Fallout 4 EP19: Metal Skellingtons

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Jul 13, 2016

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 136 comments

Link (YouTube)

So how would you improve the story of Fallout 4 if you w-

Take the project away from Bethesda and give it to literally anyone else. Even David Cage.

No, let’s assume Bethesda stays the developer. How could they make the story less frust-

Remove it. Just dump the story. They don’t know how to write. It’s the worst thing they do and it constantly gets in the way of the parts of the game that work. Just remove the entire plot and replace it with something simple and easy to ignore.

No. The point of the exercise is to talk about how Bethesda could have retained the story focus but made it much better.

Choose a completely different plot, themes, and premise from the outset.

Er. No, I mean assuming Bethesda decided to go with THIS plot, how could it be improved?

This is a really shitty and frustrating hypothetical world, you know that?


Okay then…

Father could have been given reasons for doing the things he did. This would mean he’d need to be given proper, comprehensible motivations for those actions. That would mean designing a character with a discernible personality. Then you’d need to express all of that through his dialog. Then you would need to allow the player to engage with those ideas through roleplaying.

The question of “How could this quest / idea be improved?” is irresistible. I don’t know how the rest of you play the game, but I’m constantly trying to re-write this thing in my head. The mistakes are so plentiful and so seemingly obvious.


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136 thoughts on “Fallout 4 EP19: Metal Skellingtons

  1. Han says:

    I’m very glad Darth Vader isn’t my father.

    1. Mokap says:

      Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your father?

      1. MichaelGC says:

        I’m reading about Darth Vader on Twenty Sided!

  2. Someonething says:

    I turn my brain off when I play Bethesda RPGs. If I thought about the plot, I’d end up complaining about it to my friends, and they’d get annoyed because they already know it’s crap, but I’d have to complain anyway because it’s therapeutic or something.

    1. Coming_Second says:

      That’s what these comment sections are all about, man. Closure on shitty video game stories.

      1. MichaelGC says:

        Top 32 Posts, By Comments, May 2015

        Entries 2, 8, 11, 14, 18, 20, 21, 24, 25, and 29 are all about Mass Effect 3

        Q. E. D.

  3. Jsor says:

    I’ve never played Fallout, but trying to rewrite the story is how I felt the entire time I played Starcraft 2. “What? That’s what you went with? There are literally a billion ways at every plot point you could’ve told this dumb high fantasy plot you stupidly decided to graft onto your sci-fi franchise, and you consistently chose the WORST one.”

    1. CliveHowlitzer says:

      I barely made it through Wings of Liberty because of that. It was insulting to me. So much so I didn’t purchase any of the later games. I assume it only got worse.

      1. Chris Davies says:

        It did get quite a lot worse, but at least Starcraft has decent gameplay to fall back on. On balance, I think I reasonably enjoyed the single player, even if I would have liked a few more pitched battle maps.

        1. Jsor says:

          I feel so trapped by Starcraft 2 because the story is awful but who else is making good single player (non-grand strategy) RTS games nowadays? The last really good one was World in Conflict. There was Grey Goo and stuff, but they were really lackluster in comparison. It seems like the entire genre has been consumed by tower defense games which are just not my jam.

      2. Falterfire says:

        Ho yes. Gonna mark this with spoilers just in case anybody in the world actually cares about SC2’s plot and hasn’t seen it already:

        Wings of Liberty ended with them De-Zerging Kerrigan. You may have noticed that on the cover of Heart of the Swarm you have Zerged Kerrigan. That’s because they re-Zerg Kerrigan near the beginning of HotS. Then she gets de-Zerged again. And finally super-Zerged.

        Then in the epilogue of Legacy of the Void she becomes a naked flaming space goddess during the expedition to double-space to double-kill Space Satan.

        1. James says:

          LOTV Spoilers

          I’d have really given blizzard its credit if instead of flaming space goddess, they made kerrigan into one of the space cthulus a big ol blob of eyes and tenticals

      3. Jsor says:

        Let’s just say Legacy of the Void should’ve been called “On the Importance of Haircuts” instead.

    2. Grudgeal says:

      Oh yes. Wings of Liberty started out ok with the whole Firefly vibe, but the moment Zeratul and “She’s The Chosen One!” showed up the whole thing just went into the “irredeemable” bin to me. I mean, seriously? WoL seemed to want to be Firefly and Star Wars at the same time and that’s just… No. Also, the characters were almost cartoonishly flat to a laughable degree. I think it says something that the psychotic, terrorist racial stereotype (Tosh) is one of the most complex characters in the cast.

    3. Axe Armor says:

      No, no, no, don’t bring it up. I can’t, I’ve already spent too much time thinking about it, I can’t do this agaiSO IN BROOD WAR

  4. Ninety-Three says:

    The question of “How could this quest / idea be improved?” is irresistible.

    I resist by not engaging. About ten hours in I decided the murderhoboing was mildly engaging but boy was the plot awful, so I turned off subtitles and started clicking through all the dialog, it’s the only way to protect myself from being angry. And it’s still not enough because they then manage to insult Lovecraft without a single word of dialog in the genuinely baffling Dunwich Borers area. What was that trainwreck of a dungeon even aiming for!? That is arguably the worst part of the game, because at least with SHAUN! I could tell what Bethesda intended me to feel.

    I hope the Spoiler warning visits that section just so I can hear Shamus’ therapeutic enumeration of its every fault.

    1. Dunwich Borers is actually a callback to the equally baffling but not as bad Dunwich Building in Fallout 3.

      Did you actually go all the way through until you found the well with the evil sacrificial knife at the bottom?

      1. I thought the Dunwich building was just a one-off place that was an homage to HP Lovecraft and tied in to how ghouls looked like undead.

        I was actually kind of impressed how it was connected to Point Lookout via the Krivbeknih book.

        1. Chris Davies says:

          Bethesda’s designers really need a big post-it note reading “ghouls are not zombies!” to stick on their monitors. Every graveyard in Fallout 4 is a feral ghoul spawn site without fail, I’m not sure they appreciate that these things have never been dead.

          1. Coming_Second says:

            They work almost entirely by association and first impressions, not by logic. See also: Why a random bunch of 20s mobsters were trying to kill Nick Valentine.

