Fallout 4 EP35: Big McLarge Huge

By Shamus Posted Thursday Sep 1, 2016

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 132 comments

Link (YouTube)

I know the definition of RPG is a mess. Diablo is an RPG. Borderlands is an RPG. Planescape is an RPG. Mass Effect is an RPG. To some people it means a game with leveling and looting. To some people it means a game where you think up a personality for your character and then respond to challenges as that person. To some people it’s about messing around with branching stories. To some people it’s just a game where you can drive the dialog and discover the details of the setting at your own pace.

It’s obviously a matter of degrees. The more of these attributes you have, the more roleplay-ish the game is. But genres are more of a Yes / No deal and not a measure of how high a game scores on the roleplay-o-meter. And so we have a lot of arguments about where we draw the line.

But Fallout 4 is an interesting case. If we made the attributes of an RPG into a checklist, Fallout 4 would score really high. It has a lot of roleplayish things, but they’re all really shallow, and often disconnected from each other.

  1. You can level up and spend skill points. (But this is neutered by the “all builds must be equally valid in the face of endless mandatory combat”.)
  2. You have a dialog wheel. (Which is useless since conversations are linear, your choices rarely matter, and you can’t tell what you’re doing to say.)
  3. You can loot things. (Which feeds into an amusing but shallow base-building mechanic where you build houses for inert nameless people who have no relationship with you, the world, or each other.)
  4. There’s a story. (Which is dumb nonsense and appalling melodrama as depicted in cringe-worthy cutscenes.)
  5. You’re given a character to play. (But then they’re never really given any personality, nor are you given the freedom to form one yourself.)
  6. You get to make “choices”. (Most of which are shallow, meaningless, or offered without really giving you enough information to make an informed decision. Sure, choosing between Institute, Railroad, Brotherhood, or Minutemen is a BIG choice. But like the red / green / blue choice at the end of Mass Effect, it feels contrived and arbitrary. It’s like choosing to blow up Megaton in Fallout 3. It’s a choice for its own sake and not a natural, emergent part of the world. )

Fallout 4 has all the ingredients of a roleplaying game, yet it doesn’t feel like one because every element is so diluted that there’s almost nothing left. Fallout 4 is a homeopathic roleplaying game.


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132 thoughts on “Fallout 4 EP35: Big McLarge Huge

  1. I wonder if that Deathclaw was thinking “Oh no, not again” like it was reincarnated from a flower pot.

    1. Yurika Grant says:

      “I think I’ll call it… a tail. Tail! Yes, that sounds about right! What’s this big round thing rushing towards me? I wonder if it’ll be my friend?”

    2. Mandatory whenever I see someone say “Oh no, not again!”

      1. This is probably the best comment I’ve had here since I started. ^__^

      2. Wide And Nerdy® says:

        I think his line would have been funnier if he’d said it as the alien was whipping out the hat and cane. The more weird and specific, the better.

        I never get tired of that gag. Its used sparingly.

        And if you can somehow have the weird random thing happen twice on screen in your movie, you’ve really earned that punchline.

  2. Content Consumer says:

    I always just figured that Virgil’s brain was deteriorating. His “so you are with the institute and working with Kellogg” is a symptom of increasing paranoia as, essentially, brain damage is increasing.

    Of course, that’s probably just another instance of coming up with an excuse to justify some crappy writing.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Ok,so why isnt he searching for a way to just stop the deterioration without going back to his frail human form?You know,be the master 2.0,and not this…..mess.

      1. Content Consumer says:

        Maybe his brain has deteriorated to the point where he doesn’t know his brain has deteriorated?
        I dunno. I’m grasping at straws here trying to fix-explain most of this stuff. My standards have fallen so low I’m accepting almost any wild theory to explain the holes and breaks.

      2. Doesn’t he mention that he feels he’s slowly loosing his old self?

        Would have been cool if you could swap/take a FEV virus and give that to Virgil instead, causing him to go full supermutant right before your eyes or something.

    2. Yurika Grant says:

      He just had a copy of the script.

    3. Ciennas says:

      Or regular paranoia. He’s alone and hiding in the glowing sea, really close to the impact crater, hiding from people who can teleport at will, with only occasional and perfunctory interaction with some rad immune cultists.

      Also, the Institute can make people to order.

      So some well armed stranger barges into his sanctuary and starts spouting off a bunch of scary names of scary people that want him captured or killed.

      Worse, he thinks he almost recognizes the stranger as in some way related to his boss.

      From what I remember of the conversation, Virgil massively underreacts to the Sole Survivors presence. Maybe he’s just exhausted from fighting for his self on three fronts.

      Maybe that conversation should have taken place in a room with lockable magnetic doors, like they do in Nuka World after you get elected king mook.

      It would have made him more conspicuous but appropriately paranoid.

  3. Content Consumer says:

    I’ve just got to say – this particular week has the best possible clip for the credits. It fits the music so well… Benny Hill style.

    Someone should put that to Yakety Sax.

  4. Da Mage says:

    I actually did a university paper that had to deal with games and their genres, and they are sooo vague. Some games like FPS are defined by mechnaics, whereas some like RPGs are defined by themes…and don’t eve get me started on the ‘Action’ genre, which exists as a catch all for everything that doesn’t fit into one of the others.

    1. Henson says:

      The difficulty in RPG classification comes from using one catch-all term for many types of play. You can justify them all under that one label because of its roots in pen & paper games, which could encompass all sorts of play depending on the preferences of the players and the DM. But it is messy. And I think I’m comfortable with that.

      1. Matt Downie says:

        I think we should adopt a simple unambiguous definition of ‘RPG’ for the benefit of future dictionaries. I propose, “A game where you use numbers to kill orcs.”

        Super-mutants are basically orcs, so Fallout games would count.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Ok,where would deus ex fit into that?Because you mostly avoid killing stuff in that one,especially early on when you are a crappy shot on top of being frail.Plus,everyone is (mostly)human,no orcs.Or how about undertale,a game that deliberately encourages you to not kill monsters and not increase your numbers.Or tom braider,a game with no numbers,no orcs,but still plenty of rpg elements.

          And of course,there is the opposite problem of warcraft(especially 1 and 2),a game where you DO kill orcs with numbers,but its mostly an rts(completely an rts in cases of 1 and 2).

          1. MichaelGC says:

            The Deus Ex games are nearly-but-not-quite RPGs, as they’re games where you might use numbers to kill augs.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              Oh god damn it!I walked right into that one

          2. Matt Downie says:

            Once we switch to my new unambiguous definition, we’ll need some new genres to fill the gaps. Deus Ex could be a GnC game (Guns ‘n’ Conversation) instead of an RPG, same as Mass Effect.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              Which would equate deus ex,mass effect 1-3,and tom braider.You are basically doing this:


    2. It really should be kind of a topographical map sort of thing, with “peaks” in categories like FPS, RTS, RPG, Arcade (or action), Rhythm, Adventure, etc. however many one wants for one’s purposes, and then the “mountains” on your map represent the strength of presence of these various mechanics.

