There's a lot of hype around Fallout 4
. Since it was announced back in June, we've been treated to everything from screenshots, to trailers, to music. These tidbits have only served to fuel that hype and excitement. With Fallout: New Vegas
being released over five years ago and Fallout 3
hitting over seven years ago, we were well overdue for our fix in the wasteland. The biggest question on everyone's minds this fall is does it live up to the hype?
Fallout 4 "Oh I'm the type of guy that likes to roam around."
places you in Boston, Massachusetts and has you take control of an unnamed character as he/she goes about their daily life. After tending to your son and watching a bit of TV, a knock at the door and a short conversation with a Vault-Tec rep later, you become the newest family with permission to enter Vault 111 should the need arise. Unfortunately, with bombs dropping on nearby towns, that need arises pretty quickly, and you and your family are rushed into the vault along with a few lucky others. A short time later, a cruel twist of fate sees you escape the vault as the last survivor and venture out into a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
This dramatic opening to the game's story, coupled with the opening cinematic, sets the tone for the whole game. From beginning to end, the game has drama, twists, and turns around every corner. You'll be met with death, murder, missing persons, kidnappings and nearly every crime under the sun along your journey, and be sent through a whole rainbow of emotions. The game perfectly elicits a wide variety of emotions and spreads them out across the game with enough time for you to recover from the last feeling before throwing you into the next.
Before you get to the point of escaping the vault, you'll have customized your character's gender and facial features. Fitting the story around being able to choose your character's gender is a nice touch. After you have finalised your character's look, you can set up their starting attribute points. The attribute points are assigned in the typical Fallout
"S.P.E.C.I.A.L" way, with you being able to assign your given points across the different categories. You can make your character a smooth talker by putting more points in charisma, ignore the need for black cats and horseshoes by increasing you luck, or simply bulk up your character by adding to their strength. You can increase any of these skills as you level up which gives you the freedom to improve your character any way you see fit and play your story the way you want.
I think this jaw could do with a bit of tweaking
Keeping in line with the theme of player choice and freedom, once you enter the wasteland you are free to wander wherever you like. The main questline will sit in your Pip Boy quest manager for as long as you want and there is no pressure to complete it or progress through it. If you'd rather start the game by exploring around and becoming more familiar with the various locations in the wasteland, you can do that. Doing so will probably cause you to bump into a few new quests along the way, too. Some of these quests will be the start of a bigger questline, such as working with the Minutemen, Brotherhood of Steel, and Railroad groups, where as others will simply end after the one quest. Some you might start from overhearing a conversation between two fellow wastelanders, so it is always worth hanging around to hear the end of a conversation. Other people may come and find you to start a quest, where as some of the shorter tasks simply come under the miscellaneous category. These could be as simple as talking to someone or investigating a building, but you have an endless amount of things to do across the wasteland and will always be kept busy.
Depending on how you approach each quest, you might end up with a companion at the end of it. These companions give you the opportunity to travel the wasteland with some company. Companions not only help you in combat, but some also have special skills that can help you in other ways. For example, your canine companion is able to grab and pull down enemies, as well as sniff out hostiles and find hidden items you may otherwise not have seen. He also has some available upgrades in the skill tree as well. Each companion is unique but you can still choose not to have one with you if you're more of a lone wanderer... and because they can be downright annoying. One of the problems I personally found with the game was keeping track of my companions once I had a new one join me. You can choose where to send a companion when you replace them or no longer need them, but finding them once you at their new location proved a bit of a problem at times.
When you tire of them, you send your companions to settlements which are scattered all about the wasteland for you to stumble across. Part of the Minutemen questline (which is fairly unavoidable) involves you establishing a settlement where a group of settlers will live. Once established you will need to make sure all the settlement's needs are filled. Via a workshop, you have the ability to build defenses to protect settlers, power up their homes, build them beds and furniture, and provide them with basic resources like food and water. These settlements are sometimes attacked, so you have the option of fast traveling to them in order to help, or you can leave them to fend for themselves, but this may lower the overall happiness of your settlers. You can keep track of what your settlers needs via the Pip Boy, but unfortunately this doesn't always seem to match up to what the actual settlement needs when you visit. Sometimes, the settlements seem to be more of a hindrance to your journey than providing anything useful or helpful, especially when you are trying to keep track of a few of them. You could spend you whole time traveling between multiple settlements fulfilling their needs and not finding time for much else.