          2. Cardigan says:

            I was really bothered by that too. I mean, I could see people taking shelter from the bombs in a mausoleum / catacombs, but for them to still be there 200+ years later?

            1. If they’re not socially accepted by anyone, where else would you expect them to be?

              1. Cardigan says:

                Somewhere where there’s food or water or something. Ghouls could actually have an advantage in the wasteland when it comes to settlement building because they’re immune / powered / whatever by radiation and could occupy otherwise untouched territory.

      2. Ninety-Three says:

        Yup. I consumed that area down to the last line of shitty terminal logs, growing increasingly baffled with every jigsaw piece that matched none of the other pieces. I backtracked across the area twice. Then I scoured the wiki because there had to be something I was missing, something to make this mess make sense, at least a reason the place was like this!

        I take it back, Dunwich Borers perfectly captured the spirit of Lovecraft, because it made me feel like one of his protagonists being driven mad by forces beyond mortal comprehension.

        1. Pax says:

          Terribly enough, a lot of people think the Dunwich stuff is the best, most atmospheric parts of their respective games. I just play them and think: “This is outside the tone and setting of Fallout.”

          1. I disagree. Psychic phenomena have been a part of the Fallout canon since the first game. The Master had psyker powers and had four “failed experiments” imprisoned in the vault below the cathedral. The high priest in Fallout 2 could send you psychic messages, and there was a quest to put a ghost to rest. Characters in Fallouts 3, New Vegas, and 4 all have supernatural powers, many to do with predicting events or seeing them via visions.

            Technically, all Dunwich had that was unusual was some kind of compulsion to form a cult and dig. After the bombs fell, it attracted ghouls. It gave you a kind of “haunted house” to explore in F3 and F4, which was kind of fun.

            1. Wide And Nerdy says:

              Mama Murphy and that kid under the overpass offered very vague predictions.

              In Murphy’s case, the only thing she gets right that really gives her any credence is “I’ve seen you come out of that icebox.”

              But for the rest “Your energy is tied to this place” is one of those things that could have been right even if you hadn’t lived in Sanctuary (maybe it means your destiny is tied to this place now or that you walked through here on the way to Concord which is reasonable to assume if you come from the icebox) or you could assume its the Commonwealth. And the other predictions are too general. Of course you’re going to find answers in Diamond City.

              The reason I’m inclined to dismiss her is because nothing about her predictions even begins to hint at the major twist. It could have been vague like “You’re not going to like what you find.” or “Things aren’t what you expect.” or “Your son is all grown up now.” or anything. And its not that she doesn’t know. She hears you tell Preston you’re looking for a baby. The Sight doesn’t even hint at her that Shaun isn’t a baby anymore or that he’s one of the bad guys now?

              Or how about this “Take your time. You don’t need to rush. Your son is safe for now. You’re not going to help him by rushing headlong after him.” Something that would justify the player playing Fallout the way you always play a Bethesda game in spite of the urgency of the premise.

              And that kid in FNV, well he lives at a major trade hub and the game gives radio reports about lots of the stuff you do. It could be the kid thinks he’s psychic but he’s really just making good educated guesses about you based on the stuff you hear. Especially since they had to keep his predictions vague since a lot of the plot turns on decisions you make.

              1. Sunshine says:

                I think that Mama Murphy is supposed to give the impression that she seems like a rambling junkie with a line in carnival psychic patter, but has moments that make you wonder if there’s more to her. If you consult her Sight before you have to track an Institute Courser, she gives the shutdown code to avoid fighting him.

                1. Wide And Nerdyâ„¢ says:

                  This once again fits the theory from a few posts ago that Mama Murphy was once with The Institute. Everything prediction that has any substance to it is something that she could have picked up from her time there.

                  Now sure, knowing exactly which Courser you were going to fight to offer you the right shutdown code is too specific. But Piper and Nick also have oddly specific knowledge that you could only get from reading the script so that could just be bad writing.

                  Actually thats a good demonstration of Shamus’s assertions about losing faith in the writer. Once they’ve blown that authority, you’ll start nitpicking everything.

            2. Pax says:

              Nah, I love psyker stuff. I want to play a psyker. The part that gets me about the Dunwich stuff is that it leans on the Lovecraft mythos which is all about the influence of these ancient gods and whatnot driving people to evil and insanity, while Fallout should always lay that blame squarely on man. It’s my problem with alien Zeta stuff, too; if mankind didn’t cause the Great War with their own choices, the whole point is lost.

              I’m a little iffy on the ghost in Fallout 2 as well, but an occasional diversion is fine I guess, Wild Wasteland-style. It’s how I view that damn kid in the fridge too (because no other reading of that quest makes any damn sense with anything). The problem with Bethesda is that it’s all diversion, and the “serious” parts of the game are anything but.

              Of course, I’m also tired of these “spooky” dungeons where they try to build a atmosphere and then the place is just populated with stock monsters I’ve already killed hundreds of.

          2. Sleeping Dragon says:

            See, I actually liked it but I think it was because by the time I reached it I was completely disconnected from the game as a whole. The main plot was stupid, Preston’s constant nagging was a chore, most of the dialogue was both bad and lying to me… So I basically treated this place as another theme park attraction without a direct connection to the rest of the gameworld and in that context it was reasonably fun.

            1. Ninety-Three says:

              But that’s just it, it’s broken even as a disconnected themepark. I can’t even tell if it was supposed to be spooky, and I don’t just mean “It sucked at being spooky”, I genuinely can’t tell if this was supposed to be a haunted house or a rollercoaster. There’s this “Turn on the lights” mechanic but turning on the lights summons ghouls (for you to fight with the lights on) out of thin air (in contradiction to the terminal hint you find) and it’s incredibly easy to see in the game’s “dark”. There are magical visions but not only do they show you nothing, they flash to a world much more pleasant than where you currently are. These ghouls are less mechanically threatening than the average swarm of ghouls I’ve fought anywhere else in the Wasteland. Why are 100% of the terminal logs about how cartoonishly unsafe this place is? Am I supposed to be scared, cautious, curious, amused? Why does the superntaural stuff have no impact on anything? Why is the shrine underwater in an L-shaped tunnel? Why do the ghouls at the end have names but none of the other ones did? Why are there nukes on the shrine? What were the humans doing? Why is this a Lovecraft reference?