      Even then, that leaves out genre (wild west, steampunk, sci-fi, etc.) or other strengths a game might have. If I were reviewing Portal and Portal 2, the writing would be high point, even though that’s technically not part of the “game” mechanics.

      I guess this is one of those things where you can make it as hard as you want to, and the more you know about it, the angrier you’ll be when someone (in your opinion) mis-represents the topic.

    3. Daemian Lucifer says:

      RPGs are defined by themes

      Except when they are not,as is the case with diablo and borderlands,who are mechanically similar,but thematically very far apart.Yeah,even in the clusterfuck of genre differentiation,rpg stands out like a huge mess.

    4. Raygereio says:

      RPGs are defined by themes

      Could you expand on that?
      Because if I look at the different types of RPG I’d say they’re defined by their core focus. For example story-telling (which you divide up in how much the games focuses on presenting a story vs having the player influence in the story) vs dungeon crawling & character building.

      Also wanting to define the various genres get even more migraine inducing when you consider that one genre can incorporate elements from other genres. For example a FPS can have platforming or RPG elements.
      Charting that stuff out would require some sort of 5 dimensional venn diagram.

      1. Da Mage says:

        That’s sort of what I meant by theme. What the core mechanics of the game are that the player interacts with. RPGs are hard, because there are just to many different types.

        Things like loot-driven gameplay, or character development. In contrast to an FPS which is defined by objectives, controls and the perspective.

  5. Flailmorpho says:

    reginald cuftbert is a launchpad for deathclaws

    1. Content Consumer says:

      It’d be great if there were sound effects or voice lines when that happened.

      I regret nothing!
      Hey, come back!
      Why are you so small all of the sudden?

    2. ehlijen says:

      Is there a mod for Kerbel Space Program yet?

  6. Da Mage says:

    On the episode, everyone is wondering why he would turn back.

    It’s actually explained pretty clearly, if he doesn’t turn back he’ll turn into a big dumb raging super mutant over time…and he doesn’t want that. And yes, if you give it to him, he turns back into human.

    If you read the story of swan on the terminal the same thing happens there, where he got way smarter and stronger to start with, then slowly turned back into a raging monster. Also explains why despite being a bio science guy he is able to build a teleporter from spare parts.

    1. Ciennas says:

      I feel like him turning from a super mutant to a normal is a bit too much of a cop out though.

      For instance, where does all the mass and muscle and enlarged bone and brain go?

      I could buy him curing the rage issues that are so heavily implied to hit Bethesda Strain mutants, preserve his mind and sanity.

      Or if they’d not turned him into a ten foot tall pile of muscle, left him transitioning into mutant…. (but then that nebulous timeline in the memory den scene, since he’s already ran away from the institute by then and implied he mutated himself to escape. And Kellogg is missing from his bungalow for a LONG time by then. Hm…)

      But as it stands it drives me bonkers. That’s not how reality works, and that’s not good storytelling.

      It turns this choice into a deus ex machina, and erases a huge part of the Fallout identity.

      They really didn’t think this through…

      1. Da Mage says:

        I mean…where did the muscle mass come from in the first place? Why does radiation turn people into ghouls. All happens under the idea of SCIENCE!, the same thing that allows autonomous robots and laser rifles with 1960s style technology.

        “Reality” is very different in the Fallout universe, and it wasn’t even Bethesda who went off the rails with it….just remember talking deathclaws. I find it strange to draw the line at reversing FEV, rather than many other much unrealistic things.

        1. IFS says:

          I thought about it for a bit, because it bothers me that it just reverses so easily as well, and I think part of why it doesn’t fit is that it goes against the themes of the past fallouts. In Fallout (particularly NV) a big theme is letting go of the past, and the scars of the events and ideologies of the past and people clinging to it are present in all of the games. Super Mutants are one of those scars brought about by the war, a transformation of humanity somewhat reflective of the transformation of the world into a wasteland. It doesn’t feel right for one of those scars to just be so easily removed and even reverted.

          I dunno, maybe I’m reading too much into things and overreaching trying to justify my dislike of it, but that’s what it feels like to me.

          1. The Rocketeer says:

            I think a big part of the problem is that the cure is already finished, or all but nearly so. You just need to bring it to Virgil so he can swirl it around a little and pour it up his nose.

            We don’t see any of the work that went into this. Presumably, this is the life work of one of the most brilliant men alive, working with the finest research environment available in the world. but we don’t see any part of that process, nor help with it in any way, other than handing off the finished product.

            Having a view toward, or some hand in, the accomplishment of this monumental scientific achievement would have helped sell it. As it stands, it’s more of a plot key introduced into the canon with a cavalier hand.

        2. Ciennas says:

          But it isn’t. There are some minor details, but Fallout was initially a ‘there but for a nail go we’ setting, and very little suggests otherwise.

          In fact, I’m not sure why so many people persist in saying that reality works differently in Fallout. It seems almost identical to ours until 1945, where they doubled down on atomic energy research instead of electronics.

          Fallout Obsidian/Black Isle is very detail driven. It’s why all the stuff they wrote specifically have way more detailed write ups in the wiki.

          Fallout Bethesda is very drama driven, and they fudge the rules and die rolls hard to make moments that are cool and awesome at the expense of internal consistency.

          And I will not mock cool and awesome. It is wonderful that they gave us a world and a toolset and said go nuts and make with the cool things.

          That said, unlike their other major open world franchise, it still has its roots in our world. Yiu can’t just embrace CHIM and warp reality.

          The deathclaws were a result of their engineered history- it was surprising, that they would mutate that way, but it made sense. It was at least plausible.

          And with rare exception, most robots are just like ours from both the fifties and sixties and the present dialed up to eleven- the only part we haven’t mastered is the power supply and the floating bits.

          The sapient AI is exceedingly rare right up until Automotron. (Synths being incredibly vague on the details as to why they are or are not sapient.)

          Sorry. Trying to not ramble. In short, the changes that Black Isle made to our world were relatively minor, and like all good sci fi, their inclusion changed the world in ways that make sense.

          Bethesda making a super mutant cure that magically reverts you to a premutation state is so silly as to ask me to just give up and don a wizard hat and throw lightning from my fingers.

          But the worst part isn’t just breaking the rules of biology as I understand them, (and if I am mistaken about this stuff feel free to enlighten me,) but it also robs the world of something that made it unique and interesting. If they can just magic people back into their premutated state, then a logical people would prioritize that. Maybe aerosolize it and forcibly magic away the super mutant problem all over the US.

          That’s ignoring that that cure, either their magical one or a more plausible de-angrifying one would be worth more than all the world to a lot of groups, including the Brotherhood who somehow got wind of it. (But choose to kill him because…….. it made players so happy when they stupidly asked us to betray Paarthurnax? At least I hear you can talk the brotherhood down for this.)

          And that little offhand cure for Super Mutants is to the Fallout franchise as the magical antideath blood is to the rebooted Star Trek.

          And both were slapped in the story seemingly without thinking it through far enough.

          Maybe they’ll spin it into a one off or make a major quest chain about it next game. I expect a lot more of the same though; really cool ideas hampered by their execution for an end result that is almost but not quite great.

