My take on Fallout 4: I think the voiced protagonist is the One Bad Decision from which most of the major flaws in this game originate. When my character spontaneously says things without my input or consent, the writer is kind of making a contract with me: I’m designing a specific character for you, so I’ll handle the characterization. And then they fail to follow up on that. My character’s voice is there to intrude on my internal attempts at roleplaying, but there’s not enough of it to form an interesting character with a personality and a proper arc. So the protagonist either has a shift personality as the writer and I play tug-of-war over them, or they have no personality at all.
But then the protagonist is voiced, and individual lines of dialog are often given some emotion. But I’m the one choosing these lines, and I’m doing so using vague prompts. I have no way of knowing what my character will say when I click on “Agree”, and even if I get a mod to reveal the text, I still can’t tell how the line will be delivered. The game designer is pretending to allow me to roleplay, but they haven’t given me the ability to make informed decisions. So my dialog ends up being wildly inconsistent.
In other news:
After playing through the introduction, my daughter came downstairs and said, “Dad, did you ever notice how there’s a bunch of Mr. Handy Fuel? Like, in your house at the start of the game?”
“Yes”, I said guardedly.
“So that means Codsworth needs fuel, right?”
I nodded knowingly.
“SO HOW IS HE STILL WORKING TWO HUNDRED YEARS LATER?”
I sighed. “He’s not just working, but he’s been HOVERING for two hundred years. Also, he claims he’s spent the whole time taking care of your house. And yet the place is totally trashed and hasn’t felt the touch of a broom in decades.”
Esther went wide-eyed with frustration. “Just… what… are they DOING?”
I’m so proud of her.
Secret of Good Secrets
Sometimes in-game secrets are fun and sometimes they're lame. Here's why.
The Best of 2014
My picks for what was important, awesome, or worth talking about in 2014.
A video Let's Play series I collaborated on from 2009 to 2017.
Silent Hill 2 Plot Analysis
A long-form analysis on one of the greatest horror games ever made.
Diablo III Retrospective
We were so upset by the server problems and real money auction that we overlooked just how terrible everything else is.