Where's Society?

Discussion in 'Fallout 4' started by Zvezda, Jul 12, 2021.

  1. Zvezda

    Zvezda First time out of the vault

    Jul 7, 2021
    Hey, I'm new here! I came across NMA while complaining about the epitome of Bethesda that is FO76, and found myself really resonating with a lot of the opinions here about FO3. Hope you're all doing well :)

    I thought I'd start off my time here with a critique of something I noticed about FO4. It was the first Fallout game I played, and I really enjoyed it at first - until the story questlines ended, and the world felt empty. I only figured it out when I got bored and moved on to playing New Vegas; Fallout 4 has no society. Anywhere.

    In the broadest strokes possible, New Vegas is set in a battleground between the 3 different economic modes and their different forms of social organisation formed after the Great War. There's the NCR, an early capitalist republic based around its water caravans; Caesar's Legion, a vast slaver army; and the ancient, tight-knit tribes of the Wasteland, "families of families". Each of these societies interact and exist independently of the Courier. The few tribes who end up classed as raiders (mainly the Vipers) have complicated histories, cultures, and interactions. Only in a few scattered settlements are left out of the loop.

    Fallout 4 has none of that. There are no states. There are no tribes. There are cities, which don't do anything, and exist solely so you can fast travel in, sell all your junk, and leave. Raider-tribals are replaced with nameless, identical "raiders", who are all insane and stupid, and respawn in the same places every 3 days to shoot at anyone who walks by for some reason (so they can put their heads on sticks and smell rotting human flesh all day I guess). Instead of forming tribes as they ventured out into the wastes, all the vault dwellers are either still cooped up in their vaults 2 centuries later (who knows how they're managing their populations) or dead for the SS to trample over on their way to the next terminal. Instead of mercs, there are Gunners (who despite supposedly being mercenaries are never actually seen being mercenaries), the most technologically advanced minor faction in the Commonwealth who should really be ruling the entire place by now, but instead spend their time doing insidious plots and shooting anyone they see for some reason. As soon as the story, which acts as a substitute for real worldbuilding, ends, so does any energy the cities of the Commonwealth ever had. I guess people have been too busy shooting at eachother for the last 200 years to do anything whatsoever.

    The factions themselves consist of Unexplained Evil Scientists, knights in shining power armour who moved in a massive military force after they found out the Unexplained Evil Scientists were there for some reason, a single man who makes you the general of an army just because you helped 4 people, and secret agents who free the Unexplained Evil Scientists' synth slaves. The only faction that has any actual connection to Commonwealth society is the Railroad, and they're the most absurdly underdeveloped (and that's saying something) of all of them.

    My favourite moment in FONV is when you enter the Strip for the first time, and you see NCR troopers stumbling around with Military Police trying to keep them walking in 1 direction. You've heard all the way to New Vegas about how troopers go to the strip to blow their pay on booze, slot machines and prostitutes, and here they are. These are real people, in a real army, in a real place, going to real institutions. They'll be stumbling around whether you're there or not.

    Compare that to entering Diamond City, which I think is the first "wow" event of FO4 since the moment when you first venture out of Vault 111 (which is actually pretty well done). The first thing in front of you, except the chapel and Publick Occurences, are traders, each with a convenient speciality, who've apparently been sitting in their shacks all day waiting for you to buy their junk. Goodneighbor is even more explicit, they literally just go from their beds to their stands right next to the fast travel point and back all day, every day. They're not people, they're fleshy Vendortrons.

    It really highlights the difference between the different developers' objectives. The Interplay and Obsidian Fallouts asked, "what things would happen in a post-nuclear-apocalyptic world?". The Bethesda Fallouts asked, "what if things happened... in a post-nuclear-apocalyptic world?".
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2021
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  2. Iprovidelittlepianos

    Iprovidelittlepianos Where'd That 6th Toe Come From?

    May 12, 2020
  3. ironmask

    ironmask A Smooth-Skin

    Mar 10, 2018
  4. TorontoReign

    TorontoReign Boom Boom Staff Member Moderator

    Apr 1, 2005
    Pretty much.
  5. Norzan

    Norzan Sonny, I Watched the Vault Bein' Built!

