I’m sure you’ve all seen “the video” today. I know you know the one because you’re on a video gaming website and, I assume, you have a pulse, so you’re necessarily chomping at the bit to get any slice of news of Fallout 4 you can get. But just to keep this official, I am, of course, referring to the video of the individual who walked from one side of Fallout 4’s world to the other in a scant 11 minutes. In case you haven’t seen it, you can check it out here (fair warning, if you’re still waiting for the game to officially launch before seeing it in action, this video could constitute a spoiler, so don’t watch it if that bothers you).
Now personally, I haven’t watched the video yet. I’m waiting for the game to launch before I play it and I hate the idea of someone leaking footage on principle alone, but I can already guess what a lot of people are saying: “you can walk across the entire game world in only 11 minutes?! That’s tiny!”
Firstly let me just say I’m not trying to hype up the game blindly. I know someone in the games media saying that is a bit like a politician saying they’re not trying to kiss babies or, you know, lie, but I feel like Fallout 4 hardly needs my help hyping it up. It could just be a reskinned version of Oregon Trail selling for $100 a pop and if it had the word “Fallout” and the number “4” after it, it’d still make millions. And I’m not so blind as to know Bethesda’s track record. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Fallout 3 (New Vegas not so much) and Skyrim and I have a long and sordid history, but those titles were by no means perfect. I wholly expect a buggy and possibly immersion-breaking experience in Fallout 4. At least, right out of the box.
But I’m going to be honest here and say that I’m not that bothered by the idea of a small game world. I mean, let’s be fair here, someone leaking footage from an unreleased game is hardly a reliable source and I wholly expect there to have been some insinuating circumstances that make the world seem smaller in that video than it actually is. On top of that, let’s not forget that Fallout 4 is set in a major metropolitan area. There’s probably plenty of buildings to explore and it would absolutely NOT surprise me if there was an entire world beneath the overworld map in the form of fallout shelters and subways.
But even if I’m wrong – again, I haven’t watched the video and refuse to do so on principle alone – it really doesn’t matter. Because whether the world takes 10 minutes or 10 days to cross doesn’t mean diddly as long as there’s content filling that space. Now, granted, Fallout 3 was a game full of desolation and empty space (post nuclear apocalypse landscape probably wouldn’t be the most scenic) but I seriously doubt Bethesda of all people would release a game world only 11 minutes from one end to the other without jam packing that space full of things to see and do.
If you’re a regular follower of the site, you know that one of our big beefs here is open world games that don’t need to be open world. Games like Dragon Age: Inquisition – still a great game by most accounts – had far too much empty space and do-nothing busy work. A tight, constrained game world is not necessarily a detriment as long as the developers use that space to engage us. If it’s all fetch quests and mindlessly collecting wolf fangs (or deathclaw fangs…which is actually a terrifying thought) or, even worse, empty space, then it’s hardly worth having a world that takes 10 hours to walk across, is it?
It’s really hard for me to legitimately defend Bethesda without playing the game, so I’ll keep this short and sweet: hold off judgment until the game is released. I am by no means trying to convince you to rush out to the store and pick up a copy of the game. Again, Bethesda doesn’t need my help hyping up Fallout 4. I’m not even trying to convince you of the game’s merits before it even comes out. In fact, quite the opposite. I’m encouraging you not to judge the game, for good or ill, before it’s even released on Nov. 10 and we’ve had a chance to digest every corner of it. If that means waiting for reviews rather than buying the game on day one, then I applaud your restraint and your financial savvy.
Just…don’t let some early footage taint your opinion of a game before it’s even released. Bethesda has, if nothing else, earned the right to get all the way to release day before we start praising or damning them.