How do you review a game such as Fallout 4 in a reasonable time frame? Here at Player2 we couldn’t come up with an answer to that tricky question so we decided to do something different. For five days five different writers will be jotting down some personal experiences with Fallout 4. These aren’t reviews or recommendations but stories from their journey through the Wasteland. So grab a bottle of Nuka Cola and some crispy squirrel bits, sit back in a comfy chair and enjoy our 5 days of Fallout 4.
Five days of Fallout 4 – The Mum Sim
I have a routine. I don’t think it’s that uncommon. The first time I play through an RPG, I like to create a character that looks like me, name it after myself and then play it as though it were me. I make decisions based on what I myself would do, should I be unfortunate enough to wake up tomorrow and find myself in a mythical world of fantasy/futuristic space age/irradiated wasteland. Later, I can play around with character customisation or role play the uncompromising tough nut I wish I could be, but first time around I follow my heart.
I’m also a mum, three times over, and this is not only a fairly significant part of my identity but has left me a tad more susceptible to story lines and plots involving children than I think a sane person would be (I’m sure the prologue to The Last of Us left most feeling less than jolly but you could have sailed an ark on the floods of my tears).
So I began my Fallout 4 game with a mix of excitement and dread. Excitement because, for the first time I can remember, I was playing a character who was a mum! There have been plenty of what I refer to as “dad sims” (Heavy Rain, Asura’s Wrath and the aforementioned The Last of Us, to name a few) but none that I could recall featuring a mum.
And dread because, well, this was Fallout, remember? At some point in the not so distant future, the bombs are going to drop and I’m going to find myself in an irradiated, post-apocalyptic wasteland – what’s going to happen to my kid?!
So I walk into the nursery with more than a little trepidation and look down at the child in the crib. My child. I was half-expecting some sort of uncanny valley monstrosity, but he actually looks pretty cute. Dammit, I’m bonding with a bunch of pixels and polygons.
I spin his mobile and listen to him giggle. The spaceships on his mobile make me think of the Planet Express ship, further validating my co-writer Adam’s theories. His father walks in and we make plans to go to the park. Oh, it’s all just so idyllic!
And then Codsworth has to go and ruin the moment.
Summoned to the living room the dreaded truth is revealed: someone has dropped the bomb, several of them, in fact, and we need to get to the vault yesterday. “I’ve got Shaun!” my onscreen husband shouts. “Let’s go!”
My reaction is immediate and ridiculous: I want to carry the baby. I can’t trust an AI partner who would probably block a doorway or stand in my line of vision with the life of my child! But, I don’t get much choice in the matter. Dad has the kid and won’t let him go, no matter how many buttons I hammer at him, so it’s out the front door and into the streets.
As I run towards the marker on my map, I keep checking behind me to make sure my fictional family are still right there. Approaching the vault reveals an angry crowd and I start imagining the worst, that somehow my character is going to be allowed in but not my baby, that someone will steal my baby and use him to ransom their way into the vault, that I’ll be separated from him in the rabble…!
Turns out, I’m panicking over nothing. Literally nothing, given that baby Shaun doesn’t actually exist, but also figuratively nothing, as I’m ushered into Vault 111 with open arms.
A detonation occurs just as we begin our descent into the vault and I’m torn between watching the dramatic explosion and checking whether my baby is okay. Apparently, Bethesda babies are totally fine with nuclear bombs going off nearby, though, as Shaun makes nary a peep.
Finally, marvelling at our lucky escape, we’re safely in the vault. I talk to everyone I can, but they all say pretty much the same thing; some variation of “We made it!” or, “Holy shit, that was a nuke!” I’m given a jumpsuit and instructed to follow a doctor towards what a lifelong interest in science fiction has taught me must be cryogenic pods.
I start getting a bad feeling right before Shaun starts crying. This does not bode well. The doctors assure me everything is fine but there’s an edge of steel to their instructions to put on my suit and get in the pod. Obviously, the game won’t progress until I follow orders, but Shaun is still crying and I am loathe to leave him in that state. I hover around Nate the Husband but the bastard still won’t give up Shaun and I eventually climb reluctantly into my pod, Shaun’s cries ringing in my ears.
“Just relax,” says the doctor. Yeah, right. My breathing becomes ragged and I fade into… unconsciousness? Deep freeze? my gaze fixed firmly on the opposite pod.
Time passes. I don’t know how much. When I next wake up, everything is blurry, confusing. But then the all too familiar sound of Shaun’s cry cuts through the haze and I see the pod opposite has been opened and a figure is reaching out for Shaun.
At this point, I’m yelling at the TV. While my actual husband rolls his eyes at me, my fictional husband struggles to keep a hold of our baby. “I won’t let you have Shaun!” I start to feel a bit bad for calling him a bastard earlier.
A gunshot rings out and it’s over. I can feel the accursed tears pricking my eyes already. Shaun is carried away out of my sight and the mysterious figure pauses to glance into my pod. I etch every detail of his face into my memory – whatever the actual goal of Fallout 4 is, it has now become a revenge mission for me. I will find that guy and I will get Shaun back and I will ruin every carefully memorised detail of that kidnapping douche’s face.
My character drifts back to sleep. When I wake the next and final time, everything is in ruins. An alarm is blaring as I leap to the opposite pod and check on poor old Nate the Husband. Sure enough, he’s dead as a doorknob and there is no sign of Shaun.
I accidentally let myself dwell on this a moment too long and suddenly the room gets incredibly dusty. My child is alone, lost somewhere in the world, heck, in time! Who knows how long I was frozen for the second time. I need to get the hell out of this vault and start searching for him – I need to look for clues – I need to –
A sharp cry drags me from my fervour – but it isn’t the cry of Shaun, my lost baby, it’s the cry of my actual, real life baby. Her monitor is right beside me as I play and loudly broadcasting her unhappiness about something.
I sigh, save my game and go see what the problem is, cursing the fickle nature of my gaming time.
This is the sort of mother I am. Think of my kids and pray.