother me that her cause (“Synths walk among us! Be afraid!” despite having little actual new news or advice to offer) stirs people up.

        It doesn’t even bother me that she can spot you as a vault dweller (hey, journalists are trained to observe people), or that she wants to interview you (seems like a great story). It bothers me you can’t refuse the interview (see below).

        Her knowledge seems inconsistent – she knows you were in Vault 111 specifically, but doesn’t know what actually happened in Vault 111, which means not knowing you’re from before the war. It bothers me a little that she’s less fascinated than I’d expect from meeting someone who can describe from his own recollection the world before the bombs fell. That’s a WAY more interesting article than a sidebar to Yet Another Kidnapping Story.

        But what really, really bothers me is that the game (as we see in this playthrough) DEMANDS you take her into your confidence, and tell her about Shaun. This isn’t just a companion quest. This is main quest – you’re expected to bite hard on this hook. Sure, in theory you could find Valentine without Piper, but that’s clearly NOT the way you’re supposed to do it.

        You’re a soldier. It’s your job to Take Care of Business. There are a dozen reasons you might not want to advertise who you are and what you’re doing. You don’t want it splashed all over a paper that you came from Vault 111, and you’re looking for Shaun. Because whoever has him can read.

        Sure, going public and asking for help is one OPTION you might consider in that circumstance. But there are very good reasons for not going that way. And the main quest should allow such options. Maybe you don’t get Piper as a companion (fair enough), but not allowing you to proceed? That’s bullshit.

        • Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

          This isn’t actually the unskippable point with Piper. At the door to Diamond City, you can run past her after the first bit of dialog. You can run straight to Valentine without interacting with her.

          But later on in the quest, Valentine will want to consult her. Its after you kill Kellogg. She provides no useful information. Nick is the one who knows the lady who can get the info out of Kellogg’s brain.

          Believe me, I tried a fair bit of sequence breaking to skip over annoying bits in the subsequent playthrough. You have to do everything in order. Virgil for example, will never be at his hideout until its time to visit him. Which really makes no sense given where it is and why he’s there.

          Side Note: If you pay attention to Nick’s investigation technique, it becomes clear why the writer has Piper spontaneously know stuff. Its because he has no idea how to write an investigation.

          For example, as you describe Kellogg, Nick starts to build a vague mostly useless profile of him that probably describes half the raiders in the Commonwealth before suddenly realizing “Hey wait! I’ve seen that guy” based on your description, not his profile of the man. Its like the writer wanted to write a detective scene, then realized he didn’t know how to do that and took the get out of jail free card by having the detective simply recognize your description.

          Side Side Note: As the critic Shamus mentioned before points out: It turns out Kellogg was staying in town which is why Nick recognizes your description. Given the man’s distinct physical appearance, you should have been able to ask any random person in town about Kellogg and somebody would have recognized him. Its a small town, people talk. The only reason you’re just now learning about this is because the game doesn’t allow you to ask around in Diamond City even though that is ostensibly the whole reason you’re here.

        • Humanoid says:

          I know I refused the interview request outright but was still directed by someone else (I think) to Nick’s office. Can’t remember who or what, but in the context of the game, that just means it probably wasn’t some egregiously stupid reasoning.

          That was my last interaction with Piper since I assumed the interview was purely to enable recruiting her. Since I never got to the point of actually finding Nick, I assumed that was that and she’d have no further relevance to the game.

          “I can’t remember it, so it must not have been that dumb” works as a general approach to recalling Bethesda writing.

          • Bloodsquirrel says:

            I think I just wound up wandering into Nick’s office myself because, uh, some reason that totally isn’t related to kleptomania. His secretary is down there and you can get the quest from her.

            It’s a really dumb bit of gating, though, especially since I’m pretty sure I’d already snuck into and looted Kellog’s house before I met Nick. Because I was searching for clues! Yes, that’s why I was in Nick’s office. There might have been clues down there.

            But I still needed the plot to catch up before I could find the ones in Kellog’s office.

            • Jeff says:

              I think “I’m looking for someone” and “glowing sign advertising the only detective in town” naturally go together to give a reason for entering Nick’s office.

          • MrGuy says:

            Sure. It’s not like you CAN’T get the main quest to proceed without doing Piper’s interview. Similarly, in FO3 you could skip the whole Three Dog bullshit antenna quest and just run right to Rivet City.

            But it’s made reasonably clear that the intended way to do the main quest is to do the interview.

            It would be way awesomer if the main quest was just “try to pick up Shaun’s trail,” which would encourage you to explore the city, talk to different people, decide who to trust, etc. You could play your character to just listen and lot say a word to anyone. There’s no real reason to railroad you through Piper to get to Nick.

            But no. We can’t bear to let you skip are awesome mocaped NPC. So talking to Piper about Shaun is Main Quest.

        • Wray says:

          As a J-school graduate, the thing that killed it for me was reading the article Piper has available. No facts, no quotes, no evidence for her claims. It boils down to, “Synths exist! I wonder if the mayor is one!” (I didn’t talk to her very much, or do the main quest. So to be fair, maybe she has reasons I don’t know about. But that’s the kind of stuff that you need to put in the articles.)

        • Yurika Grant says:

          Remember how talking about the Vault in the first game meant the bad guys found it faster? The good old days when choices had consequences and didn’t need to be advertised as such, it was simply a given that devs thought this stuff through.

    • lurkey says:

      Similar experience here. Went off to help kill mutants, came back to see some NPCs arguing, ignored them in favour of looking for nearby stealables, later the guard mumbled something about some Piper, ignored him too and just entered the city.

  4. James Porter says:

    So in my first playthough, Diamond City was where the game clicked for me, and immediately after Diamond City is where I stopped caring. I think the city has a ton of things in its favor(for one, it seems someone at Bethesda really worked hard to fix the questions about eating and power from places like Megaton). The big one for me is personality.

    I really like how everything is Baseball themed, that the guards all dress in umpire armor and that melee weapons vender sells people this idea that baseball was just as violent and brutal as their everyday lives are. There is a bit of a class system, with characters living in the higher stands having more wealth. Not to mention that every named npc here has a little quest to learn something about them. Which after trying to deal with Preston my first time though, was a breath of fresh air.

    I do think the could go farther with this though. In talking with Moe you can tell him a few different meanings of Baseball, like the family-bonding part of it, or just the mechanics and it being about teamwork. You could make a really great Fallout style satire of baseball as an American pastime pretty easy from the blocks they got.

    I still think Fallout 4 has a real misunderstanding that the pre-war isn’t something people should be nostalgic for.

    • James Porter says:

      Excuse some wankery on my end, since I have no idea how feasible an idea this is, but I feel like Diamond City should be having a big problem with overpopulation. It is by far the most visible and safe settlement in the Commonwealth, with plenty of resources and defenses, but a set amount of space. You could even have it themed around a “packed stadium,” which was ideal in pre war America, but hurting everybody now.

      They would have to deal with a huge immigration problem, of people who hear the radio and think that it sounds far safer than the wooden shack they built. Not to mention people could be fearful of these immigrants, since some could be synths. That would actually give a moral to wrestle with Piper, who doesn’t have to answer much for her paper hurting people by making them paranoid.

      I like this idea, since it would be another reason to join up with the Minutemen. Having more independent and protected settlements could be turned into an effort of making the wasteland a safer place for everyone, not just people who get behind the Wall. There would also be a lot of room for satire and social criticism, which I am always down for.

