What's the opinion on Fallout 4 now that its been out for a long while?

Dreiko

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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.
 

happyninja42

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Also your gear affecting your stats felt a lot of fun, having to change when you wanted to charm people was oddly immersive lol.
Also it makes for great comedy. One of my favorite youtubers, Many a True Nerd, loved the fact that in FO 4, the outfits didn't change appearance based on your chosen gender. So a "sexy evening dress" didn't magically turn into a tuxedo on a guy or whatever. It stayed as that outfit. So, he would always have the character he was playing, wear the opposite gender clothing, just because it made for some very silly cutscenes. Especially when he would start a dialogue in his combat clothes, looking like a hardened raider with bloody spikes for shoulder pads, and then realize "oh wait, I don't have my talky pants on, one second!" then he'd edit back into the conversation, now wearing a very silly mixture of sequined red dress, with large rimmed glasses, and a pompador wig (on the male character), which now suddenly makes the person more likely to divulge their darkest secrets. The editing of it was just hilarious, because you go from one extreme appearance to a comical opposite, and now it's time for "serious" talking.
 

Agema

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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.
I'm not sure about that at all.

You're absolutely right that the pre-war cod 50s themed Fallout world is not truly a nice place at all - but it isn't even from Bethesda's portrayal. The idyllic nuclear family and surburban dream presented is shown to be superficial, underneath which there's a sinister government and corporations very much prepared to exploit and abuse the citizenry. When characters heark back to history for love and inspiration, they're not hearking back to the cod 50s, but things like the idealistic myths of the USA's founding, before everything went horribly wrong. Implicit in that is that the USA went astray by the 1950s.

As you say there is the ambivalence to the Brotherhood of Steel, who are the descendants of the military and thus represent (along with the Enclave) perhaps the major national institution - and yes, they are shown to be boorish, arrogant, domnieering jerks that are doomed to decline. They are on the side of the good guys in Fallout 3, but we're also firmly reminded that the DC chapter has gone off-piste from normal BoS beliefs. We are reminded with Veronica in NV that there are others in the BoS who oppose their isolationist, absolutist stance - although of course her story is unhappy, as her efforts are largely in vain.
 
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Kyrian007

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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, I'm kind of with Agema on this one. Bethesda Fallouts don't really pull any punches on how hand in hand the pre-war U.S. was with the corporations, even those as downright evil as Vault-Tech. Or things like allowing the testing of pink paste at a school. Not to mention just flat out finding evidence of authoritarian abuses of power like gunning down civilians at food distribution centers in Boston.

And yeah, the Minutemen dress and arm themselves in a manner referencing the U.S. founding mythology. And yes, they treat it with zero irony. But it is not entirely a "good" portrayal either. If anything, following the story of the Minutemen lets you root out all the "cracks" in their "good guy" reputation and you find that their own weaknesses lead to their downfall. Even a complete idealist like Preston Garvey, very nearly gave in to complete despair until he met the Sole Survivor. And you find that other minutemen very much did give in when things fell apart. The endpoint of the Minutemen storyline in Fallout 4 seems to be more of a nod toward the same kind of message you get out of Costner's The Postman, or a better example S.M. Sterling's Emberverse. Where the ideal within a mythology can be a positive force, even if the reality isn't quite as straightforward. The Sole Survivor can choose to make the Minutemen exactly what they were striving to be. But without the Sole Survivor, the Minutemen are nothing but a legend that didn't live up to their ideals and were wiped out.
 
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Gethsemani

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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.
[...]
Ultimately, I think Bethesda's vision of Fallout is best encapsulated by Fallout 76, which makes it really funny that everyone hated it when they actually made Fallout 76.
I found Fallout 76 to be a pretty nice step back towards the original games in terms of themes and mood. In particular I like how they made the Enclave obviously Stupid Evil, to the point that their branch under Whitesprings couldn't even last 20 years without succumbing to in-fighting, murdering each other and damaging their (obviously evil to begin with) A.I even more, to the point that it is barely keeping its genocidal tendencies in check. The Enclave research station that you explore in Broken Steel only drives this home even further, with the logs noting both how stupid the research is and how badly the scientists treat the soldiers who ensure their specimen supply and safety.

But I'm also one of those people who believe that nuking Fissure Prime to start the end game event is also an obvious throwback to Fallout, in which nuking Cathedral was often the easiest way to kill the Master before clearing out the Military Base. Either way, it is clear that Bethesda Austin has a lot of Fallout lore nerds on their writing and art team.
 

