‘Fallout 4’, ‘Half Life 3’, and the Danger of Hype


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Alex Moreci, Spear Contributor

There is no game that I am more excited for currently than “Fallout 4.” The game promises to be the culmination of all the best parts of “Fallout 3” and “Skyrim.” The trailers show an improved combat system, with modern FPS aspects for the shooter-action fans, and an improved VATS system for people who play “Fallout” the right way. The E3 presentation even displayed a feature where you build your own wasteland settlement. The game is so thorough, that there are over 1000 names voice acted that the NPC will use in dialog.


From what they have shown us, people are already expecting this to win game of the year. How could it not, when Bethesda Game Studio won three consecutive game of the year awards for their previous three titles “Oblivion,” “Fallout 3,” and “Skyrim.” “Fallout 3” is one of my favorite games of all time, not to mention “Skyrim,” arguably the best game ever made.   


However as I look forward to “Fallout 4,” I also remember games like “Mass Effect 3” and “Destiny.” While neither of these games were particularly bad they were both critically panned. Neither game was said to live up to expectations and this is generally attributed to both games being over-hyped. The games were advertised as incredible, mind-blowing experiences that would live up to and even surpass the already high expectations. Naturally, fans were very excited with these prospects, and anticipated the games avidly. With every new trailer the hype built up, until fans expected a game much better than what ended up being released.


In the example of “Destiny” (a game I like quite like) Bungie had announced it after leaving Microsoft and their beloved “Halo” franchise behind. It was hyped to be a spiritual successor to the “Halo” franchise, with streamlined gameplay and incredible graphics. When it was released and found to bear very little resemblance to “Halo” at all, “Destiny” being a loot-based pseudo-MMO, the game was rated lower on the grounds that it was a disappointment to all fans of Bungie’s previous games.


This is sadly not just an issue with game critics; disappointment is universal. It can affect the judgement of anyone who plays the game with any expectations going in. If a game is hyped as greater than it plays, it is impossible to avoid disappointment anyone from who bought into the hype.


Imagine if Valve decided to create “Half Life 3.” The game could be incredible, amend every flaw with modern shooters, have the best story ever written and have over 500 hours of content. Sadly though, with all the legend built up around it there is no way it would live up to the many expectations built by its own community. Any flaws the game had would be subconsciously hyperbolized and feel much more apparent because the game has such a reputation built around it that any flaws, no matter how small, would inevitability alienate fans. The same fans who have been begging for its release. The only way to avoid disappointing fans of the franchise would be to release the one true perfect game, an 11/10, and that’s simply not possible.


It seems to me like Bethesda understands the potential for over hype with “Fallout 4.” With such an impressive pedigree of previous titles looming over “Fallout 4,” fans will surely expect a game hard to live up to. Understanding this dangerous potential, Bethesda is on the right track. They announced the game (one of the most anticipated titles of the past couple years) only 7 months before release. They have also had advertising directed on highlighting gameplay and features. The cinematic announce trailer was clearly not pre-rendered and features the engine more than the game. Every video on the game since has prominently featured gameplay .However, this is with the exception of the recent S.P.E.C.I.A.L animation series, but, even that feels more like fan service, not even having the “Fallout 4” logo at the end.


With such emphasis, Bethesda seems to be trying to display the features rather than the game, so that anticipation is built for such features, and the game overall will take much less of a blow for the (hopefully) few inevitable shortcomings the game will present. As a fan who has seen every ounce of promotional content I still have no idea about anything in the story besides general setting, although you’ve seen one “Fallout” post nuclear wasteland, you’ve seen them all.


I feel like, sadly, it would make sense for “Fallout 4” to be somewhat disappointing to its pedigree. However, I still think that it could still live up to expectations. I trust Bethesda to make good games as well as produce very high value products. I feel like even if it doesn’t live up to “Skyrim,” there will still be hundreds of hours of content, I think Bethesda even stated 700. Therefore regardless of whether or not it lives up to hype I will still enjoy it as the game “Fallout 4″ ends up being.