Fallout 4 EP28: Mammary Den

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Aug 10, 2016

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 130 comments

Link (YouTube)

I just want to point out that Chris (of all people!) is responsible for the title of today’s episode.

“These people really don’t know what they’re doing.”

Like Rutskarn said, this part of the game is shockingly amateurish. The concept of exploring someone’s brain for exposition is good, but just about every part of it is wrong, broken, or executed poorly. It’s over-written, making the dialog ponderous. The timeline doesn’t make sense because Kellogg magically didn’t age for 60 years. It doesn’t fill in any other details of the world, just Kellogg. Kellogg calls two different characters “Old Man”, which is flagrant writer cheating to protect an obvious twist through obfuscation. Same goes for the idea of having Kellogg take care of robo-Shaun to act as “bait” for your character.

It’s boring and frustrating when you play through it, and then frustrating and nonsensical when viewed in retrospect.


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130 thoughts on “Fallout 4 EP28: Mammary Den

  1. Hector says:

    As janky as this section is, the writing here is practically from another world when compared to the rest of the game. It gets top marks from me, simply for actually attempting to do something interesting, and largely succeeding in my view. I wonder if there might not have been an earlier draft of the game where the Memory Den was a more important location. And Keythe Farley does an outstanding job of conveying Kellogg as a character throughout.

    That said, I’ve been wondering if Kellogg and Ulfric Stormcloak from Skyrim are both meant as interpretations of the same idea, just in different worlds. That is, in my view, both are meant to be externalized Player-Character avatars. Both of these people have certain unusual qualitiers that make them specifically similar, but also foils to, the player character. Ulfric Stormcloak, for instance, has led a notable life that includes a lot of morally-questionable activities alongside (or even at the same time as)his heroic adventures. He just seems to know Thu’um for no reason, like the PC, and there are different stories about and views on his character and actions, just as the PC can engage in a lot of very strange or contradictory behavior.

    Same with Kellogg. He’s also a man long out of time, with a history of unstoppable badassery that takes him to the point of being more than human. He also has a twisted relationship with Shaun, and has both done and regretted bad deeds after kicking his way into the Institute’s business. (I trust we can see the similarities to the Lone Survivor.) Kellogg is a kind of mirror avatar, but not specifically a *dark* mirror. He’s arguably the hero of another story, which we will never see told in its entirety.

    1. Gruhunchously says:

      Kellogg is Thane? That makes sense, I suppose – he sounded familiar.

    2. Hector says:

      Oh, darn it, I almost forgot – Ulfric Stormcloak is introduced to the game riding in the same cart as the player character. Neither character can speak during the entire introduction.

      Of course, Kellogg is also directly present and a serves a moderately important role (dry wit alert) during the pivotal moment of the Lone Survivor’s story, too.

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        I agree that this sequence shows that the writers meant for parallels between the Sole Survivor and Kellogg, the fact that this material is delivered too late in a hamfisted way that causes player frustration rather than improve the gameplay in any fashion is a separate matter.

        I think attributing a similar intention to Skyrim is pushing it a bit far though. While in FO4 there are clear narrative parallels between the characters (loss of family, disconnect from the time he came to live in) in Skyrim Ulfric is a character with a relatively complex backstory (whether said complexity is presented well is another matter) of religious and monastic devotion, patriotism, physical and psychological trauma and political activity while the character is… a blank slate. The player character has no allegiance to any cause while Ulfric is strongly defined by his investment in Talos worship and Nord freedom, the character has no ideological or military background while Ulfric both spent his entire childhood studying with the Greybeards (which is where his shouting ability comes from by the way, he’s not a random dragonborn like the PC) later on fought in the war, the character has no background trauma while Ulfric was imprisoned and tortured by the Thalmor, the character was not planted, sent or manipulated by anyone into the events while with Ulfric there is this suggestion that he may have been manipulated by the Thalmor, which is definitely a dramatic, even tragic, side to the character, the PC is on the cart going to the execution for the reason of crossing the border at a bad time in a bad place with bad company (at least so much as the game provides, you can headcanon it all you want), while Ulfric is on the cart for very particular reasons, and the PC doesn’t speak just because while Ulfric is gagged so he doesn’t shout everyone around into bits and pieces.

        You can definitely roleplay the PC in your head this way and I imagine, especially if you’re playing a Nord siding with the Empire, it greatly improves the civil war storyline culminating in this clash between two mirror destinies, but in my opinion the game doesn’t really provide a whole lot of ground for this kind of interpretation by itself and personally I think this is giving Bethesda writers way too much credit.

    3. MichaelGC says:

      He just seems to know Thu'um for no reason, like the PC

      He studied under the Greybeards for 10 years or so. Disintegrating the jarl was a bit of practical fieldwork, I suppose – it can’t all be keggers and mead pong.

    4. Chauzuvoy says:

      I’m with Chris and Shamus. The presentation was amateurish, but the real lost opportunity of this sequence was that it came in too late to matter. It builds a decent connection with Kellogg with a lot of very obvious but still interesting parallels to the PC, but they don’t deliver any of this characterization until after we’d already killed him.

      I mean, imagine if we had a quest to hunt down Kellogg where we found a memory dump from his implants with all this information. And so we learn his backstory before we meet him. Imagine the confrontation that sets up. He’s not just the man who took Shaun from us anymore. He’s a reflection of who we are and a dark vision of what that loss could turn us into. And the actual meeting with him just reinforces that. Should you try to reason with him, knowing that he’s a monster not for how different he is from you but from how similar your lives have been? Or should you let death be the punishment for the mistakes you didn’t make, even though killing him is now meaningless? Even if you were still railroaded into combat (not difficult to write around, given the character), it would still be a far more impactful moment than the way it is now. As it is this whole quest is a waste of time. I don’t care about his backstory anymore, he’s dead and I can’t DO anything with this.

  2. Incunabulum says:

    The only reason Kellogg fought off those three synths is because they let him.

    watch the video – he *grabs one as a hostage* and the other two don’t do anything more than point their guns at him. Totally staged.

    And Fo1 takes place 60 years after the war, FO2 80 years after FO1.

    1. Wide And Nerdy® says:

      LOL, you’re right. Grabbing a synth as a hostage, especially a Gen 1, should have had no effect.

      1. Henson says:

        Why not? Do synths not consider themselves to be people? If they do, then taking a synth hostage would easily make other synths hesitate to shoot.

        1. GloatingSwine says:

          The Gen 1s don’t, they’re barely more advanced than a Protectron.

          They might have had hardcoded IFFs to prevent them shooting each other, but we don’t know that or that Kellogg had any reason to suspect or intuit it.

          1. Wide And Nerdy® says:

            Everything about Synths is confusing.

            Best I can determine, Gen-3 Synths are clones created using 3D printing to that they come out as adults without the need for accelerated growth.

            Whats confusing is that you don’t need Shaun’s untainted DNA for that*. You’re better off copying the DNA of the person you’re trying to, you know, copy.

            But they also talk about humanity redefined. Their synths are so perfect you can’t tell them from the real thing and they needed Shaun’s DNA.

            This suggests that there are two different kind of conflicting purposes here 1) Gen-3s are meant for infiltration body snatcher style. 2) They’re meant to be the next phase of humanity?

