Right, it’s eleven in the morning, a couple of days before I normally get up, but today I’ve made an exception, to bring you the cutting edge in gaming news. I hope you all appreciate the sacrifices I make for you lot.
Actually, I was watching the last episode of Game Of Thrones season 5, but because of that I had something to watch whilst it was loading. Killing two birds with one stone, or perhaps that should be shooting two of them down with one burst from a plasma rifle – yes, it’s Fallout 4 again! It debuted at E3 last night, and after watching the presentation I feel very strongly about it, but only about the fact that I would like to see some actual gameplay to feel strongly about.
I started to get suspicious when they cut away from the entrance to the vault and the detonation of the bomb, having only gone through character creation and a couple of dialogue trees in the video so far. Hold on, I thought, I was just getting into that. Why have you pulled away from the game literally as it was getting good?
“We don’t want to spoil anything,” explained the presenter, and then went about spoiling the fact that everybody else in the vault died and you’ve been asleep for two centuries for some reason. Sounds engaging, I thought. Could I possibly get to see that? This is basically the stuff you’d put on the back of the DVD after all, and I’d quite like to see something that wasn’t completely scripted. If you’re going to warble on about player freedom, then you could show it to us.
Either my wishes fell on deaf ears or somebody behind the scenes had lost the video file they were looking for, because the next ten minutes were Bethesda talking about the collector’s edition of the game and some free-to-play app that I couldn’t have been less interested in. Fast-forward, fast-forward.
Ah, we’re back. Oh shit, it’s crafting.
Alright, some of it looked interesting. I like the manner in which you hammer bits of weaponry together, because that’s in keeping with the theme, but the house-building dynamic made me rear back like a viper. No, no, no. I know Bethesda aspire to create something for everybody, but this just looks dull. The most boring aspects of Skyrim and the last two Fallout games were always the house management mechanics, and adding turrets isn’t going to spice it up much when I could just wander out to find enemies myself.
I realise I sound like a downer here, but there is stuff I like, and most of my beef is with the manner in which it was presented. I like how Power Armour can be tweaked and seems like more of a vehicle than actual clothing, and when I saw the jetpack I began drooling uncontrollably, a bit like that dog that follows you around.
Speaking of which, I do have some demands about Muttley. Firstly, if it can’t look after itself than I will drop it at the first Deathclaw nest I see and be on my merry way. I’m not interested in playing post-apocalyptic Nintendogs, that animal is going to have to feed and heal himself. Secondly, I suspect that he’s going to glitch a lot, so please, please have that fixed before we get the game. I thought it was cool that you can send him to get stuff for you, but even in the presentation he had to stop suddenly and wrenchingly turn to face the right direction, not to mention that Bethesda games have history of glitchy behaviour.
What else is there? Well, the Pip-Boy now seems more intuitive than the average brain operation, which is nice, and looks less like a badly-made menu system and more like an actual tablet device, though I don’t know why they bothered putting in archaic minigames inside it. If I pay fifty quid for a cutting-edge title, and it immediately asks me if I want to play Donkey Kong, I’m going to politely decline, thank you.
There’s not a lot to be said about the combat, mostly because we didn’t see it much. There was one boring conflict with the most standard enemies and weapons you can get, and then there was just a highlight reel featuring a lot of flash and no substance. Why not show us a low-level fight and a high-level one, so that we can compare the two? By the time I could work out what I was seeing, it had already flicked to the next bit. I hope there weren’t any epileptics in that audience, they’d be in more trouble than the molerats.
Fallout 4 still looks good and whilst the graphics are still letting it down, the actual visual design continues to be superb, capturing the atmosphere and sense of history well. But I’m worried the game is spreading itself too thin, because we really didn’t see much, even though it was trying to show us everything. One fight, a sped-up crafting demonstration, and all the less interesting bits of the plot, and to top it off, the presentation still had to be padded with the dull-looking app and the Collector’s stuff. Look, Bethesda, why don’t you show me what this game is actually like before you try to convince me to buy the version that costs over a hundred bucks?
I’m inherently suspicious of gaming promotion and E3 in particular, but there’s almost nothing to be suspicious of here. If the game isn’t finished, then say so, but this was just weird. It spent so long bouncing between unconnected threads that we didn’t focus on any one thing long enough to understand it. I hope that wasn’t intentional, but like I said, E3 makes me very wary.
You know what I wanted to see? Half an hour of the best gameplay it has to offer, uninterrupted, unedited and live. Fallout 4 seems to be interesting, and it’ll probably be really good, but nothing makes me nervous like the feeling I’m being manipulated, and this presentation gave me that feeling quite badly. It didn’t help that after watching it and feeling kind of average about the whole thing, I was greeted online by an unnervingly rabid fanbase, who’d either been watching a different presentation to me or had all been smoking weed in preparation. It was like stumbling through the doors of some weird cult and suddenly wishing you could leave as fast as possible.
Anyway, what’s next? Battleborn? Yeah, let’s do this.