Fallout 4 EP44: Gorillaz

By Rutskarn Posted Thursday Oct 6, 2016

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 184 comments

Link (YouTube)

Why does Fallout 4 have a pre-war protagonist? It’s very expensive in terms of story resources and offers nothing but a weak twist.

Our character is different from everyone else in this game’s world. Shaun was an infant for a few months of your timeline, and ghouls have creaky memories of the before-times, but we are the only person on Earth to have closed our eyes on the pre-war world and opened them on a Boschian nightmare. This premise is a big deal. Every conversation and scenario is loaded with the understanding that we are from a different time, a comfortable time–a time that almost made sense. Upkeep on this idea is paid by repeatedly bringing it up, and when it isn’t paid there’s awkward and conspicuous holes in conversations. I’d say Fallout 4 pays upkeep about half the time.

The payoff on all this ought to be that we have some unique perspective on the game’s central conflict. That’s usually why games have bother with elaborate outsider origins for protagonists. Tidus is the perfect antidote to Spira’s dogma because he comes from a time before people compromised. In Alpha Protocol, there’s a very long tutorial area to establish that you’re a promising agent who’s been burned by his country–which does pay off, because the idea that you’re a hunted rogue agent adds drama and intrigue to scenarios. The protagonist of Far Cry 2 is a foreign mercenary because it means none of the factions who deal with you bother with ideological pretense. This guy’s only motivated to kill by self interest, so why pretend we’re different?

In Fallout 4, we’re from the pre-war era because…

…we can approach the conflict as an outsider? That’s important, sure–so how do we approach the conflict differently than, I don’t know, a settler from irradiated Delaware? Or a tribal from the mutant talking gator kingdoms of Louisiana? Or a diplomat from Mega Kansas? Or, hell, how about just another damn vault dweller? Did we really need to load the story with all this baggage to establish that we’re new here and don’t know all the factions and monsters? Factions and monsters, by the way, that can be set up in about six seconds of the ten-minute intro?

Was it so we could have the very convoluted and specific detail that the leader of one of the factions is our son? Because that’s another expensive detail that doesn’t do a damn thing for the story. Is there even a single scene besides our reunion that’s made appreciably more tense or dramatic by our special relationship with Father? From what I’ve seen–and I haven’t seen everything–it doesn’t seem to have occurred to the developers that this twist should have a point.

I mean, let’s say Fallout 4 was a well-told story. What would the payoff for this twist even look like? How would I’m your son, but I don’t remember you or really care that much apparently set up a satisfying conclusion? Is the game even willing to tell that story, or is it too excited to move onto its big faction battles?

So what do we get out of being a pre-war protagonist? Let’s say Vault 111 was just another vault, we’re just another vault-grown contemporary reject, and Father’s just another boring antagonist/faction leader. We’d immediately ditch a ton of baggage and expensive unique assets….and we’d lose, what?

This game is such a mess. I don’t know about Shamus and the rest of the crew, but I actually prefer Fallout 3‘s narrative. It was convoluted, but at least it had some sense of vitality and central purpose. This thing’s like spreading a pat of butter over a rubber exercise ball. You’re scraping it so thin you might as well not put any on at all, and–actually, why the fuck are you spreading butter on this?


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184 thoughts on “Fallout 4 EP44: Gorillaz

  1. The Rocketeer says:

    This thing's like spreading a pat of butter over a rubber exercise ball. You're scraping it so thin you might as well not put any on at all, and”“actually, why the fuck are you spreading butter on this?

    I don’t question your Thursday night agenda. You stay out of mine.

    1. Baron Tanks says:

      I don’t really want to suggest an upvote or thumbs-up system here because it would instigate comments jtrying to be funny while they’re really just trying too hard. That said, unfortunately there was no straightforward way to let you know I experienced your joke as hilarious. Other than typing a comment. So I did.

  2. Shamus says:

    In response to the point Rutskarn made at the end:

    I think I’d personally put the Fallout 4 plot over Fallout 3 for three reasons.

    1) The “I’ll explain this later” trick really did grease my way through a lot of the problems. Instead of being frustrated DURING play, I got all the way to the end before I realized I’d been had.
    2) There’s no stupid karma system telling you who the good guys and bad guys are, which means you can decide EVERYONE is a bad guy. If I got good karma every time I helped the idiot Railroad dumbasses, it would amplify all of my problems with them.
    3) The ability to choose which faction to side with also takes the edge off.

      1. The Rocketeer says:

        I think that makes Fallout 4 worse for me, and likely for others. Shamus says it right there: you get to a certain point, and realize you’ve been had. That’s a pretty unpleasant revelation, and makes a potent 1-2 combo with the disappointed epiphany that you’re not getting any payoff to this mess.

        I don’t actually mind realizing I’d been tricked by a writer if that realization comes after the story is over, e.g., Final Fantasy X, and if the story being told does have some sort of narrative or emotional payoff, e.g., Final Fantasy X. But to throw back that shot at (what is arguably) the climax, with the chaser that it was all pointless? Death sentence.

        1. Adrian Burt says:

          You know how everyone loved the twist in Knights of the Old Republic because BioWare actually put the effort into setting the whole game up around it and it came during the middle so that the consequences of the revelation could still impact the story? This is not that. This is discovering those nice gentlemen weren’t from Nigeria and you’re never going to see that $50,000 ever again.

          1. Incunabulum says:

            Or that twist near the end of Jade Empire that they *spent almost the whole game setting up the backdrop for*?

            No AAA studio does that sort of thing anymore.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              What about the twist in metal gear solid 5?It was foreshadowed basically from the start.

              1. tmtvl says:

                But MGS5 isn’t ‘murrican. AAA stands for “All American Awesomeness,” don’t you know?

              2. Incunabulum says:

                Which twist? The one where Silent is nearly naked because she breathes through her skin?

                1. The only twist there is that Kojima thought it would work. :|

                2. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  The twist that you werent really the big boss,but rather some guy surgically altered to look like him.

    1. Wide And Nerdy® says:

      It will make it all the sweeter in the next game when they pull “I’ll explain later” and then the twist will be that they actually do explain. And in a double twist, the explanation will hold up.

      I’ll bet they could hit you with that twist a good ten times in Fallout 5 and you’d still not see it coming, with what FO3, 4, and Skyrim have done to your expectations.

      1. Benjamin P. Hilton says:

        That sounds an awful lot like the Star Wars Ring Theory.

        1. ehlijen says:

          The star wars ring theory, so named because unless you, after hearing it, convince someone else of it, you will be haunted and killed by the ring gugan within 7 days?

          1. It’s a bizarre attempt to make the case that the original trilogy and the prequels form some kind of pre-planned “ring” pattern, with movies opposite each other on said ring being a kind of reverse-parallel to each other in terms of plot, characters, etc.

            Think of it as apologetics from a die-hard fan trying to justify the “It’s like poetry, they rhyme” thing Lucas said. It’s a lot like like how fans shoehorned the “Rule of Two” nonsense into their cannon/fannon, along with a bunch of other nonsense in the prequels.

            1. ehlijen says:

              Great, now I have to go tell someone *again* or that stupid ring gungan is gonna come after me. Thanks so much :p

        2. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Its all about the cycles.

          1. MrGuy says:

            The Ring Cycle?

          2. natureguy85 says:

            You didn’t use all caps…

        3. natureguy85 says:

          I read the introduction to that and decided I didn’t want to read anymore. Even if the author is correct in that being Lucas’ attempt, there are reasons why the setup works for Return of the Jedi and not for The Phantom Menace. It also tries to link those two while also acknowledging the parallels between Menace and A New Hope. So my take away was “I disagree, but if you’re right, so what?”

          1. Benjamin Hilton says:

            Yeah, after reading this, the general consensus is that Lucas tried to turn it into a ring pattern after the fact, which didn’t quite work as it wasn’t really planned from the beginning like the author suggests.

          2. MichaelGC says:

            Mr. Plinkett talks about the ring theory in his most recent review, which is of The Force Awakens. It’s at the beginning – actually the review takes a powerful long time before it starts on TFA at all.

            I shan’t link it, Mr Plinkett, as it includes those interludes which aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, and which I can take or leave if I’m honest. You know the sort – basically Not Safe For Anywhere (and I don’t think the RLM folks would really mind that as a description!). But it’s worth a watch if you like or don’t mind that sort of thing.