            Which makes it really confusing that the Institute treats its Gen-3’s like machines. Just how machine are they anyway? Did the Institute scrap the humanity redefined thing? Is the vision statement an artifact?

            For that matter, what are they continuing to infiltrate for? By the end of the quest, they have their fusion reactor ready and you pretty much can’t get to them except for via teleportation. Will their purpose be complete once thats done? They have 3D printing that can fabricate even organic material, they don’t need anything from the surface. Are they going to keep replacing people to get rid of mutations?

            *I think they’re borrowing the “untainted DNA” thing from Fallout 1. The FEV works by replicating cells in the subject, copying some parts of the subject DNA while replacing others with perfected DNA. Its an outgrowth of a project that was originally meant to immunize subjects against chinese biological weapons. The military liked the side effects so the project took a different direction.

            Sterility comes from the fact that gametes are converted into adult cells as part of the FEV’s cellular repair mechanism. Likewise, it was found that damaged DNA from radiation exposure caused side effects during the copying process, (I assume that the introns contained in the FEV were latching onto the wrong spots. )

            This is where we get our big dumb Super Mutants from, FEV exposed to mutated irradiated wastelanders. But that’s because the FEV was trying to both copy and modify the subject’s DNA and the process runs on runaway self replication. The Gen-3 process really should just be straight up genetic copying, which I wouldn’t think would require completely undamaged unmutated DNA. If they ran into problems, there wasn’t a virus driving the cell growth and replication so they could scrap biological material that didn’t turn out right.

  3. skeeto says:

    If you’re quick, you can pick up the synth guns in that one memory and take them out of the dream (to sell or use in the real world). I prefer to think of it not as a bug but as a little, hidden twist: it wasn’t actually a dream sequence at all!

    1. SlothfulCobra says:

      …Or maybe, the whole rest of the game is also a dream sequence while you snooze away in cryostasis! *BWOMM*

      1. Fists says:

        I don’t think you’ll need a spinning top to prove that the world’s physics doesn’t work properly.

        Reginald’s totem is probably a deathclaw that he throws up in to space.

  4. Pax says:

    There’s almost no more to say about this, except about the Memory Den as a whole. As in, in my wildest dreams, I thought it was going to be like the emotions memory bank in Planescape: Torment, where you can experience other people’s experiences. It, of course, was nothing like that.

    Letting people re-live their own best memories is one thing, but isn’t making the Memory Den the hub of other people’s saved experiences way more interesting? It could have been a gateway to other parts of the Fallout universe. Maybe someone saved their memory of the Capitol Wasteland, or the Pitt, or some other location in the world only mentioned but never seen. Instead, it’s only a place for NPCs to use, you waiting through the scene of your spouse’s murder AGAIN, and Kellogg’s memories. Wasted from top to bottom.

    1. Gruhunchously says:

      And as an easter egg, they could have the brain of a really low INT person who experiences the world all Wild Wasteland-y. With people shooting guns out of their fingers or speaking in monosyllables or randomly teleporting in bright lights like Chris suggested.

    2. ehlijen says:

      That would have been a great way to include an option for custom mod adventures to be added to the game. Just go to the memory den and load it up!

    3. SlothfulCobra says:

      Why would you even need to relive your memories when you can remember them?

      1. ehlijen says:

        Why would you ever rewatch a movie you’ve already seen?

        Granted, some people don’t, but for many there is an extra joy in experiencing something again to a degree that mere memories don’t provide.

        The memory of the sun won’t keep you warm.
        The memory of tasting your favourite food won’t still your hunger.
        The memory of your first date isn’t as fun as spending actual time with your spouse (hopefully).

        I can see a market for that.

        It is true though that that market would be far narrower than the market for artificial or donated memory experiences.

        1. Chauzuvoy says:

          It also fits with what was at one point probably supposed to be a bigger theme in the game: nostalgia. After all, the PC is desperately trying to reunite his pre-war family. The game doesn’t care about new societies built in the aftermath of the war so much as it’s fascinated by all the ways that traces of the old world cling to memory. Baseball becomes Swatters because threatening and beating people with baseball bats has just as much cultural weight as actually playing baseball. People are searching for answers in Shakespeare and old-time radio rather than building the future. All the sympathetic factions are rooted in American history, with the minutemen and railroad taking their names, iconography and ideology from a rosy vision of the revolutionary war and abolitionism respectively. Conversely, the villains are the institute, trying to move humanity forward by any means necessary, and the super mutants, brutish monsters with no respect.

          It’s as mishandled and ultimately empty as everything else in the game’s writing, but it peeks out around the edges everywhere.

    4. Blunderbuss09 says:

      Or maybe you could play through little chunks of people’s memories to find the clues to finding Kellogg or the Institute. That way Nick Valentine – the detective – could figure out connecting threads to see the bigger picture. Depending on how old the Memory Den is you could have decade’s worth of memories; someone would have had to seen something to give you a lead.

      That way you’re, y’know, figuring out a mystery rather than having it dropped in your lap.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Why did we need the detective again?I dont remember him detecting anything that you couldnt have found out on your own.Especially if you have a high int character.

        1. ehlijen says:

          Nick has brings several important things to the table:

          He’s seen Kellogg and can put a name and address to your description.
          He knows a dog.
          His robot brain adds extra RAM to your macabre experiment in the memory den.

          I’m sure I don’t need to explain why all of this could only be done by someone with several mail order degrees in detectology and detectronomy.

          But more seriously, his only detective work contribution actually sets you back: if you suggest that Kellogg’s ten year old kid might be shaun, he tells you you’re wrong and need to focus on finding your baby.
          His value as a detective is negative.

          1. Gotta keep you on the railroad plot! >_<

  5. ehlijen says:

    I’ve seen people defend and even praise this section as interesting or groundbreaking.

    I don’t get why? It’s, as rutskarn says, abysmal in execution. But even apart from that, it’s not much better than audio logs, which aren’t really much better than found journal entries. Each step adds a little more, sure, but also makes it more unwieldy to pace properly.

    This should have been a skippable slideshow. Having the player walk around in the memories added nothing. At the very least ME3’s Geth hub mission had some pointless ‘shoot the bad orange’ gameplay. But here, all we have is the world’s worst ‘next scene’ button bloated to take up the whole game engine.

    Here’s what I’d have done:
    To get the info from Kellogg, you have to get his brain/dream/data ghost to cooperate. To unlock new memories, he currently most obsessed over one must be processed. The player, entering the memory as kellogg, has to play through events in such a way that Kellogg is either at peace with that event, or so horrified he’ll repress it (because choice).
    Only then can the next memory be accessed. Otherwise, the current memory will simply reset (similar to an autosave/autoload in appearance, but with a memory den loading screen).
    The danger is that if the memory to messed with too much, the whole thing gets corrupted (which for clarity probably involves a lethal feedback overload or something to make clear that a save needs to be reloaded because it’s a failure state).

    This actually uses gameplay, it still has real world consequences so it’s not ‘just a dream’, and it lets the player affect the memories in at least two ways. It doesn’t really make a lick of sense when dealing with a dead brain, so I’d ideally have Kellogg be taken alive but comatose. And if it was an obsidian game, the option of euthanasia could be brought up after, but I don’t think Bethesda is as happy to have that in their game (although, they almost get there later with old man shaun…).

