It's been quite a while since we last did a proper tidbits round-up, but we're making up for it with a meatier one than usual, starting with a couple of interesting editorials outlining expectations for the inevitable Fallout 4. First, GameSpot's Kevin Van Ord asks Bethesda to develop a stronger identity for their take on the series, to further separate it from their Elder Scrolls titles:
And thus what I want most of all is for Fallout 4 to be its own unique entity, with vague ties, if any, to Elder Scrolls mechanics and structure. The nostalgic Fallout fan in me longs for isometric exploration and turn-based strategic combat, but I believe that the console-driven world in which we live precludes the possibility. Therefore, Bethesda needs to do all it can to make Fallout look and feel different from its other famous series. A good place to start is with combat: Fallout 3 and New Vegas allowed for real-time shooting, but no one could accuse those games of feeling like actual shooters. There are two possibilities here, presuming Fallout 4 doesn't just copy its predecessors' combat. The first is to go full-on shooter and make gunplay (and swordplay) fluid and fun. To do so would either require the Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System to be overhauled so that players couldn't just shoot their way through every encounter in real time (does anyone want Fallout to become Rage?), or require V.A.T.S. to be scrapped altogether, a prospect I don't relish. The second possibility is to remove real-time shooting and make Fallout 4's combat fully tactical.
Such a system could take many forms, but the one I envision would flip the world seamlessly from first-person to an overhead view as soon as combat begins. This kind of gameplay, in which real-time exploration transitions into turn-based action, is hardly new, but the transformation between camera views is an uncommon approach. Done properly, such a battle system could retain all the joys of exploring a postapocalyptic landscape through your character's own eyes, while making every battle a meaningful event. Maybe we could actually get a full-on adventuring party in the mix, but given how Bethesda can't even get a single companion to work properly, I won't hold out hope.
Meanwhile GameRanx is looking for five improvements, including better structured dialogue trees:
2. Improved Dialogue Trees
From Fallout 3 to Fallout: New Vegas there was a discernible shift to the increased use of unlockable dialogue options that made use of the points invested in the character’s skill tree. Skills, perks, and attributes could all potentially open new paths of conversation that would award points and sometimes start questlines. This made the strategy of your character build much more important. And it was fun having a new way to strategize. I enjoyed seeing the clear benefits of my particular playstyle validated by having the right resources at the right time. They should do more of this, as it will also emphasize additional playthroughs.
Another area that could use some work is the flow of the dialogue trees. To get the full story and dialogue options from many of the NPCs, the player is required to backtrack and repeat certain elements of the conversation. There are times the exchange has been spliced to accommodate multiple branches of dialogue, to sometimes crude effect. This seems to have been cleaned up somewhat in Skyrim, but further improvements need to be made.
Meanwhile, folks at ShoddyCast, in collaboration with The Vault, have been working on some interesting lore videos covering the Fallout series, both East and West Coast. Even if you already know the ins and outs of Fallout lore they're very well produced videos and worth a watch.
Finally, there have been a few standout props and fan arts that I thought I might as well include in the round-up: a working Pip-Boy 3000 built by a team that participated in NASA's SpaceApps challenge, a Plasma Defender Glock 96 (but no, it doesn't actually fire plasma), Fallout 3 and Fallout 1 variants of the 10mm pistol from the same person, and a Sarah Lyons portrait that puts the 3d model of her to shame.