Fallout 4 Review

by / Monday, 16 November 2015 / Published in Uncategorized

It’s been years since we last stepped foot in the apocalyptic wasteland, and while there certainly is a sense a familiarity in Bethesda’s latest entry in the Fallout franchise, it can’t help but feel like the start of a new era of Fallout. Fans and newcomers alike have plenty to enjoy in this massive game, and it’s there’s plenty game to go around. The only thing that might stop you from enjoying Fallout 4 over the previous entries is how married you are to it’s previous gameplay mechanics.

Fallout 4 brings about a new focus in storytelling with the introduction of a voiced protagonist. Accompanying this is a more personal, stronger main story, as well as a tighter focus on who your character can be. In previous Fallout games, you could be a bumbling idiot, or an evil overlord bent on destruction of everything, this is a bit toned down in F4, the new dialogue system always limits you to just 4 choices, and the ability to have certain dialogue depending on your character’s stats is mostly drawn back with the exception of charisma checks. The absence of skills in favor of a more streamlined leveling system means that your character isn’t going to pick up a gun and not be able to use it, or perform terribly with it. Your character is a concerned parent seeking their son, and you branch out from there. Instead of skills in previous games, most stats are tied to the S.P.E.C.I.A.L system, and extra abilities come from perks, which function as usual, except this time you can find bonus perks in magazines hidden in the world, as well as bonus perks for maxing out your companions relationships. And speaking of those, the karma system is gone as well, replaced with doing actions that your companion will like. That does mean however, that you can be very schizophrenic with your choices without really feel like it’s having the impact it used to, especially if you don’t have a companion with you.

But while we are on combat, it’s worth noting that the shooting mechanics are the best they have ever been, guns feel responsive and the hundreds of mods you can attach to them means that even that early shotgun you found at level 5 can still be a force of nature if you keep it updated. The VATS system returns but no longer freezes time, but instead slows it, again a more grounded choice but it feels more welcome than the changes in dialogue. Power armor is no longer just another piece of armor to equip, but a suit you get into, with the same level of customization as the guns and other armor pieces, it almost encourages you to collect as many as you can, so sure enough, I have a hangar full of power armor suits that would make Tony Stark’s heart melt. But for the first time, power armor really sounds like, well, power armor.

Funding all of these upgrades is an increased focus on finding junk in the wasteland and scrapping it for materials. This is probably the best change from previous entries as it encourages exploration beyond just finding weapons armor and stimpacks. However, scrapping all of your junk in your inventory in the most efficient way possible often times means going to a settlement, dropping all of your junk in the ground, and selecting each and every piece for scrap. A ‘scrap all’ function would be incredibly welcome. Speaking of settlements, Fallout 4 has a bit of a base building mode, where you build houses, power, water, food and defenses for settlements to keep them safe. It can get incredibly addicting but, without the right perks, your resources are exclusive to each base, and while I eventually got the perk that lets me setup supply lines in between the bases, this led to me focusing only on one or two settlements, instead of ones across the map as it was probably intended.

Beyond this, you have the story and quests, and while I did mention the main story as being stronger, the overall world fells as if it’s lacking some truly memorable characters in the world, with the exception of some of your companions. Fetch quests or ones simply boiled down to ‘go here and kill some guys’ are abundant, especially when you might find yourself on a repeating quest chain against your will, with your quest giver not even presenting the option to turn down the next quest, I’m looking at you Preston, you annoying bastard. I have yet to do all of the side quests in the game, or finish exploring the map in its entirety, so I’m holding my thoughts on the side quest quality until later, but there certainly are some memorable side quests, as well as great rewards for doing them.

Graphically, it won’t blow your computer away from Project Cars, Witcher 3 or Arkham Knight, but it still looks great, using a modified version of the engine that ran Skyrim. Some of the age shows however, because while environments certainly are the best they have ever looked, animations are still a bit stiff and sometimes can just outright break. Speaking of breaking, F4 has significantly less bugs than the last 2 Fallout games did at launch, but that doesn’t mean it got away from them. Some quest bugs, graphical bugs, and the occasional need to restart arise. It’s been a lot worse, but still has room for improvement.

If this is your first Fallout game, dive right in, I guarantee you will have a fantastic time. If you really loved the previous Fallout games, I want you to take a step back for a moment, and ask yourself why you enjoyed them so much. The role playing side is downplayed, but the exploration is as great as ever. The skills and karma are gone, but the moment to moment gameplay feels the best it’s ever been. It’s different, is the point I’m getting at, and with a new console generation typically comes to changes in the formula. Bethesda clearly wanted a tighter focus on character and story this time around, but if that doesn’t bother you, then go crazy.


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