Poll: ‘War Never Changes’ or ‘War Has Changed’


Unless you’ve been living under a rock, only to emerge right now to specifically search out this article about two famous video game quotes, Fallout 4 was officially revealed today with a game engine + cinematic trailer. Not only did we see a bit of the Fallout world we know and love placed in a Bostonian setting (in addition to actual colors!), we also got to hear the series’ most prolific saying: “War. War never changes.”

Since we all knew that this Fallout 4 reveal would be coming today, it got me thinking about the franchise, including that famous speech that began in the original Fallout. Upon looking it up on Youtube, the recommended videos bar beside the player included one from Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, where Solid Snake was making his “war has changed” speech on the precipice of armed conflict between private military companies.

It led me to this ultimate question; Which statement is more accurate?

War. War Never Changes

"War. War never changes.The Romans waged war to gather slaves and wealth. Spain built an empire from its lust for gold and territory. Hitler shaped a battered Germany into an economic superpower.But war never changes.In the 21st century, war was still waged over the resources that could be acquired. Only this time, the spoils of war were also its weapons: Petroleum and Uranium. For these resources, China would invade Alaska, the US would annex Canada, and the European Commonwealth would dissolve into quarreling, bickering nation-states, bent on controlling the last remaining resources on Earth.In 2077, the storm of world war had come again. In two brief hours, most of the planet was reduced to cinders. And from the ashes of nuclear devastation, a new civilization would struggle to arise.A few were able to reach the relative safety of the large underground Vaults. Your family was part of that group that entered Vault Thirteen. Imprisoned safely behind the large Vault door, under a mountain of stone, a generation has lived without knowledge of the outside world.Life in the Vault is about to change."

Narrated to perfection by Ron Perlman, “war never changes” encapsulates the idea of armed conflict as a permanence. The players might be different, but the play remains the same; one side squabbles with the other over land and life-sustaining materials, while both try to wipe each other out. It just so happens that in 2077, each side of the world was successful in their task, bringing about complete destruction of life on the Earth’s crust.

What brings reverence to the “war never changes” speech is that is was first uttered in a game that launched in 1997 and still retains truth about geopolitical conflicts around the world 18 years later. Petroleum continues to be an ongoing factor, while uranium’s weaponization (and threats thereof) continue to be the guideline for which we determine to be the last line of defense. Even though the focus on how war never changes is about the bigger picture, the piece stays relevant today.

It implies that, no matter how much we might convince ourselves that certain wars, battles or fights have intricate sets of nuance that separates each other in significance, war never changes. War is hell. People die, more join the fight and more die again. It has happened before, and it will happen again. A cyclical idea that will never come to a close. War never changes.

War Has Changed

"War has changed.It’s no longer about nations, ideologies or ethnicity. It’s an endless series of proxy battles, fought by mercenaries and machines. War, and its consumption of life, has become a well-oiled machine.War has changed.ID tagged soldiers carry ID tagged weapons, use ID tagged gear. Nanomachines inside their bodies enhance and regulate their abilities. Genetic control. Information control. Emotion control. Battlefield control. Everything is monitored, and kept under control.War has changed.The age of deterrence has become the age of control. All in the name of averting catastrophe from weapons of mass destruction. And he who controls the battlefield, controls history.War has changed. When the battlefield is under total control, war… becomes routine."

With old man Snake setting the mood of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots right from the beginning, “war has changed” targets the current political climate in a game set just 6 years after it actually launched. Armed with the info more currently at hand over a speech predicting war 80 years in the future, game director Hideo Kojima aimed to show just how much war can actually change when the notion of a soldier is fundamentally different than it ever was in real life (and in fictional) history.

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In the game, war is not truly fought by soldiers fighting for a country’s military. Instead, what we have is private military companies (PMC’s) using fighters weapons, gear all governed by ID control, restricting usage of items strictly to one person. Because the stakes are lowered, war has fundamentally changed due to its optics. No longer can anyone truly argue as efficiently that it’s the good guys versus the bad guys, on either side. Instead, what is left is two neutral entities (filled with human and robotic mercenaries alike) killing each other under contracts to third-party governments.

The power of the “war never changes” speech comes from its mirroring of society. We may not expect to see Metal Gear prop up on the battlefield, but some aspects of the game are becoming truer to life by the day.

Guns can now be digitally controlled in its usage, including with RFID and fingerprint readers. The third biggest private employer in the world is G4S, a private security company that has expanded the definition of armed security in international conflict. Military drones, remotely piloted machines, have killed thousands in the Middle East since 2002. Like it or not, the fictional lament of a war-hardened Solid Snake reflects the current climate of international armed conflict a lot more negatively than one would hope, while painting a picture of just how bad it can truly get.

Please vote below. If you have more to say, share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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