Like I said, the odd manipulative scene doesn’t make something “emotionally manipulative”.
The key difference between something like TLOU2 and something like Bioshock Infinite is that TLOU2 does this rarely, whereas Bioshock Infinite basically relies entirely on faux-deep stuff combined with unearned manipulation and shock.
Put it another way - TLOU2 is essentially a typical well-regarded drama, which is bound to have a moment or two where it emotionally manipulates. Bioshock Infinite is Crash. It’s consistently cheap and manipulative in its writing.
Fallout NV is extremely consistently written. You praise Disco Elysium and admit it is consistent, but NV also is. It’s kind of shocking how consistently its written, actually. Indeed, this is a common trait in Obsidian games, for better or worse.
TW3 is not consistently written. But it doesn’t do much heavy emotional manipulation (more a vague sense of sorrow sometimes), or cheap shocks, or faux-deep cod philosophy. The inconsistency is more than the main story is consistently good and together, but the rest of the game is kind of all over the place tonally. This goes back to your point about size. Because TW3 is ridiculously huge - 60-100 hours - it is harder to properly criticise. I suspect most reviewers just chased the main story pretty hard. Which gives probably the best possible experience in TW3 and helped its reviews.
TLOU2 is pretty consistently written, at least from what I’ve seen. What you’re describing isn’t inconsistency, it’s just using a bit of emotional manipulation. It’s only when the emotional manipulation is a large amount of the story (like some Far Crys and CoDs), or painfully clumsy (which you maybe think this is, but that doesn’t seem to be a common view).
Fallout 4 is staggeringly inconsistently written, to the point where it damages the game pretty seriously. It also has some incredible “ludo-narrative dissonance” if we’re still using that term. It starts out by forcing the player to be one of two extremely specific characters - a male soldier or a female lawyer, who are married (seemingly fairly happily), live in a tackily-decorated suburban house, and have a baby together. You are also forced to extremely care about the baby, as like, your main priority in life, to hear your character tell it. None of this is earned. None of this is well-presented. It’s sort of clumsily thrown at the player. You aren’t even given the dialogue options to properly recontextualize this situation (despite most CRPGs being pretty good at that). No real attempt is made to connect you to the baby. It starts out being annoying, not cute, and the writers just assume, that, automatically, because they put a baby in the game, you will love it (a mistake not made with Baby Yoda, for example). This is what happens when you let a bunch of fucking un-creative dads with kids under 10 write a game imho, but that’s beside the point. Initially, basically every dialogue has a “BUT WHERE AM BABBY???” option (voice-acted in some really overwrought weepy ways as a bonus, no chance of you being a cool, collected Tiger Mother or Taken-style dad, even?), then suddenly, when the game opens up, this is just forgotten. You’re hyper-focused on babby, then you realize babby is out of immediate reach, and suddenly you’re just a rando wandering the wastes once more. You dialogue is all over the place. In one area, your options may all be fairly serious, with just a “random lol” sarcastic one thrown in. In other they’ll be joke-y and ridiculous all over. In one place, your character will be an emotional wreck, in another they’ll be solid-as-a-rock.
It might be the least consistently written game I’ve ever seen. Certainly no post-2007 Bioware game is anywhere near as inconsistent, even if you pick options at random, except maybe MEA but we’ll get to that. They start off with this deeply forced idiocy, but instead of leaning in to that, and genuinely making it a game about one of these two characters, which could have worked, they just go “Ahhh fuck it…” about 20% of the way into the game, and return to generic wastelanding, then at the end they expect you to randomly care again.
(FO3 also had some terrible inconsistent writing, I note. At least it sort of tried to earn the dad-obsession it featured though.)
Mass Effect Andromeda has inconsistent writing. Much more so than other Bioware games, even DA2, which was pushed out in a similar 18 months (but is actually highly consistent with itself). This is largely the result of rushing and not polishing/revising dialogue, I think. It’s almost not worth going into detail, but it’s bad. Some bits are a lot more polished, and it just makes the problem worse. There was a lot of complaining about SJWs and so on, but it was all nonsense, because the real problem is just that a lot of the writing is either very dull, or very juvenile (and not in a crude way, just like a “Written by a 22-year-old with little wisdom/experience/judgement” way). Virtually everything with PeeBee for example (including her name) reeks of “22-year-old thought this was amazing”, not realizing how clumsy, obvious, or nails-on-a-chalkboard a lot of it was. Normally older or more experienced writers might correct that, but I guess with 18 months they just had to “Git er done” and went with first-drafts, no matter how terrible. This sort of apparent speed-writing also gave us gems like “My face is tired.” (which would make 1000x more sense if it was like “(Sighs) Even my face is tired…” - I guess that was maybe the intention - it wasn’t what made it in game). And yet some of the missions are actually really up to a normal Bioware standard, writing-wise, and it’s sad because suddenly these staid, dull, clumsy characters POP into more vivid life. But only for a specific mission.
And the game is 60+ hours long even going pretty quick (WHHHHHHY? Why do that if you’re going to make a game in 18 months? Why not go small and make it tight? DA2 is maybe 20-30 hours, and a lot stronger for it),
What’s my point?
I HAVE NO IDEA LOL.