    Apr 7, 2017
    Because Bethesda thinks the Fallout world needs to be in perpetual shit when one of the points of the series was how humanity would advance after an apocalypse. No societal advancement of any kind, no big factions formation, just little tiny groups of people that somehow survive in a hellhole for 200+ years.
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  6. Dayglow Drifter

    Dayglow Drifter Mildly Dipped

    Sep 25, 2018
    The Point Lookout hillbillies are the only faction by Bethesda that even somewhat makes sense, and of course nothing was done with that outside of maybe 3-5 lines of dialogue with NPCs and a bunch of new bulletspongey enemies that aren't even fun to fight.
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  7. KingArthur

    KingArthur All we have now is a life so ordinary

    Jun 25, 2018
    First off, welcome to Hell! It’s good to have you here.

    Secondly, you hit the nail on the head. I find that Beth “RPGs” are, for lack of a better term, very… manufactured. They FEEL like games.

    In New Vegas, as you said, you explore a world that feels alive; a living, breathing wasteland filled with people trying to pick up the pieces of a shattered world. Take any Bethesda game on the opposite tack: weird, robotic daily routines in which the denizens of Skyrim, or Cyrodiil, or the Capital Wasteland, just exist in perpetual preprogrammed faux-autonomy, doing the same shit and spouting the same inane bullshittery about mudcrabs or how the radio in Megaton won’t work, etc.

    The world of the Bethesda Fallouts, I feel, hinges upon sheer coincidence, if not literal Deus Ex Machina divine intervention. You seem to enter every place JUST as the important bits are happening/being said, and you JUST SO HAPPEN, out of SHEER COINCIDENCE, to stumble upon survivors in the nick of time.

    Shit like that makes the Bethesda Fallout games feel very unimmersive and gamey, as if the creators are reveling in how the set pieces line up PERFECTLY, every time, like dominoes. You’ll never come across an instance in which Ranger Morales is already dead in Bethesda Fallout; you’ll save him from the Fiends and take him back to Christina and then everyone will get ice cream.

    The harsh realities of life in the wasteland are talked about, sure, but it’s never done as gracefully or emotionally as in classic Fallout or NV. And that’s my major strike against 3 and 4. They end up trying to make emotional dramas of a situation, and instead make a Saturday Morning Cartoon-60’s Spider-Man comic where good inevitably wins and the day is saved by some fish out of water Vault fuck.
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  8. Atomic Postman

    Atomic Postman Vault Archives Overseer

    Mar 16, 2013
    With minor tweaking the commonwealth could have made more sense. They had that Commonwealth Provisional Government idea floating around and in F3 they mentioned a Commonwealth police, what if the Commonwealth was a nation like NCR but held by a thread string and then the Institute caused it to fall into full on civil war and then anarchy?
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  9. Hardboiled Android

    Hardboiled Android Vault Senior Citizen

    Jun 7, 2015
    A few things here. While the Capital Wasteland and the Commonwealth quite clearly feels dead, I've never had that experience in Skyrim (though I never played more than a half hour of Oblivion.) The world of Skyrim, it seems to me, is decently well designed, fits together pretty well, makes a good deal of sense, etc etc. It's not the most depthful of things, but it's a perfectly OK fantasy world.

    And I don't think there's anything necessarily wrong with Bethesda's radiant AI. If done in addition to a well written world and plot, it seems to me that it's a pretty good thing - if there were more complicated AI packages in New Vegas in addition to the game that we already have it certainly wouldn't have made it worse, and as it stands currently most AI packages are pretty lackluster. It's only when it's coupled with settlements and worlds so poorly designed that character have nothing to do but walk back and forth from sitting to sleeping.
  10. Zvezda

    Zvezda First time out of the vault

    Jul 7, 2021
    Something else I noticed - there's not really much history either. It's 210 years since the bombs fell, but the history of the Commonwealth you're actually exposed to only goes, what, 25 years deep at the most? It feels like it's only a few decades after the War ended, especially as BGS insists on sticking in references to pre-War society and people like the Triggermen (handwaved away by making them ghouls). No wonder the player always arrives JUST as the action is starting, it seems like the rest of the world waited two centuries for them to thaw out.