              What was Bethesda trying to accomplish??

              1. Sleeping Dragon says:

                My personal bet is they were aiming for creepy, though I agree they are rather tone deaf. The more I think about it the more I realise it probably worked for me not only because I didn’t care about the game as a whole but also because this kind of “failed horror” is something I can actually enjoy. For some reason while I’m okay with movies in video games any kind of horrory “buildup to a jumpscare” makes my stomach tie in a knot.

            2. Cardigan says:

              Isn’t the next DLC literally a themepark?

              1. Next after next. Nuka-world.

        2. Bloodsquirrel says:

          The Dunwich Borers would have been great if there was, you know, a payoff at the end. Instead of just a dagger that most people will never use. I went back up to the surface expecting a boss fight to pop up, but nope. The whole thing builds up to a climax that never happens.

          I like that it was a little different tonally from the rest of the game. A work needs to be tonally consistent, but it should never be tonally flat.

          1. Coming_Second says:

            Tbh I was very glad that location did not have a pop up boss fight with a recoloured Deathclaw or whatever, because by the time I got to the bottom I was heartily sick of it and badly wanted to be anywhere else.

            Also, I think the lights-attract-ghouls mechanic was alright, and kinda wish they’d gotten a little more mileage out of it elsewhere.

  5. A serious treatment of the question why aren’t the Jedi considered sexier than they seem to be?

    It’s actually a really good question. Like,really good… if you’re super-rare, super-awesome knight defenders of the republic are genetically-endowed with their awesomeness, why on Earth would you keep them celibate?

    You can fanon answers all day long, of course, but it’s still a really good question.

    1. Incunabulum says:

      To keep them under control.

      Sure, it might be to a *species* advantage to spread this set of mutations, but it is to the serious disadvantage of the Status Quo who are threatened with loss of power and privilege as they are outcompeted.

      That applies selective pressure on the Status Quo to seek out and exterminate Jedi *before* they’re sexy. Which applies more selective pressure on the Jedi – and the Status Quo are *currently* much stronger than the Jedi (even if, with widespread breeding, the Jedi could become more powerful) so the Jedi adapt to that environment by working to weed out the traits that cause the Status Quo to try to destroy (damping power-seeking behavior by adopting a culture of non-materialism) them while keeping the beneficial traits.

      Which leads to a new equilibrium, one in which the response to selective pressures has created a sort of symbiotic relationship between the Status Quo and the Jedi.

      Evolution works on the group level, but species are not single groups in reality. Especially sentient species that have their own cultural environments in addition to the physical one.

      And hey! No fanon needed, just selective pressure, mutation, and the natural process of fitness testing.

      1. Wide And Nerdy says:

        There’s also a sudden abundance of sith to consider. You don’t just have more Jedi challenging status quo, you have wars that are increasingly about Jedi vs Sith with other sapients becoming less and less relevant.

        There could also be a reaction in the force if tons more people are using it. You could discover that entire planets of force users start straining the local limits of force energy availability with ecological consequences.

        I’m pretty sure if Mumbles reads this she’s going to retch. Its too nerdy and too unfun. And she’d be right to do so.

        1. Wide And Nerdyâ„¢ says:

          While we’re on this note. I wonder what Star Wars would look like in this universe.

          There are a number of ways to answer that.

          1) Since this type of scifi never went out of style, Star Wars might play the conventions completely straight and be a forgettable movie.

          2) If Star Wars was released as is, it could be regarded as a long overdue cynical deconstruction of the genre.

          3) Perhaps Lucas would be trying to revive an even older presentation of the genre. Luke could get his powers from vitamins and space could conform to more old fashioned notions (maybe the moon would be made of cheese or something.) And it would be a silent film with vaudeville style comedy and stunts.

          There’s also the question of special effects. All the computers in the setting look like old school text based terminals. But they had AI even before the war (Codsworth has emotions and a fragile psyche, there’s enough to Curie’s personality that she becomes a full fledged humanoid later on.) And they have full immersion VR so their computers must be more powerful than ours.

          1. Cardigan says:

            Contemplating what Star Wars would look like in the Fallout universe is one of the nerdiest things I can think of… and I love it!

            1. Wide And Nerdyâ„¢ says:

              Lucas could have a young Buster Keaton type as his protagonist. They could shoot in VR to allow the new Keaton to perform even more outrageous stunts safely.

              1. Cardigan says:

                I am legitimately getting excited for this entirely theoretical movie.

                1. Wide And Nerdyâ„¢ says:

                  Heck, Keaton’s most frequent female costar would be a great template for the Leia in this case.

                  There was often a joke made of Keaton’s character’s clumsiness and small size such that she, being a normal sized woman, would often have to do things herself that the strapping male hero would normally be expected to so.

        2. Was there ever a “limit to how much Force power is in a given area” established in the canon? As far as I know, the power of the Force was supposed to be without limit, it just depended on how much the Force user in question could channel (which in turn was based on their mindset, at least according to Episode V’s Yoda: “Do or do not, there is no try”).

          1. Wide And Nerdyâ„¢ says:

            Yeah but consider what the force does to people who overindulge it or how the Force produces vergeances and seeks balance.

            I figure if the Jedi were to go from the few hundred there probably were in the prequels, to millions as would be the case in this scenario, its possible that the force might strain at least locally. Life has to have some kind of limit on how much energy it can produce. If its infinite, then its kind of weird that only such a limited group can use it.

            Or maybe there’d just be a lot of noise. It could be that Jedi accomplish what they do by perturbing the force, not consuming or expending it. In which case a lot of Jedi means lots of perturbations and thus limits to what can be sensed or unintentional side effects to power usage.

            This could even be useful experience for Jedi. They inhabit a small planet together in large numbers and have to learn to be careful, subtle and in tune with the force in order to coexist. Else all the noise and disruption would be counterproductive.

        3. Incunabulum says:

          I figured that the Sith were basically what early force users were like – you end up with super-powers so you try to use those powers to your advantage. The people in power don’t like that and use the fact that you’re different to propagandize you as a threat and get people aligned behind *them* to destroy you.

          So in this scenario using the Force for personal gain becomes ‘non-selective’ because doing so will get people to kill you if you’re too successful.

