First impressions are everything. Back in my theater school days, our teachers told us that the audition process really only took 5 seconds; that in the time it took for you to open the door and walk to the center of the room, the casting agents saw 99% of what they needed to see. Doesn’t matter how well you prepared your monologue, or if your accents are up to snuff, or how good your pratfall skills are; it’s simply the gut reaction to seeing you emerge and present yourself. It’s over before you even open your mouth.
This applies to pretty much everything, regardless of medium. The first sentence of a book; the opening notes of a song; hell, even the title screen to a movie – these all set the stage for what happens next.
And so it is to my great chagrin and disappointment that the opening hour or two of Fallout 4 has fallen utterly flat for me. If I hadn’t spent hundred upon hundreds of hours with Bethesda’s other open-world RPGs and were therefore inclined to give FO4 the benefit of the doubt, I’d be seriously considering selling my Pip-Boy edition on eBay.
The irony, of course, is that I haven’t played enough of it to properly articulate my feelings as to why I’m feeling so out of sorts with it. Which means that I need to play more of it. Which I don’t want to do, at all.
What I can say, though, even in the tiny amount of time I’ve spent with it, is that it looks old. Antiquated. Like an iteration of the Fallout 3 engine, only with a more diverse color palette. Certain environments are clearly copied and pasted, and even in the town of Sanctuary, which is pre-fab even before the bombs start falling, it’s distressing how obvious it is. Characters’ mouths don’t match up with the words they speak, which would’ve been excusable 10 years ago. The game feels stiff and stodgy in my hands – and while this might be because I just spent 50 hours playing both Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and Rise of the Tomb Raider, where character movement is meant to be incredibly fluid, it’s still a thing that I’m feeling, and I can’t help it.
It also doesn’t help that the game doesn’t explain itself at all. The only reason why I know about crafting and resources and scavenging is because I read a whole bunch of preview and review coverage. There’s a workshop in the very first town you come to once you escape the Vault, and while there’s a very brief tutorial that shows you how it works, it doesn’t explain why it’s something you need to know, and in any event there’s nothing you can really do with it at that point anyway – so why bother introducing it? I have successfully modded a pistol, but I’m sure I’m going to come across some better guns soon enough; should I bother?
I’ve also succumbed to some serious radiation poisoning already – far more than I ever received in FO3, and this is just from doing some very minor off-the-main-path exploring in FO4’s first hour – and the potions that I thought would fix that don’t seem to be working. So either I’m doing something wrong, or there’s a bug, or… I don’t know. Hopefully there’s a doctor nearby that can patch me up, because if I’m going to be down a full third of my maximum health for the next hundred hours, I might as well just re-roll and try again.
I dabbled a little bit in Star Wars Battlefront last night, too – just some of the solo tutorial stuff, if only so that when I finally do some co-op or general online mayhem, that I know what the hell I’m doing. It’s gorgeous, which I suppose goes without saying. It’s also a big shallow and a little dumb, but you know what? That’s kinda my speed, when it comes to online multiplayer. Mindless action, where I can just turn my brain off and blow shit up with buddies? I can dig it.
I also played maybe 10-20 minutes of Hard West, which is best described as XCOM in the Old West, and that game is pretty neat! It’s not optimized for the Steam Controller, though, and I’m either gonna need to find my 360 controller or just use a mouse and keyboard like a regular person.
The wife and I had a movie date yesterday afternoon and caught Spectre, which was better than I’d been led to believe. Sure, it dabbles a lot deeper into the grosser parts of the classic, misogynistic Bond mystique than any of the previous Daniel Craig films – like basically raping Monica Bellucci literally hours after her husband’s funeral for no particular reason – and Cristoph Waltz isn’t particularly sinister or eeeeee-vil, but overall? Not a bad way for Craig to make his exit, if this is indeed his last Bond film. I might be more forgiving than most critics if only because this was the first time that the wife and I got to go to the movies in several months, and it was easy enough to turn off the critical-thinking parts of our brains.