    Sure, you could say the West Coast benefitted from having its history written over 3 games starting just 84 years after the war, but in that case... why not set FO3 and 4 closer to 2077? It's not like it'd change much, and it'd fix plenty of other worldbuilding issues as well. Personally I'd enjoy it way more to see the East Coast develop, physically, politically and culturally. I just don't know why they had to set it 200 years into the future if they weren't going to give that any consequences.
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2021
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  11. KingArthur

    KingArthur All we have now is a life so ordinary

    Jun 25, 2018
    I noticed that as well, the fact that NV and the other games have a history to them; even Fallout 1 feels rich and established, like when you talk to Maxson about the BoS. The writing was just “there”, and they put the effort into establishing a world.

    Bethesda Fallout doesn’t seem to notice anything outside the realm of the player. It’s a tunnel-vision method of script writing that backfires every time.
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  12. Iprovidelittlepianos

    Iprovidelittlepianos Where'd That 6th Toe Come From?

    May 12, 2020
    I heard a rumor that Bethesda fallout 3 was originally going to be set a few decades after the war, but then they wanted to shoehorn in all the west coast factions and creatures like super mutants, so they just changed the timeframe to 200 years later. I have no idea how true this is but it would make sense.
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  13. Walpknut

    Walpknut This ghoul has seen it all

    Dec 30, 2010
    Welcome to Fallout depression.
  14. UnlimitedSprint

    UnlimitedSprint First time out of the vault

    Oct 5, 2017
    No society only shooty shooty bang bang orcs.
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  15. Blastwave Dave

    Blastwave Dave First time out of the vault

    Sep 12, 2021
    When I think of Fallout 4 the only word that really comes to mind is 'lazy'. The total absence of society or meaningful conflicts doesn't even feel like a result of their insistence on making the world a perpetual post-nuclear hellscape with no advancement at all. It wasn't like they didnt try to ape New Vegas to a certain extent, albeit poorly.

    Fallout 3 at least has cities you can interact with. Fallout 4 has, what, two meaningful settlements? 3 if you include that really boring Vault? Every other place that could be mildly interesting was instead stripped out and turned into a Minecraft zone. There's no quests, no unique societies, nothing. Just places to scrap and build.

    Fallout 4, even more than 3, just feels like something Beth made out of obligation and to flex tech. It's not like they can't create interesting societies, I love the various countries of Elder Scrolls. They just didn't want to bother this time and that was lame as hell.
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  16. Gizmojunk

    Gizmojunk Venerable Relic of the Wastes

    Nov 26, 2007
    Imagine making a NASCAR game where the stands/bleachers, and spectator areas are fully explorable and fleshed out enough that they have interactive restrooms, full voiced NPC food vendors, security officers, ticket takers, janitors, and first aid staff, lost kids, pickpockets, and scalpers.

    It can be done, and done well... but the bulk of the players don't care; they come to race cars, and that's all the developer needs to include for the game to be profitable. :(
  17. Zvezda

    Zvezda First time out of the vault

    Jul 7, 2021
    Yeah, but all those features would really be pointless. FO4 is kinda like if you had a NASCAR game but there's no cars in it and you have to shoot all the other racers instead.
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  18. Charwo

    Charwo Still Mildly Glowing

    Mar 9, 2017
    That's not true a lot of these mods, especially Age of AIrships 2 look AMAZING. Then I remember I actually have to remember to play the fucking game and want to choke on rage and disgust puke. If I could make the three wards from the Fens to Beacon Hill along the Charles River JUST those three into a living city, I could stomach the rest of this shitty game to play the mods. But the modding tools are awful. I can't get the wall pieces to connect in the fucking render window because the render window is a nightmare to operate from beginning to end.