      • MrGuy says:

        I liked the way New Vegas handled this. If you wanted to get into Vegas, you needed to pass a check at the gate, which meant having to buy or earn your way in. It answered the very reasonable question about why they weren’t overrun.

        Of course, the gameplay isn’t completely consistent with this theme – do all the drunks wandering the strip have that much money? Do they get thrown out when they go bust? Or once you’re in, you’re in for life, meaning a large group with 2000 caps could game the system by coming in one at a time, walking out with a passport, and handing the cash to the next guy…

        • Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

          At least one quest will show that the Securitrons are quite effective as law enforcement when they want to be.

        • IFS says:

          Well the drunks wandering the Strip might have had that money when they entered, but casinos have a way of parting someone from their money. Gameplay-wise you’re certainly in for life, but then House also has his own reasons for wanting you to be able to come and go freely so you can maybe handwave that as a special case for the Courier.

          For the gate I loved that there were plenty of skill checks to get around having the money, using science for example to give an override code to the Securitron, though there are also plenty of ways to raise the money if you don’t have it. If you’re high luck you can gamble in the Freeside casino, you can sell loot you’ve collected, and there are a number of quests in Freeside and around it that you can do for caps that will get you involved in the factions there (Followers, Silver Rush, the bar/casino, the Kings, the Crimson Caravan, etc). Some of these factions even connect to followers like Arcade Ganon and Cass, so worst case scenario the way to get through the gate is to explore and interact with more of the world.

          • guy says:

            Oh man, luck and Casino gambling. I made a ten-luck character and went to clean out the casinos at blackjack. I soon discovered that I didn’t actually know how to play blackjack but that didn’t really matter.

            • Decius says:

              In New Vegas with a high luck you win nor playing badly. Each time you hit you have a chance to get lucky and automatically win.

              • AdamS says:

                Yeah, blackjack and ten luck is pretty much the end of all of your money issues in the early game. I broke the bank in the Sierra Madre in about fifteen minutes.

        • You can get a fake passport in Freeside for 500 caps. Once you have that, a credit check isn’t necessary.

          You can also get to the strip via the monorail at Camp McCarren, so all a drunk has to do is mug an NCR soldier and stagger onto the train.

          • tmtvl says:

            If you’re NCR enough you can just ride the monorail (there’s some civvies talking about that), and most drunks on the strip are NCR soldiers.

            But yeah: Getting on the strip:
            – Credit check the robot
            – Science check the robot
            – Run past the robot (and probably get your face shot off)
            – Buy fake passport
            – Be in good with the NCR and take the Monorail
            – Sneak onto the Monorail

            Getting into Diamond City:
            – Talk to Piper and wait until she convinces the gate guard to open the gate
            – Piss DC off and they’ll come out to attack you

  5. Ugggghhhhhh Piper. I liked her at first, but the more I think about her, the more I loathe her. She talks such a big game about freedom of the press and seeking the truth, but… eh…

    Okay, first off, the Mayor is absolutely right about her article being “rabble-rousing slander.” You can read the article in question, and it’s got zero evidence for the Mayor being a synth. It talks about Broken Mask, then tangents off into some half baked insinuation tailor made to stir people into a senseless, panicking witch hunt.

    (The fact that the Mayor IS a synth is beside the point. Since she offers no evidence, there’s nothing to suggest that should wouldn’t publish the same article if he was human.)

    Talk about free speech is all well and good, but when her shitty journalism feeds the second thing you see in town (guy holding his brother at gunpoint under suspicion of being a synth, only to get his own head blown off) she crosses the line from “irritating nuisance” to “outright dangerous.”

    And this is setting aside her whole vaguely smarmy “I think you can’t be a good reporter without having people who want to kill you – by the way, a lot of people want to kill me” humblebrag routine.

    • James Porter says:

      So I just finished her dialogue, and I never really got a chance to call her out on her scaremongering and liberal use of personal attacks with little to no evidence. I think I understand why she does it, she talks a lot about how growing up, she would catch wind of corrupt behavior and secret dealings, and get a public outcry by exposing it, usually with a shocking headline. From that perspective her tactics make sense, since her whole career hasn’t been about getting people to listen to the truth, as it is riling people up with inflammatory headlines.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if calling her out got cut. It seems everywhere I go with her, she just proves that she doesn’t have that line to the public’s heart. That paper about the mayor seems like a joke that was step one in a character arc. She is constantly interviewing new people, where she offends or scares them with a really presumptuous questions. This would actually be really cool if it was adding up to anything.

      I’d say I still like her, but she does feel like a loaded gun left unfired.

      • A lot of the characters successfully “detect” synths but you can never ask them what tipped them off. I mean, the Mayor IS a synth. But you can NEVER ask Piper why she THINKS he is. They’re supposed to be basically undetectable! Heck, some people ARE synths and don’t know it!

        It’s an absolutely blatant “they know because the writers say they do” without the courtesy of a pen cap much less a lampshade.

        • Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

          Its so pervasive, I only vaguely registered it with Piper until Spoiler Warning brought it up.

          We’re talking about a series where somehow, the local DJ always knows what you’re up to and broadcasts it to the entire Wasteland. Piper is far from the first character to inexplicably know stuff about you (although she’s one of the more egregious examples. Most people don’t mention all the stuff they know about you until you give them some clue about who you are, then they say “Oh you’re that guy/gal”)

          And honestly, I can trust that there would be something off about the Sole Survivor though it would be helpful if they had made it more clear. SS would probably be more well mannered, more civil, cleaner, with fewer scars and disfigurements, better groomed, more distinct Bostonian accent, archaic speech patterns (there has to have been some language drift over 200 years). Except none of this is really shown.

          Its even easy to grasp the idea that Piper would peg the SS as a Vault Dweller. We know that there’s at least one still running Vault nearby. Though the traits Vault Dwellers would exhibit are a little different. I really liked how in Fallout New Vegas, Sarah and her brother are both agoraphobic. It makes perfect sense.

          • guy says:

            Gah, the radio DJs in the Bethesda Fallouts. Perfectly recaptures how radio stations have the DJs come on to prove their job can’t be done by an iPod shuffle and fail miserably.

          • Travis knowing about (some) of your doings isn’t much of a stretch–the game is full of ham radios along with settlers and traders who all probably gossip.

            What’s a bit boggling is that Travis knows about your activities but Piper, who is another news professional, has no clue about them.

        • evileeyore says:

          Like the Master, they’re all psychic. Unlike the Master, they don’t know it and only use their powers to annoy.

    • Wide And Nerdy says:

      Same.

      And humblebrag is appropriate. Most of her follower lines are humblebrags. “Call me crazy, but I think we should help people.” Or “It doesn’t make me very popular but I can’t bring myself to give up pursuing the Truth.”

    • Dev Null says:

      I refer to this sort of thing as “The Mulder Effect”. The only reason you don’t hate Mulder in the X-Files is that he has the writers on his side, and he always gets to be right in the end. He never has the slightest bit of evidence for any of his wild claims… but since he’s always right, who cares about evidence?

  6. Phantos says:

    I experienced the same thing Josh mentioned regarding Diamond City.

    I have very little knowledge on Boston or baseball, and I didn’t even notice it was a stadium until I got out to the blue-haired paint quest guy.

    I imagine for people who know about that stuff before they play, it wasn’t anything special. But there was a very serious *GAAAAAASP!* moment when I finally figured it out, and it made that part of the game seem more clever than it actually does in hindsight.