          And I just want to see them knock it out of the park instead of continuously giving us almost but not quite a great game and story and world.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Thats another good point.We have this super mutant go away serum,and its used just once,for a side quest,and never mentioned again?In a world where super mutants present a big problem?This is some voyager level not giving a fuck.

            1. Ciennas says:

              Yeah. You’d think the Brotherhood would be keenly interested in Super Mutant B Gon, but they are much more concerned with killing the guy who made it.

              Interesting characterization of them jumping off the slippery slope with their human purity zealotry, but… yup.

              Again, this is not very well thought through. At least F3’s FEV macguffin was of legitimately zero use to anybody and would be concievably dropped in an incinerator as soon as they could assemble one.

              1. MrGuy says:

                My god, man, where would anyone possibly get an incinerator in the fallou universe? What possible use could it be?

          2. LCF says:

            Let’s try to do it better:
            The serum halts or slows down the mutation. If you are already mutated, you’ll stay that way, but you won’t became more of a seething mass of rage and muscle.
            No need to put an unrelated labcoat saying “I magically turned back into a human”, no need to worry about all the rads in the airburst bomb crater.

        3. Daemian Lucifer says:

          I mean…where did the muscle mass come from in the first place? Why does radiation turn people into ghouls.

          Actually,both are pretty plausible with even current science.Radiation can stop cell death,which leads to cancer.But if we could drive that cancer to develop in certain ways,we definitely could increase someones muscle mass rather quickly.Of course,theyd immediately need to eat much more,or they would die rather quickly as well.Same with ghouls,encourage cancer to stop dividing on top of it not dying,and you will get an immortal multicellular organism.

          the same thing that allows autonomous robots and laser rifles with 1960s style technology.

          That is a bit wonkier,but still not as implausible.The wonkiest part of fallout science is microfusion,which probably isnt even theoretically possible.But if somehow it were possible,you would most definitely be able to have fallout style tools.

          “Reality” is very different in the Fallout universe, and it wasn't even Bethesda who went off the rails with it….just remember talking deathclaws. I find it strange to draw the line at reversing FEV, rather than many other much unrealistic things.

          Thats because “unlike real world” is not the same as “internally not consistent”.Fallout is not like the real world.But the difference between the two is rather minor.Its the existence of microfusion and fev.So you only have to remove your suspension of disbelief to those two things,and everything that is explained as “is possible because of fev” or “is possible but requires enormous power in a small container” is easy to accept.But something that goes contrary to the rules the setting establishes for those two requires you to either explain that new break from reality*,or show how it doesnt actually go contrary to those rules.

          And Im glad that you brought up the talking deathclaws,because many fans have a big problem with that one as well.Not everything that was in original fallouts is considered universally good and awesome.

          *And for many things in the original fallout,that explanation was “because its funny”.The spaceship,is the prime example of this.

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Also explains why despite being a bio science guy he is able to build a teleporter from spare parts.

      No it doesnt.Intelligence =/= knowledge.Increase Hawkings intelligence 10 fold and he will not suddenly become an expert geologist on top of being a superb physicist.

      1. Ciennas says:

        I thought he nicked the plans for the teleporter as a bargaining chip. Or he had dated one of the engineers who invented or maintain the thing.

        After all, his contribution was the blueprints. While essential to the whole endeavor, he could just have eidectic memory.

  7. The Rocketeer says:

    “Sun goes down, crazy’s come out.”

    Okay, so, if you see a mistake in a dialog subtitle, do you tend to assume it’s an extradiegetic mistake on the transcriber’s part, or an accurate transcription of a diegetic mistake on the speaker’s part?

    On one hand, this is classic Bethesda sloppiness. On the other hand, it’s also the kind of amateur slip that that sanctimonious muckraking fraud Piper would make, despite plying a print-oriented trade. I’m torn between two redoubtable hacks, and I’m uneasy condemning either if it means the other is exonerated.

    1. Hermocrates says:

      In this case, I think you could entirely ascribe it to Bethesda’s sloppiness, because no one ever says a possessive when they mean a plural. For the same reason, the subtitle has a spelling mistake, not a grammar mistake.

      1. Syal says:

        The actual problem is mixing tenses. It should be “Sun’s gone down, crazy’s come out.”

        1. Daimbert says:

          I think the tenses work, although in context it might not. I think we could validly expand the sentence to “When the sun goes down, the crazies come out”, which works perfectly well wrt tense.

          1. MichaelGC says:

            Yep – Syal is trying to redeem the apostrophe by making it a shortened version of: “crazy has come out,” I think; hence the tenses. I think it’s fairly irredeemable, though.

            My dude described something as ‘unsual’ yesterday – he was drunk and high at the time, but I’m still blaming QA.

    2. IFS says:

      Considering that I doubt Bethesda intended Piper to be viewed as a muckraking hack of a journalist I think this is all on them.

      1. The Rocketeer says:

        By Atom, a twofer! I’ll take it!

  8. Ledel says:

    Speaking of how Bethesda scripting is terrible. I recently played through FO4 going with the Minuteman route. During the raid on the Institute, there is a moment where you have to talk to Garvey so that he will open up a door for you. I go up to him, then it forces me to do the “I helped that settlement you sent me to.” quest dialogue. After that, I could not ask him to move the quest forward and open the door. Turning in the most generic, lame quest Garvey gives you every time you see him forced his AI to revert back to settlement mode. He could give me more settlements to help, but nothing else. We have a dozen guys inside the Institute, and they would’ve been stuck there forever.

    I had to revert to an earlier save, walk back outside, turn in the quest, then go back inside (where the quest marker showing the hidden entrance disappeared at this point), and then trigger the scene inside the Institute.

    1. The Rocketeer says:

      I saved before the critical endgame choices so I could experience all four ending paths, right in a row. In all four paths, I had to use the console at least once to correct NPC’s or activators that bugged out and prevented quest progression.

      The greatest was a bit of a (non) spoiler: During the Brotherhood ending quest, when Liberty Prime is finally activated, the music swells, the robot powers up and steps out of his moorings to begin the glorious endgame charge. You know, exactly the way Fallout 3 ended. And once it steps out, it… paces in place, turning a bit to the right. Then it pauses for eight seconds. Then it paces in place again, rotating a bit to the left, right back to its starting point. It performed the Nuclear Cha-Cha like this for around five solid minutes while my palm and my forehead made sweet, passionate love to one another.

      Eventually, I quietly exited stage right, stood in a wide spot in the street I hoped was along the intended warpath, and used the console to place Liberty Prime out there with me. That got him out into the street, but the dance party refused to end, as the great metal man put its soul on display, urging his fellow warriors to grasp the pathos of returning from obliteration only to be forced to kill again for a stranger’s cause. Another walk down the block, and another console command to yank Tin Man’s chain one last time, and he was off and running, his groove capacitor apparently expended for the evening.

      My in-character explanation is that Madison Li is such a pathetic no-talent shrew that Liberty Prime was rendered inoperable by her sloppy coding, and I had to take time out of my busy day to flex my 11 Int, 5 Science muscles and do her job for her before the damn thing could do more than bloviate jingoistically and jitter in place like a bulldog on hot pavement.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Wait,wasnt it destroyed in the previous game?Shouldnt that be liberty secundus now?Or maybe ultra libertus.

