The launch of the Fallout 4 reveal trailer has been a long time coming, so you'd think that I could muster a bit more enthusiasm now that it's finally here, official, and promising a new post-apocalyptic adventure sometime in the coming months. Sadly, the games community itself has done a pretty good job of squashing that excitement in record time, immediately overshadowing any sense of hype with snap judgments, snark and bizarre complaints aplenty.
On Sunday morning, May 31, I found myself in a packed Phoenix Comicon auditorium, enjoying the gravelly voice of Ron Perlman as he fielded questions from the audience about his work with Guillermo del Toro, Beauty and the Beast, Sons of Anarchy and more.
Near the end of Perlman's panel, a gentleman stepped up to the microphone and began discussing the art of voice acting, specifically Mr. Hellboy's work on the Fallout game series. The guy said he liked having Perlman serve as a common thread through those games as a radio announcer, and he was wondering if perhaps that was a role we might see pop up again in the near future.
A credit to his long acting career, Perlman convinced the audience that there was, sadly, nothing going on in that department. He briefly discussed how neat it was to see the series grow over the years then added that, while he wished he had some news to offer on a new game, he did not.
It was about 48 hours later that I discovered Fallout 4 had been announced, though not by seeing the trailer for myself. Work kept me offline throughout much of Tuesday morning, June 2, and by the time I finally picked up my phone to check Twitter for the first time, the trailer had already been live for a few hours.
The first mention I saw in my timeline was one of excitement, a fellow gamer who had seen the trailer and was pumped to know that, at some point, we'll finally be heading back into the world of Fallout. I should have stopped scrolling there, but I continued on down the line. For every comment in favor of the game, I was greeted by an equal number against. People were upset about the setting, questioned a lack of gameplay on display (in a reveal trailer, no less) and were especially harsh critics of the game's graphics. I kid you not, I saw comments whining about the fact that “so much of the trailer focused on a damn dog,” as well as mocked the character designs for “having flat butts.”
At this point, I finally came to my senses and just watched the trailer for myself. I was happy to see Bethesda using so much footage that was clearly shot in-game, and I liked that the new Boston setting looks to offer some familiar environments mixed with fresh locales. Oh, and of course Ron Perlman makes an appearance of sorts, his haunting voice pulling the viewer through the brief scenes that unfold. It was short but sweet and told me everything I need to know about Fallout 4 at this point: The game is finally happening.
By Tuesday evening, though, the internet reminded me just how much dissection could be orchestrated on a single reveal trailer in a minimal amount of time. Deep-dive think pieces were popping up everywhere, picking the trailer apart and speculating what it might mean for the final project. Similar to my experience that morning on Twitter, every column boasting an excited gamer who was just happy to see Fallout 4 in the daylight was met by an equal number of pieces complaining about one aspect or another.
The last moments of the trailer seem to hint at the player character actually having a voice this time around and, I kid you not, there are entire rants arguing how bad a decision that would be. Even Time got in on the fun, throwing up a column about the “7 things Fallout 4 had better improve.” To that piece's credit, it at least delves into problems the author has had with previous games and the changes they hope to see in this next installment rather than whine about a three-minute trailer, but it still smacks of this odd sense of entitlement the games community seems to be smothered in these days. The folks at Bethesda had not “better” do anything other than what they feel will result in the game they want to make.
I say all of that to ask one simple question: When did gaming stop being about having fun? I'm not saying that every game needs to be fun itself—I wouldn't necessarily call The Last of Us “fun for the whole family,” for instance—but didn't we all used to share a air of excitement for these bits of digital entertainment that keep us glued to the TV screen?
Nowadays, it seems like there's a race to see who can be the first person to call out something that's “wrong” about every sentence a developer says, every trailer that hits the internet and every game that gets played. Rather than looking for things worth celebrating, we're too busy going on a tirade about every minutia we dislike. More frustrating is the fact that we have this gross need to spread that negativity to others, seeking out those who disagree with our own opinions and letting them know how wrong they are for it.
I guess I just miss the days when a reveal trailer was something everyone got excited about.
I forced myself to wait a few days to write this all down because I didn't want to offer a knee-jerk reaction to something I perceive to be a problem. If only others would practice similar restraint, maybe the rest of us would get a full day to enjoy something before being bombarded by 1000-word pieces berating the graphics.