    • Josh says:

      Whereas I’m New England born and bred, and I figured out pretty quick that — not only was Diamond City a baseball stadium, it was Fenway Park, which holds near holy status to many in the Red Sox Nation.

      A lot of the touches I liked about the game were how it involved Boston geography and history (even if it was twisted/squished a little).

  7. Lachlan the Mad says:

    Regarding the whole “200 years” thing; the only way that I could stand playing through Fallout 3 was to persistently block out all suggestions that it had been 200 years after the bomb, and headcanon that everything was actually happening only about 18 years after the war (you were born just before the bombs and got into the vault normally) and that everybody was just having me on with the 200-year interval. The plot and setting make so much more sense that way. The Enclave have a reason to be trying to reclaim D.C. (for symbolic reasons), the whole thing where you’re “pure” compared to the rest of the wasteland makes sense, it’s vaguely plausible that everyone is still eating pre-war packaged foods, and re-establishing a water/food supply is actually super important. The character motivations are still broken, but at least the rest of the story works.

    I haven’t actually played Fallout 4 yet, but from this series it looks like I won’t be able to get away with that trick…

    • I usually go with 2 years, mostly since it sounds like it was the original intent, but also because it allows for the world to be as idiotic as it is without that many mental leaps. :P

    • Chris Davies says:

      I wonder if Bethesda have really thought through their approach to the Fallout setting. As absurd as Tamriel’s technological stasis is becoming, as long as they don’t bring too much attention to the alleged timeline of events we can suspend disbelief. I guess it’s hard to invent indoor plumbing when demons and dragons are constantly trying to eat your soul. However, the squalor and chaos of Bethesda’s Fallout world would stretch credibility past breaking point even 100 years after the war, it just doesn’t ring true with human nature.

      How long they can carry on with the rule that the protagonist must live in a vault? None of the main canon Fallout games did that after Fallout 1. I appreciate Bethesda not trying to continue the California story, because they’d just screw it up and make me sad, but why is Bethesda so ill at ease with telling their own story of how society evolves on the east coast? Another game full of functional vaults, burnt out buildings and charred skeletons littered everywhere isn’t even going to be funny anymore.

      • Gruhunchously says:

        Bethesda seems much too enamored with their post-apocalypse theme that they keep missing what makes Fallout what it is. Primarily because while they can tell many stories about what happened before or just after the bombs fell, the seem at a loss as to what happened after that. They instead compensate by smushing a bunch of generic apocalypse ideas together in ways that don’t make a lot of sense, like having everyone be starry eyed about the Old World, or gangs of raiders that don’t do anything except shoot anyone they see.

        • Humanoid says:

          The general aesthetic of the game is essentially their pitch, a game that offers adventuring in a bombed-out, dilapidated cityscape. Everything else is slave to that unchanging design.

          It’s what’s successfully sold those kajillion copies, so no suit would ever authorise moving away from that model. Sure, a new aesthetic *could* do just as well, but they’d be insane to take that risk since there’s precious little to be gained from it.

          And y’know what, I’m totally fine with that. But the obsession with always advancing each game chronologically is completely needless and because increasingly less plausible each time.

      • TES at least has the excuse of pointing at the Dwemer and saying “look at what tech does to people!” to keep it stagnant. Fallout seems to be milking the cow so dry it looks like a drought in the Mojave.

        • Bloodsquirrel says:

          Also, TES is stagnant at a plausibly stable state. Some real-life empires did last for a long time. There were thousands of years of history before the gun was invented. The problem is that Fallout is stuck in a state that is supposed to be interesting because of it being transitory- it’s a time where people are trying to figure out a new status quo after the old one was violently destroyed. It’s a time of chaos and regrowth. But, somehow, it never actually changes.

      • Ninety-Three says:

        I wonder if Bethesda have really thought through their approach to the Fallout setting.

        HAH!

        No.

        why is Bethesda so ill at ease with telling their own story of how society evolves on the east coast?

        Empasis added, question answered.

      • Destrustor says:

        What stretches my suspension of disbelief the most about the fallout landscape is the idea that after 200 years anything is left standing at all. If humanity disappeared tomorrow, pretty much none of our modern buildings would even be visible 200 years later.
        Wood rots, metal rusts, stone erodes. In 200 years the only things left of society would be vaguely square-shaped mounds buried under the underbrush.
        This also applies to the vegetation; there’s no way the burned-out dry grass everywhere has been standing there since the bombs fell, or that all the dead trees were alive before the war. Everything would have rotted away and have been replaced by new growth.

        • pdk1359 says:

          Buildings? There are cars that look new-ish (like 5 years old, max), that are sitting OPEN. This game would have been pretty different if the art team had ever seen the life after people pseudo-documentary series. Scratch that, if they were allowed to make a realistic post-apocalyptic setting.

          Honestly, I’m stuck on an idea mentioned in a prior video comment post; everything resets. the world was so broken after the bombs fell that it’s not that nothing changes, some eldritch force actually resets containers, objects, people, etc.

          Nobody notices, they aren’t allowed to. The only thing I can’t come up with is a good reason for the SS to be able to interact with the world in a way that they can affect things. And, I know they don’t really have much power, but they still have way more than than they should… Maybe the protagonist is possessed by an elder evil or something?

          • I have it! The Wasteland is stuck on Sin’s back. We’re all really playing FFX! That explains EVERYTHING!

            Or the Wasteland is some form of Purgatory where those whose decisions led to the bombs are forced to live. Either way, really, works.

          • Yurika Grant says:

            I’ve been writing a parody of a Fallout 4 play-through, similar to the sort of thing Shamus does with his LotR series. I made the dog an Eldritch (gotta love how that word isn’t recognised by spell-checkers…) Abomination named Quorn who is also a God of blood and skulls (yes, that’s a play on Khorne, lol).

            He gives the player character the ability to transmogrify any object into any other object, because that makes about as much sense as anything else in this world, and at least gives some reason – crazy as it is – for the player being able to build settlements from nothing but collected junk.

    • Wide And Nerdy says:

      The one thing out of these objections that does make sense to me is that there would be people still clinging to the past. I know it makes more sense when you have people who actually remember the pre war era but even in Fallout 4’s time, people are walking around ruins surrounded by reminders of the greatness that once was.

  8. Jokerman says:

    Heh… i literally just posted this screenshot on your forums yesterday.

    http://forums.shamusyoung.com/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=920&start=225#p38560

    Its very much all this games problems caught in one single screenshot.

  9. Incunabulum says:

    THIS is a Bethesda game, which means the only way in is through a nonsensical, scripted, non-branching, completely banal dialog / cutscene where the rules are made up on your choices don’t matter.

    So, the latest iteration of ‘Who’s Line Is It Anyway’ (which is long past its sell by date).

    As a side note – is it possible to allow the ‘widescreen’ option from this site? It works when viewing directly from YT but is not available here.

  10. Incunabulum says:

    And I like how she’s standing 8 feet away from the speaker while arguing with Danny.

    Microphone tech was really advanced before the end.

    • Incunabulum says:

      ‘Yeah, you’ve got that wild eyed look about you’

      Sure honey, except its not the look of shock and wonder at the new world, its more of a wide-eyed ‘who am I going to kill next’ look.

      I mean, how many dudes have you murdered on your way to DC? By the time I got there it had been a month in-game and the numbers were well into the multiple hundreds. That’s on top of Re-organizing the Commonwealth and Minutemen and meeting the BoS.

