Bethesda defends Fallout 4's graphics, praises interactivity

Fallout 4 exploded onto the scene in the build up to E3, touting settlement building, vastly improved FPS combat and an invincible dog companion.

Despite the awesomeness, Fallout 4 has drawn criticism for its graphics, which some think lacks the detail found in other new-gen only titles. Bethesda has now responded.

In an interview with Gamesradar, Bethesda's Pete Hines discussed the criticism, stating that it was never their intention to be "the best looking" game:

..."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, it's not meant to be the most stunning RPG ever. That's not the stated goal. 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."...

I'm no game developer, but I'd imagine that having every object be interactive has at least some impact on system resources. The same interactivity is true for Fallout 3 and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, but it's taken to new extremes in Fallout 4 as every object can be deconstructed for use in the game's crafting system. The objects in Fallout 4's world aren't part of a static backdrop, as Pete Hines describes:

..."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. 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."...

It certainly sounds as though any perceived graphical trade-off is due to the nature of Fallout 4's interactivity. In the interview, Pete describes the freedom their engines allow for, citing rolling cheese wheels down a hill in Skyrim as an example. I haven't seen too many complaints about Fallout 4's graphics, but it's easy to imagine how the average viewer might not take these things into consideration when seeing screenshots or trailers.

Using The Witcher 3 as a contemporary RPG example - it's gorgeous, but very few of the world's objects can be manipulated in real-time. Geralt can destroy specific walls using his magic, but use the same powers on everyday household objects and you'll find them mysteriously glued to the tables.

"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. 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.".

Frankly, I think Fallout 4 looks just dandy from what we've seen so far - but if all that freedom comes at a price, it's one I'm personally willing to pay. What do you think? Let us know below!

Fallout 4 launches on Nov 10th, 2015 on PC, PS4 and Xbox One.