    1. I give them points for trying something different with the engine at least, and the writing is much better than Bethesda’s average. It also tied into previous games/locations without totally destroying the lore as per usual.

      Besides, I thought Rutz liked museums in games? :)

      1. ehlijen says:

        What new thing with the engine did they try? The neuron walkways?

    2. So they should have basically stolen the entire foundation of Remember Me? :P

      1. The Rocketeer says:

        If that had actually been the foundation of Remember Me, instead of a rare diversion, that game might have been worth playing. It wasn’t.

        1. Decius says:

          The awesome experimental mechanic that cost so much to write that they had to build a subpar game to gate access to it.

          1. Sleeping Dragon says:

            I bring this up pretty much every time the crew finishes a game but I’m seriously hoping for a Remember Me SW season. That game had such an interesting premise that was utterly wasted with all these ethical quandaries that were completely ignored.

          2. Ninety-Three says:

            It wasn’t even really a mechanic though. It was a heavily scripted little adventure game, and numerous adventure games before have done the “travel back in time to poke at things to make events play out differently” conceit. The only thing Remember Me adds is the memory angle, which doesn’t even make sense. Why does making someone remember a gun being two feet to the left make them suddenly remember doing something with the gun they’d previously ignored? Why do they have a memory of a suitcase they weren’t even looking at? Why can you interact with precisely these four inconsequential environmental features, and not anything else?

            There are no rules, unlike brawling which follows a set of rules that form mechanics (enemies behave like this, attacks have X properties and interact with enemies in Y ways…), it’s so heavily scripted that you can’t reliably predict outcomes and you’re back to the adventure game staple of “Guess what the designer was thinking”.

            Five minutes of adventure game content with about twelve binary interactables and no inventory doesn’t cost that much to make, especially when you cheap out on rendering most of the area. They didn’t run out of money on the remixing sequences, I think they just realized their adventure game wasn’t very deep and they couldn’t make the whole game about it. The concept might have been worth making an entire game about, but their implementation sure wasn’t.

            1. Not looking at it as in “not in field of view at all” or not looking at it as in “not focused on it at any point”? Just curious, cause I’d forgive the second one (our brains filter out like 90+% percent of what our eyes see based on what the brain thinks is important) but not the first.

              Ooh, now that’d be cool. Viewing other peoples’ memories to solve crimes but each person’s brain finds various things important and throws away or blurs or greys out the rest. Say you’ve got 3 witnesses to a crime, one’s a plastic surgeon, one’s a tailor, and one’s an mechanic. The plastic surgeon might remember the face and body type well but filter clothes and get-away car, the tailor filters face and car but gets clothes well, and the mechanic… (well, you get the idea). If you had a limited and set pool of NPC witnesses/suspects, you could even add in the challenge of the more you know about someone the more likely you are to know if they spotted something useful and you can only get a certain number of memories per crime.

      2. ehlijen says:

        Possibly, I have not played it.

    3. Henson says:

      It’s become clear to me, watching over the last few weeks, that Bethesda’s dialogue writing is actually pretty decent. The characters of FO4 are expressive and have personality, and it all comes through dialogue well – it’s a welcome change after the largely bland denizens of Skyrim.

      The problem is that the writing is fairly abysmal in pretty much every other facet: dialogue choices are structured in such a limiting and obvious way (dialogue square!); plot is nonsensical; sections such as this have far too much writing for far too little payoff. It feels very much like Bethesda hired some talented writers who have no idea how game writing is different than in other media. Their writing does not respect the player on the other end.

      It makes me wonder whether Bethesda’s writing problems are due to decent writers not getting good guidance from the story leads.

    4. Daemian Lucifer says:

      I don't get why?

      Same reason why practically every bethesda game gets praises all the time,despite them never being any good.

      1. Characterization-wise (that is, in establishing motivations and building a persona for someone) this is basically the best part of the game (although I think talking to Nick after you do his personal quest gives it a pretty solid run for its money).

        Does it fit with anything else in the game? No. But the characterization and motivation in the rest of the game is SO shallow that this really stands out as a great moment *in that respect*.

        1. ehlijen says:

          I’m ok with that. I don’t really agree, but close enough. The content is probably among the best.

          But the delivery? It’s boring and slow and adds nothing to the actual content. It’s an audio log needlessly split into many parts you need to activate individually.

        2. Sleeping Dragon says:

          Does it really? To me it felt awful: rambly, cliched, repetitive, devoid of any interesting content… the writer desperately beating the player with tropes while screaming “EMPATHISE! HE HAD A BABBY! HE HAD A MOMMA! FEEEL EMPATHYYYY!”.

          Though to be fair by this point I was frustrated with the main quest and non-textual aspects of the scene (the lengthy sequnce of contrivances leading up to it, the ridiculous premise that is never used again, the length and non-interactive character of the scene itself, the poor “acting” of the in-game models) could definitely be clouding my judgement.

          1. I’m not saying it was GOOD in some absolute sense, I’m saying it was the best example of this IN THE GAME. Yes, it was rambly etc. but you at least NOTICED that they were trying to get you to feel something and WHAT emotion it was supposed to be, unlike the vast majority of the moments like this in the game which are “uh, am I supposed to be feeling some emotion here? Bethesda? Hello? Wat R U Doin? Uh . . . okay apparently I’m done with that and it’s time to Shoot Guyz again. Righto!”

            There are other moments that have more visceral appeal (like when the Prydwen first shows up), but those don’t involve characterization or that variety of emotional complexity.

            1. Basically the fact that it made you feel anything–even if it was just seething hatred–was an improvement over most of the characterization in the rest of the game.

              1. Sleeping Dragon says:

                Fair enough, I’ll take that. I think part of the problem is this sudden push for characterization introduced at the point where I accepted the game as a shooty thing.

        3. Wide And Nerdy® says:

          Nick certainly had, I think, the best idea (ignoring the part about Winter being a ghoul). That sense of struggling with someone else’s memories, someone else’s identity and how much of that you’ve taken on.

          If I were at Bethesda and in charge of writing that, I’d be frustrated with my own inexperience and limitations in realizing the concept (not to mention the limitations of having to write to what the engine can actually do and voice acting limitations). I have to wonder if whoever was charged with doing so felt the same.

          1. I think about a good 75% of the awesomeness of Nick’s epiphany is that the voice actor SOLD THE HELL out of it. Which is interesting, because as Mercer Frey in Skyrim he annoyed the crap out of me, but he sold Nick’s personality like a BAWS in this game.

            1. I wish they had done MORE with Winter being a ghoul, actually, because there could be some pretty interesting implications of INTENTIONALLY turning yourself into a ghoul before the war–like the fact that SOMEBODY had to know that ghoulification was a Thing.

              Were there OTHER ghouls before the war? Maybe a group of ghouls that were like “hey, nuclear armageddon, bring it on, won’t affect us any”? Something cool could have been done with that.