            1. natureguy85 says:

              I like the reviews a lot, though I’m definitely in the “leave it” camp with the extra stuff you’re discussing. I’ll check that one out but I haven’t seen the new movie yet!

            2. ehlijen says:

              I watched it, and frankly I didn’t find the review of TFA all that fair. The movie had issues, but some of the ones he addressed…I didn’t see. He complains that there’s no sex, lust or love in this movie. But didn’t it essentially turn chewie into a big flirt? And have some awkward flirting between Finn and Rey?
              I also don’t think I would have been too keen on seeing the backstory of Luke’s failed academy spelled out. Obi-wan telling us about the republic and the jedi order was far more evocative than anything in the prequels.
              And then there are some other things he says that made me uncomfortable and probably mean I won’t watch any of his stuff any more (and no, I’m not talking about the gross humour).

          3. Fred B-C says:

            That was EXACTLY my reaction. At best, Lucas crappily executed an interesting idea. That doesn’t make the movies good.

            My biggest issue with the Ring Theory is that it confuses complex story structure for being good. There are soap operas with incredibly intricate story structures that still manage to suck because there’s nothing to them.

            The first three Star Wars movies work in part because of their simplicity, but much more because there’s a soul to all three. Without having moments like Yoda or Obi-Wan’s training where we learn something about life, the fictional universe and our world, it’s all so much flashy nonsense.

            If Lucas had basically just engineered a photo negative of the first three films, their THEMATIC similarities and differences would be carefully chosen. The first three Star Wars deal with the love for a father, the conflict between individual freedom versus authoritarianism and spirituality versus technology, the possibility of individual redemption, and the importance of hope in bleak times. The prequels deal with… the fact that democratic systems can be hijacked by demagogues, I guess? Trying to shoehorn the structures of the first three movies into the prequels despite the totally different thematic payload and messaging is a total mismatch, and the problem becomes that the stories play out like Star Wars but in order for them to make sense and for us to be invested they needed to play out like Star Trek. Without any important details about the political maneuvering that is the center stage of the whole thing, we have no connection to any of the stakes, and everything feels like a “So then that happens” because we have no idea why event X should logically produce event Y.

            Ironically for being Shamus’ blog: One of the many failures of the prequels is that Lucas tried to tell a details-first story in a drama-first universe.

            1. natureguy85 says:

              Shamus actually brought this up in one of the Mass Effect Retrospective articles between ME and ME2, highlighting why the midichlorian explanation was so terrible and ill fitting.

              1. ehlijen says:

                Shame is, I can actually see a rationale behind that idea. Just like the tech looked flashier in the prequels and clunkier in the OT (an artefact of the respective eras, of course), having the republic era be more knowledgeable, more factually enlightened and the empire era be more mythic, did evoke a tonal difference.
                Enlightened Rome fell and led to the superstitious dark ages.
                Had this been properly planned, it might have worked (at least a lot better than it did).

                Of course, appealing to the same audience with a fundamentally different story is a challenge at best.

                1. natureguy85 says:

                  I understand what you mean, but the Force is the wrong place to do that. In my view, it’s a genre issue. Star Wars is not “science fiction” but is “fantasy in space,” or what some would call “science fantasy.” The only thing I can think of that would fall under science fiction is Han’s explanation of why you need to plot a hyperspace route. The Force is mystical and is only diminished by trying to explain it too much.

                  In fairness, they don’t say midichlorians cause the Force, but that they tell you about the Force and what it wants. I don’t know if that’s better or worse though.

                  1. ehlijen says:

                    Yeah, the OT lived off the strange combination of scifi lip service, space adventure and mystical trappings.
                    And the prequels tried to do a similar, but different mix. Yes, midichlorians were details where details didn’t belong, but the jedi council still rambled about prophecies regarding the virgin birth hero, which are distinctly fantasy elements (unless midichlorians are also time travelers?).

                    I think if someone truly had written the OT with later prequels in mind, a good writer could have made it work. But that’s clearly not what happened.

    2. I’ve made this point before, but I wish the game had the Karma system.

      I think Chris made the point during your Skyrim playthrough that even as flawed as the Karma system is, it at least allowed the player to have some agency and make the game react to your actions. In this game, all of that is offloaded to the companions, giving you three possibilities with them:

      1. Pack mule and bullet sponge.
      2. A new adversary to fight and (possibly) kill when you make them hate you.
      3. A loyal companion/settler that might have a new quest chain if you metagame and act like they want you to act.

      In my opinion, this is a far worse option than even the stupid-evil “choices” in Fallout 3, like blowing up Megaton. At least there I could literally put my mark on the game world. Fallout 4 offers no real opportunity for that apart from the endgame, and the plot there is so dumb it doesn’t come anywhere near to making up for it.

      1. Shamus says:

        I’m not against having good / evil choices in the game, like civilization vs. raiders. I’m fully in favor of “stupid evil” options.

        When I say I’m against the karma system, I mean I’m against having a universal morality gauge in the game that takes sides in complex (or just muddled) arguments. I wouldn’t mind having karma in the game, as long as it didn’t judge you in the choice between Railroad, Institute, Brotherhood, and Minutemen.

        If I snub the Railroad because they’re idiots who do more harm than good, I don’t want the game slapping me with low karma because the drooling writer thinks I’m “pro-slavery”. That would be a one-way ticket to Rage City for me.

        1. Echo Tango says:

          Bring back the faction system from New Vegas / the original game? :)

          Actually, I think this could be handled very well with a multi-tier system. Like, individual people can like/hate you, but so can towns or gangs that they belong to. Larger organizations opinions of you would be an average of all its members. Maybe throw in some decay over time (forgive old crimes, forget past good), and weight the opinions of people, so authority figures (cops, mayor) or public speakers (church leader, town crier) get more weight?

          This would still leave room for individuals to like or hate you based on specific things. Like maybe Chief Constable Clide really fucking hates theft, Bishop Booker likes donations to the church and hates murder, and Head Honcho Hector doesn’t care what you do as long as you do his quests for him.

          1. guy says:

            The faction system isn’t actually in Fallout 1; it first appeared in Fallout 2. Fallout 1 was just the karma system.

            1. Echo Tango says:

              Damn! I’ll have to check this tonight when I get home. Curse my horrible memory! :P

          2. ehlijen says:

            I agree that that makes for a better game and I love New Vegas for attempting (if not entirely succeeding at) this.

            But I think it would run into too many problems for Bethesda’s ‘everything in one playthrough’ target appeal. If action A changes group X’s attitude towards you, then quests stop being individual episodes and have to fit together as a coherent whole world where actions have understandable consequences, and consequences usually mean options change (some are added, some are taken away) and players will need more than one character + pre-endgame savefile to see all the content.

            Then again, they did offer us four different options to end the game, so maybe there is hope? Or maybe cultivating just enough hope is part of their marketing strategy?

            1. I’d rather they introduce an autosave system that shows some kind of plot tree for players who want to go back and explore new branches of a story vs. players who want a freaking story where decisions have some kind of weight.

              1. Echo Tango says:

                Why not just make a literal tree-thing, that shows all the branch points you’ve encountered in the game? Some old shmups did a visual thing like this to show what maps you could choose from, although they didn’t let you go back in time – only forward mission by mission. Now that I think about it, the meta-map system from FTL kind of works in this way. This would be totally do-able, to show a tree thing, with all the branch points the player might want to do! :)

            2. Incunabulum says:

              Then again, they did offer us four different options to end the game. . .

              This is just standard AAA console gaming.

              Though I will give BGS credit that the endings are not simply ‘do whatever you want and at the last minute, save, then hit one of the three buttons in front of you to select your ending cutscene of choice’.

          3. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Yup,faction systems not only work better than karma,they make more sense as well.The problem with f4* is that its just your companions that react to your actions,and no one else.

            *Problem regarding this topic.Not the only problem.Nor the worst one.

            1. I do still think there’s room for karma of a kind. If you’re a thief, murder the occasional NPC, etc. it represents some kind of “vibe” you give off as being shady, dangerous, or untrustworthy.

