Bethesda has just teased its new Fallout game and while it’s not exactly the next Elder Scrolls I’m still pretty excited!
At work me and my gaming colleagues were discussing the game and there were definitely some mixed opinions. Largely this was due to the fact that Fallout 4 is not as good as the previous post apocalyptic frolics us gamers have been on. Not that I have played the others to make a judgement! The main argument that came up is that Fallout 4 was a dumbed down RPG.
It’s an interesting argument and one that I have heard before in reference to both Fallout and other RPGs like the Elder Scrolls series. It is an argument that I myself have subscribed to in the past, having played Oblivion before Skryim when I first played Skyrim I thought it was an overly simplified version of its predecessor with fewer spells, the streamlined skill system and removal of some features that were once integral to the game.
I can see where people come from, it’s hard to argue that things had not changed and some features removed. For example in Oblivion there was a super not fun mini game you could use to improve people’s opinion of you to get more information from them. The game was tedious and when you realised you could just bribe your way through everything that quickly became my preferred option!
RPGs have their origins in the tabletop RPGs of the 70s (Dungeons and Dragons among them). The character creation mechanics of the first RPGs, DnD in particular, were far from simple, the mechanics were complex and required more maths than my GCSE maths exam! It’s only natural when these mechanics were converted to the digital world they would be changed.
The reason I no longer see RPGs as dumbing down is because after researching the different versions of DnD and playing the 5th Edition I realised that with time even the tabletop game has been streamlined and its thanks to that, that myself and others have been able to take those first tentative steps into a new world of adventure. Nothing stays the same, and over time new versions have improved on the past and the newer versions have made elements of the game easier to understand and get involved in.
I think that’s the key, over time RPGs have become easier but that doesn’t mean they are any dumber. Some RPGs are good some are not, there’s always room for improvement and sometimes changes are made that make the game feel worse than its predecessors (like the perceived lack of choice in Fallout 4). But things need to change to keep moving forward and make things better and not stagnant. Streamlining RPGs to some extent is important, it makes them more accessible to people and the more people who play RPGs, who get the explore the crazy and amazing worlds we have made the better for all of us.