Timed played at the time of the review: 115 hours
Setting, Plot and Genre
Fallout 4 is a post apocalyptic open world FPS/TPS action adventure game by Bethesda Softworks. Set in Boston in the year 2287, 210 years after a nuclear war, you play as a cryogenically frozen survivor from the pre-war era. You awaken to a world conquered by raiders and mutated creatures with only a few free and peaceful settlements and groups that can aid in your mission.
As usual with the open world Bethesda games, the story takes a back seat to the player’s own wanderlust. I think most players have come to expect and welcome this. The idea of unique player experiences is really at the center and more important than any one storyline. Even the main story is a product of this, with most of it pretty much is revolved around sending you to different places of the world, hoping you will feel the urge to go off the set path to explore on your own.
Because of this, I feel talking about the story is useless as I really feel a new player to the game would benefit from ignorance. Instead, roam around free from expectation. Make your own story.
If you are looking for a game with stuff to do for hours and hours, this is definitely a game for you. The game map is huge with many locations to explore, although I feel that there aren’t that many enemy types. It’s more often than not either raiders or super mutants that guard the locations, but most of the time it’s fine since they are pretty varied themselves in power level and weapons.
A huge improvement from the previous Fallout 3 is that after you have completed the main story you can actually continue to play! There is no definitive ending, but your story will continue until you want it to end. This was a really good idea since even with my 115 hours of gameplay I still have plenty to explore.
What works? Is it better than previous titles from Bethesda?
Graphics, Aesthetics and Sound
The game benefits greatly from the improved Creation engine last seen in Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim game. The world feels alive thanks to improved lighting effects, shaders and of course a bump in all the models and textures. Although compared to many other triple A games from 2015, it’s not really that impressive when really looking at individual textures and models. But that is fine, because this is not where Bethesda excels, but in giant continuous worlds that are hard not to get sucked into. It is simply amazing standing on a cliff looking down on the city of Boston and knowing that you can go there right now with no loading screens or invisible walls to bar your way.
As with the previous fallout title, the aesthetics gives the game it’s longevity. Most things feels genuine, from the ruined city of Boston, to the outlying suburbs and vast wastes of the surrounding area. The monsters also looks great with Bethesda really stepping up their animations. You can really feel the panic and stress when you see a giant Deathclaw trying to evade your incoming hail of bullets.
Where Fallout 4 is lacking is the same as pretty much all previous Bethesda titles – the humans still looks fake and stiff. During conversations you almost feel uneasy, awkward. Sure they look better than in Fallout 3 and Skyrim, but that’s not really an achievement to beat. This stands out more since this is the same year that gave us The Witcher 3 with really top notch human interactions.
The sound quality is really a step up from previous titles. Everything from the gun sounds to soundtrack, from voice acting to the ambient soundscape (especially when a storm is blowing in, so epic!).
Many would call Fallout 4 a roleplaying game, but I believe the gameplay points it more toward an action adventure genre with only certain elements of the RPG genre left intact. Fallout 1 and 2 are true classics in the RPG genre, Fallout 3 shed much of that away in the conversion from a top down game to FPS/TPS. But even Fallout 3 has several memorable roleplaying set pieces where you interact with interesting characters and are given more choices in quests. I can’t really remember many interesting characters in Fallout 4 and it felt like most quests and encounters ended in a shootout.
Even if the game is more focused on combat, it isn’t really a bad thing, simply a different approach from what we are used to from the Fallout series. With the vastly improved gun play and VATS (a system to slow down time and target different body parts of the enemies) most encounters feels rewarding and fun.
The guns look, sound and feel really great. With the addition of the massive gun modding system you can really change the weapons to suit you. I modded all my weapons to be semi-auto with superior handling since that is what I favor.
Modding weapons and armor takes resources and here is where things get interesting. Instead of a mod needing specific parts to be built, you need archetypes of those items. For instance, when building a scope, it might need some adhesive and this can be acquired by getting a roll of duct tape, or some wonderglue, or even some vegetable starch! This makes scavenging in the world fun as many of my adventures started out as hunts for aluminum or screws.
With the addition of so called “Legendary enemies” the loot system is changed somewhat. Where normal enemies drop the usual stuff (whatever weapon they’re using, ammo, currency etc) the legendary enemies always drop a legendary item. These legendary items are normal items with a random buff, like 50% increased damage vs humans, altered to shoot an additional projectile or burning enemies hit with the weapon etc. This system was extremely fun at first, but since the legendary bonuses never change or become better when you level it becomes unnecessary to even engage in those encounters later in the game.
Fallout 4 is Bethesda’s first game with a talking player character with all dialog being fully voiced. I think this was a mistake, since it streamlined the entire dialog system. The scroll down menu of choices from previous titles have been replaced with always four choices, often being in the archetypes “Yes”, “No”, “Sarcastic” and “Maybe”. The choices are merely reflecting what your character is saying in the most basic way, so you never really know what the options mean until you have chosen them.
One of the big new features of Fallout 4 is the settlement system. You basically clear out specific places in the world and convert them to settlements. Here you can build houses, plant food, clean water of radiation and create your own utopia.
To be honest, this element of the game did not appeal to me much. I felt it too time consuming and demanding in resources (my guns need that love!). I pretty much skipped the entire thing and it didn’t feel like I missed anything.
Although I didn’t like the settlement system I can really see the appeal of it. It’s simple enough to build structures the way you want and pimp them out as much as you like.
But it does feel like the settlement system may be there to balance out the lack of friendly cities in the world. In the previous Fallout 3, I still remember the town of Megaton, the old wrecked ship that became Rivet City, the ghoul town of Underworld, and I could go on listing all the minor friendly cities but I think you get the point. And compared to Fallout New Vegas that had pretty much only friendly territories with the exception of hostile areas, this is pretty much the opposite. This makes Fallout 4 feel like a more hostile world that the player has to save through the settlements… although I didn’t care enough about the wasteland to do this.
Fallout 4 is a really fun game if you like freely roaming around exploring. Me being balls deep with 115 hours put into the game, I still feel there is more to see and do. I highly recommend the game and look forward to playing the upcoming DLCs!