The desolate wasteland calls once again, its weird and wonderful characters ready to share banter while merciless creatures wait in the shadows for their chance to spill blood; welcome to Fallout 4.
Bethesda’s latest offering from the long-standing post-apocalyptic series arrives in Boston, Massachusetts, sharing many of the city’s landmarks and customs to great effect; the developer clearly doing their homework. A difference from previous installments is the chance to play the game before the world turns to mush, enjoying life in a suburban neighborhood as a father, husband, and retired soldier.
Things take a turn for the worst just after entering Vault 111, frozen in time and awoken 200 years later only to see your son kidnapped by some shifty looking figures, thus beginning a journey through the wasteland to track him down. The connection to the main narrative is a real let down on Bethesda’s part by not keeping the character invested in the welfare of his son. Instead of asking every living soul he meets if they know his whereabouts, you’re too busy building settlements and killing Radroaches. This is a common diet for open-world RPGs we know, but on this occasion it really seems like lazy storytelling on the developer’s part.
The characters you meet do have their own identity but fail to really grab the moment with any emotion. The dialogue doesn’t help either, mostly the main character’s sentences will be short and to the point, making you feel more like a cardboard box than a hero. However, the companions available to you do have some personality, Mr. Codsworth one of the more upbeat characters you’ll meet. Amazingly the most emotion spilling character is Dogmeat, your canine friend. Even though he can not speak you can grasp his mood, be it playing with a teddy bear or leaving off a small whimper in dismay. Speaking negatively about your fellow companions, they can be a huge pain most of the time and nearly always get in your way when following you.
Continuing with a sequel will always mean improvement from what came before. In Fallout 4 Bethesda added a new feature that allows you to create a settlement from scratch for you and other wasteland survivors. The level of customization is amazing and makes every settlement different, also depending heavily on what location you set up shop. You’ll be able to create and place a variant of walls, roofs, and floors for the foundation, then add beds and other furniture to give it a more homely look. Food power, water, and defensive items are also a must, all coming together to keep your settlers happy and most importantly safe.
The workshop menu can be annoying to use at times, most notably the cancel button which is also the button needed to remove an object. This means at times you need to look away from objects completely to just go back to the main workshop menu to be pick another item, a button layout error that could have been avoided Bethesda! To build a settlement resources are needed and the objects you collect around the world will feed the construction machine; wood and steel the most common. Finding resources such as crystal and copper(guide on how to find it) give you a reason to explore the wasteland if you needed one anyway.
Bethesda decided to tinker with Power Armor in Fallout 4 and not only limit how much you can use it but also let you heavily modify it. Power Armor needs Fusion Cores to run, and once it goes empty the suit becomes somewhat useless. Finding scrap and other items to modify it will heighten its stats and make it more enjoyable to run around in, but at the beginning it’s a chore to equip.
Gameplay wise not much has changed, everything works the same as previous installments. V.A.T.S(Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System) returns once again and how each weapon works while using it stying the same, including the Action Points that determine how many times it can be used. One new addition is the “execute critical” option that can be used to land a critical hit once a bar just is filled through attacking enemies. The perk chart hasn’t changed much since Fallout 3 and once again offers a plethora of different abilities with the same unlock progression, one star every time you rank up a level which you can add to whatever perk you like.
The heart of combat in Fallout 4 is the weapons, and like previous iterations there’s a fine selection on offer. Many have that makeshift look and unlike Fallout 3 and New Vegas, weapon damage doesn’t factor, meaning you never have to repair a weapon you create or acquire. On the downside, they have removed the ability to create ammo which was something I enjoyed while playing New Vegas. You have your usual modern-day weapons such as pistols, assault rifles, shotguns, and future weapons likes laser pistols and freezing guns. If you’re an avid collector and want the best on offer then searching the wasteland will produce some legendary gear and weapons that perform better than the rest but are always protected by their dangerous keeper.
Fallout 4 is a beautiful looking game that delivers another healthy dose of post-apocalyptic madness. While it has it current issues with game-crashing bugs and glitches, it doesn’t damper the enjoyability of running through the wasteland wasting raiders or building a settlement for your league of followers. It may not have the same positive impact as Fallout 3 or New Vegas, but Fallout 4 is a solid release that deserves every piece of praise it gets.
Note: Game was reviewed on the PlayStation 4
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