I've been waiting to write this article for awhile at this point, but after playing Fallout 4 recently I thought that now would be a good time. If you're reading this I assume you've played Fallout 4 to some extent and know firsthand that the romance options are very poor and basically non-existent. There will probably be spoilers if you continue reading on, but I'll try to keep things vague enough. While the ultimate goal is to gain the benefit perk they provide and a small romance option if available. These abilities are collected by basically doing random crap across your adventures. My personal choice of companion was Piper and for some reason she loved me unlocking boxes or being snappy in conversation with people and that got her going. All the companions are like this throughout the experience with their own "likes" but its odd seeing this pop up on the corner all Telltale Games style without having any showing of meaning. After doing this a million times they will eventually grant you a perk gift and then it fades to black if you've successfully completed the tree. From there nothing happens, it's forgotten and you just keep going along on adventures. For a game that's all about the player having a freedom of choice it's odd to be given this empty companion to run around with that's just there to shoot at things like a hired gun. These characters also have little impact on the game in general including cinematics with only a couple companions having small moments of dialogue in the story.
Having these characters play small roles is something I'm sure many are fine with. Though at this point in games I expect my romance plots to have some deeper meaning or relatively any meaning at all if they're given the title. After playing through titles like Mass Effect or The Witcher I now definitely look for something more in that regard. You spend hours with these AI characters by your side fighting and completing the various quests you've chosen so it only makes sense to connect with them. In the Witcher they have very well done and strong romance plots which usually completely take you away from the main story for awhile. This was done very well throughout the Witcher 3's campaign and a tad more integrated during the Hearts of Stone DLC. They also had the benefit of having variation to them based on player choice which would affect how things played out. Mass Effect also does this sort of development and gives you a selection of companion quests to complete so that you have meaning behind these people around you. They don't necessarily need the whole sexual aspect which I'm sure many are thinking I'm talking about, but events that make the companion you play with have some purpose in the grand plot.
When it comes to gameplay the companions mostly just spit out random phrases or some like Piper will give out some food items to keep you up. After gaining the points you eventually hear some of their history and you're allowed a brief response, but it really doesn't change much until that final romance option. It would have been nice to get deeper connections from the characters or stories having them lead to a small quest perhaps. The plot also doesn't seem to speak well enough to the romance system in my biggest case of the weird system. By the end of my game's main story there comes a point where I set off an explosive which killed quite a bit of people from where Piper got furious at me which I thought might affect her opinion of my character. So I decided to ask her thoughts and she just told me that things were greatly and probably couldn't get any better. It was definitely contradictory and made the whole connection of characters seem just there to fill an empty role. We continued on adventuring and she never brought it up or did anything further from there. The romanced companions also don't care at all if you decide to switch to romancing another companion or flirting in front of them. The characters will just stare there in blank expression and then just continue along after. The system in place really shouldn't be considered romancing as it's a mostly barebones "they liked that" experience across your adventures. It just ultimately feels like a thrown in system and there really wasn't much thought given towards. Hopefully in the next Fallout we can be given a better offering or maybe even the modding community will be able to provide something of the sort.