We have all heard the rumors: Bethesda will show Fallout 4 in some form at this E3, be it a trailer or gameplay. The hype and anticipation for this rumored reveal has already reached astronomical heights.
With the possibility of information on a new entry in the venerable RPG series, I think now is a great time to discuss some ways Fallout 4 can improve upon its predecessors and make for an upgraded experience in the nuclear wastes.
Equip your plasma rifle and don your power armor; we’re venturing into the unknown. Keep an eye peeled for Deathclaws!
Learn From New Vegas
Fallout: New Vegas was a more divisive title than Fallout 3 due to the amount of bugs. I never thought I could play a game with more bugs than a Bethesda title, but holy mutated roaches Batman! New Vegas had more bugs than the Wasteland ever will, which is a damned shame because it is a superior title to Fallout 3 in so many ways.
If you could endure the bugs, or simply find the fantastic mods from the community that helped with the problems, you were in for an apocalyptic delight! More interesting quests, fantastic writing, stronger characters, added depth of combat and mechanics, and a plethora of imaginative weapons were just a few of the improvements New Vegas made on the Fallout 3 foundation. Bethesda would be wise to learn from what Obsidian did with New Vegas going forward with the franchise.
This will probably be mentioned a few times going forward. You were warned!
Don’t Forget Your Roots
Since the release of Fallout 3, we have seen the release of Wasteland 2, Pillars of Eternity, and Divinty: Original Sin. All three of these titles were funded on Kickstarter by fans; all three are made in the vein of the classic CRPGs of old; and all three have been met with a positive reception from critics and players alike.
Contrary to the mindset of the AAA publishing world, there is very much a market for an RPG that challenges the player in gameplay and doesn’t feature a Hollywood voice cast.
Bethesda could incorporate aspects of the CRPG experience like the additional, optional difficulties of New Vegas without eliminating the mainstream appeal of their games. Wasteland 2 featured a harsh world where everyday survival was a bitter battle day in and day out which fits given the game’s bleak tone and setting. Fallout 4 doesn’t have to be as difficult as Wasteland 2, but it could bring a harsher world to players who desire it.
The Combat Needs Work
Let’s be honest, Bethesda’s strong suit is not combat. At its best, it’s mediocre and boring; at its worst, it’s floaty and unsubstantial. The V.A.T.S. system was a brilliant way to mask the dice rolling and calculations under the hood in a way for newer players to grasp and led to dropped jaws as countless heads exploded. The problem was, when not using V.A.T.S., the guns felt like toys which fired air bullets. Sure, I saw the enemy explode in pieces, but the gun never conveyed the power I saw onscreen.
New Vegas helped by allowing iron sights (pay attention Bethesda!) and the weapons felt a bit more substantial and weighty. It was not perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction. For substantial combat, Bethesda could take notes from Bulletstorm, Hard Reset, and the Souls franchise. The weapons need to feel more substantial and satisfying to use. Really though, the entire combat system could use an overhaul to differentiate itself from The Elder Scrolls series. Maybe more tactical options?
Fallout 3 had some interesting weapons like the Experimental MIRV, alien atomizer, Mesmetron, gauss rifle, and the auto axe to name a few. The problem is a lot of weapons were variants of a type and not very distinct from one another. I might be using a unique Blackhawk revolver, but it looks the same as a normal .44 magnum revolver. Weapons should be more distinguished from one another.
Also, we are in a sci-fi universe, so why not more imaginative or zany weapons? The alien weaponry and plasma arms were cool, but surely we can do more? Take Red Faction: Guerilla and Armageddon for instance. In those titles we had Singularity Grenades, Nano Rifles, Napalm Lasers, and Mr. Toots for crying out loud! Granted, those games are set in the far future, but we could have something similar in the new Fallout games. Or even just alternate fire modes like the firearms in Bulletstorm. It would be great to see the developers go hog wild with some inspired designs that are fun to use.