              What the game does with that is where things go wrong for Bethesda. Punishing “evil” is usually what they do, when it should just contribute to reactions. Maybe the Lawful Good-guys will hire someone willing to do things they won’t. Maybe the Chaotic Evil-guys will give a quest to a do-gooder because they know they’ll finish the quest because it’s the right thing to do even though it benefits the villains.

          4. MrGuy says:

            Actually, they sort of built in a system that would work really well if they did it better. Unfortunately, they did it terribly.

            It’s the “(Companion) liked that” system.

            I know, I know – having to take each character out for an ice cream cone is dumb. And having to do the same “types of things” for each companion to “level up” their respect is annoying. But the base it’s built on “works.” Rather than have Karma be a binary, it’s much more a “trait” system. You can be someone who’s mercenary or charitable (asking for money/forgoing rewards for quests). You can be tough or forgiving. You can be confrontational or sneaky. You can be a technophile or a luddite. You can steal everything not nailed down or respect property. These are the real things your companions pick up on.

            Imagine if we tracked these traits instead of a karma system, and (like the companions do in-game) have the factions respond to those traits. The Railroad would hate anyone who’s murderous. The Brotherhood are impressed by technophiles, etc. Settlements are suspicious of thieves. Etc.

            1. Blunderbuss09 says:

              This is a great idea. Yet another problem with the karma system is that all crimes went into the same pool; some actions got more points than others but in the end you’re judged the same whether or not you steal a lot or just murdered a few people.

              If there were different categories like ‘theft’, ‘murder’, ‘lying’, ‘slaver’, etc then you’d get a more accurate judge of your character. That way you could be a heroic and kind do-gooder with some sticky fingers rather than ‘neutral’. And some people would trust you differently, like Goodneighbor wouldn’t care if you killed or lied but would care if you steal their stuff.

            2. potatoejenkins says:

              The Fallout 4 “Companion X liked that system” does not work because their affinity rises just by spending time with them. The “X liked that” message is flavour text. Recruit a companion, go somewhere safe and leave the PC/console. Et voila, after a few hours they will love you anyway.

              I recruited Curie and walked from Vault 81 back to Sanctuary. I had to safe a settlement on the way and guess who gave me her companion quest not 20 minutes after being hauled out of that vault.

              It’s dumb and lazy. But remove the “love gain equally to time spend” factor and combine that system with faction reputation, now that could be interesting.

              1. Wide And Nerdy® says:

                Are you sure just having them sit there works?

                There are some things that are ongoing conditions that characters like. The game will only give you credit for them every so often.* For example, Cait likes it when you take your clothes off. When you move from one cell to the next or fast travel to a new location, if you’re still unclothed, the game will register Cait liking it again.

                There may be something similar with time. Like every ten minutes the game checks again to see if you’re still unclothed and has Cait like it again.

                *A similar mechanic is in place for certain types of actions. Like Danse likes it when you hop in a suit of power armor, but the game won’t just let you hop in and out of the suit right in front of him to grind up your favorability. So it only works once while you’re in the same cell. You have to exit it before doing that again to get another like from him. Same with Codsworth when you work on armor mods.

                1. potatoejenkins says:

                  Worked for me on several occasions. Recruited companion (they need to be your active companion), did nothing than trying out armor for a while (I was never naked) and their affinity went up.

                  I did not mod anything, nothing in the cell died, no other NPC was there. Nothing happened. I tried this several times on two different saves even disabling a mod that touched some of Dogmeats records (who wasn’t the test subject but the only modded companion in my saves).

                  Clicked on my companion to check the affinity level: It was at 999 and on the other occasion at about 975.
                  Left the game alone for a while and when I came back it was at 1000 and “idolize”.

                  There are other hidden values that help you gain affinity with companions that I know of. The game won’t tell you, but Strong and pretty much every other companion likes it when you build stuff in your settlements. And I did nothing. Nada.

                  If this is a bug it must be a corrupted file I got directly from steam. Because all my mods at that point only added textures or meshes.

            3. ZekeCool says:

              Ooohhh OOohhh
              *Gets ready to plug*

              Pillars of Eternity has exactly this sort of system. You have several traits, Cruel, Kind, Benevolent, Honest, Deceptive, Generous, Irrational, Passionate, etc.
              The game checks against these traits every so often, based on your past actions and it affects how characters in the game treat you. My first character was always Honest, and as a result got to skip a quest to go “Get proof” of something that had happened. People just believed me, because I’d been honest. Best of all, I could have lied at that point, and they’d have believed me anyway, because of my sterling reputation.
              God I love that game.

              1. potatoejenkins says:

                Hm. I think I found my “what do I want for christmas”-candidate. Thanks.

                1. ZekeCool says:

                  Another fun fact: Those are not mutually exclusive. I once had a character who had both Cruel and Forgiving character traits. I told a bandit I would rip him apart with my magic and he surrendered because of my awful reputation, but then another bandit in his group asked why they should believe that I wouldn’t just hunt them down anyway and the first bandit told him not to be ridiculous, he’d heard stories that I wouldn’t hurt those who weren’t my enemy.

              2. Andy_Panthro says:

                It was good, but I felt like it was under-used. I didn’t encounter anywhere near enough of those sorts of situations for them to feel anything more than occasional minor bonuses. I think I dodged one fight and one fetch quest, or something like that.

            4. But it doesn’t work, because if you’re playing the game to completion, you’re metagaming. You’re not doing what your character would do, you’re doing what you think your companion would like. Unless you’re playing a sycophant, it’s a lesser substitute for being able to actually affect the larger game world or attract/repel factional loyalties. Further, these are still flawed. For instance:

              Agree to help the robots on the USS Constitution? Nick loves that.
              Pick the lock on a filing cabinet that has the navigation chip the scavengers stole? Nick likes that.
              Steal the chip which is already stolen property from the group you agreed to help? Nick hates that.

              Nick would rather, it seems, you murder all the scavengers rather than stealthily break in and reclaim the chip. WTF?!

              1. potatoejenkins says:

                I don’t think we are on different sides here and we both think the system is deeply flawed, right? Just to clear up any misunderstanding.

                You're not doing what your character would do, you're doing what you think your companion would like.

                I did what my character would do in any given situation (and with the limited options available) and my companions happened to like it. Mostly. I do not travel with companions who don’t suit my character and of course I leave some companions behind if I think I might get into activities they won’t like. That’s not meta-gaming, that’s common sense. I don’t take my friends everywhere whether they like it or not, either.

                Complaining about being able to cheat this companion system is like complaining about being able to bribe Dragon Age Origins companions with gifts until they love you, for example. These systems will never be meta-gaming-proof. There will always be a way to cheat. Some people do that, some people don’t.

                The difference between these two systems is: If you do not meta game in DA:O and do not bribe your companions, you will never reach maximum affinity with all of them.
                In Fallout 4 however, your companions will love you no matter what you do if they spend enough time with you.

                I tried to actively avoid getting brownie points with some of them because I wanted to take my time getting to know them and not being forced to declare them my best friend/brother/lover just because I picked a lock or put a better pistol grip on my 10mm.
                I even tried to actively piss some of them off just for fun. To no avail. I need to meta-game to make them not love me. It’s ridiculous.

                There should neither be “love over time” nor huge plus points for activities that are purely based on gameplay and game mechanics. Feedback for your dialogue choices is where it’s at for me. Even if Fallout 4s dialogue system is abysmal. (Dragon Age Inquisition had a companion who liked it when you asked him questions about the world. Your character practically bonded with him over being interested in history. It was neat.)

                TLDR; These systems will never be perfect nor meta-game proof. Yet I find them worth implementing and refining. Dialogue wheels with phrases instead of full sentences suck though. Stop that.
                (And I am only comparing Bethesda to Bioware because I feel they kind of tried to go there. Maybe they didn’t and another comparison would be far more appropriate. Can’t think of one.)

              2. MrGuy says:

                But it doesn't work, because if you're playing the game to completion, you're metagaming. You're not doing what your character would do, you're doing what you think your companion would like.

                Right – this is why I don’t think it “works” for companions, but it would work as a more general replacement for a karma/reputation system.

                You plan your character. You’re honest, or dishonest, or a mix. You’re cruel or forgiving. You’re mercenary or generous. That’s playing your character. Imagine if they used this as the entirety of a “reputation” system. And then have the game (companions, towns, questgivers, etc.) react based on it.