  11. SlothfulCobra says:

    I’ve been replaying Deus Ex Human Revolution, and that game is far from conversation-heavy, but it still knows that it chafes under the 3-4 option limitation, and it still does the occasional sub-menu for additional exposition.

  12. How in the heck does “you’re full of it” turn into “this hasn’t been the friendliest welcome” . . . that’s the lamest, most mealy-mouthed quasi-criticism imaginable.

    ARGH.

  13. Also, their “printer” is CLEARLY a mimeograph machine.

    Anyone remember doing those blue worksheets in school?

  14. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Wait,she has a specially made model for her?And her mouth is still weird when she talks like everyone else.Instead of making her hands flail around,they shouldve made her mouth a bit less like melted plastic.

    • Echo Tango says:

      I was going to post this, but didn’t, because I figured, “Her mouth doesn’t look *that* uncanney…” On a second watching, though, her mouth looks OK about half the time, and the other half of the time, you’re ggetting distracted by the obvious polygons. :S

  15. Daemian Lucifer says:

    So,what makes this a city?Heck,even shady sands has more permanent buildings than this squalor.

    • It’s a city because there are rich people, shopowners, and poor people instead of everyone being “settler”.

      The “upper stands” snobs are the weirdest thing in this game. “We’re rich and self-important!” The only people in this setting who have any real reason to work FOR someone else are the ones who can’t take care of themselves. You’re not going to become “rich” by babysitting a bunch of losers who are barely competent to sweep a floor, and if you treat professionals who actually produce like ass they’re going to give you a two-fingered salute and go set up for themselves. EVERYONE lives by scavenging off ruins, ultimately, so it’s the very definition of a low barrier to entry. You don’t need investment capital to get to work.

      • Decius says:

        They had to have socioeconomic class tension in order to get everything about modern Boston in.

        And I’m pretty sure I walked right up to the politics line there, so I’m going to stop.

      • Ben Matthews says:

        Exactly as with Tenpenny, Bethesda seems to enjoy thinking up these divides between people that could be interesting to explore… then does absolutely nothing with them. And even worse, it makes no sense anyway because where do these rich people get their wealth?

        Especially somewhere like Tenpenny Tower. If it had a large shanty town settlement around the tower outside the walls run by Tenpenny and his cronies, that could make sense and would lead naturally to social, economical, and political divides and all the attendant headaches those would produce, providing a good basis for conflict and stories.

        But nope. Rich because Bethesda says so.

  16. Daemian Lucifer says:

    But THIS is a Bethesda game, which means the only way in is through a nonsensical, scripted, non-branching, completely banal dialog / cutscene where the rules are made up on your choices don’t matter.

    I think you meant and.Or probably on the spot and.

  17. Daemian Lucifer says:

    And here we see the bethesda version of the kings from new vegas.Its not good.

  18. MichaelGC says:

    Ruh-roh. When they feel the need to credit Rutskarn as: “Punster Scum,” one can’t help but feel a little trepidatious.

    I think almost everyone in Diamond City will point you to Nick if you pass a speech check. Or at least three or four of them will – basically there are so many options that it’s essentially Deus Ex…

  19. Humanoid says:

    Diamond City as a city may not stand up to any real scrutiny, but I have to admit that it was basically the only real fun I had with the game. Slow walking around town, talking to people while not accomplishing anything meaningful, that was paradoxically the best part of my brief experiences.

    Once the only quests remaining all sent me outside of the city, it only took doing a couple of them (which involved going to place X and shooting people there) to realise that this isn’t the game I wanted to be playing, and I quit for good.

    And yeah, I’m another who didn’t notice that the city was meant to be a baseball stadium, but I’d say as a non-American that’d be pretty standard.

    • Jokerman says:

      I even liked the swatter guy.

      • Abnaxis says:

        I think everyone has that moment in Fallout 4, where they see the promise of a good game only to have that promise snatched away.

        Swatter guy is where that happened to me. I rushed to Diamond City, so he was maybe the third NPC with a name I’d seen outside of Sanctuary. And as dumb as it is in retrospect, I thought the idea of baseball knowledge being lost was an interesting one–after all, I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen the rules for any major sport written down (though I’m sure they are), the rules just kind of spread by cultural pressure. It would be really interesting to see a cultural phenomenon like that morph because it’s been two hundred years, many of which spent in a bunker for most of the populace.

        But my reverie didn’t last long–only until I remembered that you can’t spit without hitting someone who has lived the last two centuries for the sake of fanservice. Not only that, but a question about “what position would you play?” feature prominently in the G.O.A.T.-I-mean-SAFE test they give you in covenant, so apparently the rules in baseball are common enough knowledge for everyone in Covenant to know what position they would play. After that, I stopped seeing any role-playing interaction in Fallout 4 as anything but a shallow afterthought.

        • Jokerman says:

          Ha… thats a good point actually, the rules of baseball are pretty well known even if there wasn’t 100 or so ghouls walking about the commonwealth.

    • lurkey says:

      Diamond City made me realize how small F4 was. “Hey, this is like a Skyrim city! Like one of…how many…6? 7? 8? Skyrim cities…and here, it’s the only one…yeah”.

      • Humanoid says:

        I didn’t learn that it was the only city in the game until after I’d quit for good.

      • winawer says:

        Outside of Diamond City there are only a few smaller pre-built communities – Bunker Hill, Covenant and Goodneighbor. I can’t think of any others off the top of my head. This is outside of then main faction bases – the Institute, Prydwen and Railroad HQ.

        Where are locations like Windhelm, Markarth or Solitude? Or Megaton, Rivet City or Tenpenny Tower? They don’t exist because you’re I guess you’re supposed to create them yourself, that’s what settlement building is for.

        • Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

          My goal is to create a housing bubble.

        • acronix says:

          There’s also two other towns that aren’t towns anymore by the time the PC reaches them: University Point (it got attacked by synths for some reason) and the town Preston and his Troupe of Annoying NPCs come from (I forgot the name; the place is filled with Gunners who attacked it for…some…reason?).

          You are forgiven for not noticing them, though, because…well, they don’t look like towns at all. They look like random ruins. If you don’t check the terminals or hear some NPCs talking about the places, you wouldn’t even notice that they were supposed to be towns.

          • MichaelGC says:

            Quincy is the other one. That sounds to me like an odd name for a town … which probably means it’s an actual place?

              • Michael says:

                Honestly, this bugs me a bit. As the series has gone forward, they’ve gotten a lot more explicit about giving places their actual names.

                In the original Fallout, nothing uses it’s pre-war name. LA is now The Boneyard, Bakersfield is now the Necropolis. The only thing that ties back to the pre-war world are the vaults and the Military Base. Everything else has been rebranded in the last 80 years.

                Fallout 2 starts rolling in the opposite direction. Off the top of my head, it’s got Reno, Klamath Falls, Redding, and of course San Fransisco.

                Think about this for a minute. No one calls LA Los Angeles, but people remember freakin’ Redding? I’ve driven through there and I barely remember the place.

                Fallout 3 has a convenient excuse. For reasons defying logic, the metro system is still mostly intact, and the stations all have their original name (even though some of them don’t actually exist in the real world). Which means a lot of the neighborhoods still have their names. That works, more or less. For towns we’ve got a bunch of Fallout 1 style names. Megaton, Rivet City, ect.

