It’s been two years since FALLOUT 4 entered the lives of many gamers.

Two years, and it’s still one of the most played games out there. That’s simply because FALLOUT 4 has so much to offer, way more than you’d expect from a video game. I firmly believe that this game can make people question themselves. I say this because two years later I still think about the impact it’s had on me.

What is FALLOUT 4?

FALLOUT 4 is a role-playing game developed by Bethesda Game Studios, the same company that brought us THE ELDER SCROLLS V: SKYRIM and FALLOUT SHELTER. It is an open-world game full of mutated creatures, diverse non-playable characters (NPCs), and extraordinary landscapes.

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The game takes places in the post-nuclear city of Boston, Massachusetts where you’ll encounter battered landmarks like Fenway Park. The setting is a significant portion of FALLOUT 4, but its essential details come from the plot. You play the sole survivor of fallout Vault 111 on a quest to find your missing son. In this wasteland, you’ll find just about anything you can think of, whether it be radioactive cows or a boxing glove with nails.

A vast, apocalyptic world to explore.

Countless parts of FALLOUT 4 stand out and make it one of the greatest games released in the past few years. Several parts of this game have made me think differently about what it means to be alive. Here are ten ways FALLOUT 4 will make you question your existence:

1. Shows You There’s More to the World Than You Think

The real world as we know it is large, though not everyone gets to experience all it has to offer. I, for one, have not traveled to Great Britain or Japan. FALLOUT 4 may not take you to those places, but it does give you a vast look at post-apocalyptic Boston.

The real Boston doesn’t have large, mutated lake monsters like Swan, but it does have a lot of history. Even though this version of Boston is a wasteland, we can still see the historic structures from a less disastrous time.

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A major moment in the game takes place in Boston’s Fort Independence, which is referred to in the game as “The Castle.” In the Castle, you fight off waves of raiders trying to overtake an essential HQ for the game’s heroic soldiers, known as the Minutemen. It’s amazing that a real-life structure is used years in the future as a base of operations. Looking up what Fort Independence used to be truly changed my perspective on how I view in-game structures.

Plenty of historical landmarks to kill around.

A Monument by a Different Name

“Once a fort, always a fort” should be its motto, but that’s not why this is important. While playing this game, I realized that there is more to Boston then its Sam Adams Brewery and its museums. There’s so much history to that city that I have yet to discover.

Though I’m a Yankees fan and Boston is enemy territory, this game was able to teach me a piece of history I’d not known. Even though Fort Independence may not call out to some people, it did to me. It made me think about the people who built these buildings. About the structures that could replace it in 100 years, or what the landmark may look like if it’s never torn down.

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FALLOUT 4 is a game that made me see the history of a city I had no personal connection to. Rather than give me a colorless template, Bethesda gave me a city with meaning and constant growing history.

2. Educated Me on Driving Forces

Everyone has something that drives their actions. For some people, it could be a goal of becoming the next Lebron James. For others, it may be to find the best NYC slice of pizza (with tons of garlic powder please). Most people, though, are driven by their family. I  know that if I do something for the people I love, it will make me happy. That is my driving force.

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In FALLOUT 4, “family” is also the main character’s driving force. They do whatever it takes to find the son that was taken from them. In the game, you make alliances with three different groups, all with contrasting moral alignments. Joining these groups is done all for the sake of finding your son.  Love makes you do crazy things like that, especially love for your own child.

What Matters Most

Searching for a missing child made me question my driving force. Taking this story from the perspective of a driven mother allowed me to step out of my perspective. I was able to see how I’d respond if I were in this sort of scenario.

Personally, I do not have kids, so I wouldn’t understand the pain of losing one’s child. Around the time I was playing this game, I did lose my grandfather though. For months I question why it happened. I thought about the things I never got to say to him. I even wondered if I had made him proud. To me, these are things I’ll never get answers to, but I can make assumptions based on what I did know about him.

Even ghouls have families to worry about.

FALLOUT 4 helped me cope in ways that I didn’t expect from a video game. It provided my brain with hypothetical moments I’d possibly go through. It helped me understand that loss is inevitable for humans, but it’s also something we can learn and grow from. Through the eyes of a mother looking for her lost son, I was able to understand how my connections with people drive me.