        1. Ledel says:

          I think the brotherhood follows the great hero Optimus Prime, where he keeps the same name no matter how often he’s destroyed/rebuilt.

        2. The head was still usable. You could even talk to it after that mission. :D

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            So liberty prime apex quintus?

          2. MrGuy says:

            That’s some Soma level Ship of Theseus problem mung going on right there.

  9. Campster, Virgil is slowly losing his mind. The FEV left him intelligent for now, but he’s quickly deteriorating into one of the less intelligent and violent Super-Mutants. That’s why he wants to be cured.

    He changes back to human off-camera. You leave and come back.

    As for the radiation, there’s no radioactivity in the cave, so he could just have a radiation suit somewhere you can’t get.

    And as I’m listening to this episode, I think just about everyone on the Spoiler Warning crew missed the whole “I’m going to lose my intelligence” thing.

    1. MichaelGC says:

      Aye, and simply not wanting to see a giant green monster in the mirror seems like it’d be a natural thing to not want. If it be warranted to extrapolate from green to orange: even The Thing wanted to be human-shaped & -sized again, despite the many obvious advantages of thinghood.

  10. Hector says:

    Everybody else seems to have loved the power armor. I was annoyed by it more than anything else, and just never really bothered to take it out. Still ended up putting in a poer armor station in every base so I could nab all the suits, but that was it. I even just went straight to the dead zone here with just some extra rad meds.

    Also, the deathclaws in this game are beautifully animated and yet surprisingly weak.

    1. MichaelGC says:

      It’s totally different when you level up enough to start meeting Legendary Deathclaw Matriarchs!

      They’re weak too, but it’s no longer surprising by that stage. Totally different.

  11. Aaron says:

    I always find the RPG definition debate frustrating because there’s a certain type of person that hammers out a definition not just to be descriptive but to, well, bash some game (and its fans). The “it’s not an RPG it’s an action game” way of implying a game sucks.

    This also segues into this…purity complex that people expect of RPGs but not other genres. No one cares if you combine, say, shooters and racing games. But combining “RPG” with anything else apparently “dilutes” the RPGness and is therefore a crime against Man and God.

    1. The Rocketeer says:

      Ah, yes: painstakingly contorting genre definitions into a prescriptivist cudgel to wield against the miscegenated. What’s the genre equivalent of Gerrymandering? Genremandering?

        1. The Rocketeer says:

          Pigeonholing is an apathetic result, the byproduct of sloth or inattention. Incensed genre gatekeeping is active and deliberate, turgid with petty purpose.

          Although, it’s almost adorable when they, in what they imagine is a conciliatory practice, proffer alternate genre-ghettoes for whatever games they code out of their taxonomic Holy Land, e.g. “Roguelikelike.”

          1. Ninety-Three says:

            Consider me successfully baited.

            I would patronizingly call your projection adorable, if presuming the motivations of others weren’t so frustratingly arrogant. “Roguelikelike” (or the less awful “roguelite”) is not driven by the “Being an impure RPG is inherently bad!” attitude you’re describing. People don’t think roguelite is a genre, least of all people who want to use the term “roguelite”.

            Roguelike used to be a non-judgemental checklist with the same meaning as “Doom Clone”: it told you that the game was like Rogue. The “Roguelite” debate is the product of language pedants upset by the term “roguelike” losing descriptive specificity, and your post projecting ghettoization and Holy Lands says more about you than the term.

      1. And yet we need general terms to describe things to the average person whose interest in something may not be as deep as that of a fanatic. “Action-RPG,” “RPG-shooter,” “FPS with leveling,” all of those describe the modern Fallout games, and while one might nitpick some of the labels, it’s a quick-and-dirty means of conveying the game’s mechanics.

        I think the problem doesn’t lie with the generality or specificity of the terms being tossed about, but the rigidity and vehemence about how narrowly they must be defined.

        I’m seeing a lot of arguments about whether or not something is a V-6, an AWD, or convertible, when all most people need to know is “it’s a car, or something nearly like it.”

        1. Aaron says:

          “I think the problem doesn't lie with the generality or specificity of the terms being tossed about, but the rigidity and vehemence about how narrowly they must be defined.”

          Yeah. It’s like the “walking simulator” debate. You could argue that these kinds of games aren’t games but are instead some new form of media. But your average forum curmudgeon is calling these not-games to say they suck and shouldn’t be on Steam.

          It seems the Zelda games are the only RPG-like games that people have been able to call not RPGs without being dickish about it.

      2. Shamus says:


        *Slow clap*

        Well done, sir.

      3. Syal says:

        ‘Bitching’, is the term.

      4. MrGuy says:

        First of all, genremandering has gotta be the term.

        However, I see the problem less as pedantic nerds trying to pigeon hole things and more a Real Estate Agent problem.

        Here’s what I mean. I used to live in New York. There are certain semi-official borders for neighborhoods. But listing agents ignore them seemingly at will. For example, an apartment in East Harlem will be listed as “Upper East Side,” because the Upper East Side is generally seen as more desirable/safer/etc. Parts of Brooklyn are called “Williamsburg” that are way over the border into other neighborhoods.

        The problem isn’t that we can’t agree on what the neighborhoods mean. The problem is MARKETING. Marketers don’t care what’s accurate. They care what sells. You might not be in Williamsburg, but if you’re “close enough,” you want to cash in on that cache.

        Taking it back to games, a big studio might say “put some RPG elements in there! People love RPG’s, and we can talk it up in the ad campaign.” They don’t really care if the elements are interesting – they care if plopping the game somewhere in the RPG space will help them sell units.

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Can we just accept that such a person is stupid and continue with the debate proper?Because properly defining genres is a pretty useful thing.If I enjoy having the camera be outside my character,chances are Id enjoy an inferior third person shooter over a superior first person one.Not to mention that its much easier to ask for doom if you say that you want “an fps in hell with demons”,than “a game where the camera is inside the protagonist,and the protagonist has an array of weapons,which they then proceed to use to kill their enemies,who are all creatures from an different reality,where fire and boiling sulfur are prevalent,and inverted pentagrams decorate the walls along with human skulls and impaled corpses”.

      So saying that “this is not an rpg” does not mean its bad,but rather it means its unlike the rest of rpgs,so it would probably appeal more to a different audience.

  12. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Why is he wearing glasses?Isnt the point of supermutantism that your body gets into peak efficiency?

    1. Are you including the brain in that “body” definition? Or one’s reproductive system? Or one’s hair?

      And let’s not forget that the original Fallout 1 Super Mutants sometimes had prosthetic attachments, including monocles.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Ok,I may have worded it badly.The point is,they were meant to be superior in combat,and eyesight is kind of important for that.

        But more importantly,as they say in the episode,in his human form he does not need glasses.So what the hell?

        1. Ciennas says:

          Easy. His mind is going. He has become a hipster.

          Either that or he lucked out and got SOME perk from the whole endeavor. Bethesda forgot to give his human model a new pair.

          Or he broke his glasses shifting back, or the prescription is no longer valid.

