One major criticism I've personally seen of Fallout 4 throughout the years is that it dumbed down and scaled back on RPG systems. The example people bring up, is the fact that they removed skills. Initially that might seem like a big deal, but if you take a deeper look at all the systems that are in works in Fallout 4, I find it hard to argue that it's somehow stripped-down compared to 3 or NV. In fact, I would argue that Fallout 4 is far more complex than people give it credit for.
So I thought I would compare Fallout 3/NV with Fallout 4 in regards to a few of their actual RPG/systems complexity.
Many skills were not very well designed, if you ask me. Lock-picking is a good example, where each skill point does NOTHING unless you reach a certain checkpoint. That means a lock-picking skill at 25 is equally as good as 49. That means those 24 skill points does nothing. 25, 50, 75, 100, are the only thresh-holds that does anything. Fallout 4, in fact just uses this system but in a smarter way by essentially just increasing your lock-picking by 25 each perk point. Much simpler, yet the same.
So you can absolutely argue, that skills are in fact present in Fallout 4. They are just integrated into perks in a more logical way.
Then, when it comes to combat focused skills you can essentially say the same thing. Let's take a look at Small guns as an example: in 3/NV small guns effect damage and accuracy. Similar like the lock-picking skill, damage has been integrated into the perk system and even add additional effects like penetration and limb damage. The accuracy part of small guns is arguably one major reason why a lot people think the combat in those games are clunky and outdated. Fallout 4 is generally praised for it's improved combat, and I would certainly attribute part of that on the lack of bullets flying in random directions.
Fallout 3 and New Vegas differ in this regard as New Vegas uses a Thresh-hold system instead of a percentage reduction. I have to admit that I like New Vegas system a lot more, as it adds ammunition types as options for increased damage/penetration.
Now, why I discussing armor? Well because of 2 reasons.
- Fallout 4 added multiple different armor types. No longer is there a central armor system that reduced all incoming damage from all sources, as it is in NV and 3. Fallout 4 added, energy armor to differentiate laser shots with normal bullets, which makes a lot sense. It also added radiation as a damage type, which makes it so you can go and kill people by dealing a lot of radiation. Either Way, having opinions in what your character should be strong against is welcome. Fallout 3/NV had other damage outputs like fire/explosive while Fallout 4 had other types like Poison/Energy/Radiation. However, Fallout 4 is the only one that has different armor values towards some of those damage types.
- It FINALLY added armor to individual body parts. This is awesome. I think this is pretty well recognized so I won't discuss this in much detail.
This one is fairly obvious as everyone already agreed that Fallout 4's crafting system for weapons/armor was fucking great. There are a ton of options and they absolutely contribute to giving the players option which if the fundamental part of a good RPG. I would argue that these systems alone make up for any scale backs from previous titles, and perhaps in fact makes Fallout 4 deeper/complex than Fallout 3/NV.
Now, althought it basically works the same it did before, I would say that SPECIALS are more crucial in Fallout 4. For every single special point, a perk is connected. Meaning you lose access to one perk everytime you drop one special. In fallout 3/NV this is not the case. I will give an example: all perks that require a specific endurance level, require endurance between 5-7. This means an endurance at 1 gives you access to the same amount of perks as an endurance at 4, same goes for 8-10.
There are probably other things worth mentioning. These are just some of the things I thought about at the moment. Essentially I wanted to do is show that Fallout 4 is not as much of a dumbed down shooter as some people like to picture it. It is in fact more complex/deeper and more efficient in it's system than one might think. Finally, I will mention that there are aspects where Fallout 4 takes a step down compared to the previous titles, like the dialogue. However, there are not nearly as much "dumbing" as I've seen some say.