Terminal Blue

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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.
The thing is though, that's Bethesda's vision of Fallout, a completely lawless wasteland where civilization hasn't expanded beyond occasional isolated settlements and where a lot of people just seem to wander around drinking toilet water or hanging out in old diners full of skeletons noone bothered to clear out for some reason.

I'm not the first to point this out, but the people writing for Bethesda do not seem to have a particularly good understanding of the concept of time. Fallout's nuclear war takes place in 2077. Fallout 1 begins in 2161, more than 80 years later. Fallout 2 begins in 2241, over 160 years after the great war. Fallout 3 and the east coast story begins about a decade after the events of Fallout 2. Fallout: New Vegas begins in 2281, so now we've crossed the 2 century mark. The post-apocalyptic segment of Fallout 4 begins in 2287, 210 years after the nuclear war. You're telling me people are still drinking from the toilet?

In the west coast setting, despite the destruction of the old world being so complete that a lot of people reverted to living in nomadic tribes, people have clearly figured out ways to live that don't involve drinking toilet water.
 
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The thing is though, that's Bethesda's vision of Fallout, a completely lawless wasteland where civilization hasn't expanded beyond occasional isolated settlements and where a lot of people just seem to wander around drinking toilet water or hanging out in old diners full of skeletons noone bothered to clear out for some reason.

I'm not the first to point this out, but the people writing for Bethesda do not seem to have a particularly good understanding of the concept of time. Fallout's nuclear war takes place in 2077. Fallout 1 begins in 2161, more than 80 years later. Fallout 2 begins in 2241, over 160 years after the great war. Fallout 3 and the east coast story begins about a decade after the events of Fallout 2. Fallout: New Vegas begins in 2281, so now we've crossed the 2 century mark. The post-apocalyptic segment of Fallout 4 begins in 2287, 210 years after the nuclear war. You're telling me people are still drinking from the toilet?

In the west coast setting, despite the destruction of the old world being so complete that a lot of people reverted to living in nomadic tribes, people have clearly figured out ways to live that don't involve drinking toilet water.
Mhmm. I actually had a small essay I was considering posting in this thread on that topic, but decided it was too tangential. The suffering in the world of Fallout is pretty artificial when you start peeling back the paint. To put it simply, it's written and designed as if it took place maybe 2-3 years after the bombs went off and everyone is still too shellshocked to make a real effort at reconstruction. But then they go and say that decades to centuries have passed. And two centuries is a damn long time for the world not to have adapted and made strides at reconstruction. To put that timeframe into perspective: two centuries ago, Napoleon was Emperor of France and bicycles hadn't been invented yet.

Nevermind that the infrastructure is still remarkably intact. Some buildings have missing roofs and others have holes in the walls, but they are still largely intact. The stores have some burned books, but they're still largely intact. The steel mills are intact. The water treatment centers are flooded, but the machinery still works. Hell, a lot of the computers are still functional and have ample salvageable data. The setting doesn't have the excuse of lacking a frame of reference or information to work from. And with all that, in two centuries, you're telling me that - even assuming that literally every skilled worker died in the war - nobody figured out construction more advanced than "throw together whatever scrap you see lying around and it will have to make do"? That nobody tried to be a tailor? As you say, the world does not make sense in light of the timeline.
 
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happyninja42

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Mhmm. I actually had a small essay I was considering posting in this thread on that topic, but decided it was too tangential. The suffering in the world of Fallout is pretty artificial when you start peeling back the paint. To put it simply, it's written and designed as if it took place maybe 2-3 years after the bombs went off and everyone is still too shellshocked to make a real effort at reconstruction. But then they go and say that decades to centuries have passed. And two centuries is a damn long time for the world not to have adapted and made strides at reconstruction. To put that timeframe into perspective: two centuries ago, Napoleon was Emperor of France and bicycles hadn't been invented yet.

Nevermind that the infrastructure is still remarkably intact. Some buildings have missing roofs and others have holes in the walls, but they are still largely intact. The stores have some burned books, but they're still largely intact. The steel mills are intact. The water treatment centers are flooded, but the machinery still works. Hell, a lot of the computers are still functional and have ample salvageable data. The setting doesn't have the excuse of lacking a frame of reference or information to work from. And with all that, in two centuries, you're telling me that - even assuming that literally every skilled worker died in the war - nobody figured out construction more advanced than "throw together whatever scrap you see lying around and it will have to make do"? That nobody tried to be a tailor? As you say, the world does not make sense in light of the timeline.
Was it ever established what % of the population survived the blast? Because you only ever see handfuls of people at best in the games. And given how many animals were mutated, and became roaming death machines, on par with horror movie monsters, a handful of villagers trying to just survive in a blasted area, AND avoid a massive predator, would make it difficult to sustain, much less expand. Now I agree it probably is a long time to assume nothing has happened, but I mean, in that 200 years, the New California Republic was created, and theoretically established a large presence on the west coast? So I would assume it meant there was infrastructure being re-established, it's just off camera.

