Fallout 4 is perhaps the most highly anticipated game of the year, and rightfully so. Coming from Bethesda, the team behind The Elder Scrolls and Fallout franchises, expectations are automatically through the roof. However, fear not fans of the series as you will not be disappointed. All the elements that make the previous games stand out are back with a range of new gameplay improvements and mechanics to add even more replayability to the game.
Compared to Fallout 3 or New Vegas, Fallout 4 has a story that is quite interesting compared to older games in the series. There are two time periods that you will get to experience in Fallout 4, the pre-war which takes place in 2075 where you find your customized character is living harmoniously with your family in the Sanctuary Hills, Boston. Just before a nuclear fallout happens, your family, including yourself, are lucky enough to get into Vault 111. Just when you thought you will be safe, you and your family are cryogenized in a pod. You will then find yourself awaken 200 years later with your spouse dead and kid kidnapped by some group of people. This will then start your journey in finding the culprit behind the abduction of your child and the mystery that happened in Vault 111.
First up, Looting has been dramatically improved by the use of a new looting interface system and as an integral part of any RPG, this is only good news. Unlike previous Bethesda titles, where the player were taken into a menu when attempting to pick up loot from even a small footlocker, Fallout 4’s looting is done by simply looking at an object to determine what loot is available within an object and grabbing it. For gamers who horde a lot of junk from the world, to collect junk for crafting or to sell on at vendors, this speeds up the game. It is also nice to see the back of the immersion breaking trip in and out of menus.
Due to the ease of looting and the new incredible crafting system, the inner hoarder in every player will surface at some point throughout the game. In previous Fallout titles, some players looted everything, including cutlery, to obtain huge amounts of bottle caps. However in Fallout 4, it is hard to let go of even dirty ashtrays and empty milk bottles simply for their materials that could be used for some sort of crafting. The constant thought of “what if I need that later?” will see players going as far as dropping weapons and armor so that they can hold onto materials such as adhesives solely for crafting. Never before has Wonderglue been so sort after. In other words, crafting is big in Fallout 4 as you can craft pretty much every items that you would need from stimpacks, armors, and weapons.
In addition to crafting, one main feature of Fallout 4 is the addition of making a settlement for the survivors of the nuclear fallout. Those who have played Fallout Shelter on mobile, you will get somewhat of an idea on how rebuilding a settlement works. Using the Workshop feature, you can scrap any items that you find in the settlement and use the scrapped items in crafting things for the settlement like furniture, generator, water resources, and many more. Your objective is to keep that settlement alive by giving them their needs like food, electricity, and water. You will know if you’re doing a good job in rebuilding settlement through the happy face indicator on the world map.
Aside from new features, Bethesda has stepped up its game for the main storyline; the writing for its games, with the length of side quests and faction missions, can never be called into question or referred to anything less than great but the main stories haven’t always lived up to the huge billing of the games. Fallout 3’s originally concluded with an abrupt ending, although this was tweaked via downloadable content and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim’s journey as the Dragonborn was lacklustre and forgettable. This time around, despite Liam Neeson not being your father, players will find a more emotional attachment to the storyline. It is a deeper story which players will strive to complete and take pleasure in being a part of.
The story is also a great way for players to visit the bigger settlements around the huge game world. This vast world is more varied than previous titles without creating the feeling of being entirely different themes strapped together. The overarching theme of the post apocalyptic wasteland draws everything together, but color has crept back into parts of Boston to breathe life into the city. This doesn’t mean the city is by any means back to its lively nature of current times. By a clever use of a brighter color pallet, part of the city shows signs of hope whilst parts of the wasteland still offer the grim desperate side of a desolated region which is barely clinging onto life.
When it comes to combat, not much has changed but it does feel more refined and closer to a first person shooter experience than before. As before, as you venture through the wasteland, you will encounter a lot of mutated monsters and raiders that will stop you from doing your objective. Luckily, there are a lot of weapons that you can equip in the game, especially with the crafting now readily available. If at some point you feel that the weapons aren’t strong enough, you have an option to customize it by doing upgrading its barrel or ammunition capacity, and they can be done through crafting.
The most notable change to combat is that the VATS targeting system no longer stops time: instead slowing time down to a fraction of the normal speed. This allows players to still select individual body parts and target multiple enemies but without disrupting the flow of the gameplay. It also means that the players can no longer use VATS to evaluate oncoming threats free from the possibility of damage. Aside from weapons, there’s that Power Armor Suit that you can wear. Using an Armor Suit makes you tougher when facing enemies but using it will cost you a fusion cell, which can be hard to come by.
In terms of character progression, it’s done through the Perk Chart. For every time you level, you will gain a skill point that you can use in the Perk Chart. Depending on what build you started with at the beginning of the game, your character can have different kind of skills that they can use in the wasteland like, they can be an expert in sniping, hacking, and lock picking. In reality, you have the freedom to make whatever build you want your character to become. And yes, there is no level cap in the game, therefore you can make your character even stronger, even after beating the main story.
The game world may be huge, but Bethesda has once again smashed it out of the park with its attention to even the smallest details. The quality and level of details that make it into the game is hard to believe: including entertaining posters that can be seen on walls, the little quips that make it into the dialogue of passersby, notes left on random terminals across the wastelands and so much more. Bethesda as always has managed to squeeze such detail into the lore of the game world and draw even more detail from the lore of the franchise; this combines together to create a believable living breathing world which players will gladly explore for hours upon end.
For those who will be picking up the game on either Xbox One or PS4, the graphics are decent and on-par with the quality the PC version gives. It might not be the most prettiest games you may have played, but it certainly has the most deepest gameplay yet. There is not a lot of differences between the console and PC versions, so those who will be picking up the game on either platforms shouldn’t worry much the quality they’ll get. They all include solid textures, impressive character models, great draw distance, and an impressive post-apocalyptic environment. Similar to Fallout 3 and New Vegas, you will certainly feel the atmosphere of the game.
The only major issue which will face PC gamers is that the user interface feels like it has been designed for consoles and being played on a controller. From the chat arrows to the perk chart the UI is more intuitive for use with a controller, rather than mouse and keyboard. It does little to detract for the game, but for those wanting to play with mouse and keyboard will find using some of the interfaces less intuitive. This is a problem which PC players of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim did endure and as with Skyrim it is safe to say a mod will most probably be created to fix this.
In case you were worried that the 400 hours of developer created content, with the promise already from Bethesda of multiple pieces of downloadable content, more content will be made by fans for Fallout 4. In the past, PC gamers were the only to get their hands on a lot of creative fan made content, and some rather adult extras. From tweaking visuals of towns to adding entire new regions with uniquely voiced quest lines, mods have added plenty of content and for the first time console gamers will get to experience them. The only issue that may occur for added quests is the player voicing: not including any may be an immersion breaking experience and will be hard to get around.
Fallout 4 is exactly what fans are hoping for, ever since its initial announcement.. Boston gives the game a new location to explore which offers a mix of environments. The core game remains as solid as ever and the new features only add to the game. You can wander for hours, discovering as you go, or follow long quest lines across the sprawling wasteland. The game lets you play your character in the style you want. All of this makes Fallout 4 the front-runner for Game of the Year.
[Editor’s Note: Fallout 4 was reviewed on a Xbox One and PC platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]