Rad Reviews: Fallout 4 (dialogue system)

Rad Reviews cover all those games that a Quick Snipe just couldn’t do justice on. AAA titles, brand new IPs and just plain brilliant/awful games all find a home here. Today we lambaste the bollocks that is the Fallout 4 dialogue system.


“A whole section dedicated to the dialogue system?” I hear you cry. “Why wasn’t this covered in the plot bit?”. I was so disgusted with the dialogue system that it deserved its own separate rant, that’s why. I have a number of issues with the way that conversations play out in FO4, so sit down and buckle up, because here comes the rage.

For those who are unaware, the dialogue system style of a list of dialogue choices from the previous games (right back to the original!) has been replaced with a more Bioware dialogue wheel. This has caused outcry among many, myself included, because it is a major and fundamental change to the way conversations work. Bioware has made this work in their games by allowing you the “investigate” option, but FO4 strangely neglects this, instead deciding to water down your choices to “yes”, “no”, “question?” or “sarcastic response” in general.

Spot the difference.


As if this massive reduction in choice was not bad enough, often your choices do not even matter, with quest conclusions and character reactions staying much the same whether you are an asshole, a lovely little angel or a sarcastic bastard. This is disheartening. Beforehand, Bethesda games have always been about the multiple playthroughs, but when all your dialogue amounts to the same thing, then there is really little point in creating another character just to have exactly the same experience.

Second issue: the removal of skill checks in conversation. In the previous Fallouts, you would often have the option to use a specific stat, skill or perk to unlock a special option in conversations. Lady Killer/Confirmed Bachelor in particular was especially suited to this, and ended up with some very memorable quest conclusions and interactions with NPCs. However, in FO4 dialogue, the only skill that matters is Charisma. Want to intimidate someone? Charisma. Want to charm someone? Charisma. Want to get some more caps out of someone? Charisma.

Why did they get rid of this brilliance?

It gets very frustrating when you have a strength 10 character who is unable to threaten a pipsqueak into surrendering everything they have because they don’t have enough damned Charisma. Isn’t the whole point of intimidation to be scary rather than charming? Not only does it once again reduce replayability, but it reduces immersion and the uniqueness of your character: there is no difference between a character with 5 charisma, 1 intelligence and 10 strength (moronic meathead) and a character with 5 charisma, 10 intelligence and 1 strength (frail genius). Every interaction is governed by Charisma, nothing else, and even that is reduced to a percentage chance: no more guarantees of persuasion any more, so even Charisma has been devalued in this way.

Finally, you often won’t even know what you are going to say before you say it! The responses descriptions are so general that you often don’t even know what you are going to say. “Sarcastic” responses can be hilarious or massively inappropriate, being much the same as an “asshole” response and getting a similar reaction. Similarly, certain responses can vary a huge amount from what you think you are going to say, and end up with you being in a sticky situation or even sometimes being unable to continue with a quest. Thankfully, mods are a thing and one has already been released to fix this, but it is completely unacceptable for Bethesda to dumb down the responses to this degree when the previous system was working extremely well.

How it should have been done.

Honestly, the dialogue system is a shambles. It reduces immersion, player choice (while gives the illusion of choice), the importance of perks and skills, understanding of what your character is about to say and overall waters down the dialogue to a point where you really feel how you act in interactions really serves no purpose at all. This may be due in part to the greater emphasis on the action-adventure part of FO4 than the RPG mechanics, but this, in my opinion, a giant leap backwards: an attempt to innovate where no innovation was required. Hopefully, with their next release, Bethesda will not follow this same pathway and instead return to listed dialogue, full descriptions of responses and the return of skill checks beyond that of Charisma.

I think you can guess what kind of score we’re going to give this one. Fallout 4’s dialogue system receives a resounding shite… due to its repetition, lack of inspiration of removal of roleplaying and replay value.

That’s me. I’m done. I hate the dialogue system, if you can’t tell. Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know if I was blinded by my hate or was righteous in my zeal.

Previous article: gameplay and mechanics

Next article: graphics


2 thoughts on “Rad Reviews: Fallout 4 (dialogue system)

Add yours

  1. I was super excited about grabbing a copy (I’ve yet to get one) but the dialogue system was something that I was a bit worried about, especially when you mean one thing and the actual response from your character sounds like you mean another.

    A great review- one that’s definitely making me wait a bit longer for it to drop in price (although, it’s a Bethesda game… they never drop as low as you want them to!)


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