  6. Nixitur says:

    You’re not kidding, the twist is so incredibly obvious. From the very beginning, when Shaun got taken, your character got refrozen and then woke up an unknown amount of time later, I immediately went “Oh yeah, the chances that Shaun is still a kid are incredibly slim.” It didn’t even occur to me that this would become a twist because it seemed so damned obvious to me. What other sensible possibility could there be?
    But then the game kept going on and on about Shaun still being a baby. Neither the investigative journalist nor the genius detective caught onto that obvious problem. There was never a dialogue choice to go “Hang on, what are the odds?” And I had to face the sad fact that Bethesda actually thought they could fool someone with this.
    In my opinion, this single fact undermines absolutely every character connected with the main quest. Except maybe your dead spouse. Everyone has to be either pointlessly vague or unfathomably stupid. Commonly both.

    1. MichaelGC says:

      Aye – and I think Mumbles’ idea of some sort of fakeout where you briefly encounter synth-Shaun would have gone a long way to making it all less silly. It could even have helped with the trek to Fort Hagen with Dogmeat – maybe there’s a temporary problem with the teleporter or something, so you chase Kellogggg & Roboshaun for a bit, at the end of which Shaun is snatched away and you get a slightly different version of the ‘let’s talk’ poppycock.

    2. Sunshine says:

      “And I had to face the sad fact that Bethesda actually thought they could fool someone with this.”

      Before F4 came out, the Fallout subreddit was trying to eke out the plot and it wasn’t even a case “if everyone makes a guess, one of them is bound to hit the right answer”. When you hear “You start with a family and wake from cryo-sleep as a sole survivor” you expect that the kid was defrost and grew up in the Wasteland, or your spouse was stuck outside and became a ghoul and now they’re a major plot character, probably the main antagonist King of the Raiders or Head of the Institute. What else would it be?

  7. One thing I was amused by was how the seams were showing on the game’s engine. I think Bethesda’s engine/setup is pretty good for an FPS RPG, as New Vegas demonstrated. However, you can sometimes see where the limits are, in the same way any construction kit has odd quirks that remain no matter what you do (i.e. characters have similar idle animations, NPC dialog gets repeated to the point of becoming a meme, etc.).

    Edit: One other thing that may have gotten patched out, as I didn’t see it on Josh’s game was how teleportation was handled. It seemed that they couldn’t remove people (including you) from one location to another without basically “killing” them. When I teleported or when someone else did (as in the scene where the Courser and Shawn did) and I was nearby, I’d see spots of blood on my HUD as if they or I had been vaporized with a weapon.
    Unless they patched it out, this engine is setup to have NPC eyes constantly moving and blinking. I’d bet they’re still moving when they die, but their eyelids close when they run out of HP. You see this in the Memory Den sequence when the characters freeze and you get close to them. It was especially noticeable with the Synths when I played, who would occasionally glance in my direction. It was kind of creepy, actually.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      That’s crazy bananas. Like, if you want to teleport a game entity to another area, you just…do it. Something like enemy123.position.change(X, Y, Z). Heck, if you wanted to get fancy, you maybe add in some kind of enemy123.active = false, so the rest of the game knows not to interact with it for bullets, AI, etc. Yikes. ^^;

      1. Decius says:

        What’s worse is that you can teleport. Look up ‘coverslide’, or an annotated speedrun.

    2. Raygereio says:

      It seemed that they couldn't remove people (including you) from one location to another without basically “killing” them.

      You totally can? That’s a basic moveto command that’s been in Bethesda’s codebase for ages. It doesn’t “kill” or even damage your of NPCs, it just moves them to a different location. Though in the memory scene here they probably simply disabled the Courser’s & baby shaun’s models.
      If you got blood on your hud, then you got damaged somehow.

      Unless they patched it out, this engine is setup to have NPC eyes constantly moving and blinking. I'd bet they're still moving when they die, but their eyelids close when they run out of HP.

      Bethesda has trouble with eyes & facial animation in general.
      In Oblivion facial animations had a huge performance impact. On some hardware setups, you could go from a bumpy 30fps to a silky smooth 60fps by disabling them.
      In Skyrim they patched in a bug that caused NPCs to not close their eyes when they sleep, making it impossible to sneak up on sleeping people because they technically still “see” you. And there’s offcourse the lipsync issue.
      Honestly, FO4’s engine is their best attempt at faces so far.

  8. Writiosity says:

    At least Bethesda seemingly realised how awful that memory segment is, in that they allow you to skip the whole thing except for the final one with the Courser simply by running to the next memory and ignoring the dialogue.

    1. Hah, yes, this is the best feature of this whole sequence, and THANK GOODNESS. If it had been some other gaming companies (probably Bioware for one) you would have had to at least click-through a core monologue for each section.

  9. lostclause says:

    Okay seriously, how come the game didn’t set up a strip club opposite the memory den called the mammary den? That seems like it would fit perfectly in Goodneighbour.

  10. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Wait,san francisco?The chinese place?And why is that bridge whole now?It was destroyed (well,cracked) in the war.We know this,we have visited this place.

    1. IFS says:

      If I felt like making excuses for the game I’d say something like your character is filling in parts of the memories and remembers the bridge being whole. Its far more likely that its just Bethesda being garbage at continuity and lore though.

  11. SlothfulCobra says:

    Man, Rutskarn’s got one hell of a subtitle this episode. The text under his name, is there, like its always is, but this time it’s even more significant. At the end of the episode, where the names of the cast are always listed, his has the best subtitle. The listing of the names over various snippets of the overall lets play, the…my god, this is hard

    1. MichaelGC says:

      Have to have end-credit subtitles. Always have to have end-credit subtitles. And have to make the end-credit subtitles out of letters, and the spaces between the letters. Without the letters would only have the spaces between the letters and the spaces where the letters would go. Spaces spaced out by other spaces: space. Would only have empty space.

      But not all spaces between letters are alike, no. Sometimes a space between letters must also become a space between words

  12. Phantos says:

    I think I was more tolerant of this part just because it was something besides shooting and lockpicking. I appreciate that change in mechanics, and I like the idea of this scene, but… they Bethesda’d it all up. They Bethesda’d all over it.

    The whole thing is so moot anyway because Kellog is like a Dark Souls boss: it doesn’t matter how much backstory you give me AFTER they’re dead, they don’t matter to me anymore! They’re dead! I am done thinking about them!

    1. ehlijen says:

      “because it was something besides shooting and lockpicking”

      Was it really, though? It was certainly not shooting and not lockpicking, but what was it?
      It wasn’t so much a change in mechanics as a temporary removal of any interaction at all.

      That said, characters can be interesting even after their death. Darth Vader has a major impact on Kylo Ren even though he’s dead. Han Solo will (hopefully) greatly affect the character relationships in the next movie a great deal.

      They key is to have the character actually impact someone or something, which just doesn’t happen in Fallout 4. Nothing ever changes because everyone is just sitting around waiting for a PC to show up.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Darth Vader has a major impact on Kylo Ren even though he's dead.

        But those scenes revealed nothing new nor important to us about vader.Those were scenes that showed us kylo and his motivations.

        Now imagine if immediately after his death in return of the jedi we were to see what he was doing as a kid on some backwater planet,slaving with his mom,being a silly annoying brat.That wouldve been awful,wouldnt it?

        1. ehlijen says:

          You got me. This is more about my hopes for the next movie then what actually happened. Let me try again, please?

