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Fallout 4 EP1: Lore Never Changes

By Shamus
on Wednesday Jun 1, 2016
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning


Link (YouTube)

In this episode we argued if it had been 3 or 4 years since the last time we played Fallout on the show. We were ALL wrong. We covered New Vegas FIVE YEARS AGO.

We’re playing a lot of Fallout 4 around here these days, which is giving me a first-hand look at the radically different ways people approach this game:

My son Issac (14) is not a roleplayer. He plays Fallout 4 because he likes finding legendary items, killing legendary creatures, and collecting suits of power armor. Doesn’t care to mess with mods. (His other two big games are Terraria and Borderlands 2.) He’s only ever made one character (named Issac) who is the default male character. He’s level 68 right now, which I didn’t even know was possible.

My daughter Esther (16) is a roleplayer. She gets getting mods for more customization options. She likes making characters and building houses, like she’s playing a first-person version of the sims where you sometimes need to murder the neighbors.

I continue to play as I always have: Tons of mods, permadeath, and ignore the main quest in favor of collecting comic books. I’m still playing female characters based off the same base save from 2015, since I haven’t worked up the energy to sit through the intro again.

In the episode I said the intro is “perfunctory, but not short”. It’s not long enough or in-depth enough to build a strong attachment to these characters, but it is long enough to get in the way of the fun. And even if the writing had more punch, this engine is terrible at melodrama. The stiff facial expressions. The stilted animations. The awkward pace of conversations where characters either pause too long before delivering their lines, or they talk over each other.

We’ll talk more about this as the series goes on, but this intro is pretty good at showcasing the upcoming problems with the game. I have many nice things to say about Fallout 4, but none of them are related to the main quest.

Comments (179)

  1. Rutskarn says:

    FIRST POST1!!1

    Really excited for this season, you guys.

  2. WILL says:

    Maybe I’m the only one but I was really hoping this one would be skipped or at least shorter than the massive FO3/NV playthroughs. FO4 is just such a “meh” game.

  3. gresman says:

    Let the drinking game begin! Just not in this episode. Or maybe yes. I forgot would being blown up by the story bomb count?
    Bets for corpse count due to drinking game will be accepted.

  4. Mailbox says:

    Woo! It’s finally here!

    Come on put the difficulty on Hard. You’ll increase your encounter with Legendary enemies and it will be funny!

    Will there be Idiot Savant?

    • The Rocketeer says:

      I think they’ll pretty much have to take Idiot Savant, given that:

      1: It’s quintessentially Cuftbertian
      2: They have 1 Intelligence, so no standard bonus to experience but a huge boon to the perk
      3: The crew doesn’t have 130 hours to try and 100% this game and grind XP

      In the past, I think they’ve taken the Swift Learner perks in Fallout 3 and New Vegas, even though those are terrible choices for a regular playthrough.

    • Sunshine says:

      Is it needlessly mean to say “Why make the character an Idiot Savant when the player already acts that way?”

    • Fists says:

      legendaries are really good for breaking the game, in my survival run like the second leg I got was a kneecapper pipe pistol. Modded it to an auto with a drum and now I just destroy the legs on any boss tier enemies.

      • Mailbox says:

        I can’t agree on that they “break” the game, but certain weapon modifiers are on a whole other level when used cleverly. That’s why I default to Hard. I do not have the survival update yet.
        Personally I never gave kneecapper a try, but an explosive combat shotgun, fully modded, that I ran around with was probably just as effective. So much so if frequently crashed my game. Haha.

      • Andy_Panthro says:

        any cheap automatic weapon becomes exponentially better if you can find a legendary version with exploding bullets.

        I got a tommy gun, and it was ridiculously powerful (something to do with the broken way the game calculates explosion damage?).

  5. baseless_research says:

    aaah. Oooh, yeah that hit the spot.

    I don’t know why but this feels … pure.

    P.S. is it my computer or was the video pretty lagged out/dropped frames during particular parts? Especially during the “run to the vault” part?

  6. The Rocketeer says:

    For the record, that lady’s butt was, indeed, out.

  7. You refer to your wife as “Nora” during one of the dialog lines. So she has a default name.

  8. Flailmorpho says:

    I’m suddenly reminded of when I tried to make my own cuftbert reproduction in Fallout 4, I eventually settled on this: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=563601232

  9. MichaelGC says:

    Coo, it’s not often that you hear Campster dropping the F-bomb. :D

    PS Love the bobblebert in the thumbnail!

  10. Lame Duck says:

    “I have many nice things to say about Fallout 4, but none of them are related to the main quest.”

    Hmmm, this seems familiar somehow.

  11. Gruhunchously says:

    “They were originally going to have only a male playable character but backed out at the last minute”.