But given how quickly you can die to the various creatures populating the FO-verse, assuming you don't have hundreds to thousands of people around to carry on, every death would push any community back that much more. Loss of that much more genetic diversity in an isolated community, loss of potential skilled labor.

And there are skilled people in the games. You have doctors and scientists all over, trained in healing your illnesses and injuries, and trying to reactivate old world tech.

So it's not entirely absent, the whole "surely someone has learned how to do this shit since the bombs", it just feels underutilized, given the amount of time. But, I assume that's due to the limitations of the various game engines used to make the actual game. Not being able to populate too many people at any given time. Having difficulty rendering large structures, etc. Plus just the theme of "this is a blasted wasteland." , and that it's a video game TRYING to tell a story in a blasted wasteland, does sort of limit the chance for any significant improvement.

However FO 4 does more than most of the other titles to actual SHOW the changes you make, having an impact on the map. If you build a settlement with good defenses, and arm/armor your convoy personnel, well you've now got a network of safe zones, that WILL reduce the random threats in their nearby area, as well as the patrols of your trade caravans making (safer) lanes of travel along the roads, between settlements. If you have the Brotherhood around, they will also do a lot to reduce the overall danger of the area, by cutting down the various lethal threats just wandering the map. If you set up artillery, you can direct significant firepower, to help, again, further reduce threats in the areas you control, thus further stabilizing the region.

It's not perfect sure, but it does have an impact.

But honestly, most games that have a long standing timeline, are perpetually stuck in the same place, and never make any significant changes. Because if they did, fans would bitc* about how things changed, and it's not a real game anymore in that franchise. So they are often damned if they do or don't.
 
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Asita

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And there are skilled people in the games. You have doctors and scientists all over, trained in healing your illnesses and injuries, and trying to reactivate old world tech.
Well at this point, I would first clarify that my point was not that skilled laborers don't exist in the games. The point was that even if we assumed for the sake of argument that every skilled worker had been killed in the war, the setting is still designed in such a way that we would reasonably expect more progress over a timespan measured in centuries.

To be more direct, the survivors don't have the excuse of the knowledge of carpentry, construction, tailoring, etc. being forgotten arts lost to the ages. They're still living at least in spitting distance of urban centers, many of which we see still have functional computers and readable books. Even before considering the occasional pre-war survivor that pops out of the vaults, the information is still accessible, and even ignoring that (again for the sake of argument), the structures are still intact enough to give any would-be construction workers a solid idea of the craftsmanship and principles, and the tools used to make them still remarkably easy to stumble across.

Point being that even if the world is changed, after 200 years there's little reason for populated areas to still look like active warzones. There's not a good Watsonian reason for it, just the Doylist explanation that the devs wanted a Mad Max aesthetic and didn't really consider the passage of time in their design philosophy for either the environment or the characters.

Mind you, this isn't me thinking I'm reinventing the wheel or offering something profound. This is probably the single most common question fans and non-fans alike ask about the setting, with the general consensus being "Yeah, it doesn't really make sense when you think about it, so just repeat the MST3K Mantra".
 

sXeth

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Well at this point, I would first clarify that my point was not that skilled laborers don't exist in the games. The point was that even if we assumed for the sake of argument that every skilled worker had been killed in the war, the setting is still designed in such a way that we would reasonably expect more progress over a timespan measured in centuries.

To be more direct, the survivors don't have the excuse of the knowledge of carpentry, construction, tailoring, etc. being forgotten arts lost to the ages. They're still living at least in spitting distance of urban centers, many of which we see still have functional computers and readable books. Even before considering the occasional pre-war survivor that pops out of the vaults, the information is still accessible, and even ignoring that (again for the sake of argument), the structures are still intact enough to give any would-be construction workers a solid idea of the craftsmanship and principles, and the tools used to make them still remarkably easy to stumble across.

Point being that even if the world is changed, after 200 years there's little reason for populated areas to still look like active warzones. There's not a good Watsonian reason for it, just the Doylist explanation that the devs wanted a Mad Max aesthetic and didn't really consider the passage of time in their design philosophy for either the environment or the characters.

Mind you, this isn't me thinking I'm reinventing the wheel or offering something profound. This is probably the single most common question fans and non-fans alike ask about the setting, with the general consensus being "Yeah, it doesn't really make sense when you think about it, so just repeat the MST3K Mantra".

