When I was a younger man, I spent far too much time playing RPGs. Games like the SNES Final Fantasies, Super Mario RPG, Secret of Mana, Daggerfall, and Chrono Trigger were things I would play again and again, seeking out all the secrets they had hiding in the corners of their game worlds. These well-crafted stories with gorgeous music and worlds containing any number of hidden elements were such an integral part of my high school years that I have spent a lot of time trying to relive those days in my adult life with varying results through emulators and the like.
So, one would think a game like Fallout 4, which turns all these elements up to 11 should be precisely my cup of tea. And, I’ve spent the past few years since it came out rather eager to explore the Wastelands, even if the previous entries in this series (which are far different) weren’t really something I was ever able to get in to. And the whole concept of having a game with a 30 hour main campaign, plus nearly 70 hours of extras, on top of all the just plain completion elements, meant that I should have more than enough game to get me feeling some of those old feels of exploration.
Instead, I found myself focusing on one of the things that I hated so much about so many of those previously named RPGs: the battles. Square-styled RPGs were incredibly formulaic with the battles. While there was certainly some strategy to winning the turn-based combat, and sometimes they had little button sequences you needed to remember in order to complete an attack effectively, it generally became quite repetitive quickly. This actually isn’t the case with Fallout 4, however. What was the case, though, is that I just couldn’t get good at it. The battles are real time, but there’s no real good way of knowing if a mission you’re working on is beyond your character’s abilities until you are well into it. And so, suddenly, you’re completely out of ammunition and health items, knowing you’ve spent countless hours and bottlecaps (the in-game currency) to get to this point, only to have to turn tail and run to go do some other mission, knowing you’re going to have to come back and deal with cleaning up this mess at some point in the future.
There were so many turn tail and run moments for me during my 25 hours of gameplay that although the main storyline is supposedly only 30 hours long, I wasn’t even at the halfway point according to any of the walkthroughs I consulted to determine my progress. And…I just wasn’t having that much fun.
But the thing is, this game really does take all those things I loved from those games I cranked through time and again in high school and turn them up to their highest level. By all means, I really should have been playing this game down to its last secret storyline. But the truth of the matter is, I just got bored and frustrated.
In reality, I only have so much time for games in my day-to-day, so my frustration probably comes down to not feeling like I actually got anywhere during my playtimes. If I were a younger man, however, with a much more open schedule, I have a feeling that I probably would have had a far different experience.
Which is probably why this game was so beloved. And probably should be.