Video Games

Peter Suderman on the Vastness of Fallout 4


This week's Vox column takes a look at the incredible vastness of the video game Fallout 4, which has already consumed about two and a half days of my life.

Here's how it starts:

Two days, nine hours, and 17 minutes — that's how long I've spent playing Fallout 4, the post-apocalyptic role-playing video game, since its release on November 10. I know this because the game keeps track and tells me every time I start it up. That's 57 hours and change — almost one and a half workweeks — since the game arrived on my doorstep, and an even larger percentage of my waking hours. By the time you read this, my tally will almost certainly be even higher.

I knew this would be the case when I bought the game, because I've played previous games from Bethesda Softworks, the studio behind the Fallout franchise: the fantasy RPGs in the Elder Scrolls series, Morrowind and Skyrim, which share many gameplay mechanisms and design elements with the Fallout series, as well as the game's predecessors, Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas (which was created by a different studio, Obsidian, under a license from Bethesda). I spent dozens, in some cases hundreds, of hours playing each of those games, too: All together, I estimate I've spent about 375 hours on them, not including what I've put into Fallout 4.

That's an incredible amount of time — more than 15 complete days of my life since 2009, when I first started playing the games. 

Read the whole thing.

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  1. It’s amazing. I’m about at 3 1/2 days of game time. Hit level 50 this morning.

    1. I think Megan must not want children and well, SF…stay you.

      I haven’t binged on a game since WoW. And that was greatly reduced from EQ. My Evercrack days were Work, Liquor Store, Order Pizza, EQ, repeat.

      1. Insomnia. It’s my shitty superpower.

      2. I spent 80+ hours playing FFVII when it came out. That was done in a single blizzard week in Denver.

        1. Fallout 4 has already climbed into the top ten in my Steam records, clocking in at #8 already (before DLC and mods have even come out)

          The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim 488 hrs on record
          Warhammer? 40,000?: Dawn of War? II ? Retribution? 286 hrs on record
          Dragon Age: Origins 243 hrs on record
          Fallout: New Vegas 128 hrs on record
          Empire: Total War 126 hrs on record
          Grand Theft Auto V 112 hrs on record
          Warhammer? 40,000?: Dawn of War? II 109 hrs on record
          Fallout 4 103 hrs on record

          1. I should just go out to all top 10.

            Mass Effect 2 100 hrs on record
            Warhammer? 40,000?: Dawn of War? II – Chaos Rising? 80 hrs on record

            But Mass Effect 2 is actually lower than reality, because after a technical issue I ended up starting it through Origin (I hate that crap launcher).

  2. Steam has me clocked in with the following game times:

    Borderlands: 206 hours
    Borderlands 2: 359 hours
    Borderlands The Pre-Sequel: 282 hours

    I really can’t go near Fallout.

    1. Well, to be fair, NO ONE should be going near Fallout.

      1. Everybody could stand a hundred chest X-rays a year…

          1. +1 Suspicious Chevy Malibu.

              1. Just for that, you’re not in the gang any more. Archie..

              2. Oddly, I was just thinking “John Wayne was a fag” not two minutes before I sat down and read this.

                1. A lot of people don’t realize what’s really going on. They view life as a bunch of unconnected incidents and things. They don’t realize that there’s this, like, lattice of coincidence that lays on top of everything. Give you an example, show you what I mean: suppose you’re thinkin’ about a plate of shrimp. Suddenly someone’ll say, like, “plate,” or “shrimp,” or “plate o’ shrimp” out of the blue, no explanation. No point in lookin’ for one, either. It’s all part of a cosmic unconsciousness.

        1. I used to post in the old days as J. Frank Parnell.

      1. You’re absolutely right. I mean, after all, here I am conversing with you when I should be with your mom.

    2. Jesus, dude.

      I freaked out a little when I realized I had clocked 1.5 days on MGS V within a week of playing. (it’s now been six weeks, just ‘beat’ the game last night, right under 90 hours) I guess I’m still a chump, even when we’re talking about wasting time on games.

      I think I am sitting at 200 hours in Bad Company 2. And then there are some MMOs, which do track game time in terms of days/weeks.