          Take your pick. I like the hipster mutation myself.

        2. I didn’t think they were meant to be superior in combat per se, just strong enough and resilient enough to survive in the radioactive wasteland.

  13. Blunderbuss09 says:

    Virgil is such an interesting character that I am really annoyed at how Bethesda handled him.

    The whole detective quest with Valentine should have been about finding this guy; he’s terrified of the Institute and doesn’t want to be found, so you can sniff around to find clues to his location. This would inevitably make you cross paths with Kellogg; he might not appreciate you horning in on his job (or might want to be partners with you because player choices dammit) and what better way to find clues but to find out what the other hunter knows? This way it’s a race to find this guy first before the Institute does.

    So instead of the game just slapping a marker down for you, you have to find breadcrumbs that lead you to that location. That’d be a more compelling mystery than the ridiculous kid Shaun and sniffing cigars we got from finding Kellogg. The only problem is to have a reason why he defected at such a convenient time.

    And I also want to know this guy more. I love characters that defect from their faction; it gives the group depth and creates interesting sub-plots. Do other scientists share his doubts? Is there a way to exploit this? What does Virgil think of the surface? And once he’s human can you recruit him for your faction and give him a home, or force him to work for you under threat of turning him over?

    (There’s also like a waaaay better place for him to live. You can find a tiny shack in the Glowing Sea that has a trapdoor that leads to a massive lab. Why not live there?)

    1. Ciennas says:

      The only problem is to have a reason why he defected at such a convenient time.

      No, this is a result of Bethesda sloppily bending over backwards to obscure the BIG TWIST. Virgil ran off ages ago, as Kelloggs hidey hole in Diamond City has been vacant for at least two years, and that’s where X6-88 gives Kellogg the assignment.

      And then, Kellogg instead sits in the middle of a fortified military bunker surrounded by guard droids until the Sole Survivor shows up to shoot him in the face.

      Virgil, for his part, sits in a cave in the middle of a radioactive hell that he knows nobody fron the Institute would wanna go near, trying like mad to resynthesize his work with wildly inferior equipment while slowly succumbing to the effects of FEV.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Virgil, for his part, sits in a cave in the middle of a radioactive hell that he knows nobody fron the Institute would wanna go near,

        Are synths affected by radiation?Because unshielded electronics is,but this is a world where radiation is rather common,so you would probably build your machines to resist it.So couldnt they have sent synths after him?

        1. Ledel says:

          You’d probably have to use a gamma gun to find out if they can die to radiation. But since half the enemies in the game are immune to radiation, who would use that weapon?

          …Oh crap, Josh will pick up 20 of them and never sell/drop them now.

          1. They only weigh around 3 units each, maybe capping at 6-7 with the highest mods, of which there aren’t that many.

            They’re barely worth the inventory space, especially since you get a unique version from one of the other decent quests in the game.

        2. Ciennas says:

          Are synths affected by radiation.

          Gen 1 and 2 designs… prolly not. But then they are fragile and not very flexible with autonomous wide reaching goals- we only ever see them guard a set area or ruah in and beam spam.

          I notice you don’t really encounter any machine enemies in the Glowing Sea, so who knows.

          Gen 3…. prolly not. But then, they are frustratingly vague about what a Gen 3 synth is and is not. But a Courser would have been able to navigate to the cave with relatively little trouble.


          Shaun has an intense loathing of Kellogg. What if reviving his parent is the latest in a string of zany schemes designed to murder Kellogg and make it look like he was killed by accident or in the line of duty?

          “Hey Kellogg, go hunt down this guy who turned himself into a discount Hulk and is hiding in the still hot impact crater of a nuclear explosion with radscorpions, deathclaws, feral ghouls and cultists for company. Also you can’t just teleport straight to him for some reason.”

          (They didn’t tell Kellogg that Virgil hulked out before he left either, I notice.)

          “…. I will get right on that.”

          “It’s terribly important, that’s why I won’t care that he’s been gone for a long time and only bothered to send you after him.”

        3. Blunderbuss09 says:

          Gen 1 and 2’s are totally immune and I’m pretty sure Gen 3’s are, or at least have a much higher resistance. So, no, there’s no reason they couldn’t send squads of Coursers into the Glowing Sea to find him. They’ll probably be constantly killed by the wildlife but it’s not like the Institute gives a crap about their lives.

          I don’t think they know where he is though, but it seems that the Institute doesn’t really care. They got Kellogg on it but that’s about it. You’d think they’d be sweeping the entire Commonwealth for him because he’s a massive security leak and that’s exactly what happens.

        4. Keep in mind that (in theory) the world of Fallout has the conceit that microprocessors were never invented. Stuff that runs off of vacuum tubes can survive radiation (it’s why some worried that Soviet MIGs would be better equipped for any post-nuke combat, having onboard systems that ran off of tubes).

          The Protectrons and other robots look big and bulky enough to be “Robbie the Robot” style machines with vacuum-tube systems, so Bethesda just extended that immunity to rads to any robot. I suppose one could say they’ve been hardened against radioactivity in some way, but that’s probably overthinking it. Just assume that radiation = bad for organics.

          Additionally, the Institute may (it’s not entirely clear) be looking to repopulate the wasteland with servants of their own design, so they’d likely make them rad-proof.

  14. LCF says:

    “Diablo is an RPG”
    Without cudgeling anyone or anything (I like the first two Diablo), an RPG is a game in which you play a role. Easy to do around a table with other humans, a bit harder facing a computer program. Now, you could invest yourself in your Rogue or your Necro, but there is no meaningful choice* to make while playing Diablo, save for doing or not doing secondary quests, and you can only play the characters as they are programmed, that is, you cannot change the hair, the face, the size and weight…
    Contrast with Baldur’s Gate or Arcanum or anything of the kind, where there is a lot of choice/dialogue options, where your character can be a lot of different things because you design it.
    I think the Hack&Slash etiquette fits Diablo better than RPG.

    *I mean, in term of role. Of course there is a lot of choice to make with stats and abilities, but in these games, they hardly matter on the role and the events.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      ARPG is a simpler term,in my opinion.And it already is kind of accepted for diablo and diablo likes(or would that be diablo lites? :))

      1. They’re usually called dungeon crawlers from what I’ve seen, and oddly enough the first Diablo was technically a roguelike.

    2. Raygereio says:

      Without cudgeling anyone or anything (I like the first two Diablo), an RPG is a game in which you play a role.

      Okay, but how is “making choices” in integral part of playing a role? How do you define “play a role”? Does that also encompass playing the role of William “B.J.” Blazkowicz in Wolfenstein 3D?

      1. Aaron says:

        There’s also the old games like Wizardry and Might & Magic. They never had many choices besides character builds either. Are they RPGs? And what about the Ultima games? I suppose they started including choices to the extent of whether you followed the Virtues or not, but I doubt their choices were structured like the Black Isle/Troika/Obsidian style choices that everyone that talks about choices in RPGs are mostly assuming.

        My other frustration with genre definition debates is when someone tries to apply a narrow definition, which more often than not applies to their particular favourites while excluding their particular bugbears (genremandering!), to a broad library of games that goes back for decades.

