Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Platform: PC, Xbox One, PS4
Tested on: Xbox One
Fallout 4 – Review
Perhaps the most anticipated title of this year was the fifth installment of Fallout (counting New Vegas and disregarding spin-off games). The dastardly wastelands have been home to many players, and when in 1997 the first game saw the light, it was clear we would see more games being released in this series. Nonetheless, when the games shifted from a top-down view to a 3D open world experience, the franchise pretty much exploded, gaining fans from all ages. This time we return to the post apocalyptic warzone once again, albeit in a different timeframe, shortly after the events of Fallout 3 and New Vegas, as well as with new allies, new enemies and a new supporting story. In the end, war never changes.
You start off the game as a random man/woman, tending to everyday life, with your spouse and newborn son, Shaun. You are content with your life, you have a robot that tends to every need and that’s all you need. Nonetheless, as of late, a mysterious man always comes by hoping to talk to you about the ‘vault’ which offers protection to a select few. When one day he comes by, it seems that his offer is very welcome as nukes have been launched. You’ll have to run to get your family safely inside the vault, in order to survive and live another day.
Inside the vault you’ll be frozen, in order to be thawed out when things clear up. For some reason you wake up again, only to see your partner brutally murdered and your son abducted. After that, you enter stasis once again, waking up on a later date. Dazed and confused you start your quest to find your child.
Even though the game starts of in 2077 everything still has a 50’s vibe, which has been scattered throughout all of the Fallout games. This is a fun presentation that stays true to the original games and this is exactly what makes the feeling of the game quite nice. The story is again presented to you through the events that simply unfold when completing main missions and the dialogues that flow out of them.
Even though Fallout 4 looks quite decent, it’s never truly mindblowingly good. The characters, enemies and other moveable objects look great, especially the textures of said items, except for some of the facial expressions of NPCs scattered around the world. Nonetheless, the same cannot be said about the buildings and the overall appeal of the world. Whilst the clutter in the world is done properly, buildings and other static objects look rather dated and not on par with other open world games such as The Witcher 3. Whilst this comparison might not be the most ‘fair’ one, it’s still true that Fallout 4 falls short in many ways when it comes to the overall appearance of the world. That being said, everything does look good, just not in the way some other titles were able to perform in the last few months.
The retro-ish feel of everything is still present, albeit mainly in the menus, as well as some cities and weapons. This is probably the greatest asset of the game, thanks to which it stays true to other titles in the genre, offering an authentic experience. Other than that, the clear difference from the menu options when roaming around in your power armor, or outside, is another fun touch the game was given, in order to add a bit of variation.
When messing around with the subtitles on, a few bugs were still present where the subtitles were not up-to-date, or they would simply not appear. Perhaps only a small glitch, but very annoying when you play with them turned on. Sadly this is not the only bug, as walking through walls, moving dead bodies and so on, all make for a glitchy experience, especially when more than one of those bugs mentioned here happen at the same time.
Just like in many of the previous titles, spoken dialogue is a key feature of the game, as you’ll be talking to many strangers on your travels. Luckily, this portion of the game is well taken care of, thus you’ll only be treated to superior voice acting and a lot of different conversations, creating a lot of content.
Music in Fallout 4 is rather tranquil, perhaps even eerie at certain times, which suits the end of the world just fine. You’ll be treated to very soft ambient sounds, very suitable for a more classical setting, nonetheless, during combat the tune is immediately swept up, providing the necessary adrenaline rush. Well, or you can simply change the radio station with your pip-boy, if you’d rather have some more upbeat retro tunes, which are simply superb.
Fallout 4 is just like its predecessors a first person open world action RPG, which means you’ll be roaming around freely, if you’re not that interested in the main quest, doing your thing, scavenging, killing, building or just sightseeing. You’ll have plenty to do, which sometimes makes it rather hard for those who crave structure on what to do next.
At the beginning of the game it’s advised you follow the first portion of the story, in order to unlock the necessary items for you to start roaming freely, namely your power armor, which will serve as a hefty shell in combat, and perhaps your home base in the village you used to live. Unlike previous games the power armor is not simply an armor, but more like an extra combat suit you can put on over your already equipped pieces of armor, to give you extra protection. Nonetheless, this mechanical battle suit consumes power and thus you’ll need to equip it with a fusion core in order to keep using it. Keep in mind it’s best to leave this armor behind from time to time, as these fusion cores don’t grow on trees.
After that it’s pretty much up to you, if you’d rather follow the story quests, the side-quests or just roam around freely. Just like the previous games you’ll encounter random monsters and other sights, which will offer you experience, loot or death in return. When gaining experience and leveling up, long time Fallout fans will immediately notice the difference as the stat system is removed and it is fully replaced with a ‘perk’ system. This perk system does still have certain typical stats like strength, endurance, luck and so on, but it’s simply woven into the perk charts. This means you’ll unlock selectable perks depending on those base stats, allowing you to head into a direction that suits you the most.
Fallout’s overall feeling has not changed that much but some additions were made concerning the crafting options, namely you can pretty much build entire towns wherever you have a safe zone with a workbench. This means that this game implements a massive ‘sim’ themed playstyle, which will surely consume even more time but overall it’s actually a great implementation and it causes the player to give this apocalyptic world his own personal touch. Buildings, decorations, power supplies, food sources and so on, you’ll have ample possibilities to choose from and unlock as you go.
Most of the mechanics that make Fallout to what it is, have become a tad smoother. You’ll still be able to either fight freely or use your V.A.T.S. system, which slows down time and allows you to target specific body parts of an enemy, in order to ensure better aiming. That being said, it costs action points when doing so, preventing you to spam this mode the entire time.
Of course scavenging is still important, as you can pretty much loot everything that crosses your path, if you have room in your inventory that is. Do not worry though, as you seemingly have a small black hole in your back pocket allowing you to carry around a lot you’ll come across. You’ll need a hefty supply of things with you at all times seeing the wastelands are quite violent and you’ll need refreshments from time to time, but you’ll also have to keep track of radiation as the world is still suffering from the third world war more than two hundred years ago.
Luckily you won’t have to face all the hardships of the desolate wasteland as you’ll be able to get yourself a few followers, which will aid you in combat. One of them, which has been in all canon Fallout games so far is, Dogmeat, a trusty canine companion which will help you fight off evil foes from pretty much the beginning of the game. Others are to be found throughout your journeys.
Not only graphical bugs and a few other glitches prove to be a nuisance, the map proves to be a big annoyance when playing the game as well. Older titles always had a clear map which made it easier to situate yourself in the world, whilst this one has a very unclear map, making it quite tedious to navigate at times or look up certain points of interest.
Fallout 4 offers a great open world experience, which stays true to the feeling of the original Fallout games, albeit in the fashion of Fallout 3 and New Vegas. You’ll have hours and hours of content to wade through, be it story related, side quests or just roaming around discovering what the map has to offer. Nonetheless, this apocalyptic gem of a game has many bugs that limit the overall experience, hampering fun on more than one occasion. If the many glitches get fixed, this game would be pretty much one of the best titles we’ve seen this year, even with a lower graphical quality. Nonetheless, this game is truly worth your money, for longtime fans as well as newcomers who like this genre.