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Bethesda and the future of TES/Fallout


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I recently picked up a Xbox One X and on a whim decided to get Fallout 4, Oblivion and Skyrim. Oblivion mostly for nostalgia and the other 2 for the increased mod support thanks to MS being far less restrictive than Sony.

From my first playthrough on, there were a lot of things that annoyed me with Fallout 4. Namely the dialogue system, the awful story, the restrictive settlement building and the overall shoddy gameplay. Luckily, the restrictive settlement building can be easily fixed across all platforms with mods. That still leaves one with an awful story, a shitty dialogue system and awful gameplay.

Now that I have played it again, I began to pay a bit more attention to some of the stuff that were going down in the game.

Radiant everything: I feel they went completely overboard or just didn't care for making that stuff believable. I have a hard time believing that Raiders would trek across half the map to harass a settlement with 2 people and 10 Tato plants. That's just not believable in the slightest especially because there are far more lucrative places across the way. Likewise I have a hard time believing that a bunch of raiders manage to threaten a settlement that is guarded by 10 Automatrons and 15 or so Rocket turrets.

Incompetence: A "rumor" surfaced that you were originally able or supposed to fight in the Combat Zone (which is pretty much just a Raider Base now) but Beth couldn't figure out how to remove only ranged weapons from your inventory so that stuff was scrapped. The same is supposedly true for the robot racetrack too. Of course Bethesda never really said anything to that but considering how they had to handle the metro in Fallout 3, I don't think it's too far fetched to assume that it's most likely true.

Fast Travel: I normally don't mind fast travel enough but with Fallout 4 I noticed that the game relies on it too much. Radiant Quests take you to such remote locations that travel on foot is a chore. Settlement attacks are another thing, if you were to travel to the settlement that is being attacked by foot, you'd never make it in time. Additionally it is kind of dumb that you have to travel to a settlement with a 500 defense rating to make sure that the attack is repelled - the cap for a successful defense is embarrassingly low. They also failed to make the world itself interesting and a lot of places are devoid of any interesting side tidbits. Overall exploration is very underwhelming this time around.

A Rollercoaster: That sums up the MSQ pretty much. The MSQ makes sure that you get to see all their awesome and cool set pieces. Wow a Deathclaw. Wow Power Armor. It carefully navigates you through the world, ensuring that you never break the sequence in the MSQ by blocking off access to vital areas (Can't have you miss out on Dogmeat, Nick, Piper or a trailchase by having you encounter Kellog early in Fort Hagen). They also make sure that you meet all the factions one way or another. Even if you don't care to find the railroad, one of the factions will eventually want you to find them. Same with the minutemen. Same with the BoS, they make absolutely sure that you witness their grand entrance into the commonwealth.

Dialogue in itself: Apart from the terrible dialogue system they added into the game, some of the dialogue options are really questionable. For example, for some odd reason, the devs expected that your first contact with ghouls will be in Goodneighbor. You can meet a bunch of ghouls on the way and the MC doesn't give a fuck but boy, when you enter goodneighbor, you can freak out at Hancock's and the Shopkeeper's appearance as if it's the first time you meet a ghoul.

So after playing Fallout 4, I did play some Skyrim and I noticed a bunch of similarities but for some odd reason, they are less obvious than they were in Fallout 4. I guess that stems from the fact that Skyrim has more to offer than collecting junk to build a few shacks. I mean, part of my routine was usually to level up illusion and sneak which in itself usually involves some time away from the MSQ or the overall woes of Skyrim and the Empire.

But just like Fallout 4, Skyrim makes sure that you can not break the sequence within the MSQ. The MSQ also makes sure that you know of all the factions that are available in the game.

That one time Companions event when going from Riverwood to Whiterun.
The scripted event in Riften AND just in case you missed that, the MSQ makes sure you meet the Thieves Guild.
A conversation in Windhelm about the boy who wants to contact the Brothers of the Hood.
The College of Winterhold - you have to meet their angry librarian.

Since skipping part of the MSQ isn't an option, I am almost convinced that they wanted to make you hate the Thalmor that way - by sending you to their dumb party on the whims of a has been blades agent. I mean, I didn't like the Thalmor before but having to go to their party for fuckall didn't make me like them any more. That part also reflected very poorly on the Blades.

The dialogue in Skyrim is also pretty wonky. After the MSQ your MC should have a general idea of Elder Scrolls, yet the first thing you can do, when meeting Serana is to ask her, like a total dunce, what an Elder Scroll is. The same happens across the board - your character's responses can go from competent adventurer to total moron - and that is pretty annoying because it breaks roleplaying in more than one way.

Vampirism: I am pretty much convinced at this point that the reason why they removed the NPC hostilities at stage 4 was because they couldn't fine tune it in any way. Because now the only downside to being a vampire is the minuscule penalty to HP/MP/STA regeneration in sunlight and the weakness to fire. And both can be easily overcome with enchantments. I have to say, that people attacked me on sight if I was stage 4 was a double edged sword. On the one hand it gave me a reason to be careful and stay fed - on the other hand I found it incredibly stupid that someone with max disposition towards me would attack me the moment I reach stage 4 or that people who, more or less belong to a guild but aren't really considered members within the engine, would attack me on sight (like Maven). Instead of doing something else they just applied a blanket fix and nobody cares now. Maybe they couldn't apply anything else, who knows. Shame that they tossed attributes out of the window because Oblivion, with Personalty and Disposition, offered a pretty neat framework for that.

Stealth/Invisibility: Is also a thing that has gotten worse with every iteration of their "Totally not the Morrowind Engine guise" Creation Engine. In Oblivion, if you were invisible, you could run around, bump into people and (if it didn't break) could attack people and they'd have no idea where you are. With Fallout 3 came changes to that. Bumping into people would now result in them knowing where you are. Skyrim took things further, in addition to bumping into people, running normally would give your location away too. AND NEW NEW NEW NEW if you bumped into a reanimated corpse, the whole dungeon would know where you are - note that all these things also happen when invisible. Fallout 4 took this even further - if you or your companion bump into each other, everyone will know your location. So I shudder to think how it will be handled in the next instance of their creation engine.

Lastly, while we all like to point and laugh at Fallout 76 and it's failures we should remember one thing - that engine will most likely be the basis for TES VI