After barely paying attention to Fallout 4‘s main campaign storyline for nearly two months, I rushed through it over the course of two days during my holiday time off at the end of December 2015. Not necessarily because I wanted to, but I wanted to experience it, at the very least, for myself before having any details unearthed while listening to the numerous “Game of the Year” podcasts popping up online right around now. Unfortunately, I really disliked the ending I got and, strangely enough, wasn’t even aware that I was moving through the final mission, similar to what happened in Rage, wherein I think things are just beginning to unravel, but in reality they are winding down.
Let it be known here and now that I’ll be talking a bit about my Fallout 4 playthrough, and there will be spoilers in terms of factions and quests and quests for factions and how there are no more quests for specific factions because of the quests I decided to do. Got it? Okay, let’s roll out. I’m speaking to Dogmeat, by the way, not you.
The sole survivor of Vault 111 in my Fallout 4 is a bearded man who prefers to use a silenced pistol until things go haywire, and then any gun–usually a damage-heavy shotgun–will do the trick when the bad guys/girls/monsters get too close for comfort. He also loves collecting coffee mugs out in the wild, hanging up paintings of cats everywhere, and, most importantly, befriended Nick Valentine early on, before the quests became the sort that demand you make separate save sessions. Y’know, in case everything goes wrong.
Anyways, when I play a roleplaying game, I roleplay–shocking, I know. So, for my character, a reasonable man who ensured that Nick Valentine got answers to the questions nibbling away at his synthetic mind, I ended up siding the Institute. From the very start, the Institute is portrayed as evil incarnate, kidnapping people from the Commonwealth and replacing humans with metal lookalikes. That said, I had already seen the good that Synths could be by the time I reached the Institute in my playthrough, some fifty-plus hours in, and after exploring the facilities beneath C.I.T., I was a believer that the world above needed these people to thrive. Sorry, Brotherhood of Steel, but it’s true.
No, really sorry, Brotherhood of Steel. See, by siding with the Institute, the final missions for this decision demand you murder and eradicate every last member of the Brotherhood of Steel. Ugh. As well as everybody in The Railroad, an organization I had only briefly interacted with via the main quest. The Minute Men were allowed to continue existing, not viewed as any tangible threat. I looked up what happens when siding with the other factions, and you, more or less, are forced to killed others to ensure the strength and longevity of your chosen faction. I’m not a fan of this–at all. Sure, my sole survivor has killed bandits and raiders and plenty of too-far-gone ghouls, but has never once shot an innocent bystander. That’s not the type of person he is.
I will say, murdering all of the Brotherhood of Steel was a whole lot easier to do–gameplay-wise and morally–than the Railroad. Perhaps it is due to all their armor and weapons and advancements that they feel like a foe on equal footing with my sole survivor and his brood of Synth assassins. Murdering all of the Railroad really hit a disgusting chord with me; I walked into their base as a friend and left as a ghost, bodies piled here and there. I did not loot a single soul. I did not take anything from anywhere. I did what I had to do, apologizing before each and every V.A.T.S. headshot, and I got out of there. I wish there was some other way. In Fallout: New Vegas, and I think Fallout 3 as well, if your charisma and speech skills are strong enough, you can basically talk your way to the end and around a big ol’ bloodbath. Doesn’t seem to be the case here, and that is a major bummer, especially since I unlocked a ton of perks related to these skills, thinking there would be some options down the line.
Here’s the thing. Bethesda does not have a strong history with the main campaigns and conclusions to its games. You are scarcely involved in the final fight of Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. I barely remember what happened in Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, though I think it had to do with speaking with a dragon atop a mountain and then leaving you to stand there afterwards completely dumbfounded as to what to do next. Fallout 3 did not take into consideration logical solutions to entering that radiation-filled room, and only DLC allowed you to keep playing after fixing the water situation in the Capital Wasteland. Fallout 4 concludes with a lot of seemingly unnecessary killing–your pick of who gets it–and the departure of your child. It’s a boring ending, to be honest, and it feels like little thought went into it based around your character’s actions and decisions leading up to the final blasts. The loss of choice is overwhelming.
This is what I do know though. When I restart Fallout 4 with a new character, which I will definitely do some time in the future, most likely an evil woman with a penchant for melee weapons modded to the extreme, I will only go so far into the main quest. Only to the point where you are on good terms with every faction, where you can help everyone out…to a point. Crossing that murder line is something I’m not interested in doing again, unless it is to murder Deathclaws or a swarm of Bloatflies. Not people, not humans (or human-like humans) that you can converse with and grow close to and revisit from time to time to regale with your wild, crazy adventures out in the Commonwealth.
Ultimately, Fallout 4 is a much better game to play and live in than conclude.