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Why I Uninstalled Fallout 4

    • 149 posts
    February 10, 2016 2:43 AM EST

    DISCLAIMER: Most of this is a rant I whipped up yesterday after staying awake till 6 AM in the morning. 


    Let me start by saying this: I do not hate Fallout 4. I rather enjoyed the game, clocking 126 hours into it. The Bethesda open-world formula has never ceased to entertain me. From a gameplay standpoint, this game was really fun.

    But… as strange as this may sound… I regret my time spent playing it.

    It’s time I could have spent much better.

    Here’s why.


    Bethesda games have done a great job of drawing me into their worlds. Over 300 hours in Oblivion. Over 300 hours in Fallout 3. Over 1300 hours in Skyrim. There’s something about these games that kept me coming back to play them.


    I could inject into a world whatever persona I desired and play however I desired. My character was a blank slate, for the most part, and allowed me to fill in their blanks as I went along. I write a fanfic on this site that was inspired by a very memorable playthrough of Skyrim – I became “Chases-The-Wind,” the Argonian Dragonborn, a character who felt more personal and dynamic than any other I’d ever assumed control of in a video game. Because that character was created by me, as much as he was created by Bethesda.

    Bethesda games were great vessels for character creation and immersive role-playing.

    Is that to say the games were flawless? No. But I could suspend my disbelief and just enjoy being in an open world.

    Fallout 4 lacked this element. Severely.

    Right from the get-go, your character has a voice. A VOICE. This is a HUGE difference that makes a very negative impact, in my opinion. This is nothing against the voice actors themselves. They did a fine job with their roles…

    But a voice lends personality to a character. The way people say things, how they inflect their vocals or control their volume, shows an element of who they are. Thus, an element of character creation is taken away from the player. I don’t get to imagine how my protagonist would say certain lines. That’s already been decided for me.

    It creates a disconnect, a feeling that I’m controlling a pre-made persona with a voice that’s already theirs. I had no part in shaping it.

    This wouldn’t be all that bad if the writing was up to standard. Commander Shepard had a voice, but I still felt like I had agency while playing as him. Unfortunately, this isn’t a Bioware game. Dialogue in Fallout 4 is often stilted and unnatural. Responses come out sounding artificial, sometimes making no sense in the context of the conversation.

    If a follower that my character loved dearly (in my head-canon) dies, yet her pre-recorded response to his death shows none of the emotion that I’ve invested in my head, that’s frustrating! Because the game is telling me who my character is. It’s showing her to me, rather than allowing me to create her in the way I want to. If I wanted to play an open world RPG as a fixed character, I’d play Witcher 3. 

    In a Bethesda game, I want to be able to insert whomever I want into the action. That’s hard to do, though, when aspects of my character have already been established.

    Case and point – THE WHITE PICKET FENCE.

    My character, from the start, is a wife. With a son. With a law degree and a loving husband. That doesn’t leave very many blanks for me to fill in. How do I justify being a stone cold killer? How do I justify being a sociopath? These are extremes, but the point is this: I’m suddenly forced to perform mental gymnastics to figure out how my character fits into this pre-made mold.

    And even if, say, I want to act like the pre-war introduction never happened… the game won’t let me.

    Because I’m on a quest to find my son.

    The whole main plot is incumbent on the player having a pre-determined backstory.

    Granted, Fallout 3 did this as well… but at least then I had control of my character’s voice. I could also shape some limited aspects of my character's childhood; in other words, there was more player input. I ultimately prefer Skyrim’s or Oblivion’s approach: you’re a prisoner. That’s all you know. It leaves a lot of room to insert whatever ideas you have.

    Now there’s one last thing about this game that I disliked. I touched on it earlier, without going into detail. So here it is:

    The writing in Fallout 4 is utterly immersion breaking.

    I like to poke fun at the fact that the writing’s bad, but it’s not always bad. It’s got plenty of shining moments. But when it’s bad, it’s AWFUL. Here’s an example of a conversation that, while passably written, genuinely frustrated me:

    DANSE: “We’re not soldiers of fortune. We’re an army and we’ve dedicated our lives to uphold a strict code of ethics.”

    ME: “Are you going to teach me this ‘code of ethics?’”

    DANSE:  “If you were paying attention in [the earlier mission], you should have learned some of it already. The rest will become apparent as you spend time with your fellow soldiers.”

    Okay! Sure, Danse! I’ll do my best to uphold this strict code of ethics that you won’t tell me!

    Pfff, yeah man, I’ll be fiiiiine. I’ll just figure out all this ‘code’ stuff as I go along. Because that’s totally how armies operate.

    *rages internally*

    How is this acceptable? How is this remotely believable? Many problems with the story in this game stem from me, the player, being denied information or not having enough information to make decisions and form motivations. That just makes it harder to role-play!

