The One Mistake I Hope Bethesda Don’t Make With Fallout 4

I am about as excited for Fallout 4 as I have ever been for a video game release. In fact, I’m probably about as excited about it as I have ever been about anything (and sadly that’s not even hyperbole… Game of Thrones season 6 maybe?).

I’m glad I’m not in America, because it means I won’t have to come up with an excuse to miss Thanksgiving so I can slay some Deathclaws instead of getting fat and starting a family feud or whatever it is they do on Thanksgiving there (my knowledge is based mostly off of sitcoms, because all I remember about the one Thanksgiving I spent in the USA was queuing outside Best Buy for six hours to get a cheap TV and then nearly getting arrested by a dude with a gun for jumping the queue).  Because I live in Italy I can go deep in the Fallout hole and not have to emerge until Christmas. My boyfriend is fine with this because he’ll be playing the Binding of Isaac Afterbirth DLC.

However, it is because I live in Italy that there is the potential for Bethesda to screw up my plans for the tail end of 2015. There are a lot of things they did in New Vegas that I hope have changed in Fallout 4, like the companion quests that only get triggered if you stand in the exact right spot with the exact right conditions (and I’m going to be playing this game new, there presumably won’t be full, detailed wikis to help me find that sort of thing as there are for the older games at this point). The one I am most concerned about, however, is one that if they don’t fix it, may mean I can’t enjoy the game at all on release day: the ‘languages thing’.

What Languages Thing?

I appreciate that most of our readers probably don’t know about this issue, because if you’re an English speaking person in an English speaking country you won’t ever have encountered it, however on both Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas for the XBox 360 (and Skyrim too while we’re at it), you can’t change the language of the game. Sure, there isn’t room on the disc for all of the languages these games were recorded in, but you can’t even change the text subtitles, or download the language you want.

Surely That Only Matters In Rare Cases?

OK, so I am in Italy and I want to play the game in English, but there can’t be that many people in that sort of situation, right? Well, actually, a lot of people in countries with their own language versions of Bethesda’s games would rather play them in the original English, whether with or without subtitles and menus in their own language. There are two reasons for this:

Firstly, Bethesda got some really great voice actors on board for Fallout New Vegas, whereas when it comes to dubbing in other languages, you typically have only about four voice actors for the entire game – all of them pretty bland. So, if you’re Italian, why wouldn’t you want to play the game with Danny Trejo voicing your companion instead of ‘Generic Italian bloke 1’? Or Felicia Day instead of ‘Annoying Voiced Italian Woman 2’? Wouldn’t you rather crucify Matthew Perry for the lolz than ‘the guy who also does the Italian dubbed voice of everyone on Top Gear’?

I’ve asked a lot of Italian gamers and they all, without exception, chose to play an English copy of the game. Look on forums discussing this issue and you’ll see the same view from people all over the world. Just as a lot of us prefer watching anime in Japanese with subtitles to get the proper voice acting, people with all different first languages would like to play the original English versions of Fallout and Skyrim.

The second reason why people would rather play the English version is: the translations suck so hard. Given I’d played so much Fallout New Vegas both in the UK and the States (get me with my travel), I didn’t return my Italian copy of the game when I found it wouldn’t work in English. My Italian isn’t great, but I know that game inside out so I figured I’d just try playing it anyway to see what it was like. It was not good.

Remember Sweetie, the extremely popular prostitute? Talk to her in the Italian version of the game and her name has been changed to ‘Dolcetta’, which is a reasonable translation of Sweetie. However, whenever anyone else mentions her, they still call her Sweetie. If I was Italian and didn’t know the game this would have just been baffling. ‘Talk-a to Sweetie? Who is-a this-a Sweetie?’

This is just one example, but there were loads of places where the translation was weird, and that’s just what I spotted, and my Italian is… Well, woeful would be a good word.

So, before we even get into gameplay, and you can count on us writing more about Fallout in the run up to the release, please, please Bethesda can you give us all a way to play the game in the language we want? Put it on the disc, let us choose at download, have other languages as DLC, do whatever you’ve got to do, because I don’t want to wait the extra time or pay the extra cost to get a UK copy shipped to me, and I need that game in my life.

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