      2. There are choices in that game: do you want to murder Nazis brutally or bloodily?

      3. In one definition (because that’s what everyone’s fighting about), Fallout 4 is not an RPG, because there aren’t really any decisions you make that affect the game world, the plot, relationships with NPCs, or your character’s actual persona.

        Fallout 3 and New Vegas had systems where you could take actions that would change how your character was seen by the game itself, what factions were automatically hostile, and what choices for action were subsequently available to you (less so F3, but that’s another discussion).

        Fallout 4 is a game where you can go through it selecting the options that make you an asshole or the ones that make you a nice person, and the result is precisely the same. Is that a role-playing game? I suppose there’s whatever RP you bring to the G yourself, but that’s like having a complex backstory in your head for the motivations of Pac-Man.

      4. LCF says:

        I should have been a bit clearer: I’m not saying the action games the like of Diablo can never be RPG, but they feel less like roleplay and more like action in the broader sense to me. “ARPG” and “dungeon crawlers” can be effective descriptions.

        So, what is a role, and how do you play a role?
        Around a table with friends, you only need to tell everybody “I enter the inn, take a drink, and go to the mantlepiece to get warm”. You heard yourself describing your action, your friends heard it too, and everyone is imagining your character doing stuff. When you react to the world, you’re not Brian, you are Melchezed the Mellifluous, and you could very well not hurt a single fly in all the campaign.
        When I am in front of my computer smashing ghouls, goblins and various other targets in an action game, fighting is the main attraction, if not the only one. Like a shark, to interact with the rest of the world, you have to bite it. In that context, I feel a lot less like the little dude always running and crushing, and more like some guy having fun by puppeting it.
        Now, I absolutely accept the idea that other people feel invested in the action character enough to declare they are playing the role of that character. But in that sense, you could declare Super Mario is an RPG, while the rest of the world know it as a plateformer.
        (As an anecdote, I know a guy who think no computer game will deserve to be called RPG long as they cannot react as well as an actual human storyteller to what the players want to do.)

        I think selecting an approach to get involved in the events unfolding during the game, and seeing the world having various answers to your various actions is a good way to simulate a Game Master, and a good way to make the player feel invested in the universe, in the character, in the role chosen and so on. The choice here is a measure of the player’s freedom to do as they please, hence the ability to play any role and have the game integrating the player’s role in the story.
        I think someone else said it earlier, RPG can be a gradient. There are games who are very much roleplay games, such as the one grounded more or less in D&D rules. There are those who tack on some RPG aspect to adventure/action/shooter games and try to tell a story. And there are those which could maybe be RPG, if you want it, if you use your imagination a lot, if they rope in a lot of occidental fantasy decorum.

    3. Christopher says:

      I disagree, because hack & slash is a label I’ve seen tossed at games I’d think of as beat ’em ups, except they have swords. I’ve also seen press call them “character action games”, or what Yahtzee would call a “spectacle fighter”. It’s the Bayonettas, the Devil May Crys, the God of Wars. Meanwhile, Diablos are loot and stat-based games, which fit neatly into some of the criteria Shamus mentioned. I get why you disagree, but personally I found it very unhelpful to have Diablos described as hack & slash for years when what I was trying to figure out was if they were top-down, grindy, clicky, dice-rolly, cooldown-y statbased lootfests or real-time, reflex-based, well-controlling, controller-tossingly challenging, melee-focused third person action games featuring people wearing very revealing clothes.

      The wikipedia article seems to suggest almost any action game with a sword fits, mind. Like Prince of persia: The Sands of Time. Or Prototype 2, somehow. And here I thought “RPG” was a useless genre name.

      1. Christopher says:


        Bizarrely, there’s also another page with the same name, but for RPGs. It includes games like Diablo, but also Dark Souls, Tera, all of the Elder Scrolls games, The Witcher 3 and Dragon’s Dogma. Fuck Hack & Slash, this genre name is pointless!

        Edit: “Fuck, Hack & Slash” is presumably Dragon Age’s genre.

      2. You can just condense that last half into “dungeon crawler” and you’ve got basically all of that in two words. Just a slight shift to “gun-geon crawler” gets you Borderlands as well. :D

      3. LCF says:

        What a pity nobody coined “Dice Action Game” for the first category and “Thumb Action Game” for the second, ten to twenty years ago.
        Would have been useful.

  15. James Porter says:

    So I am pretty sure cats being extinct was something from Fallout 2 and was just re-established in New Vegas, but I really like the idea that Mr. House is allergic to cats, so in order to keep him alive forever, he orchestrated the end of cat days.

    Clearly these Fallout 4 cats are the refugees, now safe that House is dead.

    1. The Rocketeer says:

      Of course, the Institute has been seeding the Commonwealth with synth animals. Even some species which had been extinct. And they do so love infiltrating and spying on people…

      1. MichaelGC says:

        I think I found their secret base.

    2. Ledel says:

      All I can see in my head right now is a bunch of securitrons trying to catch a cat, saying “Here, kitty kitty.” with those claw hands.

    3. Daemian Lucifer says:

      There is a quest involving a cat in brotherhood of steel,and cats were planned for van buren,so them being extinct all over the country is kind of not true.But them being extinct in some parts of it is,seeing how they were probably one of the components for the centaurs.

  16. MichaelGC says:

    The only mod I use (at least for the mo) is one which adds 111 additional tunes to the Diamond City radio station. It works pretty well – you still get whatsisface doing the news and whatnot (although frankly I’ve had my fill of him, now – occupational hazard of playing for hours without advancing any quests, I suppose). You do get strange odd long pauses from time to time … just like in the vanilla game.

    I don’t think we can link to the Nexus here for some reason, but it’s called ‘More Where That Came From’. Not sure if there’s a Steam Workshop version.

    1. MichaelGC says:

      Testing Nexus link for ha-has:


      Edit: A-ha. So I guess that problem went away; yay.

  17. MichaelGC says:

    I found a pair of boxing gloves yesterday which do increasing damage the more withdrawal effects you’re suffering. Looks like Reginald could make use of those.

    Not that he needed any help murdering everyone for no reason and then desecrating that burning corpse. I wonder have we become inured? Are we losing our sense of right and wrong and very wrong?

  18. Phantos says:

    “A super-intelligent, sophisticated Super Mutant to contrast the barking idiots we usually encounter. Okay! And he has us go on a quest, that sounds like I’ll have a choice to betray him later if I want to. I’m sure this plot thread is going somewhere, and the game won’t just completely forget about it later!”

    …I mean, IS there a way to give him that serum thingy he asks for? Because I don’t remember there being a quest or a quest marker for it, and it never comes up again in any of the end-game stuff I did. Even sneaking into his old lab in the Institute, I didn’t find The Thing He Asked For.

    Did I just forget to do something, or… does the game just forget to follow through on Virgil’s request for a thing? Like, did Bethesda just not care so much that they seriously forgot to resolve that?

    1. Ciennas says:

      Yeah, you missed it. He uses the serum to revert back to a non mutated person.

      See above for discussions about it.

      1. Phantos says:

        Yeah, I made the comment before I finished watching the video.