                Sure, you COULD metagame it – I really want this one quest, and it’s only given to cruel people, so I’ll be mean to people even though it’s against my character. But that’s your choice, and it goes back to the much larger debate of “should everyone get to see all the content regardless of how they play their character?” question.

        2. Oh, agreed. In fact, I wish they’d gone with not only factions, but individuals. For instance, they could have made Diamond City divided on the Synth question, so if you side with the Railroad, Bob, Susan and Phil will hate you and maybe even attack you, but Joanne, Rupert, and Horatio are all up ons over your decision, and will let you steal their stuff and sleep in their beds.

      2. GloatingSwine says:

        I think the issue is that the Karma system is a really bad way of doing what it’s intended to do. It’s a single arithmetic scale where only the current value is significant, so you can cancel out an infinite amount of murder with trivial charity.

        The real positive about New Vegas’ faction rep was that good and bad things didn’t cancel out. They were independent values and there were reactions for mixtures of good and bad.

        We should be moving away from simple linear arithmetic for this type of system, just offloading it to individuals doesn’t really do the trick. Independent values for things people like and dislike so that they can have that mixed opinion, plus remembering the history of how you got there (eg. a town remembers that you used to be an asshole then got better because you got all your dislike points first then started building up like points, rather than just that you are now a mix of asshole and not)

        1. Right, but my main point is that even a flawed Karma system is better than a game that ignores everything you do and has all NPCs set to insta-like or insta-kill.

      3. Blunderbuss09 says:

        Yeah, I can see your point. Having people come after me for doing some good deeds is ridiculous but at least people were reacting to my actions. Same with people giving you gifts in some settlements, which was also cheesy, but it’s better than dull-eyed settlers that robotically putter around the houses I slaved to build.

        I think it might work better paired with a faction system, where your karma makes some factions more or less likely to work with you. Because why would a settlement want to help a known slaver or murderer? Or maybe Diamond City might like a neutral person because they don’t want anyone making waves and cause the Institute to come after them. Of course this would require more than two independent settlements but you know what I mean.

        1. Having the people like you a lot could have made you a target of the mayor who sees you as a political threat. Or perhaps the rich in the skyboxes don’t want you upsetting the “natural order” of things, and try to make life difficult for you.

          Here’s a thought: Given that this is a Bethesda game, imagine if some enemy not only stole stuff from your house, but then trashed the place? All that careful sorting and placing undone, as if the thief turned the physics engine to “Oblivion” and slammed the door a bunch of times. What player wouldn’t be livid, set to go seek revenge, not so much for the stolen stuff but to murder the person who upset their perfect shelf of comic and skill books?

    3. Chris Davies says:

      I think I crashed and burned with the plot a lot sooner than you did. I just couldn’t take all the questions that went unaddressed. Like, the Railroad help synths escape bondage… OK. But do they want no more synths to exist, or do they want them to still be manufactured but to be created free? I’m not sure that’s a question that even occurred to the people writing Fallout 4.

      Why do the Minutemen want to destroy the institute? Couldn’t we just massacre its inhabitants and take it over? With a nice wide tunnel dug to the surface, it’d be a perfect home for hundreds of people, with ample food, warmth, lighting and jobs. It’s just the synths that are the problem, isn’t it? We could just not manufacture any more of them. It’s not like we’re short of people to do the menial work. The option is never even discussed.

      I never even bothered to seek out the Brotherhood. It’s remarkable how easy it is to pretend they don’t exist in Fallout 4, and I’m pretty sure the game is better for it.

      On another note, never really having been a console gamer I’ve been trying out Playstation Now on the PC this week. I apologise for any bad thoughts I may have had about Josh’s play during the Last Of Us season. Shooting things with a game pad…. This is the worst experience ever. Why do people subject themselves to this when mice exist?

      1. I tried it with New Vegas once. Reminded me of why I almost always use a mouse when gaming on a PC. :P

      2. Phantos says:

        “Why do people subject themselves to [gamepads] when mice exist?”

        That’s like asking “Man, how could anyone be LEFT-Handed? I’m right-handed, so that’s clearly the superior option!”

        1. Decius says:

          “Man, why would anyone use a clunky prosthetic hand when biological ones are so much objectively better”.

          1. Ciennas says:

            You learn to manage. Also, a controller doesn’t give me carpal tunnel for using it on the soft couch cushions.

            That always struck me as a plus.

        2. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Its nothing like that.You cant choose which hand will be your primary.But you can choose which controller/system you will use for gaming.And mice are objectively superior when it comes to aiming.

          1. Mice: Putting the “aiming” in “gaming.”

            Marketing: Putting the “optional” in “spelling.’

      3. tmtvl says:

        Steam Controller for the win.

  3. Phantos says:

    I honestly can’t tell if the long conversation about wanting to do raider stuff is just them sarcastically referring to Nuka World, or if they actually don’t know that all of that is totally stuff you can do in Nuka World.

    Including the stupid weapons (like the electrified ball-tied-to-a-paddle, or the rocket-powered buzz-saw baseball bat).

    1. …Did someone get their Dead Rising in this Fallout 4? O_o

      1. Phantos says:

        I know we shouldn’t expect it in this particular playthrough, but I do hope someday we get a standalone Nuka World playthrough from SW.

        It just… that place seems like it was tailor made for Reginald Cuftbert.

        1. potatoejenkins says:

          I was hoping for a Nuka World finale. After all the destruction, the loss and unanswered questions Reginald finally realizes that deep inside he is actually a good person.
          And so he decides to travel to Nuka World and murder everyone.

          The End.

          (I would love to find out what the game does if you start murdering everyone right after leaving the Gauntlet. I hear Gage bugs out and turns into furniture. But no one has killed all the traders as well so far.

          And if Reginald dies trying – which is very likely – he … well, died trying. The end.)

        2. Nixitur says:

          But the whole point of Reginald Cuftbert is that he does the things he does in a world and in situations where it’s not appropriate. Reginald Cuftbert in a place that was made for people like Reginald Cuftbert isn’t as funny.

          1. But it’d probably be Josh/Reginald trying to resist the design of the game. Even if that fails, they’d still piss off Preston, which would be worth it.

          2. Phantos says:

            You’re not wrong about that.

            I just… I feel like they could use a vacation from the main quest, and that’s what the Nuka World DLC is: a vacation. If nothing else, it was a chance for me to play one of these open-world games as something I tend to avoid: an asshole. Maybe they could subvert that and have Reginald undermine the premise by being sensible and helpful?

            I mean, they could also just… play a different game if they want a break from the institute BS, but I just think of how much better the New Vegas season was BECAUSE they took some time off from the main plot in order to go to the wacky extra locations. Yeah, they were mad about that stuff at first, but I think overall it made that season better.

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      like the electrified ball-tied-to-a-paddle


  4. Wide And Nerdy® says:

    I’ll tell you one place it pays off just a little bit that hints at least one way this could have paid off in a bigger way.

    The Silver Shroud. To an extent, other parts of Goodneighbor.

    You have your pre-war scene, your scenes of being kind of freaked out about what happened to your family and the world you’ve been stranded in.

    Later on, after days spent focused on grueling survival and tracking your son down, you stumble across Goodneighbor. There’s community here and you meet three different ghouls that actually remember prewar.

    One of them is a big Silver Shroud fan and since we know your character liked comic books, this is a way to reconnect with something familiar. You’re so excited that you actually adopt the identity. Thats what you’ve been driven too.

    I think a lot could have been done with your character hunting for scraps of the past. A working television, a holotape of your favorite show, one episode, not even a good one but now its precious to you. A car that works. A house that you can restore to actual pristine condition. Maybe is a house that you had your eye on before the war but couldn’t afford at the time.

    Of course, the more obvious route (and a good one) could be the sole survivor trying impose prewar values on the Wasteland. Like maybe there’s a group like the Enclave and they seem like the good guys to you because they’re the only ones who make any sense. They want to make things the way they were and get rid of the nastiness thats out there now. This would work especially well since they’re the remnant of the US military and have maintained that structure all this time. They see you, they have your records, they recognize your rank and let you resume active duty.

