Having had a full-bore case of the Fallout Flu – and eventually feeling guilty about the way that I’ve spent huge swathes of the week focused on trying to survive in an irradiated Bostonian wasteland long enough to actually learn to hit things with my cobbled-together pipe gun – I thought that I would actually focus on something more relevant. Like seeing what everybody else thinks about Fallout 4, of course. Turns out that at least one person at the Huffington Post was upset about the dog being invulnerable:
You can and will mow down “wild mongrels” and gigantic, irradiated bugs — then, you’ll acquire a pet dog [named Dogmeat] that’s seemingly impervious to bullets. If you happen to unload an entire clip of ammunition into the dog from your automatic rifle (accidentally, of course), the animal just stands there and doesn’t die, despite the fact that it sprays blood after every shot.
Apparently the pup’s invulnerability is a design choice, touted months ago by the game’s director. That’s an odd choice for a series so specific in its realness that it lets you becomeaddicted to alcohol and tweak the opacity of your “cheek blemishes” during character creation.
Trust me, this is going to be relevant: but first I have to actually explain why the dog was invulnerable, and why Bethesda was so careful to let that invulnerability be known ahead of time. It all has to do with a perennial problem that Bethesda has with computer-controlled sidekicks; to wit, the melee combat ones have a horrendous habit of running into your line of fire during combat. Which means, effectively, that your sidekicks had a horrendous habit of dying in stupid fights.
This was particularly notorious for happening in Bethesda’s insanely popular Elder Scrolls: Skyrim game (Skyrim and Fallout 4 share the same game engine, which basically means that they have a similar infrastructure and framework). There’s one player companion in particular – Lydia, a sword and shield melee fighter who is usually the first companion that you get in the game – who seemingly made it a point to scream “SKYRIM BELONGS TO THE NORDS!” and charge into melee, just in time to take your fireball square in the small of her back*. Couple that with the fact that earlier iterations of Dogmeat were also notorious for dying on a regular basis… well, that’s why Bethesda Software let us know well in advance that Dogmeat (or any of the other Fallout 4 Companions, apparently) can’t die. Because software companies know that it’s often smart to answer ahead of time the questions that they know that their potential fans were going to be asking.
OK, now let’s go over to the Huffington Post. This complaint about the dog being invulnerable was the centerpiece of this article about the game. OK… but there’s such a simple answer, and it’s one that’s instantly obvious to anybody who has played more than one game by Bethesda. And even if you’re absolutely new to the Fallout franchise – which I myself pretty much am – five minutes of searching would have provided an explanation that would have addressed the author’s ‘concerns.’ Of course, then the article becomes Software company makes changes to gameplay to suit fans’ perennial complaints, instead of Stupid software company makes stupid game and if you think it’s Game of the Year material you’re probably stupid too.
All of this, in other words, is one more bit of evidence in favor of what the late Michael Crichton called the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect: simply put, people generally do not consider that the same media organization that just wrote something remarkably dumb about one particular field might be making a habit of writing dumb things about everything else, too. Keep that in mind the next time somebody tells you that HuffPo – or any other good soldier for the Left – has its pulse on the culture. Really? They can’t even get video games right.
*Seriously, it got so bad that in a later update to the main Skyrim game Bethesda made it possible for you to take the special perk where none of your followers ever took damage from you in combat.