Yeah, the other side of that is that they inexplicably can assemble/maintain infinitely more advanced items like guns, power armour, etc. As suits the mechanics of the game to not have you using spears or whatever.

But simple bricks? basic blacksmithing and carpentry? Nah.

Oddly, 76 seems to be dodge that the most of the Beth fallouts. In the background lore the Responders have set up hospitals, farming settlements, prettymuch rebuilt Charleston (until a raider warlord blem up a dam and destroyed it). They're all dead cause of the Scorched (zombie) plague before the game starts, but its more tangible progress then we see in 3 or 4 (and 76 is earlier in the timeline, go figure)
 
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happyninja42

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To be more direct, the survivors don't have the excuse of the knowledge of carpentry, construction, tailoring, etc. being forgotten arts lost to the ages. They're still living at least in spitting distance of urban centers, many of which we see still have functional computers and readable books. Even before considering the occasional pre-war survivor that pops out of the vaults, the information is still accessible, and even ignoring that (again for the sake of argument), the structures are still intact enough to give any would-be construction workers a solid idea of the craftsmanship and principles, and the tools used to make them still remarkably easy to stumble across.
That does assume that ubiquitous literacy survived 200 years of nuclear holocaust, which, considering how many people I know today, that are really illiterate when they come into my office, that's a big assumption. These are veterans mind you, served in the armed forces of the US. Given authority to drive tanks and shit, and shoot rifles. And I ask them to fill out a contact sheet with basic information, and they mumble too me "well I dont' really read too good." Granted they are much older, and thus this was decades ago that they served, but they've made it a LONG time without having basic reading/writing comprehension. So "well there's books laying around everywhere" is only useful, if they can read them. And if nobody is busy passing on that information to their children, because they're mostly busy trying to live to see tomorrow, well, you basically only need 1 generation without any form of written education, for all those books to be meaningless. And biologically 1 generation is roughly 20-25 years. I mean the spirit leader guy in FO 2, that talks to you, is so backwards with his understanding of the modern world, that he talks about the Enclave that show up in power armor with flamethrowers to kill the village, and says shit like "the metal demons, came to us with wands of fire and giant flying insects that spit them out" And basically describes it all like like a caveman seeing astronauts. So there has clearly been a massive loss of knowledge of pre-war among the various cells of survivors.

Which again kind of loops back to my first question (that didn't get answered, not sure if it's been stated anywhere) of how many people survived? Or maybe the better question is, what was the kill count? Population wise? I'm genuinely curious how much of the planet population was wiped out. As that has some serious consequences to the likelihood of infrastructure. If the only people to even live in an area for 200 years, is like 30 people, and they've mostly been trying to just find enough food/water that isn't irradiated so it doesn't kill them, AND avoid deathclaws, mirelurks, ferals, super mutants, crazy robots, etc, do you really think they have time to rebuild a city? Because again, all we ever see, are small farming communities, with maybe 20 people, and they can trace their settlement back maybe a few decades, if that. And that was usually them being busy refurbishing that place, like Rivet City, or Diamond City. These places are portrayed as being islands of stability in the chaotic wastes, and they're like 20+ people at best. That's not an engineering team capable of rebuilding much at all. Assuming they all stopped doing things like agriculture/hunting, to go try and rebuild a structure. It's usually like 1 person, maybe with a refurbished robot, who has spent their life, trying to get something up and running, that would normally take a full team, with supplies, weeks to do.



Point being that even if the world is changed, after 200 years there's little reason for populated areas to still look like active warzones. There's not a good Watsonian reason for it, just the Doylist explanation that the devs wanted a Mad Max aesthetic and didn't really consider the passage of time in their design philosophy for either the environment or the characters.
I personally think it's a mixture of both. I do think a lot of the franchise suffers from "the entire premise of this game setting is blasted wasteland, so blasted wasteland it shall be." But, given the various settlements we run into in the games, and how small they are, and how they are often ALL depicted as on the verge of being wiped out by a rolodex of threats, if there has never been any significant establishment of people, large enough to do anything of note, then yeah, I do think plenty of the country would look exactly like it had for the last 200 years. Because nobody's been there. I mean the one faction most likely to actually DO anything, is the Brotherhood of Steel. But they are actively xenophobic and fanatical isolationists. The one time a group of them said "hey, maybe we should, you know, use our functioning tech, and comprehensive knowledge of science and engineering to help people and rebuild and shit: , they were kicked out of the organization.