    Did the older Bethesda games have flawless writing? Hell no. Even still, it never got this bad. I couldn’t suspend my disbelief talking to half of the NPCs in Fallout 4. I was constantly reminded that I was in a video game. The illusion didn't hold.

    I tried to immerse myself - oh man, did I try. 126 hours is a lot of investment! But once the main quest was over and I hit level 50, I didn’t feel satisfied. I didn’t feel fulfilled. I felt… oddly disgusted.

    At the end of my playthrough, the character I’d created felt alien to me. She was a monster, spliced together on a cutting table. And I’d been Igor the whole time, not Dr. Frankenstein.

    I didn’t make this character. I just helped every now and then.

    So I don't feel like coming back to play again, as someone else. Hence the game's lack of presence on my hard drive.


    Bethesda... I want to enjoy your games. But you’ve got to be willing to work with me. Don't railroad me into a fixed role. Let me help shape this tale, this experience, as much as you’ve shaped it.

    I want to be the author of my own stories, in these worlds you’re so good at making.




    Fallout 4 was a great open-world action game, but a terrible role-playing game.

    • 288 posts
    February 10, 2016 2:46 AM EST

    I agree with most of your criticism, but that doesn't answer the title question. I would argue that the real reason you uninstalled F4 is lack of abundant free disk space.

    • 149 posts
    February 10, 2016 2:52 AM EST

    Ha! I rebuke your argument by AMENDING MY POST and adding a sentence saying why I uninstalled the game!

    ...Also, I have a terabyte hard drive. Space isn't really an issue at the moment.

    • 288 posts
    February 10, 2016 2:57 AM EST

    Why do you uninstall, then? I still keep games from 2 years ago

    • 149 posts
    February 10, 2016 3:00 AM EST

    Another reason was just to force myself to stop playing it. I don't need another time sink in my life right now. And Fallout 4 had a nasty habit of leaving me depressed after a play session, mostly from a sense of, "Why did I waste my time with this?"

    The gameplay itself is addicting. But that's the most it's got going for it.

    • 321 posts
    February 10, 2016 3:02 AM EST

    It's not a Bethesda game if it already has a fixed role-playing element in the game.

    I agree with most of it.

    Having a wife and a child does deny you of the possibility of creating backstory for a lone wolf/renegade/evil scientist... basically, anything!

    A voice, yeah it totally screws everything. One of the reasons why silent characters are better than voiced.

    To be honest, I prefer the whole prisoner intro in every Elder Scrolls game and Alternate start mods. It has more options for creating your backstory.

    Now after seeing this rant. I've started to doubt buying Fallout 4.

    • 1441 posts
    February 10, 2016 3:03 AM EST

    I personally enjoy it. True, it does railroad you into a specific role, and the voice does keep it from, say, you wanting to crossover another character into Fallout (Which means I can't read text in a snobby British-type accent for Albert Wesker), but I still like it. A number of the NPCs, mainly the companians, have interesting personalities

    • 149 posts
    February 10, 2016 3:04 AM EST

    Silent characters aren't better than voiced ones, in my opinion. I just don't think they fit inside a Bethesda RPG. 

    It's sad. I had some real fun playing Fallout 4, but it left a funky taste in my mouth. I might revisit the game in the future, maybe after more modded content has been made.

    • 149 posts
    February 10, 2016 3:08 AM EST

    Fallout 4 absolutely has redeeming qualities. I guess I just had a certain expectation of what I wanted going in, and the game didn't meet it.

    • 1441 posts
    February 10, 2016 3:08 AM EST

    There is a mod to get rid of the player voice. And well, I've come up with a few ideas to justify having a wife and son, as has FudgeMuppet

    • 277 posts
    February 10, 2016 3:08 AM EST
    Wow that is a lot of detailed explanation and I agree with you overall. I for one poured 40, maybe 50, hours in this game. It's not much but I stumbled over what you're saying. In my playthrough there were many times when the dialog text option felt like it didn't match the actual dialog. For me the setting of the game was visually stunning but it felt dead, motionless - like a fashion mannequin. I got bored fast of the game yet I managed to reinstall it three times. The only thing that kept me coming back were the radio songs and the theme of my character: Django Eastwood, an anti-hero cowboy bounty hunter. Even so once I entered the world my enthusiasm quickly ran out. I often thought that I'm a hater and there's nothing wrong with the game. But that's not the case because I gave the game plenty of chances to impress me and every time it ended in boredom. Fallout 4 is currently residing on my desktop but I don't think I'm gonna' play it any time soon.
    • 1441 posts
    February 10, 2016 3:13 AM EST

    You can't please everyone. Heck, if I released a game, there might be some who like it, some who are neutral, and some who despise it. There are always those who will be...dissapointed in a game, like Watch_Dogs, which I found quite fun

    • 149 posts
    February 10, 2016 3:13 AM EST

    Yeah, but... why should I have to justify it AT ALL? It still forces me to incorporate the pre-war backstory into my character somehow. I wish alternate starts were the standard. Bethesda should look to some of those mods for inspiration.

