Like putting on an old pair of comfortable shoes, Bethesda Game Studios’ Fallout 4 feels very familiar yet fresh and consistently thrilling all at the same time. Fallout fans couldn’t ask for from this mind-bending, massive, post-apocalyptic sandbox that delivers on all fronts. And that’s just it, Bethesda did it again. They’ve turned our world to ashes, placed us right in the middle, and asked us to not only play in their world, but to make it our own this time around. A world that’s brimming with intrigue, with mysteries, with horrors, with allies, with enemies and so much more. Fallout 4 delivers exactly what is was designed to for: to give a feeling of an endless adventure rife with infinite possibilities. And one major hell of a ride!
Set in the former megalopolis of Boston, Massachusetts’ wasteland has more to offer within the first hour of game play than most titles accomplish in their entirety. As expected, Boston’s wasteland is a deathtrap ready to be explored. Permeated with nooks and crannies, this is a game that deserves to have every square inch explored. But to venture out into this vast land you’d better be well stocked up on purified water and Rad Away because it’s going to take you a long, long time.
For the first time in a Fallout game, we get to explore the actual world before the war — if ever briefly. Beginning in a small suburb of Boston in an even smaller, brightly lit, popping and colorful neighborhood — completely different from the dull, lifeless palette of a wasteland everyone is used to experiencing. — where you choose your character’s features and gender. After a few fleeting moments in a worry free, middle class land, the real story begins and the sandbox wasteland is yours to explore.
"Set in the former megalopolis of Boston, Massachusetts’ wasteland has more to offer within the first hour of game play than most titles accomplish in their entirety."
From the moment I entered the afterlife of what was once the bustling city of Boston, not only was it a moment of pure excitement, but also completely and overwhelmingly intimidating — in all the best ways. And that’s Fallout 4 in a nutshell: a world created with you in mind. See a house off in the distance and want to explore it? Go ahead. Find a sewer teeming with enemies to be taken down? Load up your shotgun and have at them. There is no right or wrong way to go about Fallout 4. Everything is left up to you. And it feels so liberating. Of course there are the standard objectives that must be sought after and completed to advance the story.
This dark, crumbled future of tomorrow is beautifully rendered around Boston and heavily focuses on its downtown districts. A complete and beautiful upgrade from past entries in every way imaginable, Fallout is a wonderful looking game for being an enormous sandbox. Where Fallout 3 suffered graphically as a blurry mess — even for its time — Fallout 4 is spellbinding. Certain cities are now dynamic, decorating for holidays and events brings in a very lively ambience. Lighting and land textures work well. Where pixilated, rough edges once surrounded cities and characters are now smoothed out and give off a very natural feel. It’s a true step up for a current generation game.
Factions make a return to Fallout 4 with secrets aplenty. Loyalty amongst groups and completing missions gets you entry into certain factions. Each faction is after their own goal and unlike New Vegas, they are not warmongering and always looking to take over the wasteland while spying on your every move. They all want something better than what Boston has to offer.
"A complete and beautiful upgrade from past entries in every way imaginable, Fallout is a wonderful looking game for being an enormous sandbox."
Fallout’s perk system returns with a new, more comprehensive chart jam-packed with all sorts of new and classic abilities. Perk points are handed out upon leveling up and can be spent on any unlocked ability. S.P.E.C.I.A.L. attributes help expand the chart to unlock more Perks. This chart is enormous and multilayered as perks are now able to level up themselves.
V.A.T.S. or Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System returns to Fallout 4 and works as smooth as ever. But be careful, time does not freeze while in V.A.T.S. like it did in Fallout 3, it only slows down. So getting attacked while in V.A.T.S. is now a thing. And it’s sometimes nerve-racking, especially in sticky situations. The new Execute Critical move placed inside V.A.T.S. allows for instant critical hits to occur pre rendered at the press of a button for major damage.
Expanded upon from Fallout 3 is the buddy system… or as Bethesda likes to call it a “companion.” Companions have also been expanded on. It is now possible to command companions: where they go, if they attack, if they hold back, search people or objects. They also add that subconscious amount of liveliness by giving small expansions toward the story as a whole. Each companion is also multifaceted and each different than the other. But be careful. Certain choices I made for my character determined whether they liked me or not; this can lead to disobeyed orders onward. I wasn’t always comfortable with my companions eyes of judgement reining down on me, so I went solo from time to time.
"Fallout’s perk system returns with a new, more comprehensive chart jam-packed with all sorts of new and classic abilities… This chart is enormous and multilayered as perks are now able to level up themselves."
Long gone is the Karma system. “Good” and “bad” choices still exist in dialog, however, it doesn’t equate onto a scale like in past versions. So being as good or as bad as I wanted to be was a relief and I didn’t feel pressure to always commit to one side.