    I mean, that sure seems to be what the intro was going for, but my question is…why? Every Bethesda game AND every Fallout game before this one has let you play either gender with no problem. A key selling point of the The Bethesda Game is your ability to customize and develop your character (whether those promises hold up is obviously up for debate). So what would they possibly hope to gain by cutting down on that for the sake of forcing everyone to play as Straightface McSoldierdude? Would they have thought that their pre-made character was so great that it was worth sacrificing the parts of their games people actually like? Did they think the already impressive sales of their previous games would only improve by getting rid of the female Player Character?

    The means are there, but not the motive. I don’t buy it.

    • Incunabulum says:

      If there was any real plan to have a male only game – which is a rumor from a thread started by someone claiming to have been a former Bethesda employee working on the game – then it was dropped really early.

      They would have had to pull in the female VA in at around the same time as the male in order to ensure they had time to get the script voice-acted. That’s not going to be a last minute change you can just through in.

      • The voice acting itself is actually not that time-intensive according to the people I have asked, particularly if they have a generic animation system (which, as far as I can tell, they do) instead of lots of custom-made scene-specific animations.

        The question I have to ask is, if they intended to have a female main character from the get-go, why did they do such a DREADFUL job of incorporating both genders?

        And this is also the first game Bethesda has done with a voiced protagonist. Having a single-gender protagonist actually makes a fair bit of sense from that perspective, since they were doing something new that they really didn’t know how to do all that well.

      • The Rocketeer says:

        But not earlier than they made the opening cinematic. Cinematics are, for various reasons and to game development’s remarkable detriment, one of the earliest things commissioned for creation. The opening cinematic, centered around and narrated by the male PC, does not confirm that a female PC was never planned, but does reveal a suggestive bias in favor of the male PC, sufficient to allocate the resources and structure of the opening in his exclusive favor.

        The message carried across by the game’s opening isn’t that you can play as either of two main characters. It’s that you can either play as the main character, or the main character’s wife.

        • Incunabulum says:

          Maybe – but I’d point out that the artwork and promo materials for *all* these games, all the way back to Fallout itself (and that was a game where sex had *in-game* effects on solutions to quests among other things – which it doesn’t here), and including the TES games, has been centered around a male PC.

          Even a game like Mass Effect, where the gender of the PC is utterly irrelevant as not only does it not have a gameplay effect but HomShep and FemShep have the same backstories, the marketing material says the ‘canon’ Shepard is the male one.

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        Lets just nip this in the bud. Those rumors from the so called Bethesda employee were bogus. I believe it was Polygon that debunked this one. And they were in a unique position to because the Bethesda employee identified themselves as the source for Polygon’s earlier articles about Fallout rumors (if it was Polygon). Polygon confirms they spoke to no such person nor can they find evidence any such person worked for Bethesda, and all the provable things the employee “leaked” were things that had already been published in articles prior to leaking.

        I believe they also found that casting calls for male and female protagonist went out at the same time. So even if they ever planned to do male only, they’d scrapped that before they did any recording.

        As for why they would, the only answer is that it would be in line with the other decisions they made, limiting dialog options, voice acting the character and giving a more defined backstory.

        Nate and Nora’s backstories are just a bit more specific I think than the Lone Wanderer’s even though the latter’s covered more ground. You only really learn that you grew up in a vault and you had a dad. Which leaves a lot of leeway for you to decide who your character is going to be.

        Nate however is a retired soldier with a wife and a kid who remembers what it was like before the war and you’re playing him through his first days after waking up 200 years later. That definitely puts stricter boundaries on how you play the character, especially when combined with the voice acting and limited dialog.

    • Content Consumer says:

      I just assumed that someone in Zenimax had noticed that there were a lot of father or father-figure chasing after and protecting child or child-equivalent games out there lately, and ordered Bethesda’s devs to go that route. After all, these other games have been successful, so we should do the same!

    • arron says:

      I’m pretty sure that they had a plan for a female character from the outset as (1) all the Fallout games had female characters and (2) adding one later would be an enormous amount of work rewriting content to add the female person. I didn’t buy the only single-sex rumours that hit the internet and caused the usual level of whining that you might expect from the usual candidates trying to get some media outrage clicks.

      One thing I did think they had problems with was trying to work out how they fitted in to the 1950s retro era story if the male character was a veteran soldier and the wife was a lawyer and housewife. The latter does seem less well suited to survival in a post apocalyptic environment. She may not have even fired a gun or engaged in physical combat before leaving the vault. And they may not have had the same perspective on warfare than their husband.

      I did wonder if Fallout 4 might have given more advantages to the different characters so the soldier gets more more advantages to combat and the lawyer gets more advantages to crafting, persuasion and sneaking, but that might force people playing a certain character into a certain build because they get advantages in certain areas. So I guess that’s why they treat both characters almost equally so people can do what they want.

