~War never changes, and neither does the bugs in a Bethesda game~
Fallout 4 has everything in a Fallout game that we all know, love and expect. From its huge crafted post apocalyptic world, that’s full of different characters, companions and factions to meet and join. With tons of content from the main story, side quests and the new settlements and crafting features. Along with the fantastic exploration that Fallout games are all about, discovering new locations for the first time, some that are hidden and contain many dark secrets or just wandering around searching for ammo, meds and junk. There’s always stuff to do and when it’s all combined together it will have you playing for many hours, even long after you have finished the game.
Yet even with all those good elements, Fallout 4 lacks something that the two last-gen games had, and it’s very hard to pinpoint how Bethesda missed that missing ingredient that makes a Fallout game a Fallout game. Fallout 4 lacks the same charm as Fallout 3 and New Vegas, although there are lots of new things to do and see, I felt a strong sense of “been there done that” whilst playing. Even the atmosphere felt different, and at times I struggled to care for playing the game that I’d been waiting years for. Then to top all that doom and gloom off, Fallout 4 like its predecessors Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, contains numerous bugs and glitches, some bugs and glitches only have a very minor effect and will take you out of the immersive wasteland for a few moments every now and again although this happens far to often, but it’s the game breaking bugs and glitches that are unforgivable and make Fallout 4 a pain to play at times.
After a deep and powerful cinematic that shows us the events before the game takes place, and reminds us that “War never changes”, we are then dropped off into the new character creation system, this is actually one of the best character creation tools I’ve seen for some time, you move over the facial feature that you’d like to adjust and then morph and mould yourselves a realistic good looking character or a hideous abomination. You also get to create both a male and female as they are both husband and wife and important to the story, so be prepared to spend easily an hour on making your vault dweller from Vault 111.
For the first time in the Fallout series we get the chance to see what the world looked before the nuclear war and destruction happened. It looks great and exactly how you’d imagine it, nice blue skies and green lush bushes, you don’t get to spend much time there though so it will be interesting to know if Bethesda revolves one of their DLCs around that time period. After following a scripted turn of events you go towards the Vault 111 after warnings about nuclear bombs going off and just before you get sent down into the vault, you see one go off wiping everything out and you luckily make your escape underground. Fast forward 150 or so years and you awake from your cryogenic stasis machine and resurface as the sole survivor of Vault 111. Now the whole Boston commonwealth is your playground and you are free to do almost whatever you want, the game doesn’t force you to go down the straight path of the main story. You can totally avoid it and go the opposite direction and get killed by overpowered raiders or worse, that’s Fallout 4 at its very best, it doesn’t cater to new players and hold their hand like other games, it gives you the opportunity of freedom and choices, you’re in control for the most part.
There are plenty of things in Fallout 4 that are different from the two past games that you’ll notice straight away, the visuals are a huge improvement but that should be a given as this is Fallout on a new piece of hardware, yet the game doesn’t come anywhere nice as good looking as The Witcher 3. Characters in Fallout 4 finally look realistic and for the first time our main character is fully voiced. Both the male and female actors do a good job, but what seems like Fallout tradition now, animations are sometimes weird, janky and NPC’s have a tendency to walk into walls, doors and gates and keep walking as if nothing is there, sometimes getting themselves weirdly stuck in the object.
Combat has been massively improved as well now as weapons feel, sound and look better, they pack a real kick when shooting and recoil is strong in some of the weapons. Fans of V.A.T.S, which stands for Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System, will be happy to know it returns and it’s even better than before, hitting the V.A.T.S button would before freeze time and give you all day to pick a targets body part to destroy, now your targets move slowly whilst you’re using it, which can lead to some very tense moments especially early on in the game when your low on health and the next shot could be the difference between life and death. Crippling your enemies legs and watching them crawl on the floor in pain or just popping someone’s head clean off in V.A.T.S mode is something very satisfying and fun.
Most easily my favourite feature is the new crafting abilities, finding new settlements, modding weapons and armour as well as creating drugs, bombs and food for your journey. It’s fun although not very rewarding at times, but it’s a good distraction and a different way to spend your time when you want a short break from the constant shooting and killing during the quests. Junk is now useful and used in very interesting ways, every junk item you find in the wasteland can now be scrapped and the remaining materials left behind used for modding weapons and armour. You can make a vast variety of scopes, barrels, stocks, muzzles and magazines for mostly all the guns. It’s extremely fun modding your weapons to how you want them, turning a crap and easy to find pipe pistol that’s seen better days, into a pipe submachine gun simply by adding a new barrel, stock and scope is very satisfying, and finding a plasma pistol for the first time wishing it was something better can now be easily achieved, you can create and turn your arsenal into whatever you see fit, I turned that plasma pistol into a force to be reckoned with, turning it into a plasma rifle that shoots multiple projectiles as well as adding fire damage just from applying a few neat attachments. To top it all off you can rename your weapons and give it a nice personal touch.