                New Vegas is back to real names. Novac’s the only one that comes to mind as a strictly post-war name. Goodsprings, Nipton, Primm, Boulder City… even Searchlight, these are all real places. There’s the justification that Vegas wasn’t hit as severely, so maybe, somehow, there are people with a better understanding of where they are, but that isn’t supported in the narrative, with the groups you’re actually interacting with.

                And here we are back with Fallout 4 and a weird mix of names.

                I mean, I don’t think it’s a bad design decision, it just sticks out, and I’m never quite sure what to make of it. It’s also not Bethesda’s fault, because this seems to have crept in when Tim Cain left the franchise.

        • *cough* Vault 81 *cough*

          Actually there are a good number of “town” areas. It’s just that the inhabitants are all raiders and gunners, which is what you’d expect from an area where law and order has been basically nonexistent for years. Basically, the locals were only barely hanging on before you showed up, which is kind of a cool idea.

      • Michael says:

        Nine, with at least as many minor towns and villages.

        Which is actually one of the things about Fallout 4 that really bugs me. There are about 30 settlements. Some of them in really interesting or cool locations. But none of them are particularly developed. The idea is to let players have full free reign to build whatever kind of settlement they want. But, the tradeoff is, almost none of these places have any real character of their own. You’re expected to provide it.

        None of the settlers can be characters in their own right, because they’re just procedurally generated. None of the settlements can really be their own place, because there’s nothing there until you start building.

        The frustrating thing is, if they’d actually gone with a Raven Rock or Hearthfire approach, and let you build the settlements, but it wasn’t your character, so much as unique NPCs that moved into the settlements which did the building… you could get some legitimately interesting places to go.

        Instead it’s either a ramshackle outpost with unnamed NPCs swarming over it, or it’s a fortress that you built with TGM active.

        • Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

          Yes, everything from Hearthfire. Why can my medieval warrior build a nice house when my modern soldier can only build ramshackle crap in spite of having more modern tools? And I would have liked the option to build a house where I just pour resources in and the game figures out where to put everything so it looks nice. I’m not good at creating from scratch. Its why I’ve never bothered picking up Minecraft.

          I always enjoyed being able to dump my money into a vendor and have the game generate a well designed, tastefully arranged house piece by piece. It was very rewarding.

          I mean sure, I’ve done some basic things like lining the streets with lights or patching up a house but I’m not like these guys you see posting their builds on reddit.

          I really which there was a mod where you could just pour the resources in and parts of a cool looking settlement would be filled in for you. Closest I’ve found is a mod that allows you to repair the Sanctuary houses.

          • Incunabulum says:

            There’s a really nice mod in Skyrim that let’s you take one of the ‘build your own house’ plots (the one on the lake by Helgen – get the mod that allows you to rebuild Helgen into a thriving town to go with this one) and add in stuff around the house to turn it into a proper manor.

            Something like that added to a few of these otherwise pointless settlements would have been nice. You could have hung a core set of stories and personalities around that settlement while still allowing the player to customize at the margins and there would still be plenty of generic, ‘we didn’t do anything with this place’ settlements if someone wanted to build their own whimsy.

            I wish they had cut about a third of the settlement areas out, left a third of the remaining as generic settlements, a third as the sort of hybrid described above, and the remaining third as their own places where you can recruit them into your faction but they’re too large and settled to be completely subsumed (as most of the generic ones only have one or two people to start) equivalent to small towns in Skyrim.

            • Incunabulum says:

              You could have Sanctuary as a sort of Minuteman revival settlement (and secondary headquarters after you move those guys to the Castle) with its own story – you already have the guys you took in after Concord, now the game could *do something* with them – while leaving Red Rocket as a generic settlement for those who don’t want to deal with sanctuary.

          • Chris Davies says:

            I think vault dude’s shacks are quite impressive considering they’re made of three pencils and a desk fan.

        • Sunshine says:

          Would it be possible to procedurally-generate varied interesting-ish personalities for settlers, even just one or two wrinkles like “likes dogs” “good farmer”? I wonder who that could be done.

          • Michael says:

            In theory, sure. In practice, it gets a little weird. Though, to be fair, if we’d had some kind of settler card mini-strategy game going on, where you assign them to the tasks their best suited to, and your settlements had some real UI associated with it, that could have worked out well.

            Which is kinda ironic, because they were literally making Fallout Shelter at the same time as this.

          • Philadelphus says:

            It could be something like Dwarf Fortress, generating a list of specific likes and dislikes, personality traits, even what gods they worship and how devotedly.

      • Jokerman says:

        Id count goodneighbor as a full town to, it’s about as big as diamond city.

      • GloatingSwine says:

        More room for settlements. Gotta have those super characterful settlements.

  20. Grudgeal says:

    Before we sling too many stones marked specifically at Bethesda… How many options did Obsidian give you to get into the Noble District in Neverwinter Nights 2 again?

  21. winawer says:

    The whole pre-war character thing really hampers any roleplaying or freedom that you, the player, might want to do. I don’t get it, why do Bethesda insist on forcing a backstory on you in their Fallout games, whereas they can quite happily give you a blank slate in Elder Scrolls? It makes no sense, it’s the same company making the same type of game, and yet they continue to do it this way.

    In Oblivion and Skyrim you start off as a generic prisoner, no backstory, no forced narrative constructing our choices, you’re free. Start a new game, customise their looks, make them young or old, evil or kind, give them a background, give them motivations and you’re free to explore the world with your new character.

    But in Fallout 3 and 4 they insist on giving you this half-hearted backstory of a child looking for their parent or…wait for it…a parent looking for their child. The first act in both games is based around this missing family member search, so why do Bethesda do this? In a do-whatever-you-want and go-wherever-you-want game, where freedom of choice is Bethesda’s primary goal, they create such a rigid a character start that it completely undermines any personal narrative the player is trying to create.

    Of course, this problem is compounded a hundred times over by the voiced dialogue system.

    In Skyrim they do it so well – your character is free to explore his Dragonborn origins at will, or not, if you prefer. Your motivations are your own, to carry out whenever you want. In Fallout 4 it’s so much harder to do this when your character bleats out a mournful ‘Shaun! SHAUUUNNNN!’ at the slightest provocation. I just don’t get why Bethesda do this to their Fallout games. As with Skyrim, it’s not as if they don’t know how to do this part of the game well. I guess Bethesda is still trying to understand what Fallout is, and it’s as if they saw what Obsidian did with New Vegas and learned absolutely nothing.

    • I’ve said it before: The Sole Survivor should’ve been an NPC you meet up with. Their companion quest is to find Shawn/The Institute or whatever, but it lets them fret and worry about Shawn’s fate while you can decide whether or not to sidequest or screw around while they ask questions or do research or whatever an idle NPC might pretend to do when the player is out looking for adhesive and circuitry.

  22. Michael says:

    I realize this is kinda a thing… but, there IS another way into Diamond City. Go find Nick (in theory, through random exploration, but if you know where he is you can just go get him), and then walk in the front door, with or without him.

    Piper will be inside having her newspaper argument with the mayor, but you can just walk right past and ignore her.

  23. Chris Davies says:

    When I played this I went to diamond city almost as soon as I left the vault, so I was still wearing my vault suit when I got there. I actually thought that Piper calling you “Blue” was an actual observation about what you were wearing, that they’d set a variable and actually branched the dialogue. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised to learn that she just telepathically knows you’re a vault dweller even if you aren’t wearing the suit.