          Then the mutation – someone discovers that if they are ‘selfless’ and willing to work *with* the PTB to use their skills on mutual problems then they are not only no longer targets but get the protection and access that being part of the mainstream brings.

          Essentially the original culture turns an invading organism into a symbiotic parasite.

          While the Sith are mutations that turn a benign infestation into a virulent one needing to be cleansed lest it destroy host and parasite together.

    2. Joe Informatico says:

      Historically, institutions demand celibacy as an attempt to stave off nepotism. Parents are naturally inclined to secure the best possible opportunities for their children and if they’re in a position of authority or influence within an organization they will seek positions for their children in that organization. Left unchecked over time, this essentially leads to families building dynasties within the organization. You can see during various periods of the Catholic Church that this didn’t always work, but note even in those cases dynastic inheritance wasn’t guaranteed. Some families controlled the papacy for a generation or two, and the power shifted back and forth between a handful of powerful families, but you don’t get centuries-long dynasties like the various European monarchies could have. Because of official celibacy, high offices within the Church were open to negotiation, compromises, and bribery, which was a hell of a lot more political than “this guy is the new boss because his dad was the old one”.

      On that note, most institutions that demand celibacy are religious or spiritual in nature. The official reason is usually some version of wanting the members focused on their ecclesiastical work and away from the distraction of secular politics and other worldly concerns, and it’s hard to do either if you’re worrying about a family. Obviously, this didn’t work or there wouldn’t be rules in the first place. (NB: Historians often observe that if a society had a law prohibiting X, that doesn’t mean X wasn’t happening. It usually means X was happening so much, the powers-that-be felt the need to step in and regulate it. If similar laws against X keep getting issued time and time again, that’s even more evidence that their regulation wasn’t working.)

      The other issue with the Jedi is that a) they have superpowers, and b) apparently these powers can be inherited (“the Force is strong in my family”). That makes dynasties even more likely, and perhaps desirable, but maybe also more dangerous. The problem with any kind of dynasty is that at some point, you get a generation that isn’t as capable as its predecessor, but because inheritance has been established as the means of succession, it’s really hard to replace an incompetent or corrupt heir. On the level of states, this usually means bloody and destructive wars of succession.

      Throw some superpowers into the mix, and we can paint a picture of what might have happened. At some point in the past, Force-users were all about having families and heirs strong in the Force. At some later point, some generations of Force-users were tired of the rigorous, boring Force training and discipline to learn to use their powers wisely and responsibly–they’re gods among men, dammit! The temptation to embrace the Dark Side becomes stronger and stronger. Some of these guys cave into their ambition, start destructive interstellar wars, foment the deaths of millions, and eventually have to be brought down at great cost. The Jedi Order that (re)forms from the rubble decides they’re not going to let that happen again. Hence, celibacy.

      1. Coming_Second says:

        Interestingly enough the Sith innately understand this train of thought as well, and exercise their own form of population control by simply killing each other off.

        1. …by simply killing each other off…

          Retroactively. They gave the Sith the “kill your way to the top” setup, but using it as population control (the arse-pull “Rule of Two” apologetic nonsense) is a recent idea. It’s also thrown out the window when a given plot calls for it, since we’ve seen whole groups of Sith fighting Jedi in just about every era, though especially in the Old Republic.

          A more sensical approach would have been the tendency for Sith to murder each other leading to either an apprentice killing his master to take over whatever organization or position of power said lord had, or going off and subjugating a group of their own, which would make a lot more sense and allow for the occasional Sith army to pester the protagonists. Think of it like some insect mating rituals: One partner could get eaten, but in some cases, the “meal” partner manages to escape and continue on.

          1. Ninety-Three says:

            Re: Old Republic Sith, the rule of two was instituted long after that time period. Of course the Sith still break it every chance they get, likely as a product of every single EU writer thinking it would be cool if they wrote the one Sith who was a bad enough dude to be an exception to the rule.

            The headcanon I enjoy is that the rule of two is a deliberate lie manufactured by the Sith and targeted at the Jedi Council. That bunch of Lawful Good schmucks seem like they could easily fall for that sort of thing, and it makes it much easier for the Sith to lay low if the Jedi think their numbers are so small.

            An alternate explanation is that the Sith hate rules, and “Only one apprentice with no backups” seems like a really good way to get your lineage wiped out, so the Rule of Two is a trap set to weed out those who aren’t Sithy enough. Only a chump Sith would let an arbitrary rule impede their accretion of personal power, so the rule ensures that the chumps limit their own development, allowing “real” Sith to build more power and usurp them, keeping Sith leadership “healthy”.

            1. IFS says:

              Your alternate explanation is pretty close to canon iirc, the Sith don’t let rules stand in their way and on the whole are a pretty backstabby lot. Secret apprentices seem to be a standard strategy to take down their master and assume his position, and hey once you’ve gotten their help in usurping the master you don’t even have to look far to find an apprentice (or if you fail then your master might get a new apprentice out of your secret one).

      2. Bubble181 says:

        If you read the fluff in KOTOR I and II, you can form quite a good impression of pretty much this happening, though not to that much of a degree. The Old Jedi Order allowed children and had severe problems because of it.

  6. Wide And Nerdy says:

    “They’ll be back and in greater numbers”

    I’m preemptively declaring that one line of the week. Probably the best laugh of the current season to date. Or close to it.

    1. Yeah, I was starting to get bored with the whole Obi-wan sex thing but that made it all worthwhile somehow.

    2. Cardigan says:

      I laughed so hard my rabbit went sprinting across the room and hid behind the couch

  7. Christopher says:

    I don’t rewrite stuff in my head when I play games, I just grit my teeth and mutter stuff to myself about art direction. It’s a matter of specialty I guess.

    Fun episode, even if it’s just killing stuff with VATS the discussion is good and the action looks wonky. Really looking forward to that Kellogg confrontation based on the ending.

  8. Spammy says:

    I feel like it’s a common occurrence to see Campter’s… title? Epithet? Quote? Tagline? of the week and wonder just what the heck is the context that he’s googling something and then mentioned it to the rest of the cast.

  9. Tuskin says:

    I honestly enjoyed the Far Harbour DLC a lot more then the main quest.

