Though it had a branching dialogue, Mass Effect’s voiced protagonist works impressively, forever reminding how some other games’ dialogue systems were less fortunate. Fallout 4 is one of the most prominent examples of that.
The release of Mass Effect: Legendary Edition attracted numerous returning and new fans back to the SF RPG franchise. Its protagonist, good old Commander Shepard, is a potent reminder that using a branching dialogue system with a voiced player character can be marvelous.
The Fallout 4 dialogue system took a less fortunate approach to that system.
There is a maximum of four options on-screen at once, and there are no branching paths.
There are some players that can get the character to ask specific questions, but there is little to no depth in that. Numerous options in the dialogue tree end up in plain “yes” or “no” answers. There are some occasional sarcastic jokes, indeed, but they certainly can’t compensate for the blandness of the system.
Fallout 4’s voiced protagonist was a noticeable step up from past Fallout games, where the playable hero seemed to be mute.
Also, Fallout 4’s one-word dialogue options often led to unexpectedly hostile or hilarious responses, in contrast to New Vegas’ entirely written out responses.
Mass Effect dodged that by displaying conveniently lengthy blurbs in the radial menu, well predicting Shepard’s upcoming answers and tone.
Branching options like that allowed for over six responses and an extra layer of immersion, as gamers felt that they had some control over the conversation.
Also, if Fallout’s dialogue system would have been better, there would have been no need for reason skill checks to be included anymore.