The settlements provide a home for wanderers and companions alike
With protecting the settlements and exploring the wasteland comes the need for combat, and this is done fairly similarly to the past games in the series. The V.A.T.S. aiming system is back which allows you to enter a slow-mo type mode and aim at particular body parts on an enemy and figure out where you can best deal the killing blow. A percentage advises you on your chance of a hit, and a flashing health bar tells you how much damage you'd be doing. There is also a critical hit bar which builds with every successful V.A.T.S. hit, and allows you to unleash a powerful blow at the end. This system means that even those not great at shooting have a good chance of hitting an enemy, but V.A.T.S. requires the use of expendable action points so you can't simply sit in it the whole time. There is a nice balance between helping you shoot and letting you do it yourself which should please both gamers good with a gun, and those who can't hit the broad side of a barn.
The selection of weapons is fairly hefty as well, featuring everything from sniper rifles to handguns, and even the legendary Fat Man which can fire mini nukes at your enemies and cause a huge explosion. You'll soon learn which guns are most effective against which enemies and that you can't go through the game with simply one type of gun if you want to survive. Guns can also be modded until your fingers bleed by changing barrels, grips, sight and more on every gun, even melee weapons have some add-ons you can experiment with. There are also grenades, molotovs and mines that are always handy to get you out of a sticky situation. It is important to remember, however, that any allies can get hurt and killed in the crossfire (although companions can't be killed in fight, only downed), so be sure to use your grenades careful.
Some of the old favourites are back in terms on enemies, and you'll be happy to see Mirelucks, Yao Guai and Super Mutants as you explore, although you may be a little less happy to see Deathclaws roaming about ready to rip you to shreds the first moment they see you. The majority of the time enemies seem to be the right sort of level to put up a decent fight without being unbeatable, but there were a few times where a big group of enemies forced me to half sneak and half run through the area to get to where I wanted to go next.
If the enemy is really posing you a challenge, the game has the option of allowing you to grab some of the series' iconic Power Armor. Power Armor is a massive suit that your character will climb inside. Doing so changes the game's colour to a tinted orange, and changes your movement to reflect the fact you are in a giant suit of armour. There is no obvious direction as to whether you should be spending most of the game in this Power Armor or not, and I chose not to for the most part as it sometimes felt too clunky to walk around in and wasn't always helpful when I needed to make a quick escape.
The Power Armor can provide you with some much needed defense, but isn't always the best option
For a game set in a barren wasteland, Fallout 4
still manages to look pretty amazing. It feels like great detail has been put into both the characters and environment, with facial expressions emphasized more and buildings being full of detailed furniture. Whether it's blowing off a Super Mutant's head or simply having a conversation with your companion, the game is mesmerizing to look at.
Of course it wouldn't be a Bethesda game without a few bugs and most of the time they arose in and around conversations and dialogue choices. NPCs have a tendency to either wander off when you talk to them, get stuck in opening/closing doors, and/or not carry on the conversation. While these are only small problems, I did get stuck in conversations a few times and couldn't leave because the choices would not pop up, and couldn't start one because the quest giver would not talk to me for an unknown reason. Apart from those few little problems, the game runs smooth and slick for the majority of the time, didn't crash on me, and didn't pose any game breaking problems at all whilst I was playing it.
The game's music is perfectly set for the different situations you find yourself in. It's suitably dramatic in the big fight scenes and similarly soft when you get to a more emotional part. Whilst not at the forefront of your attention, the music is always there and sometimes you won't even notice it until it goes silent. Your heart might be in your mouth as you hack a computer or lockpick a door with enemies nearby, and the music will do a great job to reflect exactly how you are feeling.
Like previous Fallout
games, the achievements encourage you to do a bit of everything. A lot of the 50 achievements will come from completing quests. Others challenge you to hack terminals, pick locks and recruit a few companions to your side (and then maybe form a "special friendship"
with one of these friends). After exploring a lot of locations, killing a lot of enemies and leveling up all the way to 50, you should have sunk more than a few hours into a game that will be taking up a lot of your time in the coming weeks.
The best thing about Fallout 4
is the freedom that it gives you, not only with what to do and where to go, but also how quests will turn out. Will you talk your way out of a certain quest or run in all guns blazing? The choice is yours. Obviously the game is not without its problems; starting and ending conversations can sometimes be a little awkward, NPCs have a habit of getting stuck or being in the wrong place, and there were more than a couple of problems in figuring out what the settlements needed. Overall though, the game is pretty close to perfect, and if you decide to pass on exploring the vast wasteland, then you only have yourself to blame. The hype is real, and you won't be disappointed.
- Large map with plenty of locations to explore
- Lots of quests to complete with both new and old factions
- Variety of companions
- Interesting and intriguing story
- Smooth gameplay and impressive graphics
- A few glitches, especially in conversations
- Hard to keep track of recruited companions
- Settlement needs don't always match up with what Pip Boy says
The reviewer spent approximately 31 hours exploring the wasteland, picking locks, stealing things, making friends and killing a whole load of people along the way. During this time, she unlocked 28 of the game's 50 achievements. A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.