      1. I like Borderlands. A lot.

        Also, remember that Borderlands encourages playing the game though again multiple times in increasingly harder modes, and the loot just keeps scaling up with you. Also, Tiny Tina and Mr. Torgue.

        1. The Tiny Tina DLC for BL2 has got to be one of my favorite DLC releases for any game, ever. The sheer amount of fun I had playing it with my friends and brothers (even after having already sunk hundreds of hours into the game) was just immense.

          1. It’s a great DLC. I personally loved Dr. Ned’s Zombie Island DLC in B1, as well. But Assault on Dragon Keep was great, and it also scaled up the difficulty quite a lot. I remember the first time I entered the DLC and got nearly killed by one or two hits from a lowly skeleton. I had to revisit my combat strategy for that one. Phaselock is very, very useful, though. Not as useful as Showdown, but still very useful.

    3. You think that’s bad? I’ve logged 1669 hours in Rome: Total War

      1. (granted, a lot of that time was alt-tabbed out, including while I slept at night

  3. I’ve heard it’s very so-so and has arguably lousy writing. FO:NV sounds better.

    1. From what I’ve seen of my nephew playing, it looks pretty awesome. As far as the writing… hard to judge based on quick cutscenes and pre-programmed conversations. I mean, very little beats the snappy dialog of Handsome Jack in BorderLands 2, but still.

      1. I’m a couple days into it and so far the writing is pretty enjoyable. No major complaints here. The major improvement, IMO, is in the mechanics of the game itself. Combat is way smoother and looting is much less clunky. Vast improvement over FO:NV. And of course the scope of the game is huge. I’m not sold on the whole settlement management aspect of it yet, but that may change as the game progresses.

        1. There’s no penalty if you ignore the Radiant-generated quests, but the settlements scrap for you, which has it’s uses later in the game.

          You don’t even have to defend them when they are attacked, but they will have the sadz until you repair their defenses.

          1. Yeah.. screw those helpless parasites. I’m a General.. or so I’m told. Oh, outta time, one of my flunkies is sending me off on another errand, because I’m the General..

            1. Yeah, right? What are the other damn Minutemen even doing? And why have I built all these defenses if they can’t take care of a few raiders?

              1. I’m thinking that I’ am safe in assuming that nobody at Bethesda ever served in the military, let alone as a commissioned officer….

            2. General, Tenpines needs a latrine dug. We’ll give you a hundred caps and tato or two to do it.

              1. Say it with me: Kidnapping at Abernathy Farms

          2. “Repair the defenses? Whaddaya mean, repair the defenses? I got better shit to do. Fuck it, repair ’em yourself. I spent the last two hundred years freezing in a hole in the ground and I managed to cobble this crap together, you should be able to fix it yourself, Wastelander.”

            *storms off to go spend an hour playing bowling with some beer bottles and a baseball*

        2. The settlement management is a weird, but logical, add on IMO. I thought I’d hate it but I’m kind of doing it to take a break from quests and wandering. It’s ridiculously clunky but I can see myself wasting a lot of time on a future run when I’ve grown bored of the landscape and the story line.

    2. I urge to you try it for yourself. I’ve had an excellent experience with the game. But if you haven’t played FO3 or FO:NV, I urge you to play them first.

  4. OT: Venezuela election: Opposition ‘wins two-thirds majority’

    That gives them a great deal of power.…..a-35033778

    1. *looks at watch*

      As of right now, everything wrong with that country is Capitalism.

      1. That was as true yesterday as it was now. If it’s failing, it’s because of capitalism.

  5. As a new england transplant living in cali, they did an amzing job with the folliage, etc. It really feels like new england (minus the random ass stone walls that you trip over every 5 feet in the woods. Would have been a great animation that would have infuriates players)

    1. Speaking of foliage, I finally checked out The Point. On a warm day, it really feels like Maui there.

    2. Dude, don’t say shit like that, it makes me want to play.

      1. You can even swim out to Spectacle Island.

        1. Must… resist… NutraSweet… and… AuH2O… too… open… world… I’ll… never… get… out…

        2. +1 bad case of chloracne

      2. Okay, if it helps:

        If you play as a dude, there is a line where your character refers to himself being a Red Sox fan. The game is not a Suicide Simulator where you get rewarded for having the most painful death possible.