          Boromir continues to affact Frodo’s life, as well as Pippin’s, Denethor’s, Gandalf’s and Faramir’s. And we learn new things about Boromir’s past as we learn about how these characters are/were affected by him and his death.

          Had we, immediately after Boromir’s death seen several flashbacks with his father and brother, but then never met them in the story, that would have been cheap and bad.

          But we did, and therefore he remained as a presence in the story, and became a(n even) more believable character as a result.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            But thats the thing,all the stuff we learn about boromir are directly tied into how those events affected other people as well.We dont learn anything that was specifically only about boromir.

            Not to mention that he already was a formed character we saw quite a bit of,not just some random mook we had couple of words with before shooting them to death.

            1. ehlijen says:

              We do, actually. We learn he was a supporting brother to Faramir. That he disagreed with their father about his treatment of him. Some of what he did to gain his fame.

              But I guess it depends on how you define ‘only about this character’. A character that is part of the world will quite likely not have a lot to learn about him that isn’t directly tied to someone or something else.

              And no, I was never defending Kellogg or this treatment of him. I’m saying if Kellogg had been in a better story, one in which he’d been involved with others, then he could have had a lasting impact even in death.

              But he didn’t because nothing in the game impacts anything else.

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                What I mean is that we never learn that at one point he had a wife and a child who died,so that we never encounter them,nor anyone who interacted with them.

                1. ehlijen says:

                  No? But we learn other things about him. And yes, it’s all stuff that also matters to other chararacters, because Boromir is a character that exists as part of a setting, not just a boss that exists for one scene.

                  Characters can be interesting after their death, is all I was trying to say. Kellogg wasn’t, because he barely managed to be a character at all.

                  1. MrGuy says:

                    No. Learning about Kellogg after his death isn’t interesting because he wasn’t an interesting character while he was alive.

                    To continue the example, the reason learning things about Boromir after his death is interesting is because we can compare and contrast it to the way we interacted with him while he was alive. It colors our memories of him, maybe gets us to see him in a new light. It’s interesting because it answers the question we never got answered directly when he was alive. His betrayal is shocking, because what we’ve learned about him leads us to believe he’ll be loyal to the mission. Why did he turn on Frodo? What drove him to want the ring for himself? What drove a good and honorable man to do a terribly dishonorable thing?

                    We wonder these things not because an action happened, but because the writer has had us get to know this character and care about him, before the great big twist in his character arc happened.

                    What we learn about him after he dies is that he’s a loyal son to his father, and obsessed with defending Gondor, which is gravely threatened, so much so that he’d sacrifice anything to save it.

                    In Kellogg’s case, the answer to “what drove him to steal Shaun?” is “because he was a merc.” Elaborating on why he became a merc is an answer to a question no one was asking themselves.

                    1. And also other characters that Boromir interacted with are still alive and have a continuing presences and effect on the story.

              2. Grudgeal says:

                I think we’re all on the same page here. The problem isn’t that a dead character can’t be important to the living, and therefore justifies having screen-time post-mortem. The problem is that Kellogg, as a person, clearly isn’t important to anyone living, and therefore doesn’t.

  13. Spammy says:

    Kellogg really seems like some higher-up at Bethesda watched a video of some of the things Ulysses says in Lonesome Road and wanted to put that into Fallout 4. Cool gravelly voice, talks to you like he knows you, story seems to mirror yours. When he starts talking to you before the “boss” fight my first reaction was, “Wow listen to this discount Ulysses.”

    1. MrGuy says:

      I just spent 10 minutes pouring over IMDB to see if they brought back the voice actor who played Ulysses to do Kellogg. Nope.

    2. Grudgeal says:

      So they took a character whose main anger is directed towards people who blindly do things without understanding their context and purpose… And appropriated him to blindly make another character in another story without understanding the context and story purpose that made the original appealing.

    3. Sunshine says:

      Man, Ulysses voice was too gravelly, like a parody of a grizzled badass. Between that and his broken sentences, I couldn’t take him seriously.

  14. MrGuy says:

    So, lemme get this straight.

    The Plan involves setting up decoy robot Shaun in Diamond City with Kellogg for years. The ONLY reason this is done is to plant memories in Kellog’s brain. The only reason that’s done is because Father somehow knows you’ll follow the bullshit magic trail to find Kellogg. The only reason to make you find Kellogg is so you can kill him, and then have the idea to take his brain to the Memory Den to be explored, even though nobody’s ever done that successfully before, and somehow by magic the only intact memories won’t give away the big twist, even though a random sampling of Kellog’s memories would almost certainly be spoilers. And the only reason for you to do all of that is so you can discover THERE IS NO WAY into the Institute. That is the entire EXPECTED result of everything I stated above. It’s an elaborate Rube Goldberg machine whose sole purpose is to tell you specifically “yeah, so they have teleporters.” That’s it. That’s the entire thing.

    The Golden Riturs of Fable II have nothing on this mess.

    1. ehlijen says:

      Yeah. Did you see how early Fable 2 gives away that teleportation is an option before still making you walk everywhere? Talk about amateurs…

    2. Sleeping Dragon says:

      I’ve seen at least one person who has hedcanoned the heck of the game and claimed that Dogmeat was a synth dog sent to set you up on the right path, that Shaunfather has activated “latent programming” in Valentine to make him help you and that the Memory Den is actually an Institute cell on the surface which supposedly “clearly makes it all not a coincidence” and explains everything.

      So here’s an idea for an alternate plot development: Shaunfather has actually only just learned that you were refrozen so he immediately sends a team to recover you and either
      1) you get intercepted on the way before you can get a decent explanation. Say a group of minutemen protecting some wastelanders spot a person escorted by a group of armed synths, assume you’re a captive and ambush them. You start the game almost exactly at the same spot you do normally with only a vague idea that the Institute has Shaun.
      2) You actually start the story in the Institute. They wouldn’t even have to have the Shaunfather reveal himself immediately and could still do the synthShaun twist, justifying it by saying that Shaun wanted to recover you but he’s also emotionally confused, has no idea how to deal with this stranger who is his father and how to even bring it to him that the child he saw taken away moments ago is now a man older than him. So you’d start the game as part of the Institute, the high-tech enclave of genius scientists working on rescuing the dying world, and only later learn stuff like that maaaaybe those raiders weren’t necessarily raiders but settlers who had the misfortune of setting up their shack too close to where an institute machine was running.

  15. Blunderbuss09 says:

    The thing that gets me is that you’re walking in the brain of an immortal cyborg working for a shadowy organization and you see … this boring nonsense. Even if I did sympathize with a one-note villain why would I care about his bad childhood?

    How about we see the good stuff like juicy glimpses into the Institute and how it operates? Like a first-person POV as Kellogg undergoes horrifying surgery to become a cyborg, or handing over Shaun to Mysterious Figures as they start doing experiments, or Kellogg training with the first Coursers? Y’know, the cool stuff he’s been doing for decades.

    And I hate how this game just brings up really neat plot ideas and then just throws them away. Why kill the other Vault 111 residents for no reason? They’re the last pure humans. What if you could set them free? Or maybe the Institute took them too? Just do something with them, my god.

