War…War never changes.
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC (Reviewed)
Release: November 10, 2015
Fallout is probably a game that needs no introduction, but I’m going to give it one anyway. Fallout 4 is a FPS/RPG mix with sandbox elements thrown in for good measure. It is set in a post-apocalyptic alternate future after that resulted from massive global thermonuclear war. Fallout 4 specifically takes place in the Boston area, 200 years after the bombs dropped, now called the Commonwealth.
Fallout 4 offers such a vast variety of stuff to do, that it can get to be overwhelming at times. There are loads of quests to do and ruins to explore and random crap to collect and hoard like the half-irradiated kleptomaniac that you are.
Combat overall is extremely satisfying. The gunplay is simply fantastic. It’s really hard to pinpoint why, but the simplicity of aiming down the sights in between running for cover just feels good. Sometimes you’ll find the baddies hard to hit, and that’s where Fallout’s V.A.T.S. system comes in. Using VATS brings the game into slow motion and lets you target your enemy’s specific limbs. It’s a great way to score an easy hi on those pesky bloatflies that like to buzz around erratically. It’s also great for kneecapping ghouls and watching them crawl around on the ground.
Melee combat is a little clunkier. The terrain can be tough to run through, and I find myself getting stuck on poles and stuff as I try to bum rush a group of raiders with guns. I guess that should be expected, come to think of it. That said, there really is nothing more satisfying than sneaking up on them with a baseball bat and playing tee ball with their head.
Probably the most addicting part of Fallout 4 is the settlement-building. Dotted throughout the Commonwealth are a bunch of locales for you to build pretty much whatever the heck you want. It will consume your life for at least a few weeks. The only gripe I have with the settlements (other than the loss of a lot of time) is that the ground always uneven, which makes it difficult to line walls and floors up right. It is cool, though, because each piece requires resources such as wood or steel, which you get when you collect all of the otherwise useless junk scattered throughout the game. Suddenly, that toaster becomes extremely valuable.
Character A.I. leaves something to be desired. This holds true for both your companions and your enemies. Both seem to love jumping off buildings straight to their deaths for no apparent reason. Companions, especially your dog, tend to get in the way in tight corridors and doorways. Also, while I think they get the benefits of the sneaking perks you have, they still often get caught out or outright attack the enemy, thoroughly ruining you plans of any sneak attack or escape.
Overall, the gameplay in Fallout is extremely satisfying, but this is a Bethesda game we’re talking about. As such, Fallout 4 comes with its fair share of bugs and glitches. Some of them are hilarious, but some of them are flat out game-breaking, and it’s those bugs that really bring this game down. I’ve had moments where companions lie dying and refuse to come up even after I shoot them up with a stimpack. I’ve had my dog become invisible. I’ve had dead enemies fall through the floor. But the worst bugs are the ones that stop NPC’s from advancing the story, which happens in a few different places. There’s usually an easy fix by way of console commands, but that should never have to happen in a big name game like Fallout.
Fallout 4 pulls out a lot of very neat story elements, which left me pleasantly surprised, starting right from character creation. It’s become standard for sandbox games like Fallout to give you character creation freedom, to include, of course, the sex of your character. What Fallout 4 does differently is it makes each sex an actual character, one that persists after you’ve completed the creation of your character. The changes to make to the other one even persist – and they have an effect on what your child looks like. Both of them have or had a background and goals too. The man was an army veteran and the woman was probably on maternal leave or something before putting her law degree to use.
Speaking of backgrounds, many of the companions that you can collect along your travels each have their own backgrounds and personalities. As they get to know you through travelling together, they will share a little bit of their background to you and eventually start a quest line specific to each companion. It’s like Bethesda took a page out of Bioware’s playbook.
The main storyline is more or less a role reversal of Fallout 3’s. Instead of searching for your father, you are looking for your kidnapped son. The destination is pretty much the same, but the journey takes you through some unique places that feel reminiscent to Skyrim’s main questline.
Fallout 4 proves to be a huge advancement in Bethesda’s graphical repertoire. One of the bigger complaint’s I’ve had and heard about Skyrim and Fallout 3 is how the characters looked like potatoes. Fortunately, that is not the case in this game. Characters look great right from the start, and you get a nice taste of that from character creation. Even the children look decent this time.
The landscapes and world design look beautiful, even in the post-apocalyptic setting. There’s just something in the way the half-collapsed buildings mesh with the surrounding wilderness that captures the feelings of both despair and hope. The cities feel sad and dirty, while the outskirts sometimes feel like I’ve stepped into Skyrim. I have to admit that I’ve been playing it on rather low settings, but it still looks beautiful.
Fallout boasts a soundtrack filled with old-timey 40s and 50s music that adds a sad flavor of mystery as you traverse the ruined city of Boston. It also has original music performed in the style of said 40s and 50s music that sounds just as good. That combined with the classical music radio station just brings you even deeper into the world of Fallout and makes you really feel like you are living in it.
The sound effects are great too, and the best part about them is that they serve as audio cues about the goings on in the city around you. One of the first things you hear as you step into the first main city is a series of gunfire that draws you into a major story arc. That sort of ambient gunfire pops up every now and then, and you know each time that there’s a real conflict going on somewhere.
I’m almost a little embarrassed to admit that I’ve spent nearly 100 hours on this game by now, and I have no intention on stopping at the moment. The game just absorbs you. There are so many different things to do and so many different ways to do them, it’s ridiculous. Unless you just hate sandbox-y games and want to focus only on the main storyline, there is no end to this game. In my eyes, this game is easily worth its $60 price tag.
Overall, Fallout 4 is an amazing entrancing game. The combat is challenging at times and rewarding. The graphics are astounding. The music is beautiful. Perhaps the one big flaw that holds it back from perfection status is its bugs. The bugs range from silly to annoyingly inconvenient to outright game breaking, and it’s those last two that are inexcusable. They are usually easily fixable with console commands, and I haven’t heard of these bugs popping up on the console versions, so while cannot condone the bugs, I can still feel reasonably confident enough to recommend this game.
+ Satisfying gunplay
+Plenty to do
+Tons of teddy bears
-Poor companion and enemy A.I.
Score: 4 / 5