Fallout 4 EP14: Why Would They Do That?

By Shamus
on Jun 30, 2016
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning


Link (YouTube)

I think Fallout 4 wouldn’t be nearly so infuriating if the dialog didn’t keep making promises that the writer never intended to keep. It makes it sound like wall-painter guy has stories to tell, but he’s just a nonsense fetch quest. You meet a big bad guy who wants to talk, but the conversation is dumb and pointless because my character isn’t allowed to ask any interesting questions. You meet people with pre-war memories, or strange backstories, or in odd situations, which makes it seem like they’re designed specifically to deliver exposition and stories. But no. It’s just another bland NPC who wants to give you caps to kill a bunch of crap.

In most games, the designer will use a story to hook you into doing a quest. In this game I kept doing quests, hoping to find a story somewhere.

I was usually disappointed.

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  1. They have so many huge and developed WAYS they can deliver story to you in this game, also. Holotapes. Terminal entries. Notes. Conversations. Environmental storytelling. Radio broadcasts. Heck, you even go delving through a guy’s freakin memory at one point.

    • Watching Josh maul that poor behemoth is truly entertaining.

    • James Porter says:

      I think that may be part of the reason people immediately started talking about another New Vegas situation. Really Bethesda has a beautiful framework of a game here, and if they could hand their engine off to another studio they can spend more time on worldbuilding and story.

      • I think a lot of the problem is that the quest hooks exist for exactly one purpose–to drag you into visiting their locations. The locations often have something cool and interesting about them. The ENTIRE GAME was designed this way–EVERYTHING you encounter exists for the SOLE purpose of getting you to go to Cool Location X.

        Cogsworth sends you to Concord
        Mama Murphy sends you to Diamond City
        Preston sends you to a ton of settlements and eventually The Castle
        Piper sends you to Vault 114 to find Nick
        Nick sends you to Goodneighbor
        Amari sends you to The Glowing Sea
        Virgil sends you to CIT and then The Institute
        Father sends you to Bunker Hill and Libertalia

        And, of course, all the side quests do exactly the same thing.

        The reason why the storytelling is so perfunctory is that it’s only there to send you somewhere. They didn’t design their game to let you interact with this big story. It’s just there to nudge you to find as many locations as possible.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Thats not really the problem.I mean bunch of quests in new vegas exist only so you would visit a cool location.The problem is that when you arrive somewhere in boston,theres nothing interesting there.The loot is the same,people you meet are mostly the same,and your interaction with them is the same.

          • I disagree–there are usually some interesting things at the locations in Fallout 4–but they don’t RELATE to anything. It doesn’t pull you deeper into anything.

            A narrative follows a scheme of leads leading to leads. That’s how you build up to a climax, which is supposed to cash in on what has come before. But the leads in Fallout 4 are all separated. They’re a single cycle–lead, thing, done.

            It’s like offering someone a meal which consists of 100 bags each of which contain a single potato chip. Even if the chips are all different flavors, it’s still going to be phenomenally unsatisfying and they’ll eventually get bored with opening little bags.

        • Wide And Nerdy says:

          Once again, liked the way New Vegas handled this. You come back to each location multiple times sent by different people, giving you a sense of how all these different people are integrated into the setting.

          The relationships are actually fleshed out. There’s a sense that stuff is happening in Freeside and that it affects stuff happening with the Caravans, which affects stuff happening at the NCR outpost down south. Sure you get sent point to point (and a lot more points than this) but its all done in ways that reinforce the relationships between the locations, the sense that this is a world that has dealings.

          Aside from the clashing major factions in Fallout 4, there’s not near as much of this.

          • Ninety-Three says:

            Huh. I’ve played New Vegas a lot, but I always roll into Vegas proper with enough caps to pass the security check, so I’ve never done anything at the Wrangler besides sell loot. I didn’t even know there were quests there, I had mentally labeled it as “Just another merchant, like Silver Rush”.

            • Wide And Nerdy says:

              Which is funny because the Silver Rush ties into at least a few quests as well. The Atomic Wrangler, Silver Rush, The Kings, The Omertas, The Caravan, The Tops, Mick and Ralphs, the NCR Outposts, the Super Mutant settlement and other seemingly minor locations all interrelate, each having multiple connections to others via quests. You can make a complete story for your character out of just doing all the side stuff not directly tied into the main conflict.

              They also achieve an amazing sense of depth in the exploration by burying some cool stuff in seemingly minor quests. Like with the ghouls in the warehouse. (I’m convinced the Pirate Robots in FO4 are a reaction to the coolness of “Come Fly With Me.” And I have to admit it was kind of fun.)

              EDIT: But I can totally see how you’d miss a lot of it. I did on my first playthrough.

          • Coming_Second says:

            I think this nails it. It’s the interactivity which sets NV apart from F4, and why the world of the former is so much more compelling than the latter.

            In NV, right from the off you are introduced to a tense situation – the settlers of Goodsprings versus the Powder Gangers. You learn why this stand-off has occurred, what the relationship of the various people around Goodsprings are to one another, what each thinks you should do. A chance to use any skill specialty is offered. Then you can go find out about the PGs, if you want. They have a leader and motivations of their own, and you can get them on your side if you’re willing to help them. You will learn they are there because of the NCR, which will colour your view of that group and make you want to go find out about them. Every single location of note in NV is like this – it exists in a world which meaningfully connects together.

            If Goodsprings were in F4, you would see Sunny Smiles having an argument with some PGs. It would be impossible to avoid this. She would give you a quest to wipe them out. There would be no other way of approaching this, and the only choice involved in how you do it is the type of handheld weapon you use. The PGs would be assholes who are being assholes because that’s what motivates assholes. Once you did it Sunny would thank you and give you a material reward. Nothing more would be said or made of it, and every time you approached Sunny afterwards she would act as if you’d just finished the quest.

            NV is a world that lives and breathes. F4 is a bunch of spectacular, unrelated set-pieces floating in a void.

        • Michael says:

          I honestly think, the entire point of Fallout 4 is shooting people in the head, then looting their corpses. It’s like Bethesda decided they wanted to take the franchise and make a Diablo/Borderlands clone out of it.

          It creates this really weird situation. This is a game that’s just about combat. Its quests point you towards new areas so you can shoot things, and take their stuff, in new backgrounds. The narrative is incidental to that.

          In that regard it actually, kinda, works. It creates interesting environments for gunfights, and not much else. It’s Borderlands, if Bethesda made it, full of “kooky” characters and fresh places to shoot people in the head.

          Even the loot and enemy respawn mechanics seem to be built around the idea that you’ll be rerunning areas. Not today, but maybe next month, when you come back and decide to shoot things for a couple hours.

          The dialog seems to be built around the idea that it’s not important. This is the stuff you’ll click through while going back outside to shoot more enemies.

          Quests are flat out dumped into your journal for convenience, because you’re too busy shooting stuff to actually sit down and listen to an NPC, and see if they have a quest for you.

          Even the companions’ behavior suggests the game doesn’t want you to stop shooting people. The most interaction you’ll get out of most companions in the game happens when you’re in the middle of combat. They’ll bark out unique lines, say their bit, weigh in. It’s in sharp contrast to their brief infodumps that happen at set affinity thresholds.

          I mean, I could be wrong, but this feels like Bethesda was trying to make a straight up Diablo style shooter.

    • You know something else interesting–there actually IS some cool backstory about how the bad blood between the Institute and the Commonwealth started, but it’s mentioned only by ONE character. In his first “getting to know you better” conversation you can ask Nick about The CPG–the Commonwealth Provisional Government–which was an attempt some years ago to actually set up a real government. According to Nick, a synth killed all the delegates at the talks and that was the end of the notion of an overall Commonwealth government.

      Well, when you get to the Institute, you can find out that the delegates actually killed EACH OTHER and the synth was blamed because he was pretty much the last one standing. That was when synths became boogeymen. You’d think that SOMEONE else would mention this backstory. Piper should be writing about THIS episode not some idiotic bit at the Diamond City bar. The massacre of the CPG looked like deliberate political assassination. If they’d expanded upon it AT ALL it would have done a lot to amplify the antagonism between the Institute and, well, everyone else.

