I hesitated, that’s perhaps the best way to describe some of the emotions this game made me feel. Some decisions I made during the course of playing Fallout 4 made me hesitate as I had a true moral dilemma, there are no true rights and wrong in the wasteland. Fallout 4 has been one of the most hyped up releases as of late being Bethesda’s newest entry in the Fallout series. With over 5 years between this game and the last Fallout game we had how does this one stack up? Let’s find out.
The story follows your character, a war vet from anchorage, and their family from just before the Great War as the bombs are just falling, you are all put into a vault in order to keep yourself protected from the bombs and radiation. Events unfold and you emerge from the vault into a bleak and destroyed Boston wasteland. It’s up to you to find out what is happening in the wasteland, discover the secrets behind the elusive ‘Institute’ and find your family. The story in Fallout 4 is a huge step up from Fallout 3 as the decisions you make are not as clear cut as you may originally thing, there are no ‘good’ and ‘evil’ paths and this is reflected in the various factions you can choose to align yourself with. The world is built so well providing many interesting locales and people to meet. There is an obvious cold war type paranoia among the people of the wasteland as they are scared of being replaced by ‘synths’, synthetic humans who look and act like humans but have been making people disappear. This helps to bring real context to the world as not only are you going on a personal journey with finding your family but you feel as though you are making a difference on the world by dealing with these huge issues, and your actions will have consequences make no mistake about that. The side quests too are great, perhaps even the highlight of the quests in the game as they are incredibly varied and can net you some great items and loot. One in particular I remember involved a certain very powerful and influential family who had a certain fascination with ancient aliens.
The presentation in this game is absolutely remarkable. There is a lot more happening in this wasteland when compared to the previous entry, factions are always fighting, random events take place and you may even encounter certain legendary enemies to help spice up your fights. People have complained about the graphics but I just don’t see it, even though I have a relatively weak computer and so must play on the lowest graphical settings this is still one of the prettiest games I have seen to date. This is due in part to the amazing attention to detail that has been put into this game. Robots have fully modelled interiors that you can expose by shooting off parts of them, animation is a huge step up from the previous games as people react properly to getting shot or smacked and movements feels a lot more fluid and smooth. What the game may lack in texture detail it fully makes up for in extremely well done modelling and graphical fidelity that help to make the wasteland feel a bit more like… a wasteland! Voice acting is better this time around as people seemed a lot more natural when they spoke however facial animations and faces in general still seem to have a bit of the uncanny valley vibe, maybe it’s because they look a bit like plastic faces, and I’m not even talking about the synths! The extensive character customisation however should allow you to make a pretty good avatar and the new voiced protagonist, while off-putting to some I actually really enjoyed but I can see how some people could feel it would break immersion for them.
The gameplay is probably where the biggest improvements have been made. Combat in particular is so much better in Fallout 4 as it has taken many notes form other First Person Shooters such as Call of Duty and Destiny. Everything feels a lot more smooth, every weapon feels like it has weight and feels a lot more realistic this time around and the general greater gunplay makes for a more accurate and fun combat experience. There has also been new crafting mechanics added to the game as every single object you pick up is capable of being broken down into base components for modifying weapons and armor, creating food and drugs or even using to build up settlements from scratch. This makes every single item have a purpose as modifying your weapons and armor is highly recommended. The new power armor, a giant metal exoskeleton is given to you fairly early on in the game and has been drastically changed. It is now much more powerful than previous iterations but is now limited to power cells that are relatively rare. This helps to make it an option for people who need a big boost in protection for certain fights but doesn’t make it too overpowered. The dialogue system is slightly different as you will usually have one of four options to choose from in dialogue and certain special dialogue choices have a percentage chance to succeed or fail depending on your character build. The V.A.T.S system is back allowing you to target specific body parts of an enemy with an automatic percentage chance of shooting them but instead of stopping time it actually slows it down considerably this time. It is a lot more balanced this time as you are not completely protected while you take your shots however the transition between V.A.T.S and real time combat is a lot quicker and smoother meaning you are not stuck just watching a dead body fall to the ground. The skill system is gone now replaced instead with an entirely perk based system. Every time you level up you get a single perk point that you can use to increase one of your S.P.E.C.I.A.L stats or gain a new perk. Some of these perks have normal effects such as increasing weapon damage with automatic weapons by a certain amount but some of these perks have ranks that give them extra effects as you unlock them. I much prefer this system compared to the old one as while there may not be as much to micromanage when it comes to your character development it makes every choice you make for your character have a significant impact instead of investing points and it barely making any difference. Combined with the unlimited levelling cap you could be stuck in this game levelling and developing your character for months! Finally survival itself is a lot more prominent in this game as enemies seem a lot tougher this time around, especially if you don’t have power armor with you, and bartering with traders is a lot less in your favour unless you invest heavily in perks and trading. It may be intimidating for newcomers to the franchise but it really helps to make the game feel more like a survival game rather than just another shooter.
Of course no game is perfect and indeed Fallout 4 has some issues. There are of course a slew of technical issues for all versions of the game as seems to be Bethesda tradition and for the PC version that I am playing my entire graphical resolution setup had to be changed in order to accommodate the game as it was not officially supported and when I tried to force it to work I was met with a huge amount of scaling and UI problems. Some quests in the game are also bugged such as one I encountered where an important quest character refused to even speak with me so I was forced to complete the quest another way. The settlement building mechanic is also not as intuitive as you may think. While it is cool to build an entire community from scratch building for a first person perspective is not easy and the ‘snapping’ feature of some items really doesn’t work for a lot of the time. I also felt as though there wasn’t really much point to the settlements as I hardly ever developed mine and only used it really as a companion hub and a place to store and repair all my items. Finally as I mentioned the trademark Bethesda game ‘Uncanny valley’ characters really need work as while many characters seem fine in conversation with others seem very strange looking and don’t feel realistic enough to me as though I was actually having a conversation with them.
All in all however this is an absolutely monumental game. The bugs and glitches will no doubt be patched out and there are already so many good new improvements in the game that I will go out of my way and say this is my favourite Fallout game to date. With so much to do in the game considering side quests and random repeating radiant quests I relish the opportunity to go out mutant and raider hunting whenever I get the opportunity and the story really tugged at my heart strings and made me question what kind of person I was. If you don’t have this game then do whatever you can to procure it as this is a game you will never want to put down. Now if you will excuse me I have a certain dog that needs some loving, and a cool bandana to wear!