    1. James Porter says:

      Everyone that has played Far Harbor talks about how Far Harbor is the best. I’m still only halfway though my game right now, but a part of my current playthough will be to try it out.

      So I must ask, are we going to cover Far Harbor? It could be a great time to compare and contrast.

    2. Cardigan says:

      My problem with Far Harbor is that it’s essentially the price of a standalone game, and I’m reluctant to invest $30 in a game I already spent $60 on. I have heard it’s… better than vanilla Fallout 4.

      1. Tuskin says:

        IMO it is worth it.

        Then again I bought the season pass before the price hike, soo

  10. Daniel England says:

    I think that if the player had been able to change Father’s mind (and have the option to agree with him) then the institute stuff might have worked better.

    1. IFS says:

      I don’t think you’d even need to make it so you could convince him of the error of his ways, just give you the option to try. Of course since this is a Bethesda Fallout if they did try to implement something like that it’d be a single dialogue option labelled ‘Disagree’ where your character says ‘You’re wrong, the Institute is bad, very bad’ and if you pass the speech check he immediately laments his entire lifes work and then blows up the Institute dying in the process.

      1. Syal says:

        Sarcastic: “Oh yeah, you’ve done a lot of good out there.”

        “What have I done with my life?!”

        1. Gruhunchously says:

          “You can’t just force your will on others! You have to do what you know is right!”

          “Very well. I shall destroy the Institute and all of it’s research. I have only one request. That when you leave, you take the boy, the synth facsimile of your son, and take care of him.

          “But what about the other synths in the facility?”

          “They were created by the Institute. It is the Institute’s right to destroy them.”

          “You can’t just force your will on others! You have to do what you know is right!”

          “Very well, I shall allow the synths an escape route into the wasteland and then destroy the Institute.”

          “Good, good. And could hand over all the technology you’ve developed so I can use it to add some +20 defense to all my settlements?”

          “What good would that do? You would place the legacy of the Institute in the hands of those delinquents on the outside. How would they even use it?

          “You can’t just force your will on others! You have to do what you know is right!”

          “…Are you being funny?”

          “Are you?”

          “…I feel odd? Something’s come over me…what were we talking about again?”

          “I was wondering if you could destroy the Institute from the inside for me.”

          “What? Are you insane!?”

          “You can’t just force your will on others! You have to do what you know is right!”

          “Ah, yes. Of course. Very well, I shall destroy the Institute and all it’s research, but I have one last request…”

          1. Humanoid says:

            Mutually nonsensical videogame moral choice argument:

            “You can't just force your will on others! You have to do what you know is right!”

            “I won’t let fear compromise who I am!”

            1. Incunabulum says:

              I like that last one, trite, psuedo-deep, and completely wrong – but the sort of thing vidoegames love to have someone say, with deep conviction.

              You are who you are, even though you may not truly know who that is. Fear doesn’t make you compromise yourself – if you run away from the positions you’ve taken then you didn’t actually hold those positions.

              You can’t compromise who you are, you can only compromise *who you want to be*.

              1. Gruhunchously says:

                It’s actually a direct quote from Mass Effect 2. And no, it doesn’t make any more sense in context. It might even make less sense, come to think of it.

              2. MichaelGC says:

                Or you can compromise who you were. I think you’re right that the temporal aspect is important for that line to make any kind of sense, but I think it’s actually so essential that it becomes implicit.

                (Which is still not to say it isn’t trite nonsense, particularly in context!)

          2. Ayegill says:

            “Would you kindly?”

            1. Cardigan says:

              Huh. I did beat Shaun to death with a golf club my first time through.

  11. Regarding the placement of Protectron and turret terminals where they’re likely to be accessible after the hostiles in an area are all dead. There are three possibilities that come to mind:

    1. More realistic level layout. Let’s face it, if you had robots or turrets attached to a terminal that could be hacked, why wouldn’t it be well-protected? Placing it where intruders could get to it before facing the defenses that could be turned against you would be insane.

    2. They’re put where they are because of later visits. Many locations are revisited several times for different quests. In each case, the things there re-spawn, or they’re reinforced by new quest-specific mobs. I believe the Protectrons you revive are persistent, staying as a patrolling NPC on subsequent visits, so if you activate one, it should be there to kill the new baddies for you on the next go-round instead of the current one. This makes them a kind of delayed “bonus,” I guess, though I hate the way areas refill with the exact same enemies and the exact same traps in the exact same places, but I digress. I don’t know if this concept applies to turret controls or not, as I’ve never thought to set them to “murder everything” before I leave.

    3. Maybe they’re for ultra-stealthy players? I don’t do stealth in Bethesda games as it’s often broken for or against the player. One way feels like cheating, the other feels like I wasted my skill points. Perhaps one can stealth boy their way to the controls, flip them to “kill everyone” and get through an area that way? If anyone’s tried it, feel free to comment.

    1. guy says:

      I think it’s usually at least hypothetically possible to route around the turrets and get to the control panel, and the Protectrons patrol into the next room reasonably often.

      1. Incunabulum says:

        Its only possible to get around them if your Sneak is high enough. And once you get around them you don’t actually need to turn them off . . .

        1. Sleeping Dragon says:

          Really? That’s interesting. Under the influence of this season* I’ve recently started replaying FO3** and at least so far it seems that there’s usually a path to the terminal with none or minimum exposure to the turret’s line of sight. I agree that if the turret has a FoF recognition system (as the FO3 turrets do before you fiddle with them) it would make perfect sense to have the controlling mechanism behind the turret. On the other hand we could argue along the lines of “would you really trust the FoF system fully and have no backup control?”, or that we often enter a location from an odd direction (as in “from the back” from the point of view of pre-war defences… I think most of FO3 turrets are meant to be pre-war, which is dumb but eh…). On the gripping hand… it’s probably best not to think about it too much, that way lies an unpleasant kind of madness.

          *Don’t blame yourself, I’m kinda going through the series, just finished the first two games and I plan to do NV next. Also, I may or may not be a masochist.

          **This time I’ve decided to try The Wanderer’s Edition and cranked the difficulty up, for someone who generally plays games on easy mode I find the challenge surprisingly fun, if at times “good frustrating”, mechanically, of course the story is still dumber than a sack of bricks and I may just uninstall the thing in frustration when I have to get back to the MQ.