Source: Gamesradar

Jez Corden
Managing Editor

Jez Corden is the Managing Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

126 Comments
  • Fair Trade. Can't wait. The amount of time I spent in Fallout 3 was only suprpassed by Diablo 2... there's just soooo much to do. It may not be the prettiest game in the world, but you're guaranteed to get your money's worth even at twice the price.
  • Graphics style works even today.  Great game
  • I could put my signature under that post. I prefer interactivity over graphics  
  • I don't care if its not the best looking game.. If it's as good a game or better than fallout 3, then you won't be getting no complaints off of me.
  • Exactly, gameplay over graphics.
  • That is why FTL is one of my fav games, its simple yet frantic and amazing... I will also take epic story over game play or graphics. Mass Effect being one for story, Halo for gameplay (and the story if you read the books). Homeworld when it came out had all three, thank god they remastered it
  • Let the game developers give the game good gameplay, then let modders give the game good graphics (Skyrim), and everything will be beastmode.
  • "...won't be getting no complaints..." means you will have complaints. Double negatives ;) But I totally agree. The graphics seem even better than on New Vegas and those were fine. Modders will probably make higher res textures and remodled polys for weapons and such for those who want them.
  • Would be nice to have it all on the high end gaming rigs though. It's the only complaint I have really. That gaming gets nerfed so that the desktop version won't out perform the consoles. Thank goodness for the modders.
  • I'm hoping it's at least as good as New Vegas, which I prefered to Fallout 3.
  • I'm really disappointed in the phony gamers, and the click-bait game journalism that feeds them (IGN, Gamespot, Polygon, Destructoid, etc.), out there who have turned this generation into an obsession over pixel counting, forcing developers to cut things that make games better (e.g. local, splitscreen multiplayer) just to hit some asinine resolution/fps floors. Sony is hugely culpable as well, as they've sought to make this an issue to try to distract attention away from the fact that their console has fewer features and fewer AAA exclusives. And the most vexing part of it all is that it's working.
  • I concur, but Sony's willing to do just about anything to sell their console and fan the fanboy war. MS may have pissed off some gamers around launch but since then have been straight forward and above board. Sony, not so much.
  • I assume that by "straight forward," you're ignoring the part where they said that the Kinect would never be unbundled from the Xbox One, only to do just that 7 months after launch. I take it we're also going to ignore how Microsoft kept pushing a generic "Summer 2015" time frame for Windows 10, before finally acknowledging that the reality is that ONE part of W10 is coming in the summer, only to have another (Mobile) be a season late and another (Xbox One) fail to have a true release window yet. What's the time frame in which we stop judging Microsoft's dishonesty? Also, if we're going to generically say "Microsoft," do we get to criticize them for the non-Xbox broken promises as well?
  • So MS isn't allowed to change it mind re: Kinect. And you reading between the lines re: Windows 10. Windows 10 will be here in the summer. It's officially launching next week. Just because It isn't coming to phone or Xbox untill later, doesn't mean its not here next week. MS hasn't been dishonest in any way, they've been completely transparent for the last couple of years at least. Changing your mind on something doesn't make you dishonest.
  • Calling it "changing their mind," doesn't mean it wasn't a lie. They chose to speak in absolutes, and regardless of the reasoning behind the change, reality ended up different from the stated goals of the Xbox One. I dont' get why people on this site are so scared to criticize Microsoft when it's justified. They won't steal your toys. I still like my Xbox One a lot, but the fact that Microsoft unbundled the Kinect, like, 6 weeks after I wasted $100 on a Kinect becuase I was told there wouldn't be another option sucked. I'd have rather put the $100 into a couple of games I wanted, rather than a peripheral whose usefulness for my life is basically non-existent. The Kinect doesn't add anything to my Xbox experience, and Microsoft convinced peopel to buy it under the guise that there wouldn't be an alternative bundle.
  • Keith, calm down on the hyperbole. MS always said they had no plans to unbundle it, not never, not "go bet your house on it". Just whenever they were asked, they said "we've no plans to". Its not a lie, its just they (like me) think the Kinect is what sets the Xbox apart from PS4, and I agree. I way prefer my Xbox to a PS for that reason alone. If you think its wasted, then you are just butt hurt about it and the timing of its unbundling. It DOES add to experience, even taking screenshots is a whole lot easier with "Xbox take screenshot" rather than double tap. find screenshot - during a game. I prefer not to be taken out of the action.
    I love the TV control. Skyping. Its only you value judgement that it doesn't, but thats not the universal truth for everyone. W10 is out in a couple of weeks. WP 10 has always been later in the year, maybe 2016. No one promised you anything. You really do need to wind it in mate. Your whinness is too much, when there is nothing to see. Besides this not being an MS advocay thread, its a Bethesda game comments section you OT person you. :)  
  • Ahh, going to keep trying to twist words to defend the matter? What, a plan isn't a plan unless gambling is referenced?I guess when you use terms like "butthurt," you have the upper-hand, though. The Kinect is absolutely wasted on me. I don't use Netflix or OneGuide or anything. Many people don't. What's the Kinect doing for me? I'd love to hear you tell me how saying, "Xbox, on," is SO much better than briefly holding the Home button on the Xbox One's controller, because that's all my Kinect can really do (well, and I guess snap the Achievements app, but I haven't done that in months, and can easily do that on the controller as well). $100 well-spent, you're right, that "butthurt" term really opened my eyes.
