When you play the role of the character the game gives you rather than make your own you gain access to the benefits of a Bethesda-made character without the burden of disbelief:
Warning: Spoils first 20 mins of Fallout 4
Fallout 4 has received many complaints on the RPG front – you start the game with a wife or husband, the husband is ex-millitary and the wife attended law school, they both have their own predefined history and voice(which limits dialogue options to 4 throughout the game), and you share a house and son. Role-playing is extremely limited, and there is much disbelief to suspend.
But when you play the role of the character the game gives you rather than make your own(The way I think this game was intended to be played), you gain access to the benefits of a Bethesda-made character without the burden of disbelief:
- Voiced protagonists remind the player “that puppet you’re controlling has feelings too.”, especially when they get emotional.
- Game designers can reference the protagonist’s specific characteristics and events, and exploit them.
- With less possible characters to interact with, NPCs can afford to be less vague.
no “The player could be X or Z, so act like they are Y”
- NPCs aren’t conversing with a mute anymore, conversation is more fluid.
- Effort spent building the world to cater for a variety of custom characters can instead be spent adding more depth.
Fallout 4 doesn’t completely define your character though, you can still decide if you’re the sort to spend your free time squeezing every drop of performance out of your gun, or at the pub hitting on companions, afterall It’s important the protagonist has some qualities that you appreciate if you’re going to sacrifice blood and limb(s) to get their child back. It also poses some complex moral questions to get you thinking in the Fallout universe, and lets you fight for whatever stance you have on these moral questions.
While having a son is an obstacle for custom role-playing, finding him is a great motivator. In Skyrim, I still have not done any of the main quest outside of protecting Whiterun from a dragon, and my main motivator for doing that was that there was nothing better to do; the main story seemed pointless. Fallout 4’s protagonist has a humanizing history that got me invested, and made me legitimately care for the well-being of my character and getting his son back.
I have been pulled from my comfy world and brought into a radioactive wasteland where my wife is dead, my son is missing, the cockroaches stretch metres across and raiders terrorize anyone the Supermutants and Ghouls haven’t got to yet.
But my son could still be out there, so I’m getting my trusty power armour and canine companion, and I’m searching every inch of the Commonwealth; warn the Deathclaws.