Fallout 4 Has Lots Of Bugs, Reviewers Say [UPDATE]

Illustration for article titled iFallout 4/i Has Lots Of Bugs, Reviewers Say [UPDATE]

Fallout 4 comes out tomorrow, and with it comes a few big questions. One of those questions: Just how buggy will it be?

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Anyone who’s played the last two games by developer Bethesda Game Studios, Fallout 3 and Skyrim, has grown accustomed to a certain level of what we all call “jank”—physics not working properly; characters popping through floors; conversations repeating themselves; etc. These are massive, memory-stretching open world games with tons and tons of moving parts; the more features and pieces get packed into an RPG like this, the tougher it is to optimize. So it’s always been a safe bet that Fallout 4 would have some of these same issues.

But there’s a big difference between “jank” and “game-breaking.”

This morning, the Fallout 4 review embargo (not to be confused with the Fallout 4 review embargo embargo) lifted. We’ll have a review in the near future; for now, check out Chris Suellentrop’s impressions for some thoughts on the post-apocalypse.

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Pretty much everyone who’s played the game, Suellentrop included, says they’ve run into glitches and bugs ranging from minor (framerate drops) to major (total crashes). One piece, published on The Verge by Kotaku friend Chris Plante, stands out. “Nine hours into Fallout 4,” he writes, “I’m stuck inside an elevator.” As it turns out, elevators are totally broken in his playthrough, and even after loading an earlier save, he just keeps getting stuck.

UPDATE (5:13pm): Turns out Plante hadn’t actually downloaded the latest PS4 system update. Whoops! After updating his copy of the game, he now says elevators are working.

That snafu aside, just about every critic says the game is full of bugs. Let me give you a quick sampling, from people playing on both console and PC.

Writes Chris Carter at Destructoid:

At this point, you’re probably aware of Bethesda’s history with shipping buggy open-world games by now. If you were hoping that somehow a generational leap would magically buck that trend, prepare to be disappointed. Nearly every classic glitch is accounted for, including occasional save data issues, repeated dialogue, frameskipping, severe frame-rate drops, pop-in, falling through the floor, and so on.

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And here’s Dan Whitehead at Eurogamer:

The broad sweep of the game is as absorbing as ever but, like the cockroaches that survive a nuclear blast, Bethesda’s bugs have also endured the shift to new-generation console hardware.

It’s impossible to miss the glitches, bugs and downright broken bits in Fallout 4, and that can’t help but dim its shine. I’ve watched my dog sink slowly into the floor. I’ve beaten countless high-level enemies that have got snagged on scenery or locked in an animation cycle, holding them in place so I can snipe them at my leisure. I’ve watched textures pop in and out of existence, and seen the very walls and streets around me vanish, revealing the ghostly void underneath.

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Here’s IGN’s Dan Stapleton:

Fallout 4’s performance on both consoles is tolerable, but sometimes disappointing. We’ve seen frequent frame rate slowdowns well below the target of 30 when simply walking around the world, and hitches of a second or more that arise mostly after loading a new save or fast-traveling. The PC version has been much smoother in that regard, running between 40 and 60fps on Ultra settings on my GeForce GTX 970, and maintaining 60 when I lowered only the anti-aliasing settings. On all platforms we saw occasional crashes (the auto-save system prevented any major loss of progress), and every so often we hit a side quest that won’t properly begin or end due to scripting bugs.

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And independent reviewer Jim Sterling:

Which brings us to the less savory matter at hand. It’s time to talk about bugs – Fallout 4 has them, and I’m not referring to Radroaches. Being a Bethesda open-world game, you might be inclined to expect glitches and, well, those expectations will yield frustrating fruit. Pretty much everything you’ve seen impact Bethesda games of the past can be seen here, from a handful of potential quest bugs to wacky A.I. pathfinding and a number of physics-based anomalies. I’m also not sure whether or not an early story mission become unbeatable on a test file, because I’m sure the raiders I needed to kill weren’t spawning.

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You get the picture, right? General consensus is that this is a very good game and a worthy if not groundbreaking sequel to Fallout 3, but if framerate drops and other bugs drive you crazy, you might want to hold off until we hear more about Bethesda’s plans for patching the game. I’m still excited to dig into Fallout 4, of course, but it’s a bummer to have to play with that sense of foreboding hovering over you—that sense that everything could fall apart at any moment. Bethesda didn’t respond to requests for comment.

You can reach the author of this post at jason@kotaku.com or on Twitter at @jasonschreier.

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DISCUSSION

Everyone always says “oh, it’s to be expected” and “par for the course” and “just the way these big games are”...

... No, it’s unacceptable. There are games bigger than Fallout games, larger worlds with more moving parts, that don’t have anywhere near the same level of glitches, crashes, or game-breaking problems.

And I wish we’d all stop giving them a pass on this - players and critics alike.

Skyrim on PS3 for me was nigh-unplayable for months and months, and yet it had a 92/100 metacritic score. The very moment it won “Game of the Year” on Spike VGA was the same day I tried to boot it up and couldn’t progress longer than a few minutes without it turning into a slideshow with no fix at that point in sight.

“But it’s a good game underneath all the jank!” So are a great many games. And, fine, score it a 9/10 or 10/10 if you think it deserves it, but also stop EXCUSING the lack of polish and the plague of glitches.

Games like Alpha Protocol got shredded by the critics for the same number of glitches, maybe even fewer glitches. Just because we all want Fallout and love Bethesda games doesn’t mean they get an automatic pass, and “oh, it’s just to be expected” and “the glitches are part of the charm, really” are excuses I’ve grown tired of hearing.

Hold their feet to the fire a bit. Make a GOTY contender that also doesn’t feel like it’s held together by scotch tape and bubblegum. RAISE YOUR STANDARDS.

You can enjoy it while still demanding they improve, after all. You don’t HAVE to accept the bad as an “inevitability” and something “that couldn’t be avoided”. No game is without glitches, but even Fallout should be in a better state than “barely acceptable”. If it didn’t have “Fallout” in the title, folks would be far less forgiving of the “jank”.