      Even if it seems odd to me that for the wife character taking to guns and killing without complaint. I know that if I was in that situation, gunning down people would be incredibly traumatic if I hadn’t had the military training that Nate had.

      • Joe Informatico says:

        It’s retro-1950s paranoid “Commies are infiltrating our institutions and poisoning our drinking water!” America. For all we know the housewives have shooting clubs instead of sewing circles. If every middle class household has a Mister Handy doing all the domestic tasks, then the Missus has a lot more free time to train to deal with Soviets in her rose bushes. Especially if most of the men are away at war and the women have to play a greater role in defending the homefront.

        Conversely, it’s interesting the way our modern fictions imply that just because a character was in the military, that’s somehow a justification for making them the equivalent of Special Forces. There’s no indication the male Player Character did anything but carry a rifle, serve in an infantry squad, and follow orders. Unless his actual job in the service involved pathfinding or survival or mechanical repair (or he developed those skills in civilian life), he might be no more equipped to survive in a hostile environment than any other random person.

        • Incunabulum says:

          Heck, he could have been a supply clerk or worked morgues and spent a good chunk of his time either out of theater or in large bases with no particular need to go outside the wire..

    • MrGuy says:

      I think it’s more two desires being in conflict. One was a desire for a strong opening narration that establishes a character and motivation. The other was the desire to have character customization and choices being done in gameplay, rather than before you press Start.

      Both of those ideas are laudable in themselves, but they play incredibly poorly together. Having the backstory go first allows you to subvert it in gameplay. Gender is an obvious way to subvert it, but there are other ways – Josh’s Reginald Cuftbert in this playthrough hardly looks like an ex-soldier. And certainly he doesn’t really start with obvious soldier skills.

      What might have been awesome is to have you make a small number of choices upfront (e.g. gender, one of a small number of professions/backgrounds, etc., a la Mass Effect 1) and THEN having the backstory kick in. You could do the detail work afterwards customizing the character’s appearance, stats, etc. This would be expensive to implement (multiply the cutscene by X different versions), but would allow the story not to be off the rails before it starts.

      If you want to get fancy (and add replay value) have the N “default” builds start with different base stats and perks. I mean, nobody in their right mind would roll Chef for their first playthrough, but maybe it’s an interesting variant to try on a replay…

    • Humanoid says:

      Redguard was a fixed male protagonist I think? :P

      At any rate, I get the feeling that besides the Oblivion with guns thing, the other point of difference between Bethesda’s approach to Fallout as compared to the Elder Scrolls is that despite allowing you to freely name your character and design their appearance, they’re much more of a fixed character with a clearly defined background. That they allow you to customise at all is incidental.

      This is where both Bethesda Fallouts have fallen flat on their faces for me. As someone who enjoyed and put triple-digit hours into Skyrim, I couldn’t get into either Fallout 3 or 4 at all, and both ended up short of 20 hours play each.

      • Incunabulum says:

        The Errant Signal video on FO4 nails this down – you’re not playing a *PC* in this game, you’re playing a *player avatar*.

        The guy on the screen isn’t intended to approximate a real person, with real skills and real weakness, who interacts with the world in a realistic manner.

        You’re operating an avatar who’s there to do cool stuff to entertain the player.

        Which is why I think this game is nowhere near as good an RPG – despite the admitted improvements in a lot of areas – as FO3 (as much as I hate to admit that). Its an open-world sandbox game that doesn’t do open-world sandboxing as well as other examples of the genre do. Saint’s Row The Whatever, GTAV, Far Cry, etc – all do this better because that’s their focus. Here the RPG elements that remain are a drag – not enough to support the game as an RPG, but enough to slow down the pace of the mayhem simulator gameplay.

  12. Kelerak says:

    They may have improved the faces for the NPCs, but that baby isn’t human.

  13. arron says:

    I don’t know what I’m looking forward to more – Mumbles’s Story Time, Josh playing Reginald Cuftbert as Chaotic Evil to make the Commonwealth even harder to survive in or Rutskhan punning us 210 years into the future. Just have to see what happens.. ;)

  14. Destrustor says:

    Oooh, this is going to be good.

    I have several gripes about some details of this game, and I can’t wait for Cuftbert to reach the relevant places of the game so I can whine about them.

    Also: “He's level 68 right now, which I didn’t even know was possible.”
    My main guy is, I think, level 74. Easily 20 of which must have come from base-building alone.

    • SADD1 says:

      My Character just hit Level 125.