  6. This week’s Vox column

    We’re not going to Vox, Suderman.

  7. I need to get a new machine to play this (and the Homeworld re-release) on.

    Sadly, Mrs. Dean wants a new kitchen.

    Guess who is going to get what they want first? Ah, well, it just means I’ll play FO4 as God intended: GOTY with all the DLCs built in.

    1. Which one is cheaper? I got an estimate for a remodel, and I laughed the guy out of the house.

      1. It’s fucking nuts what people pay for kitchen remodels using shitty pre-fab cabinets.

        1. Wait for the next housing crash, and you’ll be paying much, much less. I figure that’s happening in 2016.

          1. If my portfolio is any indication– it’s been well under way for over a year.

            1. Hopefully it stays under the covers for another year. I just want to get the hell out before the Dallas market collapses. My area has been going up 15% year-over-year for the last 2 years.

            2. Overtly to the point that government and media shenanigans can’t fool anyone anymore. I think the pain will be much worse when that happens.

              I doubt seriously that any real recovery has occurred. I think we’re turning Japanese.

          2. I built my whole house and all of the cabinetry. I won’t be paying anything.

      2. Which one is cheaper?

        The new computer, not that it matters.

        We’re keeping most of the cabinets. New appliances, countertops, some rejigging of cabinets to accommodate and a new exhaust fan setup (which sucks, since I like the current one).

        I already know what its going to cost (too much, but that’s irrelevant), which is why I know I’m not getting a new computer until its done.

    2. I’ll play FO4 as God intended: GOTY with all the DLCs built in.

      Damn it, that’s the smart way to do it, but I was too impatient to think about waiting a year for it.

  8. This week’s Vox column

    Stop right there.

  9. /Lights Corning signal.

  10. Argh! Queen Mirelurks! Spits acid and fires babies at you from her crabgina.

    1. The one time I’ve used one of my precious mini nukes so far was to rid myself of a Queen Mirelurk. And the direct hit didn’t even kill her! I still had to finish her off with a laser rifle.

      1. I found that very terrifying when the Queen first appeared.

        1. the queen? You wish there was only one…

          1. Uh oh. I only saw one when I cleared the Castle for the Minutemen.

            So, I guess there are more?

    1. You’re supposed to yell, “Neeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrds!”

  11. I’ve tried to get into these games but… I just don’t get it. I think the bit in the article about “tinkering” expresses pretty well why. I am not a “tinkerer”.

      1. These games, specifically Bethesda games. I like a lot of other games.

        1. I’m also finding that as I get older I have a lot less patience for repetitive -anything-. So out goes my previous enjoyment with lots of other games too.

          1. Huh.. I think Bethesda is unequaled in the genre of open-world (right now).

            What is it about the open-world Genre you don’t like… too much devolution into fetch-quests?

            1. It’s hard to pin down but I just lose interest after a while. I like games with focus.

              1. Are you a console gamer? If so, have you ever played the ‘souls’ games, DemonSouls, Dark Souls etc?

                1. Never heard of those. I have a Wii so they probably don’t exist there. I’m more into what you would probably call “casual” games anyway – even though I could spend many hours on them. Puzzles, platformers, metroidvanias, that sort of thing.

                  1. metroidvanias

                    For whatever reason, that term really grinds my gears.

                  2. If I did play any games, those would be the ones for me. But since my Super Nintendo broke, I can’t be bothered.

                  3. I have a Wii so they probably don’t exist there.

                    Umm….Xenoblade Chronicles?

                    1. I have that but I couldn’t get into it either!

            2. The lack of focus is my main problem with Bethesda’s games. I got into Skyrim for a good amount of time, but for the most part it’s all pretty boring to me. Few of the stories are good enough to hold my interest, the rewards aren’t very enticing, and the combat is not complex or engaging enough to make me set challenges for myself. I can start up a GTA and have fun blowing shit up and playing with the cops, or Just Cause or Far Cry to unlock another outpost or whatever, or MGS to take out guards in new interesting ways. With Elder Scrolls and Fallout, I always feel, “eh, what’s the point?”