    1. Microwaviblerabbit says:

      The BoS is technically a pre-war group, and its original members were all US Military personnel, but the game never brings up that backstory. You would think Maxon would use this, or at least once he found out, react differently to you. At least, he should have quizzed you about service history.

      It is exceptionally bad because when he makes his big “synths are abominations” speech, he never references the BoS backstory of seceding due to moral objections to scientific experiments.

      1. potatoejenkins says:

        All kinds of stuff and world building is brought up if you click on your companion to ask them “their thoughts” at just the right moment in just the right location or after just the right quest. You need to do it often enough to circle through all the meaningless crap they spout anyway while running around with you though.

        I was promised to be told about the Codex. I clicked and clicked and nothing came of it. Well, nothing except the “BoS was founded by members of the US military” and “This and that was why the BoS was founded” or “Lyons BoS was like the Minutemen and they failed”.

        There is good world building to be found in this game. Or at least some necessary information. They just hid it away so it doesn’t distract you from the “shooty-shooty”.

  5. Sean Mattox says:

    An (unrelated) curiosity for the Spoiler Warning crew that my wife and I have come up while watching this season: How much time do you guys generally spend ‘off camera’ for each week of show, getting streams running and other prep work, editing, and so on?

    (Apologies if this isn’t the right venue, or is spelled out somewhere else.)

    1. Rutskarn says:

      Breakdown of a typical session:

      0:00 First crew member arrives in Ventrilo.

      7:00 Crew has all arrived in Vent. Chatter begins.

      15:00. We discuss what we’re doing this week in the podcast.

      25:00 Now that we have a plan, people go off to bio, get tea, change over laundry, whatever.

      45:00 We start the Diecast.

      2:00:00 Shit, we’ve gone too long, wrap it up. Josh, start cooking up the stream.

      2:05:00 Josh, did you start cooking up the stream yet?

      2:10:00 Why isn’t the stream working?

      2:15:00 It’s working. Let’s just go bio, tea, etc.

      2:20:00 Okay, let’s do this.

      3:20:00 Another week in the can! Let’s all collapse in exhaustion because it’s by this point very late at night.

      A small additional fun fact: I’m the one who picks the order we sound off each week in SW. That’s just the way it’s worked out. Lately I’ve also established who will “lead us in” by making the first comment of the week, although it’s up to whomever does the lead-in what they actually say.

      1. Benjamin P. Hilton says:

        You know it never occurred to me that there would be a specific person who decided the order, but upon reflection that makes total sense. Otherwise it would be an additional 20 minutes of debate about the order.

      2. Sunshine says:

        How much are the lead-ins pre-written? Some of them verge on being skits.

        1. Rutskarn says:

          I think it happened, like, once four years ago.

          1. About the time the last Diecast e-mail was answered? :)

      3. The Nick says:

        I confused those time stamps as military time.

        I was thinking: “What the hell!? Who is the jerk who is making other people wait SEVEN HOURS FOR THEM to get started?”

        Maybe Josh? After all, he’s playing, so he can make everybody wait for him.

        Maybe Mumbles hasn’t been around as much because everybody eventually says, “Look, I fell asleep, woke up, and we’re still waiting. Let’s just do the show?”

        Maybe Chris is a closet jerk and he’s forcing everybody to keep his secret?

        Then I realized, “Ohhhhhhh, those are minutes not hours. Ohhhh.”

  6. Mersadeon says:

    Personally, 3 also worked better for me than 4, storywise – although it also had huge glaring issues. Maybe it’s because I’ve become more aware of this stuff, but when I first played 3 I didn’t really notice how little sense the whole Project Purity and the fight for it made.

    But I also believe that 3 felt a bit more… like a mistake, instead of intentional misleading. 3’s big plot problems feel like they are the result of bad writers making a mistake, 4’s feel like a bad writer deliberately making a mistake so that you can’t figure out his twist, which turns out to ALSO be bad. For some reason, the former doesn’t make me angry, just somewhat amused and empathetic, whereas the latter really irritated me. Maybe it’s the almost desperate attempt at having a “theme” of parental emotions while not doing anything in earnest for them.

  7. Henson says:

    The one main purpose I can see for making Shaun your son is introducing a dilemma for both player and character: can I oppose the Institute if it’s led by the one person I’ve spent more than half the game trying to find? If you think the Synths deserve better, can you act in the moral interest over your own personal feelings? I think the conflicting motivations make for an interesting quandary, and it could work for the player as well as the character because you have actually spent all those game hours on the ‘looking for my son’ quest.

    Of course, this is predicated on the assumption that you think the Institute should be opposed, rather than helped. How well the game makes this the preferable option, I don’t know.

    1. Phantos says:

      It also depends too heavily on caring about Shaun, while doing literally nothing to earn that.

      Some Kid Lived.

    2. Blunderbuss09 says:

      That was the only moral quandary I had too. My character was playing along to feed info to the Railroad but there’s a certain point where you have to choose between the two factions. Fighting the Institute means killing your own child and cruelly render your quest to find him meaningless.

      Of course, as Phantos said, I was never given a chance to care about Shaun. I literally care more about my robot butler than him.

      I keep saying that this whole ‘twist’ would have been better served if Shaun started as ten years old and we had a longer prologue to get to know him.

  8. bhleb says:

    the institue would have been awesome as an aperture-style type of place with that kind of humor

    portal guns in fallout ftw

    1. Grudgeal says:

      So Big MT then.

  9. scowdich says:

    It’s a shame about the Sole Survivor being from the before-times, because there’s already a contemporary vault you could have been from. Vault 81 is surviving, has a quest that could (with some tweaking) give you a reason to be the first to leave, and has a backstory that highlights mad-Vault-Tec science as well or better than Vault 111. The only problem is that it would have made the beginning of the game a little too similar to the original Fallout (drink).

  10. Ledel says:

    The one question I really wanted to ask Father was, “if you wanted me to reach this point so badly, why did every single synth I came across attack me on sight?”

    This factor made me never want to side with them. I don’t care that their motivations are stupid, every faction is stupid, but at least the other factions don’t try to murder you without reason before you agree to be their shock trooper.

    1. Fists says:

      I could never get past this either. You get one opportunity to raise the “You’re kinda evil” topic and Father hits you back with “I know you are but what am I!”. Really? you’re going to compare the most broadly humanitarian group in the wasteland who fell from grace due to flawed leadership with an army of killbots? Do you even know that your robots kill on sight?

  11. Ledel says:

    Like Chris, I really enjoyed the companions in this game, at least the ones I spent time with. Several of their stories even tie in with the main theme of this game.

    Nick questions how much is “him” and how much is just programming and implanted memories. Even while going through his quest he is unsure if he’s doing this for him or for a man long since dead.

    Curie is a machine that, over the years has become more than her programming. She developed emotions and was able to invent without any humans around her. When she is put into a synth body she wants to learn what it means to be human and feels so much more human than many of the named characters you encounter in the wasteland.

    Danse is a proud member of the Brotherhood. His whole being is to do his duty for the BOS. When he finds out that the whole time he was a mole for the Institute, he has an existential crisis. When you find him, he didn’t know what to do with himself, and begs for you to kill him; because that’s what the BOS would want.

    1. This would have been a lot cooler if the main theme of the game had actually made any sense, but this is like having a beautiful knitting job attached to a tumbleweed.

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        What is theme even supposed to be? Slavery? Machine intelligence? Parenthood, like the Institute is a parent to the synths but doesn’t acknowledge they “grew up to be their own people”?

        1. Ledel says:

          I took it as “at what point do you consider something human?” The institute draws the line at minimally radiated, born as a human. The minute men consider pretty much everyone human. The railroad considers anyone with independent thought human. The Brotherhood is similar to the Institute, but accepts radiation as part of life now while also considering any artificial recreation similar to human an abomination.

        2. MrGuy says:

          The theme is clearly “someone will buy this crap, right?”

          Well played, Bethesda. Well played.

        3. Sunshine says:

          One of the developers said that “finding a new normal” was one of the themes.

          1. potatoejenkins says:

            Errr … what.

            (No, seriously, what? Can someone translate that into “stupid”? For the likes of me.)

            1. Ninety-Three says:

              It was spoken by the people who made Fallout 4’s story, it’s already in “stupid”.

