New concept for an article, since this is the first time I’ll be bringing it out: everyone gets to a certain point where they’ve played just about enough of a game or when they’ve gotten sick of said game or even when they’re so sick of the game that even hearing the game’s name really puts them off. Well, I’m starting a series where I talk about games where I’ve reached the endpoint of finding and playing around with new things in a game.
Our first delving into this territory is a recently completed game, Fallout 4. I downloaded and completed what Bethesda says is the last DLC pack for the game, Nuka World, and… it was… alright. That being said, though, I have hit a nice little point where I think I’ve hit an end point for the game where even if Bethesda were to add new content, it wouldn’t feel entirely new to me. You would practically have to add a whole new expansion to really surprise me and I don’t think that’ll be coming anytime soon, considering the last few packs we’ve gotten to this point were more than the developer originally said we were going to be getting.
So, consider me on your final stage, Fallout 4. Also, by the by, spoiler alert.
How Did You Survive, All this Time?
I’ve been a longtime Fallout fan so it was a fairly certain that I would thoroughly enjoy the fourth numbered game in the franchise but the question that sat in my mind was “how long would this game last before it became tired?” It lasted well beyond my personal expectations but the game really could have went without ending new content in the way that it ended up actually doing, to be honest. That being said, though, the game offered exactly what I was expected, in the end: more of what I loved about modern Fallout while giving me an opportunity to feel like I was actually contributing to the welfare of the world I was playing in. That, actually, was probably one of the biggest pluses and minuses where Fallout 4 was concerned: while games in the franchise’s past had a clear goal and let you approach that goal in about a million different ways, Fallout 4 really never had a clear goal and what you got for clearing the one main goal the game offered to you, there was a big “and then what?” that hung over the whole premise to which the game responded with a “whatever the hell you want.”
There were plenty of chances for our intrepid hero or heroine to have a clear goal that would have given the game a clear end point and a concise experience: they could have sought revenge against the Chinese for political and personal reasons, they could have sought vengeance against Vault-Tec for the whole situation that ended up being the end premise, they could have entered into and resolved the civil war that it’s clear the franchise has been setting up to this point, but instead, you have a game that just tells you “find your son” and then, when you finally find him, the game’s like “oh, yeah, your son dies; the story’s more about the journey than the destination.” This allowed me, though, to focus on the world around me and the people in it instead of using everything and everyone as a means to an end and really allowed me to actually contribute to the world in any way I choose.
I think this is how I was able to really enjoy the game up until this point to the level I did – most of the stuff that mattered in the franchise to this point didn’t really have the same weight or impact here so it allowed me to focus on the new features and world building. I was less on a quest to find my son but rather on a quest to rebuild the Commonwealth and, to that effect, I really felt like I made a difference.
After All is Said and Done…
Ever had a meal at a seated restaurant that was pretty good and didn’t overfill you, leaving you feeling pretty satisfied but realizing that it wasn’t some kind of world-shaking experience? That’s kind of how Fallout 4 and all of its content has left me. I feel as though the game could have been massively better and I could have gotten more for what I had put into it but what I did end up getting at the end of the day wasn’t particularly bad.
That being said, though, I feel as though the experience just ended flat by trying, in the completely wrong way, to revitalize the experience. The qualifying bit that redeemed the world Fallout 4 took place in was the fact that you were able to contribute to the world and rebuild it in your image, in your way, no matter how it was you wanted to approach it. Nuka World had you put in a really weird position: you take over an amusement park that has been headed up by Raiders for the longest time and has been waiting for a proper leader and they pretty much shoehorn you into that position. By the end of the content, you’re forced to deal with the prospect of either slowly dismantling all the contributions you’ve made in the Commonwealth or you get zero perks and all the work you’ve done in that content pretty much gets wasted. It’s kind of a backwards way to end the game and it feels contradictory to the attitude the game has had up to that point. It would have even been worth it if I was able to treat the amusement park like some kind of giant settlement or build on it like I’ve been doing if I decided against siding with the Raiders, a group that you’ve been told up to this point that are a bunch of crazies and freaks.
Up until this point, I was cool with going through all of the content with new characters and doing it in different ways but Nuka World feels me with this kind of damned-if-you-do kind of mentality that doesn’t make me feel good in the slightest and I wish that this game’s swan song was a little more in line with what I’ve seen up to this point and wasn’t so… unrewarding for those who insist on playing this content the same way they had up until this point. At least with previous content, things being same-y wasn’t entirely a bad thing, so long as it was of an equal or better quality. This just feels like it’s an opposite tone.
That being said, though, I am glad that Bethesda is ending on this note if this is the kind of direction they were going towards. Don’t encourage and build features around recovering the Commonwealth and then ask me to break it down in order to get some really great rewards. It’s kind of a bitter acceptance and I suppose that’s kind of how things were meant to be with this story in the first place.
To be honest, I don’t really see myself spending much more time with the game, as it’s really run its course. Given that the storyline for the game is really kind of sparse compared to other entries in the series and there isn’t nearly as many hidden stories and NPCs to discover – they’re there but there just isn’t the same kind of depth other entries had – I felt that now that I’ve found pretty much everything the game has to offer and have done just about everything, there doesn’t seem to be a real purpose behind going back and reliving it all again from the beginning. Funny thing, too, is that the only ones I’d looked to the internet for and checked out based on word alone was the Museum of Witchcraft and that Chinese nuclear sub you can go into. Other than that, more or less, I’ve found everything else on my own. That rarely happens.
Just like that song you love that you’ve heard on the radio about a million times, you’re kind of hoping that everyone will stop playing it so you can continue to enjoy it but at your pace, in small morsels, until you’ve moved onto something else. It was quite the good run, though, you have to admit. It’s not very often that a game gives you almost a year of solid fun. Now it’s time to move on and I feel like a good break is what I need to come back to the game later on.