    One byte of flag variable and a couple of extra lines of dialogue are all it would have taken. Why on earth didn’t they put just a tiny little bit of effort in?

    • Did she also speak the line “I know your not wearing a vault suit right now” line then too?
      I thought that was a dialog branching line/point?

    • Matthew Lockhart says:

      Or even just have her say she knows the player is a vault dweller because the player character has obviously not spent decades living in an irradiated wasteland and there are only a few things a person could be given that. Plus the pipboy, which the player is pretty certain to have.

      • Ciennas says:

        I’ve actuallu been playing Fallout 4. And yes. She says that line exactly.

        “The wide eyed look and the pipboy on your arm are a dead giveaway.”

        Or close enough. If you want to be mean, you can say it’s because she’s psychic. But they did give an explanation for it, and it is consistent with her character. That is ‘observant.’

        Honestly I’m having fun, and she had a lot of work poured in. This is a massive improvement over Fallout 3.

        I still acknowledge it could be better, but it also is better.

        Compare Piper to Jackass of Tenpenny- er, Roy.

    • Writiosity says:

      Thing is, they did do this for a lot of random NPC comments if you’re wearing particular things, like a vault suit or power armour. But this is Bethesda, and they’re the kings of random bugs and forgetting to set important variables (like that one time Liam called my character ‘son’ when I was playing a female in Fallout 3…)

  24. Destrustor says:

    I really never bothered with the companions, because my first look at the game was seeing my brother play it.
    He was traveling with the dog, and it looked so infuriating; the dog seems programmed to want to hang around exactly two feet in front of your face at all times. He always gets in the way while you’re trying to loot things, stands around in doorways so you can’t get through, and generally seems to be constantly getting in the way of everything you do.
    None of that made me inclined to even try him out (which I eventually did at one point, an experiment that confirmed everything I thought about it), so the humanoid companions were an even less attractive option, just from the fact that unlike the dog, they’re too tall to shoot over their heads when they inevitably decide to stand right between you and an enemy.

    None of the perks they give you at maximum affinity is worth the hassle of trying to endure their horrible AI and the sheer inconvenience of their presence. Just perk up Lone Wanderer and Strong Back and you never need a companion again.

    If only Bethesda had decided to at least disable collision checks between your character and them when you’re traveling together, a sizeable chunk of my objections would be solved.

    • Incunabulum says:

      The dog and looting, OMG.

      That little fether has, so many times, *run* over to stand in front of the cursor *just as I’m clicking on something*.

      But when you want to give him an order? Eh, he keeps running off to stand just out of click reach. Add in the ‘I’ma let you finish but first I’m going to stand in this doorway you’re trying go through/right behind you as you’re trying to take cover form the guys shooting at you/trying to *sloooooowly* push you off this ledge you’re standing next to’ AI and the no-stealth so he attracts grenade spam and you’d think the dog was a masterfully designed FU to the players.

  25. I wonder if synthetic voice technology is good enough now so that i.e. Bethesda could have voice actors record their voices/words (light/medium/strong/whisper/normal/shout) and then use a voice synth engine for the game. Angry/happy inflections could be synthetic.

    Some of the math could be pre-calculated (i.e. the parameters) for best quality as doing all calculations in realtime would use a lot more CPU.

    Result would be a game where all NPCs could be made to speak any line.
    Even better is that mod authors could “extend” NPC dialogs this way or add new fully voiced quests with the original voices.

    The player character could be voiced and have a plethora of dialog.

    I think the technology is here and good enough (just needs a good voice engine made), if certain voice calculations are “pre-baked” then even medium/low range PCs and any current console should be able to handle it too.

    A voice actor would do around the same amount of work as they do today. Just a ton of variations of words to build up a character voice library (their contracts would have to change a bit though to ensure single game use or specify a royalty if used in future games etc.)

    A player could let their player character have a male or female voice and variations (careful/normal/strong/etc).

    Another benefit I almost forgot to mention is that voice recording can start very early, and the plot/script dialog can literally be changed on the day before launch. Usually the script/plot dialog has to be locked down several months before release unless they want to rush back the actors.

    Another benefit is that a “Dialog Scripter” or writer/developer can simply “edit” a dialog, press “preview” to hear how it sounds and if they like it they can press “Bake” to calculate a high quality one, if they are satisfied then they just save the new dialog. Today you’d have to get a voice actor back and a recording studio setup and a voice director and technician etc together. There are no “quick fixes” unless the “audio guy” happens to be one of the voices in the game.

    • Oh and just to be clear, this does not necessarily mean that NPCs will be able to speak the player characters name (unless it’s from a pre-defined list).
      That kind of synthetic speech is still some ways off from sounding natural (pure synthetic).

      I guess the system I described above is more of a procedural voice engine rather than a speech synthesizer.

      A procedural voice engine would only be able to speak that which it has words in it’s library for.

      • Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

        With that kind of tech, you wouldn’t even have to necessarily hire the actors. The actors could post complete “voice packs” of them saying so many thousand words. You’d simply buy the pack and script away.

    • Bloodsquirrel says:

      What voice synth have you heard that is anywhere near good enough for this? I’m seriously asking here; it’d be a fascinating experiment to see in action, although to really get value out of it you’d have to get to the point where you’re doing things like procedurally assembling responses from different layers in order to create a wider range of reactions from the same amount of writing.

      • Writiosity says:

        There are documentary type videos on Youtube that have these synthetic voices. They’ve actually advanced to a point now where you can have them narrate an entire 10+ minute video and sound pretty good. But that’s a documentary, where a steady tone works well.

        Add in emotion, though… and nope, no chance. But hey, Bethesda’s games don’t have emotion (SHAAAAAAAUUNNN…) so I guess that makes no real difference :)

    • Philadelphus says:

      Well, for a glimpse of how good such a thing might be in action, look at Siri. I think Apple, of all companies, is least likely settle for a “good enough” compromise, so I suspect Siri is probably pretty much state-of-the-art. Just imagine having Siri reading all the lines to you and you probably have a pretty good idea of what’s possible right now.

      I don’t think using synthesized speech would fly if your game was about humans (it’d still sound too robotic), but if your game was about robots…I’d really like to see that game.

  26. Bloodsquirrel says:

    Some various responses:

    The baseball guy

    I actually kind of liked him. He’s dumb, yes, but what isn’t in this game? He’s got a gimmick at least, and his dialog actually contains character rather than being an informationless info dump. Maybe the joke just worn thin for you guys. You mention him being a main vendor, but I almost never bought or sold stuff, so I didn’t talk to him particularly often.

    Smile and go along with the game

    I wouldn’t mind trying to be more serious and less actively stupid in the conversations, except for two things:

    1) I don’t like my character constantly being the wasteland’s biggest dunce. The “right” choices are just wrong. It makes you sound dull-witted, slow to grasp the situation around you, indecisive, too willing to acquiesce to people’s demands, and occasionally hysterical.

    2) Give me some reasonable alternatives. One thing you’ll notice is how rarely the game lets you lie. Just let me not tell people about Shaun. I’m not doing it to spite you, Fallout 4, but I’m trying to engage in *some* rudimentary level of roleplay, and I’m not entirely sure that running around telling everyone who isn’t actively trying to kill me who I am and that I’m trying to hunt down some shadowy and dangerous people is a great idea. Sometimes I’ve got entirely valid, non-Reginald Cuftbert-y reasons for not wanting to go along with whatever the NPC is babbling about.