    • 122 posts
    February 10, 2016 4:30 AM EST
    Well, that title definitely isn't eye-catching or anything.

    Personally, I feel that the game, while undoubtedly lacking in RP elements, gave just enough for me to be able to enjoy playing it while simultaneously crafting a story from it. A large part of that is my extensive imagination, but that's neither here nor there. You can do anything with a sandbox, regardless of its original layout, given the know-how and creativity.

    Also, no offense, but this rant in particular sounded quite...entitled. But not my place to judge an opinion.
    • 773 posts
    February 10, 2016 4:37 AM EST

    I'm old enough to recall that many of the same arguments were made in 2006 when Oblivion came out. You know, the whole 'having voiced characters ruins the immersion' - and that was just NPCs having voices.

    I suppose it was the next logical step in things to make a voiced protagonist. Me? I actually don't mind it, but then I probably lack imagination to some extent. I still find plenty of immersion in Fallout 4, even despite the obviously limited options for backstory.

    The other thing that people need to bear in mind is that I suspect that now the genie is out of the bottle, there's almost certainly no going back. Just like introducing voices into Oblivion meant that the text heavy dialogue of Morrowind was history, I seriously doubt that we'll ever again see a non-voiced protagonist in a Bethesda game

    ... which means (dare I mention) that we ought to probably expect a voiced protagonist in Elder Scrolls VI 

    • 321 posts
    February 10, 2016 4:42 AM EST

    I think I nearly got a heart attack. 

    If that even happens, then I wish we had a Dragon Break.

    • 627 posts
    February 10, 2016 4:54 AM EST

    I'm interested to see what they do with that, I wounder if they'll do a voice for each race or just have say an elf voice, a human voice and then one each for the beast races.

    • 773 posts
    February 10, 2016 5:26 AM EST

    Of course that assumes that they'll continue with all ten races 

    Just saying.... 

    • 627 posts
    February 10, 2016 5:34 AM EST

    Now that's a scary thought 

    • 149 posts
    February 10, 2016 5:49 AM EST

    Interesting point, Paul, about the npcs in Oblivion. At first I wanted to decry that as a different issue, but it really isn't, is it? 

    I hope they don't do voiced protagonists, though, in the next Elder Scrolls. Aside from demanding a butt load of dedicated voice actors, unless they fix their core issue - the writing - they'll just end up repeating the same mistakes. 

    • 149 posts
    February 10, 2016 5:50 AM EST

    Entitled? Well, that's not a word I expect to hear in response to this... Am I acting entitled? Damn, someone shoot me if I am.

    I can't really help the fact that this game annoyed me a lot, for as fun as it was. I certainly don't feel entitled to anything, though. I've come to expect certain experiences from Bethesda's games, but they're the ones who ultimately make them. I was hoping to have adventures in Fallout 4 like the ones I had in Skyrim. Perhaps that was just the wrong expectation.

    Or maybe I've just exhausted my desire to play games like this. I don't know. 

    All I hope is that, somewhere in the bowels of this egotistical rant, there's a valid point or two...

    • 122 posts
    February 10, 2016 7:23 AM EST

    In all seriousness, it's only natural to feel a bit put off by a sudden change of direction. Things tend to drop when know, fall flat. Bethesda is taking steps to breaking their usual mold and, honestly, I appreciate that effort. Baby steps, but one I predict will lead to great leaps. After all, monotony is the bane of all creative work. We will benefit greatly from doing away with the mindset of "It's always been how they do things". TES can't have us start as Prisoners every time.

    Speaking of which, who's to say a stupid law degree confines you into a specific role? Many layers of depth are but waiting for aspiring minds to exploit. Maybe Nate/Nora had a slew of emotionally staggering experiences in their childhoods, or were forced into their current status by pure circumstance. Profession doesn't dictate personality or background. It may proportionately affect each other, but absolutely decide? No way.
    • 149 posts
    February 10, 2016 7:25 AM EST

    Alright, it's obvious you're more lenient than I am with this sort of thing. 

    • 288 posts
    February 10, 2016 8:12 AM EST

    Having a voiced protagonist would be ok if there was an option to pick your voice at the start from at least 3-4 possible opitons.

    Of course, that would mean for them to hire 4 men and 4 women to redo all lines of dialogue for the given choice. And that's for Fallout. For ES they would require 10 races x 2 sexes x 4 choices each = a total of 80 voice actors

    • 773 posts
    February 10, 2016 9:48 AM EST

    Not gonna happen is it.....