It’s a big end of the world out there. Hope you brought a snack.
Just like many people, Fallout 3 was an obsession for me. The world, exploration, and perk system were really interesting, and offered up multiple ways to play the game. It was a fantastic experience. Now, Bethesda is back proper for the release of Fallout 4. With some new additions, revamped shooting mechanics, and a new world to explore, this is one of the biggest games of the year, and fans of the series or people jumping into the series for the first time can have a pretty great time.
Players begin before the bombs drop. In fact, the character the player controls is actually out of time. Rather than living in a vault all their lives, Vault-Tec being the evil company they are actually froze the citizens of Vault 111 to experiment on them in a stasis state. Players are then awoken to the world of the Commonwealth – a post apocalyptic Boston, Massachusetts 210 years after the bombs dropped and ended the world. Only, the world didn’t end. There is still tons of life in the Commonwealth, most of it dangerous.
Platforms: PS4, XB1, PC
Price I’d Pay: $59.99
Players’ characters are all about their builds. First and foremost, while shooting is the primary way combat plays out, this is an RPG through and through. Creating their character, both in the visual sense as well as the Fallout-fashioned S.P.E.C.I.A.L. attributes, will start the players off on a certain path and play style, but no one is ever really stuck with those stats. When gaining enough experience points and leveling up, players gain a skill point they can put into their S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats or the numerous perks in each stat’s skill tree. These perks can range from finding more ammo in scavenging, to better damage with certain types of guns. There are tons of perks that offer up unique abilities to whatever build, and utilizing the best ones can create some great synergy.
Pick your shots.
Fans of Fallout 3 will notice one big improvement to the combat – the real-time shooting is actually viable and works well this time around. VATS is still there, and still very useful once the player has leveled up a bit, but when in corridors or locations with a lot of cover, I would have to move around and try to flank enemies in real-time. With the new shooting mechanics in place, I could do that without it being a difficult chore. As I stated earlier, VATS makes a return in Fallout 4. This is where time slows down significantly and the player can choose which enemies to aim and specifically which body parts to strike. On top of that, if I saw that the enemy was slowly going into cover I could cancel the actions I chose in VATS and save my Action Points for something else. The critical system is a bit different in Fallout 4 as well. A bar will fill up every time I damaged an enemy. When full, I could activate a critical hit when targeting in VATS that would guarantee me a hit with the highest damage possible.
Crafting makes a revamped return to Fallout in the form of a pseudo-Skyrim version. There are multiple stations in the world where players can create their own things, like a chemistry station for making new drugs (that are addictive) or healing items. A gun crafting station allows players to create all kinds of modifications for their weapons like better handling, a scope, or other improvements. No one gun is the same anymore. There’s even a full on armor customization allowing players to use materials to upgrade and improve their survivability.
Speaking of survivability, Power Armor plays a big part in Fallout 4. Within the first hour of the game, I had my very own set of Power Armor at my disposal. Unlike the previous games where it felt more like armor I could equip, Power Armor in Fallout 4 feels more like a mobile tank or vehicle I could use. It ran on its own power source and even changed up multiple ways of how the game is played. Along with the guns and other armor in the game, the Power Armor is also fully customizable with tons of upgrades and other things to strap onto it.
Build it up, tear it down.
Another new addition to the series is the full on base building. As Bethesda stated, the world is filled with junk. Now, that junk is not useless. Everything found in the wasteland can be used as materials for creating bases around the world. These include structures, fences, food and water sources, defense systems, and many other things. Starting off with a full tutorial quest in the starting town of Sanctuary, players can learn the ins and outs of managing a base, keeping the residents happy with food and electricity, and find other settlements to improve on, all of which are rebuilding efforts by the first faction players will meet in the game known as the Minute Men.
There are many other factions in the game that players can meet up with, join or completely ignore if they chose to do so. That is what has always been so great about the Fallout series, how open the game is and how it leaves everything up to the player on what they want to do at any given time. Sure, there are the main quests in the game that progress the story along, but if I decided to stop what I was doing and start walking East, I totally could and along the way, possibly run into more quests that I had no idea existed; some of which lead to better loot, riches, and possibly certain death.
Followers return as well starting off with the famous Dogmeat, who most players will run into within the first 30 minutes of the game. He’s a loyal companion that can’t die, but that’s not all. Later on with more exploring, players can recruit other companions to join their cause. My personal favorite is Piper, a news reporter who is out to get the hottest scoop, but is still not afraid to jump into the danger for a friend. Doing things that the companion likes will bring up their loyalty with the player and at certain points, they can even unlock new perks that are specific to that companion. The morality system plays a part in this somewhat, but it is never really predominate. It really just affects how the companions think.
Visually, the game looks fantastic in many aspects. The sheer amount of things in an area and the draw distance is really well done. While some of the character models look a bit bland, it seems to be an art style choice more than a bad look to the game. I had no issues with how this game looked while playing and many times it was impressive.
A lot to take in and no one to tell me what to do.
There’s a ton of things to do and remember in this game, and while I enjoy what it does, it never really explains much of it. It took me way longer than I wanted to actually learn how to build and maintain my bases, and the tutorial is minimal at best. Even when it came to certain aspects of the combat there were far too many times I had to just figure something out on my own. The Power Armor is another one of those things. I still don’t think I fully grasp everything there is to know about the Power Armor. It’s like this game expected you to know everything from the previous games and then just skim over the rest a bit. It was rather frustrating in the beginning parts of the game.
There are a few open world issues with the game. It seems to crop up with all the Bethesda games. Granted, there is a lot going on in an open world like this, and performance issues will occur. There is some slight framerate drops here in there in heavy firefights, but never became unplayable. There were also some audio issues I had where either the person I was talking to or my character was supposed to be saying something, but nothing was actually being said. Small things like that did occur, but it never stopped my enjoyment of the game as a whole.
While the base building is vast and complex, I never really had it grab me. Of course, that is not why I come to Fallout, but I can easily see people really getting into the meta-game of it all. It just really wasn’t for me. I wanted to explore and find quests and loot. Luckily, Fallout 4 has this in spades.
Fallout 4 is once again another Bethesda game that people will talk about for numerous years. Just like with Skyrim, this game is open, full of mysteries waiting to be discovered, and open for a mod community that can bring it to life even more, and with Bethesda announcing mods coming to the consoles as well, there will be even more to see and do in the coming months. Until then, you have yourself a well tuned, fully featured wasteland to explore with a great look, improvements, and tons of new features. Sure, it has some issues here and there, but with this amount of fun content to explore I could look past most of it. Fallout fans will be in love once again, and RPG fans shouldn’t think twice about picking this up. It has something for pretty much everyone.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.