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I can't say I'm a big fan of Bethesda's Fallout games or their particular brand of storytelling, but this PCGamesN article, that takes a close look at the Glowing Sea area from Fallout 4, does a great job of highlighting Bethesda's strengths when it comes to creating memorable areas. From the way it's described, I couldn't help but notice certain similarities between the Glowing Sea and the Dead Money DLC from Fallout: New Vegas, and that alone is quite an accolade in my book. See for yourself:
Nightmares are often illogical and absurd - they seem to go on forever and are filled with terrifying images pulled from deep within your subconscious. As you explore the majority of Fallout 4, it's as if you're experiencing everyday, waking life. When you cross into The Glowing Sea - haunted as it is by craters, radiation, and ten-foot-tall reptilian monsters - it feels like you've entered a bad dream.
Fallout 4's Boston might be bombed-out and ridden with monsters, but most of it is still cast in bright sunshine or shimmering moonlight; from the right angle, it almost looks pretty. The Glowing Sea, however, is permanently shrouded in a deep, sickly, irradiated yellow. When you cross into it, and the sky shifts from blue to bile-coloured - it's as if the entire world around you has shifted somehow, like you've entered a different realm.
A lot of Fallout 4's mechanics and rules don't apply here, either. It may be a game built on exploration, but the toxicity of this area means you can't easily walk through it or stop to look around. And while looting and questing are also prime concerns, don’t expect to find much to do in this ochre desert. The whole area seems to operate on different logic to the rest of Fallout 4: where the game is generally bright, The Sea is dark; where the Fallout series is renowned for how much stuff it contains, The Sea is vast and empty.
By making it feel so patently different to the rest of Boston, and forcing you to play differently when you're within it, Bethesda frames The Glowing Sea as a separate world. Its various landmarks, now monuments to long-since-absent domestic life, are ravaged and rotting. The Glowing Sea becomes a physical manifestation of your character’s loss, a perpetual reminder of your worst anxieties. Everything gleaned in Fallout 4's heavy-handed opening is expertly captured by this simple, silent image: a jarringly lonely place where bad dreams are real.