3. Showed Me To Loosen Up No Matter What

While writing the last section, I remembered a pretty humorous part of FALLOUT 4. There’s a side quest in the Far Harbor downloadable content (DLC) that, although dark, is quite hilarious. It takes place at the Cliff’s Edge Hotel, where several wealthy residents reside.

Upon arriving at the hotel, you realize that all the residents had their brains implanted into the bodies of robots. This was done to make them last forever, which sounds like something rich people would actually do. Drama after their implantations brings you here to investigate a Clue-esque murder mystery.

Murder mystery at the Cliff’s Edge Hotel.

Using robots instead of humans takes away the severity of the mystery, but not in a bad way. I knew that even though this was a serious murder to the residents involved, I could still laugh at how ridiculous the situation was. Here I was, a living person trying to solve the murder of a brain in a jar.

This turned out to be one of my favorite side quests in the game. It made me realize that even the most serious of moments can be watered down into a joke. Not everything in life should be laughed at, but sometimes you do need to take a step back and make light of dark situations. Humor and a good laugh can cure many situations.

4. Taught Me That Communication is Key

Dialogue is an integral part of any game. We live in the golden age of video games where, in almost every conversation, you have to make choices. These choices can lead you on a more accessible path, or they can throw you into a John Wayne-style shoot-off. Bethesda has always done an excellent job of making you truly play a different role.

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In FALLOUT 4 you can have companions that help you in your quest. Throughout the game, you find a vast variety of companions, ranging from an Australian cattle dog named Dogmeat to a courageous journalist named Piper. Each partner comes with a different set of beliefs that makes them unique.

What’s important about these sidekicks is that any piece of dialogue can change their perspective of you. My companion was a green Super Mutant named Strong. Like many other Super Mutants, he loved to kill (and bathe in blood I assume). My character Ash was well liked by Strong because I happened to be a cannibal.  Strong was never really bothered by my eccentric taste in food. Piper, on the other hand, was less accepting of my human eating ways. After eating several of my foes, Piper became hostile and also turned into my lunch. 

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Much like real bonds, not everyone is going to like what you say or do. Depending on how you feel about a person, you’ll communicate and act differently. You may be nicer to someone you care about, or you may go vegan to accommodate your girlfriend better.

The conversation is what you choose it to be.

FALLOUT 4 made me firmly believe that consistent communication can help foster the bonds we have. You don’t have to try to be someone you aren’t, but by meeting a partner halfway, it may make your relationship stronger. (If your life partner is a cannibal, you may want to seek help from a professional.)

5. It Highlighted Individuality

Everyone has their own style. Whether you’re a beanie bandito like me or someone who loves rompers, personal style is part of us all. FALLOUT 4 allows you to customize your method of choice in almost every way you can imagine.

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Customization is Endless

I made my character look exactly like me regarding facial features and hairstyle, but when it came to his clothes, he looked like a maniac. Almost none of his clothing matched in color, and he had a bear mascot’s headgear. In this play-through, characters never questioned why he looked crazy. They never treated him like a psycho just by what he was wearing. Usually, they had to wait until he spoke to find that out.

Wondering what kind of bar this is…

FALLOUT 4’s customization options never made me feel weird or uncool. Instead, it allowed me to explore what it truly meant to be creative. It gave a sense of individuality that not even reality could provide. Even now this video game makes me question what it means to be an individual.

I’d probably never leave my house with a mascot’s head on, but it at least makes me question why I wouldn’t. Maybe I’ll get laughed at by coworkers if I did, but why does that matter in the real world if it doesn’t work in a fictional one? 

6. Made Me Realize How Valuable Time Is

I’ve always found myself to be a bit of a rush god. It just seems more comfortable to carry out plans when everyone is on time and aware of what’s happening. FALLOUT 4 is a game that can take you a whole year or a week to finish depending on how it’s played.

There are plenty of side quests to keep you busy for a year, some that never really end. The map is also extremely large and full of way too many diverse NPCs. I’m beyond the days of being an achievement hunter, so I tend only to do side quests that interest me (which in the case of this game is a lot).

The settlement will provide.

I realized that time in this rundown Boston is what you make it. You could spend hours building settlements for survivors, or you could spend hours killing defenseless settlers. No matter what your interest, you’d be able to do it for as long as you wanted. I vividly remember walking through all of the Commonwealth just because I felt like finding unmarked locations.

