Fallout 4: Why aren’t you playing it?
This is the question I was asked some time back. And my response probably appeared rather weak to the person who asked me. I think I replied with something along the lines of it’s an open-world game and I’m not sure that’s for me. Boy was I wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. I wasn’t wrong about it being open-world, though. But I was wrong about it not being a game for me.
At the time I began considering Fallout 4 as an option, I had been enjoying more and more games with deep, well articulated stories. And a couple of those games were stories without words, without dialog, and without NPCs. Games like Journey and ABZÛ and Neverending Nightmares. Still others were full of dialog and NPCs and conversations. Dying Light, The Last of Us, and Life is Strange for example. And although Dying Light was open-world it had a narrow, and linear, focus. Not that those things took anything away from the game; it was a fantastic game. The Last of Us and Life is Strange are both great stories with excellent dialog, but they are quite focused in their purpose, providing limited interaction with the environments. Sure there were many opportunities to explore but in a tertiary role.
But Fallout 4 isn’t like that. Fallout 4 is all about exploring. Truth be told, exploration is of utmost importance. But it’s not just about finding new locations to scavenge or participate in battle or scrounge for ammunition, health items, and bottlecaps (the currency of the Wasteland). Oh no, the exploration is vital to the most important aspect of Fallout 4: the stories.
When I mention the stories, I’m not referring to the main story. It’s rather predictable and not overly interesting. And I feel like this flaw in the game gives it a black eye. But thankfully the secondary and tertiary stories make up for the re-washed main story. These sad, gripping, and often gut-wrenching stories are what makes me ask the question, “Why aren’t you playing Fallout 4?”
More than just the scripted encounters are the random encounters. And true enough many of these random encounters are battle focused or essential equipment such as ammo or health, but there will also be random opportunities to engage in a story. You may come across a settler in dire need of medications. Or you may find a funeral that you can only be a witness to as there isn’t an option to engage with the mourners. Or you may find a man circling a refrigerator and thinking aloud on how to open it.
Even some of your available companions have deeply painful stories to tell such as MacCready or Old Longfellow. Maybe you’ve decided to solve the Eddie Winter quest with Nick Valentine, which you must to reach max affinity, and you learn about who Valentine used to be and why solving the Winter case is so important.
More importantly though—if you take the time that is—you’ll complete the saddest, most heart breaking story in the quest of Arlen Glass, a man who cared so much about making children happy he forgot to take time for his own daughter. When I finished Arlen’s quest I had to take a minute away from the game to clear my throat. Or, perhaps, you’ll come across Phyllis Daily, and if you have high charisma, she’ll tell you about her grandson. Or maybe the Suttons and the terrible fate of a mother and two children thanks to an abusive, lazy father.
Fallout 4 is filled with tough battles, complex battles, and fun, environmentally rich battles. But the greatest aspect of the game are the battles of the Commonwealth people. The war against total atomic annihilation, and the steps taken to keep families safe from a world no longer safe. What about the efforts of the Tournquist family to reunite, and of Jim to save his family within the confines of Big Jim’s Salvage. And when you find Jim and his family take a moment to review what your eyes see, and then ask yourself: would you do the same?
Fallout 4: Why aren’t you playing it?