pop culture | no politics
The Wasteland. For such a terrible name, the place has been the location of a plethora of excellent adventures, as well as many painful memories. I'll never forget the first time I left Vault 101. My eyes weren’t used to natural light as they burned trying to adjust, as my excitement and wonder grew. That sense of wonder quickly disappeared as it wasn’t soon after this that I met Noira, who thought it was a great idea to use me as a guinea pig, quickly teaching me what kind of cruel world I was now lost in.
I had so many adventures in Fallout 3's Capital Wasteland. I defeated the Enclave, rescued people from certain death at the hands of super mutants, and gave the world hope by helping my father on Project Purity. Even though I witnessed his death, I knew that I had helped save a multitude of lives.
A few years later, I found myself in Fallout: New Vegas' Mojave Wasteland working as a courier. I had no idea that the package I carried would lead me to participate in a high stakes game of corporate espionage and New Vegas intrigue. I was gambling with more than caps, all while my desire for revenge consumed me. Throughout my travels, I found out that I wasn’t the only one looking to settle an old score. I met a man named Boone. When he gave me glimpses into his story, I was genuinely moved with compassion. His wife had suffered a terrible fate, and Boone and I were looking for recompense through the blood of the Legion.
After doing all I could in the Mojave it was time to move on. It looked like Boston would be a nice place for a new beginning, but sadly this is where my Fallout story ends. As I loaded up Fallout 4 on my PS4, I was anxious to return to the Wasteland. I was excited to see what types of adventures I would have and to meet new friends. When the game finally installed and the intro began I couldn’t help but wonder whose wife is this? Whose kid is this? Is this my robot butler? The unfamiliar voice that was narrating the story certainly wasn't mine. It wasn’t like me to have an identity crisis, but an identity crisis is certainly what I had.
At this early stage, I was already trying to find something to grab onto, something I could relate to. I couldn’t help but feel a sense of disconnect as my protagonist's wife was murdered. I felt no compassion as a child that didn't feel like mine was stolen. After witnessing these and other events, including a number of mediocre dialogue choices not up to the standards of previous Fallout games, I was no longer in the game but simply a spectator.
When I load up Uncharted, I know I’m playing the story of Nathan Drake. In GTA V, I’m controlling Trevor, Michael, or Franklin. I am fully aware that I can’t change the path their stories follow. But, in the Wasteland I was supposed to be the one narrating that story. I created the tone for the dialogue, it was my role playing abilities that helped make the previous Fallout games more than they were. In Fallout 4, Bethesda took that away from me by giving a voice to the protagonist. His reactions were more jarring than agreeable. I went from being open and free to being told how to feel. The open world was just placed on an emotional track where the only choice of deviation that I have are to be enthusiastic or apathetic. For someone who’s no longer telling the story, apathy is all I can feel.
by Guest Columnist @oldschoolheel