Like failure, misconceptions and criticisms are inevitable. You can’t create a film, a TV series, or a groundbreaking video game without some backlash or misunderstandings. If you try to create a game that will not only entertain audiences but also tries to teach them lessons about the real world, you have to accept the fact that not everyone is going to understand or agree with your intentions. And, if you end up turning that video game into a top selling series with numerous sequels, you have to be prepared to get a few aspects of your own lore and game wrong eventually.
Like the fallout after a nuclear war, misconceptions are inevitable. Some things are outright wrong and need to be correct or clarified as soon as possible, some things are merely an error of judgement, and like many of the choices in Fallout, some things exist in a morally grey area of which the right and wrongness can be eternally debated. I am here to attempt to settle these debates and find a common ground between all those who believe that Curie is a romantic interest and those who think that she is the victim of someone abusing their power.
Both fans, developers, and newbs alike will all carry their own misconceptions and that’s okay. Failure is a part of life. So, in this article, we are going to break down 15 things that the fans the critics, the news, and even Bethesda just got wrong about the Fallout video game series.
15. Life Doesn’t End When The World Does
Similar to how the film Divergent was written off as just another teen-focused dystopian flick rather than being appreciated for its unique view on the human condition after the release of The Hunger Games, Fallout suffered the risk of being written off as well. The idea that anyone would write off such a beautiful, expansive, in-depth, and overall brilliant game as “just another dystopian scavenger world” is frankly insulting to fans and developers alike. Anyone of the many games in the Fallout series is anything but an attempt to cling to the dystopian trend. Its morally grey choices, unique cast of characters, and dialogue options that truly impact and change the story make it one of the best games around. And I am in no way biased.
14. Deathclaw, Not Even Once
In every game, there is a big baddie (not a boss, just an enemy roaming about) that everyone thinks that they can handle (but really can’t.) For Fable 2, it was the balverines who could shred you to pieces before your controller could even register the buttons you had been desperately mashing. In BioShock, it was those damned big sisters. And in Fallout, one of those big baddies are the Deathclaws. Everyone thinks that they can take on a Deathclaw… and everyone is wrong. Now, there are a few lucky people who can do so and they should be praised as our new Gods for their skills and power. However, the rest of us mortals should avoid Deathclaws at all costs. Seriously. Deathclaws? Not even once.
13. No One Is The Good Guy
Usually, games that provide choices make it incredibly clear which choice is the good choice and which choice is the evil, manipulative, and cruel choice which lead to all of the characters hating you, the bad ending, and will seal off plot options for you in the future. It’s difficult to not sway audiences when your choices are “kill your mentor” or “refuse to fight.” Some assumed that this was the way that Fallout worked as well… that one choice was the good choice and the other was wrong. However, Fallout is the master of choice (until the fourth installment) because the right and wrong choices aren’t always clear to the player. Moral ambiguity and grey areas are emphasized in this series as all of your choices will impact the plot, but it’s not always clear how this will happen. No one is always the hero or the villain.
12. Bethesda Gives You No Choices
One of the greatest aspects of the Fallout series is the fact that choices actually matter. Nothing is more infuriating than playing a game in which your choices don’t actually change a thing. It’s like when you’re four years old and your mother asks if you’d rather take your bath now or in fifteen minutes. She’s given you the illusion of choice but either way, you’re still doing exactly what she wants you to do. Which is why fans went mad when Bethesda decided that our the choices made in the fourth installment of the Fallout series wouldn’t actually change that much. Some fans played through the game multiple times, making different choices each time and few aspects of the story actually changed.
11. Is New York Even Real?
There was a bit of a debate brewing online and in forums a few years ago, on whether or not New York still exists in the Fallout series (though this debate can be falsely cleared up if a player chooses to install the New York mod). Basically, some people believe that New York is just a large crater and that it was completely destroyed during the Great War; while others weren’t so sure about that. According to the Fallout Bible (an important guide to the lore of the game), New York underwent a bit of a “hot summer” due to near meltdown of a nuclear reactor in 2065 which lead to mandatory power rationing. This is the only mention of New York in the Bible; therefore there is no reason to believe that the State of New York is nothing but a smoldering crater in the Earth.
10. “Sandboxes: Now In The Desert”
There are some games which are known for their sandbox style open worlds and which are best played in a sort of lawless, free play style rather than following the actual plot structure at all. I honestly don’t think I know a single person who actually plays the mission when they play Grand Theft Auto. It’s much more fun to just steal a car, go to the cabaret, and try to find new and exciting ways to kill your character. Sandboxes are fun and all but nothing beats a movie like storyline with well-written characters and story changing choices. But contrary to some critical belief, Fallout isn’t like that. Sure, exploring can be fun but the moral ambiguity and plot relevance of your choices makes the actual storyline far more intriguing than the lure of exploring the world itself.
9. “It’s Just Bioshock On Land”
Why can’t games be friends? Why must we compare? They are so different, it hardly seems fair (sung to the beat of the 1997 smash hit “Why Can’t We Be Friends” by Smash Mouth.) Jokes aside, nothing drives me up the wall faster than the idea that two games can’t have “similar” concepts without being accused of one ripping the other off. Now, I know that the first Fallout game came out at least a decade before BioShock hit shelves. However, I have seen some critics accuse Fallout 4 of ripping its dark and satirical 1950s style directly from the second BioShock‘s idealized underwater world. I adore both games and just have to say that the idea of a satirized ‘50s setting is neither unique nor groundbreaking for either game. However, each game explores the conventions and ideals of the time in a unique way.