          1. Fallout 3 was different, however. I think there were fewer places with turret controls where the terminals were at the end of an area. Most of them had the terminal a few meters into the area or were “off to one side” where you’d have to deal with one or two turrets but then you could deactivate or turn the others to your side.

            Fallout 4 seems to have things set up where you have to stealth your way to near the end of a gauntlet to deactivate or use the turret controls.

            1. Sleeping Dragon says:

              Oh I know, that was actually my point. It seems another case where this makes FO3 look better retroactively.

  12. nerdpride says:

    Totally off topic from your enjoyable show but I have to ask; lately is the video and audio of youtube videos out of sync more often than ever before?

    1. Viktor says:

      If you’re watching SGDQ, that’s why. Their initial uploads are usually pretty rough, then they go back and fix them up, trim them down, etc. That may be why you’ve seen a bunch of out-of-sync videos recently.

    2. Humanoid says:

      Just turn your head a little until your ear is closer to the source than your eyes are.

  13. IFS says:

    Good to see VATS is as broken as ever, I seem to recall that in NV you didn’t get nearly as much damage resistance from it as in FO3 but I guess Bethesda couldn’t stand their combat not breaking in half when you used one of the main mechanics of the game. It boggles my mind that I’ve never seen a review complain about this sort of thing, in FO3 everyone talked about how dangerous Deathclaws and Yao Guai were but they were complete chumps if you just used VATS you were basically invincible and not only does AP regenerate quickly but there were so many ways to get more of it (that at least seems to be lessened in FO4).

    At least in Skyrim it was stealth that was OP, which gave a sort of sneaky assassin feeling (and considering Bethesda the alternative would likely be stealth being completely ineffectual).

    1. Humanoid says:

      I wouldn’t mind the feature if so much if it only applied to your own explosives. Too many times in NV I crippled myself because the target of my grenades magically zipped into melee range of me while the VATS throwing animation went off.

      1. IFS says:

        I do think VATS should have some damage resist both for issues like you mentioned and just because you can’t dodge or effectively take cover while using it but it just gets far too much as is.

  14. Pax says:

    Yes! I have spent so much time this summer trying to fix Fallout 4’s story in my head!

    It’s always in the vague context of some ultimate plot fix mod I know I’ll never make, but I usually begin my mental exercise at the beginning of the game, thinking of ways strengthen the early main quest, make it more open, and make it possible to find a route into the Institute on your own. The problem always comes with arriving at the Institute. Even with all the hours I’ve put in the game I still don’t know what it is the Institute is trying to do!

    I don’t focus on Father in particular like Shamus does, though I can see how the drama and conflict inherent with your own son being the primary antagonist has potential untapped by Bethesda. No, even beyond whether Shaun is in charge, though, I still don’t know what the Institute is trying to accomplish. Based on the end of the game, I guess their only win conditions are firing up their reactor and killing everyone who’s bothering them so they can happily crank out replicant slaves for no purpose alone and in peace.

    So without deciding myself what the Institute’s grand plan to redefine humanity by popping out endless synths is, any hypothetical plan to mod the game into sensibility is doomed from the start. At least the Enclave in 3 had a goal, even if it was a stupid goal.

    1. Chris Davies says:

      I think my breaking point with Fallout 4 was Virgil. I was desperate for some background as to why the institute was creating super mutants, but there was just nothing. Even after you deliver the serum to him, he has no dialog where you can ask him about his work. The game even teases you that you can come back later and maybe get some resolution, but all you get is some random loot. It’s so frustrating.

  15. Duoae says:

    The mistakes are so plentiful and so seemingly obvious.

    This is the craziest thing about Fallout 3, Skyrim and Fallout 4. These guys are professionals – they do this for a living… How can someone who has dedicated their lives to writing videogames that sell millions of copies be so bad and worse yet, be allowed to be that bad?!

    It’s amazing. I know I’m not a good writer but I feel that I could do a better job than the people writing these games. It’s not that hard to write bad and contrived stories… so why are they failing on even that level?!

    1. Mintskittle says:

      The problem is that there are millions of people out there, myself included, who are willing to drop $60 on day 1 for their latest releases. They really have no incentive to improve when they know their games as going to be The Next Big Thing before they even hit shelves.

      1. lurkey says:

        But for all their faults Bethesda does not seem to be soulless corporate entity churning out focus group-driven annual “Broshooter N: bro harder” schlock. Well, at least not yet. And I imagine that people who think of themselves in terms “creative”, “artists”, etc, would feel at least slightly challenged to be known as “Ah, Bethesda. Those of beautifully arranged skellies and worthless writing”.

      2. You’re forgetting something else about Bethesda products: You want to catch ’em all if you like mods.

        Even if a DLC is complete crap, chances are some modder somewhere will use the assets in said DLC for some mod or other that you might want to try out. In the case of total conversion mods or quest mods, not having a DLC could be the only thing standing between you and a much better game experience.

        I’ve yet to fall into this trap with Skyrim (I find the gameplay mechanics and lack of role-playing too onerous to drop even Steam Sale money for their DLCs), but I might for Fallout 4, if the prices drop enough. I think there might be a chance, since the Season Pass on Steam currently has a rating of “Mostly Unfavorable.”

    2. Peter H. Coffin says:

      They do it that way because there’s no downside. People buy the games whether the developers put actual effort into making self-consistent and interesting storylines or not, so why put in the effort to please a couple of grouches who are just gonna buy the game regardless?

  16. Smiley_Face says:

    I swear, it’s like they had someone put together a really good pitch for the story… and then just left it to someone who had no interest, passion, or skill in writing. Or who wanted to actively make it as terrible as possible without actually deviating from the pitch. I mean, really, these are basic problems that are so easy to identify, HOW did this work get a greenlight?

    1. I get the impression that everything was left unfinished or “open” so it wouldn’t somehow alter the game world too much (if at all), allowing the main quest and sidequests to not get in the way of each other. The result is milquetoast storytelling where nothing of importance happens because other parts of the game would have to acknowledge it.

      I don’t so much blame the writers as the laziness of the framework they were forced to work with. If you can’t have consequences because that would require more voice work, more complex trigger structures, etc., then what can the writers do?