A More Interesting World and Locations
Fallout 3 had a far more interesting world than Oblivion or Skyrim, but it still managed to get repetitive before too long. While we had some interesting places such as Tenpenny Tower, Vault 108, Rivet City, and Andale, the majority of the world blended together after some time save a few exceptions. Again, this was a problem New Vegas addressed with more varied and distinct locales such as the Big M.T. facility, Novac, Jacobstown, and New Vegas itself among others.
The problem is Bethesda’s worlds are usually so large, they get repetitive quickly. So why not make a smaller, more interesting game world with more depth and variety? Or do what Obsidian did and just populate the large world with more interesting places? Bethesda can make some interesting places to explore, so why not focus on making a better world instead of a bigger one? Bigger is not always better. Also, more snow! Don't you want to build a snowman?
Step Up the Quest Design and Writing
Bethesda should be developing this cooperatively with Obsidian. If there is one thing Obsidian can do well, it’s quest design and writing. The writing in New Vegas was terrific (remember Think Tank?), and the quest design was fantastic to boot.
By stepping up the writing and quests in Fallout 4, the characters would be better, and players would have more memorable quests to discuss with their friends long after adventuring in the harsh world. Who doesn’t want to see Obsidian work on another Fallout entry?
More of the Gallows Humor
The opening to the original Fallout finds two armed men standing over a kneeling, bound prisoner while “Maybe” by The Ink Spots plays in the background. The men shoot the man in the head and shoot him again once he falls; one of the men laughs during this process while the other turns towards the camera and waves. This opening perfectly captures the essence of Fallout in less than four minutes and gives you a sense for the pitch black humor that lies in wait.
Fallout 4 needs to retain the humorous elements. The humor is an important part of the franchise as it usually a sharp contrast to the horrors around you. There were moments in Fallout 3, but there could be more. The game does not need to be a comedy game, but the addition of the dark humor helps keep the dreadful world from wearing on the player’s spirit too much.
Serious Quality Assurance
Bethesda, we need to talk. Your bugs are killer. No, not the mutated, mean-eating ones, the game-breaking ones. Yes, Fallout 4 will be an open world game and trying to kill every bug in one of those is like trying to fight a forest fire with a water pistol. However, you could try to eliminate more of the serious bugs. As much as I enjoyed Fallout 3, there were several times when character dialogue would glitch, quests could not be completed, or I fell through the game world and was lost in a hellish, blank landscape. Let’s not forget about those game freezes too!
A lot of these issues may be rectified with the improvements we have had in technology since, but also Bethesda should use a new engine from the one used in Skyrim (they really should). With improved technology and a better testing process, players could enjoy Fallout 4 with fewer frustrations from the technical hiccups. Also, we should not have to download gigantic day-one patches for our games in order to play proper properly... but that is a can of worms for a later date.
The radio in Fallout 3 was brilliant. It kept the player op to date with events happening in the world and also alerted players to the consequences on their actions. We got awesome oldies music to boot! The problem is, again, it got repetitive rather quickly. After hearing “Butcher Pete” for the umpteenth time and Three Dog telling me about the results of a quest I completed hours ago, I had to turn off the radio.
Fallout 4 can fix this by adding more music, dialogue, and even stations! It would be cool to tune into different stations broadcasting from different parts of the world and hear each region’s take on events. Each region could even have their own music they prefer to hear over the airwaves! The stations could even have rotating DJs the player or others can eliminate if they don’t like what the DJ says. The possibilities are nearly endless with this; so it would be great to see Bethesda do more with the great foundation they have.
While this is wishful thinking, I believe Fallout 4 could be improved with some of these additions or tweaks. At the end of the day, we all want Fallout 4 to be the best game it can be. Who doesn’t want to have a better game?
What changes or improvements would you like to see in Fallout 4? Agree with my list or think I have had too much Quantum Nuka-Cola? Sound off in the comments below!