It’s okay to feel scammed when your expectations for a product aren’t met. After all, companies strive to establish brands customers can look to for a concise idea of what they are buying. Shouldn’t one be justifiably angry when they’re misrepresented? Fallout, as a brand, is simple: a post-apocalyptic role-playing game with an emphasis on story, statistical mechanics and player choice. Fallout 4 fell short in all of these. The game focused on other mechanics that many players, quite frankly, were not interested in. It wasn’t a bad game by any stretch, it just didn’t feel like a Fallout game. The brand was used as somewhat of a guise.
This rhetorical exercise is an important preface to a tweet sent out by Pete Hines a few days ago. In it, he said that the upcoming Nuka-World DLC would be the last for Fallout 4. It will be the sixth add-on, but only the second “traditional” Fallout expansion as we’ve come to expect. Third if one really wanted to count Automatron, which lacked much in the way of real story content. This is somewhat disappointing, especially considering how Bethesda raised the price of the season pass back in February. The excuse was that their DLC plans had become bigger than originally intended, and they even kept the original price for a period of time to entice gamers to buy in before the hike.
Customers know Bethesda for great DLC support, and therefore this was actually pretty exciting. Both Fallout 3 and New Vegas sported a number of quality expansions (five and four respectively). The Elder Scrolls has seen similar treatments, with great entries such as The Shivering Isles and Dragonborn. Going back to the concept of branding, this came to me as an indication that Fallout 4 would receive similar content.
What we got, however, is decisively disappointing. Far Harbor was admittedly a bit of a surprise. As I noted in my review, it did try to reintroduce sorely missed mechanics back into the mix. But the remainder of the content was simply new stuff to do in the poorly received settlement system. Fans have yearned for story content, and yet the developer continuously tries to shove their attempt at Minecraft in our faces. Far Harbor was a step in the right direction, and hopefully Nuka-World follows suit. But to watch Bethesda’s E3 Press Conference and see them gloat that I could now build a vault was insulting. The company advertised $60 of content, and I don’t know if two good story DLC’s are worth that much. As for the rest, in my mind they could have (and maybe should have) simply been free updates.
What really upsets me is the fact that Far Harbor came as a promise of things to come. It seemed like a statement that Bethesda had heard the complaints and wanted to try to rectify what they could. That is no longer possible. I want to reiterate that Fallout 4 isn’t a terrible game, because it isn’t, but time has not been kind. Unlike Skyrim, Fallout 4’s hype died swiftly, and the internet has largely regarded it as a disappointment. After having logged in a lot of time with a platinum under my belt, I would say the problem was that it wasn’t Fallout. It became an opportunity for Bethesda to experiment with the latest mass-market fads. This misuse of a brand earned the company a lot of money last fall, but now it’s hurting public perception.
You can argue that Bethesda never specifically promised four or five expansions. They didn’t specify what the content would be, and perhaps some even see what was delivered as generous. You would have valid points. I’d say, however, that Bethesda has hurt the Fallout brand, and that fans will approach future entries much more cautiously.