Since it's release a few weeks ago, I've put quite a lot of time into Fallout 4 (129 hours, according to Steam). Recently, I feel like the game has been giving me diminishing returns on enjoyment provided. A couple nights ago, I threw my arms up in the air and said "No more!" I've decided to write down some of my experiences with two characters here, in case some are on the fence about purchasing the game.
The Honeymoon Phase
I was quite excited to get started on release day. I created a female character, focusing on intelligence and charisma (which is what I've typically gone for as major attributes in other Fallout games). I found the opening sequence to be pretty enjoyable, getting a look at the Fallout world before civilization came to a grinding halt. It was neat to be running for the vault and seeing one of the bombs go off as my family began riding the elevator down.
Upon exiting the vault, I eagerly began exploring the world of 200 years later. When I encountered the minutemen under siege by raiders, I jumped in to help them without a second thought. I found it incredibly odd how quickly this led to getting power armor, which has traditionally been quite a reward in past games. This was even more strange, considering that my character was a lawyer living in a peaceful suburban neighborhood literally hours prior by her reasoning. However, I did really like the feeling of badass-ness it provided when I tore a minigun off a helicopter, jumped off a roof, and started mowing down raiders. I can suspend my disbelief to some extent if I'm having a good time.
Finishing this quest opened up what is both one of my favorite parts as well as biggest annoyances in this game: the settlement system. Building up settlements, as well as going out to create new ones provided many hours of fun. This became a double edged sword, as I continued on with the minutemen and kept being given more and work to save kidnapped settlers and aid their defense. The radiant quests began to become tedious. In the meantime.
During my travels working with the minutemen, I came across various side quests. One thing that bothered me was a feeling of a lack of NPCs and "towns" to deal with. In the interactions I did have with people of the world, I felt like my high charisma and intelligence didn't really do anything for me, other than allowing me to talk others into giving me more caps to do a job. What's the point of having a smart, charismatic character focusing on science type skills if literally every problem I encounter is going to be solved by violence?
I decided to change things up and roll a new character. This time, I made one based on one of my Wasteland 2 characters. Brick is big and strong as an ox, and great with blunt objects, but quite dumb. He started with 1 intelligence. Having experienced the settlement system, I knew I was going to be stuck with putting 6 points into charisma if I wanted to be as effective with it as I would like. This was annoying, but not a huge issue for my character. Brick may be dumb, but he's a lovable big lug.
This time when I came across the minutemen, I saved my game and tried to do something a little different. I wanted to see if there was any way to help the raiders win the fight. There was no way to keep the raiders from attacking me, sadly. Once I obtained the power armor, I decided to kill the one settler for being pissy in her responses to me. I found out that you couldn't kill these NPCs. This blew my mind to be happening in a Fallout game. Where was the ability to be a bad guy if I so chose?
I ended up trying to put more focus on the main questline with Brick, and was far more minimalist with my settlements once they had gotten off the ground. I found this to provide some more enjoyment than I was having, especially when I recruited Nick Valentine to join me. His questline was pretty neat as I resolved it. I was having some fun traveling through the wasteland, smashing skulls, but one thing continued to nag at me. There was very little in the way of choices to make. Again, this is one of the hallmarks of the Fallout series. What stood out even more is how conversations went almost exactly the same. A guy with a hammer who is dumb as a box of rocks shouldn't be sounding just as smart in his dialogue as a brilliant lawyer. This strikes me as the biggest drawback that having a voiced protagonist in the game.
The Straw that Broke the Camel's Back
A few nights ago, Nick and I decided to follow one of the miscellaneous quests I had in my log, which was to check out The Combat Zone. We discovered that it was a club that contained a fighting arena for entertainment. This seemed like it could lead to something cool. Surely a big strong man like Brick could make some caps fighting some fools in the arena, or he could bet on some fights, right? As we walked into the place, the announcer noticed the two of us and called out "And who's this?!". Thinking this was going to lead right into getting in the ring, I strode forward. As soon as the folks in the club saw us, everyone in the place went hostile and attacked. I threw my hands up in the air and gave up.
I looked online for information about that "quest" and discovered that this is the outcome no matter what. Walk in dressed as a raider? They still attempt to kill you. This is absolute bullshit in a Fallout game.
I'm still not totally sure if I'll go back just to finish off the main questline completely. The experience thus far has left a bad taste in my mouth. I do not understand why a company gets the rights to an IP, and then proceeds to rip the soul right out of it. Bethesda did a great job of making a game that can be fun to mess around in and explore, but they failed miserably at making a Fallout game where the character can have a multitude of different approaches to situations and to affect the world they reside in.