      Still doesn’t explain what the heck the Institute’s goal in creating synths in the first place really was. To be the “next step in human evolution”? What does that even mean? Replace everyone with synths and they’ll be tough enough to withstand the rigors of the wasteland? But that doesn’t make any sense if it’s their goal because they treat synths as disposable property, not as “the new supermen”. If you think that your creation is The New Hawtness, you don’t set it to cleaning the floors and taking out the trash, particularly when REGULAR robots already exist and can do that perfectly! You give it expensive training and schooling. “Freeing” the synths should be like trying to “free” rich indulged prep-school kids, not slaves.

      The synths were supposed to replace the people in the Commonwealth, maybe? Why? The Institute disdains the rest of the Commonwealth. They don’t CARE what happens to the people out there–in fact, they do an enormous amount to make things WORSE for the people in the Commonwealth, like manufacturing tons of supermutants. They obviously don’t care to rule or conquer anything. Nobody can hurt them because nobody can GET to them.

      They just don’t make any SENSE. It’s like watching someone spread butter on the table, pull down part of the ceiling, open all the doors and windows, turn all the lights on and off, and then when you ask them “WTF are you doing?!” they respond by saying “I’m performing service!” NONE of their actions serve to accomplish ANY goal, and the goal they announce is MEANINGLESS.

      I really think the Institute was supposed to be a REAL bad guy early in production and then later on they tried to make it somewhat sympathetic and only succeeded in making it incomprehensible.

      I mean, if they REALLY WERE just planning to exterminate all the “infected” people in the Commonwealth and live like tiny gods with an army of obedient synth slaves, that would at least make SENSE. The Brotherhood and Railroad would ALSO both make sense–the Railroad wants to destroy the Institute but liberate the synths, and the Brotherhood wants to destroy the Institute and the synths together. The Minutemen HAVE to destroy the Institute to SURVIVE.

      But their attempt to make the Institute semi-sympathetic completely borked all of that. I can kind of appreciate why they did it–your son turning out to be an absolute villain after all that “SHAUUUNNNN!!!!” would have been a pretty severe kick in the nuts if you were actually invested at all. I really wonder if that was the original plan and they just wimped out at the last minute.

      What they could have done was to slowly reveal that Father and the part of the Institute that you get to see are actually along the lines of another sort of Vault experiment. Father isn’t the director of the ACTUAL Institute–instead, he’s basically the star of The Truman Show. The ACTUAL Institute directors are keeping him around as “the control”–what a “natural” human was actually like. Sort of like a combination of pet and mascot. But he’s getting old. Letting you out was a whim of his and the Real Directors decided to indulge him because, hey, why not. Then, when you actually turn out to be Ossum and successfully *break into the Institute*, they’re like, hey, we could use this schmuck. Quick, trot out the “kid” for leverage.

      From there, you and Father gradually discover the REAL nature of what’s going on and what their REAL plans of mustache-twirling villainy are, and you have the four endings. The only one that would really be different would be the Institute ending, where you’d have to kill the Directors to take over. You’d have to destroy the Railroad and the Brotherhood to get close enough to off the Directors, though, as they won’t meet with you until you prove your loyalty.

      • Sleeping Dragon says:

        That thing about the synth and the government massacre? I did not know that! Why didn’t I know that?! Why isn’t learning about this an integral part of the storyline?! It’s something that lies at the core of people’s attitudes towards synths and at the same time has shaped the political landscape and it’s handled with a few lines of throwaway dialogue that you can do nothing about?!

        • The Rocketeer says:

          Yeah, I’d thought I’d read everything to read in the Institute, but I missed that. I would have loved to have found that. Makes me wonder what else I missed there.

          • The only reason I know about it is because I JUST did Nick’s companion stuff and he brought it up. I was all “Da fuq is this?!” when he started talking about it, so I went and looked it up in the wiki.

      • Fists says:

        [quote]Replace everyone with synths and they’ll be tough enough to withstand the rigors of the wasteland? But that doesn’t make any sense if it’s their goal because they treat synths as disposable property[/quote]

        How did I not notice this? How has Shamus not mentioned it yet?

        The bit about the origin of the Institute/Commonwealth conflict is cool info though, sounds like it was cut content that they didn’t bother cutting properly. Resorting to murder and espionage doesn’t sound like a very scientific endeavour though.

        Overall the key reason I hate the way the Institute is presented is because they have zero ‘results based’ policies, they still behave like a corporate/government institution where everyone’s motivation seems to be to keep the boss/other departments happy, despite being comprised almost entirely of scientists. I know scientists aren’t above a bit of emotion and popularity based leadership but they really should have been contrasted against the rest of the idiots. A pack of Sheldon Coopers and Sherlock a la Cumberbatch would be an improvement, if still distasteful.

      • Incunabulum says:

        I really wonder if that was the original plan and they just wimped out at the last minute.

        That’s a pretty good description of every design choice in the game. Voiced protagonist – but no personality. Integrate Skills into Perks – and then strongly gate them behind levels so no one can have a unique playthrough. Give you power armor early – but then make it run through FC’s really fast. Then make FC’s really common so that doesn’t matter.

    • Sunshine says:

      Everyone on the Fallout subreddit was expecting that the Memory Den would be the base of a DLC in pre-war times, or at war with the Chinese, or any setting at all dug out of someone’s memories,. It’s such a perfect hook, but it doesn’t look like they’ll do it.

      • Incunabulum says:

        nah man, ’cause what we really wanted (Howard has his finger on the pulse of the community) was LOGIC GATES and AMMO-Making machines – that only make the types of ammo that the game throws at you in ridiculous quantities so you don’t actually *need* to make it.

        And if you did, you already had one of the half dozen ammo making mods already installed.

  2. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Wait a second…the “house” that lady is in has boards that are widely spaced apart?No,worse,perfectly cut boards that are widely spaced apart!Whyyyyy?!

    And whats worse is,there are all these still standing concrete buildings around that you only need to clean a bit and move int,and they all live inside a stadium?!In windy rusty shacks?!!?!!For fucks sake bethesda,why would they do that?!

    • SlothfulCobra says:

      The part about the apocalypse war nobody talks about are the massive amount of psychotropic drugs that were released which led to surviving communities finding weird and gimmicky ways of forming a society instead of focusing on the basics like food and shelter.

    • Hector says:

      This is a minor but irritating point which irks me to no end. My character builds junk houses. People live in junk houses. Yea, let there be junk houses unto the ends of the Earth!

      But there’s also about a hundred completely livable brownstones, and yet we see nobody and nothing inside them except raiders! It took me about two seconds to wonder why the first settler group you meet doesn’t just stay in Concord, where they have a nice townhall, storefronts, and many houses that seem to be in good shape, with thick brick walls and multiple stories for more secure living arrangements. Much easier to build defenses around, and there would be convenient land nearby for farms. It’s even right next to the trading post with Trudy and Wolfgang.

      • acronix says:

        They don’t stay there because Mama Murphy is an Author Insert that tells them to go to Sanctuary for no reason (or, well, she had a vision that has no reason to exist).

        • Michael says:

          It’s worse than that, even. Fallout’s setting has psychics, like her. Is in, it’s actually one of the post war mutations you’ll run across occasionally, including The Master in Fallout 1 and Hakunin in Fallout 2. So, on her face, Murphy is entirely in line with the setting’s rules…

          But, the player’s response options, every single one of them, makes no sense whatsoever.

          It’s fine when the Chosen One is getting confused and thinks that magic is a thing. But the Sole Survivor is someone who went through the pre-war education system. If they were a tribal their responses to Murphy would make sense. Instead, even when you call bullshit on her, literally call bullshit, the response is so tepid.

          Ugh.

          Murphy was the first point with Fallout 4 where I really went, “uh-oh.”

      • Writiosity says:

        Now me… I’d have had Concord be the first major thriving settlement the player comes across, giving them information on the current state of the world, plenty of quests for this quadrant of the map, and a bunch of interesting characters, some of whom will point you in the direction of Boston itself for additional work and/or exposition.