Settlements on the other hand are extremely time consuming and if you have a great vivid imagination or a gift for creation this feature will feel especially made just for you and you’ll probably end up calling this Fallout Building Simulator, keep in mind that this is purely optional so if it’s not your thing you can ignore it. Settlements give Fallout 4 a real sense of survival. It doesn’t feel like you’re the only character wandering around the wasteland anymore, now there are other people and communities out there just trying to survive. Building a community, or a fortress, farmland or just somewhere you can call home will take time as you experiment and learn how everything works, nothing is explained very well and most the time you will have to learn from trial and error. There are very key things that the game just expects you to know or find out on your own, you need to assign people to jobs or they will wander around doing nothing and here’s an important tip for you, charisma is the key to gaining the maximum settlers possible, you can have up to 10 by default and then the rest depends on your charisma level, 1 settler for each point in charisma you have plus wearing clothes or taking drugs that give a charisma boost will also increase settler size.
Once you get to terms with how settlements work, you’ll quickly be able to go to one of the many you can find, go into building mode and scrap any useless items for materials. For example you will need a lot of wood and steel if you want to fortify your settlement, any cars you scrap will be used for steel and any trees or branches used for wood. My biggest gripe is that the UI (user interface) is awful and makes everything harder and slow. There is no over the head view unfortunately. You have to control your character while in building mode which makes for some awkward lines of sight when trying to place something down in a certain place, you can’t shirk or increase size of an item, the UI just feels very backwards and needs changing.
On your journey you will come across certain people who can become your companions, there’s a total of 13 altogether and they range from dogs, to robots, humans, a mutant and a ghoul. Each companion will follow your commands, you can tell them to follow and stay put as well as shoot at enemies but most importantly they will carry items for you when you go over encumbered. Companions all have their own special unique abilities and perks which you may find useful depending on which situation you’re in. But that’s not all, the karma system which worked perfectly in the Fallout games has gone and been replaced by a likes and dislikes meter which is hidden for each of your followers. As much as I loved the karma system in the older Fallout games as it made you have to think about your actions, remember Megaton anyone?. The affinity meter is just as good but for other reasons, companions are probably the only interesting people in the Fallout 4 world so having an affinity meter which effects your relationship with them is a very good thing.
Fallout 4 will probably still go down as one of the best games of 2015, and whether you pick it up now or in 2016, there will be 100s of hours of content as well as future DLC. If you’re on a very tight budget, in need of something to keep you entertained for a while or don’t buy and play that many games a year then Fallout 4 is the way to go.
Fallout 4 was my most anticipated game of 2015 and I’ve been patiently waiting for this game for a very long time and while it’s a great game, it doesn’t quite live up to my expectations, some of the reasons why is due mostly to the bugs and glitches, I can no longer advance forward in the Brotherhood of Steel quest line, as when I start a certain mission the game will freeze and reboot my console. This happens every time I try to start the quest, it’s frustrating and all my time spent in the Boston Commonwealth I was consciously worried that my game would break forcing me to have multiple saves, and quicksave constantly.
My last main reason for Fallout 4 not being my cup of tea is because it feels like a watered down Fallout game in some aspects. The S.P.E.C.I.A.L system has been revamped and the skills attribute is missing and now you can no longer have interesting unique character builds. There’s a lack of real dialogue choices that make a real difference, the karma system has been removed, and gone are the interesting traditional towns and places where NPC’s live and call home, there isn’t many to be found and they seem to be gone and replaced by settlements, although it’s my favourite feature, the community you create and your settlers within are nothing but card box cut outs that have no personality and all go my the name settler.
I’ve played Fallout 4 for over 100 hours and kept asking myself what’s missing and why don’t I enjoy this as much as Fallout 3, I’ve learned over time that it’s perfectly fine to not enjoy the game as much as you wanted to. It’s okay to take a step back and just treat it as a normal game and forget about the brand name and history behind it. Fallout 4 is worth your time and there is fun to be found, once the effects of getting the game and playing for the first time wear off you slowly start to realise the cracks in the game and you understand that the series can no longer continue the way it is. The next Fallout game needs to make major changes to its formula as the bugs and other negative stuff wont be acceptable next time.