Review: Fallout 4
November 23, 2015 \ Uncategorized \ 2 Comments
“ I don’t want to set the world on fire. I just want to start, a flame in your heart…” – The Ink Spots
This quote belonged to one of the opening theme songs of Fallout 3 and every time I hear it, it sends a cold shiver down my spine. The song itself doesn’t bring these shivers out on its own but it has this specific underlying atmosphere that automatically brings up memories of this deserted apocalyptic wasteland; where I’ve spent most of my time just wandering around, wearing this look-alike costume of an iron space marine from the Warhammer series and blasting my way through raiders and aliens with a fat man by my side. This was called “fun” and Bethesda Softworks brings that exact same experience with Fallout 4. I’ve locked myself away in my own imaginary vault to give you my review of this nuclear 1st person/ RPG experience.
The story of Fallout 4 is all about waking up 200 years later after the beginning of a nuclear war, getting revenge on your husband/wife’s murderers and getting your baby son “Shaun” back. As you go your own way in exploring this radiated wasteland, you’ll figure out that it’s not a straight forward quest to get your son back, since there’s a lot of stuff happening around you. You’ll meet different interesting characters trying to survive the end of the world as best as they can. You shouldn’t be surprised, if there are people fighting you over dog meat since food supplies are very scarce. You’ll be confronted with people who have a different view on this dying world and its inhabitants as they’ll fight for causes you can’t easily apprehend. During this “search” for the kidnappers of your son, you’ll meet characters that see a lot of potential in you to become a member or even a leader of their faction. You’ll have to prove your worth to these factions by completing quests to gain access to their armor, weaponry or even intel. Of course, a coin has 2 sides: you’ll gain friends and enemies at the same time. There are 4 main factions in the game that you can join: The Minutemen, The Brotherhood of Steel, The Institute and The Railroad.
The Minutemen are striving for a peaceful Commonwealth and they’ll ask you to clear out the bad guys in possible settlements for other survivors. The Brotherhood of Steel wants to protect Commonwealth from the corrupted naturalistic disasters such as Ghouls, Synths and Mutants that have been created by humans. They’ll ask you to clear out as much of these corrupted beings and send you out on a quest to find pre-war tech that can help them with their battle against these corrupted foes. The Railroad are convinced that the human-like Synth androids have a place in society amongst men. They should be considered as free autonomous beings and they deserve to live. They stand directly against the Institute, the faction that believes that humanity can be restored by using hyper-advanced technology.
I never had the feeling that it wasn’t worth my time
The character creation of your “voiced” protagonist is very extensive. You’ll be able to choose your gender and adapt every single aspect of your face. The combination of the male/ female customization of the protagonist will even leave their mark on the baby, just like in real life. Another cool feature within this customization is the fact that a lot of names can be spoken. Codsworth will pronounce most of the names correctly.
Just like previous Fallout games, you’ll be able to choose among different answers when you’re asked a question. These answers do have a minor impact on the game’s ending but I’ve had the feeling that these “critical” choices don’t matter much. You’ll often find the same result even if you give another answer of your choice. I did find the story appealing at first but I didn’t feel a “connection” with my main character. I mean the goal of the game is to find answers and retrieving your son, but there’s so much to do in the game that I literally forgot sometimes what the main objective was. As you play the game, your main objective fades to the background. Of course this isn’t necessary a bad thing but the story didn’t draw me in like previous Fallout games. There was something else that kept me hooked for all this time. There are of course multiple endings in the game thanks to all the in-game decisions you make but I can’t help but notice that a lot of these endings are lookalikes of other endings. It seems that the decision system is a bit flawed in Fallout 4 and it bugs me a bit. “Choice” has always been a big factor in the Fallout series but this time “choice” doesn’t seem like “ a big of a deal”.
Fallout 4 loot’s system is what kept me going. The game really delivers when it comes to “loot fanatics”. Around every corner, there’s some treasure worth looting: every bad guy carries loot, every suitcase/ cupboard/ boxes contains useful items and even junk is worth looking into since it helps you to upgrade weapons or build stuff for your settlement. The exploring in this game is very addictive because you’ll never know what you’re up against and in the end, you get this feeling of “completion”. I never had the feeling, that it wasn’t worth my time. There are even legendary enemies that offer a big challenge but also some nice loot.