        Sounds like the Bethesda solution to that was lazy even by Bethesda standards.

        “Just put some random scientist NPC character model there and say it’s him. Let’s not actually think about how he would get out of the Glowing Sea afterwards. World-building is for nerds.”

  19. Ninety-Three says:

    But like the red / green / blue choice at the end of Mass Effect. It's like choosing to blow up Megaton in Fallout 3.

    I think there’s an extra period here, or some words have gone missing, because “But like X.” doesn’t scan as a sentence.

  20. The most narrow-minded way I can describe a RPG is that by two criteria. #1: RPG must have at least 2 skills, that’s it. #2: And a detailed world in which the player can let their character interact, and their level and/or skills changes the way they interact with the world.

    Why two? Because with just one skill the skill is basically the level. But wit two skills (or more) the player can choose which skill to increase first/next. They may also choose to max out one skill first.

    Now you might realize that this will encompass a lot of games. But that is where a “Good” RPG will stand out from a “Bad” RPG.

    1. Ninety-Three says:

      There are an awful lot of JRPGs (and GameMaker RPGs in that style) which offer zero decisions about character progression: XP increases level which automatically increases all your stats. Are those not RPGs?

      1. Aaron says:

        Be careful. There are people that have in fact said that JRPGs aren’t RPGs.

  21. What I find most impressive in this ep is that the comment section has gone on this long without an endless one-word response queue of all the names MST3K made.

  22. Regarding cats. Anyone looked inside one of the houses (shacks) in Diamond City? There’s a cat lady there, and so many cats that you can’t walk on the floor.

  23. Grampy_bone says:

    Defining an RPG is not hard, it is only hard for people who don’t like what the definition of an RPG is:

    An RPG is a game where challenges–frequently combat–are overcome by applying some abstract simulation layer or model (stats, skills, etc), and the player’s chief method of overcoming challenges is by interacting with the abstract model.

    The most common thing you hear is that combat is not important for a game to be considered an RPG, but it is, because usage determines definition. Everyone understands that RPGs are combat games. This is observably true because when you remove the combat from an RPG it stops being called an RPG.

    -Mass Effect with no combat is an ‘Adventure Game.’
    -Planescape with no combat is a ‘Visual Novel.’
    -Skyrim with no combat is a ‘Walking Simulator.’

    If a game meets the definition of RPG in terms of challenges and abstract models but still has no combat, we call it something else, usually a ‘Sim Game,’ (e.g. ‘The Sims.’)

    So from usage alone we can see RPGs are combat simulators with stats and numbers that the player must be able to influence. That’s it.

    The following things are *not* required for a game to be an RPG:

    -Any story at all
    -A reactive story with branching quest paths (“Choice and Consequences.”)
    -A predetermined main character
    -A player-created main character
    -Branching dialogue choices
    -‘Morality Meters’
    -Being able to define your character’s personality in some way

    If you disagree with any of these criteria and believe they are essential to an RPG, then according to you the vast majority of historical RPGs are ‘Not Real RPGs,’ including Ultima, Wizardry, Rogue, all the mainframe MUDs, and even the majority of the tabletop RPGs which sprang up from miniature wargaming. In fact I think this view is pretty widespread among the “Gaming Intelligentsia:” that all older games are ‘not real RPGs,’ according to their newer and better definitions (that the mainstream gaming public continue to reject.) It’s part of the general disrespect and disdain for the real trailblazing and accomplishments of the past.

    Arguing over whether Diablo or Fallout 4 are ‘real RPGs’ is like arguing over whether basketball or football are ‘real sports.’ The flavor of the play is irrelevant for the definition, what matters is opposing sides competing to win by scoring points. People who say RPGs need more dialogue and less combat are basically saying Football needs more locker room interviews and less ball-throwing.

    1. Rutskarn says:

      Doesn’t this make Ticket to Ride an RPG, though?

      1. Grampy_bone says:

        Obviously not. Where’s the combat? It’s a strategy or sim game.

        1. Rutskarn says:

          I don’t really agree that an RPG has to have or simulate combat. I mean, you yourself said “frequently” combat.

          Also, by the criteria of…

          “An RPG is a game where challenges”“including combat”“are overcome by applying some abstract simulation layer or model (stats, skills, etc), and the player's chief method of overcoming challenges is by interacting with the abstract model…”

          …XCOM2 is an RPG.

          I tend to agree with Shamus that the category is pretty loose, personal, and heuristic. I certainly have no intention of excluding games like the Wizardry or Ultima series, which I think are wholly deserving of the title.

          1. Grampy_bone says:

            We could quibble over the definition of “frequently;” replace with “primarily” or “mostly” if you like. “RPG” is always used to mean some type of combat game, so it follows that RPGs are combat games. If we take out the combat it gets called something else. If you make a game with stats and level ups based around something other than combat, it gets called a “Sim game” or something similar.

            You can find fringe games that may meet the definition, but that doesn’t matter, because we define games based on which genre they best fit into, rather than every genre they fit into. Otherwise every game with a story would be a ‘visual novel,’ every game with cars would be a ‘racing game,’ etc. Far Cry has a lot of driving, but it’s not a racing game.

            What you should be doing is looking for mainstream, genre-defining RPGs that don’t fit the definition. The closest I can think of are Mass Effect 2 & 3. Mass Effect 1 was an “RPG with shooter elements,” the sequels are basically “Third Person Shooters with RPG elements.” They have just enough leveling and stat upgrades to count as an RPG, but only just. If they simplified it a bit more you’d have something like Far Cry 3 and it wouldn’t be considered an RPG anymore. Story and dialogue elements are not important for the definition though. Hell, Far Cry 3 probably has more meaningful choices, character development, and story outcomes than Mass Effect. But it’s a game where your shooting accuracy and reflexes determine victory, not your character stats.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              Actually,if we look just at the mechanics,far cry 3/4 is a far better rpg than some bethesda games,like fallout 4.Basically all of your level up skills in far cry revolve around giving you new powers to play with,instead of passive upgrades to your damage(though there are some health upgrades).

              Also tied to that one,whether your skills are shown by how well you shoot,how well you jump,or how well you minmax does not matter.In tabletop rpgs,you can choose to roll conversations to see if you made a persuasion check,or you can choose to actually speak the words yourself in order to convince the gm.The same principle translates to some “physical” checks in crpgs.So morrowind is not somehow more of an rpg than skyrim simply because you also roll dice on top of your swinging skills,and kotor is not more of an rpg than me1 simply because it involves rounds instead of real time.

              We could quibble over the definition of “frequently;” replace with “primarily” or “mostly” if you like.

              Neither of those fits planescape however,where you primarily just talk and read books,with some (avoidable) combat sprinkled here and there.Similarly,the opening to me1 is 30 minutes of combat followed by hours of just talking.And then there are pacifist runs for deus ex(both non-lethal and complete enemy avoidance),baldurs gate,kotor,alpha protocol,etc,etc.

              The only reason why combat is more prominent in crpgs is the same reason why combat is so prominent in all of the computer games:Its the easiest one to depict.Sneaking is tough,and only few games manage it successfully;conversation is even tougher,and no games have managed it well.But unlike other computer games,crpgs mostly allow you to avoid combat.Thats what primarily distinguishes crpgs from action crpgs.

