Thursday, May 30, 2024

River – the dog that inspired Dogmeat from Fallout 4 – has passed away

As human beings, we crave companionship, and the same can be said for video games. That’s why pet companions can have such a big impact, even if we don’t mean to get that attached to them. Because of this attachment, it’s hard for us to write and inform readers that River, the dog that inspired Dogmeat from Fallout 4, has sadly passed away.

The news of River passing away was shared on social media via the studio director at Capybara Games and former developer on Fallout 3, 4 and 76, Joel Burgess. It was on his Twitter account that Burgess wrote about the dog’s death, but in an effort not to eulogize her online, he instead focused on the development of Dogmeat in Fallout 4, and how River helped create the wonderful character gamers know and love.

One of the biggest points Burgess made about River in his thread is that she was the ‘antidote’ to the biggest worry about Dogmeat as a character – that the canine companion would only be seen as a weapon for us to use and abuse, nothing more and nothing less.

As it turns out, however, the way to make sure Dogmeat was a companion first and a combative ally second was to bring in just a general, happy-go-lucky German Shepard called River during the development of Fallout 4. During this time, River was not there to be prodded and poked at but to simply exist alongside the rest of the team.

With River spending so much time with everyone, and the different groups and teams working on Fallout 4 got to meet her, her personality and traits – and even her looks – were added to Dogmeat. Whether it be River’s tendency to look back and make sure you were following her before continuing on her walk, or bringing people stuff she’s found – everything was added to Dogmeat’s personality.

Even with combat in Fallout 4, River and her personality shine through by how Dogmeat doesn’t actively kill or maim the enemies you meet. Instead, he holds them still and does his utmost to protect you, calling back to Burgess’ decision to make Dogmeat more of an ally than a weapon.

The full thread is a fulfilling, and heartbreaking read but well worth it if you’re fans of the Fallout series – which is also a series that actually included the first same-sex marriage in Western video games.

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