By Andrew Dodson on June 15, 2015 at 12:22am
Bethesda did something really special when it first resurrected the "Fallout" series in the fall of 2008 after it's ten year "hibernation." "Fallout 3" was cherished by both fans of the original game and newcomers to the series. It was a revolutionary game that brought a lot of new ideas to the action-RPG genre. When "Fallout: New Vegas" was released in 2010, it did nothing but rekindle that fans' love for world that Bethesda had crafted. So, after a five-year wait, it was impossible to deny the draw of the "Fallout 4" gameplay trailer that premiered at E3 last night.
And it looks amazing. We have a new city to explore, a new story, new characters, voice-acting, a dog, gorgeous environments (for an apocalyptic wasteland) and ... only kind of okay-looking character models.
Bethesda is trying to really push the envelope with a new character customization system that looks like it'll put the Sims games to shame. Rather than manipulating sliders, you're grabbing different parts of the face and manipulating those until you get it looking exactly how you like. And while that all sounds really cool, the end result that I saw in the gameplay trailer didn't impress me that much. Yeah, there was more detail in the face, more ways to customize, but in the end, the character looked like it had come out of a box - like a Ken or Barbie doll.
Sure, you can put a beard on him or change the skin color, but that doesn't give a character life. It really seems like Bethesda is sacrificing animated emotions and facial expressions in exchange for allowing players to warp the character's face however they want. I can understand that trade-off, as a Bethesda game without elaborate customization certainly wouldn't feel like Bethesda game. But it is a trade-off that feels like it's holding the story-telling capability of the game back.
If there is a sad scene in the game, but the character model can't quite look like he's sad, then that is just going to diminish the power of the scene.
Though, like most "Fallout" games, you hardly spend any time at all looking at your character's face in "Fallout 4" (though it looks like this game might utilize more cut-scenes). You're either in first-person, or you're hovering behind your character's shoulder.
Watching as your character makes very stiff, robotic movements as they traverse the Wastes.
As I was watching the E3 gameplay trailer, I couldn't help but feel like "Fallout 4" isn't actually a new game but rather an expansion to "New Vegas" or even "Fallout 3." Yeah, there is more detail and it looks slightly better than those games, but after a five-year wait, I was really expecting a jump in the technology that Bethesda used to create their interesting worlds and characters...not more of the same.
As excited as I am for "Fallout 4," I find it very frustrating that we're one again entering a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by dolls that don't quite make it into the dip of the Uncanny Valley. There just isn't enough life there.
I understand the juggling act that Bethesda has to do in order to balance giving players the crazy amount of character customization that they're use to while also maintaining enough control to properly animate whatever might emerge from that creation "process." It's a difficult job, but there is only so much of that that you can hide in a pretty environment or with a rich story - no matter what, people are going to be watching their character the entire game. Those characters should look and act like people.
Maybe I've just played too much "Witcher 3" recently, and gotten use to that level of detail when it comes to facial animation. Even if the sound is off, I can tell when someone is getting upset "The Witcher 3." I'm not sure if that's going to be possible with this next iteration of the "Fallout" series, and while I expect there's going to be plenty of mods to remedy it, I do find it a tad disappointing.
I mean, it really is an issue when the dog seems more expressive than the main character.