Mind you, this isn't me thinking I'm reinventing the wheel or offering something profound. This is probably the single most common question fans and non-fans alike ask about the setting, with the general consensus being "Yeah, it doesn't really make sense when you think about it, so just repeat the MST3K Mantra".
And I'm a fan of that mantra, hands down. I just think it's not as clear with FO, based on bits we are shown. It's inconsistent, I fully agree, but, none of the games, actually follow up in the same location, where we can see time pass. If Fallout 5 was back in DC, and based 60 years later, then I would expect to see some development in the capitol wasteland. But they never do that. It's always somewhere new, clean slate. Some things will still be functioning, despite centuries of ZERO MAINTENANCE (that's the part I buy less than shit still being wrecked with nobody around to rebuild it), other things will be totally smashed, and we'll come crawling out of a vault to go deal with it.
 

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Now I agree it probably is a long time to assume nothing has happened, but I mean, in that 200 years, the New California Republic was created, and theoretically established a large presence on the west coast? So I would assume it meant there was infrastructure being re-established, it's just off camera.
Again, this is really my point. The New California Republic has appeared, in some sense, in every West Coast Fallout game, and is a very purposeful example of showing how the world changes over time. In Fallout 1, we find Shady Sands, a small farming town founded by some of the survivors from Vault 15. Even at this point where the world is still massively fucked, the people there are clearly building things for themselves. They have a wall for protection. They have houses. They have a well. They're not just looting canned food and bottled water from the nearest supermarket because there are no supermarkets.

Cut forward to Fallout 2 and we visit Shady Sands again, only now it's a city and the capital of a small confederation of cities. The level of technology is clearly higher. The streets are paved. There are uniformed police and shops and traders. From shady sands, we can join trading caravans, because now there's trade networks spanning the region. There's been real progress.

Cut to New Vegas, and the NCR has consolidated its hold over California and is now beginning to look outside for more land and resources. There's an even greater level of organization to the way NCR operates. Noone is wearing scavenged equipment or gear, it's all new. There's a sense that life back west has become ordered and civilized, the "wasteland" is getting slowly pushed back, and probably the only reason we're running around getting killed by murder wasps is because we're on the frontier between two warring powers.

Bethesda Fallout has no sense of a similar progression. Ironically, the people who seem to change the most (often completely without rhyme or reason) are the brotherhood, the stagnant losers of the west coast setting who never get anywhere because they sit in their bunkers hoarding old things and hoping everyone else dies.
 

Agema

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Well at this point, I would first clarify that my point was not that skilled laborers don't exist in the games. The point was that even if we assumed for the sake of argument that every skilled worker had been killed in the war, the setting is still designed in such a way that we would reasonably expect more progress over a timespan measured in centuries.

To be more direct, the survivors don't have the excuse of the knowledge of carpentry, construction, tailoring, etc. being forgotten arts lost to the ages. They're still living at least in spitting distance of urban centers, many of which we see still have functional computers and readable books. Even before considering the occasional pre-war survivor that pops out of the vaults, the information is still accessible, and even ignoring that (again for the sake of argument), the structures are still intact enough to give any would-be construction workers a solid idea of the craftsmanship and principles, and the tools used to make them still remarkably easy to stumble across.

Point being that even if the world is changed, after 200 years there's little reason for populated areas to still look like active warzones. There's not a good Watsonian reason for it, just the Doylist explanation that the devs wanted a Mad Max aesthetic and didn't really consider the passage of time in their design philosophy for either the environment or the characters.

Mind you, this isn't me thinking I'm reinventing the wheel or offering something profound. This is probably the single most common question fans and non-fans alike ask about the setting, with the general consensus being "Yeah, it doesn't really make sense when you think about it, so just repeat the MST3K Mantra".
Yes.

I think there is a clear rationale that large tracts of the world can be a blasted wasteland. After all, a ruined city is arguably not a good place for habitation: crumbing buildings, lack of farmland, etc. With massive population loss, lots of the rural area would revert thoroughly to the (irradiated) wilds and be largely untouched. But I would expect new settlements of relatively good quality and development, perhaps within easy reach of these ruined cities for scavenging but more realistically out in the sticks a bit more. We effectively see some of what should be these, such as that starter town I can't remember the name of in Fallout 3. But as you say, they are woefully ramshackle for what you would expect given the time passed since the war.
 

happyninja42

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Yes.

