As one of the highly anticipated titles of the year, Fallout 4 has a lot to live up to. The previous installment was, of course, Fallout: New Vegas which was met with critical acclaim as it offered a highly expansive experience to fans and a full helping of Western RPG goodness. So the burning question for us all is, does Fallout 4 live up to the hype?
The story starts during a happier time for the "Commonwealth". It's 2077 and the world seems to have gone back to a 50s style format, but with massive technological innovations. You follow the story of either a doting wife and mother or a doting husband and father. However, what seems like a calm existence for the couple is quickly tossed into a nuclear frenzy as you're forced to head into a fallout shelter to escape being radiated by a nuclear explosion.
Once in the vault, you are cryogenically frozen and at one point wake up to find two mysterious figures kill your significant other and steal your son, Shaun. The only reason they give for keeping you alive as well is as a "backup" and then fall into a deep sleep once more.
Time passes and you are eventually let free. Exiting the vault, you come to find your old town destroyed by decay and ash as well as the shocking revelation that 200 years have passed since your last time outside the vault. It's from this moment that your story begins.
Fallout 4 definitely offers a gripping introduction. It's easy to get sucked into the mystery regarding your son's disappearance. From then on, it's up to you to decide how you go about unravelling the world's mysteries. There are a few parties that play big roles in your adventure towards the start of the game including the Minutemen (an "All American" colonial-esque group of mercenaries), the Brotherhood of Steel (a military resistance group), and the Super Mutants (a band of deformed orc like creatures who focus solely on killing). There are also many other groups out there to discover along with different types of beasts to face. It's definitely easy to get caught up in the side-quests of the game and if you want, you don't even have to go through the main story line until hours into the game or at all really.
For the main story line, there are bunches of twists and turns that take place. Being such an open experience, you can take many different roads to uncover the mysteries surrounding your son's kidnapping and you can also find yourself acting as a double agent between groups of people. One of the interesting things about Fallout 4 is the feeling of uncertainty with what your decisions bring for the future of the Commonwealth, but with that in mind, it can also be quite frustrating if you're hoping for the "correct" ending. There isn't really a right way of doing things and for some, this may prove pretty frustrating.
There are a few alliances you can make within the game which also offer particular pros and cons. The Minutemen, the Railroad, and the Brotherhood are the main three each offering a different outlook on the Commonwealth's situation with the "evil" Institute. Who you choose to associate yourself with will offer a difference in weapons and outlook on the Synths situation where Synths (or human-esque robots) are being forced into slavery. The Minutemen focus a majority of their efforts on bettering the Commonwealth, the Brotherhood are more militant and have the shoot first ask questions later approach, and the Railroad offer a bit more of a "secret society" feel as their missions are based around killing Institute members and saving Synths from slavery. The choice is yours.
Story aside, there are many different ways you can play this game as well. You're given a powersuit early on which offers a massive amount of resistance against enemies like the notorious Deathclaw and additional powersuits can be found throughout the world. You can travel through the world in a powersuit to keep you a bit safer among the various terrifying creatures that inhabit the world, but you have to be mindful of the damage your powersuit takes as well as the amount of Fusion Cores you have on hand which help to power your suit. Run out of these, and you might be forced to give up your power suit until you can find more fusion cores which unfortunately are a very rare, very expensive commodity.
Aside from that you can use gear that you find around the Commonwealth. Some armour offers resistance against damage while other pieces focus more on radiation resistance. It's good to have both on hand should you need to switch, but you have to also be mindful of your weight limit which provides another interesting challenge. After all, you can only hold as much as your perks allow.
Which brings us to the Perk system. In Fallout 4 there are so many different ways you can go when looking at levelling. If you want to be a head on collision type of player, there are perks like Strength and Endurance which can help you to become a beast of a machine. There are also perks that help you become stealthier should you prefer to hide in the shadows. If crafting is more your style, there are plenty of perks that offer you support in finding items and armour/weapon crafting upgrades. The perk chart really offers a nice challenge for players as so many of them prove useful!
This leads into the difficulty scale. Fallout 4 does not offer any type of hand-holding. Should you choose to accept a mission, there's next to no indication of how difficult that mission is until you actually play it which can be pretty unforgiving. You might find that a side quest is going particularly well and then within a second, you're forced to fight an extremely difficult boss which can kill you in an instant forcing you to either soldier on and attempt to beat it, or begin at an earlier save so that you can level up a bit more. Although you probably should be prepared for any situation that can occur, a difficulty ranking system for certain missions would be extremely beneficial. There are also moments where you might find yourself wondering in a barren location and then all of a sudden a Deathclaw or some other legendary beast comes out and annihilates you, but with this it's all a part of the risk of wandering so you always have to be on your guard which really is how a place like this should be.
