Consumed by the Commonwealth: Resistance is futile

Resisting the fallout

During my first full playthrough of Fallout 4, which you can read more about in my article The world that he wants: the aftermath of siding with Shaun, I focused on being a morally good character, but there is a disconnect that comes from trying to maintain a goody two shoes outlook when witnessing the horrors of the wasteland.

By the end of my playthrough I had been able to align myself with the various factions by committing myself to their cause in one respect or another.  Through this curiosity of the different cultures of the factions, my character ended up having no real identity, eventually my attempt at maintaining pure morality collapsed under the pressure of decisions which had no clear right or wrong.

To raid or not to raid 

After starting character after character over in the same fashion, following the same flow of leveling and critical path quest lines, always being good, always following the story of the sole survivor, I became bored.

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(Ro the Wanderer clearing out a bandit camp)

I was inspired by the roleplaying YouTube video by Errant Signal, Errant Signal – (Spoilers) Fallout 4 and Role Playing, discussing the lack of a motivation to roleplay a character in Fallout 4 since the player’s character arch goes from average to supremely powerful.  In it Chris Franklin speaks to the fact that a character’s weaknesses can be negated and even eliminated them at later levels of progress, extinguishing the passion that comes from compensating for weakness and immersing oneself in developing solutions via the balance of a character’s defining strengths and weaknesses.

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(Ro clearing a house full of raiders and looting them for gear)

Before the release of the Nuka-World dlc for Fallout 4, which features all new raider factions; I asked myself what would happen if the sole survivor wasn’t strong enough to resist the feeling of defeat upon seeing the ruins of the commonwealth?  What if, upon returning to the surface, the sole survivor never became the hero, and simply succumbed to a life of a common wastelander, becoming raider?

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(Ro in cage armor taking on a Yao Guai)

In my mind the sole survivor would exist as a broken person seeking a way to disappear in the wasteland, with no greater ambition than to survive. This seemed like the best way to roam the wasteland and helped to root me in the narrative of pure gameplay and game world itself, as opposed the forced narrative that came from tying myself to a faction and its cause.

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(Ro and Dogmeat taking down a raider with an attack dog bite and a shotgun blast)

Ro the Wanderer

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(A close up of Ro, a portrait of his fear and fury)

After getting into this mindset I was excited to explore the commonwealth as another desperate soul consumed by its kill or be killed nature.  Armed with a shotgun, and his trusty companion Dogmeat, the sole survivor became a true wanderer of the wasteland.  He lives on the road and never enters a settlement or city, only trades with the chem pusher  Wolfgang and does so reluctantly as a means to gain access to chems. Ro walks the roads and takes on any foe he can find with a particular hatred for raiders.  The irony being that he himself has become a lone raider preying upon all that he finds in order to sustain himself.  He fights not for profit, status, or satisfaction, but out of necessity.  He is cold, bitter, and alone, a reflection of the Commonwealth itself.

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(Ro and dogmeat, after being consumed by the Commonwealth, Ro is indistinguishable from the common raiders he despises)

What do you think about the character building system and how it lends itself to roleplaying in Fallout 4?  You can read more about my experimentation with a Dogmeat focused build in my article Lights, Camera, Dogmeat!: making Dogmeat the hero. I welcome discussion on this topic and if you have experiences of your own you wish to share please do so in the comments below, or write in to

Andrew Mantilla is a ludologist and video game journalist for Play Professor.  You can check out more of his content on FacebookTwitterInstagramand Youtube.


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