I think there is a clear rationale that large tracts of the world can be a blasted wasteland. After all, a ruined city is arguably not a good place for habitation: crumbing buildings, lack of farmland, etc. With massive population loss, lots of the rural area would revert thoroughly to the (irradiated) wilds and be largely untouched. But I would expect new settlements of relatively good quality and development, perhaps within easy reach of these ruined cities for scavenging but more realistically out in the sticks a bit more. We effectively see some of what should be these, such as that starter town I can't remember the name of in Fallout 3. But as you say, they are woefully ramshackle for what you would expect given the time passed since the war.
You mean like The Pitt? I mean they've got actual full fledged industry going on, and it's close enough to be considered DLC.

I'm still curious as to how much of the population is supposed to have survived. Also, keep in mind, when you talk about "new construction", meaning actual construction and not just repurposing old stuff, I would assume people would start with wooden structures, but, you have a problem, in that, at least in areas as blasted as DC, there are no living trees. It's all dead. The fact that all of the foliage is dead, and the water that would feed it, is all irradiated, makes biomes basically non-existent. And you need new growth to make wood to make buildings. And the fact that Oasis IS green and growing, is a rarity. So rare, that a cult has spawned around it. So wooden construction is just SOL, because no sustainable trees. Now you have to go for..what, I guess metal/concrete? Well that requires industry to smelt/craft into useable shapes, unless you are just repurposing old stuff. But we aren't talking about that specifically. We're talking about new stuff.

And seriously, how much of the world is radioactively fucked? I'm not saying that to be snarky, I genuinely want to know. Because from what I've seen of the games prior to FO 3, everything is portrayed as a Mad Max-esque, blasted wasteland. It's implied, especially with every subsequent game, that pretty much EVERY location is just destroyed biologically. Agriculture, and plantlife at all, are either non-existent, or incredibly rare. You might have a handful of rows of corn in New Vegas, but you also have the NCR trying to find a way to use the Vault...was it 11? The vault doing plant research, because growing stuff in a radioactive hellscape is kind of tricky.

So we are back to the question of "how much of humanity survived to even try and DO engineering, assuming they have the free time to do that." One of the main benefits to agriculture for our species, was it provided us with a stable food source, that allowed us to have enough free time from living hand to mouth, to come up with new shit and experiment. But it seems to me, that the world of Fallout, is basically back to hunter status. There isn't enough biomass (outside of insane government experiments), to have sustainable agriculture, so they have to live off meat and hunting, so they can't really afford a lot of free time in a lot of the settlements, TO say "hmm, maybe I should try and relearn advance structural engineering, in between fighting molerats and supermutants for enough food to live to see the end of the week. "
 

Terminal Blue

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The fact that all of the foliage is dead, and the water that would feed it, is all irradiated, makes biomes basically non-existent. And you need new growth to make wood to make buildings. And the fact that Oasis IS green and growing, is a rarity. So rare, that a cult has spawned around it. So wooden construction is just SOL, because no sustainable trees. Now you have to go for..what, I guess metal/concrete? Well that requires industry to smelt/craft into useable shapes, unless you are just repurposing old stuff. But we aren't talking about that specifically. We're talking about new stuff.
Again though, we're kind of fixing problems Bethesda created.

In the West Coast Fallout setting, there are trees. Arroyo is literally surrounded by trees. Shady Sands in Fallout 2 has lush looking gardens with green trees. A lot of buildings are made of wood. The reason trees are rare in Fallout 1 and 2, beyond limited art assets, is because the region is desert, in fact a lot of California is desert in real life. I'm sure the radiation and other environmental hazards haven't helped the tree population, but trees haven't completely vanished from the world. Oasis is a really cool area, it's a nice reference to Harold having a tree growing from his head in Fallout 2 and it's a nice send off for one of the most iconic Fallout characters, but it kind of doesn't make a whole lot of sense that there are literally no trees in DC at all.

But, if you want to build simple and easy homes, they have animals, which means they have animal skins to make tents or yurts with. There's also things like cob and mud-bricks. Both of these feature prominently in west coast Fallout, but are totally absent from the east coast.
 

Gethsemani

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But, if you want to build simple and easy homes, they have animals, which means they have animal skins to make tents or yurts with. There's also things like cob and mud-bricks. Both of these feature prominently in west coast Fallout, but are totally absent from the east coast.
I mean, the fact that humans have built permanent structures in a lot of places that lack trees ever since ancient times should tell us that trees are not necessary for construction. But as you said, it is the Bethesda problem all over again with just copying things over from Fallout 1/2 without thinking about why they were in those games in the first place. The deserts in those games are actual, real world deserts but in Bethesda world that means all Fallout locations must be turned into desert. Just another reason to actually like Fallout 76 and its varied biomes that makes sense based on real world geography.
 
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immortalfrieza

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You mean like The Pitt? I mean they've got actual full fledged industry going on, and it's close enough to be considered DLC.