              1. potatoejenkins says:


          2. GnollQueen says:

            Well that not a bad theme really. Like the only person who that theme works for is the PC. They have been thrown into a wasteland suddenly and without warning and they need to find a new purpose in life and new people to have as friends and family. So that sounds like a good idea for this kind of game in theory but i don’t think Bethesda really took this theme seriously or they didn’t actually think about it that much.

    2. sofawall says:

      In case Shamus sees this: The third paragraph of this post has brown writing instead of a big brown box like a usual spoiler block. It is happening in the versions of Chrome, Firefox and Edge that I have on my computer. Looks like this: http://imgur.com/a/lpGJ7

      If the post is supposed to be brown writing instead of spoiler blocks for some strange reason, disregard.

      1. Ledel says:

        It’s supposed to be spoiler blocks, but I didn’t mark each paragraph. I just used one “strike” command for all three paragraphs, and I’m on mobile, so I don’t know how it looked on PC.

        1. Shamus says:

          I have fixed it, for the good of all spoilers.

          1. Ledel says:

            Thank you.

    3. Sleeping Dragon says:

      With the companions I was pretty sure that at least with Nick we’d get some payoff once we reach the Institute… but no.

    4. Sunshine says:

      Is it even that Danse is a deliberate Institute plant? I thought it was more that he was given a new identity by the Railroad and ended up joining the Brotherhood for its ideology .

      1. potatoejenkins says:

        He is listed as “gone missing” by the Institute. Since they made no attempt to recapture him it is more likely that he is an escaped Railroad synth who had his memory wiped and then decided to join the BoS.

        Though I suspect Bethesda didn’t quite know themselves and left that for the player to decide.

      2. Ledel says:

        IIRC the Brotherhood says someone was leaking info and point to him being a synth. This being Bethesda, I assumed that was the answer because they aren’t great at making a subtle quest like that.

        1. Wide And Nerdy® says:

          They get the info from you, from the Network Scanner you run when you first enter the Institute for the first time.

    5. Jeff says:

      Danse is not what you described him as, he came from Rivet City much like Harkness.

  12. Didn’t they make all these animals as part of the wasteland restoration/repopulation goal?

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Wait, are the synths only assembled from tissues, or are they built with functioning reproductive organs? And if they can reproduce, why not just grow them instead of assembling them from pieces?

    2. Chris Davies says:

      They’re special Chekhov’s gorillas. Seriously, is there anyone who played this game who didn’t immediately know they’d be fighting those things at some point the instant they saw them?

      1. Apart from Brahmin, what don’t you fight at some point in the game? Liberty Prime, maybe?

        1. You can fight Brahmin too if you want to.

          1. Oh, I know, but since they’re largely optional, I figured they didn’t count.

            Are there mad Brahmin in Fallout 4? I forget if there were any.

            1. potatoejenkins says:

              There are mad cows in Nuka World and also synth Brahmin who can infiltrate your settlement. Or so I hear. I never got to the point where my settlements were infiltrated or I was on bad terms with a certain faction.

        2. Grudgeal says:

          That depends… How many plot-critical NPCs that you can’t hurt in any way are around this time?

      2. tmtvl says:

        It’s to give Super Mutants a source for another quote.


        1. LCF says:


          1. Kelerak says:


  13. Wide And Nerdy® says:

    I wonder if it was originally supposed to be that that 12 year old boy was the real Shaun and Father was simply the head of the Institute.

    It would explain why Kellogg is the sole apparent beneficiary of a life extension technology that they abandoned in spite of it working (because its all a patch on the plot) and in spite of it being the most obvious path to their mission statement “Mankind Redefined”

    It would explain why Kellogg refers to “The Old Man” in the dream sequence (there was originally one old man).

    It would explain why Father wants to give you a Robo Shaun to care for in spite of his belief that synths aren’t people.

    I think it feeds into Chris’s idea that the synth conflict was originally supposed to be a more central element of the story.

    It could be that they did start with that conflict, but they needed a way to draw you in so your son is kidnapped. Then, as Chris said some episodes back, they couldn’t work out what they had planned, but they had this cool set piece with all of these neat animations (the synth building room, the gorillas). So they reworked it into this idea so that it would feel like the location served a purpose and then had to go back and spackle over a bunch of stuff that suddenly didn’t make sense.

    1. I’ve been saying for quite a while now that the story would at least hold together pretty well if Father were a complete villain. Like adding a female protagonist, making Father sympathic seems to have been a retcon that broke stuff.

      1. Decius says:

        The story would actually actually work if Father and the Institute actually had complex motivations that led to some kind of goal.

        Like if there was some reason, any reason, why they executed everyone in Vault 111 except you and Shaun.

        1. Jealousy and anger. These frozen idiots took the world away, broke it, filled it with monsters. Father will show them by rebuilding it better than before, giving the chosen of The Institute the paradise that the world-wreckers in Vault III took away.

          He will let one of his parents live. Let them see the horror their kind created, so they can know that Father’s way is the only path for the planet. If they can’t see that, then they deserve to die like the rest, mired in the ruins they created.

          But Father is growing old. He worries he won’t see the world as it should be, a great and peaceful place with no more bombs and foolish wars. If he is to pass from this world, he’ll either create a vessel to carry on his work, or he’ll see to it that it’s not only his dreams that die…

          1. Coming_Second says:

            See, that would might have been good. Have Shaun or ol’ Cornflake have a big, villainous breakdown about it. Pity neither of them were written as human beings with understandable goals and emotions.

      2. Raygereio says:

        Like adding a female protagonist

        Fun fact: There’s some dialogue in the game files where the female PC is a war veteran, just like the male PC. It’s voiced and everything.

        If I were to guess, having the female PC be a lawyer was a later addition.

        1. Wide And Nerdy® says:

          There’s a mod that restores all of that dialog and fixes anything else needed to make the female Sole Survivor into a war vet like her husband instead of an attorney. Except the opening cinematic for obvious reasons.

          1. What’s even worse is that you think “I can play a lawyer? Cool, that means speech will be a thing.”

            Oh, to be so young and idealistic…

        2. Andy_Panthro says:

          I like to think that the female lawyer bit is a nod to the Futurama episode “When Aliens Attack”, with the spoof Ally McBeal show “Single Female Lawyer”. Specifically the bit where the script runs out, because Fry says: “Well, it took an hour to write. I thought it would take an hour to read.”

      3. Dev Null says:

        Wait, they made Father sympathetic? That must have been in a patch after the version I played…

  14. GnollQueen says:

    I don’t think the Fallout 4 world is really Boschian. It isn’t quite as chaotic and sort of unsettling as his works are. Although quite frankly a sort of Boschian Hellscape in a game would be really really cool. The Only two i can think of are the Zeno Clash and sort of the Soul Sacrifice Games. Anyone else have any other recommendations?

    1. Rutskarn says:

      I grant that, but it’s Boschian relative to the cardboard utopia of a 50s nuclear nation.

      1. MrGuy says:

        Many Boschians died to get us this post-apocalyptic wasteland.

        1. Philadelphus says:


      2. Yurika Grant says:

        Thing is, there was nothing utopian about pre-war America in Fallout. The New Plague was sweeping the nation so people didn’t generally associate with each other a great deal (for fear of infection, even the government warned people to avoid contact!), people were paranoid and afraid, rioting and civil unrest was rife, the works. That whole pre-war section in Fallout 4 is utter bullshit.

        1. Rutskarn says:

          That’s what I mean by “cardboard.” Stable for its citizens until it totally collapses.

      3. Wide And Nerdy® says:

        It was when you used the word “Boschian” that I realized it was you writing the article. I had to look it up.

        Though I’m sure I would have noticed your byline at the bottom.

  15. I don’t think the crew has talked about the insta-Ghoul chem that’s been mentioned a couple of times; it’s the reason Hancock is a Ghoul and it was supported by Eddie Winter, yet that chem creates problems within the overall story. :P

    1. potatoejenkins says:

      Dissociative memory disorder? It’s a great coping mechanism for Fallout 4.

  16. dr science says:

    I think the Institute works better thematically if you think of them as “science-tribals.”

    Hundreds of years of isolation and potential inbreeding have created a community of tribals that wear all the ceremonial science garb of their CIT ancestors, such as lab coats and the like, but they are just costumes to them because of tradition.