  • As far as the issue with the Kinect goes I can not speak as I have not read every press release from Microsoft. I suppose it is possible that they said we will never unbundle the Kinect, however that seems unlikely. However, Microsoft has been above board from the beginning that Win 10 (prime for want of a better term at the moment) would be released first, followed with Win 10 Mobile released at a later point. Neither speculation otherwise from third party sources nor your dislike of a timeframe does not make Microsoft dishonest.
  • Exactly, they never said "never". Also true about the W10 dates. What MS have done with W10, and the upcoming Xbox10, WP10 means we will finally have one core API, one dev environement to target. Thats a massive feat in software engineering terms, lost on the whiny who want everything right now, for little or no money. The irritating, self entitled generation in effect for you.  
  • "They are not separate systems," Harrison said. "An Xbox One has chips, it has memory, it has Blu-ray, it has Kinect, it has a controller. These are all part of the platform ecosystem." That's a popular quote from a frequently repeated interview right before the Xbox One released (from August 2013). Microsoft kept pushing it as NOT being an accessory. The guy's caling it on-par with including a controller and a disc drive--essentials for home gaming consoles. His exact words might not have been, "never no Kinect," but that's as close as you can get, and it's implied as heavily as I think it can be.
  • Honestly, I don't think you're any better. You often determine the entirety of a game's merit based on Kinect functionality or whether an app/game is on Windows Phone. You did it with Rory McIlroy PGA Tour recently, for example.
  • Microsoft made some serious mistakes with the XB1 launch. One big o e being the Kinect bundling. Not so much due to de bundling per se, but rather the fact that it drove up the base console price. That was definitely a dumb move, no way around it, and Microsoft is paying for that mistake now. That said, what I believe SmoothDog was trying to say is that Microsoft, having realized their mistakes, chose the tough route of backpedaling on their vision in order to cater to user's demands. They did the same thing, basically, with Windows 10. Sure, it would've been better not to make the mistake in the first place, but since they can't (probably?) travel back in time this is the next best thing. What has Sony done, beyond providing an utterly uninspired next-gen console that offers little beyond more raw processing power?
  • I don't even disagree with what you're saying. I'm disagreeing with this idea he put forth that Microsoft has been upfront and honest throughout everything. I agree that unbundling the Kinect was the right move. Shoot, I was considering passing on the Xbox One entirely when they said the Kinect had to be plugged in for the console to work (that, or I was seriously considering wrapping the Kinect in foil). Still, people are being Microsoft sheep and voting my posts down because this site hates anything that doesn't blindly fall in love with everything abotu Microsoft, even if it means ignoring lies and half-truths, such as the Kinect and DRM policies. That Sony comment, that's just a ridiculous statement, IMO. They did with the PS Camera what you just suggested Microsoft could/should have done, by making it an optional accessory. Meanwhile, what's the go-to bundling for Microsoft now? They have inferior hardware of the same manner inside, and they've got their console discounted because, without Kinect, it's the same parts on a lesser scale. Calling the PS4 "uninspired," is strange, as if brownie points over creativity supersede making good hardware (see: Wii U). I mean, Microsoft's "inspired" for releasing a second Kinect (meaning not a new concept for them), giving it little software support, not letting people upgrade their HDDs, and giving us lesser hardware?
  • Exactly Kriz. XB has listened and delivered. Sony from the start and quite consistently has taken jabs at MS. Some deserved, some to flame the fan boy wars. Where MS has been respectful and even praising to Sony. I'm glad MS doesn't play into their childish game.
  • That's not really correct, though when scenery isn't interactive you can "fake" better graphics by pre-rendering advanced effects. So it's at least somewhat related.
  • Soo, what, you want really pretty grass under an NPC that isn't at a equal resolution? Or you want stuff to look great from far away until you get up to it and try to use it then it downgrades the texture? Neither one sounds smart.
  • Well yeah every game out there relies on different Level Of Details. If it's done right it works. With the "grenade" example it would work perfectly, while when interacting with just a few items at once you could leave them at "high res". So yeah in the end the whole explanation from bethesda is kinda pointless. And I think the game is looking very good anyway!
  • Bitch, bitch, bitch. That's what is defining this generation of gaming. Instead of focusing on the fun factor, folks want consoles to have high-end PC graphics.
  • Indeed...
  • True
  • It's bitching and then spending $200 on pre-ordering limited editions, and then bitching even more as games being as complex as they become release buggy.
  • Exactly that's why I went with pc to get everything out of my games...not dising on consoles I like them to they have their advantages I just prefer pc
  • When console gamers have to pay monthly fees to play online, are tied to one platform, and pay the same (often more) money for the same game, why not? This generation of consoles shouldn't have fixating on being cheap.  $350 is too cheap with today's inflation... Not everyone will understand, they want it all, and they aren't willing to pay :)
  • We finally get a new Fallout and all the spoiled kids care about is the graphical fluff... As for me I am looking forward to Fallout 4.
  • Me too! It's not all about graphics! Gameplay over graphics! :)
  • Yeah....those X more pixels per frame are going to make it worth it, especially when more pixels = Lag. Hurrah for game lag!!!
  • Yep! Ofcourse I hate when game developers make bad outdated graphics just because they lazy and want fast money. But in some games they have art style like Fallout and Bioshock.
  • I'll be too busy looking at my Pip Boy to care.
  • No Windows Phone version :(((( #BOYCOTT
  • There is a pipboy app mind one can pretend
  • Screenshot of a pipboy on phone..  Works for me.. :P
  • Now days people care about graphics.. Sure it's awesome what we can do with games and graphics! But what about gaming experience? Long as graphics are decent and game experience good, ofc it's not bad to have good graphics too.. Just don't put it over game experience. :)
