Fallout 3 is one of my most memorable gaming experiences, and Fallout New Vegas is probably the game that I have replayed the most during my life. But I had no love for Fallout 4 once I finished playing it. I bought it fully expecting to love it, and that never happened.
The story plays as though it was written by an 8th grader. I felt no investment whatsoever in the main character’s motivation. And the story pretends to have choice, but that is just pretense. The only difference the “choices” made by the end of the game is what faction you dragged along through the exact same series of events to end up as the dominant faction in the wasteland. The means of progressing the story didn’t even change based on your choices. Somehow a redneck handyman has the same proficiency with quantum teleporters as a top Brotherhood of Steel engineer in an airship.
The crowning moment for me was when I completely disregarded my orders from the Brotherhood commander and told him to go pound sand. He responded by immediately promoting me and trusting me with his next critical mission objective as though nothing at all had happened.
This could all be forgiven if the gameplay was rewarding, but no such luck. After completing the main story I spent a lot of time with the settlement system. It took me a while to realize what the core problem was but I eventually figured it out: there was no genuine sense of achievement.
As I was building settlements and clearing Bostonian ruins of miscellaneous raiders and monsters, I was hoping to slowly feel a sense of accomplishment, as though my efforts mattered and that I was helping at least a little to make our part of the wasteland a better and safer place.
Fallout 4 assumed that I just liked shooting stuff. It kept respawning enemies in areas I had repeatedly cleared, and my settlements kept getting attacked randomly, regardless of how safe I had made the surrounding area or how many raids I had previously thwarted. Once you’ve killed 1,200 raiders, you begin to wonder exactly how many can exist in a single post-apocalyptic city, especially when the city capitol is home to about 30 people. It didn’t take long before I stopped playing entirely. Eventually everything I did felt pointless. Nothing felt rewarding enough to compel me to keep playing.
What do you think? Did you feel the same sense of meaninglessness? Did I miss something about the game that made it feel rewarding? Have I completely misunderstood what was supposed to be fun about the game? Feel free to let me know!