So, if you made it this far, you have likely considered the fact that the Fallout series has shed its’ style and setting, in exchange for something less distinct. Hopefully, I have been able to demonstrate how the general experience of the games has also changed because of the limited scope (whether you feel that it’s a bad thing or not is another conversation). At this point, the only good news is that the franchise might occasionally get into the hands of a developer who can “sell” silliness via decent writing, to some degree… Apart from that, at least, the old Fallout fans have the good old tactical gameplay to turn to…
Just kidding. These days, an unfriendly wasteland encounter against a stronger foe can be overcome in three ways, and three ways only: having more stimpacks than said foe, having better gear, or having your opponent do something retarded (it often means “glitch”). The only thing that’s left of tactics is VATS, which allows you to pause time and decide whether you want to shoot somewhere other than the head, for some strange reason.
I do have to note though that both types of Fallout combat have been rather fitting for their respective games. Black Isle’s Fallouts were never the type of experience that one would enjoy sitting on a couch in front of an HDTV, giving that surround system a workout. It was always a very personal affair, one would pursue at a desk, in a dim-lit room with a pack of cigarettes (hey, or snacks) and a cup of something bitter. The slow, turn-based combat eased into that mood; it didn’t demand players go on a sudden twitch-fit.
The new Fallout is a different beast altogether, which requires constant action from players. You’ve got to be engaged at all times there, running and looking around in real time , hopping over shit and checking out your Pip Boy, so it only makes sense that such a game is also a first person shooter. The issue, however, is that it isn’t a very good shooter. If either of the latest two games had no RPG elements, being straight up FPS’es, they would have been laughed back into the sewers whence Gamebryo engine crawled out from.
Sure, it isn’t impossible that another Fallout title comes along with some solid first person shooting, packed with NPC’s who possess the brain power to do more than walk erect from side to side (Bethesda now has id after all), but even then, what would differentiate it from any other shooter? VATS? Again, what’s the point of that thing other than startling you shitless when your companion suddenly kills something?
The best that we can hope for is that this series will become as pleasant to shoot things in as some other RPG/FPS titles like Borderlands or Rage. Other than that, there is very little of value anymore. I mean, if you come looking for that other important gameplay element of the Fallout franchise, character interaction, you better hope Obsidian got to work on it.
I do still maintain that I love Bethesda but this point goes back to my original comment about writing. A good chunk of the actual Fallout gameplay involved players interacting with non-player characters through interactive dialogues. When you think about it, what you end up doing most in those sequences is reading so the quality of writing is an enormously important part of such an RPG. Otherwise, the whole major aspect of the experience is not enjoyable and then what is the damn point?
Again, not saying that the originals were Shakespeare but they could provide a few good chuckles and did a great job of fleshing out the various characters and locations. New Vegas was universally praised for better writing as well, while Fallout 3 (the one that was not developed by Obsidian as a shoot-off project) was called “sterile”, yet became a massive hit regardless, which doesn’t bode well for Bethesda hiring a capable writer. I mean, we are not even close to a coherent story here. You do remember that ending, don’t you ?
So… what is left for us, old Fallout fans? The wasteland has become unoriginal and juvenile, the gameplay (both major elements) – bland, mediocre, and the world of Fallout now feels entirely wrong. It’s hard to explain to the new fanbase but we can never simply “get over it” and join their ranks. We cannot enjoy the new Fallout because all it does is remind us of a better version that we once experienced and that is never coming back. We may see glimpses of it again but it simply cannot be anything more so it’s about time to give up hope and offer out final salute. For us, Fallout, the series is no more. It fought valiantly but to no avail. Its’ twisted and ruined body goes down not without a commendable fight. But common sense says that the darkness of the afterlife is all that awaits it now. May it find more peace in that world than it found in this one…