Disclaimer: HFG will make every attempt to be unbiased, but due to headquarters’ geography, please excuse any overly excited Boston lovin’! Also, there may be spoilers throughout this review.
Let me first explain I didn’t come into the Fallout series until New Vegas, so that makes me a bit of a newb in that sense; that being said, I was intrigued by the prospect of Boston being the setting (more specifically “The Commonwealth”) of Fallout 4, and Bethesda’s interpretation of the history and environment there. I’ll just say, if you haven’t been to Boston, and you are playing this game, you’ll find some history you may want to explore. So come on over sometime!
After playing this game for around 30-40 hours, I’ve decided that there’s been enough time for me to analyze its intricacies, and appreciate the environment.
This game, at its heart, is a hybrid FPS/RPG. It’s not a true FPS because of the optional third person camera, which is very usable for combat and exploration. And it is not a true RPG because of the V.A.T.S. system and the versatility of the player in general. The Pip Boy and the associated V.A.T.S. system is very familiar, with some welcome changes.
Though I would consider it partly an FPS, it is forgiving. Any RPG lover can pick this game up and enjoy it!
The opening scenes are very involving and suck you into the story. I’d play that part over on the daily if I could. You find yourself wondering what is happening outside during your time in the vault. I regularly find myself not being able to get up and head to bed when I play this game; the immersion is tangible.
As you would expect, Bethesda has created a site to behold. We know from their record with games like The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, they take overall environment into account when building spaces, both indoors and out.
Upon your exit from the Vault, the mood is very “dawn of a new day,” with anxiety of what you’ll find the world looking like after the bombs. You explore cautiously, as it seems too serene to be real.
Draw distance, depth of field and bokeh are some of the graphics technologies used to portray the post-apocalyptic environment Bethesda has crafted. This allows for quite a spectacle.
As you progress to different areas, the story unravels, and becomes darker as you realize war never changes.
Weapons And Armor Crafting
One of the best features of this game is the crafting, and Bethesda struck the nail on the head here. Anything you pick up can be used to craft mods for your weapons or armor. Some items are more rare than others, where others you consistently have in excess.
Some of my favorite moments are being excited to build a mod only to realize I’m missing one aluminum part. This can cause two issues; searching nearby for more, or just giving up for the moment and coming back to it later.
Some of the mods available include damage and accuracy increases, scopes and sights and stocks, or grips. Some of the armor mods are pretty slick, like increasing stealth, carry weight and increased energy resistance, just to name a few.
This doesn’t even start the power armor crafting, which if you don’t know, is the armor shown on the retail box of the game, as well as the commercials. It really comes to fruition in Fallout 4, as I don’t remember it being as readily available in New Vegas. The mods for it are intended to make you a mobile tank, with increases to carry weight, energy resistance and zero (yes, that’s no) falling damage. The third person animation in the power armor is exceptional, especially when falling from great heights!
Base Building And Survivalism
For many, this portion of the game will invoke fury. Gathering supplies and food and junk is part of this game and was for Fallout: New Vegas, but was in a much smaller capacity. After reaching the point of creating your first settlement, it becomes clear that you could never do another quest, and be completely overwhelmed by managing your settlements.
Providing them with living space, food, water, electricity and enough beds, can be a full time job. However, it is rewarding when they get to the point of self sufficiency. There are supply lines between settlements, and you can store all sorts of items there, and they won’t disappear after a certain time, like out in the world.
Item placement can be troublesome at times, without a clear “grid” you can end up with holy fences, and odd defense placements. Running electrical wires is also a challenge, for two reasons; copper is hard to come by, and all sorts of nonsensical things get in the way of the wire. ProTip: make sure you have line of sight to the next connection. You may need multiple pylons to get the job done. There is a limit of items per settlement, dependent on the settlement which can cause issues when attempting 100% happiness in the respective settlement.
We’d be playing this on PC, so the controls are W, A, S, D, where Shift is run and Ctrl is crouch. Pretty standard fare. However, console is played with their respective controllers, and they managed to get all the necessary keys assigned to buttons!
The dialog functions have changed a bit since New Vegas, with a left-right-up-down arrow configuration. I do end up clicking on the selection instead of using the arrows, as they are on the other side of the keyboard. Most console users will laugh as Bethesda mapped these to their four directional buttons (cheaters).
Occasionally, the dialog will disappear for just a second and you will left mouse click and shoot the person you are attempting conversation with. Annoying, but not game breaking by any means.
Since this is an RPG, the lore (or story) should be deep and involved. There have been a few (Destiny for one) that come to mind, that didn’t quite do the lore correctly.
Fallout 4 delivers lore on all fronts. They took the time to get the feeling of New England and our incessant sarcasm, all while taking care of the historical artifacts in our storied cities. Bethesda have addressed some serious topics in this game, relationship issues, addiction, and just figuring out how to be a good person in a complete wasteland.
Bethesda have created a winner in Fallout 4; I’m not certain if its because I’m fondly familiar with the area, or how they portrayed it. The gunplay, critical hits, V.A.T.S., and the Pip Boy add to the action, and the environment hugs you like a warm sarcastic blanket, laughing at your misfortunes on the way.
Do not avoid the terminals; they tell the story of the past 200 years. You’ll laugh, cry, and be generally disgusted by the happenings of recorded history. Now go out there and take it back for the people of The Commonwealth!