Why Bethesda's 'Fallout' Games Are Bad


I love the Fallout universe. I love it more than the Wasteland universe and I have about 40,000 hours logged on Wasteland 2 Director’s Cut on Steam (thisisaliebuttherearealotofhours) so that’s some example of how much I love it. Fallout and Fallout 2 are incredible games. But here we hit a problem…

Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas and Fallout 4 are also incredible games. But they’re also bad. They’re all set circa 200 years after the Great War of 2077… except no they’re not. In the first two games, people are rebuilding. It’s been less than 100 years since the Great War, and there are new towns, there is fresh water, and there are mutants everywhere. In the Bethesda games, it should at least look like 200 years have past, or at least 100 years of rebuilding. And what does it look like?

It looks like maybe 30 years have passed, tops. Cars still have intact windows and paintwork that hasn’t entirely flaked off; light bulbs still work when connected to suspiciously-still-functioning power grids; freshwater sources are still blighted by severe radioactivity that would simply not affect freshwater sources after two centuries; turning on a cathode tube television set covered in moss yields a Please Stand By message even though there’s nobody broadcasting one, and even if there were, just like the radio stations they would be able to broadcast new programming.

The aesthetic is beautiful, don’t get me wrong. I love it. When Fallout 4 released I turned it on and I fell in love with it another time. 3 and New Vegas were pretty, but they suffered the PS3/360 era problem of MAKE EVERYTHING GREY AND BROWN – 4 has colour. It has character and charm and it looks gorgeous. But it still looks like it’s taking place 30 years after the bombs, not 200.

So if Bethesda had say, set their games in 2110 instead of 2270 onwards it their aesthetic would have made sense. But since they haven’t, it doesn’t. It’s jarring. I notice it when I play the games despite how good the games are - I mean come on, Big Mountain was probably the best expansion to any game ever. “Do I hear the pitter-patter of tiny many-penised feet?” - I laughed at that so hard that Paul had to bring me water because my throat went hoarse. The stories, especially in New Vegas (less so in 3 and 4) are engaging and entertaining and the arching plots (when they don’t glitch) are deep and well executed.

They’re all really, really great games. But they’re bad. And it’s because of the very aesthetic that makes them unique.



I’ve only ever played Fallout 4. I got some kind of bonus when I bought it through the Microsoft/Xbox store, so I later got access to Fallout 3 when the XB1 compatibility hit (it may have auto-installed, I dunno), but I’ve not fired it up.
It seemed like they pushed a progress-was-stunted vibe for part of it, but I get what you’re saying. There have been a few times where I saw something odd and was like, “Ha ha, BS Flag!” and moved on.


I haven’t played any of the Fallout games since Fallout 2 with the exception of the iOS Fallout Shelter (which I recently got back into due to the addition of a new Quests mechanic) and I’m worried I won’t find F3 or newer enjoyable because they look very, very brown. The old Fallouts has a really good mix of silliness in design and writing I’m not seeing int he newer ones.

I’ll try them, but I don’t have a system they’ll run on right now. Maybe when the Hackintosh is up I’ll devote the small SSD to a bare Windows install.


Oh yes. FO3 and NV both suffer the Realistic Brownening Effect. Especially NV… it’s in a desert. Deserts are brown, right? Like, everywhere? I’ve seen pictures of deserts looking brown, it must be true for all of them!


Quick question -
Does anyone know how the DLC works in the Ultimate/GOTY editions? I started playing Fallout 3 on Xbox 360/One. I’m to the point where I’d like to add the extra stuff that came later, but I can’t find a Season Pass like they had with Fallout 4. Shopping around, I see Fallout3 Game of the Year edition (and Fallout New Vegas Ultimate edition), and while the discounted price is tempting, I’m leery of buying them online. If the difference is a code you have to enter, and it has already been used, that doesn’t really do me much good. Similar with the Vegas one - I’m tempted to grab it, but don’t want to have to pay extra later for the add-ons.


You raise a good point, I’ve not seen the separate DLCs in physical media at all, I’m pretty sure that they were download only, in which case you’ll probably just be redirected to the GOTY editions now - no point in maintaining a store page when people coming new to the franchise can just get the special edition instead.

I’m pretty sure that the FO4 Season Pass only exists because all big studio games have Season Passes now, they weren’t really a thing yet outside of sports games when FO:NV was released.


Oh, that makes sense. Other than multiplayer maps in Halo, I guess this is the first console game series I’ve played where there is a lot of extra stuff they added later.

I found Fallout 3 GOTY and New Vegas Ultimate at Walmart for $12.88 each. In a moment of weakness, I bought them both. I found physical disks of the FO3 add-ons available online, but a couple were way overpriced. $13 was cheaper than getting any two of the add-ons that way. Going through the console to the Microsoft game store, they’re five bucks each, so again it was cheaper to buy the game again than 3+ DLCs.

I already had the download version of FO3 from the FO4 bundle I bought before. When I put in Disc 1, it just launched the game - no extras appeared. When I popped in Disk 2, it prompted and started downloading the extras. Now when I boot up the game it has an extra step of loading DLC, but it worked! Hmm - I haven’t yet removed Disk 2. I hope I won’t have to have that in the drive every time I launch the game. I was extremely leery of getting download versions games, without physical discs, but it is sooo nice to be able to quit one game and launch another without getting up to swap the disc.

The game is old, so this should not be a spoiler:
It is kind of annoying that something that happened in the first 15-20 minutes of the game, when you don’t really know what’s going on or what you’re doing, comes back to bite you in the ass later. At the time, conversation broke down and I didn’t see a way to get out of the Vault without shooting the Overseer. After revisiting Vault 101 and having a similar problem with the his replacement, I look at an online walkthrough that said a non-banishment option was available but only with the original Overseer. Aww, nuts! That’s going to be nagging at me until I go back, restart and replay the beginning part, which won’t happen for a while because I now have a ton of new content!

Back on the topic of Bethesda bad - Like @Force10 mentioned in another thread, I’m not jazzed about Fallout 76 being multiplayer. In an interview I read a couple days ago, they said it will have a single player mode/aspect later on, but not at launch, and likely nothing like the previous games. I have next to zero desire to have some random actual human dillweed trash my camp; the raiders and mutants were bad enough. OTOH, I will probably get it, because I have one buddy who’s wife will not let him play in peace unless he is online with other people, usually me.
Also, it looks like 76 may be much greener / less brown than previous installments!