Fallout 4 weapons, despite handling much better and bringing several new ideas that are at least interesting in concept, are too uniform in their traits and functions. DPS ends up being the overwhelmingly most important quality which pushes away other factors that could have been used to differentiate weapons in interesting ways and made for more interesting decision-making. In Fallout 3 things like ammo availability, weapon condition, and repairs availability, rate of fire, reload time, spread and requirements had much more of an impact on the player’s decision making and served to make weapons more distinct and unique in their functions.
Hear me out here. I know that Fallout 4 added a shit-zillion crafting and customization options onto a weapon pool already about as large as the Fallout 3 weapon pool. I know that Fallout 4 added the legendary effect system which can add any of a large number of abilities to any given weapon, depending entirely on the luck of the drop. I know that Fallout 4’s weapons handle infinitely better than the wildly spraying, weirdly clunky firearms of Fallout 3.
But after playing both games a lot and not being able to shake a nagging feeling that something is still off about F4’s arsenal, I now realize something was lost in the transition. That something is differentiation. Fallout 3’s weapons all had distinctly different roles. They had genuine strengths and weaknesses that took many different forms. For example, the Sniper Rifle was one of very few options for taking proper long-ranged shots. They had a very powerful utility in that regard. But .308 ammo was rare, the weapons deteriorated quickly, repairs were not easy to come by, the fire rate was slow and the reload time was slower still. You had to carefully consider the ups and downs of using this weapon versus using any other weapon you might be carrying at any given time.
Come Fallout 4: you can put a sniper scope on just about any weapon and blast away with tip-top accuracy, high damage, comfortable rate of fire, quick reload times, ammo that’s easy to come by and condition that’s not even a thing any more. If you do run out of ammo, no worries because you can just do the same thing with your next weapon since they’re all so uniform in functionality and, albeit to a lesser extent, availability. You can make a similar comparison with other weapons. The Hunting Rifle in Fallout 3 was kind of shitty in every way except two: availability and lack of spread. It was one of the few weapons you could expect to reliably have on hand at any given time and that would actually hit your target, but the bad damage and slow rate of fire also made it an undesirable option to actually have to resort to in a fight. And yet that very combination of traits gave it a meaningful place in the early to mid game arsenal. Fallout 4? Welp, it’s just a sniper rifle now. The F3 version notably lacked a scope, which prevented it from being too easy an option to take out weaker mobs or nail easy sneak-crit headshots to trivialize the game.
10mm Pistol. Pipe Pistol. Pipe Rifle. Combat Rifle. Assault Rifle. Laser Rifle. Plasma Rifle. And all the variations of each. What is really the difference between them? They can all be semi-auto or full auto, all have great accuracy, all take scopes and sights. This uniformity in functionality results in damage per second (or maybe damage per sneak attack) being the main reason to use or not use any given weapon. Combat Rifles and Assault Rifles completely dominate all other weapons because they have no weaknesses, no drawbacks. You just point and click – the accuracy is there, the damage is there, the ammo supply is there, they have huge clip sizes and quick reload times. A weapon like, say, the .44 is now almost universally inferior because it fires so slowly, a complete reversal from how useful and valuable it was in Fallout 3, at the cost of, like the sniper, ammo being very rare. The only exception is when the enemies start becoming so damage spongey that you have to move up a tier, to the REALLY high DPS weapons – your Missile Launchers, Gatling Lasers and most things Explosive or Wounding. And there’s still nothing interesting going on here. You just upgrade to more DPS to match the ever-spongier enemies.
Now, I know – Fallout 3 had its fair share of stinkers as well, weapons that were basically just inferior versions of others. Like the Chinese Pistol or .32 pistol, or even the regular AR compared with the CAR at some point in the game. And Fallout 4’s legendary effects, although they suffer from too much randomization in my opinion and don’t live up to their potential, can turn any random gun drop into an unexpected new exciting part of your arsenal. But on the whole the crippling uniformity has really killed weapon variety in this game, imo. The crafting system feels like it’s mostly about just putting the best stuff on your weapons, which often results in more uniformity, rather than genuine differentiation.
And finally, the topic title is of course a little clickbaity and hyperbolic. It’s not like I would pick F3’s shooting over F4’s were I given the choice of one or the other. But if I could have F3’s weapon variety and differentiation within F4’s vastly improved shooter framework? I think that might very well be a big improvement.
Original Link – Continuation of discussion