  • I still play 3 and New Vegas. I can only imagine my girlfriend will break up with me over 4. So yeah, I'm fine with the graphics.
  • LMAO
  • I've warned my gf similarly. ;)
  • My wife told me I can't buy it. Only for the reason that she wants to give it to me as a gift. She's a keeper.
  • +1 although if your wife is not a keeper then you have some serious problem
  • Presumably makes it harder to score if she's a keeper?
  • Sign me up. Fallout New Vegas was really fun. I can't wait to play this one. It looks awesome to me.
  • I thought it looked really good...  gameplay is more important
  • i could never get past 20 minutes in Fallout 3...just lost interest.  I really have to give it another go.  Didn't like the weapon mechanics.
  • Really, wow. Combat in all RPGs now feel incomplete to me compared to Fallout 3.
  • Like you, I tried Fallout 3 and gave up after 20 minutes. About 6 months later, I gave it another try at the urging of my buddies. Wow, I'm so glad they convinced me to try it again. It ended up being one of the most enjoyable games for me. Sure, it's not a run-n-gun like other FPSs. The depth and dynamic story made it awesome. If possible, spend 4-6 hours with it and it just might change your mind.
  • I will resinstall after I finish Witcher 3.  I keep hearing how good it is.  
  • The first 20 minutes are not really comparable to the entire sprawling wasteland that lays ahead after you leave the vault.
  • Give it another shot, you won't be dissapointed unless you expect shooting mechanics likein a dedicated FPS. The V.A.T.S. system works well with the game and it gets better with your character upgrades.
  • I initially thought the graphics looked a little weak. But the way he explains it here, I totally understand. Though it'd be nice to be WOWed by the presentation. I played the original birds eye view fallout and fallout 3, so I know to expect excellent gameplay
  • I could care less about graphics in a Bethesda game, I just want them to fix their horrible game engine.
  • Its fine. You have to see they building the engine so everything can be modded.
    The real problem is that HavoK physics isn't ment be used with such big worlds and so many objects:D
  • Is it any worse than your misuse of "could care less?" Why should Bethesda fix an engine you subjectively deem bad when the complaint comes from someone whose English is objectively bad?
  • Is it really subjective when the game crashes because the engine can't handle multiple CPU cores?  Or the fact Bethesda never fixed several annoying Crossfire bugs?  Bethesda, and later Obsidian have been quite terrible at fixing any faults.  Gamebryo is hardly a great engine for what it has done, and I hope that Fallout 4's updated version goes a long way towards fixing gripes while retaining moddability. 
  • I couldn't care less*
  • Trololololol.. Seriously.
    A Bethesda game never was about graphics, it was about " do what ever you want without any borders ".
    And that's all I want. The graphics are amazing. For a game with that size and with havok physics! What ppl don't understand is, and why I hate newer gaming generations so much, that Bethesda is always about freedom. Letting the player define how they want to play and what they want to do. And that's it. As long as the game looks at least a bit like a modded skyrim I am happy.
    Because seriously guys ? Just wait for the game and if you are still whining about graphics just wait for us modders to get you 8k textures and meshes and what so ever. I think I read even the xbone is going to support mods so stop complaining. Bethesda makes the game working and completely modable, we, the community, do the rest.
  • I love being a pc gamer. :) Posted via my HTC One (M7)
  • You have to appreciate Bethesda and everything being interactive. Unlike some titles where a sword drops and it becomes a generic sack on the ground .That being said, it would behoove gamers to wait for modded textures or else the R9 295x2 and the Titan X's on the PC wont have much work to do.
  • I don't get why this matters that much honestly; it's just a matter of playing the waiting game for modders to get their hands on this, and with mods being able to run on the consoles there's a chance for more people to enjoy the fruits of their labour. In the meantime I'll personally be enjoying the game itself.
  • Mods will be able to run on the x1 only yet at present, ps4 may support this later on. Time will tell.
  • Gameplay and fun over graphics!
  • From what I've seen, it looks fine to me
  • While the gameplay will be more important, of course, the game does look somewhat underwhelming for a 2015 release. I just don't see why one should have to compromise. This is a "Triple A" title after all.
  • you compromise because you have limits, physical limits (Blu-Ray size), financial limits (times are hard) and time limits since we all want our games asap...
  • There are always compromises in game development, for the reasons you mentioned and some others. What I'm saying is that especially a big budget title such as Fallout 4 should have certain standards regarding gameplay / game mechanics and graphics. Those standards obviously change over time with advancements in technology, changes in player preferences etc. Based on the footage shown so far, Fallout 4 in my opinion does not seem to meet the graphics standard that one should expect from this kind of release in 2015.
  • Times are hard? Lol ok Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Thank the junk CPUs and so-so (at best) GPUs in the consoles. The severe hardware limitations of the consoles is the reason for the compromises.
  • @Keith Wallace.
    Yup, some think that they are running extremely high end parts.... Lol. If they were they wouldn't be so "affordable".
  • See: Launch PS3.
  • Yes that was pretty damn expensive, due to the amount of money they put into r&d of the cell architecture, plus you had blu-ray vs hd-dvd during that time. However in the case of ps4 and x1 easy comparisons can be drawn with desktop equivalents.
  • In this time and with the possibilities, were on a point that games must have a perfect balance between awesome graphics and great gameplay. There are some games and developers who can make that possible. I'm tired off developers that talk if they always find excuses for what they don't or can't do.
  • Actually I thought the graphics in the trailers/Demos looked pretty awesome. I imagine the graphics will be scalable like Fallout 3, so if you hav