              Maybe the base building in FO4 is what I need to get me hooked. I’ll probably pick up the GOTY edition for $20 at the next summer sale and find out.

              1. “Maybe the base building in FO4 is what I need to get me hooked.”

                Probably not. if you don’t care for the base-game, then the “Pimp My Shack” elements are probably just a one-time amusement.

                1. Hey I’ve got a mostly standing house right here, I could maybe use my scrap to patch that up. Nope, lets put down some ugly-as-hell clip-happy wooden sheds.

  12. That’s 57 hours and change ? almost one and a half workweeks

    For you or your orphans? Either way, all I can say is “you pussy”.

  13. “That’s 57 hours and change ? almost one and a half workweeks”

    pppppttt.. you’re counting it all wrong. That’s actually just just 3 or 4 work-nights where you DONT SLEEP AT ALL.

    My first playthrough lasted 6+ days. My second is only in the first 20%, but i’ve already found about a dozen things i completely skipped the first time through.

    My short review =

    Gameplay is better than any previous fallout. enemy uses cover, etc.

    Environments have more vertical components; means game gets very different when power-armored, esp. with jetpak, though shooting while jumping sux. More death-by-falling.

    The faction conflicts are not nearly as interesting as New Vegas. The ‘minutemen’ are a storytelling non-event despite having the most at stake to protect their home.

    Companions, as far as i can tell, are useless other than dog.

    Nick Valentine is the best character and will get its own Wasteland Noir-Detective DLC if they have a half-a-brain.

    Biggest complaint about game = Not enough opportunity to be truly *evil*. F03, FNV both had Bad Karma paths which made multiple playthroughs very different. Join Slavers, Nuke Settlement, Unleash zombies on yuppies, Enable Legion Takeover, etc. There was ‘payoff’ for using the Dark Side of the force. Which made being ‘good’ all the more rewarding. True ‘choice’ is what makes the ‘choose your own adventure’ style game rewarding. Linear narratives suck.

    1. Other biggest complaint(s) about game =

      – Radiant Quests that never end and which provide no real “power” gain to the player. Constantly defending settlements and repeatedly clearing out threats made me hate the farmers and want to call in artillery barrages on them. Worst – is that you gain no perks or caps or signif. bennys from having an army of ~100+ hapless-dependent-farmers. Compared to the very-short main questline, it seems disproportionate waste of time. Yes, lots of XP, but then you level up way too fast and have to go looking for ‘hard fights’ instead of them being scaled to you.

      – No use of the underwater environment other than the “Chinese Sub” mission. They built all kinds of junk out in the ocean, but its all being saved for some DLC. They should have had at least one faction-mission set in at least ONE underwater location. Its already (@#*$@ built. power armor & perks already enable underwater action. so they built capability into the base game that went unused.

      – Where the white women at? No sexpots. Piper too much like my UN ex-gf. I liked the Jazz singer. Wanderer need Synthwhore

      – Not enough vaults, or vaults with unique stories.

      – feels like not quite enough “ridiculous”, ‘wild wasteland’-esque stuff. The Silver Shroud questline was the best for this, but felt like needed more.

      1. My one critique is that its not really an rpg, but more fits into the modern action rpg mold that Bioware also makes. Example:

        In previous Fallout games, an NPC, no matter how story vital, wouldn’t be saved by power armor if you fired a rocket right over him to kill some enemies. Because this is an rpg, damnit, and actions have consequences.

        That isn’t the case anymore.

        1. You could kill quest-characters/merchants/generic NPCs etc. by accident all the time in both FO3, FNV. You could break everything except the main-quest.

          Companions and Quest characters are much less ‘killable’ in FO4.

          Settlers, once they’re associated w/ your settlements, seem to not get killed in raids (i’ve seen at most 1-2 either die or wander off), which makes no sense to me. The whole settlement network thing seems disassociated with the actual game-plot.

          Its not quite as Action-RPG as Mass Effect or other Bioware games. It has *gotten* more that way. But then… what major “pure” RPG is anywhere close to a Mass-Market title?

      2. Compared to the very-short main questline,


        I usually mix main and side quests, and try to save the end of the main quest until I’ve pretty well cleaned up the side quests.

