Fallout 4 is a game that almost everybody got when it launched. Be it in digital or physical, most of the people I know got into it the moment it appeared in Steam or on the shelves. It might be because Bethesda’s hype machine brought life to the already renowned title, or everybody else wanted another adventure after Grand Theft Auto V or Witcher 3. Me included. Now, I finally found the time to write this review given my 60+ hours with the game, proudly wearing a pair of abysmal eye bags and crooked, stained fingers. So let’s talk about Fallout 4. Should you buy it?
The Story So Far
Fallout 4 begins with a glimpse of life outside the solid cold shell of a Vault, a shelter made for survival against the mankind’s worst moment. The protagonist and his family are selected to live inside the Vault in the time of a nuclear apocalypse, to live as merry individuals continuing the American dream. Mere minutes after signing into the program, the warning sirens come to life. Everyone part of the program is then ordered to proceed into the Vault for protection.
After a hairline escape, the family is then frozen for centuries inside the Vault, only to be briefly awakened by the kidnapping of their child. Due to a malfunction, only one of the married couple will be released (this is the player’s avatar) from the pods and with the burning desire to find your bundle of joy (or explore post-apocalyptic Boston) , he/she sets out of the Vault to look for the kid and make the responsible ones suffer a painful radiation-induced death.
The World of Fallout 4
Fallout 4 is set in the remains of Boston. After the nuclear devastation, the world has transformed into a cratered surface, a radiated husk of its former self. Humanity has survived but have either transformed, deranged, or adapted. Due to the trying times, lawlessness is the rule of the land.
The setting makes it a good scenario for the player to make his/her own destiny. Would you be a marauding ass, taking money from the poor and shooting down the lawbringers? Or would your rather be the one that embodies human morality and what it should be in a time when it is lost? It’s your choice and your adventure in Fallout 4.
Is it an RPG?
Fallout 4 features a revamped leveling system. Instead of players investing dozens of points to Skills, leveling gives just one point for a perk. The availability of perks are dependent on your character’s primary attributes. A hefty input of points in Strength opens a perk for carrying larger items, and so on. This forces the player to carefully manage the limited starting points to build up the character.
If you’re particular with how your character looks, Fallout 4 offers an incredibly extensive character creation scheme. The system is so robust that there are hundreds of online designs mimicking the look of famous celebrities together with those looking like our worst nightmares.
In terms of adventuring, quests do branch, albeit at a limited capacity. There are more direct fetch/kill/go variants rather than the complex ones. Radiant quests, the ones that produce unlimited but cloned objectives at random places are also back. Few as they are, I still found some of the quests to be incredibly fleshed out despite being a sideshow. Some are even better than the ones that can be found in the main storyline.
In terms of character interaction, I find it sad that Fallout 4 lacks the usual charm. Conversations are restricted to four choices, mostly eliminating the stupid, fun and goofy replies. Some characters are as fleshed out as they should be, but prominent ones lack the sympathetic charisma to draw the player in.
Companions range between the generic ones (the dog) and the more weird and crazy ones. Most have backstories that make them stand out amongst the weird ones in the wasteland (clue: they are way weirder).
Since we’ve tackled a bit of the bad in Fallout 4’s RPG mechanics, might as well go on. Some significant features that were found in Fallout: New Vegas are absent in Fallout 4. These features include the Factions, Karma, and “What will happen if I do this?” methods. Yes, you can go around killing people without the other town knowing what you just did. There are no repercussions in negative actions and it feels like every quest and adventure is an isolated case. Only the story missions matter and the allegiance of your character is determined by the number of sorties that you do with a specific faction. Sadly, denizens of the Wasteland won’t ever have the chance to jump with joy or tremble in the mere mention of your name due to the absence of these features.
Is it a Shooter? The space left in Fallout 4’s RPG-soul is taken by its shooting mechanics. Unlike the clunky and mannequin-like combat in Fallout 3 and New Vegas, Fallout 4 is as fluid as a triple-A shooter.
Let’s go more into weapon customization. Weapons in Fallout 4 are limited. But their lack of quantity is filled by the amount of customization options. Each weapon, both ranged and melee, can be changed by attaching mods.