I'm still curious as to how much of the population is supposed to have survived.
To answer your question, everybody who didn't turn into a ghoul and/or starve to death. In Fallout the bombs killed a good amount of people in the U.S. instantly and the radiation and radioactive rains killed off the rest that didn't become ghouls, either from the radiation itself or from starvation and lack of drinkable water in the months that followed. With very very few exceptions the only people who did survive were either ghouls due to becoming immune to radiation thus making survival a lot easier, or the people who were in vaults. Ghouls can't breed and the people throughout the numerous vaults that actually survived the experimentation taking place numbered conservatively in a few thousand altogether, they were not let out of the vaults all the same time, and these vaults were spread around. Honestly there shouldn't have been enough for a genetically viable population.

And seriously, how much of the world is radioactively fucked?
Long story short, everyone and everything. Anything that didn't quickly mutate to become immune to radiation did not survive. Plants and animals down to insects for people to live off of were killed and the rest turned into mutant abominations that make surviving in the wasteland near impossible. The number of areas that are remotely livable are very few and far between, further limiting any rebuilding efforts.

So we are back to the question of "how much of humanity survived to even try and DO engineering, assuming they have the free time to do that." One of the main benefits to agriculture for our species, was it provided us with a stable food source, that allowed us to have enough free time from living hand to mouth, to come up with new shit and experiment. But it seems to me, that the world of Fallout, is basically back to hunter status. There isn't enough biomass (outside of insane government experiments), to have sustainable agriculture, so they have to live off meat and hunting, so they can't really afford a lot of free time in a lot of the settlements, TO say "hmm, maybe I should try and relearn advance structural engineering, in between fighting molerats and supermutants for enough food to live to see the end of the week. "
Exactly. In fact, the few cases we do have of people getting together and forming civilization like the NCR is what is unrealistic. People complain about the idea that in Fallout it seems that the world hasn't progressed because it's unrealistic, what's actually unrealistic is the idea that they should have progressed much at all.

What people forget or more likely willingly ignore is that humanity in Fallout as a whole has it much much MUCH worse off than we did to get as advanced as we are now. Most knowledge is lost and just because they can scavenge and use a laser pistol or even read technical manuals on it doesn't mean they understand all the little engineering feats it took to get it to work, not to mention the difficulty of spreading said knowledge even if they have it. It took millennia for humanity to get as far as we have now, and the vast majority of our advancement was sporadic, occurring in short bursts centuries apart with maybe one or two things of importance being invented in the interim. In fact, most of what we have now was invented in the last couple centuries or so. That's in our world, a literal planetful of bountiful resources and plenty of food and plant life and where the amount of creatures on their own who could and wanted to actually pose a threat to a group of humans that got together to protect themselves numbered... oh, about zero. Survival was a lot easier for us compared to the people of Fallout by far, and that's what you need to get time for people to be actually sitting down to think about how to make things easier.

In the world of Fallout, everything edible is dead or so irradiated that it'll probably kill you if you ate or drank it, a single mutated creature is often capable of wiping out entire tribes or towns on it's own even with guns to protect oneself with and even those that can't are significantly more aggressive and dangerous than any we have, most of the world is so irradiated that nobody can live or scavenge there, then there's the fact that so many humans that do exist are out to kill everybody else for their stuff, which is ultimately counterproductive to survival. None of this is due to anything Bethesda created, conditions weren't really all that different in the first couple Fallouts than they were in the Bethesda ones, except Bethesda games tend to have a lot more irradiated areas than the Interplay ones. In fact, the Bethesda games are more realistic in how screwed the world should actually be after what's been established in 1&2, Fallout 1&2 have the world a lot more livable than the backstory of the games indicates it should be.

What's unrealistic is that there's anyone left alive to eke out a living in the wasteland, not that they aren't progressing after 200 years. Things are very very VERY slowly going to be getting better if they get better at all. I'd be surprised if they were anywhere near our level in the next 1000 years, 200 is not even worth considering.
 

Agema

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Also, keep in mind, when you talk about "new construction", meaning actual construction and not just repurposing old stuff, I would assume people would start with wooden structures, but, you have a problem, in that, at least in areas as blasted as DC, there are no living trees. It's all dead.
There's a surprising amount of junk shacks etc. made out of wood, and I have a hard time believing that's 200 year-old wood. Not that wood can't last that long if it's kept dry, but... If you bear in mind that 5000 years ago my extraordinarily distant ancestors who'd barely emerged from caves shifted 25-ton blocks of stone 100 miles to arrange in a big circle, someone in the Fallout world can get tree trunks that sort of distance from the nearest surviving forest.

