SPOILER WARNING: This article discusses story details from the ending of GTAV and a major reveal from Fallout 4. Here be spoilers.
Last night, I finally finished GTA V. Technically a 2013 release, I waited two frustrating years to play it on a PC. GTA V is a great game, but there is major flaw in the story that is all too present in modern video games.
At the end of the game, one of the major characters, Franklin, has a big decision to make. He can either kill one of his other playable compatriots or spare both of their lives and risk the wrath of everyone. The crooked federal agents blackmailing your crew want the combustible and irrational Trevor dead to eliminate the one true wild card. A rich businessman wants Michael, the older ringleader and family man, killed because of some past grievances. It sure sounds like the proper ending to a long criminal saga. Like the end of Goodfellas, you'd half expect all three would turn against each other due to paranoia, fear, and misunderstanding.
However, as the game is written, Franklin has absolutely no reason to turn on either person. Trevor is a psychopath. His first appearance in GTA V via the brutal murder of the protagonist from the GTA IV DLC - The Lost and the Damned. Later, Trevor kills an associate and his wife for almost no reason at all. The game makes no bones about it; Trevor is a terrible person. But none of these transgressions are known to Franklin. Outside of acting crazy with a short temper, Trevor is a loyal friend that has assisted in several life or death situations.
Michael is portrayed as the fatherly mentor and outright friend of Franklin. He brings Franklin into his inner circle helping him graduate to a higher class of crime. Though Michael can be quite a schmuck, he is always respectful and helpful towards his protege. Franklin is the son that Michael wishes he had. There is no reason stated or implied that would turn Franklin against his friend.
This presents a hard decision in the player's hands, but not in the way, I believe Rockstar wanted. Rather than building a reason for a big turn, the player is left with making up a motive. The only reason to kill either person is to experience the other endings of the game. And while I love game-altering choices in games, the way it is presented here feels incomplete, and represents a missed opportunity for the epic story. The big moment falls flat and the decision is nonsensical.
A similar moment happens in the more recent Fallout 4. At one crucial point, the sole survivor has to break into the Institute. In addition to kidnapping the sole survivor's son, the Institute is feared throughout the Commonwealth for similar abductions and murder. The few synths that don't automatically try to murder you describe the Institute as a prison.
At this point, the sole survivor discovers their long lost son is actually the leader of the organization. He offers no real act of contrition of trying to kill you several times over, not to mention the murder of your spouse. There are some quickly said apologies but nothing of real substance. So when your supposed son asks you to help the Institute, my only logical reaction is "No". Like GTA V, there is no real reason to help an organization that has killed your spouse. The leader of the Institute also explicitly states that there is no way to prove he is your son even though the concept of DNA sequencing is mentioned several times. I understand that the video game wants me to experience more quests, but role-playing as the sole survivor leaves the player with no motivation to choose this path.
These decisions that feel nonsensical in no way ruin two great games. However, they do break some of the immersion and create inconsistent characters.