VATS has also been revamped. The targeting system in Fallout 4 does not stop the time, it just slows it down. This means that the player only has a certain degree of reaction and timing to perfectly gun down the targets, adding to the challenge. This also means that the view of the target can be blocked by a harmless branch.
So, what’re good guns if there’s nothing worth shooting at? Coming together with the major upheaval of features, enemy AI is smarter and plays a good balance between aggression and self-preservation. Beasts, as usual, take no account of their personal safety and will attack the player with reckless abandon. Humans, ghouls, and other humanoids, however, will utilize tactical maneuvers to outsmart the player with sheer number or confusion. Raiders take cover behind derelict pews, hammering the player and throwing in grenades and Molotovs for good measure. Thanks to this welcome upgrade, Fallout 4 plays like a well-polished shooter. You are forced to cover, utilize stealth, and see opportunities such as explosive barrels and oils spills, to win every encounter.
This feature is so great that it requires a different section to discuss. The Power Armor is a wearable tank that has, for more than a decade, stood as Fallout’s epic and final piece of suit. In Fallout 4, the mechanics are different. No, you can’t wear them anymore as one would be a three-piece suit. Power Armors now require Fusion Cores in order to function, making their purpose initially limited to heavy assaults. Think of them like “stars” in the Mario games. They offer a an incredible amount of protection for a limited time.
It’s heavy, it’s slow, but it ROCKS! Oh, and you can attach a jet pack on it.
Home Away From Home
Inspired by mods and the fame of Minecraft, Fallout 4 features a base-building mechanic. As the Lone Survivor, the player can look for and establish settlements across Boston. Once these areas are secured, radio towers must be built to invite settlers to inhabit and cultivate the land.
Houses, food, water, and other superficial gizmos can be built to make settlements unique. Aside from being a small town, these settlements can also serve as bases for the player to store junk and equipment, upgrade weapons, earn money, or sleep at the comfort of his/her own bed.
Recent Bethesda games have too much junk scattered across their vast worlds. In Fallout 4, collecting plastic forks, used cups, and crushed bottles, are essential so as to increase the resource pool for building additional structures and gadgetry. The “junk” gathered can also be used as materials for weapons, making every trip back to a settlement a backbreaking endeavor.
Graphics and Visual
Yes, the graphics are a bit dated, but given the expansive world, sacrifices have to be made. I don’t find the dated graphics troubling. There can be improvements, but the overall visuals are not that bad.
Fallout 4 might not be the Fallout game that we expected it to be. It’s lighter in terms of RPG mechanics and is not as ‘personally’ immersive as the previous titles. Karma and faction allegiances are either absent or forcefully shoved in without polish. It’s sad to say but that is the current state of Fallout 4.
However, the shooting is top-notch. There’s recoil, weight, handling, and other mechanics that are absent in previous Fallout games but are present in triple-A shooters and in Fallout 4. In an ideal world, we could’ve gotten both a great RPG and an open-world shooter. Sadly, such is not the case in this dimension.
The base building is a new face and it provides substantial benefits especially if you’re gunning to become a mogul in the post-apocalyptic world. If not, it is but an added nuisance.
Not to spoil anything, but Fallout 4 has one of the hardest choices in its ending. It cleanly climaxes with conflicting emotions as you are forced to give up something of importance in exchange for something of equal importance. The choices in the end are mostly gray and not the usual good or bad, making it harder and different. In this harsh world, one cannot have everything.
With all being said, get Fallout 4. Period. If you love games that would net you hundreds of hours or a game that continues to rich and expansive lore of the world of Fallout, then by all means, grab this one. The RPG mechanics may have been dumbed down and some significant improvements present in previous titles are removed, but there is no denying that post-apocalyptic Boston is a sight to behold, and travelling with a gun or a baseball bat completes the sweet package.
Notes: The PS4 has a smooth performance comparable to that of a PC. The only significant and apparent difference is the draw distance. But if you want a visually satisfying experience, off-the-shelf mod support, and given that you have an incredibly powerful PC to boot, then best get the PC version.