Fallout 4 graphics and the cynics

Fallout 4 E3Fallout 4 is not even out yet and gamers are already voicing their opinions about the graphics. What is surprising to me about this is not that there are gamers who look down their nose at graphics, but that people are doing this before even playing the content. Fallout 4 was easily one of the most anticipated and celebrated titles after E3 this year. During my coverage of E3 I would run replays during the morning while we waited for the live events to start and the most requested footage was Fallout 4. This game promises a massive experience, world, and seemingly endless potential with its optional crafting and building systems and the lack of a level cap or a hard finish to the game. And yet, in light of all of this, Bethesda is fielding questions in interviews about people who are already decrying the graphics.

Shared Blame

I’m going to be pretty hard on gamers in this post, but I want to make sure the disproportionate focus on graphics is a shared blame. Both the industry and consumers have continued to focus on the wrong thing. Yes, graphics are important, and I have written about this topic so many times, because I don’t think we need every game looking like Minecraft. However, when one of the most anticipated games is already being criticized for graphics when it could quite possibly change player expectations on the next-gen landscape, it’s just laughable.

To those gamers who are already whining about the graphics in Fallout 4, I have two things to say to you. First, don’t buy it. Seriously, don’t buy it. And two, go play Assassin’s Creed Unity and The Order 1886. Why? Because those are games that attempted to give you everything and ended up as two very different monsters. Unity was a complete mess and was so bad that Ubisoft has issued more than one apology, first in the form of free games, and the second in the form of a video I’ve referenced quite a bit. The Order 1886 has consistently been criticized as a graphically beautiful shell of a game with almost no content or replayability. So if you want everything, and you want the best graphics, I give you the two games that are perfectly suited for your highly stacked list of requests as a form of a wakeup call.

Who is the enemy?

In this situation I really feel that gamers become their own worst enemy. Many players fly through games as fast as they possibly can, like binge watching an entire season on Neflix, and then wonder why they feel unsatisfied. Then they turn on the game companies and say the game didn’t have enough content while they skipped dialogue, side missions, and looked for every quick path they could find. Or they demand graphics be pushed to the limit and they end up with games that are buggy and riddled with problems and then sound like a teenage girl on the sweet 16 reality show who doesn’t understand why they aren’t having any fun. To be fair, games launching with problems aren’t solely to be blamed on demanding players, but we certainly aren’t blameless. I have already said we should celebrate the delay of Rainbow Six Siege and I’m using a similar line of reasoning here. The fact that Fallout 4 doesn’t look mind-blowingly-amazing and that most of their marketing hasn’t been about graphics but about the experience and freedom should be encouraging to gamers. If the marketing and delivered product starts to shift away from things that aren’t as important, player expectations can’t start to align to different things, especially if those games deliver. It will become easier and easier to look past graphics if the experience is vibrant, varied, and lengthy.

As bad as hype

The real irony here is that pre-launch nay-sayers are as bad as the ravenous fanboys. And the truth is, at least the fanboys buy and enjoy the games. You are deciding, before a game comes out, what its value is. And if you remember all the nonsense with Watch Dogs you would think we had learned our lesson as a gaming community. It is far better to have a game marketed with acceptable graphics than with graphical standards that cannot be maintained only as a mechanic whereby you are convinced a game is going to be awesome for all the wrong reasons. The more players demand content and experience over graphics the more we will see it in new games. Thankfully Bethesda isn’t concerned one iota about the cynics because they know you will never please 100% of the audience, and that’s what too many games have tried to do. Destiny is trying to be a massive RPG online game but it’s also trying to be a PVP game. Unity tried to be a massive open world game with co-op and multiplayer and it had an abysmal launch. When a game company is honest about not trying to please everyone, we should all perk up and pay attention, especially when the company is behind a title as big as Fallout 4.

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