That's true. But I also think there's a huge deliberateness about what we do see. In Fallout 1, we see the brutal execution of a Canadian partisan amidst the rubble of what is presumably a Canadian city broadcast on television news. We see propaganda urging us to buy war bonds.
And sure, you could argue that kind of stuff is incidental and removing it all just makes the game easier to understand without negatively impacting anything, but I think it has a detrimental effect on the consistency of the game world, which is really the greatest strength of early Fallout's writing. I mean, Fallout 4 is actually a great example. We start out in a happy suburban 50s neighbourhood living our totally idyllic lives. We are literally handed a place in the vault program, and then immediately the nuclear war starts. But here's a question, why is there a vault program? Why would a company be able to make money selling reserved places in nuclear bunkers? Everything seems pretty great. Noone seems particularly worried or scared or urgent, and why should they be? The pre-war world we see is a completely idyllic 50s suburban fantasy, there is no sense that anything is wrong or that anything could go wrong right up until it literally does.
Moreover, Fallout is generally quite cynical about patriotism and about the general state of the US. Bethesda Fallout is not. In Bethesda Fallout the "good guys" dress up in revolutionary war clothes to reference heroic mythology about the founding of the US, and it's treated with zero irony. The Enclave, the most genuinely unsympathetic villains in Fallout canon, are lead by a softboy fascist who really just wants to help people and can be talked out of genocide with a speech check. Given all this, I think there's an uncomfortable politics to how great Betheada Fallout seems to think the 50s were.
Yeah a lot of this stuff is kinda going into that feeling I was describing a few posts back about this game "feeling very American". Though I don't think it necessarily goes the way of wanting to revert back to pre-war America as much, it feels more like a post WW2 situation where the world will be able to learn from its mistakes.
I think it's terribly cynical to tell the people who are living in the wasteland that the pre-war world, with whatever issues it may have had, is still not infinitely better than being chased by maneating mutants and ghouls and having to subsist on fly roast and drink out of the toilet. I think that's the core issue in the bethesda fallout, just showing how much suffering actually being out in that world comes with. I mean the whole FO3 theme is not about finding the magic suitcase that recreates the world, it's about just getting a water purifier going lol. Even just that much is a huge enough thing for that world.
But yeah I totally agree that FO4 felt like the next step in every way in the gameplay area, which is why it's so easy to never get tired of it. I especially like the gun customization system, being able to use different sorts of ammo or scopes and turn various things into sniper rifles and what have you, it's all super fun. Also your gear affecting your stats felt a lot of fun, having to change when you wanted to charm people was oddly immersive lol. Though yeah the story is more what you make of it than it being a super interesting thing by itself.