I'm still curious as to how much of the population is supposed to have survived.
I would suggest 99% of the population would be a reasonable estimate, from the nukes themselves and subsequent radiation, resource collapse and so on.

To answer your question, everybody who didn't turn into a ghoul and/or starve to death. In Fallout the bombs killed a good amount of people in the U.S. instantly and the radiation and radioactive rains killed off the rest that didn't become ghouls, either from the radiation itself or from starvation and lack of drinkable water in the months that followed. With very very few exceptions the only people who did survive were either ghouls due to becoming immune to radiation thus making survival a lot easier, or the people who were in vaults. Ghouls can't breed and the people throughout the numerous vaults that actually survived the experimentation taking place numbered conservatively in a few thousand altogether, they were not let out of the vaults all the same time, and these vaults were spread around. Honestly there shouldn't have been enough for a genetically viable population.
No. The USA was not repopulated from the vaults. The vaults were mostly dodgy experiments, and those that didn't murder their occupants released them into what was evidently a still-populated USA. Most of the population derive from survivors of the war who never went into a Vault-tec vault.

For instance, Robert House prevented the annihilation of Las Vegas (real world pop ~500k today). Sure, loads of them will have died from radiation and food scarcity, but chances are tens of thousands made it there alone. And likewise across other places will small groups have survived. I would suggest a reasonable estimate for deaths might be 99%. That still leaves a few million across the USA.
 

happyninja42

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There's a surprising amount of junk shacks etc. made out of wood, and I have a hard time believing that's 200 year-old wood. Not that wood can't last that long if it's kept dry, but... If you bear in mind that 5000 years ago my extraordinarily distant ancestors who'd barely emerged from caves shifted 25-ton blocks of stone 100 miles to arrange in a big circle, someone in the Fallout world can get tree trunks that sort of distance from the nearest surviving forest.
What nearest surviving forest? That's my whole point. Sure trees can last a long time as wood, if kept dry....do you think anyone's doing that with the heavily irradiated, and centuries dead trees that are just littering the wastelands? Do you think they've got the resources and inclination to even attempt to journey across potentially dozens, if not hundreds of miles to get to wherever this mythical "surviving forest" is to try and get wood? The trees in the wasteland would be so decayed and rotted they would be useless, they have no seeds to plant new ones, and the soil and water supplies are so irradiated as to make it virtually impossible to grow anything anyway. So again, where is this wood of good enough quality to use coming from?

As to the stone henge thing. Were they trying to avoid deathclaws, feral ghouls, supermutants, raiders, slavers, brotherhood who don't give a fuck about anyone not them? When they were trying to make those pointless rock piles? They had been using agriculture for thousands of years prior to stone henge, and were living in some incredibly fertile land, with lots of rain, etc. Subsisting was hardly anywhere near as bad as radioactive hellscape.
 

Gethsemani

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What nearest surviving forest? That's my whole point. Sure trees can last a long time as wood, if kept dry....do you think anyone's doing that with the heavily irradiated, and centuries dead trees that are just littering the wastelands? Do you think they've got the resources and inclination to even attempt to journey across potentially dozens, if not hundreds of miles to get to wherever this mythical "surviving forest" is to try and get wood?
Fallout 76 shows a West Virginia with plenty of living, flourishing trees. Fallout 4 shows Boston surrounded by forest. So there are trees and they are quite near by modern standards. Fallout 3 contains one (dead by the time you find him) former Enclave member who went from Navarro to the Capital Wasteland, Harold who travelled from New Reno (and had gone there from the Hub in between Fo1/2) and both a synth and a synth hunter from the Institute in the Commonwealth. DLC has you going to the remains of Pittsburgh and Point Lookout, which looks a whole lot like Louisiana but could be Georgia in a pinch. Fallout 4 has you going from Boston to Maine in the DLC. All these games also show you traders, general wanderers and explorers roving the wasteland, so people obviously do move about quite a lot.

This really is one of those cases when you shouldn't try a Watsonian explanation, because Fallout 3 is pretty inconsistent in its portrayal of how people survive in the Capital Wasteland. People hide in old museums in a bombed out city without any way to get food or water yet still manage fine. Other people get their water from groundwater pumps pumping straight from water irradiated by a damaged nuke yet don't suffer tons of ill effects. The explanation is purely Doylist, in that Bethesda was going for a pulpy adventure in a post-apocalyptic setting and wanted lots of eyeball kicks and cool settings instead of a grounded simulation of how humanity would rebuild by making lots of farming settlements far away from the useless ruins of the old civilization.
 
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