8. The Power Of The Bomb
Nuclear weapons are intense and their damage is both impressive and devastating. Nuclear bombs have a notorious reputation and are known for their impactful destruction and the unique ways in which they can entirely wipe out cities and areas miles from where the actual bomb hit. So why is Washington DC in such good condition, even though it was a known target? Simply put, it’s because the weapons in Fallout are not, in any way, equal to the modern counterpart nuclear type weapons which we have in our reality. They are messy, incredibly weak (when compared), and really aren’t capable of the devastation that one real world bomb is. Some gamers expected Hiroshima levels of damage and were frustrated and disappointed to find some affected areas relatively unscathed in the game.
7. A Synth Without A Purpose
What was the purpose of the synths in relation to the plot and thematic structure? Were they the product of bad writing, like many who peruse online forums suggest, or are they an attempt to embody parts of the theme itself? Since every generation of synths is an improvement on the last and the third generation is barely even recognizable when compared to the first, it seems as though that they are an allegory for human evolution itself. At this point, they are more human than not (though they would be greatly offended if they heard me say that). It is my belief that the Synths embody the notions of the failures of man’s struggle for perfection and crippling flaws that could have lead to the Great War in the first place.
6. The Children Of Atom (And Eve)
The Children of Atom is a church based around the idea that the nuclear fallout of the Great War was not a tragedy but rather a beautiful moment of creation and they continually expose themselves to “Atom’s glow” in an attempt to be blessed by this sacred event. But none of their members suffer from visible signs of radiation sickness and none become ghouls. Why? This topic is widely debated within the fandom. Some believe that it’s because they are synths. Others believe that they are frauds, early gen ghouls, or that they might even be right about the blessings of Atom’s glow. I believe that their immunity, whatever its cause may be, is thematically relevant rather than a product of bad writing (as some have suggested). Maybe we should see the Great War as a chance for a new beginning rather than the end.
5. Master Of None
Ah, it is time to discuss the biggest baddie of all: The Master. It seems like it isn’t a proper game unless there someone tries to overcome the flaws of humanity itself through diplomatic or forced actions. The second someone talks about a “master race,” you can safely brand them as a villain. The Master’s master plan was to allow his race of super mutants to run out the last few humans out there because he firmly believes that his “superior race” of creatures won’t have the same flaws as humans. Okay, no. First of all, no race of anything is without flaws. Second, I’m sure that the mutants would end up fighting with each other eventually. And third, any “master apologists” out there are straight up wrong. The Master’s plan was evil, wrong (morally and in the technical sense,) and just kind of dumb/short sighted.
4. Perception Schmerception
Perception, schmerception. Who cares? Especially when there are so many more important stats that one can focus on. But I am here to tell you that perception should not be so easily overlooked. Perception affects a lot more than those who cast it aside would have you think. First off, increased perception directly affects the perks you qualify for, can make it easier for you to hide from enemies, how easily you can wipe said enemies out, and will directly affect any VATS (should you use them). Sure, there may be stats that are of more direct value with an immediate payoff, but perception isn’t the waste of space that some people act like it is. If used correctly, it can be worth a second look.
3. Does Harold Want To Die?
In a game as morally grey and ambiguous as Fallout, there are bound to be situations that make players question their choices and whether or not sparing someone’s life is the correct course of action. It seems like the choice to save someone’s life would always be the most moral and upstanding choice; however, one must take into consideration the suffering of said person and the consequences of each action. In this Reddit thread, players debate whether or not Harold truly wants to die and whether or not your attempts to spare or end him are right or wrong. If Harold wants to live, then killing him is cruel. But if he secretly wants to die, wouldn’t forcing him to live be cruel in its own way? Is either choice “the right one?”
2. Is There A Curie For Love?
Most books, movies, TV shows, and games feature a romantic storyline… however can all of those relationships be considered healthy? The good people of Reddit got into a bit of a debate on whether the Sole Survivor’s relationship with Curie is a productive, healthy, and safe relationship that benefits both parties or if, instead, it is the product of abuse of power dynamics, manipulation, and general skeeviness. Though the relationship is commonly accepted, it is my belief that it isn’t the healthiest of affairs. She doesn’t really understand the world, herself, and doesn’t possess the experience needed in order to form a healthy relationship based on emotional maturity, mutual understanding, and trust.
1. It’s Not Just A Game
If the news is to believed, video games will lead to the death of humanity. However, some simple and engaging escapism can be great… unless your idea isn’t that far from reality after all. Maybe a Fallout-esque future could be waiting for us… I mean, the world of Fallout is completely destroyed and their nuclear weapons aren’t as nearly as powerful as ours. In this VICE article, a scientist named Dr. Mills details what would happen if only 100 15 kiloton detonators went off. Disasters include fires so hot that everything around becomes fuel, five million tonnes of carbon being released into the atmosphere, and mass crop death which could lead to mass starvation. Well, that just raised my stress levels to from six to eleven.
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