Dialog in Fallout 4 is, as most things in this game, expanded upon heavily and also multilayered. With the playable character running around with a voice of his/her own (finally!), this has opened up vast dialog branches that feel as though they can go off in many different directions. Where Fallout 3 had an in-your-face “good,” “neutral,” or “bad” answer for everything, Fallout 4 is expansive rather than absolute with a few “good” and “bad” selections to choose from as well as a newly added “sarcastic” response. Dialog is so expansive that finding how to answer something became very fun. I often found myself going back from a Quicksave just to find out what other dialog branches I could discover.
Having a voice of his own, my character wasn’t just another character. He was the center of the entire story unfolding around him. He has a mind, he can think, act, decide, not care. It wouldn’t seem as though a voice to a character could change the mechanics of how I play, but that addition added a whole other layer of complexity: it allowed me to understand where he was coming from emotionally; to grasp his struggles and unwrap his mind from how he expressed himself.
Other NPCs throughout the wasteland also have their own voice and personalities similar to past games. Tons of different and unique people, crazy and exciting “legendary” enemies and creatures from all walks of life mixed well in the moody atmosphere.
"Modifying weapons, armors and Power Armors in Fallout 4 has become a lot more immersive and fun while more advanced upgrades require certain perks to be unlocked later on. "
Workshops are a new — and very welcomed — form of village simulator. Wastelanders try to build a new home for a more secure, future society. Of course they need our help to do so. Building beds, adding electricity, growing crops, sourcing water and much more become fun and rewarding challenges. Don’t feel too overwhelmed! To get crops to grow or defenses to run properly they must be assigned to a villager. Cleaning up abandoned towns and adding in essential elements is a snap. Building defenses for a secure perimeter that gets attacked from time to time is a nice and fresh way to build up a few different safe houses around Boston.
Modifying weapons, armors and Power Armors in Fallout 4 has become a lot more immersive and fun while more advanced upgrades require certain perks to be unlocked later on. What was implemented really well and utilized extensively this time around is, surprisingly, junk! Weapons, armor and village essentials often implement many varieties of junk. So be prepared to collect every piece out there this time around. With weapon and armor mods a sizable amount of weapons are at our disposal in this game. Not only are there nice selections to find, purchase or kill-to-get, but modding weapons to adjust to each player’s own specific play style is where the real fun is. Tweaking a scope or adding in an extra magazine lead to my obsessive need to find specific junk that lied about Boston just to be able to upgrade certain points on each weapon.
Weapon and armor “Condition” is no longer a major thing. Weapons and armors do not have health gauges and eventually break over time. With the exception of Power Armor to help regulate how often the player can stay in the nearly invincible suit, weapons and armors are always at maximum capacity and at their killiest! Is that a word?
"Fallout 4 is a tremendous success. It brings back the dead, lifeless, lonesome land we’ve longed for. It carries forward the excellent aspects of what makes Fallout a great series and leaves behind unnecessary fillers and distractions."
Remember the classic tunes of Fallout 3? Amazing performers singing their greatest hits of generations long past. Those who are familiar with Fallout 3’s soundtrack may be delighted to know that many songs return with a collection of “new” entries as well. And as always the music feels right at home. A collection of a mostly upbeat variety counteracts the dismally, lonely moments experienced while venturing out into that great unknown. Outside of those familiar and catchy melodies is another type of music when the radio is off. Ambient music themes help carry the heavy emotion and dark mood of a great landscape lost to devastating war. The ambient music works brilliantly in every situation. It commands attention and tell a story all its own: that of an epic and often too symbolic atmosphere teeming with urgency and despair.
Fallout 4 is a tremendous success. It brings back the dead, lifeless, lonesome land we’ve longed for. It carries forward the excellent aspects of what makes Fallout a great series and leaves behind unnecessary fillers and distractions. The dialog branches out into unexpected twists and turns and feels ahead of any other multiple choice game I’ve played to date. Boston is scorched with an onslaught of both good and overwhelming evil that forced me to want to play for hours on end with little to no breaks in between.
Fallout 4 engulfed me in a massive world overflowing with mystery and a true sense of discover that demanded to be explored. It delivered in every aspect imaginable with little to no technical hiccups. Quests were diverse, long lasting and much more fun than they were in past Fallout entries. This hundreds-of-hours-long, epic struggle for survival of a stranger in a strange land isn’t worth the asking price. It’s worth so much more. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to sit back, crack open a bottle of Nuka Cola and enjoy more of the game. Pass me the Rad Away, please.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox One.
An unbelievable amount of fun to have in a massive world swamped with curiosity, awesome weapons to find, crazy villains to fight, and unique quests to uncover.
Companions are not always easy to manage.