        But I actually give a shit about world building (it’s kinda what I do).

        • Michael says:

          If it was me, I wouldn’t have used the Minute Man National Historical Park as a subdivision, and then implied that cars and military vehicles were being driven over the Old North Bridge.

    • Sunshine says:

      This was also true in previous games – in New Vegas, Primm had an old hotel and empty pre-war houses but the sheriff lived in a shack, and the NCR had the whole airport but their quartermaster was in a wooden lean-to attached to the terminal building.

      • The quartermaster can be kind of explaining in that they’re keeping their supplies as far away from the entry point as possible, meaning anyone hostile that’s trying to get those supplies would need to walk through every single soldier there to get them.

        • Brightroar says:

          Also, the quartermaster is selling supplies to the NCR’s enemies under the table. So he’d probably want to be away from the main buildings. And he’s basically in a warehouse, which aren’t known for their nice appearance.

      • galacticplumber says:

        You can also make the argument that the empty hotels are kept empty specifically because they want the maximum number of rooms to support business in case of more customers. Additionally the sheriff probably doesn’t have to pay to live in the shack.

      • KarmaTheAlligator says:

        I don’t remember any empty pre-war houses in Primm. All the ones at the back were occupied. I agree with the hotel, although it might be argued that since the elevator wasn’t working, it might make the Sheriff a bit unavailable in an emergency.

    • Axe Armor says:

      Presumably the postwar human population is immune to tetanus, considering that everyone lives in shacks made of rusty sheet metal and wears armor made of rusty iron rods.

      Seriously, why not log cabins? We’re doing this colonial thing, right? You can’t forget how to build log cabins, come on.

  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

    So,Josh,you havent said anything about the new critical system.Any thoughts on it?

    • Ninety-Three says:

      I am not Josh, but in the name of starting a discussion, I’ll weigh in. I love it.

      I feel like the standard model of criticals (approximately 5% random chance to do aproximately +100% extra damage on every hit) is worthless. Not that it’s awful in the way binding ten different functions to one awesome button is awful, it’s just that it adds absolutely nothing. I feel like most RPGs do it because they’re copying the other games which do it, which were in turn copying their predecessors who did it, which were copying their predecessors…

      Fallout 4’s crits are a system with depth. Not a lot mind you, and I have some complaints (like how they make me use VATS to charge crits on shots I would have manual-moded) but they add something to the game, and that automatically puts them above the old system.

      • Kyrillos says:

        I agree that this system is more rewarding from a mechanical standpoint than a normal critical system, but I don’t like that they are called crits. A critical system is suppose to emulate rolling dice, where you get that adrenaline rush of coming up 20 (or what have you). It should add unexpected high points to a combat. This system feels more like… a super system from a fighting game.

        If they had called this the “Super Hit System” and tied it to a stat other than luck, I personally would have felt better about it. Even better would have been if they had included some form of the old crit system, so that I could both build the lucky high roller who hopes to seat of the pants his way through the fight, and the cold calculating sniper who takes out the side guys to charge up a super to take out the boss.

        But that would require having different and meaningful decisions on character building I suppose :(

        • pdk1359 says:

          Yeah, I’ve got to agree; a critical his system should have some kind of random factor. It just feels wrong for it to be called a critical hit when it’s clearly a charged gauge.

      • Chris Davies says:

        You’re probably right that critical hits in a lot of RPGs are now pretty much cargo cult design, but the isometric Fallouts were firmly in pen and paper tradition and understood the narrative purpose of critical hits. It’s about giving your character a crowning moment of badassery, where they feel like they achieved something significant. One of the things people remember most about Fallout are the awesome death animations that come from critical hits. There’s nothing quite like blowing a large chunk out of a bad guy with your .223 pistol to make you feel like the saviour of the wasteland. The engine also had critical failures, which is the equally important flipside of the coin that most games now neglect.

        I suppose you could argue that called criticals are the CRPG equivalent of the narrative, diceless pen and paper RPG systems, but I think that’s probably giving the designers too much credit.

        • Decius says:

          There’s nothing quite like an instant death crit from a boxing glove.

          • My fav is still the fighter who saved up for 3 levels to get a vorpal sword, then decapitated himself the first time he swung it in combat thanks to a crit failure. The sword was buried with the fighter and those dice, well, they had a slow death by fire once we all stopped laughing our heads off (including the player of the fighter).

      • Bloodsquirrel says:

        Crits serve a good purpose in pen and paper RPGs: They’re a great “OH SHIT!” moment that can spice up combat. They’re important because combat in tabletop tends to drag on a lot of times, and if you’re just attacking an enemy over and over with your sword crits are nice variable that can be thrown in.

        Games don’t really need them, though. They’ve got much better ways to keep combat dynamic and interesting, and since you’re going through combat a lot faster they average out more and their effect diminishes.

      • Writiosity says:

        What I’d have liked to see (not that you would in a Beth game) is a system of actually improving criticals through combat. You fight an enemy, run to its corpse, and examine it. With a high enough stat (*sigh* in the old games I’d have said survival or guns, but lol skills were deleted, good job, Bethesda…) you’d be able to effectively butcher the animal/enemy/whatever and learn where its weak points are.

        Regular animals would be weak in the obvious places like the eyes, but learning their internal biology (perhaps with high medicine or survival) would boost your critical damage against them. With high int/science you could pull robots/power armour apart and learn their weak points (again, eyes or sensors, but also stuff like joints). Similar to the magazine system of perks but more in-depth and requiring that you fight the specific enemies to learn about them.

        • IFS says:

          FO3 and NV had perks somewhat along these lines like Entomology which had a science skill prerequisite and gave you a damage bonus to enemies of that type. NV also had achievement perks that unlocked after you did a certain thing enough times and I believe there were some that gave you damage bonuses against certain enemy types.

          Dragon Age Inquisition had you collecting bits off of various monsters and handing them in to a researcher at your home base to get bonuses against those enemies, which is a similar but different approach.

          • pdk1359 says:

            there were also the challenges in NV, that if you killed X critters, you got better at killing those critter. Insects, robots, ghouls, was here one for people? i know there was one overall damage bonus as well, but it took like 500 kills to get the first rank…

            Looking things up; Abominable, Animal Control, Bug Stomper, Machine Head & Mutant Massacre, each at 50/100/150 kills for the three ranks (machine head is apparently glitched), as well as Lord death (my mistake, 200/700/1000 kills).

            Do you kill things? Yes? You get better at it, separate from just leveling up. I really liked the challenge perks of NV.

          • Writiosity says:

            Yep, I know (NV is my favourite game of all time, random aside), just saying I’d have liked to see those general concepts of improving your critical/damage against particular enemies by tying it into a new mechanic. With the NV challenges, you get minor boosts to all damage against particular enemies, that’s fine. But in Fallout 4, with the new triggered critical mechanic, I figure having a slightly more in-depth system could’ve worked well.

            But I guess that would’ve been a bit too much like actual roleplaying.

            Also, I suppose it’s the case that VATS effectively gives you this in any case, you can target specific body parts… but eh, maybe you could say learning about enemies gives increases to damage against specific body parts in VATS, or opens new parts up you couldn’t target before.

    • James says:

      As a counter to Mr Ninety-Three i hate it, the idea of a critical for me was that random off chance that i could get lucky and do a tonne of damage, i liked the feedback of the WOW i crit that guy and he exploded, its part of why i love Diablo and Moba’s like Dota.

      Moving it to something that “charges” didn’t really work for me, it just meant that sometimes if i used vats id get 1 100% chance hit, it took the surprise and the for me at least fun away. the hilarious way you could force the engine into giving you 100% crit chance with 500% damage bonus’s was apart of that.

      i guess its mostly because i like random chance.

      • IFS says:

        I haven’t played FO4 so I won’t comment too much on the new system but I liked the original system because there were several builds you could make around crits by maxing out luck and taking the right perks. You could make a character who just flies by the seat of their pants through the wasteland, lucksacking their way through combat and casinos alike.

        I get the feeling I wouldn’t like the new system as much because its too predictable, which for me at least takes all the fun out of crits. At that point you might as well do what Borderlands does and just call headshots crits.

