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It was about this time of the month in November when I started playing Fallout 4. November! That means I've been playing the same game for three full months now. One quarter of a year. I might be setting some kind of personal record. Honestly, I can't remember any game taking up so much of my time since Grant Theft Auto: San Andreas, and I didn't even like that one that much. Do I like Fallout 4 better? I'm not sure.
Without a doubt, Fallout 4 has more than its share of flaws. There are several quests in my queue that I can never resolve because they are bugged. (Sorry, robotic captain of the U.S.S. Constitution. If you're counting on me to get that navigation array working, you'll never set sail again.) Wearing an upgraded suit of X-01 power armor is the equivalent of the in-game god mode. (Ha! Your energy weapons merely tickle, silly synth!) Worst of all, companions are incredibly stupid and aren't any more able to detect land mines than I am. (Legs. Who needs em?) And yet I keep playing.
I don't think I'm addicted. I haven't had a single Fallout 4 dream, the usual cue that I'm too invested in something. I have no personal attachment to my player avatar, the "Sole Survivor" who I've named Nate Danger. I certainly don't enjoy seeing the collapse of human civilization. So why am I still playing?
I think the reason is because I enjoy exploring. After hundreds of hours, there are still places I haven't visited. Even places I've been two or three times or more can be entertaining anew when I'm searching for new approaches to killing the same old enemies. Yes, I recognize the irony that while I'm enjoying exploring a virtual environment, I'm really never leaving my couch. But how much of the world do you really see when you read a book? And no one would argue that watching television is any better.
So thanks, Fallout 4. For an imperfect game about the apocalypse, you're all right. Now bring on the DLC!