      Yes I’ve been compulsively grinding Industrial-Scale Jet Manufacture to finance outfitting all of my Settlers in Ballistic Weave V Army/Military Fatigues & Battered Fedoras / Trilby Hats & Improved Overcharged Focused Improved Automatic Institute Rifles and putting all of my Base Defenses up to 700 with ridiculous overkill levels of Heavy Laser Turrets, why do you ask? :)

  15. SlothfulCobra says:

    This is a really nice looking character maker, very fluid, lots of options, it even looks like they have proper asian-looking eyes as an option where the last Fallout games never really seemed to do it right. It’s even rendered in the context of lighting and evirons that you’ll be seeing for the rest of the game, which is always a worry with character customizers that normally take place in the void, and they tell you the premade background for your character beforehand, so you won’t be in any nasty surprises if, say, you thought you could go through this game as a frail accountant who never even saw a gun in his life.

    Still, there’s only so much you can really design of a character that is limited to only the face and hair. Whatever you make is always going to be plopped onto the same-shaped torso that half the characters in the game will be sporting. Nobody’s ever tall or short or brawny or scrawny or fat unless they’re some sort of weird mutant. I played through Dragon’s Dogma recently, and I was absolutely blown away by the character creator there.

    • Incunabulum says:

      In this iteration you can be fat or scrawny – still can’t be tall or short though. In fact – as you go into the vault for the first time, just as you pass through the radiation scanner, look at the vault security guard to your right. He’s had more than a few extra doughnuts.

  16. Daemian Lucifer says:

    What I dont get is why is the wife a lawyer?Was it that necessary to have both of them be specific different professions?Seeing how this was parallel universe,was it really that odd to have a female soldier married to a male lawyer?Would it really be that hard to establish the player as a soldier and spouse as a lawyer no matter their genders?

  17. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Josh,will you maximize your stats?You can do it pretty early on.Unless they have patched that.

    • Daniel Hemingway says:

      If you mean the Dogmeat glitch involving the You’re Special book? Yeah, it’s been patched.

      If they’re doing Automatron though, there’s a couple of XP glitches that they can use to get enough points to max their Special Stats. I use it to grind enough perks to max out most of the crafting perks ASAP so I can get the perks that are more useful when wandering.

  18. Rayen says:

    I could make statements about that nuclear explosion based on research. But I’ve never personally experienced a nuclear explosion so maybe I’m not qualified.
    My grandad was on the navy ships obseving the testing at the bikini atoll. He said they were loud and bright and big. Had to wear eye and ear protection or stay below deck. He was an electrical engineer and it was a very boring a tour.

    • Incunabulum says:

      Couple of things with that explosion

      1. You hear the blast at the same time as you see it – its miles away, you shouldn’t hear it until the blast wave reaches you.

      2. Thermal radiation. If they were close enough to *see* the blast wave roll over them they were close enough to be fried in the first instant the bomb went off. Third degree or worse burns of all exposed skin.

      3. Blindness – assuming they weren’t close enough to be fried by the thermal flash but were looking directly at the explosion when it went off they’d suffer flash blindness. But that’s a limited duration thing. Nobody’s going to go permanently blind unless they were close enough that the thermal flash would give third degree burns to exposed skin.

      4. Dropping out under the blast wave as it rolls over = provides no protection whatsoever form overpressure. *Maybe* if that wave was just 50 mph winds with insignificant OP then they’d be OK. And that’s not impossible. They are several miles from the epicenter and unless you specifically detonate the bomb at the right altitude to maximize overpressure it will drop off quickly. Its still a stupid way to design a vault entrance when you’ve got a hill to dig through. Why not dig horizontally, adding in some 90 degree turns to protect against this sort of thing. You know, like places like Cheyenne Mountain did?

  19. Daemian Lucifer says:

    To be fair,movies and games almost never portray any explosions realistically,let alone nuclear ones.That explosion there,its pretty tame by those standards.

    • Content Consumer says:

      Even if the bright light didn’t blind, or the radiation wouldn’t cook you, I’d think that the debris cloud would lead to at least someone on the elevator ride down saying “ow ow ow there’s something in my eye.”

    • MrGuy says:

      Actually…this is much more realistic than you’d think. Here is a decent writeup of the actual effects of a nuclear blast. And here is a good writeup on lethal radii of different types of hazards.

      The overpressure wave from the blast expands outward at roughly the speed of sound, so a delay of several seconds between seeing a blast and the arrival of the pressure wave isn’t unreasonable. Sound moves about 1 mile in 5 seconds, so the 15 second delay in the cutscene is consistent with a blast about 3 miles away.

      Let’s say the bomb we’re looking at is in the 20 kiloton range. There are bigger bombs that are possible, but that’s still a realistic size. A very big cold-war MIRV would carry warheads measured in the 100’s of kiloton range, so 20 isn’t too much smaller.

