Today I’ve set myself the challenging task of reviewing the game Fallout 4. A first-person shooter in a post-apocalyptic world that brings with it all kinds of strangeness.
So, starting at the beginning which is set before the bombs drop but only a few minutes before. This does a good job of establishing who the character is, why they were in the vault and gives an emotional start as things progress. There’s even the nice little thing of you being blown to pieces if you linger in outside the vault when the bombs do drop.
There are many changes from the previous game (I’ll ignore New Vegas and focus on 3 as that was the direct prequel) such as combat changes, removal of skills and karma and the addition of a voiced protagonist as well as a few more things.
The combat changes are a great improvement to the game with enemies becoming more dangerous to fight as they utilise better tactics that involve dodging, good use of grenades and cover making it feel less like shoot the target and more like kill the enemy than it did before. Grenades are no longer equipable as a weapon but instead get their own slot and now work more like other FPS grenades do where you press a button and throw plus the grenade button can now be used for a gun bash allowing for melee attacks while holding a gun which is revolutionary for Fallout as you don’t have to retreat if someone comes near.. While aiming down a scope you can now hold your breath which I can’t remember ever having done before and you can lean from cover which also feels new. Weapon deterioration has also been removed so you don’t have to worry about guns jamming or breaking anymore.
The karma system is gone. In Fallout 3 you could be a slaver or activate an atomic bomb which destroyed a city, in Fallout 4 there is no way to be truly evil and cause mass destruction. You can still do bad things in Fallout 4 like kill and steal but I think the removal of karma made the developer relax about how many truly evil acts that they had to put into the game which worsened it in my opinion. You are even forced to join a good seeming faction at the start of the game although all factions are morally questionable.
The skills system is gone. You are no longer good at using a missile launcher because you are good with Big Guns, instead you are good at using a missile launcher because you have the Heavy Gunner perk at Strength five. Everything is now reliant on the SPECIAL system of attributes that you choose early in the game now and It feels a bit limiting, especially with the removal of the Speech skill. I used to use Speech to avoid combat and find alternative ways to finish quests but now it seems like shoot to kill is the only option a lot of the time.
Speech. Fallout 4’s speech system is a disaster. The voiced protagonist was a good idea but voiced lines have to be recorded whereas written ones don’t meaning it’s much more costly and time consuming to record dialogue meaning fewer lines, in turn this means fewer options for the player for role play meaning the player feels more distant from the character. The player is only showed a general idea of what the character will say whereas in the previous game whole sentences were written out, this further limits role play as there’s no way of knowing exactly what will be said. Speech checks now rely solely on the Charisma stat and you aren’t shown the chance of success like in Fallout 3. I find these changes very disappointing and they definitely made a mistake taking away from the game.
Something else that was changed is how the player interacts with containers. In Fallout 3 you have to look inside a container to find out that its contents are of no use, in Fallout 4 you can see and take the contents just by aiming at a box. This is definitely good from an ease of use perspective.
The story of the game is a bit of a flop. An emotional start with a kidnapped child soon devolves into some guy telling you that a settlement needs your help, then you can just wander the wastes and forget about the baby that you no longer have. The emotion soon goes. A drug addicted old woman does tell you things if you do what she wants. In the second half of the game however you do find the boy and the story changes to questioning whether artificial intelligence has the right to be treated like a person which is basically a slavery plot. Again interesting but I find it hard to become invested in either the idealistic Railroad faction who had little personality or the dull, over-clean Institute who wanted to save the wastes with boredom. The other factions were the intolerant Brotherhood of Steel and the “I have another job for you” mercenary Minutemen. The concepts behind these groups were amazing but a lot of the characters didn’t stand out at all.
The characters that clearly did have effort put into them were the player’s companions. Nick the Synth detective was some of the best company I’ve had in a game since Craig Boone (whoops, I said I wouldn’t mention that game) with the conversations often feeling real as you jokily hurl insults at him and he shrugs them off with his quick wit. Piper the headstrong, do-gooder reporter. A drug addict. An intolerant soldier that is what he hates. There’re more but these were some of the shining gems that the game had to offer. I love the companions from Fallout 4 and I need to drink the milk of human kindness to become strong. There was even one companion that would use your name if the developers had programmed it into him.
Radiation is now directly related to health rather that being a separate bar. The player character can sprint which is amazing when you’ve slowly strolled across the Capital Wasteland in Fallout 3 wishing you could go faster.
The one thing that the developers did as a total game changer was the base building system where parts made out of bits of junk could be stuck together to build structures which could range from awe inspiringly amazing (you can probably find some on YouTube) to dull but convenient. This was a bit of a double edged sword for the game as it was definitely a nice addition to the game and let the player put their own mark on the world but it was originally supposed to be optional. During the story you are forced to use the construction mode which removes the idea of optional. There were also too many areas taken by the construction meaning less room for creative areas like The Republic of Dave or Oasis from Fallout 3. Things also sometimes don’t clip together properly which make using the construction mode harder.
Magazines and Bobbleheads act as collectables for the player which will also improve some aspect of the world or character.
Overall Fallout 4 is a great game that I highly recommend but I can’t call it great because I’ve played Fallout 3 and can see what’s missing as well as seeing the small faults in things like the construction mode although I do think a creative mode with unlimited resources would improve construction. To me Fallout 4 is about exploration and there is a wonderful, dangerous world to be explored and amazed at. If you want to get lost in a fictional world then Fallout’s is one of the best ones to do it in.
The art that I’m using as the featured image was found on the achievements section of the Xbox website. The character shown is the vault boy who fans of the series will recognise and anyone else might not see the appeal of. The vault boy has his thumb up which could be to the player or it could be to do with nuclear safety as he has one of his eyes closed too. I like the artwork and think it’s quite clever.