Daily Reaction: Why Bethesda’s Radio Silence on Fallout 4 Story is a Great Thing

August 18, 2015 Written by Chandler Wood

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Bethesda’s Pete Hines recently made statements indicating that they will be going dark on any further story details about Fallout 4. With the game featuring story elements prior to the the apocalypse, some life within the vault, and centering around a family and the ability to play as either the father or mother, Daily Reaction is talking about why Bethesda’s decision to put a moratorium on narrative details is a good one.

Chandler: Have you ever gone to a movie and come away from it feeling that best or funniest parts were all featured in the trailer? Sure, maybe all of the details weren’t spoiled, but too often I’ve found myself feeling underwhelmed because I know too much going in. This discussion deeply ties into our previous piece about spoilers. How do you gauge what’s too much? Developers, filmmakers, and writers are always faced with the dilemma of what to reveal to draw people in, versus what to hold back to enhance the experience.

As consumers, we’re constantly looking for more information. We’re looking for spoilers. We’re looking for something to keep us interested. We’re looking for something to carry us until release. Fortunately, Bethesda has has given us plenty of details on Fallout 4 to help carry us to its release at the end of this year, and it’s certainly helped that there are only about six months between announcement and release, but the silence on story details seems like it could possibly only further the hype for the game, given that now players are curious exactly why they are shutting up about the story. It certainly has piqued my interest, and tells me there’s a depth to the narrative that Bethesda wants you to experience firsthand as opposed to through press releases.

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I completely back Bethesda’s decision to go radio silent, at least on story details. There’s plenty of excitement for Fallout 4 already, and they don’t need to drip out narrative minutiae in order to reel players in. We’ve actually previously seen where releasing too much information can have the opposite effect, failing to give players surprises or a sense of discovery when they finally get their hands on the experience. Fallout 4 is said to have over 400 hours of content, so it sounds like there will be plenty to discover in the vast open world and huge building mechanics, but there’s clearly some interesting stuff going on with the world’s narrative as well.

This silence is interesting though, because the next few months are going to have people eagerly guessing what the story may consist of. I’ve noticed some commenters on our site are already making light of it and indicating that the story will simply be about some guy coming out of a vault and surviving in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, but I’m not so sure. Bethesda has always been pretty great about crafting a deeper lore (just look at the dark sub-stories that can be discovered at many of the other vaults scattered around previous Fallout games), so when you consider this recent statement about going silent, I’m thinking there’s going to be some pretty cool stuff that will motivate each of our characters through the wastelands of Boston.

Pete Hines made comments about Fallout 4’s director, Todd Howard, preferring to have much less time between announcement and release, and the benefit of this is that they don’t have to leak out as much information to renew and maintain the hype as we ride towards release. Instead, we can all get by on still being amazed that Fallout 4 was officially unveiled two months ago, and we’ve only got a short three months to go before it’s actually in our hands.

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Dan: If you know anything about me, you know that I adamantly hate spoilers, which I think is at the heart of a topic like this. In general, there are two types of people who anticipate a product’s release. The first being more in line with someone like myself, who wants a pure experience since they already know that there is cause to be excited and have no reason to already know some of the key events before seeing how they all are placed together. The other type of consumer is usually the one that revels in the hype surrounding a title, and uses that to amplify and prolong their experience by dining on the content in any way possible, but at the cost of the product having the same initial impact. 

Obviously this is a slight generalization, and doesn’t account for consumers who aren’t sure about a product and use the information to make purchasing decisions. But overall, with a franchise like Fallout — short of any massive changes to the format of the gameplay — it would be difficult to not have an understanding of what you will be getting yourself into based off of the numerous titles that came before Fallout 4. So the need and utilization of information about the story in particular does nothing more than feed fans who are living in the hype, while also ruining the experience for those who just want to play the game.

While I understand why many publishers look to feed the hype train as much as possible, since it gets people talking and can potentially bring in new users, it is also something that starts to chip away at the initial vision that a product may have. Looking at the original Star Wars trilogy, the ability to first learn about Luke’s connection to Vader is something that is a great plot point for the series, but how many fans are watching the movies while already having that information?

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It seems that as we move forward, newer generations are growing up with the concept that spoilers are a normality due to many of classic experiences and twists that are becoming necessary common knowledge. With pop culture looking to capitalize or market any item with potential revenue streams, the need to ability for pure experiences is becoming more and more difficult to find. So, Bethesda’s decision to lock up the story behind Fallout 4 is something that I must applaud, as it shows that its release isn’t something that is shilled out, but more of a passion project that is fundamentally important.

While it may sound like I have something against consumers who enjoy surrounding themselves in every minute detail, that isn’t the case. I have my way of enjoying content, and others have theirs. My only issue is the need for some companies to plaster the information everywhere, making it impossible to not know every suspenseful moment that is going to happen, or even knowing that X character isn’t going to die, since you saw them in the trailer on an upcoming scene.


Do you want to know more about the Fallout 4 story, or are you content with Bethesda’s radio silence as we go into the final few months leading to release? Let us know in the comments below, email us at DailyReaction@PlayStationLifeStyle.net or check us out on Twitter @Foolsjoker and @Finchstrife.

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