      Per the chart in my second link, that blast wouldn’t actually be lethal to most people at a 3 mile (5 km) range – it’s even outside the range of 1st degree burns, let alone “melting you” range. It’s well outside the range of fatal radiation poisoning. From pressure wave damage, we’re at the edge of the “moderate damage to civilian buildings” range, so the pressure wave isn’t likely to be lethal. It would probably knock people down, especially since the elevator hasn’t descended enough for the walls to shield them, but it’s not like a tornado tearing people away.

      Yes, the intense flash of an atomic detonation would possibly blind people, but in most cases (unless you looked directly at it at the right moment and burned your retinas) this would be temporary. It’s understandable they don’t depict this properly in a videogame, since you need to see the cutscene, but the lack of permanent blindness isn’t unrealistic

      So, overall, this actually isn’t a bad depiction of the actual effects of a small-but-reasonable scale nuclear detonation at a plausible range.

      You could argue the warhead might be bigger, but even if you scale up to 100 kilotons, you’re not increasing the effects much (other than people would likely have more burns).

      • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        In college I toured the NBC school at Ft. Leonard Wood -mostly to look at the chemical weapons training -but we also spoke to one of their nuclear weapons specialists and he said you were more likely to die from the radiation of a depleted Uranium round than the radiation of a nuclear bomb. The bomb will fry you and blast you into your constituent molecules long before the radiation will kill you -and if you are far enough away that heat and blast don’t kill you, the radiation that reaches you will be stopped by your clothes. Take a shower, you’ll be fine. The danger from the radiation is from the fallout -which since most bombs are air bursts, there isn’t much anymore since the fireball never touches the ground.

        (This is, incidentally, why the best advice in the even of an NBC attack is to shelter in place for two weeks -if the initial attack didn’t kill you, the best thing to do is stay indoors until the residual contamination dissipates.)

        Oh, why is a DU round more dangerous? Because when it hits a tank, it spalls -breaks up into a lot of fast, hot metal. That metal can cool into fine particles which can be carried by air currents -and therefore if you spend enough time on a modern battlefield, you might breath it in -and radioactive material that is basically harmless externally is lethal internally. Of course, the people most likely to experience it were killed when the tank they were in exploded, so even then the risk is fairly low.

  20. Aaron says:

    i love how no matter how hideous your character is they act like they are the sexiest creature ever spawned…and i wouldnt have even thought about that without spoiler warning making the point.

    and the complaints about the opening…why not have something like: you spawn/create character then a voice or robot directs you onto a ride that walks you through what the game feels you need to know, then ride ends you get off in the wasteland

  21. Content Consumer says:

    Did that nuclear explosion pull Reginald into it instead of pushing you the other way? It looked like you were jerked across the bridge…

    Now that I think about it, I seem to remember hitting a wall near Dogmeat with a rocket, and Dogmeat sliding toward that too. I wonder if it’s my imagination, or if the physics really are backwards.

    If I may paraphrase myself… once you reach the end of the corridor, the doctor exhorts you to get out of your clothes and put on the vault suit, which you do with a commendable turn of speed and lack of nudity concern. You then hop into the seat presented, despite the fact that any rational person would have a question or two about sitting in something that gives the appearance of an execution chamber. One must appreciate your enthusiasm, if not your poor sense of self preservation.

  22. Targetshopper says:

    The best way to role play in this game, given the meager dialog options, is to play Archer and pick all of the sarcastic choices.

    • Gruhunchously says:

      That would be nice if the the vast majority of the ‘Sarcastic’ options weren’t quite so…limp. Or if the game was more clear what the context of your sarcasm was supposed to be.

      • Wide And Nerdy says:

        Agreed. A sarcastic Sole Survivor is a saint compared to Archer. You’d have to mix in a lot of the aggressive dialog options to even get close.

        • Wide And Nerdy says:

          By the way Shamus, prepare to be disappointed.

          You all could have named your character Archer. Codsworth will say that one.

          I kept trying to find a name on the list that matches up with a character in fiction who is most commonly called “Mr. ”

          You can’t play Mr Fantastic, Mr Terrific, Mr T.

          So far the only one I’ve found is Mr Wilson. So if you have any Dennis the Menace post apocalypse fanfic you want to write, here is your chance.

          I guess Mr Holmes works too. Is he normally addressed that way? I haven’t read the books. Watson is on the list too but he’s normally Dr Watson. Batman is a near miss since he is most commonly addressed Master Wayne.

          Edit: MR ED!! You can be MR ED!!

          If you want a sarcastic butler, you can go for Mr/Mrs Sunshine.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            You cant play mr t?Why?Why wasnt mr/mrs a-z the first 26 things they recorded?That way,no matter how you type your name,it could always default to calling you by the first letter.

            I guess that would make too much sense for a bethesda game.