      1. SPCTRE says:

        I sometimes do wonder if they were so in love with their settlement building stuff that they were like “oh no no no, we can’t have the main story alter the game world *too* much, we want our players to *live* in this game world after all, regardless of main story progress”.

        1. I’d bet it’s more of a “you guys work on X, you guys work on Y, and don’t cross the streams.”

          If the people working on a mission wanted a consequence to be that a settlement could get destroyed, that would mean more work for the settlement-building team, and any quests for settlements would have to take the possible destruction into account, etc.

  17. SlothfulCobra says:

    I’m pretty sure in the EU Obi-Wan’s gotten with plenty of women, just the Jedi code keeps him from making any of those relationships long term.

    The jury’s out on what he did for the 20 years when Luke was growing up and there wasn’t a Jedi order around to disapprove of things.

    1. Incunabulum says:

      Jedi are ascetic monks. Celibacy and self-discipline arising from denying desires Ccarnal or otherwise) are entirely in keeping with and, indeed, form a core framework that the rest of the Jedi . . . philosophy is built around.

  18. Jokerman says:

    Hmmm until today, when i looked it up… I thought “skellington” was just an americanization of “skeleton”

    1. MichaelGC says:


      1. Jokerman says:

        Was that where it was invented? and by a brit at that… couldn’t be further from the truth. I should read some Terry Pratchett, my dad is a fan, has a shit load of them, so i have no excuse not to.

        1. MichaelGC says:

          All assuming you do, I’d definitely recommend starting with either Guards! Guards! or Mort, if you can. They’re the 8th (heh) and 4th to be published, but both are the beginnings of new strands, so I think newcomers are made to feel welcome, and nothing really follows on from the earlier books other than the general location. (Which, alright, actually is a character in its own right. No, I mean it for real – it’s a great big sod off turtle called Great A’Tuin.)

          The books earlier than Mort are a little rougher around the edges – he hadn’t quite worked out how this world was going to work, and hadn’t quite got into his tremendous stride. They’re brilliant to go back to once you do get into the series, though, and the first two are linked. I’d read them next after the two mentioned above, actually, and then either go through the rest of them in order, or by strand if there is one you particularly like. (You’ll see what I mean…)

        2. I think the character from Nightmare Before Christmas came before Hogfather? But I’ve heard many a small child attempt skeleton and end up with something sounding quite like “skellington”

    2. Cardigan says:


      I wish.

    3. Philadelphus says:

      I thought it was a Britishization. Er, Anglicization?

  19. Ysen says:

    If it’s any comfort, Mumbles, you’re not entirely alone in thinking that Jedi should be getting all the ladies:

    1. silver Harloe says:

      Jedi sex gets into squicky territory pretty fast

      “You want to take your blouse off”
      “I want to take my blouse off”

      1. Gruhunchously says:

        Jedi Master Kilgrave. Yeah, that’s scary.

  20. Sleeping Dragon says:

    @10:55 I can’t decide if this perk strikes at the worst possible times, or the best possible times…

  21. Galad says:

    “Take the project away from Bethesda and give it to literally anyone else. Even David Cage.”

    You say that, but they made most likely over 100m$ by now from this game, if not multiples of that number and if nothing, they’d likely conclude this is a successful game. Monetarily, they wouldn’t be in the wrong, would they?

    1. Humanoid says:

      Well that’s the problem, they’re making all of this money which then goes into making even more of these nonsensical games, which will make even more money, and so on. We must end this destructive feedback loop at all costs!

    2. Shamus says:

      If we’re going to use profit = success, then the entire game is unimpeachable.

      But to be clear: David Cage wouldn’t make a good Fallout game. He would make a Fallout game that was stupid and broken, but in a totally different way.

      1. Ledel says:

        At least you could melee helicopters if it was done by David Cage.

      2. Wide And Nerdyâ„¢ says:

        You guys should do a David Cage game at some point. It would be so entertaining.

        1. Rutskarn says:

          Sure, but let me get in my (personal) vetoes first:

          We probably shouldn’t do Indigo Prophecy. It’s sort of janky and I’ve known LPers to have trouble with it. Plus, it’s full of LOTS of quicktime events that jive poorly with our lag-prone casting-and-commenting setup.

          I really don’t want to do Heavy Rain. There’s some really good parts, but everything with Madison Paige really skeezed me out. When you look at just her scenes, it’s like a greasy 80s exploitation movie without a compelling narrative–she drifts from a huge long sequence where she’s showering and being chased in her underwear by masked men, which is both her first ever scene and a dream with nothing to do with the rest of the plot, to a “treat-the-hero’s wounds scene” where her chief contribution is patching one of the other protagonists up, to being kidnapped, tied up, and almost serially murdered by a creepy doctor, to interrogating a club owner by propositioning him and subsequently being forced to strip at gunpoint. The she goes back, and as the OTHER character’s scene, propositions the protagonist, who has the choice to accept or reject her. After the sex scene, he has the choice to accept or reject a romance. Only after this does she have scenes which made me feel like she was a protagonist alongside the other two (although the detective guy gets a pretty lean plot, all considered), but by that point the game was nearly over. It’s pretty distracting from the rest of the game, which oscillates between great moments and berserk stupidity.

          I don’t want to do Beyond Two Souls. It’s not as creepy as Heavy Rain, but something about it puts me off anyway. I wouldn’t be super comfortable with the LP, and being comfortable is a huge part of what makes the Spoiler Warning dynamic work.

          So that leaves…

          (checks Wikipedia)

          …uh, Omikron?


          1. Wide And Nerdyâ„¢ says:

            I was hoping Beyond Two Souls, partly because its the only one I’ve seen and the lets plays are pretty funny.

            I remember the scene where they pick the outfit for her date. And “sexy” ends up being jeans with a short sleeve white blouse that buttons all the way up to the neck. Its really weird. Thought you guys might have fun with it and maybe compare Dafoe’s relationship with young Ellie (I forget her name) to the other father daughter relationships you’ve covered (Last of Us, Dishonored, Walking Dead). Actually, I think thats one of the better parts.

            But as long as Omikron contains enough of Cage’s common foibles to comment on, then sure.

            1. Cardigan says:

              Omikron has David Bowie, so it is automatically the best choice here.