    • Humanoid says:

      I’m 100% in favour of the new system, with the admission that I’m broadly in favour of deterministic game mechanics in general. Randomly occurring criticals are one of those arbitrary gaming conventions that have survived despite unquestioned and which these days seems purely to exist solely because it’s always been done that way.

      Sure, it makes in the typically very abstract PnP where you have no simulation of things like location damage or AI detection states, and perhaps in isometric type games where a similar rationale applies (but then even original Fallout had location damage). In a fully-detailed 3D world though, it no longer has business existing. Award criticals for things like sneak attacks, headshots, etc, to reward the player for using those mechanics, don’t just give them out willy-nilly.

      Any time a systems designer creates a mechanic that relies on random chance, they really ought to at least sit down and ask themselves “does this NEED to be random?”

      • pdk1359 says:

        Here’s a reason; luck is fun. Getting the unguaranteed bonus, on the random occasion is more fun (for some people) than a guaranteed bonus that the same person can expect after building a charge gauge or otherwise ‘earning’ it. the whole point of the feeling ins the windfall.

        What’s fun? Some people like to know exactly what they’re getting. Some people want to have to guess and hope, because they’re happier NOT knowing.

        I’ll agree with you, designers need to consider if a thing needs to be random, but YES random can be a reward in its own right.

  4. SlothfulCobra says:

    Man, how does Josh find all these exploits? Ultimate power bear meat, using VATS with melee to become a vanguard, I’m lucky if I can figure out which gun is better than other guns.

    Also, they must’ve really amped up the carry weight if Josh still hasn’t needed to go into the inventory menu to dump all the garbage he keeps picking up.

    • Gruhunchously says:

      Josh breaks stuff. It is known.

      Sometimes it works in his favor, other times it blows up in his face.

    • Josh doesn’t dump things. He eats them.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      And how can this be?For he IS the bugsatz whisperach.

      • Scott Schulz says:

        Reginald Cuftbert must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the mini-nuke that brings total obliteration. Reginald Cuftbert will face his fear. Reginald Cuftbert will permit it to pass over him and through him. And when it has gone past Reginald Cuftbert will turn the inner eye to see the exploit. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only Reginald Cuftbert will remain.

    • Yummychickenblue says:

      I’m pretty sure it’s just the fact that Josh doesn’t haven any incinerators this time around.

      RIP incinerator, best paper weight in the Mojave

    • The sad thing is that exactly none of those are exploits; those are intentional design decisions made by Bethesda…except maybe the Yao Guai Roast thing, which seems more like a programming error than anything else. :/

      My pattern of buying low-cost weapons in New Vegas and using Jury Rigging to repair high-cost stuff I’ve looted to then sell is more of an exploit than anything Josh has done so far.

      • galacticplumber says:

        except you can make a case for that being logical. You’ve essentially told the shopkeep that you’re a wiz at repairing things and bought his stuff so you could sell him better stuff back. This is how capitalism is supposed to work. You generate value through skills and resources. The only difference is that instead you’re using Skills, Perks, and resources.

        • I wouldn’t really call the New Vegas economy capitalistic. It’s got elements of that, but when you add in that most existing industry is based around shooting people, a somewhat-socialistic system for food, and not many businesses pursuing necessities like housing or infrastructure, I’d say it’s closer to a democratic socialism with a capitalistic flavoring. :P

          • galacticplumber says:

            I’m just saying that if merchants are merching, what you did makes sense and if it ever comes up in the game world should be acknowledged as a logical thing that smart people do and that more people should be doing. More high quality weapons and armor means more efficient scavenging and defense for any parties involved in the transaction. The only way it wouldn’t make sense would be if the merchant you were ”exploiting” couldn’t legitimately be argued to benefit just as much as you do.

            • Considering that most of the people in the area are barely at subsistence levels of income and the people who might have that money are most likely in the NCR and have their own equipment to use already, there’s not much of a market for stuff like Hunting Shotguns outside of a few people scattered around the map, and after they have one there’s not much reason to have more.

              Essentially, demand is almost nonexistent for the weapons I’m reselling. :P

              • galacticplumber says:

                Are you kidding? Remind me again what exactly is the most efficient way of getting food in a timely manner again? You could spend days growing it yourself, wait for merchants to come and sell it, or you could spend a few hours hiking and either kill something to eat, or kill something and take its food. Actually… After a few hours you’ve probably found multiple somethings actually.

                • Combining all of those does actually work, plus there’s also herding animals and scavenging. Getting a decent amount of food isn’t that hard, especially if you can pull a This War of Mine and make something much more filling out of a couple of smaller items.

                  • As an example, after running around somewhere in Mojave last night, (I think in the general area of Broc Flower Cave) I’d managed to get exactly 50 Bighorner Meat just from wasting Tomahawks and some explosives I’d picked up in HH. I’d assume that you only get so many pieces of meat since actually dressing and doing all the prep work for an animal wouldn’t work so well in NV because you’re not a settler and therefore go with an Oregon Trail kind of thing where you can only take so much meat with you, leaving a LOT of meat behind.

                    For someone who doesn’t have that working against them, they’d probably have gotten enough meat to feed a town the size of Novac for an entire year.

    • Hitch says:

      Josh is the “Bug Whisperer.” If there’s a bug in a game he will find it. The incredibly annoying ones that render the game nearly unplayable (but we don’t get to see as many of those, because they tend to also make the footage unusable) and the ultra-cheesy exploits like taking out about 75% of Swan’s health with a single swing.

    • 4th Dimension says:

      If you had not realized this, Josh is the prophesied Exploitsia, the bringer of exploits. Also his brother is Glitch. So they have a nice theme naming going on there.

  5. banky says:

    When you guys get to good neighbor you better kill and/or romance Maccready. The fact that Bethesda put him in this game is like they were specifically taunting people who hated him in the last game. The worst part is I’m pretty sure he is still immortal (and an asshole) in this game.

    • Warclam says:

      Ever since they announced they were doing F4, I’ve been waiting for their reactions to Mayor MacCready. He’s actually (like the crew discussed about most companions) got some interesting stuff going on in his backstory, but… Little Lamplight. We blame you, mayor.

    • Dragmire says:

      Oh, so Mccready is coming up soonish? I was about to ask how far away the SW team was to getting to him.

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        I still remember the epic reaction on Twitter when they first encountered him in FO4.

        I can’t even remember where you’re supposed to encounter him. I’ve had several playthroughs of the main plot and missed him all but once. Strong as well. And the one time I did recruit Macready, I assigned him to a shipping route immediately to connect a couple of settlements. Never talked to him again.

        • guy says:

          He’s in one of the Goodneighbor bars. I discovered him during my long and ardurous quest to get the Charisma bobblhea- I mean, to end a four-hundred-year-old struggle against an alien artifact.

          • Wide And Nerdy says:

            I will say, the good thing about Macready in this game is that he obeys your orders. You can assign him to shipping, put him out in the field, or as of the latest DLC, stick him in a pillory.

            • acronix says:

              He’s much less of a jerk, too, which helps quite a bit to differentiate him with his previous Marty Stu incarnation.

            • GloatingSwine says:

              Unfortunately, because this is Bethesda, he’s still goddamn invincible so you can’t explode his skull with a railgun like he soundly deserves.

              No, I don’t care what he’s like “if you get to know him”, I do not wish to know him, I wish to end him.

              • MichaelGC says:

                All of the this. It might be worthwhile to learn things about him in order to wreak a more efficient or a more devasting termination, but this would be the sole & only acceptable reason.

                • Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

                  Turns out he married that equally bratty girl that was hanging around him in Little Lamplight. They had a kid. She was killed. His kid is dying.

                  So it can be rewarding to learn more about him. I’ll leave it to you to decide whats rewarding about it. ;)

        • Jokerman says:

          He is not actually so bad when you build up your friendship with him… i didn’t even realize who he was for a while, so i didn’t prejudge him. Oh… and he gave me a fusion core once, so… we cool now.

