Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Released: November 2015
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Fallout; one of the most recognisable titles in the gaming industry, and boy do they like to advertise it. While I didn’t start playing Fallout until Fallout 3, I was still overly excited when official details about Fallout 4 was finally released, and my God there were ads everywhere, even months prior to the actual release. And that’s all good, but I couldn’t help but be constantly reminded that it was so close, yet so far away.
Now I knew that Fallout 4 was obviously going to have a very different feel to Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, but I really didn’t know how big a difference it was really going to be. Let’s get into the review.
Thrown to the Wolves:
The first thing to know, that besides the little helpful pop-up hints and a handful or tutorial quests, Fallout 4 doesn’t hold your hand, and while that is great in this world because you can explore and do as you please, there is a big learning curve before you actually know what you want. Sure they also sell games guides, but I prefer learning via experience, I had my first character wander around sufficiently that I got the basics and fixed up some things I could not respec or change.
Just to help some of the newer players, Fallout 4 has a different S.P.E.C.I.A.L. and perk system than what we have seen in 3 and NV. For starters, there is no level requirement to the obtain base level perks, but there is a required level to advance perks. You gain one perk per level, and you can hoard your perk points for later if you wish. Second, S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stands for Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck respectively and you have points at the beginning of the game to chuck in here, I suggest researching perks so you know what you want, and also to never put 10 points in a certain S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stat because there are in-game collectables which will permanently increase a S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stat by one, so don’t waste anything.
Crafters at Work:
There was some sort of crafting system in 3 and NV, but nothing like this, and certainly not on this scale. If you decide to undergo the Minutemen questline or join factions such as the Railroad or the Brotherhood of Steel, you will be be given control of a small settlement and can scrap everything and erect your own buildings within a certain area.
As I said before, Fallout 4 offers no hand holding, so after learning some of the basics, there is so much you are able to do. You can building giants forts or skyscrapers or treehouses, you can plant gardens, you can make a fabulous light show, place traps and turrets around the place. You can even set up your own shops in your own settlements. The sheer amount of freedom Fallout 4 gives you is amazing.
You also have access to different workbenches and can customize weapons and armour, but you can only customize these items with the corresponding perk such as Blacksmith, Gun Nut, Armorer, and Science. Without these perks, you have to settle for basic customizations.
Now the whole crafting system also depends on the random junk you collect from the wasteland. Tin cans and office fans and teddy bears now have a renewed purpose in Fallout 4; for example scraping a teddy bear can give you cloth that you can use to build items. And while the crafting system is extensive, I am surprised that you cannot craft your own ammunition (besides the syringer).
Without giving too much of the main plot away, you are the sole survivor of Vault 111, and are on the hunt for your kidnapped son, this takes you to The Commonwealth: a foreign place to you, and you will have to learn to adapt and survive in this hostile environment full of raiders, mercenaries, super mutants, and of course, the Synths of The Institute. On the way you will meet a select few people who are able to become your companions and travel alongside you.
Dialogue is presented a little differently in Fallout 4, whereas before you had a large box of options, you now have only four options every time it is your turn to interact. Persuasion checks are now highlighted either yellow, orange, or red to indicate difficulty and without a speech skill to dump your points in, the speech checks are now related to your charisma (having 10 charisma allows you to pass all speech checks).
Combat in The Commonwealth has changed little from the previous games. It’s pretty open to how you are able to approach a situation in terms of types of guns or melee weapons, or traps and grenades, but like 3 and NV, you can choose if you want to play in first-person or third-person modes, and V.A.T.S. is tweaked just a tiny bit, so rather than time freezing and allowing you to choose what targets you want to attack, time slows down instead, so you can be killed while in V.A.T.S. mode.
Stealth mode is pretty much the same as the previous games, you crouch and the words Hidden, Caution, or Danger float above you. It seems to me that they didn’t bother changing or improving this feature.
And with all games of this size, you are certainly going to come across some bugs. Thankfully for my own playthroughs, I have encountered very little, although for one of my characters it always froze as soon as I drop out from the cyro container, so I had to scrap that one completely.
Fallout 4 is a great successor to Fallout 3 and New Vegas, and it allows you to spend heaps of time in a beautiful dystopian world where you can play however you want, but it is not without it’s own set of glitches given a game of this magnitude.