          • Sleeping Dragon says:

            I went for my usual go-to non-fantasy, name and then I was like “wait, did the robot just say my name?” definitely not an essential feature that would affect my overall enjoyment of the game but I will admit that for minute there I thought it was pretty cool.

  23. Darren says:

    I have some nice things to say about Fallout 4’s main quest, but nothing nice to say about the Institute. Seriously, remove the Institute and FO4 isn’t bad at all. It’s not New Vegas, but it’s a lot better than I generally expect from Bethesda. But the Institute is just godawful.

  24. Wide And Nerdy says:

    I love the gps roller coaster metaphor from Shamus. Perfect description of how an Obsidian fan can get tripped up moving from New Vegas to Fallout 4.

    BTW, you missed a real opportunity by not monkeying with Nora’s face. Its hard to get Shaun to look goofy if you don’t manipulate both potential PCs (there’s some serious “regression to the mean” going on with the genetics.)

  25. Dragmire says:


    I just finished rewatching the Fallout 3 season so this is great timing!

    On a semi related note, does Rutskarn remember how many Cids long Cid’s room is? I’m wondering if that actually got committed to long term memory.

  26. Keeshhound says:

    The thing that bugs me about how Bethesda uses the “War Never Changes” line is that they have no idea what it originally meant. Both Fallout 1 and 2 used it to discuss the nature of international conflicts, opining that wars (and most importantly, the great war that kicks off the setting) are fundamentally conflicts over the ownership of resources. In this political model, the great war was just another chapter in mankind’s long history of continually escalating conflicts over increasingly scarce resources. It’s only unique trait was that the resources being fought over (primarily oil) were also used to fuel the machines of that conflict. In that vein, Fallout, Fallout 2 and New Vegas all had plots which prominently featured a quest for some kind of resource that was valuable enough to fight over.

    Bethesda, on the other hand, seems to view the phrase as a set of Magical Words. At no point when anyone says “War Never Changes,” (and God, but Bethesda tries to crowbar it in at every possible opportunity) does the phrase actually have any meaning behind it. It’s just a meaningless platitude to try to blindly appeal to nostalgia that they clearly don’t actually understand.

    • Izicata says:

      Even Fallout 3 had a main quest that was supposedly about a scarce resource worth fighting over. It was a stupid plot that didn’t make any sense, but it was a stupid nonsensical plot about people fighting over a resource.

    • Chris says:

      Okay let’s make it thematically relevant again:

      War… war never changes.

      The Romans waged war because someone kidnapped Shawn.

      Spain built an empire from its lust to get Shawn back.

      Hitler shaped a battered Germany into an ideal place to find people named Shawn.

      But war never changes.

    • Incunabulum says:

      Which shows that even the original people didn’t understand what that phrase means. It sounds good, and profound.

      Most wars are not fought over resources – they’re ideological. They’re about power and hegemony – and the people involved using all sorts of excuses to justify their actions and paint themselves as heroes when mostly they’re just power-mongers. They’re about expanding the dominion of your culture to all the people’s of the world.

      Look at the current ‘radical Islam vs The West’ – at its core the motivations are a copy of WW2 and WW1’s.

      Oh, and because killing people is fun but while you can’t get away with killing your neighbor you can get away with killing *his* neighbor.

      Resource wars are incredibly rare. Doubly so in the nation-state era. Not that there aren’t wars where resources don’t feature prominently, but its more about *control* of the dispersion of that resource (and the profits to be made from it) than about *access* to it – access you’d still have, just on someone else’s terms.

      • Keeshhound says:

        There’s no one agreed on *fundamental* cause of war, but Economic Competition (war is a pursuit of markets for natural resources or wealth) is one of several explanations that have been floated. Marxist theory takes a similar view, albeit one that places further blame on capitalist systems. Other than those, you’ve got some psychoanalysts who think that humans are naturally prone to violence, so war serves as a kind of societal release for aggressive behaviors. There’s also evolutionary theories that because warlike early humans had better chances for survival, we as their descendants are also more prone to conflict at the societal level.

        But really, if anyone ever actually formalizes a solid, universal explanation for war, it would probably be one of the single greatest discoveries in the entire history of humankind. After all, if you can determine a single, universal cause of wars, you have a much, much better chance of preventing them outright.

        • Matt Downie says:

          Based on my experience with strategy games, most wars happen because I want to make more of the map turn my color.

          Last time I played Europa Universalis IV (as Spain), I conquered almost the entirety of the Americas. I allowed Scotland to hold on to a colony in Canada, because we were both playing slightly different shades of yellow, so it looked like it was mine.

      • ehlijen says:

        I’m not really sure I agree with that.