After a few hundred hours spent playing, I realized that I could have easily just played the main story and beat it in no time, but because I was invested, I did more than that. I explored, fought, built bonds, and stole coffee pots.

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In real life, we use time how we see fit. You could efficiently use your time working all day long, or swimming on the beach. Whatever it is you care about, time is yours to use freely.

7. Explained that Everyone Plays Differently

This section is similar to the last, though I can argue that the last part dealt more with oneself. A reason gamers play games like FALLOUT 4, is to do it in their own way. I loved just to run around and punch things. My brother loved to stay at a distance and shoot enemies from afar. In what he enjoyed through stealth, I enjoyed from full frontal aggression.

Hold your breath and aim through the trees.

It’s hard for everyone to play the same in a game with so many details and side stories. Judging how others play is illogical because there is no wrong way to do it. Watching my brother snipe enemies in a field was frustrating. This was my perception because usually I’d run in there and blow the whole group up; but to him, a clean, slow approach was his fun reason for playing.

The way I played never seemed wrong to him.  This taught me that just because we played differently, neither of us wrong in our ways. In life, we all play differently. If you’re a teacher but a friend is a doctor, it doesn’t change the level of value either of you has. It’s just good to know that you’re playing the game of life how you want to.

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8. Showed Me Why Hoarding is Bad

If hoarding is a problem, then consider me problematic. While cleaning a few days ago, I discovered a set of Pokemon cards I never recall owning. For years I’ve just kept things because they may one day be worth thousands.

Hoarding is something you can heavily do in FALLOUT 4. You become over-encumbered once you pass the character’s carrying limit. You can’t run, fast travel to old locations, or engage in combat fluidly. In the game, there are plenty of components that are useful for building gear and weapons.

You are over-encumbered and cannot run!

FALLOUT 4 trains you to keep only what you need and plan on using. Why carry 200 ashtrays if you’re not going to use them? This functionality made me realize that the same thing can be said in real life. It’s easier for us to let go of the things we don’t use, instead of stacking them in the corner of the room. You’ll just end up dealing with it in the future anyway.

9. Dissected What It Means to Be Human

One of the most critical aspects of FALLOUT 4 is the use of synthetic humanoids (known as Synths). They’re probably one of the most intricate parts of the FALLOUT universe. Synths are used as a scare tactic because what’s scarier than something that looks and acts like a human would?

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This plot point primarily comes up in Diamond City (Fenway Park’s transformed stadium) where you encounter people who are afraid of Synths. The mayor of Diamond City shows aggression towards these humanoids since they can replace humans unknowingly. The threat of replacement is something to fear in FALLOUT 4. It presents a fear that we wouldn’t quite understand. How would we even know what is going on?

This whole dilemma does offer up a philosophical question though. What truly makes us human? At several points, we learn of characters that have been Synths the entire time. We can open up a science textbook to see what humans look like. We can even talk to researchers that have studied humanity. None of that gives us a firm answer on what “being human” truly means. 

Family is what you make it.

We’re told that what makes us human is skin, blood, intelligent thought, and a soul. But these Synths act the same, look the same, and think the same. So are they not human even if they’re missing a soul? Now, what about the people who transferred their brains into a robot? Are they no longer human, or are they still human at their core?

So many questions I can’t answer, and that’s what is most important. I’ll never really find out what it means to be human, nor do I think anyone will. FALLOUT 4 taught me never to stop asking questions.

10. It Made Fun… Fun

All in all, FALLOUT 4 is just an enjoyable game. It made me understand so many small complexities of life. I had found a way to cope with loss, I’d learned the history that a city could have, I even questioned what it meant to be human.

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As gamers, we expected to get a piece of entertainment that will keep us busy and pleased. To have a game profoundly affect our being is a whole different feeling. It’s incredible for someone to enter a fictional world that leaves you with more questions than answers.

Final Thoughts

FALLOUT 4 will be an important game no matter how many years pass. It will continue to change my life whenever I put in the disc. To anyone who hasn’t played it, I urge you to check it out and see what post-apocalyptic Boston can teach you. Maybe it’ll help you with your latest dilemma or possibly improve your relationships. Perhaps it’ll even alleviate your stress levels. Either way, at least you’ll have a super fun time.

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