    The current Institute doesn’t seem to have any real goal and explanations for their actions are rather thin. We could liken this to a form of ancestor worship: they follow the previous experimental designs and processes outlined centuries ago as “sacred texts” but they don’t know why they follow them and cannot really give you an explanation. They do it just because they can. They picked a simple two-word objective from some previous mission statements (Mankind Redefined) and just started treating it as some religious tenet instead of any particular defined goal or plan.

    Shaun could be considered their “chosen one” because he is free from any complications of massive inbreeding and would thus explain how an otherwise unremarkable DNA sample child for the Institute became its functional leader. Do we ever get any real qualifications about Shaun and his supposed leadership of the Institute? Why exactly is he the director anyway and not just some unimportant low-level science assistant?

    Basically I want a way to rationalize all the absolutely nonsensical things the Institute does and Bethesda doesn’t really give me much to work with. :p

    1. Jabrwock says:

      So basically like the Foundation in Asimov? Or at least the first incarnation, when the monks would perform rituals as they repaired technology or activate it.

      1. Another Better Idea(TM) for Fallout 4:

        Imagine if the institute had “tech priests” who traveled to settlements and “raised the dead.” Did your loved one perish in a Super Mutant attack? Have no fear, for our deity has blessed us with the knowledge to bring them back! Bring the corpse to our temple within two days of death, and we can restore them as good as new!

        Never mind the mechanical bits you find in them if they die again. That’s just a sign that they were… robot cannibals. Right. Never mind that a human eating a robot isn’t technically cannibalism, it’s just… Stop asking questions!

      2. Fred B-C says:

        Technically, you’d be referring to the tech-priests that were recruited from outside nations like Anacreon, not the Foundation themselves, who ACT like they don’t know about the tech but in reality of course do.

    2. Sunshine says:

      I like this idea, it really seems to work with what’s there, making them a faction of “Because SCIENCE!” crackpots who make synth brahmin and gorilla and noir detectives and release Super Mutants into the wild without losing their serious tone.

      “Why exactly is he the director anyway and not just some unimportant low-level science assistant?”

      He’s about sixty and says he’s “worked hard” to reach his position. It’s enough time for someone ambitious to reach a position of influence. Though I think it would have been better if he’s near the top and the Institute storyline is you helping him become its leader.

  17. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Robert Picardo is the guy who plays charles xavier in old xmen movies.How do you not know that?Gawd!

  18. SlothfulCobra says:

    I think being a raider actually fits in a lot with the main character of the Fallout games. Most of the game is killing people and taking their stuff for your own personal gain. The only difference is that the people you kill either shoot first or somebody told you to kill them. To any outside observer, you’re basically a raider. There’s a reason why people often call the PCs in tabletop RPGs “murderhobos.”

    To any outside observer, the player character is an agent of chaos that comes from nowhere and steals anything that isn’t nailed down or watched. Total raider behavior.

  19. Narida says:

    Somehow I completely missed the synth making area, and by extension, Robert Picardo (which is the only real loss).

    Also, there seems to be far too little senseless violence on Reginald’s part considering the stupidity he is surrounded by.

    1. Sadly, that’s by design. If you do something like get caught reading Dr. Li’s terminal entries or you start shooting only one or two people, the whole place goes hostile for some reason and suddenly you’re in endgame mode.

  20. Incunabulum says:

    The payoff on all this ought to be that we have some unique perspective on the game's central conflict.

    Bethesda’s payoff is they have a built in excuse to force-feed you exposition dumps.

    The *player’s* payoff? Who cares about that? Certainly not Bethesda or they would have put more care in the direction their storylines go.

  21. Sleeping Dragon says:

    The fact that you’re pre-war should be central to the game. It should be the internal working of BoS, it should be pre-war ghouls, it should be rediscovering pre-war knowledge, it should be something like trying to rebuild the old world VS creating a new society. Heck, BoS (claiming to be direct continuation of the US military) VS Enclave (claiming to be a direct continuation of US government) conflict would be a good theme for a pre-war character and the only reason I see not to do it would be that it was used in FO3.

    1. Pretty good point. With the exception of a few ghouls (who’s memories may be playing tricks on them).
      The player us a relic with “perfect” memory from the day the bombs fell. And their military background (combat and survival) should be valuable as well.
      Also the “wife” while a lawyer I kinda suspect she might have been former military (but now a lawyer due to having a child).
      This explains why she kicks as much ass as the “husband”, she probably wasn’t on the front lines though (it was the 60s after all).

      That said, most of the old civilized world is gone after 200+ years, so clearances does not really matter any more.
      Except for one point where they do those robots on the old constitution ship, I was hoping to see the player character as still being listed as active (and possibly the highest ranking military still alive) would act as a magic key to many places.

  22. Matt Downie says:

    I don’t find the Shaun twist ‘payoff’ so bad (though it’s hard for me to judge as the twist was spoiled for me by this website before I played). At the start of the story, looking for Shaun gives you motivation to pursue an urgent goal and solve a mystery. Then, you discover that at least ten years have gone by, and your goal seems less urgent – maybe you can pursue some of those side quests now? Then you discover that Shaun is an adult, older than you, so you killed all those people for no good reason! Whoops! Then you can ask yourself: what do you owe a child you (through no fault of your own) failed to raise? At this point you can opt to forget about the whole thing and spend your time exploring, which is more fun than the main quest anyway.

    And the main advantage of playing a pre-war character is that it creates easier character empathy. Having to role-play someone who’s spent their life living in a vault or radioactive wasteland makes it harder for some people to get into that mindset.

    1. Dev Null says:

      I find the whole discussion of the Shaun “twist” to be sort of weirdly abstract. I hadn’t seen any spoilers when I first played the game, and by the end of the cutscene where Shaun is kidnapped and then you are frozen again I just assumed that many years had passed and Shaun was effectively grown up and lost to me. I mean sure, you go in the vault and he’s a baby, but when you went in the vault the world wasn’t a post-nuclear wasteland either. Don’t they even _tell_ you that 200 years have passed? (Despite all the ingame clues that this clearly can’t be true?) It never even occurred to me until much later in the main plot that my character was supposed to be looking for a child; I thought I was just looking for my adult son to see what had become of him, if he was even still alive. So from my perspective, it wasn’t a badly-telegraphed twist; it wasn’t a twist at all.

      1. ZekeCool says:

        A friend of mine felt the same way and ruined the twist for me, which both annoyed me and made the game annoy me much more than it would have otherwise.

      2. Ciennas says:

        You know Disney was making fun of this twist in 1959, right?

        Maleficent sends her goons out to find the princess to force her prophecy to come true.

        Her minions are either unaware or are too stupid to realize she would age, so they have been wasting the thirteen years searching for a baby.

        Maleficent reacts poorly upon discovering this. ‘Idiots’ was literally the first thing she shouted upon deciding how many she aimed to kill for this.

        Man, everybody has been making fun of this plot twist, haven’t they?

        In seriousness, they hung everything on this twist, and it all falls apart so hard on this twist.

        They could have skipped Shaun 2 and just made it more straightforward.

        Like, they know you’re coming for Shaun, so they telewarp him back to the Institute. Then, the director holds Shaun hostage and forces you to work with him.

        From there, you choose to either go with it, work to rescue Shaun and burn the rest of the Institute, or oust the director and take over the institute.

        Maybe have the director sabotage the teleporter and erase the backup data on it once he loses.

        That would wipe so many plotholes with the main quest alone.

      3. guy says:

        Same here. I didn’t see any reason to think the wakings were remotely close together in time. The first one was deliberately triggered and the second was an automatic response to the array failing.

  23. Daemian Lucifer says:

    We'd immediately ditch a ton of baggage and expensive unique assets….and we'd lose, what?

    The ability to shoot your elderly son and then feast on his corpse.And the ability to feast on the corpse of your frozen spouse.

    1. ehlijen says:

      Did they patch the frozen spouse? Because from what I remember, they are not a corpse object and thus can’t be interacted with at all (you get the ring through a special ‘you pressed a button’ message window, not the loot interface).

    2. Fists says:

      We’d lose the reason the leader of this organisation has some weird implicit trust in a scrub that shows up out of the wasteland. Unlike all the other……

      Um, yeah.

  24. Tuskin says:

    I always thought the synth creation room was neat.