        Yes, many wars were fought over ideology, but to say resources only rarely played a part would be denying that wealth, fertile farmland and living space fall more on the resources side than the ideology side, and those were things quite a few wars have been fought over.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Well…ummmm….AHA!They get your baby because he is not radiated,and in this post nuclear fallout world non radiated humans are a rare resource.There!

  27. Exasperation says:

    “The awkward pace of conversations where characters either pause too long before delivering their lines, or they talk over each other.”

    Aha! The voice actors must be using the same recording setup that’s used for Spoiler Warning!

  28. Gruhunchously says:

    I think the intro has some really interesting and potentially evocative moments in it, particularly the somber news report of the first bombs going off and the scene of the panicking townspeople being denied access to the Vault. But, as the cast pointed out, it suffers for being a roller coaster of moments that you get shuffled from with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, with no time to truly establish the atmosphere of an impending nuclear strike.

    I think the game would be better served, and much more in the spirit of Fallout, if you discovered remnants of those moments after the fact. Finding a long lost recording of that news broadcast in a TV station somewhere would have been shiver-inducing, especially if you could find and ruminate on it on your own time.

    Still, it’s nice to see a functioning Vault in high-definition graphics, even if the dialogue is a bit broad in tone.

    • arron says:

      That’s an interesting point. You never get to see much pre-war video or archive footage of historical propaganda. I suppose that as most books were burned and lost, you’d expect film to go the same, but there’s a massive number of old Cold War films out there they could have lampooned for the Fallout universe as well as having old television programmes that could have been watched for historical lore.

      I’m a great fan of old films, especially the Cold War and old space programme documentary films and subscribe to a number of channels on YouTube just to watch all these archives online. They got some crazy stuff out there – like one tonight trying to encourage people to have spotless well painted houses and well kept gardens to protect against nuclear weapons blast. Talk about trying to indoctrinate people into doing chores so they wouldn’t be lowering property values in the event of a holocaust.

      Two typical channels are:


      if you’re into UK nuclear defence films then this is a good channel:


      For my US friends, the UKWMO films are pretty scary. They had a series of Civil Defence Bulletins and Raise an Alarm in the 1960s which were stern and authoritative, and then released the infamous Protect and Survive series in the mid 1970s which with a nerve-jangling electronic soundtrack and the creepy voice over from Patrick Allen, it made nuclear war even more terrifying. Well worth a watch if you haven’t seen them before.

  29. Lachlan the Mad says:

    My observations, having not played this game:

    1. Everyone in the SW crew seems super enthusiastic to start this one. We shall have to see how long that lasts.

    2. I find it hilarious that Intelligence has gone from the most useful stat in the game (because skill points) to the least useful stat (because who the fuck needs XP bonuses?)

    • Chauzuvoy says:

      With enough Luck and a point in Idiot Savant, you don’t even miss the XP bonus.

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      I still lean towards charisma+intelligence builds because I like finding out lore and it’s usually gated behind either conversations or interacting with technology,..

      Now that I mentioned it, I played the game but I actually don’t remember if it has stat gates…

      • None that I saw. Speech gave you more options for bigger payouts or more XP (maybe even to bypass parts of fetch quests? I don’t recall), but those were often short-circuited if you had a companion and you wanted them to like you.

        Want extra XP and cash by threatening someone because your speech is so high? Sorry, that’ll ding your status with Nick, Curie, or whoever.

        Conversely, you’re playing a lawful good person, but you want Strong, Macready, etc. to be your chum, you should probably threaten everyone or they’ll decide you suck.

        So the only “gates” I ran into were the ones keeping you from getting to a companion’s supplemental quest, if you wanted to do it.

      • Falterfire says:

        I don’t think there are any outright stat gates, but there are some places that you can only get into via lockpicking or hacking, which do require stats/levels to do.

        • Or a companion with the requisite skill.

          I was kind of thinking that Nick was the wrong guy to have picked since (at the time) my lockpicking skill was so high, but he “likes that” when you break into places.

          He hates it when you steal the already admittedly stolen control chip for the robots on the U.S.S. Constitution who he wants you to help, though.

          That’s my biggest complaint about Nick, who is otherwise probably the best NPC in the game.

      • Incunabulum says:

        It has a single pair of stat gates, both on the same quest and both immediately together.

        And neither do anything world breaking – one allows you to keep a free piece of copper wire rather than using it to repair something and the other allows you to repair something without having to take a short detour to a nearby area to get the thing you need – saves you all of 3 minutes of real time.

        Both are in the repair the Constitution questline and both are INT checks.

      • SL128 says:

        You could skip a few fetch quests for the U.S.S. Commonwealth (but please do that one despite those steps!) with enough intelligence. I can’t remember anything else.

  30. Wraith says:

    Dear god that framerate during the nuke sequence. It actually hurt my eyes in a way I haven’t felt since Battlefield 3.

