WHAT UP INTERNET?!
Despite the social aspects of video games, actually playing the game is an inherently solo experience. You sit in front of your television (unless you’re split-screening; but who does that anymore?), you fire up your console and you immerse yourself in a digital world. While you may be chatting with your friends in a party, conversing with some people in a stream or even talking with the person on the couch next to you, at the end of the day you’re playing a game on your own. The creations of the great minds at Bethesda have crafted numerous games with this singular notion-gaming is an individualistic experience-in mind. You craft your character’s appearance, customize your armaments, enhance skills which benefit your particular play style and set off on your own into a massive open world.
Fallout 4 continues this tradition adored by millions of gamers, adds elements of customization and glosses the entire experience with one of the most compelling (if not, the most) narratives the Fallout franchise has ever seen. You’ll note your boy didn’t label this review “Quick”-that’s because over the past week I’ve spent nearly 60 hours in the Boston Wasteland and have reached level 41. If you’re looking for the short and sweet: If you’ve enjoyed any of the entries in the Fallout or Elder Scrolls franchise you’ll feel right at home here. If you’re a n00b to either of these marquee franchises and are dying to know what all the fuss is about and have tons of time to sink into a game-this is the iteration to pick up.
My biggest gripe with Fallout 3 and New Vegas was the actual shooting itself; after the initial couple hours nearly every encounter required me to rely on VATS due to the inaccuracy of aiming down the sights. This has been rectified in Fallout 4, and this alone completely changed my approach to every skirmish. I’d use VATS to scout an area and then attack in real time as I would in any other shooter-while the pace was not nearly as fast as other AAA shooters, this made it so every encounter was not a trudge, and that was a tremendous change of pace. This ensures people who may not be hardcore devotees to the Wasteland will not grow tired of the previously slow combat/exploration, as the addition of the ability to sprint ensures exploring benefits from the same ramped out pace battling it out with raiders does.
Narrative has never played an integral part in the Fallout franchise, and although there were some intriguing stories littered across terminals and NPCs in the Capital Wasteland, it was not the reason people opted to pick those titles up. While the central narrative for Fallout 4 may not be on par with the more story-driven titles produced by the likes of Bioware, the story itself-while at times rushed (mostly in the beginning)-is intriguing, well-paced and wraps up neatly by the time it draws to a close. I for one was apprehensive when I heard the protagonist was going to have spoken dialogue, and after just 30 minutes with the title my fears quickly dissipated. The voice acting as a whole is phenomenal, and while I typically skip any cut-scenes brought forth by interaction with NPCs, not once did I skip any throughout the course of Fallout 4.
Perhaps the most anticipated addition to the Fallout franchise is the addition of customization options. Once you’ve acquired enough resources and you’ve the appropriate perks, you’re able to customize the attachments for most weapons you come across in your travels, as well as select pieces of armor and Power Armor pieces. While these tend to fall in the cliché “the last upgrade is the best” category prevalent in most games, there are some options will allow you to customize the range and fire-rate of your weapons, allowing you to build an arsenal tailored to your Wastleander predilections. While armor doesn’t necessarily have the same depth (as not every piece is upgradable), Power Armor allows you to craft your most potent weapon specifically to your play style, and does not fall into the typical “last upgrade so good LOL” conundrum common in most video games.
Exploring the Wasteland is the primary focus of any Fallout title, and the Commonwealth lives up to-and dare I say, surpasses-the high bar set by the Mojave and Capital Wastelands. The world is rife with places to explore, the occasional radiation storm, numerous Legendary enemies scattered across unsuspecting locales, companions to pick up, terminals to read, loot to find…and is absolutely gorgeous. While the title is not without its graphical hiccups (more on that in a bit), the overall presentation of the title, from the faint yellow hue of the sun-tinged Wasteland, to the ominous green landscape of the glowing sea to the unique sound of each gun and previously mentioned stellar voice-acting means Fallout 4 is a very pretty title. There’s always something to do in the Wasteland, and despite my completing the central narrative approximately 40 hours into the title, I’ve still a wealth of places to explore, people to meet (who give quests to complete) and loot to find. 60 hours is just the tip of the radioactive iceberg, Bros.
Despite all of the polish Fallout 4 bears related to gameplay, Bethesda games are notorious for being buggy when they’re first released. As much as I loathe to admit Fallout 4 suffers from some technical glitches as well. I cannot count the number of times I began a conversation with an NPC/Companion (and thankfully the camera no longer freezes and focuses when you greet them; only when you’re engaged in lengthy conversation) only to have the camera be stuck behind a wall, at an odd angle (say, behind the character) or one companion in particular whenever they would speak to me, their eyes would disappear and I’d be greeted by a zoomed in close up of their face with their eye sockets bare: creepy indeed! That being said, apart from the occasional display glitch and inordinate load times whenever fast traveling or autosaving, I did not encounter any bugs which rendered the game unplayable. Still, fear of encountering these types of bugs (and previous experience with New Vegas where I did encounter such difficulties) drove me to save my progress nearly every ten minutes.
Additionally, the title suffers from some design decisions which make certain trivial tasks a significant inconvenience. If you’re fortunate enough to gain multiple companions (aka pack mules who fire weapons), equipping them with gear when you’re both nearing the dreaded “over-encumbered” state is a hassle which takes much longer than it should. Considering you’re able to break down every piece of junk you come across in the wasteland for precious resources to improve your gear, build your settlements, craft medicine and food and well, pretty much everything, I found myself “over-encumbered” more frequently than I did in previous titles-and when you want to equip your companion with a new piece of gear, it’s a right hassle.
Once you begin securing multiple settlements you’re able to send your companions to one of them to wait for you, but unless you recall where you sent them you’ll have immense difficulty locating them, as the map in your trusty Pip-Boy does nothing to alert you to their whereabouts. Towards the end of the main narrative I acquired a new companion and have yet to ever use them, simply because they weren’t next to me when they became available and I’ve no earthly idea where they are located. Also, the ability to build settlements is a tremendous addition (which is not required, if you’d prefer to spend your time exploring the wasteland) that is not described particularly well, however once you’ve begun securing resources and spend a few minutes digging through all the requirements the system is not overly complex….although the camera angles can be incredibly frustrating.
Fallout 4 is a large and expansive title which can take up a significant amount of your time if you allow it. If you’ve played any of the previous Fallout or Elder Scrolls games and are wondering if you should pick up this title, take it from your Bro-you absolutely should. It may not be without its flaws, but the main narrative is superb, the gameplay is more polished than in previous entries and the added elements of customization completely alter the way you’ll approach this particular venture into the Wasteland. Simply put: you’ve got to check this game out. Until next time, Bros!
*Disclaimer: All pictures stolen from twitter.com/fallout – except the Vault Boy one. Obviously your boy took that one.