        But . . . I like me a beefy main quest line.

        1. I do the exact same thing. I made the mistake of buying the guidebook (I rarely use it other than to see if a skill book is actually located in a particular location) and noticed that I was nearly 2/3 of the way done with the main storyline. I immediately focused on doing nothing but railroad and settlement quests.

          1. The main questline seems to go from “the prelude” to the “end-game” in a fairly large leap. basically, once you get into the institute, you’re basically setting up the endgame. It feels like there’s no “act II”.

            Once you choose a faction, its like 2 quick “Destroy the others”-missions, and Bob’s Your Uncle, You Win.

            That problem is magnified by the fact that, as mentioned – there’s little-no real motivation to expand & support the settlements beyond the XP-generating it provides…. so the post-endgame really isn’t particularly rewarding.

            It felt like there should have been a wider range of alternatives, including total betrayal and sabotage of everyone while looking out for yourself.

            (I remain frustrated i am unable to unleash my robot-army to enslave the farmers and build my Pimp-Shack on the summit of Trinity Tower)

            That was one of the best aspects of the New Vegas faction options = you could actually sincerely join any one of them… or *insincerely* join any of them, and subsequently betray them.

      3. Worst – is that you gain no perks or caps or signif. bennys from having an army of ~100+ hapless-dependent-farmers.

        I just learned this, but if you build a “scrapper bench” or whatever you can assign a settler to it and they will bring in ca. 3 items of random scrap every day. You can put all your idle settlers to work that way (one bench for each one). If you go the charisma route, you can also build stores that will generate revenue for you.

        1. yeah, i started using that the second-go-round. But its in the early stages yet and its not going to build my castle.

          My point was that there is really little tie-in of the settlement network into the larger game-story. If i have a robust settlement network of 100 people… or if i have a few ratty farms which i leave open to predators…. it makes no difference in my “status” or power-level.

          Gilmore’s Wasteland Property Development Corporation wanted its efforts to result in some kind of special perks, bonuses, items…. POWER. I wanted to make high-interest loans to the Brotherhood of Steel. I wanted to evict citizens of Diamond City and gentrify the place with robots. I wanted to build low-income housing in the Glowing Sea. I feel like my inner Wasteland Trump has been stymied.

  14. I get too bored of video games.

    On a related note, I’ve been thinking of buying shipping cans and building them one at a time into two bedroom apartments for deer leases or remote cabins. 320SF seems like enough room to comfortably sleep 8 in bunks (for hunters) or 4-6 in a more traditional layout.

    anybody feel like doing it something fun like teaching me how to use a torch or to rig electrical I to a steel building then finish in around it?

    1. I guess it’s a possibility, but you should look at some of the anti-shipping-container stuff, like this:…..verything/

      Not all of his complaints are valid in your case, since people don’t expect too much of a temporary hunting cabin, but
      -It is not actually any more expensive or difficult to build using traditional methods.
      -Shipping containers have no insulation.
      -It’s difficult to put doors and windows in them (compared to, say, timber framing).

      Long story short, shipping container houses don’t actually seem to solve any particular problem that needed solving.

      1. I know a shitload of construction company owners and this would solve problems for them.
        1: stick built homes are tougher to have built in the middle of a mesquite stand when they can take a heavy haul winch truck or boom truck and pull it off.
        2: lots of these guys own more than one hint lease and would like to be able to move their place around if it’s self-contained.
        3: easier to hook to a power supply they’re likely to have on hand.
        4: no zoning or inspections…ever.

        I could probably come up with a few more reasons why they’d be appealing to people I deal with regularly. But I just want to do it for kicks so I can learn a few things and spend the time with my son.

        1. Shipping containers have a few virtues:

          (1) They are vermin-proof.

          (2) They are transportable. Not easily, but a lot more transportable than a stick-built house.

          (3) If you don’t put in a stupid amount of windows, they are structurally sound pretty much as is.

          A lot of the oil companies use them for field housing. I’ve seen some people who use them for hunting cabins as well.