          • lurkey says:

            I actually ended up liking him quite a lot. I liked that he’s still an asshole, because that’s consistent, he liked my unbridled kleptomania and could be sent to swipe [DETECTED] things, and finally after his personal quest we bonded over being the worst parents of Commonwealth.

        • Writiosity says:

          I managed to totally break him in my first playthrough, because I find the cure ‘before’ I even knew MacCready was in the game. Finding the cure is what alerted me, with much groaning. When I actually talked to him, he was stuck in the conversation with the two gunners because the game thought I should be at a different quest (to do with the cure) and wouldn’t advance the Gunners dialogue at all. Totally broke.

    • Lachlan the Mad says:

      Reginald should react to him the same way he reacted in Fallout 3: Multiple mini-nukes to the face. It’ll be completely ineffective, since MacCready is as immortal as ever, but the catharsis will be pleasant.

      • Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

        True but he’s adult immortal in this game as opposed to kid immortal. You’ll recall, kid immortal in the Bethesda engine means the kid is effectively invincible. They’ll run away scared but they never fall over. But as an adult, Macready will have the decency to fall over and clutch his side.

  6. Not to totally defend Bethesda’s decisions, but there were gangsters in the Godfather style in the 1950’s. However, I think this may have been a desire to ape the Vicki & Vance lore from Fallout New Vegas.

    The dislike of the “50’s vibe” does raise an interesting question, though: How would one handle the aesthetics and tech of a game like Fallout 1 when you needed an Old World influence (in the architecture, if nothing else) as well as some kind of high tech (robots, energy weapons) when high culture and technology was abruptly cut off by a nuclear war?

    • The “Godfather Style” was completely made up by the movies. Yes, there were gangsters in the 50’s. The STYLE here in the game is 100% pure unadulterated Prohibition-era (1920’s). Everything about it, the clothes, the hair, the Thompson-style submachine guns, are 1920’s.

      1950’s “style” gangsters would be more like the Tunnel Snakes from Fallout 3. Greasy hair, leather jackets, cars and motorcycles, James Dean and Elvis references.

      • Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

        This is making me wonder if Fallout should ever have a Westside Story style clash. Two opposing factions heavily choreographed.

        http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/cobras-andamp-panthers/n10911

        • Henson says:

          Two houses, both alike in infamy,
          In fair Chicago where we lay our scene
          From ancient grudge break to new mutantry
          Where ghoulish blood make ghoulish hands unclean.

      • Merkel says:

        While film noir was largely based on novellas from the ’20s and ’30s, and really blossomed onto the silver screen in the ’40s, it was very much alive and well through the ’50s. So if Bethesda was basing Fallout culture on the movies of the ’50s, then gangsters like the triggermen and detectives like Valentine, are very much in line. A relatively young genre (pun intended) of this era was the “teensploitation” flick, which took advantage of the fears about the upcoming youth (late Silent Generation/early Baby Boomers) and presented gangsters more like the ones you are talking about (i.e. Tunnel Snakes).

        If you want a great ’50s noir, I recommend 1955’s “Kiss Me Deadly”

        • It’s more “the time period when this was actually current popular fashion” and not “the time period when fiction set in this time period was popular”.

          The way they’ve done it here is approximately equivalent to saying “our setting is Renaissance Italy!” and a bunch of people are wandering around in togas and saying “Hail Caesar!” Yes, there was a resurgence of classicism in Renaissance Italy, but that’s not at all the same thing.

      • Incunabulum says:

        PONY BOY!

  7. Josh says:

    You guys missed a prime example of the “joke environmental storytelling”.

    Right on the corner where you killed Swan in this episode is a bar you can enter (you have to go down a flight of stairs to reach it), that is laid out exactly like the bar from Cheers (the TV show). Including a pair of guys on the end, one of whom has a mailman outfit.

    (Oh, and Swan gets his name and arm shield from the swan boats that are used to toodle around the small lake on Boston Common. Again, another Boston reference likely lost on non-locals.)

    • guy says:

      I got that one in part because the game labeled it as “Swan Lake” so my initial encounter was “oh, hey, this must be a place with swan boats. I wonder if there’s any- OH DEAR GOD!”

      After killing Swan I went and discovered all the various notes and conversations about how no one should ever go into the commons under any circumstances.

      • I got one better than that; I passed through there at least 5 times with no incident.

        After screwing around on the Steam forums, I found out Swan was a thing and wanted to go kill him.

        Got there, Swan was randomly dead.

        • That’s brilliant. I’ve had the same kind of thing happen in Bethesda games so many times.

          • lurkey says:

            This thing is probably one of my favourite Bethesda things.

            “Oooh, big tall radio tower! Lets check it out.”
            “Bleh, a horde of raider scum got spawned. No matter, lets either snipe them from the top or pick one by one on this narrow ladder.”
            “There’s a button on the top of the tower! I wonder what does it do? *click*”
            “AWOOOO!!! AWOOOOOOOO!!!! AWOOOOOOOOO!!!!”
            “Wha…aaaaahahahaha! Go team deathclaw! You get them guys! Yeah, good. Good. Now, go away, please. That’s right, go…oh, crabs. No matter. Kill them, Alpha Deathclaw!”
            “What?! A bunch of future crab cakes fell an Alpha Deathclaw?! Don’t worry, your ignominious death WILL be avenged, big Alpha D!”

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      Ok, so is it just me or is this game much more reliant on local real life lore in its worldbuilding than the previous (new) Fallout games? I mean, FO3 obviously had stuff like the capitol and various Washington monuments but I felt they generally relied on stuff that was recognizable to people like me, not from US but in the western cultural influence. In FO4 I at times felt like the game was kinda ribbing me about how cool its references to various local trivia were and it often either flew over my head in the “this… means something, right?” way or annoyed me in the way that some of the newer AC creed games annoy me.

      • Well, there could be several factors at work–Washington DC is actually kind of a sterile place from a historical standpoint. Yeah, there are monuments and museums but not a lot of stuff that came into being “organically”, if you will. The city was designed to be “modern” by Pierre Charles L’Enfant. It’s like a big government shopping mall.

        Boston is a different kettle of chowder. It’s over 150 years older than DC, for starters (1630 instead of 1790), and it wasn’t founded to be a giant bucket to hold the government.

    • MichaelGC says:

      On the subject of environmental joke-storytelling: yesterday I happened upon a teddy bear wearing handcuffs trapped in an upturned wire waste-bin weighted down by an office chair. It was in the Super Duper Mart, I think.

      So, I was just wondering if this was a reference to anything? Couldn’t get the poor little guy out, the poor little guy.

  8. Rayen says:

    Im starting to realize something. Bethesda is completely wrong about tackling Fallout games. Bethesda is bad at writing stories, in the Elder Scrolls games they build a world and let you tell the story. You are the Hero, you are there to move politics of the Empire and fulfill prophecies, steal a bunch of crap and whatever else, it’s your story and here is a world to tell it. Morrowind did it best and Oblivion dropped the ball because the kings son was the “hero”. Here in fallout games, you aren’t the hero, you are the everyman. You’re a NPC questgiver that decided to move instead of waiting for the hero to come by talk to you and go find your family. In both games you leave a vault to go find a family member that has been “taken” under tragic circumstances. Heroes don’t come from vaults, they aren’t guys that had a white picket fence and green lawn from 200 years ago. Those guys are supposed to be scared and awed by this new wasteland world they’re in.

    For a good Bethesda Fallout you need to be born into the brotherhood of steel and raised to be a paladin. It would make sense for whatever build you have, and you would be sent by the brotherhood to a place without a BoS chapter to get a thing, a la capt. Danse. then you’re in charge of being the hero and getting the thing and either you can ignore the townsfolk or help them rebuild. either way you are still the hero and you get to tell your story.

    I don’t know how that would vibe with previous fallout games but if they are willing to start out by giving you power armor they might as well say your part of the BoS.

    Also shamus i’m noticing pop-up ads on your site, is that something on my end or are ads back?

    • Keep in mind, though, that without the player in Oblivion Martin most likely would have been killed in Kvatch by one of the random Daedra since the only thing that the soldiers could do was try not to die.