    1. The Rocketeer says:

      And just think: they assume Shaun is the best candidate to take because he likely has the “cleanest” DNA. What if Shaun’s genes are bad? As in, what if his chromosomes are botched, or he has some sort of serious congenital disorder not obvious just by looking at a baby? If he did, he would have been useless for their purposes, and the only person they left alive is the child’s parent, who may carry the same defective genes, especially if the Sole Survivor is the mother. Meanwhile, they’ve killed everyone else in the Vault, whom they could also have evaluated and used instead, and who don’t share genes with their one subject useful only for their supposedly pristine genome.

      Ugh, I feel like a schmuck whenever I try to subject this plot to logic. It’s like breaking down and doing your shitty roommate’s chores for them.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        But you see,they had orders,so it all makes sense.

        Basically,whenever you think “Why didnt they do XYZ?”,the answer is this:


      2. Blunderbuss09 says:

        Exactly. These guys are ‘supposed’ to be brilliant scientists but only grabbed one test subject instead of taking all of them as controls or widening their reference pool. At the very least they can use them for other experiments. Literally every Fallout game (except F:NV) has hinged their plots on how rare and precious uncontaminated humans are.

        That’s why I think this whole plot would be 100% less contrived and more engaging if the Institute did grab everyone, including you, and some years later you’re ‘rescued’ from the lab and kicked into the Wasteland. Then we’d be saved from this Shaun bullshit.

        1. potatoejenkins says:

          But … but … the story needed to be personal. They needed something emotional. Something deep, something different.

          Like, the parent chasing down their son instead of the child … chasing down their dad ….

          …. oh dammit.

    2. lurkey says:

      Because the Institute is the Cerberus of Fallout. Infinite resources obtained by Magic!, idiotic pointless “projects”, irritating poser shmuck as the head of…

      1. potatoejenkins says:

        I take the Illusive Man as head of the Institute/PCs son over non-character Shaun any day.

        Heck, I’d side with those lunatics for that office alone.

      2. Lachlan the Mad says:

        Don’t forget “inability to open a hot dog stand without accidentally killing dozens of the humans they allegedly want to protect”.

        1. Grudgeal says:

          Let’s be honest, The Institute wouldn’t be able to create a hot dog van in the first place. They’d just create a billion prototype vans who they’d toss out the window for being insufficiently hot-dog-van-esque, all of whom would go rogue and rampage across the wasteland killing everyone. At least with Cerberus you’d get a definitive finished hot dog van product launch (most likely based on one of The Institute’s discarded prototypes), which would subsequently go rogue, kill the Cerberus team involved in its construction, and rampage across the wasteland killing everyone.

          The Institute made The Think Tank look competent, and the Think Tank’s hot dog van would probably be radioactive and sell hot dogs made from the dissected remains of its previous customers.

          1. Brightroar says:

            This makes the Institute and Cerberus sound like Aperture Science, which is so sad.

            1. Pax says:

              Between a pile of crazy science companies that includes Cerberus, the Institute, Apeture Science, and the Think Tank, I think the Institute comes in last (by any metric), as sad as that is to say.

              1. Ninety-Three says:

                I dunno, the Institute has manufactured an astounding number of senseless murder machines without a single one of their scientists being killed by his or her own creation. I mean, they still haven’t done anything productive with the murder machines, but just making them safely has to count for something.

                1. Grudgeal says:

                  True, in the ‘own scientists and bases killed, destroyed and/or corrupted by rogue experiments vs other people killed/corrupted by rogue experiments’ metric The Institute defintively comes in first. The Think Tank blew up Big MT (even if they all survived), Aperture had that one rogue AI, and Cerberus, as has already been established, couldn’t manage a taco truck without it flipping out and killing everybody.

  16. Ciennas says:

    The Memory Den was underutilized, definitely. They made such a big deal of it with unique assets and even had a plothook with Kellogg speaking through Nick Valentines mouth.

    And then…. nada. Nothing comes of it.

    Two thoughts occur: anybody else notice how much of this feels like a remake of Fallout 3? The memory den is tranquility lane, the super mutants are identical but for origin (I call it the Bethesda Strain), the Gunners are Talon Company, the villain is a muddled mess, and they have a crap ton of raiders who are only there to get shot and don’t really flesh out the world (though they at least have a relationship with each other if nothing else.)

    Heck, they both have aliens in a non easter egg context (Doubled down with F4- the Alien Blaster and the Cabot House missions.) And an out of nowhere reference to HP Lovecraft.*

    I…. I just feel like this is a reiteration of the last game but with slightly tweaked perameters so we won’t keep mocking them over their overcomplicated Brita Filter.

    *Hey, Fallout 1&2 players: Was there anything supernatural in either title? Because I hate the supernatural stuff here. Bethesda already has a franchise they can put all the supernatural junk they want, and they even seem to manage it better than Fallout. So why do they keep crowbarring in stuff with the Dunwich people? Was anything like it in the franchise before Bethesda took over?

    1. ehlijen says:

      I don’t recall FO1 in detail enough to say for sure that there wasn’t anything supernatural in it, but FO2 had one (possibly explainable) incident:

      On level 4 of the military base, a supermutant/self proclaimed magician has made his lair. When engaged in battle, he will appear to throw something into the green goop pools surrounding him for several turns, each ‘object'(?) spawning a monster that will help him fight. If you let him have at that for too long, you’ll find yourself fighting him and a swarm of deathclaws and geckos.

      edit: I just looked him up. If you defeat all his minions, he will say something suggesting that he threw tiny critters into the goop, which then instantly mutated into monsters to attack you.

      So it depends on your tolerance if you want to call that ‘magic’.

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      There are a few psykers in fallout 1 and 2,most notably the master himself.Aside from that,I dont remember anything inherently magic in them.

    3. Syal says:

      Fallout 2 had a ghost in one of the starter towns that gave you a quest to avenge it. I don’t think 1 had anything supernatural that wasn’t FEV-based, but the Master did have telekinesis.

      EDIT: Oh right, 2 also had the Rat God, I don’t remember what the explanation was for that.

      And the talking Deathclaws. 2 was silly.

      1. acronix says:

        The talking deathclaws were an invention of the Enclave, if I remember correctly.

        As for the talking rat ‘god’, he had a brother under Gecko that was much smarter and whom you could talk with. I don’t think he revealed how they came to be, though, but there’s nothing you can’t solve with ‘Radiation did it’.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          The name of the other rat is brain,so theres your clue how they came into existence.

          1. Pax says:

            Through the power of Easter Eggs?

            I don’t count the talking animals as supernatural. I’m pretty sure they’re all justified as FEV experiments. I don’t even count the psyker powers as supernatural, as they tend to be kinda common to sci-fi-type settings.

            The only real supernatural thing I can think of is the ghost in the Den that you can avenge and put to rest.

            Edit: OK, Melchoir is a little weird too. He was described as a stage magician before becoming a Super Mutant, so I have no idea what was happening there. You can’t always take things at face value in Fallout 2.

