Fans may be eagerly speculating about and requesting new features for Fallout 4, Bethesda's long-anticipated open world role-playing game, but the game is "basically done" with regards to new features, according to a recent interview that Bethesda VP Pete Hines had with Gamespot. The game's mechanics were all more or less in place when it was announced just ahead of E3 2015, and between now and the November 11 release, Bethesda is focused entirely on fixing bugs and fine-tuning the experience.
"Let's be honest, [right now] it doesn't matter what anybody wants for a feature in Fallout 4," explained Hines. "The game is basically done. It was by and large done before we announced it, in terms of the features going in. You're not adding new features in May, June, July in the year you're releasing; you're trying to get everything fixed."
By revealing the game in June for a November release, the firm was left with less than five months between the game's announcement and when players get their hands on it, standing in stark contrast to the industry's increasing tendency to start teasing and hyping games years in advance of when we even see anything resembling gameplay. A prime example of this is Final Fantasy XV, which was first announced in 2006 as Final Fantasy Versus XIII, and is still scheduled for an unspecified 2015 release date, or Ubisoft's Watch Dogs, which was announced in 2012, but did not see release until 2014.
Rather than building up impossible expectations based on early builds and concepts that might not pan out, Bethesda by pushing the announcement so close to release is able to promote a game that it has actually made, instead of a game that it intends to make.
This may disappoint players who have been conditioned by trends toward transparent development and early access to expect that creators will heed their opinions. However, by sticking to its guns, Bethesda avoids the risk of overextending itself and losing focus in an attempt to address the criticisms of players who haven't actually played the game yet.
Greater feedback between players and developers has led to some fantastic things in gaming in recent years, but for something as large and complex as a Fallout game, there is a strong argument for trusting that the developers know better than we do how to do their jobs, and reserving judgment until we experience the result for ourselves.
The mutability of modern games through post-release patches and DLC means that it is easier than ever to make adjustments based on player feedback, so let's just be patient until then.
Player feedback is of course still important to Bethesda, but based on their experience with previous Bethesda titles, they prefer post-release feedback to presumptive requests about an unreleased game. Game director Todd Howard told Game Informer how technical issues with Skyrim have informed the development process of Fallout 4. Hines also explained that the developers took very careful consideration of reviews and forum discussions about Fallout 3 and Skyrim when planning Fallout 4:
"All of that stuff is important. A good developer knows how to take all that and figure out how to address it," Hines said. "You can do anything, you just can't do everything. So you have to be able to prioritize and figure out what are the big wins, what are the challenges you're going to tackle, and what are the things you just don't have the bandwidth to take on."
Fallout 4, the next chapter in the beloved series of post-apocalyptic role-playing games, is scheduled to arrive on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PC on November 11, 2015.