    Robert Picardo also voices the nameless Vault-tec scientists in the prologue.

  25. Lachlan the Mad says:

    How is there not a “Design your own stupid raider weapon” thread yet?

    Here’s my idea:

    RAIDER: Look what I invented, boss!

    BOSS: You appear to have taped a number of kittens to a folding chair.

    RAIDER: It’s a raw-cat lawnchair!

    1. MrGuy says:

      I duct taped 4 butterknives together to create a Throwing Butterknife!

      1. IFS says:

        RAIDER: I added a pilot light and a gas tank to a sword to make a flaming sword!

        BOSS: Well now you’re just being ridiculous.

    2. That made me laugh much more than it should have. XD

  26. Grudgeal says:

    A philosopher-king raider surrounded by less intelligent minions, eh? Now where have I seen that before in Fallout? I mean, there are so many raiders in the game, the examples are a positive legion. Some of them must have been lead by some wise old geezer. Like, you know, “geezer’s raiders”. Or something more classy instead of “raiders”. You know, since he’s a philosopher king.

  27. Yurika Grant says:

    I’m writing a parody dramatisation of Fallout 4 using the game’s woeful story and setting as the basis for a new story, and being a pre-war gal is pretty important and central to what I’m doing.

    She actually responds to shit like bloatflies (unlike the game where the MC responds to a rad roach in the Vault and… that’s it for the rest of the game, pretty much), informs others about pre-war stuff (like correcting Piper on what newspapers were all about in pre-war times), and generally informs events from the point of view of someone who remembers what the world used to be like (she’s also kind of a nihilist, which will be a big thing later in the story).

    I’m doing this for fun, silliness, and parody… and yet my version of the world is still more consistent and logical than the one Bethesda came up with. That’s sad, and shows the level of contempt Bethesda has for writing and stories.

    It’s over here if you want to check it out (shameless plug…)

    On the subject of boring characters (Father, Preston, etc.), Ada ““ the bland robotic companion from Automatron ““ falls into the same trap. Boring, flat, bland, meh. So my version of her has a poetic bent and likes to think up bizarre and wildly inappropriate haiku to assault the protagonists ears with :)

    Such as this, just after meeting her for the first time when she’s standing in the burning remains of her owner’s caravan with the corpses of her friends littering the area:

    The air turns yellow

    Human corpses flying far

    My friends are all dead

    I’ve always found it odd how Bethesda seemingly want this bizarro wacky world of sentient robots and crazy events and massive set pieces… but seems unwilling to go all the way, instead trying to tell a ‘serious’ (lol…) story in a world it’s impossible to actually take seriously.

    I, on the other hand, will be dialling the silliness up to eleven and having fun with it :D

  28. Blunderbuss09 says:

    Ooohhhh I’ve ranted about this before. *cracks neck* Let’s go!

    One of the biggest themes of Fallout is how humanity rebuilds civilization and whether or not it learns from the mistakes from the old one. But everyone’s going off what little bits and pieces that are left to the point that they only understand one microcosm of the greater whole; the BOS know only of how the old world misused technology, the Enclave glorify America, the Legion uses the tactics of old empires, and so forth, but they will never truly understand what it was like.

    But you do. You’ve lived in the world that they only know from old holotapes or regurgitated traditions. So you’re not just an outsider, but an outsider who can judge how well these groups are at copying the world you’re from. This should have been utterly centric to the game.

    Remember when Piper interviewed you on how you saw the world and then wrote her own opinion to your answer? That was fantastic and should be what most of your relations with people and factions should be like. I bet my character did sound like a privileged brat when she expressed horror at how people lived in shacks and were killing each other, and I would have liked to have more people judge her for it.

    And the Institute should be the crux of this. They’ve the closest you’ve ever seen of the pre-war world in the wasteland, not just technologically but culturally. Their trees are green, their water is always clean, and they can make pre-war animals just like from your world. No one there is a thieving murderer. You could stay inside their little bubble and forget that the war ever happened and leave that horrible stinky wasteland to rot. There should be an honest temptation to go back to the world you used to have.

    Then the Institute shows you their final plan (because they should have one) to use their technology to remake the Commonwealth to its former glory. Sure, it might wipe out everyone currently living there, but isn’t that a small price to pay to save humanity? Isn’t a few hundred thousand people a drop in the sea compared to the billions you saw die? Since you’re the only one who has seen the pre-war world, and that the Institute really can remake it, you’re the only person who realizes the stakes.

    So the final question would be that do you wipe away innocent Bostonians yet again for a better world or do you allow the less-than-perfect wastelanders a chance to rebuild the hard way? That would be an agonizing question for the sole surviving person of the pre-war world.

    1. potatoejenkins says:

      But then you wouldn’t be asking yourself if you aren’t actually a synth yourself. Maybe.

      And that’s so deep, man.

      (Chose the “you life in rusty shacks and kill each other” answer as well because of the “Full Dialogue” mod. Without the mod it’s simply the “it sucks.”- douchebag answer and Piper reacts accordingly. Good people do not judge others for killing each other!)

      1. Blunderbuss09 says:

        Goddamn I hated that. I wanted to express how horrible the world in a sympathetic way without complaining how much it stinked. I got the ‘Full Dialogue’ mod straight after.

  29. Dev Null says:

    I just figured the pre-war background was because “Duh; all shooters must start with an amnesiac / clueless protagonist – it’s the law.” They worked so hard to fit the tutorial into the story that they forgot to write a story to fit the tutorial into…

  30. Kerethos says:

    You know what bothers me the most about the Institute?

    3rd generation synth production rates. They’re pushing out a new one every 2 minutes or less and they’ve been making 3rd generation synths for over 10 years. That’s at least 740 synths, EVERY DAY!

    At the current production rate show in the game that means they make at least 270,100 3rd generation synths a year. Add some downtime and drop the rate for maintenance and they’ve pushed out about a million of these things in the last 4 years alone! WHY?! Also, they been making 3rd generation synths for (at least) 10 years. That’s 2,500,000 3rd generation synths – at a low estimate!

    How is anything even a threat to these people and their million strong army of plasma rifle wielding, fully functional, and anatomically correct, utterly expendable soldiers?!

    Their synth army could just pile up on everything else in the wasteland and win by literally dying in the thousands.

  31. Andy_Panthro says:

    Hey guys?

    Did nobody else notice a car (or something) drop off the overpass at about 24:25?

    Was sure some of the other eagle-eyed viewers would have spotted it before me!

    1. potatoejenkins says:

      Cars drop off highways all the time in my game. It might have to do with draw distance. The cars load earlier than the highway so without the collision box of the highway, they simply fall down.

      1. Andy_Panthro says:

        Even for Bethesda, that seems particularly bad.

        I would have assumed that cars (like other debris), would have been lower on the load order than the overpass, which can surely be seen from farther away. Although I suppose it could be something to do with the game’s terrible collision detection.

        1. potatoejenkins says:

          Most of the debris is baked together with the larger meshes for houses, highways etc.
          This together with the cars being a physics object unlike the debris contributes to them falling down.

          Meshes load badly in this game in general. Sometimes the game refuses to switch from the low resolution meshes used for distant environment to the actual mesh. I get that frequently and my game is rock stable. Well, for a Bethesda game.

  32. Mr Compassionate says:

    I already tried eating the wife’s/husband’s corpse and it wouldn’t let me… what? WHAT? It doesn’t make me weird. You’re weird.

    I actually quit my first playthrough part way through because I was so curious. I beelined straight for cannibalism and tried to eat my husband. I thought of Mumbles as I concocted this plan.

  33. MetalSeagull says:

    This is my first comment on Fallout 4, and it probably fits better under the previous episode. But regardless. Like Rutskarn, I quit after reaching The Institute, so I will be seeing some new stuff from here on out.

    Little things that were bothersome all along become so much more apparent. The game world has unending sources of free energy. Your Mister Handy comes with a fuel tank that lasts 200 years. The only generator that makes the slightest bit of sense is the windmill.

    Then you arrive at the Institute, and what the shit? Where did all this come from? where are they digging out all the ore, and where are they refining it? Where are the healing piles of dirt that were dug out to make room for all this empty space? And why are they cranking out synths at one a minute, when they apparently don’t even know what they want them for?

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