Fallout’s Huge Change Is A Disaster

By Michileen Martin | Updated

fallout walton goggins

For the first time ever, Fallout is letting its players enjoy their post-apocalyptic world as ghouls. Due clearly to the popularity of Walton Goggins’ The Ghoul in Amazon’s series whose first season debuted earlier this year, the MMORPG Fallout 76 will soon let players to turn their characters into ghouls, and many are speculating the same option will be available in Fallout 5. While this is the kind of thing I’ve wanted to do in the games since long before the Amazon series was announced, I suspect this game-changer will do more harm to the series than good.

Ghouls In Fallout

fallout ghouls

In Fallout media, ghouls are humans who have been so transformed by radiation that they now resemble zombies. The radiation has also lent them unnaturally long lives–in the games if you meet someone who was alive before the bombs fell, they will most likely be a ghoul.

Some Fallout ghouls–like Walton Goggins’ character in the Amazon series–can think and speak just like anyone else. Then there are feral ghouls who don’t just look like zombies, but act like them too.

Being A Ghoul Will Keep The Player Out Of A Lot Of The Game

walton goggins

Bethesda has said that when it introduces the ghoul mechanic in Fallout 76, players won’t be able to create ghoul characters. Instead, characters who are at least level 50 will get a quest whose completion will offer the player the option to turn their avatar into a ghoul.

One of the likely ways these characters will be impacted is that they will no longer be welcome in all the same places of the game world.

In Fallout, ghouls are an oppressed class. Many settlements will instantly turn ghouls away or attack them on sight. The Brotherhood of Steel–widely considered by players to be bigots–count the eradication of all ghouls, feral and otherwise, as one of their chief goals.

It’s impossible to imagine that–assuming Bethesda sticks to their own canon–that these Fallout ghoul players won’t be kept out of large chunks of either Fallout 76 or any future games.

Fallout 4

fallout ghouls

Using the most recent console/PC game, Fallout 4, as an example, imagine how different players’ experiences would be if they played ghouls.

The game’s biggest quest hub, Diamond City–the former Fenway Park transformed into a settlement–would be inaccessible to the player. The story tells us all the non-feral ghouls were chased out of Diamond City, many of whom went on to settle the nearby town Goodneighbor.

You absolutely need to go to Diamond City to complete the main story of Fallout 4, it’s the home of plenty of other side quests, and has lots of merchants. Without it, your experience playing the game would not be the same.

The Brotherhood Of Steel

Being a ghoul would keep the player from peacefully interacting with the Brotherhood of Steel, or any other Fallout groups who are hostile to ghouls.

On one hand, a lot of Fallout players might not mind a lack of interacting with the Brotherhood of Steel, especially since the depictions of the group have grown increasingly dark between 2008’s Fallout 3 and the more recent Amazon series.

But one of the best story elements of the Fallout games is the moral ambiguity. Groups like the Brotherhood and the Institute do horrible things but they are not complete moral vacuums. Players should at least have the option of co-existing with them.

The World Won’t Feel As Real

fallout ghouls

Now I know you may be thinking that, sure, you couldn’t play the Fallout 4 main story as a ghoul, but Fallout 5 doesn’t exist yet. So if Bethesda does let you play a ghoul in Fallout 5, they’ll craft a story specifically to facilitate ghoul players.

And sure, you’re right–but how would that make sense?

Most of the people of the Fallout Wasteland don’t like ghouls. We’ve seen this again and again. So if in Fallout 5 we suddenly find ourselves in a new corner of the post-apocalypse where the guys who look like Freddy Krueger have the same access as the “smoothskins,” is that going to feel like Fallout to you?

Because I strongly suspect it will feel like a watered-down version of Fallout neutered to facilitate a game mechanic that exists purely because of the Amazon adaptation.

Bethesda Will Make Being A Ghoul Reversible

If Bethesda’s Fallout allows ghouls, it will allow players to reverse their ghoulness. And there’s no more eloquent way to say it–that’s lame.

If you become a ghoul, you should stay a ghoul, just like every other ghoul in the games.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe they’ll say, “nope you’re a ghoul and you just have to deal with it,” but come on.

If you’ve played Skyrim, then you know what I mean.

In the Elder Scrolls game Skyrim, made by the same company that makes Fallout, you can become a vampire. You can also become a werewolf. And you can also reverse both conditions as if they were just temporary illnesses

In fact, you can become a werewolf and then cure yourself of being a werewolf by becoming a vampire. Or you can become a vampire and cure yourself of vampirism by becoming a werewolf.

So the same guy can be a werewolf, a vampire, and then back to just a guy within a matter of days.

In fact, you can become a werewolf, cure yourself of being a werewolf, and then become a werewolf again. It’s like changing shirts.

I think it’s clear why I’m confident that if Fallout allows players to be ghouls, it will also let them cure themselves of ghoulness. And then maybe even become ghouls again. Then normal, then ghoul, then normal, then ghoul, etc. Maybe throw a werewolf in there just for fun.