          2. *sings* They’re laboratory mice, their genes have been spliced…

    4. Sleeping Dragon says:

      Personally I subscribe to the theory that Memory Den is a cut feature. Firstly it just seems too “out there” to exist solely to provide the snippet of information that could very well be given to the PC with a piece of paper, an entry in a terminal or a line of dialogue. Secondly they make this big deal of how you’ll “experience the memories as Kellogg” but then you actually don’t, Kellogg narrates in first person but you experience nothing, you’re just an observer. I suspect the original plan was to use Memory Den as a way to send players into environments they can’t reach in the game, the way that Operation Anchorage simulation did in FO3.

    5. guy says:

      The Master had considerable psychic powers that you could defend against with an anti-psychic shield you got from other psykers, and Fallout 2 had a dream magic shaman who gave you the main plot and telepathically bugged you as the timer ticked down and when your home village got kidnapped by the Enclave.

  17. MichaelGC says:

    Was Nick hostile in the credits, there? I didn’t know that was possible. Actually it probably isn’t for us non-Cuftbertians. Oh well, looking forward to finding out how Josh managed to pull that off…

  18. Artur CalDazar says:

    I kinda liked the kellogg memory deal, it’s not good but it was something different. Plus it includes references to the NCR and the Shi which was greatly unexpected in a Bethesda game, plus the way things freeze as you hear about them is an intresting effect.

    Rutskarn makes a good point Farther is betting a lot on you being willing to murder a lot of people to find him. The killer motives in heavy rain made more sense.

    1. MrGuy says:

      I kinda liked the kellogg memory deal, it's not good but it was something different.

      Honestly, this is kind of why I hate it. They came up with this idea, and (as you say) it’s something different. And then they did it SO badly.

      Walking through little vignettes of someone else’s life is a neat idea to tell a story. But then they’re afraid their audience is too dumb to follow the thread told by the vignettes themselves, so they added this mechanic where you could click on people and hear what Kellogg thinks of them to add “detail.” Doing this PAUSES the vignette, and breaks it into a choppy mess. The thing that’s supposed to be what you’re here to watch is sacrificed in favor of it’s own flavor text.

      And, god, the writing.

      And all this backstory that they take such pains to connect doesn’t really matter. The only relevant thing is that one piece at the end where you see them use a teleporter. Nothing else you learn is important.

      This is one of the few times where I’d rather see a cutscene replace active gameplay. I mean, the whole thing is basically a movie anyways. What was the point of having you “walk around” the memory? Heck, make it non-interactive and you don’t have to get flavor text all over your tender moment. We’re already deeply into “tell don’t show” territory, and we’re n pretty linear rails already so why not control how you tell it? Making this segment less interactive would make it better.

  19. SPCTRE says:

    Moving from sequence to sequence over those long, spindly walkways/neuronal bridges reminded me of the dream sequence in the first Max Payne game.

    Other than that disturbing association, I was pretty much fine with it.

    1. Josh says:

      Oh god the jumping puzzles…

  20. potatoejenkins says:

    Shaun is only relevant to the main questline as the player characters ticket into the Institute.
    They could’ve just as well made the player hunt down the one wonka bar with the magical golden ticket. Since as soon as you are inside, nobody cares anymore.

    Your son is the head of the Institute. The Institute.

    Piper doesn’t care. She doesn’t ask. You can not tell her. Why was she following you again?
    Nick doesn’t care. He doesn’t ask, you can not tell him. Why did you save him again?

    The Railroad doesn’t care. They don’t ask, you can not tell them. It’s not like your son is RR enemy number one. Or you could ever turn on them for something like your own flesh and blood.

    The Brotherhood doesn’t care. They don’t ask, you can not tell them. Good thing that Dr. Lee doesn’t tell them either. (Awkward idle chatter about you beeing the future head of the Institute while standing next to Proctor Ingramm doesn’t count.)

    Preston. Fuck Preston.

    All you do in the first half of the game is chasing down your son. You tell everyone who does or does not want to hear about it. The option to whine about your son is presented in pretty much every damn dialogue option with every faction. You are forced to tell Piper and Nick about him.

    Then you teleport into the Institute and “Poof!”. “SHAAAAAAAWN!!!?!” becomes “Who amma gonna blow up naow hmmmmmmm.”

    Quality storytelling.

    1. Artur CalDazar says:

      “The Railroad doesn't care. They don't ask, you can not tell them. ”
      They ask about your child and you can tell them that he’s an adult and running the institute now. They think it’s super weird, and ask you abuse the relationship for the sake of the cause, apologizing for asking.

      You can also not tell them, and it never comes up again, and doesnt seem to matter if you did tell them outside of that intresting reaction from them.

      1. potatoejenkins says:

        Oh, thats kinda cool. I guess? I must’ve missed that option somehow, somewhere. I guess you have to build the teleporter with the crazy guy to get that option?

        Then why do they act like they believe synth Shaun is your son in the end? Right before teleporting out and blowing up the Institute? Or do they not? Do I remember wrong?

        I hate that scene, so I might.

        1. Artur CalDazar says:

          Well last time I sided with them and didn’t tell them about Shaun, this time I did and will side with them again. Will be keeping this in mind as you’ve got me curious but won’t hold my breath.

          Also yes I used them as my way in and was reporting back on the mission. It seems like a good idea for the game to let you just tell each faction what’s up, but that means locking down one of the 4 response options to be used if you want to tell them.
          This seems like something that easy to work around, but evidently its too much because there is something like this in the Far Harbour dlc, and the result is I either tell a synth I plan to murder him (which I do not) or I never get to ask about some history, because they use the same spot, and one locks out the other.

          One step forward, one step back.

    2. Blunderbuss09 says:

      Yeah that’s pretty much the biggest flaw in this game; Act 1 is finding your son and Act 2 is … choosing your ending. One the main hook was completed the story utterly lacked anything to keep it going; it just kinda keels over after you find Shaun. Even the silly FO3 plot had distinct acts and escalation to the ending, terrible as it was.

      I mean this is basic storytelling 101 stuff. I’ve read goddamn tumblr posts that neatly explain it for fanfic writers. It’s not hard!

  21. Henson says:

    I must admit, I had a very visceral reaction to seeing the other vault dwellers struggling to escape their pods, knowing that they would spend the rest of their short unfrozen lives trapped, with nothing to eat or drink, nowhere to go, and nothing to do but watch the person across from them slowly die.

  22. Christopher says:

    I wish Bethesda wasn’t so averse to cutscenes. What’s the advantage to moving around listening to people talk to one another, except it’s cheaper? That’s not just about the Memory Den either, I thought the same thing about all the Greybeard stuff in Skyrim for instance. Environmental storytelling is all well and good, but what they’ve got going on here is just watching a really poor cutscene where you either get to play the cameraman or jump up and down to make everyone look silly.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      The problem isnt that they arent doing cutscenes.Valve doesnt do cutscenes,yet there are plenty of cool things to see in half lives and portals.The problem is HOW they are doing this.If you go through the commentary version of valve games,youll often come across a part where they say “playtesters didnt notice this,so we changed it to draw their attention”.I doubt bethesda does these things often,if at all.

      1. Christopher says:

        What does playtesting have to do with it? Playtesters “didn’t notice” when GladOS/Wheatley were talking to Chell over speakers? I thought those quotes about Valve’s playtesting were about the puzzles and exploration/level design.