    If you’re not going to properly accommodate me for being chaotic stupid then fine, but at least give me an option that isn’t just regular stupid.

    3) Also, it would help if I had any idea what I was about to say in the first place. This is not the first nor the last time I will complain about this system (or about Fallout 4’s dialog in general, or just in general), but here it goes: If you’re going to make me choose dialog options blind, then what the hell is the point of letting me choose? Just pick one for me. You aren’t spoiling the illusion of control. You’re much too transparent for that in the first place. You’re just making the conversations weird and disjointed. It’s like a racing game where the wheel randomly jerks to the right or the left whenever I try to steer. I’d prefer to actually play a racing game to watching a scene with a car driving around, but crashing into a wall every three seconds is worse than either.

    Companion attunement

    I lucked out when it came to the romance: Kait liked it when I stole stuff. I guess my “literally steal their pants off while they’re wearing them” antics charmed her. I do hate the system overall, though. I’ve hated it since KOTOR II introduced it, and suddenly I could no longer get to know my companions because I had to choose between roleplaying and making them happy. At least Dragon Age: Origins let me bribe them into liking me.

    • MichaelGC says:

      The only two companions I’ve ‘got to know’ at all have headed off on arcs seemingly in diametric opposition to what I liked about them! So I’m also not getting much out of the system – I may just have been unlucky (both in terms of companion choice, and the n just personal opinion of their little stories), but so far it’s been mostly downside. It can be no fun being told ‘x didn’t like that’, and it can be tricky to get into a mindset where you can just ignore it.

  27. Falterfire says:

    I’m increasingly convinced that romances in RPGs between a player created character and any other character will just always be terrible. Characters that respond in a dynamic way to the player’s actions beyond just “[character] liked that” aren’t really feasible to program – there’s not really tech in place to give procedurally generated realistic personalities.

    Which means inevitably you end up with a relationship that will always effectively be “Follow these steps to reach Maximum Love Status”, it’s just a matter of how you get there.

    Pretty much every time video games do romances people like, it’s between established characters with fixed personalities. People like The Witcher’s relationships, but those work primarily because you are playing through Geralt’s adventures instead of playing a blank slate.

    Plus, there’s just an inherent asymmetry between the emotions the characters are portraying and the emotion you as the player are having. To the characters, this is love and a lifelong connection. To the player, this is effectively playing with a favorite toy. I don’t think the romantic angle translates as well as most other types of relationships.

    • Incunabulum says:

      To me, these romances seem narcissistic/solipsistic and are only getting more so.

      We’ve gone from romances with characters that have their own preferences to ‘romance anyone regardless of gender’ (no more ‘only if I’m *really* drunk’ Cass). There are no straight/bi/gay people – they’re all ‘player-sexual’.

      They are literally reduced to ‘things’ for the player to play with. There’s no danger of rejection – just ‘not quite yet’ – and its all about *manipulating* an ‘affection score’ to get your Ding! achievement.

      • Falterfire says:

        That’s really a problem with the medium though, not so much with the writing.

        If you have an optional romance for the player, that character has to be able to fall in love with the player or not fall in love with the player based on the player’s actions. Could you imagine playing a 40 hour RPG and the character you wanted to romance rolled “Not into the PC this playthrough” on the personality table? Maybe interesting in a theoretical sense, but absolutely frustrating as hell for anybody who wants to have that particular experience.

        The lack of rejection also sorta stems from the same thing: A character is romanceable, or a character is not. You can sorta do rejection (See: Samara in Mass Effect 2), but most of the time the more devoted fans will know before they start the game which characters they can and can’t romance.

        Really, that’s what all this comes down to: Do you deliberately obscure systems in an attempt to make the mechanical, artificial nature of video game romances seem more genuine, or do you make it easy for the players who don’t read walkthroughs to get involved in a romance?

        Because every step you take to make it more ‘natural’ seeming is usually going to involve hiding the mechanics of the relationship system from the player, and if you don’t explicitly tell the player about the system you’re going to the effort of hiding, they won’t look for it because other games don’t do that and then the players playing the game won’t see the system to be able to appreciate the work you put into it.

        (And even then, your enfranchised players will just have flowcharts of “Oh, you have to go see her on the beach on the last Friday in September where you’ll get a new conversation that only appears if she got the final hit on the boss at the end of the second chapter” and they’ll see it as more video game-y, not less)

        Bringing this all around to a summary: In a movie, we see only one version of the romance. In a video game, you can play through each version of the romance, which will always make it feel artificial in a way movie romances don’t.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Could you imagine playing a 40 hour RPG and the character you wanted to romance rolled “Not into the PC this playthrough” on the personality table?

          Hordes of the underdark has a romance which can end up by the girl you are romancing stabbing you in the back if you fail your persuasion and arent evil.Baldurs gate 2 has you working for those romances,and you can spectacularly fail.So its definitely not the problem with the medium,but in how the games shifted towards “player cannot miss content!” direction.

          • Falterfire says:

            Alright, I think we’re talking about two different things here: I’m talking about the artificiality of “Do X, and the character will love you” and you’re complaining about the lack of fail states for locking off side content in RPGs (Which isn’t a relationship exclusive thing, obviously).

            I have Opinions about that as well, but it’s pretty much tangential to the point I’m trying to make with regards to bad romance writing.

        • Bloodsquirrel says:

          That’s not a problem with the medium, that’s a problem with expecting a 40 hour RPG to work like a dating sim. Fallout 4 is a game about hitting people in the head with a baseball bat covered with razors so hard that their legs fall off. That’s not just a thing that happens in the game, it’s what it’s geared toward. It’s a system that’s at odds with romance, not because of inherent limitations of the medium, but because it’s very intentionally designed toward a direction that’s antagonistic to it.

          To some extent, yes, I’d like the world to not exist to cater to my every whim. Just like I like seeing my choices have consequences- I want there to be at least some illusion that the world is larger than the room I’m currently standing in, and that it doesn’t revolve completely around me. I want people in the game to react realistically to what I do, and not have the lawful good character fall in love with the chaotic stupid lunatic who runs around killing people for no reason.

          A romance failing should be well within the valid narrative space of the game, just like the way you interact with Ciri in The Witcher 3 can result in a better or worse ending to the game. Obfuscation isn’t necessary- characters can simply be given preferences and personalities that obviously clash with certain players and their behaviors. It doesn’t have to be easy for any player to “win” a romance- it just has to naturally tend toward an interesting result. There are movies that don’t end with the guy getting the girl, after all.

    • Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

      Not to mention, it feels wrong to romance Curie. Yes she’s over 200 years old, but in terms of emotional maturity, she’s still very young.

      Most of the games I’ve played with romances had options that felt wrong. Merrill in Dragon Age 2. The Scout in Dragon Age Inquisition, or Sera for that matter who may be an adult but acts like she’s 8, and I don’t just mean that she’s playful and irreverent. Jack in Mass Effect 2 who seemed like she was going through too much stuff and a romance just felt dead wrong.

      Saints Row 4 had some gloriously wrong romantic options, but that was part of the humor.

      • Pax says:

        In regards to any of the synth romantic interests, there’s also the fact that their synth bodies are cloned from your own son’s genetic template!

      • Jokerman says:

        Why Scout? she was an adult, competent, mature. Unless it’s “wrong” just because she is short… if thats the case, well…. short people need love to.

        Jack was ok to me as well, because taking advantage of her frowned upon, and she won’t talk to you anymore, the romance is basically dealing with what is going on in her life, getting her to open up… didn’t feel wrong to me.

        • Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

          Scout seemed really uncomfortable. Maybe they meant her to seem shy but it was more awkward than that. Plus she’s more a subordinate that looks up to you than a companion like the real romance options. Cassandra and Josephine are part of the administration and seem to have preexisting authority. Others are volunteering. Scout is rank and file. She may feel like she’s not allowed to decline your passes at her.

          • Jokerman says:

            Shy might… but there is nothing in the game that hints to it being true, I am pretty sure she would say something if she felt that way… in this game.

            Josephine felt just as awkward (more id say) around you, when you flirt with her even more so, and she is absolutely subordinate to you, not that i really see that being a problem, with two grown adults, in a game where everyone says what they think…. all the time, these characters would absolutely reject you if the flirting was not appreciated.

            • Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

              Don’t get me wrong. Scout Harding (finally remembered her name) became my preference regardless. Partly because it didn’t seem like a done deal. (EDIT: Actually at first I was just curious if the game was ever going to call me on always selecting the flirt option).

              Bioware romances feel a little too much like they’re just there because the we need someone to make the player feel like a hot stud (or whatever). And that is in fact what they’re for, and thats fine. I just wish the story made it feel a little more like romance wasn’t a forgone conclusion.

              Maybe they could defy the player expectation by having more companions turn out to be non romanceable and have the romantic potential show up in unexpected places.

              Like in Dragon Age, what if it was someone like the Fiona. The leader of a rival faction, not someone who’s in your camp all the time. Maybe she has opposing interests or her duties keep her away a lot and you have to correspond, building tension for when you reunite.

              Or they could even go into catwoman territory. Jack kind of does that but I mean someone who is in a rival or opposing faction.

    • Bloodsquirrel says:

      Every once in a while one of them can click, but it really does require the system be willing to allow most of them to be misses. The Morrigan romance in DA:O worked because how I was playing my character. The Bastila romance in KOTOR can work.

      It doesn’t really work when you start off saying “I’m going to romance that guy/girl”, and then select whatever options you need to get the prize. Most of my playthroughs in Bioware/Bethesda games have avoided romances because they just didn’t make sense given the characters and how I was playing. Every once in a while, one of them just sort of comes together, though, and it’s really cool when that happens. The rest of the time, you just need to not pursue them.

      Fable II definitely had the best romances though.

      • Cinebeast says:

        Fable II definitely had the best romances though.

        Wait, what?

        • Jokerman says:

          You disagree? I don’t think it’s even subjective, Fable 2’s romances are the best in the business.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            The ones where you could bang a random stranger,they puffed a baby from nowhere and you ignored them for the rest of the game?

            • Jokerman says:

              Those the ones.

              • Wide And Nerdy says:

                http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/comicsandcosplay/comics/stolen-pixels/5748-Stolen-Pixels-64-Twue-Wuv

                Shamus sums it up best. It really made me wish I had an Xbox so I could play Fable 2 and do this. I bought Fable 3 with high hopes about these sort of shenanigans but sadly its a more reined in experience.

                Though it has its own wonderfully bizarre moments like you coming home from work to be greeted by your suddenly four year old daughter who introduces herself to you with the voice of a ten year old and the vocabulary of a high school graduate. She then remains this way for eternity. Fable 3 has a race of four year olds that have formed a symbiotic relationship with the other all adult race of humans.

                I had dozens of wives in that game. I married pretty much any woman the game would allow. Its not my fault. Blame Molyneux for hiring John Cleese to play my cheeky butler and loading him up with dialog about my polygamous ways.

                So I think Fable 3 had the best romances ever. How many other games let you sire biological children with all your spouses? In Skyrim you have to adopt.

  28. Pax says:

    The most natural feeling way to find Nick that I’ve ever seen is if you actually go to Goodneighbor first (for some reason) and visit the Memory Den. Despite how entirely wasted that whole location is, when you visit it before you’re supposed to in the main quest, they put you in a pod and let you relive your strongest memory – which happens to be the Kellogg and co. invade Vault 111 scene again. After it’s over, the doctor there apologizes for putting you through that again, and suggests you go find Nick to help you.

    It’s like there are remnants of alternate main story paths. There’s also a recording at University Point of Kellogg threatening the settlers there on behalf of the Institute. Imagine if that or this Memory Den scene actually gave you new information that you could act on!

  29. Sunshine says:

    “I’m Rut…skarn?”

    Was he hit by a sudden existential crisis, or “what am I doing with my life?” moment?

  30. Jeff R says:

    The Pip-Boy probably is a big enough hint in the direction of ‘came from a just-unlocked vault’, to be honest. The things are mighty rare, and if you have one, aren’t trying to sell it, and aren’t obviously filthy rich, that’s pretty much by far the most reasonable assumption.

    (Also wonder if a lot fewer random wandering raiders/gunners wouldn’t be automatically hostile if you weren’t visibly carrying around such a hugely valuable piece of loot all the time. Well, when not in power armor, which is itself a hugely valuable piece of loot.)

    • Cinebeast says:

      I always forget about the Pip-Boy. That is a bit of a give away, isn’t it?

      • IFS says:

        I bet if the Pip-boy was what Piper commented on as how she could tell then there would be no complaint, but instead they went with either the vault suit or just ‘the look in your eyes’ the latter being especially dumb while the former works but depends on the player actually wearing it at the time. As is Piper makes a nonsensical comment to justify her train of logic which makes it seem like she’s been reading the script.

        • Jeff R says:

          Well, you could show up in power armor which I think would hide the pip-boy although since you can use pip-boy functions in power armor maybe not…?

        • MichaelGC says:

          I just did this and instead she referenced the Pip-boy and my ‘fish out of water’ look, which works a bit better. Not entirely sure what I did differently, though!

          Edit: or rather, “of the hundreds of things I did differently to Cuftbert, I’m not entirely sure which one changed the result.”

    • Chris Davies says:

      It doesn’t really make any sense when you think about it. In the Bethesda games the idiotic vault experiment joke is canon, which meant that the vast majority of vaults basically killed all their occupants in amusing ways. Most wastelanders really ought not to have any idea what a vault is, and almost certainly have never met anyone who actually lived in a vault and survived to tell the tale.

      If you see someone toting advanced technology, you’d probably be more justified jumping to the conclusion that they’re an institute spy.

      • Jeff R says:

        The triggermen have taken over one vault, and another managed to survive and is currently engaging in commerce. And the DC area isn’t too far away for news to have travelled, and a vault dweller made a pretty big stir over then ten years ago…

        • That would have gotten overshadowed by the closest thing to a leader the area’s biggest faction had dying due to causes unknown, then having the next leader get killed in combat almost right away because we needed the kid no one remembered to turn into a small side of beefcake.

  31. Tuskin says:

    I actually happened across where you are suppose to find nick by accident, before I got the missions to find him and.. Well the game acts like you know who he is

  32. LCF says:

    ” find out what’s happened in the last 210 years”
    Two-hundred years is long enough for languages to change noticeably, and maybe start being hard to understand. Nothing here abiding by this principle. They speak the same way they did before the Bombs.
    As Shamus suggests, they sat upon their thumbs, firmly stuck a’twixt their bottoms’ cheeks.

    • Coming_Second says:

      I think how language might change over 200 years of a post-apocalyptic future is a fascinating topic to explore. I don’t think a triple A video game is the place to do it.

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