            2. Oblivion437 says:

              The problem with your argument, as I see it, is that you’re confusing the means with the end. The statistical abstractions used in RPGs aren’t the point so much as a way of getting to the point. The core of a role playing game is right there in the name – a game which facilitates role play. The structure of the game is there to provide some backdrop, boundaries and direction. Take out the game and you have a night at the improv, take out the role play and you have something that is already described by some other genre header.

              With that in view, we can say with some justification that the early Wizardry titles (and nearly every ‘jRPG’ ever made) and the like aren’t role playing games in the strict sense because, although they use tools previously used by Gygax and Arneson for RPGs, they don’t use them to the same purpose. Likewise, Deus Ex is an RPG, because it uses simulationism and minimal abstraction in service to a range of possible role play. Fallout 4 is one in only the most minimal sense – it does facilitate it but it does it very badly.

    2. Aaron says:

      “If you disagree with any of these criteria and believe they are essential to an RPG, then according to you the vast majority of historical RPGs are “˜Not Real RPGs,' including Ultima, Wizardry, Rogue, all the mainframe MUDs, and even the majority of the tabletop RPGs which sprang up from miniature wargaming. In fact I think this view is pretty widespread among the “Gaming Intelligentsia:” that all older games are “˜not real RPGs,' according to their newer and better definitions (that the mainstream gaming public continue to reject.)”

      You know, I think this is exactly what’s happening.

      I’ll be blunt: The overwhelming majority of people that harangue over the definition of RPGs, including including those posting on this very blog, want the genre to solely apply to the games made by Black Isle and its descendants. Whenever there’s someone lawyering about what RPGs are and should be I can guarantee they’re judging games on how much they recreate Fallout 1; I never see anyone similarly judge games with as much passion and vitriol on how much they recreate Ultima 5 or Wizardry 7 or even the Gold Box games.

    3. LCF says:

      “Defining an RPG is not hard”
      When I first heard of Role-Playing Games, I was told “a game halfway between theatre and tabletop games”.

      “challenges”“frequently combat”“are overcome by applying some abstract simulation layer or model (stats, skills, etc), and the player's chief method of overcoming challenges is by interacting with the abstract model”
      That makes RISK an RPG. That makes Stratego an RPG. That makes Chess an RPG. You don’t have the theatre part, the self-expression. You don’t play a role, now, do you?

      “The most common thing you hear is that combat is not important for a game to be considered an RPG, but it is, because usage determines definition.”
      If I do a pacifist run of an otherwise combat-capable computer RPG, does it require the whole genre to have pacifist runs integrated in order to be RPG?
      If I run a D&D or Vampire session where players are UNESCO negociators, bureaucrats, nurses, fight no one, kill no one, is it still an RPG?

      “including those posting on this very blog, want the genre to solely apply to the games made by Black Isle and its descendants.”
      I absolutely don’t mind who made what. If tomorrow Bungee does a game that I’d be inclined to call an RPG, I’m not going to excommunicate it because it’s Bungee who made it. I somehow mind a bit when people point to a golf cart and call it a sport car, but I merely find it odd, and I don’t lose sleep over it.

    4. Daemian Lucifer says:

      An RPG is a game where challenges”“frequently combat”“are overcome by applying some abstract simulation layer or model (stats, skills, etc), and the player's chief method of overcoming challenges is by interacting with the abstract model.

      You have just described a computer game,not a role playing game.No,scratch that,you have just described a game,played on a computer,with cards,on a board,or whatever.So what you are saying is that any game is a role playing game.

      Everyone understands that RPGs are combat games.

      No,they are not.This may be true for computer rpgs,but even those have a plethora of non combat runs available for them.Sneaking,talking and bribing are all perfectly valid encounter resolutions,and you can center your game around those,and in fact some games do.

      Arguing over whether Diablo or Fallout 4 are “˜real RPGs' is like arguing over whether basketball or football are “˜real sports.'

      True,but we can still distinctly separate them based on what kind of rpgs they are.You know,how we separate sports into team sports and single person sports,contact and non contact sports,etc.

      1. Jokerman says:

        Would you consider telltale games RPGS? Obviously they are labeled “point and click” but have all the elements many are looking for in an RPG, if you took the combat away from Mass effect or The Witcher, its basically what you are left with.

    5. Christopher says:

      I’m kinda into this definition just because when people talk about “RPG elements” being added to other genres, they’re rarely talking about the concept of story, character creation/customization or dialogue choice. It’s all stats and leveling.

      1. LCF says:

        What does it say about us, when we take pure number crunshing systems and say “this is what playing a role is, this is what telling ourselves stories is”?
        How could we mistake so blatantly a mean for an end?

        1. Christopher says:

          I think it mostly says that RPG doesn’t mean “roleplaying” to a lot of people, but it means those number systems, despite RPG literally meaning role-playing game. The draw can be the game’s story, or the choices you get to make in it, or the character you play, but it doesn’t have to be. The draw can be having an action game with an atmospheric and mysterious dark fantasy setting, character customization and a leveling system(Dark Souls). Or it could be entirely in making your own customized party with the best numbers and combinations and cutest designs possible and then trade them with or battle against your friends(Pokemon). It could be following a predetermined, really linear story with already established characters(Final Fantasy X). It could be walking around for hundreds of hours deliberately avoiding any story content or dialogue at all because they’re bad, but it’s very pleasant to hike around a Scandinavian environment(Skyrim).

          I never really roleplay in any RPG I play, ever. I’m just me, like with every other videogame I play, and do what I feel like in the moment. I save awkwardly playing a role for the rare times I play Pathfinder with my friends. There I can actually play that role, do unexpected things in the story and have people react to it without it being unbearably difficult for the developers and unsatisfying for myself. I think calling the leveling stuff “RPG elements” just means that what’s the means to an end for you is often what I, and evidently many other people, are there for in the first place.

          And that it’s the one defining thing that’s in practically every RPG, no matter where its focus is.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Thats just the limitation of the computers however.In order to play a good role,you need someone responsive to work it off of.Otherwise its just your imagination,which you can use without any aids.But computers arent good at that.So they offer you rolls instead,which they are very good at.

          2. LCF says:

            “RPG elements”
            I lost the “element” bit, somehow. My own fault, sorry.

            1. Christopher says:

              Aw, now I feel embarassed for writing such a serious post then. Oh well, no harm done, I’m just happy someone read my posts on an article from earlier in the week

  24. Kelerak says:

    I have to wonder if Fallout’s Virgil is more or less accurate to Inferno than the Dante’s Inferno game.

  25. Somebody says:

    Whether the modding community for NV is small or not, they still have mods that look (and were) more impressive than Fo4 (Project Brazil, Autumn leaves, The Frontier, and even New Vegas Bounties series to some extent had a more interesting story than 4).

    I can’t even think of a mod closer to the same level as those mods are, except maybe Alton IL, and even that one had that one MAJOR flaw.

    1. Somebody says:

      In the second paragraph I was talking about Fallout 3 mods. My bad.

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