The companion system is definitely one of my favorite features in the game. There are over 13 companions that can tag along during your adventure: Codsworth (your robotic Mister Handy) , Dogmeat (a puppy) , Nick Valentine (a robot detective) , Piper (a cocky journalist) and Strong (Super Mutant), … are just a few of these interesting companions. It really is fun to have someone by your side when you’re questing. They all say different things during quests and they have their own fighting style, it gives the game a bit more replay value. You can even equip some of them with armor or weapons. Companions can even use the power suit if needed. They can also be used as an extra inventory bag. This whole feature is pretty awesome, but I do have some complaints about it. Companions can easily disappear and they will only be spawned back after you “fast travel” to a certain location. The command system doesn’t work perfectly and they keep getting stuck in stupid things like rocks, doors, … etc. It’s also a good thing that companions can die because sometimes they screw things up like when you’re disarming traps or stealth missions. When they received too much damage, they go to a downed state. These companions will “resurrect” when combat’s over. If you need your companions during this combat section, most of them can be healed with items out of your inventory.
The combat system has been improved since Fallout 3. You can choose between different playstyles: ADS firing or hip firing. Both these ways are viable in every situation. The combat feels smooth and I didn’t have any problems during my combat sections. The V.A.T.S -system is still included but it’s more real-time. Whenever you activate V.A.T.S , time slows down and critical hits aren’t random anymore. There’s a critical bar that fills up over time. This recharge time is actually influenced by the Luck perk. Whenever the critical bar is full, you can activate it to have a “guaranteed” critical hit on the enemy. This combat system is definitely the best of the Fallout series.
Graphics are okay but it’s not that good. Fallout 4 has some very beautiful moments indeed, but it doesn’t live up the standards that I had in mind for this “ triple A game”. A lot of character models look rushed, lip-syncing isn’t synched and textures tend to pop in and out. The environments are less dull than Fallout 3, since the environments use a lot more colors, they’re brighter and more varied. People reported to have performance issues on high-end gaming desktops, there were reports on lag issues, blurry textures, long loading screens, …etc. Luckily, I didn’t have “real” performance issues, just a couple of annoying bugs like getting stuck on top the vault in the beginning of the game, dead bodies floating in the air, enemies disappearing in the wall and a game crash. These bugs aren’t that big of deal but it blocks your sense of immersion. Audio is good since the music adapts to your situations. It’s also cool to put on the radio frequency and enjoy the old school songs just like the old days (although few new songs to mention) but in the end the radio can be pretty repetitive since the DJ talks about the same situations over and over again.
The skill system has also been tweaked since previous game. All those random skills in Fallout 3 are gone. In Fallout 4, you’ll earn skill points for every level you gain. These skill points can be used in one of your base stats: Charisma, Endurance, Strength, … and as you invest in these base stats, Perks for that specific base stat will unlock. You still need to use another skill point to equip this perk. This was sometimes frustrating since you need to invest so much skill points in a certain base stat tree to get essential perks to survive the wasteland.
An new addition to the game is the weapon/ armor crafting system. You can upgrade all of your weapons and armor to get better stats or increase the value. It gives you the choice to fight with the weapons you love because you can make them better and deadlier than before. Same goes for armor and I’m not only talking about your personal armor or outfits, but you can even modify your power suits. There’s even no weapon degradation which is a plus.
Another feature I would like to talk about is “building your settlement”. It’s a cool feature that lets you build and upgrade your conquered settlements. This feature gives all of the found junk purpose as all of these items are necessary to get certain resources which will be used in crafting tools/ buildings for your settlement. It will give a lot of players “extra” hours of playtime. I didn’t waste a lot of time in this feature since I found it “less consumer friendly”. You have almost no explanation whatsoever regarding this feature. It’s literally just there but there’s no expanding manual to learn the basic techniques of this feature. It’s a very cool concept but they could have made it a bit more simple. It took me a long time to figure out something very simple like “connecting your generator to a radio beacon with a wire”… At first I thought I should craft this “wire” but I couldn’t find the right components or recipe. Later on the game, I thought by myself “ I probably should retrieve this wire and install it” but in the end it was just “press space bar”. I know it’s stupid but a tutorial could be helpful.
I’ve had a wonderful time with Fallout 4 since it implemented a lot of new features into the game that add up perfectly to the value of these Fallout games: the fluent and slightly improved combat system, the settlement feature, the weapon/ armor crafting, … But some things should have stayed the same like for example, the “choice” mechanic and the skill system. It’s something simple that they’ve dumbed down but it’s still crucial in this type of gaming experience. If you’re looking for a time-consuming game that’s actually fun to play and you don’t mind the minor flaws it has, you should go for it but don’t expect to see high-end graphics or mind-blowing innovation. It has ton of content and customization options (mods) which makes the game worth its price.