I’ve always had to be discerning with the games I purchase for the simple fact that–with the exception of additional funding received on special occasions such as Christmas and Birthdays–I have a limited financial capacity to be truly frivolous. So I’m dictated by measures of compatibility that reflect my current mood, applying prejudice with detailed specifications so I can amiably conduct an elaborate search for a game that meets a criteria most conducive to my needs, or merely hopeful that a game has reduced in price enough for me to take interest. I utilise reviews, fan opinion and even my own subjective opinions to coordinate a regulated view that justifies the spending of my hard earned pennies. That’s why it has taken me so long to buy Fallout 4. The main point of contention for me not buying it sooner wasn’t down to price, but rather my indifference towards Fallout 3 and by association, New Vegas. I am one of the few people that didn’t really enjoy my tenure through the capital wasteland. I get that that it’s supposed to be a solemn world deprived of civility, steeped in an ambient hue of radiation and acrid elemental stagnation caused by the, you know “Fallout” of the atomic war, that has reduced buildings once flourishing with activity to hollow structures bereft of life. With the rubble and plunging concrete representing the decaying husks of a bygone era of society vigour. The world’s bleak ambience is an integral part of the Fallout mythology, as is shooting rabid canines in each of their appendages with the accuracy of a chip guided into Sam Allardyce gullet, and I get that. But being at the mercy of the aggressive rules and regulations that govern these hostile and desolate lands never captivated me for long, without it feeling repetitious. Yet despite Fallout 4 adhering to a similarly grim structure I’m actually quite enjoying it for a number of different reasons.
Bethesda have always been a rather clumsy developer in my opinion, seeking to create expansive, customisable environments with more bugs than rats mattress. But Fallout 4 actually works…..and well?! There’s a fluidity, a consistency with the games performance, an ability to traverse for more than 5 seconds without the ground swelling and dropping me into a pixilated abyss?! In fairness it has been available for about a year which is maybe enough time for them to fix the litany of discrepancies that were likely present at launch. What really benefits this iteration more than Fallout 3 is a genuinely harrowing sense of loss. For me Fallout 3 focused too heavily on the characters sense of isolation and abandonment, which always made my journey to find my father a little sterile. Here you experience the trauma of loss right in front of you as you *spoiler* watch helplessly as your wife/husband is murdered and your son is taken from you. The fact that I am a father only accentuated the trauma, with the love I have for my daughter reciprocated here.
I’ve never been particularly sensitive to such harrowing events, nor particularly effusive about fictional kidnapping. I don’t have a tendency to moralise such unspeakable acts of treachery either but because I can identify with the character my empathy translates into affirmative actualisation, as I’m compelled to find my kidnapped son. Perhaps I’m just getting old but that kind of moment really did tug at the heartstrings. Well, that is until I realise that I can rebuild settlements in a way that suits my needs and availability. Come on, when I find my son he’s going to need somewhere to live!
I’ve put the game on a difficulty that not only reflects my competency as a competitive player but also admirably describes my ex girlfriend; very easy. By doing so I’m granted a far less arduous journey to facilitate my hermetic need to pick up every piece of scrap I stumble onto. And I’m actually enjoying gathering materials from every shop or derelict residencies, crafting these pilfered items into vital utilities such as shelters, beds, sustainable water supplies and other invaluable resources for my colonised settlements. And believe me they are “my” settlements as no one else lifts a finger to help me! You’d think a 200 year old man would be treated with a little more respect? I’m actively restoring unused space into affordable shelters for my ever growing community, that is both functional and in keeping with the towns rustic aesthetic. When I’m not on an expedition to scavenge more steel I’m eradicating drifting bands of raiders, harvesting crops for other communities and generally protecting the sovereignty and prosperity of fallout communities. It’s a simple yet effective method of immersion that was never really present in its predecessors.
I guess what makes these banal moments so compelling is the gradual accumulation of trash that can be converted into treasure, making thrift exploration of every building worthwhile. Building habitable structures for use as temporary homes or places for merchants to barter creates a distinctive economy through the fastidious gathering of surplus resources, that is only hindered by the limitations of your perception is an auxiliary component that gives my expedient play some substance, a sense of purpose and an overall feeling of contentment. As I sip a refreshing Nuka-Cola on my own personal balcony, watching the sun diminish on the horizon I contemplate the next……Oh crap! I forgot that my son’s been kidnapped?! I’m coming Shaun!……
What game are you playing that you are “late to the party” for? Let me know in the comments below. Cheers.