      • Bethesda open world games ALWAYS start with you as a prisoner. It’s their trademark. Arena, Daggerfall, Morrowind, Oblivion, Fallout 3, Skyrim, Fallout 4 . . . you start the game as a prisoner and the *very first thing you do* is escape.

        When Dragon Age: Inquisition started with you as a prisoner, I was like BIOWARE WAT R U DOING U NOT BETHESDA.

        I swear, the two companies are trying to mate. Bioware keeps adding “open world” elements to their games and now Bethesda is doing a voiced protagonist. Yeesh.

        • lurkey says:

          And unsurprisingly they both suck in trying to ape each other’s MO! :D

          • Well, kinda, but they have that problem for different reasons. Bioware’s problem is that they want to have lots of content but they want that content to be largely optional. The problem with this is that it divorces the content from the story, and the story is what holds their game together and gives you a reason to DO THE STUFF. Basically they’re simultaneously trying to have a BIG game that can be played by people who don’t want to spend more than 15 hours on it. They keep trying to awkwardly straddle a fence instead of doing one thing really well.

            Bethesda’s problem is that they can’t write their way out of a damp paper bag. They have ideas but they have no clue how to bring those ideas together into any kind of whole.

            • I did like how everything gave you Power and so doing a lot of the random stuff was needed for the campaign…unless you had a ton of money and could use the gold sinks that handed you Power like it was candy-flavored iron.

            • Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

              Bioware really ought to look at how Obsidian handled that with all of the minor factions that have a tangential at best connection to the main plot. Have all of their quests be tangled together.

              This way, that stuff doesn’t have to be tied into the main plot but because its all connected to each other, it enriches the story by giving you more insight into the setting. For all of its flaws, I think Bioware writes rich enough worlds to pull this off. I think they still have the talent to do this sort of thing, especially with the expertise they developed in world state management to keep your choices straight for three whole games.

              They just need to give up on carrying your saves forward. That stuff isn’t very rewarding the way they do it. Then devote their efforts to the complexity within a single game as opposed to between games. We’ll understand.

        • There was at least a good justification for you being a prisoner in DAI. For Bethesda the crime is *insert crime here*, but in DAI you were suspected of committing the closest thing the setting has to deicide.

          • IFS says:

            Deicide is the wrong word, you’re suspected of killing the setting equivalent of the pope, not the Maker himself. I’m not sure what the right word for Pope-icide is though, Regicide some sorta close I guess.

            • ? says:

              Papicide apparently. Or as they say in Vatican, the usual.

            • Some variant of patricide, maybe, since they call the pope Father? Or is there a special word for priest-murder? Google isn’t really helping here in terms of word-finding, but it is finding a lot of interesting things for me to read later!

              Regicide started out as just for kings and queens, and it appears sources are divided about whether you can use it for like, a prime minister (as in I found one source that says sure, the others are NOPE). Given the age of most Popes, euthanasia might also work.

              Or we make our own word. Patriregicide for the win!

              Man, I love English.

              • Philadelphus says:

                Hierocide, perhaps, for the murder of any priest or religious figure (not just the Pope)?
                “Hiero-” means “sacred” in Greek, as in “hieroglyphs,” “sacred writings.”

                • That works well too, and I’d forgotten about hierophant (except in a Tarot card context and I forget what that card means anyway which is why I use a Tarot deck with loads of detailed picture symbolism to remind me).

                  So now we have two words! One for killing a religious leader referred to as father (so Catholic priests and maybe some Protestant ones?) and one for killing any religious leader. Awesome-sauce! (really, truely awesome, I love English for being able to do stuff like this, it’s endlessly entertaining to me to learn new words and where words come from!)

          • Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

            Yes but Bethesda and Bioware traditionally have different goals, and leaving the nature of the crime vague perfectly suits what Bethesda used to design their games for. You could decide what you were charged with, whether or not you were guilty, whether you felt remorse.

            In DAI, there is no such choice. We know what you’re charged with, we learn whether or not you’re guilty, and we learn basically why you were there and what you did. Its a little weird in a game where you get to decide your name, race, gender, appearance, background, and attitudes towards plot developments.

        • Andy_Panthro says:

          You’re not a prisoner in Daggerfall. You have to “escape” a dungeon, sure, but not because you’re a prisoner but rather because your ship sank in a storm and you managed to get to a cave on the shoreline (Smuggler’s Cove).

  9. Ninety-Three says:

    In this game I kept doing quests, hoping to find a story somewhere.

    I was usually disappointed.

    Turn of phrase, Shamus, or were there actually a few places you found a satisfactory story? If so, where?

  10. Daniel England says:

    I echo everything you said in your show notes, I was searching relentlessly for a story in this game, because the one I was telling myself just wasn’t compelling after 10 hours of wandering. The best I found was the place where you got Curie as a companion and had to finish it by making the choice of Permanently reducing your maximum health by ~15hp or saving a dying kid. And that wasn’t even very good to be honest.

    You guys mentioned Travis this episode, the radio DJ with, like 2 charisma. I liked him before and after his quest, but his quest was terrible. My character had like 8 or 9 charisma, so I was hoping I’d be able to pass on my savvy ways or whatever… But it was terrible right from the beginning. First off, Travis is not the one who starts the quest, it’s some other guy who wants Travis to gain some confidence. Okay fine, I says, how do we do that? Well apparently, it is by getting him in a fist fight so he can learn to stand up for himself. What? Urg, whatever the other people are paid off to lose, so he at least won’t be physically hurt by the ordeal. Next we want him to ask out a women he fancies. Which is okay, but the guy giving the quest frames it as “Travis needs to get laid.” If I remember correctly, the women fancies him as well, but it still feels like the old “person isn’t a man until they bed a women” thing that was boring even in the medieval settings it should stay in. After I get him to ask the girl out, turns out we need to save someone from being kidnapped, which will involve a lot of murder. Ah yes, that will boost Travis’ confidence, and make him a better public speaker. Screw that quest.

    • I actually found that quest to be really well done. Yes, it was a bunch of goofy stereotypes, but the guy giving you the quest is Russian and it’s actually very typical for Russians to still have this kind of peculiar macho ideas. It is very, very weird to expect characters who are one step away from being LITERAL caricatures to act like mature cosmopolitans. Vadim’s idea for how to “fix” Travis is SUPPOSED to be flawed, but well-meant. And the thing is, the 3rd part of the quest only happens because the “setup” BACKFIRES on Vadim. He paid a thug to take a dive and the thug got pissed off.

      The second part would be a lot better if you had to get Travis to talk to the girl himself, though. That whole scene should have been absolutely mortifying, but Bethesda is incapable of writing anything that approaches romance without making people scream “WTF JUST HAPPENED?!?!?!”

      Travis has a GREAT bit of characterization when you go talk to him after Vadim gets kidnapped. He says “I don’t have many friends, so, if Vadim is in trouble, well, I’ll help you”. It’s really charming.

      It’s probably the best “character arc” in the entire game.

      • Actually, you know what would have been cute for part 2 of the quest? Vadim sends you to talk to the girl, you persuade her to talk to Travis (or do her little fetch quest, I think), they go on a date (which you can observe), and Travis is so horribly nervous that he gets drunk and starts spouting off about how he beat up whatshisname, Bull. One of the other people in the bar gets pissed off and Travis throws up on him.

        The next day Vadim tells you to go try and cheer Travis up. Travis is all “OMG she’s never going to talk to me again.” So you go talk to the girl and tell her to talk to Travis. When she shows up he’s all “ZOMG!” and then she says “That was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my life! It was great!” and he’s all “really?!”

        That would have been cute. :D

      • Ninety-Three says:

        It’s probably the best “character arc” in the entire game.

        I disliked it because of the payoff at the end. He goes from having zero charisma to having eleven. His voice changes! It’s like he got Invasion of the Body Snatchers-ed, I do not believe it’s the same person!

        The idea of making him a better DJ is good, but they either needed to make it less sudden, or dial the transformation back about seven notches.

        • Chris Davies says:

          I eagerly look forward to the mod that makes this the official story line. The whole quest line is an elaborate institute conspiracy to get Travis to leave diamond city so he can be quietly killed and replaced by a synth.

