The Fallout series has been something of a touchy subject for fans lately. Many wish we could go back to the good old days of Fallout New Vegas and forget the debacle that’s been Fallout 76 and the meme fodder of Fallout 4.
But there are some things that Fallout 4 delivered that show a lot of promise that with a little reworking could make Fallout 5 a fascinating experience. It also goes without saying that there are some things in Fallout 76 that Bethesda should avoid like the plague if they hope to appease disgruntled fans.
10 Fix: Settlements
Settlements were introduced as an interesting side mechanic that was never necessary and required too much work and headache to get any use from. But that’s not to say there isn’t a lot of potential to settlements that could be used in Fallout 5.
Incentivizing players to create a network of living breathing settlements for defense, resources, or to obtain military power could introduce a fun dynamic. Imagine if players could create outposts to defend against a Brotherhood of Steel incursion or to raise an army to attack the Enclave.
9 Avoid: Minimal NPCs
NPC interactions have always been a rough game mechanic as it’s hard for developers to create realistic characters that don’t come across as robots. In Fallout 76 Bethesda did the worst thing imaginable by sparsely populating the world with literal robots. On a server with low activity it’s like wandering the spaceship in Passengers.
The game world feels empty and void if there aren’t any players around to populate it. Bethesda games are known to be rich experiences filled with living, breathing worlds that players can explore and interact with. It would be wise to avoid this mistake and make sure Fallout 5 has people, mutants, creatures and everything in between to interact with.
8 Fix: Quests
A running joke among Fallout 4 players are the Minutemen quests that Preston sends you on. In a world populated with men and women who survived the wasteland all this time without you, they suddenly need you to save them every time you speak with him.
Ensuring that quests are more meaningful and dynamic would go along way to make Fallout 5 a great game. Fallout 4 had the potential as demonstrated by some interesting Brotherhood of Steel quests, but it’s definitely something that needs improvement.
7 Avoid: MMO Centric
The idea of multiple players banding together in Fallout 76 to repopulate the wasteland is an interesting premise, but one that stumbles because it attempts to be an MMO. Players have been conditioned by Fallout games to approach things in single-player fashion, dumping those same players together in a large sandbox and hoping they work together or fight was a terrible idea.
Admittedly that isn’t to say some multiplayer aspects wouldn’t be a benefit. Something like a co-op centered Fallout game could be really interesting, like a squad of players working together to obtain a new water filter for their Vault. But Fallout 5 could really do without the MMO treatment.
6 Fix: Transportation
It’s always appreciated when games give you a variety of options for traversing the world. Fallout 4 lets you explore the waste on foot or utilize a number of fast travel options to get where you need to go.
But something Fallout 5 could benefit from is having a travel option that sits between the two. Skyrim, for instance, allows players to travel via horse, it’s faster than walking and doesn’t skip the chance to explore like fast travel does. Including a middle option in Fallout 5 like salvaged cars, horses, or even some creature to ride would be appreciated.
5 Avoid: Minimal Story
Another flaw of MMOs is that developers often lean on players to create the content for other players. Fans of the Fallout series have been conditioned to be the heroes of an epic story with morally gray choices to be made. But in Fallout 76 players are little more than Gofers and rely upon roleplaying for any semblance of meaning.
To be fair the concept of the Scorched is interesting, but it seemed rushed and under utilized. If Fallout 5 hopes to be a good game it needs a rich and dynamic story like Fallout New Vegas had or it’ll fall flat like Fallout 76.
4 Fix: Story That Incentivizes Exploration
Your spouse has been murdered and the man responsible has kidnapped your only child. Why on earth would you spend a single second doing anything that doesn’t help you find your son? Why would you waste time building up settlements, talking about anything other than ‘have you seen a man matching the description of the kidnapper’ or get sidetracked and explore abandoned vaults?
The story, while compelling, doesn’t incentivize players to explore and experience the world the developers created. Fallout 5 should have a story that compels the player to get things done and progress, but not be afraid or feel guilty for taking a moment to wander when you should be looking for your son.
3 Avoid: Player Based Content
This was touched upon before, but bears repeating. Fallout 5 shouldn't rely upon other players to create content. A world like Fallout 76 only works if all players are interested in building things and creating conflict, something players haven’t been trained to do in previous Fallout games.
It works in games like Eve Online because players are conditioned to behave that way from the beginning, but Fallout has always been a series about finding abandoned locations, hunting down vicious creatures, or overthrowing tyrannical factions. If your average player wants to be the hero and help other players or spend time socializing there’s no conflict to fight against.
2 Fix: Dialogue
With a morally gray game like Fallout 4 it’s important that players fully understand what they’re committing to when they speak. It was a major flaw to make the dialogue options little more than two or three word clues with a vague idea of the tone.
Players often responded to an NPC with what they thought was a neutral response only for the full sentence to be more critical than they intended. Let’s not even get started about the infamous Sarcastic option that feels like a gamble every time you pick it. Fallout 5 needs a more robust dialogue system with clear indicators of what your character is about to say.
1 Avoid: Lack Of Factions
Perhaps the biggest oversight by Fallout 76 is not giving the player the option to join one of the many interesting factions in Fallout’s lore. Admittedly the developers might have been trying to say that the players themselves are the founders of these future factions. Like the players banding together to nuke everyone else is the beginning of the Enclave or players obsessed with hunting down Scorchers are laying the foundation for the Brotherhood of Steel ideology, but it feels lacking.
Fallout 5 needs dynamic and rich factions for players to join. They need clear ideologies and motives for players to align themselves with and clear conflicts with other factions. Fallout is a series about survival and conflict and factions are the best way to deliver that conflict.