The most anticipated title of the year has arrived. Fallout 4 has been eagerly awaited by both hardcore fans of the series and by people who have never experienced a wasteland before and it’s safe to say that for the most part, both parties have not been let down. This game was always going to be a huge undertaking from Bethesda. Learning new hardware is never easy for a game developer and these developers have had to learn a new engine on new consoles but nevertheless have delivered a really great experience, if a little buggy, for all!
Fallout 4 is so much more than it appears to be. If you look deeper into this RPG shooter you’ll find not just a big wasteland full of places to explore and loot to find, but individual stories and backgrounds that could well be made into their own narrative. The below-the-surface level of depth to all Bethesda games is staggering and having the opportunity to write yourself into the lore as you can in this game really solidifies itself as a worthy successor to the previous Fallout titles. Whether you’re climbing the ranks to top dog of your chosen faction, helping (or destroying) a settlement in need or just living the life of the “wanderer”, this game will suit your wants and needs from an open world RPG.
Your journey as a wanderer begins in rather a strange place. After watching the opening cinematic you find yourself not in the wastelands of Boston in the 2200’s, but in a brightly coloured post-war 1950’s Boston. It’s a refreshing change to be greeted with this scenery while creating your character, but it doesn’t last long as the air raid sirens begin sounding off and you are promptly whisked into the vault. After emerging from a cryogenic slumber as the sole-survivor of Vault 111, you are thrust into the Commonwealth wasteland and told to make your own story from there. This is where the people who are newer to the series may switch off a little bit. If you’ve never played an open world RPG before, being given (pretty much) unrestricted access to everywhere the game has to offer can seem a little daunting. To those people my advice would be to follow the main quest for a little while until you get on your feet, then branch off and start doing side quests you have accrued.
The story and feel of the wasteland is magnificent and almost certainly the best one we’ve seen in a Fallout game so far. There are several factions fighting for both power and, more importantly, the greater good. These factions see each other as a blight on the way to the human race beginning to flourish and thrive once again. It’s an incredibly interesting dynamic and one that is not easily achieved. Every decision you make in Fallout 4 will have some input in how the game plays out for you. If you fail a speech check, you may miss out on some valuable help from someone in a fight or as a vendor or they may even decided to side with another faction!
The quests in this game feel well structured and the main quest is long enough and has enough complexity to compete with other triple A titles out there. It takes you all across the wasteland, as did both Fallout 3 and New Vegas, which is good for newer players coming into Fallout for the first time as it allows them to experience everything on offer, rather than just purely sticking to quest areas. While there are quite a lot of radiant fetch quests in this game, they are infinite and will make you travel to areas you otherwise might not have gone. A good portion of the side quests are a lot of fun and can lead into faction introductions, unique weapons and other really cool loot, which in the end is what this game is all about.
V.A.T.S is changed, arguably for the better as you no longer freeze time when in the assisted targeting system and you fill up your critical hit meter by successfully landing shots, only to unleash a devastating critical hit when you need it most. I think this turns V.A.T.S from a quick pause button into a tactical slow-time and pick your shots like its supposed to be. Leaving you open to being shot up while in V.A.T.S makes you more aware of the fact that enemies can still give you a rough time.
Of course, S.P.E.C.I.A.L returns as the main character building system but a lot of the traditional levelling systems have also been changed and revamped to be more simple. For example, instead of levelling up and assigning attribute points, you just need to have the required level and amount of points in that stat (e.g level 15, Agility 4). You can now also just add points directly to your special skills giving you the ability to hit rank 10 in everything and, with enough time investment and the use of the infinite level cap, you will be able to unlock pretty much every perk in the game. This is a very refreshing way to grow your character and doesn’t require as much micro-management as before, while maintaining that feeling of a deep path of customisation to build and be anyone you want to be.
Arguably the biggest thing Bethesda get right in their open world RPG’s is the looting and this game is no exception. The sheer amount of items in the wasteland from Fat Man launchers and 10mm pistols to coffee cups and ashtrays is astounding. The real difference in this game compared to previous Fallouts is that everything is useful. This means that I often return home with backpacks full of plates, burned books and other miscellaneous junk but the feeling of dropping all of that stuff off at a workstation knowing that it will be useful later is great! Another area of looting that is relatively new to the Fallout universe is that of unique legendary weapon/armour drops from enemies. Every so often in game, you will see a legendary enemy with a star next to his name. This means that he will be sometimes significantly harder to kill than regular enemies, but will have a special piece of gear with a unique look and perk to it. You can also find some of these weapons out in the world. If there is one aspect of this game that Bethesda absolutely nailed, it’s the looting.
There is, however, a sour note as usual for the Fallout games and that is the bugs and glitches that often occur with a project with as broader scale as Fallout 4. The bugs are definitely there although to varying degrees. I, myself haven’t come across too many issues other than the horrendous frame-rate issues within the Boston streets which does affect the final verdict score that I will give as it’s a glaring hole in an otherwise almost perfect game. Other than frame drops, you can expect the usual “Bethesda bugs” such as NPC’s getting lost or stuck in walls, unlimited ammo and cap glitches from vendors and general AI glitchiness.
Overall, Fallout 4 has surpassed expectations across the board with a great story, strong base mechanics and some excellent new ideas that really shake the pillars of the Fallout franchise while retaining the classic feel of the games. It’s everything I expected and more and I fully expect to be spending a significant amount over the next few months investing a lot of time into this game.
Final Verdict – 9/10
+Strong base Fallout mechanics improved (V.A.T.S and S.P.E.C.I.A.L)
+Settlement building feels fleshed out and deep
+Modding of weapons and armour is very complex
+Great story and very well done side/faction quests
-Framerate issues in action or densely populated zones
-Usual Fallout “Bethesda bugs”