      • Incunabulum says:

        His might be the *only* significant character arc in the game.

        The only other one I know of who goes through as much growth is Danse – in his personal quest – and that’s thrown out the instant its over.

        • Ninety-Three says:

          I wouldn’t say he goes through an arc so much as a character teleportation. At the end of the combat mission, he’s still a stuttery loser who doesn’t demonstrate that he’s learned anything other than “Yep, we just shot some dudes” (No you didn’t, I did 100% of the shooting and you were just along for the ride). Then he goes back to the radio station where, given how his voice and entire speech pattern suddenly changes, I can only assume he was replaced by a synth.

          Seriously, the change was so drastic that I actually killed him and expected to find Synth Parts.

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      I reacted very negatively to the DJ. I think at this point my relationship to Bethesda is needlessly adversarial because after listening to him for a while I somehow got it in my head that he was a sort of middle finger to people who did not like Three Dog in FO3. Something along the lines of “Oh you didn’t like our awesome, personable DJ in our previous games? You did not appreciate his energy and worship his quips? Have this bumbling, stumbling klutz, you brought this on yourself!”.

      Again I will admit at this point I may just be needlessly hostile towards Bethesda’s writing and looking for excuses to pick up a, metaphorical, fight with them.

  11. Tuskin says:

    Having Nick while having the Mysterious Stranger perk, he will comment about him if he appears.

  12. Decius says:

    Drinking metagame: Every time one of the commentators mentions the drinking game, do a fifth.

  13. Jokerman says:

    As much as idiot Savant is annoying… i couldn’t help but find it funny sometimes, anf make a weird noise along with my character…for some reason. I think the female does the best dumb noise, but… the male has a better Silver Shroud voice, so it evens out.

  14. Content Consumer says:

    Why are you here? What are you trying to do?

    It’s sort of like a predator following a prey migration thing.

    And what is with all of the molotov cocktails? I don’t remember anyone, ever, throwing that many firebombs. Wow.

    • Andy_Panthro says:

      I found I got spammed with molotovs, grenades, rockets etc. all the damn time. Much more dangerous than getting shot, too.

      • Destrustor says:

        Yeah, molotovs are extremely common. They’re the grenade-equivalent for both raiders and supermutants, and a few other groups too. I’m more surprised someone hasn’t been pelted with enough of them to fill an olympic pool over the course of a playthrough.

  15. sofawall says:

    Guys, I think that door might be chained up on the other side.

  16. Philadelphus says:

    What on earth was with that nonchalant response to Reginald mentioning putting pictures on milk cartons? That actually jarred me—she should be like “A milk carton? What’s that? And why would you put someone’s picture on it?” That reference should make no sense whatsoever to her in this post-apocalyptic wasteland where don’t just go down and buy cartons of milk, and yet she obviously knows exactly what he’s talking about given her reply. I just…wha…huh? Josh noticed it, but did it stand out to anyone else?

    Normally I appreciate all these criticisms about things not making sense on a more cerebral level where I get it but I don’t really feel it, if that makes sense. This one thing though, for whatever reason, felt a lot more visceral. Maybe the art of games criticism is wearing off on me.

    • The reference makes about as much sense as the Lucky Charms reference in that one Leprechaun movie where the brand is shown to not exist in that world; all we’ve seen since Fallout 3 are milk bottles, not cartons, so unless they degraded like literally nothing else in the game, for all intents and purposes they never existed…

      …I also just remembered that you have milk bottles in the Pre-War segment, so I really doubt milk cartons existed anywhere in this universe.

    • Shamus says:

      Also, it shows how young the writer must be. Missing children didn’t appear on milk until the 1980’s, and would have been out of place in a 1950’s styled world.

      Also they apparently didn’t notice all the milk bottles in the game. People in this world don’t HAVE milk cartons. Not only should the woman not know about milk cartons, the sole survivor shouldn’t know about them either!

      • Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

        Thats what you get when your milk storage technology is based on vacuum tubes instead of transistors.

      • Chris Davies says:

        It’s constantly disappointing how little effort Bethesda put in to building a holistic vision of the Fallout world. Fallout’s very first shot of the opening cinematic does far more than either of Bethesda’s whole games to sell a vision of the pre-war world.

        The Corvega ad on the TV, selling a ludicrously expensive car (because only the super rich can afford to drive in the Fallout world, where the chief premise is that oil has almost completely run out) where the chief selling point is it is EMP hardened. Real care has been lavished on crafting the backstory that in turn informs the world the player inhabits.

        Clumsy mistakes like this one happen because nobody at Bethesda has a clear understanding or ownership of Fallout world, and frankly nobody really cares enough about the product they’re making to fully realise it.

      • And even today, milk that comes in glass bottles doesn’t have missing kids on it, nor does any of what I have in my fridge, but I have plastic bottles, not cartons.

        (Yes, you can still get milk in glass, but it’s generally expensive speciality milk, like some buttermilks)

      • Philadelphus says:

        That’s interesting. I’m somewhat on the younger side myself (27), and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a missing child picture on a milk carton. Partly because my family mostly bought milk in gallon jugs while I was growing up, but even on the cartons I don’t remember seeing anything like that.

        • Jokerman says:

          Its more just having no idea of the time period of something you just know as “old shit”, certainly with somewhat recent history nailing the little details for a time before you were even born is always going to be hard and made worse when it’s a time where plenty of people experiencing your work actually lived through. Gone Home nailed the little details it’s setting that Fallout 4 misses for the 50s

          Its like a game were you have Samurai fighting Vikings… both are just “history” right?

          • Writiosity says:

            This is why writers who give a damn about their work put in a lot of time to research and find people who know their stuff to talk to and discover these little details. I’m writing the first of a trilogy of novels right now which will be based in and around an enormous artificial city built in the pacific oceans. Underneath, deep down into the darkest depths of the sea will be a huge circular structure with facilities and science and research and… well, you get the idea.

            I’ve spent the last month researching deep sea marine life, what marine biologists get up to, the process behind constructing deep sea submarines (including the difficulties in having any sort of decently-sized viewing windows, how the acrylic is moulded and kept strong at those sorts of depths, etc.), the protocols for bringing samples of life back to a sealed environment, and all manner of other things that will be important to maintaining a consistent setting.

            And that’s ‘just’ the setting, there’ll be all manner of other things in addition because this is a work that will also feature magic and another world intruding on ours, and how those things will affect us. I love world building :)

            It’s amazing how Bethesda manage to lavish so much detail on their worlds in some respects, but then miss really glaring little things that stand out ‘more’, or don’t bother putting that same detail into the main story or characters. It’s like they actively hate living people and worlds, and only care for static displays and old world terminal entries and posing skeletons.

      • Mersadeon says:

        Damn that’s a big failure in a small line. A reference the person shouldn’t get to things that didn’t exist and should not exist.

    • Sunshine says:

      There’s quite a number of comments throughout the franchise that are like that, like a sarcastic response to “What do you want?” where the PC says there here to pick up a pizza. Also, I remember that when Veronica first goes to the Brotherhood bunker in NV, she makes the obvious intercom joke of pretending to order at a drive-in restaurant, though neither she, the guy on the intercom, or the Courier could ever have done that.

  17. Bloodsquirrel says:

    The real problem with getting to know the NPCs enough to get the real meat of their stories is that it involves talking to them, which involves using Fallout 4’s absolutely terrible dialog system. It’s a recurring problem: The system puts you at arm’s length from whatever story there is by its refusal to convey information and how it punishes players for trying to direct the conversation toward anything they might find interesting.

  18. Wide And Nerdy™ says:

    Campster. At some point in the show’s history, did the rest of the crew tell you that:

    1) You need to ask permission before saying certain things AND
    2) You then need to proceed without waiting for permission to be granted?

    (Your verbal tic of “Can I just say” or “Is it okay if I” is pronounced).

    Are you also required to first check if a joke has been told before telling it?

    Be less inhibited.

    • Rutskarn says:

      Campster, disregard this lying boy. We’ve sent the lying bad boy to the Spider Pit for Bad Boys.

