Confession time: when I originally played this game, the final cutscene worked a little differently. (Or maybe it bugged out?) I stood by Shaun’s bedside, watched him die, and dinged a level right there without it cutting away for the final cutscene. It was a hilariously dissonant moment. I was hoping that would happen here. Actually, I was secretly hoping that that would happen, and Idiot SavantDur-huh ha HA! would proc, which seemed to be a fitting way to say goodbye to this questline.
But it worked more or less as intended, so that didn’t happen. This is far better than the way I experienced the ending, and if Bethesda fixed it then I’m grateful, even if it meant I had one less thing to laugh at. It all balanced out anyway, since we got the fog that obscured the big set-piece explosion at the end.
Mumbles said at the end that she wanted to play Fallout 4. I felt the same way. In fact, last night I re-installed my favorite Fallout 4 mods and started a new playthrough. I really did have fun with this game. It has some wonderful environments, the base-building is great, the combat is fun in certain situations, and I loved modding weapons. The companions range from forgettable to excellent, and there are a couple of quests that really work. But the main story is such a disaster that its failings infect the rest of the experience.
Earlier in the week Josh pointed me to this:
Public opinion has turned on this game. There was a surge of enthusiasm at launch, but then that nagging feeling of discontent set in as the various stories and systems in the game came up short. I wouldn’t call it a backlash or anything, but it is a negative response. You can compare this to Skyrim, which started out Very Positive but is now Overwhelmingly Positive.
Reading the negative Steam reviews on Fallout 4 can actually be kind of gratifying for us RPG nerds. I don’t expect the average player to gripe about the lack of coherent themes, faction motivation, and plot cohesion. But I’m betting they did notice the side-effect of these shortcomings, which is that nothing connected emotionally. Even if you didn’t notice that The Institute didn’t have any motivations for their villainy, you probably did notice it all felt kind of empty and forgettable. Even if you didn’t notice the fundamental problems with player agency and character building, you might have noticed that you rarely got to make any satisfying decisions.
I don’t think Bethesda is going to transform into CD Projekt RED or anything, but if they could at least claw their way back to Skyrim levels of “shallow but basically serviceable” it would be an enormous help. The first step is admitting you have a problem, and maybe this tepid response will be a wake-up call for them.
Thanks for watching.
Also, since you all guessed anyway…
This will be one of the rare seasons where I go in cold and react to the game as it unfolds. So that should be interesting.
One final reminder is that later today we’ll be streaming Civilization VI.
 Dur-huh ha HA!
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Push the Button!
Scenes from Half-Life 2:Episode 2, showing Gordon Freeman being a jerk.
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