*SPOILER ALERT* The ending of Fallout 4 (as well as previous games) is about to be fully disclosed. You have been warned.
Let me preface this by saying that I write the following with a deep love of the Fallout franchise, and I really like the newest entry. That being said, having played ninety-something hours of the damn thing, I’m at the point where I feel I can begin to really start comparing and contrasting with other entries and drawing some conclusions. This was my biggest takeaway:
There was a crucial point in Fallout: New Vegas where, with the final battle at Hoover Dam in sight, the player had to choose. Sure, you could take up the cause of the New California Republic and help bring civilization to the Mojave, but you could also help Caesar expand his brutal tyranny. Alternatively, you could subvert both sides and help Mr. House activate his robot army and take control. Even better, you could kill Mr. House or Caesar and take their forces as your own to conquer and rule the Mojave. Hell, you could forgo giving House’s robots that upgrade and let anarchy rule the desert after the NCR and Legion are defeated.
Much of that may or may not have gone over the heads of those who are not familiar with the title. The point I’m trying to make is that not only did the player have choice, but those choices varied drastically.
I mentioned in my review that Fallout 4 has a much more cinematic presentation than its predecessors. This does work to the games credit, somewhat. Obviously, I also pointed out how the addition of a voiced protagonist worked against the game by constricting dialogue variety. At this point, I’ve played almost one hundred hours and have found that your only real choice is to be a good guy, a good asshole, or a greedy good guy. While that may work for a predefined character like Geralt in The Witcher, where the player is supposed to be limited somewhat, when you are role playing your own character this is much more detrimental to the experience.
However, I’ve found that what bothers me more is that, unlike New Vegas, I can’t choose to conquer the Commonwealth or to destroy all institutions and let anarchy reign. The game has four endings (here it comes):one in which you join and defend the Institute (the “villain”, so to speak) and three in which you destroy it. Granted, those three endings will also feature conflict within the three correlating factions (it’s mostly the Brotherhood of Steel getting in everyone’s face). But, at the end of the day, you are always fighting someone else’s battles, and you are always decidedly good in some way or another.
If your character is a staunch “Synth” supporter (or hater) then you’re set. But what if you don’t care? What if you wanted to have a “Godfather moment”, like you could in New Vegas, and set up the ending to be the moment where you eliminate all enemies in one fell swoop and mold the Commonwealth in your own image? Where is the option to just decimate all civilization and be decidedly bad? The finale of Fallout 4 is called “The Nuclear Option”, but that’s just it, there is no nuclear option.