    • Gruhunchously says:

      No Campster, don’t listen to him! The knowledge you possess has the power to ruin empires, redefine critical sciences and turn all of civilization upon it’s axis. You must be MORE inhibited, even if it means allowing a hundred buses full of schoolchildren to sink beneath the water.

    • Josh says:

      You see, you’re gonna regret suggesting this next episode when he asks about hemipenes.

    • Philadelphus says:

      Personally, I find it kinda charming. At one point in this episode, when Shamus interrupted him, I could tell what he was going to say a good second before it happened. I love it when people are predictable like that.

      • Wide And Nerdy™ says:

        Thanks all of you. You made my day.

        • Philadelphus says:

          It helps that I’m always unconsciously analyzing people’s patterns of behavior to better understand them (I’ve come to suspect that I either have un-diagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome, or am right on the border). The upside is that I’m really, really good at finishing the sentences of people I know well or predicting the word they’re having trouble finding, to the point where I sometimes have to stop myself finishing sentences to speed conversations along just because I already know what they’re going to say.

          If I were an Ent, I’d probably be Quickbeam.

  19. MichaelGC says:

    So I thought I’d check what the wall guy would do if you put yellow or blue paint on his wall.

    He’s totally fine with it. I mean, he bemoans the loss of 200 years of tradition very briefly, but then says he’d rather it not fall into disrepair so e.g. blue will do fine. It’s lucky he & others don’t make a big fuss about it needing to be green or this might not make any sense.

    Anyway, I’m just hoping I come back in a few days to find the whole thing’s now sky blue!

    Edit: Turns out I’d actually left it yellow. He has now painted large swathes of it yellow, and one of the guards called me out for making it look like a lemonade stand. So, there’s that.

  20. Why do I know that church? Goddamn it, this is going to bug me for the rest of the day. I know it, I’ve used it as a landmark while wandering around Boston, is it close to some tourist thing? Is it a tourist thing? Is it close to a bunch of hotels?

    (My mental map from 20 years ago indicates that I’d walk a few blocks (from facing the front of the church) and there was something I was going to. Maybe a hotel? Or transit?)

    • Benjamin Hilton says:

      For all this game’s many faults, one thing they pulled off really well was a sense of place. There was one moment when Josh was walking around the outside of Fenway where I suddenly thought “oh last time I was there, the hotdog cart was set up right on that corner, and just a few steps along should be the House of Blues….” The sense of recall came back as if I was actually there myself and not watching someone else walk through a virtualized version of it.

      • Coming_Second says:

        Everyone who’s ever been to Boston says this. They did an exceptional job of capturing it within the constraints of the technology.

        I’m told, anyway. Because, having never been to the US, I wouldn’t know. For a game that is determinedly aiming at as broad an audience as possible, they put a lot of effort into the whole BOSTON WHOOOOO thing (in Josh’s words) that has almost zero impact on players like me.

        • The church is the first time it happened to me (but I haven’t bought or played F4 yet, only watched Spoiler Warning and a very odd parody F4 playthrough where the main character was looking for paracetamol/Tylenol).
          I spent a couple summers at an academic program at Wellesley College as a teen, so I did see a fair bit of Boston (all the museums, the Harbor, and Salem, plus every college/university), but Fenway didn’t click at all. Logan airport, the Big Dig (which was ongoing while I was there), and Salem might click too, but I still wish they’d gone to Western MA for part of it. It’s a very different feel, small towns and farms in the Appalachians, and there’s some great bits that could go very creepy (you’ll be driving along past cute farms and old cemeteries and suddenly you’ll take a turn and be in what feels like very dense forest with nothing for miles). Plus, it’d answer “What do they eat?” really well and you could include the 5 colleges and do some interesting stuff there (would the two womens colleges ally? Would Hampshire be conquered by preppy raiders from Amherst?)

  21. Andy_Panthro says:

    I was going to put a big rant in yesterdays episode, but I decided against it for various reasons.

    But I’d just like to add that I also feel annoyed by their lackadaisical approach to world building, with their ineffectual mayor, unnecessary news reporter (who talks about freedom of speech as if anyone is actually preventing her from reporting her “news”), and out-of-place private detective.

    These characters could have been handled well, if Diamond City were a larger, more important part of the world, with quests that link them together. But it all seems a bit half-arsed and disconnected from the reality that they’re otherwise attempting to portray (the earlier Fallouts also had such moments, but they were usually throwaway things not related to the main quest or in out-of-the-way places).

    Piper in particular and that very American shout of “Freedom of the Press!” reminded me of similar parts in the Battlestar Galactica reboot, in which they wanted to have Presidential press briefings when their total population is equivalent to a large town/small city and many of the people are military. It just feels out of place.

  22. Artur CalDazar says:

    Given the talk of settlements I assume nobody noticed they were right in front of the Combat Zone, because oh boy is that a missed opportunity.

    I really thought Josh wouldn’t find anything to break in this game to make himself overpowered, and yet here he is telefragging his way through every fight.

    • Wide And Nerdy says:

      When Nuka World comes out, I’m definitely switching to melee.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        If a game has skills and melee,chances are melee will be overpowered.Its an unwritten rule.You should always pick a melee build.

        • Ninety-Three says:

          I play a lot of RPGs, and I can think of very few that allow for other playstyles, but make melee the best. There’s Fallout 4, KOTOR 1 and 2… Dragon Age 1’s broken build was a dexterity tank where melee was incidental…

          After several minutes of thinking I was able to add “Neo Scavenger, I guess” to the list, and that shows how far afield I’d gone. What are all these overpowered melee builds you’re finding?

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Going just with the ones where guns are plentiful,there are fallout 3 and new vegas,theres vampire the masquerade,theres alpha protocol where melee is second only to pistols,and then there is the charge+nova thing in mass effect.

            • Ninety-Three says:

              Ah, I own VTM and Alpha Protocol, but never played far enough to learn what’s good. My memories of 3 have been replaced by Vegas, but was melee good in Vegas? Mostly, I remember my hard-mode melee characters going splat whenever it came time to fight radscorpions or deathclaws or anything else tough enough to survive one flurry of VATS hits.

              As for the games I went over (mostly from my desktop), there’s the Harebrained Shadowrun games (where melee is awful and guns are great, and in the first one shamans were completely broken because of a spell that let them make the party permanently unattackable), Dungeons of Dredmor (where the broken build combines a cooldown-resetting skill with a mana-restoring skill for infinite mana and instant cooldowns), Endless Legend (where the best army composition is long-range snipers who can kill enemies without being counterattacked, or even charged when the enemy gets their turn), Neverwinter Nights 2 (where the ability to rest after every fight makes nuke-focused casters amazing), and the Bioshocks (where the best thing about melee isn’t the melee, it’s the ranged stun plasmid you combo it with).

              I guess I overlooked Grimrock, where melee is definitely the best, because all that game’s hardest fights occur in tiny arenas where you need DPS more than range. Even accepting all your examples, I’m not seeing an especially strong trend in my library.

        • Wide And Nerdy says:

          Its not about the power really.

          Melee is no fun to me if there aren’t movement based abilities that figure into the gameplay of the combat. Just whaling on things with a stick is not that satisfying.

          Even Witcher 3 which had dodge, roll, block and counterpunch, I only enjoyed pure fistfighting occasionally. If the game hadn’t also had the spells, potions, bombs and crossbows, the gameplay would have become a chore as it usually does in RPGs, and as it did in Fallout 4 eventually (emphasis on eventually).

          In Skyrim, the only way melee was tolerable at later levels was that stacking enchantments, smithing bonuses and melee perks*, I was one shotting things without breaking stride, so combat was usually too brief to become tedious at high levels. Not the best resolution to the problem but it beats Oblivion.

          *I’m half convinced that someone at Bethesda didn’t really consider what happens when you focus everything on those three skills for max DPS.

      • Writiosity says:

        Melee is ludicrously broken in 4. Like… it needs nerfing levels of broken. The fact you can get up to 12.5x criticals and teleport around corners from across the room using Blitz rank 2 means you can one-shot Behemoths and Deathclaws at their highest tiers. It’s ridonkulous. Fun. But ridonkulous.

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