Fallout 4 is a vast and richly populated game that excels in almost every conceivable area, it’s only let down is the bugs that are inherent in this kind of open world game. Keeping with tradition Fallout opens with the words “war, war never changes” and for the most part neither does the tried and tested Bethesda gameplay formula, which just to be clear is by no means a bad thing.
After building your character with an incredibly deep and intuitive facial modeling tool and going through the initial scripted scene you are dropped into the nuked remains of Boston, a huge sandbox to play in and explore. The sheer amount of places to explore both inside and out is sometimes overwhelming especially when there are multiple buildings clumped together, you can honestly spend an hour per medium sized building discovering loot, killing enemies, looking for secret rooms and discovering what happened before and after the bombs dropped. Every single location in the world has a story behind it some are big deep conspiracies such as the various vaults offer and others are as simple as an apartment being filled with just cats. These just make the game world a joy to be apart of and encourages you to continue to explore long after you have completed the game’s primary narrative.
Let’s break down the game shall we:
Ok first things first, this is a vast open world game where almost everything you come across can be interacted with in one way or another so you can imagine the sort of strain that puts on a game engine. That being said Fallout 4 holds its own and is by no means a bad looking game on either consoles or PC. The draw distance is something I especially like in these kinds of open game worlds and yes I know exactly how super nerdy that sounds but there’s something beautiful knowing that the farthest peak I see from the highest building in my settlement is somewhere I can actually go and explore and more than likely has new and exciting things for me to discover.
There are problems with some textures and pop ins while in game which can be explained away by the sheer size of the world but others are just downright annoying no matter how easy it is to explain. One that really grinds my gears is a simple dog house, yes just like the one in the E3 teaser trailer. I’m building my settlement and have made a fantastic 3 story mansion for my character and I want to put a dog house just outside for good ole Dogmeat but when the house is placed whatever foliage is underneath seems to pop through the supposed solid floor of his house. Now this is a purely cosmetic thing and has absolutely no for bearing on the way the game is played but it is something that will annoy you as you go through the game, nothing major just a curse of a thousand tiny bugs like that will ruin the moments of pure emersion.
The difference in look between the two consoles is negligible, I’ve played most on the Xbox One and have had a few hours on the Playstation 4 and it’s difficult to tell the difference. The PC however is a different story, the world looks much sharper and crisp, the colours are much more defined and character models look better too. My advice is if your PC can handle the substantial requirements to run Fallout 4 then get it for that. I do have to mention though a lot of the graphical improvements I have come in the way of downloadable mods and Bethesda has previously said that all mods will be coming to Xbox One in the future so there is hope for the Microsoft fan boys and girls if you must get it on console.
Fallout 4 doesn’t stray from Bethesda’s tried and tested formula of dropping the player into a gigantic sandbox and allowing them to craft their own story and for the most part it’s another hit for Bethesda. Fallout is your straight forward open world RPG letting players loose then leveling up putting skill points into several attributes that affect hitpoints, melee damage and for all essential purpose quick time points. The real customising to your character comes when we look at the perk system that Fallout employs that can really make each play through different much more than just to stealth or not gameplay like a lot of other RPG’s.
These perks make for a lot more interesting class builds than simply dumping all points into strength for a super strong sledge hammer wielding brute. Perks can be something as small like getting better prices at vendors in the world to adding more hit points to your character, you can even get wacky ones like having a mysterious stranger with a Magnum help you out sometimes. This makes for some great customization options and very interesting hours of gameplay.
The main improvement to the formula is Fallout 4’s much improved shooting gameplay over previous games. Gunplay has been beefed up to compete with modern first person shooters and you’d be forgiven if you chose to play Fallout over Call of Duty, yes its that good. Firefights are faster, more intense and the difference between the weapons and how they feel shooting with are genuinely a joy to play with, you can really feel the difference between popping a super mutant with a 44 and a 38 (only the nerds of you will know what I mean there). In addition to the improvements of general gunplay are a complete revamp of the V.A.T.S mechanic all Fallout games have had. V.A.T.S use to allow players to stop time, pick individual body parts of enemies then fire a few shots in quick succession, it was kind of used as a panic button for players when overwhelmed. Now though V.A.T.S slows time and continually updates the chances of a successful hit on each limb as the enemy still attacks or advances on you, tense when you have a Deathclaw moving in on you but a welcome change that I think improves the overall combat.
Perhaps the most interesting addition to the game is the settlement building mechanic which is incredibly deep and well worth any player’s time. Very early on you’re given the ability to build your first settlement from all the junk you’ve collected on your various travels, here you’ll building shelters, planting food and making sure you have clean water. Later you’ll be wanting to grow your settlement so building defense’s, bigger and nicer accommodation and power will all be your friend. Building up these settlements can honestly take hours of your time and they are all worth it to build the perfect base that you can come back to, its like having a post apocalyptic version of the Sims added into the game.
The only let down is at this point there are many bugs in the game, which is expected in this level of open world genre but these bugs range from not being able to complete a quest and textures popping in when they shouldn’t to saves not loading and complete crashes during a gunfight. These bugs plague an otherwise perfect game and I only hope patches are inbound soon.
Fallout 4’s main story follows your character attempting to find their kidnapped child after narrowly escaping the initial bombs dropped that creates the wasteland, while following the story you encounter several factions vying for power and control of Boston’s wasteland and you are the one who will decide its fate. Fallout does a good job of making certain decisions feel like you’re acting on a morality knife edge and can sometimes make you even question if you have a good moral compass, for example one of the major parties you can support is the big bad boogie man at the start and throughout most of the game but when you actually meet the top dog they can have quite a compelling reason for your support.
The problem Fallout 4 has, well any game such as this is freedom. When it comes to this sort of vast open world game freedom is the double edge sword that helps gameplay and replayability but can hurt the story. Fallout 4’s nuked Boston offers so much in terms of things to do outside of any quests then when you add the side quests and the non marked quests the game is populated with so much content the main storyline is just overshadowed by shorter and snappier quests.
Fallout and most other Bethesda games pride themselves on giving players the freedom to make their own story and that’s exactly what they have done. The main story is by no means bad it’s just forgettable in the face of the overwhelming content Fallout 4 offers players.
Fallout 4 offers players the a huge open world filled with rich and diverse characters and quests the main character of which is the incredibly detailed and populated Boston wasteland itself. You can and will lose yourself for hours and hours in the wasteland and even after 100+ hours of gameplay i’m still finding new interesting things that keep me coming back for more. The only thing that releases me from the fiction that i’m wandering the wasteland myself is the bugs and it’s a shame, it really is because if I wasn’t continually having to reload after crashes or seeing glitches here and there then Fallout 4 would be 10/10.