You can always count on the 'how many graphics?' crowd to have something to say about a game's look. Personally, I was quite pleased with Fallout 4's crisp and colourful new visuals, although that hasn't stopped some from having a pop at the finer details.
Not that it matters to Bethesda though, because that simply isn't what Fallout 4 is about anyway. "We push it visually as much as we can, while realising that we are not making a game just for the sake of having it be the best looking game out there," Bethesda's Pete Hines told me. As an example, he refers to Skyrim, "it’s not meant to be the most stunning RPG ever. That's not the stated goal," he explains. "We want this massive interactive world, where you can talk to people, choose your own path and everything in the world has meaning and is an actual object".
It's basically a balancing act. Sure, Bethesda want a good looking game, but also one where things physically exist. "Everything in the world [is] something tangible - you don’t walk into a room and see lots of stuff and it’s all fake. All the items are actual items," says Pete. "You set off a grenade in a room? It’s going to blow shit around and knock it all over the place. You have to spend cycles and stuff tracking where all of that went, and how it’s going to bounce around".
The practical upshot is that this creates, "almost limitless freedom". The Elder Scrolls games, in particular, are known for the sort of creativity you can only get in a game that let's you manhandle almost every object. Let's never forget Skyrim's creepy serial killer guy and his bookcase full of heads :
"It does allow for chaos but it also allows somebody to roll a thousand wheels of cheese down a hill in Skyrim. And you laugh, it’s fun," points out Pete. "You have that freedom and you also have a much better sense of place, because everything that you’re touching and picking up is real. These are real books and that’s a real apple. It’s not a picture of an apple that disappears from the world. You can pick it up from here and set it down over here".
It's that width of interactivity and potential that makes it unfair to compare Fallout 4 against something like Batman Arkham Knight (as a recent pretty game) when you're talking looks. "If you’re going to hold us up to any other game and compare us side by side then it had better be a game that does all the same things," states Pete. "If you can deconstruct and reconstruct the world in real time, in the game, and you can pick up every single item and it’s not just a texture then we can talk. Otherwise, well then it’s a bit apples and oranges".
Ultimately, it's all about the bigger picture. "We know what it is that we’re trying to do and it’s not just one thing," says Pete. "It is all of these parts that make a much bigger whole. It’s the interactivity, it is the visuals but the visuals without sacrificing all this other stuff".
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