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How not to get permanently stuck in Fallout 4's elevator like this schmuck

Bethesda. Bethesda never changes

Update November 9th, 5:00PM EST: After fussing with the game for an hour and checking to make sure it was updated on patches, I checked my PlayStation 4 for system updates. A new system update downloaded, and rebooted the console. Now the elevator works properly — though oddly enough, the music mentioned in the earlier draft of this article never plays. In either case, be sure to download both the games' Day One patch, update your system manually, and restart the console before playing Fallout 4. I was quick to judge Bethesda off their buggy past, but it appears they'd already fixed my problem.

Nine hours into Fallout 4 I found myself stuck inside an elevator.

By this point, I had built a bond with my character along with a respectable inventory of items, most notably an automatic pistol with a bottomless magazine. I eat the crust first in open-world games, grinding my stats and finding overpowered weapons before taking on the main missions. The crust of Fallout 4 is enjoyable, but I was ready for something more challenging, so I hiked east toward a side quest, something involving a man imprisoned atop a tower full of super mutants.

The door never opened

I popped the heads of super mutants on the first floor like they were bubble wrap, then took an elevator to the middle of the tower, where I blasted the limbs off a few more baddies. With another floor cleared, I caught my breath, healed my wounds, and called for the next elevator.

Inside the 4-by-4 box, I waited for the door to open, my gun ready. First the elevator music stopped, and I wondered in the silent, claustrophobic space if this was a spooky twist. Perhaps a gravelly voice would come over the intercom to explain some dastardly scenario I'd have to survive. Or maybe the game was just loading the top floor very slowly. I lowered my weapon and took a couple minutes to have a conversation with my artificially intelligent cohort, a journalist from Diamond City named Piper, but she kept repeating the same fluff about how our friendship is fine, but I could do a lot better. Classic Piper.

Read more: The Fallout Timeline

I sensed something wasn't quite right with the scene, but pushed that thought to the corner of my mind and took a couple minutes to dispose of some junk items weighing me down, tossing the detritus onto the elevator floor.

After refilling my cup of coffee in the real world, I accepted the elevator door in the virtual world wasn't going to open anytime soon, so I dropped two grenades and Piper and I exploded into fountains of blood. The elevator, of course, remained perfectly sealed.

Fallout 4

I reloaded the game from a different save file at a point a few minutes earlier in the mission, and made my way back to the elevator only to find myself trapped again. I reloaded and backtracked to the other elevator, planning to head downstairs and exit the tower. Its door closed, the music began, the music stopped, and two truths smacked me upside the head, one immediately followed by the other: elevators no longer work in this game; I've probably lost an afternoon's worth of progress.

I bit my lip and loaded a save file from a couple hours earlier. My second time through the east side of post-apocalyptic Boston, I didn't allow myself to enjoy the game's distractions and instead beelined for the tower, picking off a handful of super mutants out of habit. I stepped into the first elevator, the one that had got me midway through the mission, the one that had worked previously. I closed the door. Music. No Music. Stuck. The problem had seemingly followed me from one save file to the next.

Bugs are expected from Bethesda

Bethesda, the creator of the modern Fallout games, has a reputation for releasing buggy software in which characters fall through the ground or citizens of the apocalyptic wasteland wander loose into the distance like an unmoored schooner on a stormy day. In Fallout 4, I hoped to find something more polished. But now I'm reluctant to even continue with the game, at least until it's been thoroughly patched and improved via the countless updates these games receive in the months after their release.

Read more: Our Fallout 4 review

When a game asks me to give dozens of hours, I in turn trust that my progress will be respected. As an adult, I have less and less time for games, and the couple of hours without distractions is precious. To lose that progress is discouraging, but what's worse is weighing my solutions:

  • Do I choose an even older save file, and progress to the same point in hopes the game has repaired itself?
  • Do I abandon this mission and hope all elevators aren't stop signs preventing me from moving forward?
  • Do I restart and repeat the same dozen hours, trying to recreate the character from memory and a good bit of luck?

Whatever I do, I feel as though the game could break at any moment, making any additional investment meaningless. At best, I'm treating my play time like an unpaid quality testing assignment. At worse, my investment proves to be a wash, and late in the game this bug prevents me from reaching the conclusion.

So that's where I'm at. Nine hours in, I'm stuck in an elevator wondering if it's even worth getting out.

This story is based on time with a PlayStation 4 copy of the game.