Playing Fallout 4 Makes Me Wish I Had Never Played Fallout 3
I still remember it like it was yesterday. It was a Sunday evening in June. I was staying home for the evening because Bethesda had scheduled an E3 press conference meaning only one thing:
Dishonored 2 was about to be announced… And of course we were going to see some information about the just announced Fallout 4.
Fallout 3 is one of my favorite games of all time. That being the case, you could only imagine how excited I was for the next gen installment of a franchise that I had spent hours upon hours with. What I got from Bethesda’s E3 conference was more than anyone could expect. Not only did we receive new gameplay footage of the game, a release date for the same year and an explanation of new features, we received over a half an hour of content that convinced me that Fallout 4 would be the only game I would need to play for the rest of my life. Moddable weapons? Better graphics? Settlement building? Mini games on your watch? I might as well have sold the rest of my library.
The game is now out. And even though all of the promises made during the conference may not have turned out to be as awesome as anticipated, Fallout 4 is still a feat. It’s nothing less than Fallout 3. The huge interesting world is there. The characters are there. The stories are there. The game is an improvement upon Fallout 3 in nearly every single way. There’s just one problem. Fallout 4 seems to have not had the impact that people initially expected.
Now don’t get me wrong, Fallout 4 is huge. It is both a critical and commercial success. But even though that is the case, there seems to be quite a few people that feel disappointed by the game. Even I was convinced that Fallout 4 would hands down be my “Game of The Year” without a shadow of a doubt. However, on my personal list it landed behind Metal Gear Solid V and Rocket League. The game is amazing and it is still one of my favorites of the year but it doesn’t seem to be as great as it should have been to assume the name “Fallout 4”. But why? If Fallout 3 was this game that came out and took the world by storm because of the scope and depth of the game, and Fallout 4 is essentially a better Fallout 3, then why is it not the game of the year, let alone the game of the generation?
To explain their issues with Fallout 4, people often point to the bugs that can often break the immersion of the game or a lot of the time even break the game itself. Some people have issues with the graphics. A lot of people just find all of the settlement activities to be annoying. Though all of these complaints are valid, I also believe that there is a larger factor behind our feelings about Fallout 4. Right around the time I hit the 40 hour mark in the game, I realized that playing Fallout 4 had made me wish I had never played Fallout 3. Crazy right? Fallout 3 is one of my favorite games of all time! Why would I want to erase that experience from my memory?
Here’s the thing. When I picked up Fallout 3, I had no idea what it was. Surprising right? My parents didn’t like buying games for me when I was in high school and so I was stuck with a PlayStation 2 console until about 2009. That being the case, I never really tuned into IGN or Gamespot every day like I do now because I was too busy with my old games to be reading news about new ones. By 2010, I had enough money to buy a PlayStation 3. Some months later I saw Fallout 3 on a shelf at Gamestop for cheap and picked it up thinking it was just some random shooter. My mind then proceeded to be blown.
I remember my first time playing Fallout 3. I remember playing the first few hours and thinking “Man this game looks kind of rough… When do I get to shoot stuff?” I remember my first time leaving the vault and feeling really small all of a sudden when I realized how open and big the world was. I remember my first enemy encounter with a mole rat outside of the vault and feeling slightly freaked out but also excited to see what else there is out there. I remember the first time I got jumped by raiders, the first time I entered a settlement, the first time I was given the option to do something bad and all of these experiences came together to create something special. Fallout 3 was and is amazing to me for those reasons. These are experiences that are impossible for Fallout 4 to replicate.
Playing Fallout 4 makes me feel like I’m continuing business as usual. It does not feel like a new experience. I like fallout 4’s subject matter more. I like the characters more. However, that’s not enough to make Fallout 4 feel like a new experience. Fallout 4 is a better Fallout 3 when it comes down to it. And that idea makes me sad because in a world where I had never experienced Fallout 3, if I had played Fallout 4, Fallout 4 might have be my favorite game of all time. But since that is not the case, Fallout 4 feels like just another great game to me.