If you are feeling a bit alone, though you can enlist a companion to help you along the way. Some companions offer more than others. There's, of course, Dogmeat, a dog that lives in a nearby town, which will detain enemies for you to kill and there's also the robot Codsworth which will happily blast enemies for you with his blowtorch. You can also offer your companions weapons to help them out which is a nice touch. The only issue with companions though is that they're not always that helpful. Some will frequently get in the way of your shots and some might even disappear when you need them most, which can prove to be quite frustrating. There's also a companion liking system which allows you to connect more with your companion offering some boosts. There are plenty of companions to choose from with their own pros and cons if you're willing to explore them.
In other respects, Fallout 4 is very similar to Fallout 3, offering the VATs system where you can focus on hitting an enemy's particular body part and then perform criticals in order to achieve more damage. Its implementation could still do some work, however, as there are times where there are enemies are right in front of you, but the VATs system somehow will skip over this enemy to focus on one that's about 20 ft away. There has to be a better way of allowing to cycle enemies and body parts.
The Pip-boy menu offers you everything from quest data to inventory stats. It's pretty simple to use and understand, but sometimes can be a bit of a nuisance when it glitches out. For example, sometimes when you've just exited out of your workshop menu, you might find that your Pip-boy does not come up. There isn't really a fix for this glitch other than to wait for the game to catch up which can be quite frustrating. There are also times where you might find your Pip-boy shows nothing at all which is particularly fun when you attempt to fight enemies.
Crafting is an important part of the adventure, but you can choose to ignore crafting all together. However, it does in some way tie-in with one of the new mechanics, base building. As you venture through Commonwealth, you will be able to unlock particular bases, which offer you additional items. Unfortunately the base building system is plagued by a clunky control system which makes the construction of houses and defense systems more of a chore than entertainment. For example, when building walls for a house, you can snap each wall piece in place, but the snapping tool never recognizes corners forcing you to choose from hideous looking corner walls which don't suit your original interior design choices. There's also doesn't seem to be any point in building houses other than for your own entertainment and when you begin to obtain more and more bases, you might find that the last thing you want to do is build yet another mansion. If the game focused primarily on one base, it would be a much nicer system, but once you begin acquiring more bases, it just gets to be too much.
Fallout 4's soundtrack offer a nice selection of tracks for when you're exploring and when you're fighting. Unfortunately, the vocal tracks and the music don't really work too well together at points. The music track could be blasting away while you're attempting to listen to another character talking causing you to miss some vital information about a mission.
Graphically, Fallout 4 is nothing to really shout from the hills about, but it is at least decent enough for this next generation of gaming. The loading screens are quite long though which makes going into buildings a very unhappy experience. To be fair, the game is loading up a huge nearly seamless world, so it's understandable that there are loading screens, but it'd be nice if they were shorter. Glitches, on the other hand, do plague Fallout 4. It is something that Bethesda has unfortunately become rather famous for and they're back.
There are a whole variety of glitches in Fallout 4 which make the game into a bit of a mess at times. There are instances where enemies can get stuck and even some that might cause the game to break, forcing you to load back to a previous save. Sometimes when you're attempting to start a quest, the NPC you're talking to might just run off and attack nearby enemies forcing you to handle those enemies before you're able to start the quest. You also might find that you have to listen through the same cutscene multiple times in order to even get the game to realize what you're trying to achieve.
Fallout 4 delivers everything you'd expect from a Fallout game. The story, although quite simplistic, will allow lots of different experiences and the side quests will offer tons of additional game time. The depth of the experience should also be praised, as Commonwealth is huge and everything has so much life. Unfortunately, the game is plagued with massive glitches that at times can break the game quite significantly. It's not a deal breaker, but Bethesda has done little to fix their reputation in this area and other elements, such as the base building, seem half baked. Still, that doesn't stop Fallout 4 from being a stellar experience in many areas and it's very much recommended despite its shortfalls.
|Expansive environments offering many different places to explore.|
|Side quests and main story missions allow for hours of gameplay time.|
|Story offers complete freedom to choose offering many different results.|
|The workshop crafting system is plagued with clunky controls and glitches.|
|There are a few gameplay related glitches that might cause the game to break.|
|The long loading times make exploring some parts of the world more of a chore than entertaining.|