My Fallout 4 Surivival mode review is growing to epic proportions. There’s so much to talk about that I’ve decided to tackle one topic outside the review proper – the mannequins.
As many of you already know, Fallout 4 is littered with massive amounts of strategically placed mannequins – enough to re-trigger latent PTSD in players of the Condemned series. More often than not you’ll find them littering the wasteland as bullet-absorbing decoys or in random locations depicting gruesome eyebrow-raising scenes. They’ve become such a nuisance for players that the sole purpose of one of the first mods created for Fallout 4 is turning all the mannequins into flamingos.
I got excited when I first noticed the mannequin theme throughout Fallout 4. There had to be a reason for them to exist, right? One that went beyond simple Easter eggs and morbid decorations for lonely wasteland inhabitants. Even as the hours ticked past and the occasional synth used the mannequins as a trap, I still held out hope that the they’d come into play within the main plot or some twisted side-quest I had yet to discover.
A Symptom of a Spreading Disease
They don’t. The mannequins are just mannequins. They don’t come to life as a new, spontaneous enemy type. They aren’t discarded prototype synths who lost power and were left to rot. They don’t serve as The Institute’s secretive eyes and ears around the wasteland. They’re just random mannequins.
Fallout 4’s mannequins are a massive missed opportunity. They could’ve brought interest and intrigue to an otherwise dull story, or served as a new enemy type in Fallout’s stagnant rogue’s gallery – one you have to dismantle to destroy – but no. Instead, all the thought and effort put behind Fallout 4’s mannequins serve only as a tip of the hat to players, although I see them more as a disgusting example of AAA gaming’s lack of creativity and unwillingness to step outside their comfort zone.
For the record, I like Bethesda and don’t think Fallout 4 is a bad game by any stretch of the imagination.
But I also think one of the main reasons many fans are unhappy with the latest iteration in the Fallout franchise is because of its general lack of creativity. The main storyline is predictable and cookie cutter, synths are the sci-fi equivalent of zombies in their pop culture overuse and overall imaginative requirement for implementation, and the only real “new” enemy types are mosquitos and flying radscorpions.
That being said, the problem clearly isn’t a lack of creativity at the studio.
Mannequins aren’t the only example of wasted potential. Throughout the game, players come across dead sea creature carcasses that litter the shore and fishing boats all over the wasteland. Yet, despite their clear existence, players can swim around The Commonwealth’s waters carefree.
I think Bethesda was too afraid to take a real chance and introduce anything outside of what fans expected. The company gave players the bare minimum of they wanted and laughed their way to the bank.
“But what about the new features?” You mean the mods Bethesda was ‘inspired’ by? Fallout settlements and improved crafting system have been a thing thanks to the modding community since 2009. You could even argue Bethesda’s efforts to more easily enable the addition and use of mods in Fallout 4 is their way of acknowledging that modders do a better job coming up with creative new aspects and features for their games.
To reiterate, I like Bethesda and Fallout 4, but the game seems held back because the studio as a whole was afraid of stepping outside their comfort zone and really making Fallout 4 something new and special. The cookie-cutter, safe mentality of the AAA games industry is hurting beloved franchises more than preserving their legacies – and the mannequins in Fallout 4 are a prime example of this issue.