    Fallout 4 on PC seemed so poorly optimized. I couldn’t even get it to play longer than the first 30 minutes on my aging rig.

  31. Phantos says:

    I really don’t understand why Bethesda is afraid to just give us a blank slate, instead of just telling us “YOU CARE ABOUT THIS!! CARE, DAMN YOU!!!”.

  32. AJax says:

    Oh hey, you guys are doing a bad Bethesda open world game again. This is gonna be a fun season!

  33. Tektotherriggen says:

    Hey, another Terraria fan! I just wondered what Isaac likes doing in the game – is he climbing the ladder of bosses, or does he like building stuff? I have little idea whether the sort of person who likes building stuff in Minecraft or Terraria (or indeed physical Lego) overlaps with the sort of person who likes building and decorating towns and characters in stuff like Fallout 4 or the Sims.

    Marketers, obviously, lump all of the former as “boys’ stuff” and most of the latter as “girls’ stuff” – I was just interested in a couple of real-world data points (and hoping it doesn’t get more political than that…)

    For the record, so far I seem to like Terraria’s building and fighting in about equal measure, and have also taken significant care to get my character wearing spiffy glowing robes and colour-coordinated accessories.

    • *waves* Terraria fan here, too. :) Although I’ve not played in a wee while. For me, it was the nice balance between being challenged by the world through environments/bosses/HM/etc. (I solo-crafted HM gear when it was *hard*!) and the opportunity to do things like build ridiculous palaces by the sea out of glass and silver bricks just because I could! :)

  34. Fists says:

    I recently gave up on fo4 and came to the conclusion I probably wont buy the next bethesda title anywhere near release so I’m going to enjoy this season of spoiler warning.

    The option to properly play as a ghoul would be cool, which would explain why they didn’t do it.

    • MichaelGC says:

      Aye right – for me it was the first time I’ve ever thought: “I don’t need to keep struggling on through this; I’ll just wait for the SW season!”

    • I live in hope that there’ll be a modder who manages a decent alternative start mod and includes that as an option. Who cares if it breaks the main questline’s story, I don’t think any of us want to see the same opening over and over again.

      • Sleeping Dragon says:

        I don’t want to sound entitled but I think the lack of some kind of quickstart option, at least after the player goes through the prologue for the first time, is either really lazy or it shows lack of understanding of how people actually play their games. I mean really, even if the chapter contains some variables that are relevant later it would be trivial for developers to just put them in some kind of menu at the end of the prologue like they do the rest of the character creation.

        • CoyoteSans says:

          Let’s compare this to, say, Fire Emblem: Fates, which released several months earlier in Japan/a few months later in the west. In that game, you have a tutorial that I believe six or seven missions long. After that point, you come to the point you decide with version of the game you want to play (or which path if you bought another as DLC… or just what you bought if you have physical) and thus start playing the “real” game. That sounds like a pain in the butt, don’t it?

          Nope! You play the tutorial once, and after that, whenever you start a new game, you have the option to start from the decision point on every playthrough afterwards. You also get to customize your character, name, states, appearance all of it, just like on a regular new game.

          I guess you kinda have the option to do that with the ARE YOU SURE YOU LIKE YOUR CHARACTER HERE’S A MENU TO CHANGE IF YOU DON’T save from FO3/NV, but eh.

          (now if I could just summon up the desire to play the other campaign I paid in advance for…)

          • guy says:

            I am presently playing the third path of Fates, and strongly advise you indeed do that. It comes with another cutscene with Azura singing a different variation of her song.

            Also many other things, but seriously all her songs are awesome.

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      Maybe in the Fallout MMO ;P

      On a more serious note I would like to see a FO game designed around playing a ghoul.

  35. The Mich says:

    … I have to sit down…

  36. Coming_Second says:

    I didn’t mind the intro much, for what it was. It’s broad and tunnel-visioned as hell, but it effectively sets out who the main character is, and lets you live the kitsch world that was lost for a few moments. It’s a cool, creative concept. The problem is that it’s an intro for a completely different game. It informs you that you are a particular person (who is MALE and a SOLDIER damnit), these are the goals you care about deeply, and this is what you’ve got to do to accomplish them. Then it turns you out into a vast open world, and a tutorial for building your very own peasant community pops up.

    As someone in the video points out, it feels very much like Bethesda want to be making action-adventure games now and are allowing for the concepts of player choice and flexible identity only with reluctance. It makes for a sour contradiction lying at the heart of the experience which is impossible to ignore.

  37. guy says:

    Petty complaint: MGSV had a hilarious/cruel practical joke character creation screen and it let you have heterochromia. Now I want to be able to set eye color independently in every game with an actual character creator.

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