Ever since it was released last November, Bethesda’s latest masterwork, Fallout 4 has received rave reviews from almost everyone who’s played it. While the game is undeniably immersive and expertly crafted, it has still generated rumbles of discontent among those gamers who originally fell in love with the title. Complaints of the game’s lack of choice and de-emphasis on self-determination have pervaded the game’s release.
Enter a gamer who named his character Mayor Ghastly, designed his avatar as a monstrous Ghoul, and refused to leave the game’s introductory environment. As anyone who’s spent time with the title can tell you, the opening moments of Fallout 4 unfold thusly:
The player character awakens one morning in 2077 to apparent domestic contentedness alongside his or her spouse and their newborn child. Unfortunately, tragedy strikes moments into the game as enemy forces launch a nuclear attack on the United States. The player flees to a nearby nuclear vault with his family, only to be frozen in stasis for 200 years, waking only once, to watch the murder of his wife and the abduction of his child. Once the character is thawed for good, he or she heads to the surface to find the world a desiccated remnant of its former self. A quick pit stop at home leads the player, now the Sole Survivor, on a quest to find his or her son and ultimately determine the fate of the Commonwealth.
Yet, Mayor Ghastly refused to do any of that; instead he built his own character, staking a claim for original gamers everywhere.
Fallout 4 Is Not An RPG
Bethesda’s sprawling epic is undeniably a great story and an amazing game. Unfortunately, it’s not really an RPG. In Fallout 4’s insistence on following a more developed narrative, a lot of the intricate player choice so beloved in the previous titles in the series have been abandoned.
In an attempt to create an action-oriented game in which every avenue is open to every player, regardless of his decisions, skills, or ability to steer a conversation, Fallout 4 has removed a lot of the thrill of determining one’s path through the world.
As Kotaku pointed out back in December, this change was received rather harshly by the series’ core fanbase:
“All of the changes Bethesda has made to their formula seem to have been done to deliver something specific: an open-world game with a focus on adventure, discovery, and combat. Everything has been changed or fine-tuned to facilitate that, and given the dozens of hours I’ve poured into the game doing those things, I’d say Fallout 4 is pretty successful at what it sets out to do … It’s just not the same type of fun I had playing other Fallout games.”
ExtremeTech similarly argued that the game itself seems to steer players in a specific direction when it actively supports taking down the Institute (the game’s big bad) while providing no real evidence to support the Institute’s point of view. In these ways, the game narrows the path that players can theoretically walk if they choose to participate actively in the world.
Mayor Ghastly’s Gruesome Achievement
Well, when he walked out of the vault, Mayor Ghastly simply chose not to participate. Late last month, the gamer took to reddit to share his accomplishment, gifting gamers with both a slew of photos describing his experiment and a new outlook on handling the world of Fallout 4.
Mayor Ghastly vowed to never interact with the dangerous outside world, choosing instead to draw civilization his way in order to gain a position of undisputed power. Ghastly is no benevolent caretaker of the Commonwealth; he is a dictator hell-bent on never being put in a position of vulnerability again. Fuck the wife and kids, Ghastly is looking out for number one.
By simply refusing to engage in the plot, Ghastly is never pressed upon to invest in the unavoidably saintly acts of the Sole Survivor. Instead, he was able to clean Sanctuary out, setting about rebuilding the small town.
His opening tips for success? Make sure you build a character with a high Charisma — to order people around — and Intelligence to easily gain experience. Then, find some crystal (and don’t forget the bomb shelter behind one of the town’s homes) so you can build a radio beacon. Once you get folks, set them to working scavenging stations and make sure to make full use of the experience offered by completing tasks like planting food and building homes.
In order to fund this small dream — no easy task when you’re locked into one location in Fallout 4 — Mayor Ghastly slowly exploits the people who wander into Sanctuary, stripping them of their items and getting them all hooked on hard drugs (Jet was the vice of choice).
Making use of Fallout 4’s Wasteland Workshop add-on, Ghastly managed to construct a fighting arena that allowed him to both punish villagers and draw in more unsuspecting victims. Throughout the experience, which took about three real world weeks, Ghastly has crafted a story that’s nothing like anything offered in Fallout 4.
It’s the story of a tyrant, a free-thinker, and a man determined to make his own way in the world.
Hold On For the G.E.C.K.
Theoretically, Fallout 4’s user mod kit will be released any day now after having hit an open beta in April. At that point, players will be able to share their own takes on the newest installment of Bethesda’s iconic series.
Until that wonderful day arrives, though, players will just have to keep their eyes open for opportunities to build their own worlds in Fallout 4.