              1. Gruhunchously says:

                David Bowie is in Omikron, Angelo Badalamenti does the music for Indigo Prophecy…

                Ever get the impression that David Cage is just desperately trying to be David Lynch?

          2. James says:

            If you chose Omikron then your in for a world of painful hate. the game barley works on any hardware let along new ones with new os’s.

            Beyond is probably Cage’s best game, but its got some creepy weird moments. the father daughter elements are the games strength and the sci-fi/spiritual elements go from interesting to batshit insane to what the actual fuck very quickly.

            1. IFS says:

              Having watched a LP of Beyond I would say the opposite, to me it was like all the worst stuff form Heavy Rain and Indigo stitched together. It jumps between boring and batshit crazy (both are fairly stupid most of the time). Heavy Rain had a lot of boring and crazy nonsense as well but at least some of its sequences were interesting.

              I’ve only seen a little of Omikron but I wouldn’t want to watch a season of it, its visuals have aged incredibly poorly and it definitely has some of Cage’s usual creepiness in it.

              1. Gruhunchously says:

                I’d say that Heavy Rain is the best (or least bad) of the Modern Cage Trilogy. It has it’s dumb moments, the kids a horrendous, the Madison thing is indeed skeezy as hell, and the main plot crumbles to pieces if you think about it for more than a minute, but it does manage to squeeze in some genuinely terrifying and empathetic moments.

                And it also has some of the most complex branching story paths that I’ve seen in a game, beyond even those of Telltale and the other more recent games that advertise themselves on that sort of thing. There are whole sequences that can be skipped based on certain character’s actions (the creepy basement scene can be bypassed entirely if Madison doesn’t get drugged, grabs the evidence she needs and gets out before the doctor comes back), and the final confrontation has a bunch of genuinely different permutations depending on who’s alive and who isn’t.

                Beyond Two Souls, by contrast, is almost completely linear, and the scenes being out of sequence is a nakedly arbitrary attempt to drum up tension and mystery in what is otherwise a random-events plot. The acting’s pretty good though, much better than Heavy Rain’s.

                I feel uncomfortable passing character judgement on Cage himself though, other than him being a terrible writer. He could either be cynically exploitative, or just naive, or it could be a matter of cultural differences. I wouldn’t want to say.

          3. Ninety-Three says:

            Regarding BTS being offputting, it wasn’t as exploitative as Heavy Rain, but the way its actual tone often failed to match its intended tone often gave it a similarly gross feel for me. Its shower scenes weren’t as fanservicey, but they were still pointless shower scenes. I don’t think it necessarily was exploitative/indulgent, probably just lousy writing, but it had a way of feeling like it nonetheless. The character isn’t acting like a human being and the scenes don’t advance any plot or themes (because Cage can’t write his way out of a paper bag), so I found myself falling into the loop of “So why is this here?” “Because someone has a slightly creepy thing for Ellen Page.”

            1. Sunshine says:

              Was it BTS where modders found an unused and wholly unjustified nude model for the Ellen Page character in the art assets?

              (I think it was a game where it wasn’t even her voice, just a similar character.)

              1. Ninety-Three says:

                The nude model (it was Page’s character) was used in the game’s gratuitous shower scenes, it’s just that the fairly restrained camera angles (granting that they’re shower scenes, they were shot in a way weirdly light on fanservice) didn’t allow anyone to notice that the model was anatomically correct. Then someone took a debug-mode camera to the scenes, revealing that the model was anatomically correct. Apparently Ellen Page even looked into legal action.

          4. JackDaDipper says:

            Oh noes! I made ze bad game!

      3. If profit = success, Michael Bay is one of the finest filmmakers working today.

        I think I need to go throw up now.

  22. Cardigan says:

    Was I the only one hoping you could pull a reverse Neeson-Dad and just lay into your son for having low karma or whatever? Bonus points for immediately dropping the whole issue & summarily committing sudoku.

  23. Kelerak says:

    I love how you can just make Purified Water via a stove. It’s almost like Bethesda highlighting how Project Purity was stupid, but Bethesda doesn’t have that much self-awareness to do such a thing.

    1. IFS says:

      They probably just copy pasted purified water from NV’s crafting list. There it required dirty water a pitcher and some tubing over a campfire iirc (only the dirty water was consumed in the process for obvious reasons).

      1. Kelerak says:

        That doesn’t surprise me in the slightest, as this game has been trying to imitate New Vegas in many other ways,

      2. Incunabulum says:

        Its kinda funny – the FO3/FNV crafting system could handle giving the player back multiple item types from a crafting recipe.

        The new can’t.

        You can only specify one thing to be returned. So if you wanted an FNV style ‘use some tool items to craft this’ recipe either the recipe will consume those tools or you have to kludge a work around by giving the player a token with a script to deposit those items into your inventory and then remove the token.

    2. Jabrwock says:

      Actually the EPA recommends reverse osmosis to remove most radioactive contaminated particles from drinking water… so I imagine distillation would work as well. It’s not the H2O that is radioactive, it’s that radioactive water contains radioactive particles.

      The idea behind Project Purity was sound, de-irradiate an entire watershed so you could do things like irrigation (grand scale of what they accomplished at Rivet City). It was the “space magic” of the GECK that made it stupid.

      1. Coming_Second says:

        Like so many things in both F3 and F4, the essential premise of Purity was sound, and many interesting things could have been done with it. The problem was that the game didn’t engage with the importance of pure water in any way, and put it at the centre of a plot that’s even more incoherent than F4.

        1. Incunabulum says:

          Exactly – nobody was ever short of water in that game *except* the conveniently placed Karma vendors. There was no mention of anything in particular that was not doable because there was insufficient clean water. Nobody (except the aformentioned vendors) was ever sick because of lack of clean water nor were people living noticeably shorter lives because of it.

          Hell, some dude manage to cross the Atlantic Ocean (for some fucking reason).

  24. LCF says:

    The chef’s hat, the raider armor and the two-handed, spiky clobbering board make me think of Reginald as a Renaissance Landsknecht with a long sword.
    Very nice.

  25. Blunderbuss09 says:

    I’m in the same boat; nothing kicks off my desire to write than seeing a poorly handled story that could have been great. I want to mod this game to hell and back but the level of effort needed would drive me insane.

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