Just before Bethesda aired the world’s first on Wednesday, you could sense an almost carnival-like atmosphere sweeping through online games communities and social media. Finally, they were all saying. At long last, we can see it. Six years since the release of (a game that critics still discuss with a tinge of reverence) Bethesda was ready to greet us with its successor.
Three minutes and four seconds later, however, the mood had changed. No longer was there unanimous enthusiasm. Instead, comments generally fell into three categories: Those whose exhilaration reached an all-caps climax, those who , and those about.
It would be insincere to address this topic without confessing that, yes, I found the trailer to be fairly unmoving. And yes, it was hardly an oil painting. But I wasn’t as deflated by the looks as I was with the direction. Retracing the narrative of Fallout 3, and skipping across a world that closely resembles it, could hardly be described as an inspiring choice for a brand new game.
That’s the reason, I think, why people’s views on graphics had split and envenomed once the trailer dropped. Quite simply, there was little else worth discussing. For now at least, what we understand about Fallout 4 is that it offers the same kind of hero, with the same kind of story, in the same kind of wasteland. Observe that the most enduring blockbuster franchises (, , , et al) always shuffle these elements with each new release. So, faced with apparently little else than a next-gen upgrade of an old idea, what else would you discuss other than the merits of the upgrade?
But, as much as I understand why some might be disappointed by the graphics, I also think they should keep an open mind about ‘s potential. If it even comes close to what its predecessor had achieved, it will be an intoxicating open-world RPG that is laced with choice, consequence, and character. Fallout 3’s inherent ugliness (most of which was designed by choice) never once lowered the game’s status as a modern masterpiece.
Faced with apparently little else than a next-gen upgrade of an old idea, what else would you discuss other than the merits of the upgrade?
We also need to draw a line under what we really want from trailers. Most of us like to occasionally partake in the drug of hype, but not when the promise becomes unrealistic, with smoke-and-mirror trailers running on ultra-high-end PCs that no console could emulate. If a company like Bethesda provides a realistic graphics target for its game trailers, does that really deserve such scorn?
On that point, I’ll confess this too; There’s always been a bankrupt logic to pre-release game trailer analysis, because it’s entirely feasible that the final build will be dramatically different to what the reveal trailer depicts (this would hardly be a first, as demonstrated here, ). All negative assumptions about Fallout 4, and its opening trailer, could easily fall apart once Bethesda shows the E3 build in action. Until then, let’s keep the faith.