          1. My Ex’s current uses one as a workshop.

            1. I use them to smuggle whores!

      2. They are in use for refugees.

  15. Super Mutants are not victims of radiation, damn it!

    1. Rads + FEV = Supermutant..

  16. I wish Steam would stop counting when I tab-out of a game and leaving it running in the background for two days before continuing. Too many of my games are well over 1Khr, but I only put in about 1/4 of it really playing.

  17. My 16 year old son as 100 hours and has beat the same twice. I know this because I just asked him.


    1. Gezzzzz. Type much. *has* 100 hours and beat the *game* twice.

      1. #negligenttypingcute

  18. O M F G

    You guys kill me when you start in on this videogame stuff

    FO4 is not ‘vast’. Its got a large worldspace. Whoopdedoo – so does WoW.

    It big, shiny, and *shallow*. Everything has been reduced to ‘can I shoot it?’ and . . . that’s it. It is, literally, the worst game that BGS has ever made. Granted, that still makes it a *good* game, but its has less depth and complexity than Skyrim with only a fraction of the polish that is evident in that game.

    FO4 deserves no praise. Its a mediocre release from a studio that we know can do better – we’ve seen them do it.

    1. “” Everything has been reduced to ‘can I shoot it?””

      be fair! some things are: “can i make this plant into drugs…. that help me kill people?”

  19. Fallout 3 has the most boring, bland, and uninspired environment one can find in games. I advise staying away from anything Bethesda creates, not just the trademark bugs. (The Evil Within is merely published by Bethesda.) The Witcher 3 and Dragon Age: Inquisition do things better (Phantom Pain doesn’t really expect you to explore), but I still have doubts about the concept. (Of course the latter three games actually have meaningful stories and noteworthy characters, unlike Fallout 3.) It’s not backtracking, but much of it is dull, and a waste of time. It looks like FF XV won’t improve things. But FF VII’s remake seems to have a level of detail that’s unprecedented — and will be released in parts. (No details on its world map, yet.)

    1. No, DA: I *doesn’t do things better. Its built as a single-player MMO. The worst possible design for a core-game possible.

      1. Yeah, it does, simply because the environments are diverse and fairly detailed, with party chatter adding something, the player looking forward to story and conversation progression, and more entertaining combat. I pretty much agree with you on the single-player MMO description, as far as the non-story activities go (essentially gathering reputation points). That’s questionable. Still, what alternative do you see? A world map with random encounters, or just cutting that stuff entirely?

        1. Something on the order of Morrowind or FNV.

          An internconnected world that’s not just a bunch of static setpieces that have little connection together.

          And DA: I has the worst combat setup – just place 2-3 mob groups around the zone where the mobs never do anything except stand there waiting for you to jump them.

          The main story is linked by closing Oblivion Gates – or excuse me, ‘Rifts’ – and that gets old fast, just like it did in Oblivion.

          The enviroments are diverse – but they’re not detailed. and a good chunk of the content is just looking for clickies to click on and . . . that’s all you do with them.

          Interparty banter – good. But not important to anything.

          More entertaining combat – sort of. Its certainly better animated. But its no where near as deep or synergistic as DA:O. And it suffers from consolitis – FOV locked in too close, overhead view doesn’t allow to see enough of the battle.

          There are *things* DA:I does much better, but on balance, IMO, its not a very good game at all. Certainly not one that’s worth a second playthrough.

          1. The main story, itself, is pretty much irrelevant. It merely serves the characters, several of whom are excellent, measured against current standards.

            I had no problem with the “mob groups”; I really didn’t miss that they weren’t cooking, or playing chess. Of course that’s something which can be improved, depending on trade-offs.

            Concerning synergy, I’d say there seems to be less in Inquisition. But I didn’t notice a whole lot of it in Origins. I froze people, used one rogue, and layered the place with interacting “horror” type spells, essentially resulting in inactive and shattered enemies, as well as improved damage. In terms of story, Origins is even worse, and replaying simply yields a second (utilitarian) choice for main quests (“golems”, wolves, mages). The Fade was damn annoying, environments dull, and animations poor. Oghren, Morrigan, Leliana and their interactions (go for a love triangle) were pretty entertaining. And I enjoyed Sten’s poetically philosophic character. (Iron Bull is a vastly inferior alternative.)

  20. I dont think Sim Pap Jones is going to like that idea at all.

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