    2. I actually preferred it in a lot of cases where they actually do the camera-lock-in dialog because THEN YOU CAN SKIP THROUGH THE STUPID DIALOG. If it’s just “floating” talk without you getting locked into the scene, you can’t skip it.

      I would actually run up to people and click on them madly hoping it would lock the conversation so I could fast forward.

  23. Grudgeal says:

    This whole episode was like playing To the Moon again.

    Only, you know, completely stupid and gratuitous. Kellogg is dead. He has no more impact on the plot. This is like those children’s anime where the villain lies dying and has to have half an episode of monologue/flashback of how terrible his/her life has been to explain their descent into villainy. It smacks of the writer wanting to show that this seeming one-note character is a Real Boyâ„¢, but can’t find the time or inclination to devote any part of the actual story to humanize them. So instead we all get it in a giant infodump post-mortem, or at least post-the-point-where-this-had-any-relevance-whatsoever, and once they’ve snuffed it it never comes back again or is ever mentioned. A short vignette told by a corpse, full of tears and travails, signifying nothing.

  24. Jabrwock says:

    What would have been better would have been introducing the idea of the memory den, with a short “how did Kellog get into the Institute” scene, but then that’s it for his character, and later we get to use it again to delve into someone more important to the plot.

    1. Ciennas says:

      In my exploration of the Institute, there’s a little corner that’s just as worn and old looking as the rest of the wasteland.

      It would have been so cool for Kellogg to have a little vignette set in the early institute of this style, since he’s old enough to have seen both. Maybe have it after his being recruited by the institute. Have him react to their decor or something- maybe even make a cutting remark about how they also can’t seem to make anything clean either, making the reveal of the current institute more shocking. (They have the art assets for this already.)

      Have him meet the Old Man of not Shaun. Let the previous director explain his motive for kidnapping a vault resident,maybe even pin the whole murder of Vault 111 on either party (maybe Kellogg’s spouse murder was wildly off mission, maybe the Vault just failed.*)

      Have him report back, and comment on the sound of construction, to be shushed by a now livid director. (Forget about that, tell me why I only have ONE sample? The rest of the team says you shot somebody and froze them back, tell me why that is? And why did you: order the vaults death/sabotage the life support| stop at only one?)

      They could have even had it so that they hadn’t murdered the vault. Maybe a radroach chewed through a critical component and killed an entire sample group, but then have them be recruitable at the very last mission. Maybe let your spouse live long enough to have one last poignant talk with the Sole Survivor, maybe serve as a brief how we got here discussion.

      To make it a definite late story scene, lock it away behind a terminal that requires the help of your chosen faction’s medical expertise.

      Boom. Act 3 denouement. And it would have been one last cutscene. It would have made a lot of powerful punches and twists.

      And then they could establish that Shaun is better or worse than the older director. The University Point massacre, for instance, as well as the massacre of the Railroad before you defrosted.

      Too bad you can’t call him on any of this or even ask about it.

      And it’s too bad they didn’t include any of this in the final product., despite having half a decade for basic story beats alone.

  25. Kelerak says:

    You know, this actually kind of reminds me of the section at the beginning of Dishonored where you’re introduced to the Outsider and given Blink. Not really the same concept, but similar in visual design.

  26. Ramsus says:

    I had the weirdest glitch while watching the video. At about the 17 minute mark the video stayed the same but the audio reset to the beginning of the video. After a bit of jumping around it reset to what it’s supposed to be. So my question is…. am I Josh now?

    1. Kelerak says:

      Can you punch a Deathclaw to the moon?

      1. MichaelGC says:

        ♬ Punch me to the moon
        Let me glitch out among the stars
        Let me see what VATS is like on Jupiter and Mars
        The Instituuuuute, makes no sense
        So I’ll grenade Shaun’s pants, in recompense

        1. potatoejenkins says:


          Last part hobbles a bit, but the mental image makes up for it.

        2. Ramsus says:

          Bravo sir.

    2. Humanoid says:

      It’s happened to me a couple of times in the past, just YouTube things.

  27. Oblivion437 says:

    I think this is a perfect example of the internal incoherence that drove Fallout 4 to become what it is. One can look over the smorgasbord of features and see how they don’t really connect or hook together or look at the half-assed plan for the post-launch content or the gutting of nonbroken systems to replace them with a horribly lazy alternative to no other gain but I think something like this can be explained and shown quickly.

    By the time Kellogg’s character development starts his actual role in the story is already over so there’s no importance to learning anything about him. What’s more, there are no mechanical consequences to knowing his past. It doesn’t change how the player interacts with or even looks at the game. It certainly couldn’t change how the player interacts with Kellogg. It’s just more information to stuff into the mental ledger in between ‘how many tin cans are there in that building over there?’ and ‘I really wish they hadn’t taken away the ability to craft and switch ammo’ and once it’s lodged in there it doesn’t ever have to come out again, unlike the tin cans and ammo gripes.

  28. Jakale says:

    I was trying to think of better examples of the whole narration thing after Ruts brought up the overwritten thing and it occurred to me that Bastion is probably one of the best examples of it. You the player are always active and moving, you mostly aren’t triggering it by grabbing an item or anything, and it has both longer narration bits and single sentence stuff when needed.

  29. wswordsmen says:

    I have a bone to pick with Rutskarn. He says the FO4 twist was the worst in gaming memory, but what about Mass Effect 3? I am not saying he is wrong, but he owes an explination on how it is actually worse.

    1. MichaelGC says:

      ME3 was more of a ‘reveal’ than a ‘twist’, if not just a ‘debacle’. Or ‘abomination’.

      Personally I’d agree that what happened in ME3 was much much worse, but I guess the difference is that in Fallout they deliberately set up certain expectations and then deliberately subverted those specific expectations (poorly).

      In ME3 things went off the rails so badly that certainly our expectations (of things making any sense) were subverted! But that wasn’t the deliberate plan of the writers; it was more of an unintended consequence.

  30. Chad Miller says:

    Kellogg calls two different characters “Old Man”, which is flagrant writer cheating to protect an obvious twist through obfuscation.

    So, I just wanted to leave something here for RSS subscribers and other archive trawlers. Because there’s something about this part that is even worse than “Old Man,” and as far as I can tell no one else in the world seems to have noticed it, even years after the fact, yet I consider it the biggest plot hole in the game, one that makes this twist a serious contender for “worst I’ve ever experienced in any work of fiction.”

    The first thing Dr. Amari says in this video is “Remember, you are experiencing these memories as Kellogg.” If we’re taking that framing seriously, then the problem isn’t that Kellogg calls two different characters “the old man.” The problem is that he’s not calling anybody anything! He’s remembering, and we’re living through those memories. This equivocation isn’t just unnatural, it’s impossible. It would be different if this were some kind of recording or simulation, but if we’re “experiencing these memories as Kellogg” then it would seem that if he knows, say, a plot twist that would completely shatter our perception of the world, we should notice it because it’s already in “our” brain.

    “Old man” equivocation aside, how do we justify the Shaun-synth being labelled simply “Shaun”? Kellogg knows that’s not the baby he kidnapped, yet living through his memory of babysitting a synth manages to trick us into thinking that’s our son and not the synth?

    I’d really love to hear if there’s something I’m missing here, or alternatively any hypotheses explaining why literally no one else seems to have been bothered by this.

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