The Bethesda RPG dilemma



What most of us love about Bethesda’s RPG games is the ability to become another person. For instance in real life I’m not a female elf who can shoot fire out of her hands, but I could totally be that in Skyrim if I wanted to. It’s part of the fun of playing an RPG, imagining you are something you’re not. It’s also part of the reason people sink hundreds of hours of playtime into these fantasy worlds.

However with some RPG games this illusion can be broken when the character you think you know does or says something that isn’t in line with how you’re playing them. Here are some of the most common immersion destroying aspects as seen in Bethesda games.

Tell me about it

Deathclaw Fallout 4

Sarcasm won’t help you out of this one.

Plenty of Fallout fans expressed their disgust at the dialogue choices in Bethesda’s latest nuclear holocaust simulator, to the point where a mod quickly became available to offer a tradition RPG dialogue menu. The default dialogue options were limiting if you wanted to play as anything other than good, super good, sarcastic good, or kind of grumpy but still good.

I get why it happened with Fallout 4, the whole voiced protagonist thing required a set amount of options, and it did follow a set narrative more than any other Bethesda RPG game, but it still sucked when you spent all this time wandering the wastelands with a personality in your head, only for your character to act completely different when they spoke.

It’s also frustrating when you might have a dialogue option you want your character to say, but need to level up speech skills to say it. If someone comes stepping to you trying to take their you money and your dialogue options are:

A) Take my wallet please.

B) Take my wallet and my weapons, also spit in my mouth while I give them to you.

C) Yes I just killed seven deathclaws, but take everything I have lone human, especially my wallet.

D) Eat a bag of dicks you human garbage (requires level 900000 speech).

We all know which we would pick, and it blows it isn’t always an option, but what’s even worse is when it is there, but inaccessible. I get that it’s rewarding to unlock skills, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to tell the first person I meet in a game to eat a bag of dicks. In fact this should be a rule of thumb for every RPG game, telling Professor Oak to gnaw on sacks of genitals will prepare children for the real world more than any Pokémon battle ever could.

Ganging up


“Join us or one of the other factions you fundamentally disagree with.”

Having a posse in an RPG is pretty handy, personally I usually travel alone, but I do sometimes call in additional help if I repeatedly fail at taking down a boss. It’s cool when there are factions you can join, especially when they give you some sweet gear like the Brave Companions in Skyrim. They were cool and most importantly not needy.

Going back to Fallout 4 ( MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD) you are forced into picking a faction to complete the main story, and each side fucking sucks. They are all so extreme and don’t really give a toss about you as a person, you are just a tool to achieve their goals with. Some of the people in each faction were cool, but as a whole I was repulsed by all of them. The Railroad are too idealistic, the Institute are self centered pricks and the Brotherhood are fascists. The character I had in my head wouldn’t have put up with guff from any of them, but eventually had to, making it feel forced.

You have to put all your eggs in one of their baskets. And even if you could scatter your loyalty eggs into multiple baskets it would feel weird. What kind of sociopath just hangs around with three fierce groups of enemies, helping them all murder each other and then just says”fuck it” when it’s all done and dedicates the rest of their life to building gross looking towns.

Leader of the pack

Oh, you're an Wood Elf with a bow? How unique.

“I’m the only Dragonborn, an Arch Mage, leader of the Brave Companions, head of a thieves guild, and… I forget the rest, check my LinkedIn.”

It’s cool seeing your character succeed, but holy shit there is no need to make that character leader of literally every group you come across. It detracts from reality when one person can be the chosen one and also CEO of every single organisation. I get these worlds are fantasy, but come on, you can’t expect one person to have everything going for them.

This was particularly bad in Skyrim, during my first play through I completed almost every quest line I came across, which resulted in a character that led so many groups it was disgusting. I barely even used magic and I was Arch Mage of the College of Winterhold, how is that a thing? It felt more like playing as a trust fund kid who is handed everything rather than, you know, just being a dude who’s good at chopping stuff with a sword and yelling, which is what I assume every Norwegian person is like.

I totally get why it is in there, it’s cool to feel like your character is special enough that people trust them to lead their factions, but at the end of the day they’ve only known your dude for maybe two or three in game days/night (unless you actually put your character to bed at night, you weirdo). It seems strange that these characters would entrust you with leading an ancient order that you barely know anything about, especially if they know you’re already head of every other order around. What are you planning to do once you have a monopoly on the history and economy of an entire land? Oh, chase butterflies… good choice.

Be sarcastic to Charlie on Twitter @clbraith and don’t forget to follow @load_screen and like us on Facebook.


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