Oh Fallout 4, the songs of your greatness did little justice for the splendor that is you. Full disclosure before we get started, I own all of the Fallout games but have yet to play any for longer than 30 minutes prior to picking up Fallout 4. I wondered to myself how this could be possible since all Bethesda games have been right up my alley, then I remembered that I didn’t own a PC or Playstation 3 until Fallout 3 had already been out for well over a year. That being said, I had a PS3 just in time for Skyrim, a game that I loved so much that I bought it twice (PS3 and PC). Now I proudly consider myself a PC gamer and nothing can stand in my way from playing the hell out of the new Fallout 4 and ruining all of my personal relationships in the process!
Okay now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about Fallout 4! Wait, one more thing before you keep reading,there are some minor spoilers in this review. Nothing story-based, but read with caution if you don’t want to know about any special enemies prior to playing.
Alright, NOW we can get started.
My first experience with a Fallout game has been… interesting. Definitely in a good way. I wasn’t too impressed when I saw the gameplay previews and trailers prior to its release, but there is waaaaay more to this game than I had anticipated. The areas that were explored during the teasers at E3 and a little after that essentially took place in your front yard. This map is HUGE! I felt right at home with this game at first because it basically throws you in and lets you explore to your heart’s content really early into the game. Since I have no previous extensive experience with a Fallout game, I only really have Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim to compare this game to. At first it was actually a really similar experience… until the shooting started. The shooting mechanics in the game set it apart from anything else Bethesda has released, and I’m including Rage which played more like a prettier looking Borderlands. This game established itself very early on as Fallout 4, not “Skyrim with Guns” 4.
I may catch a bit of flack from some fellow PC gaming friends of mine, but the graphics in this game are pretty amazing. More than a few people I know felt that it was a bit lazy to use the same engine for this game that they did for Skyrim, which came out 4 years ago. Now I’ll agree that the character models and animations seem a bit clunky at times compared to some of the newer sandbox games that have come out, and yes some of the NPCs stare at you with cold dead eyes while their explaining their sob story about raiders stealing their family locket, but man that light tessellation is something else isn’t it? I’m more of a big picture guy when it comes to graphics. Beautiful sprawling landscapes are more important to me than how a wall’s texture looks when you get right up on it.
I mean just look how pretty it all is!
Now I may be in the minority when I say this, but I feel that a video game’s combination of sound quality and musical accompaniment is the most important thing to get right. Nothing else is as effective at setting a tone for a game as the background music. It’s the reason nostalgic value is so strong for old Nintendo games, it’s the reason boss battles were so intense in Final Fantasy games, and it’s the reason why Bethesda stands out to me when it comes to open-world RPG games. They have always done an amazing job with music, just hearing the title screen music for Skyrim makes me want to slip back into my Nightingale hood and go bandit hunting. Fallout 4 is no exception. The opening sequence of the title screen begins as that melodramatic piano plays its encouraging melody and inspires a sense of determination while the camera slowly zooms in on an empty powersuit inside of a workshop, is enough to make me want to finish this article ASAP so I can hop back into The Commonwealth.
Although, noting how good the music is, Bethesda has also been known for some pretty shotty voice-acting work. With more recorded dialogue than Fallout 3 and Skyrim combined, Fallout 4 has now followed that trend. I remember being slightly annoyed that every trader in Skyrim had the same lines, and some even were the same VOICE, and that was pretty much what I expected when going into Fallout 4. My expectations were low, but so far the voice-acting has been the biggest and most pleasant surprise. Each character has a unique voice, everybody seems to have their own personality, and I haven’t had any issues with repeated dialogue. I know some people may consider this aspect of the game junk. Me? I call it treasure.
I have about 18 hours invested in this game up to this point, so there isn’t too much to say about the Story, but I’m going to take a crack at it anyway. Hey, if Michael Bay can film a movie without knowing the story, how hard can this be? So writing about the story in a game like this is a bit tricky. “How so?” you ask. Well I’ll tell you, reader. In a game as open as Fallout 4, it’s really easy to get lost in side quests. This doesn’t reflect negatively on the main story so much as it reflects positively on the quality of the quests that, in most other games, tend to just get in the way of your ultimate goal. When the main protagonist’s goal is set before them in Fallout 4, I was determined. I was motivated. I would scour the wastelands and do anything necessary to get what I was after.
Well.. Until I came across a museum under siege by a band of raiders. Then, without spoiling too much here, I saved the people in the museum and was on my way to find what I was looking for! First I had to escort the group back to my hometown, Sanctuary, to make sure they made it safely. After they arrived safely, I was OFF TO– wait I can build houses? Long story short, I’ve completed maybe 2 hours worth of the main story. It’s not too surprising though, I played Skyrim for well over 100 hours before I remembered that I had an actual story to complete. I’m sure I’ll get back to the task at hand, but I’m too busy right now rebuilding the Minutemen and fortifying my town.
I honestly can’t speak highly enough about the gameplay for Fallout 4. The previously mentioned building mechanic in the game has sucked up hours of my time. I’ve spent a fair amount of time collecting junk in the game, and I’m totally okay with that. The battles are intense as well. Bethesda does not hold your hand when it comes to exploring this game. Within my first 2 days playing, I’ve killed a Legendary Super Mutant, a fair amount of Legendary Raiders, a Behemoth, the Mirelurk Queen, a dog named Ruby, and I had my ass handed to me by whatever the hell this is:
When I began playing this game, I thought Deathclaws would be the ultimate end-game monsters. I figured there would be maybe 12 total types of enemies and an occasional boss fight with a overpowered NPC, but this game has legendary enemies and one-of-a-kind monsters like my buddy Swan up there. When I first came across a chest surrounded by radiation and this guy popped up out of the water, my initial feeling was panic. After I booked it down the street and made it to the safety of a raider stronghold, where I only had to worry about bullets whizzing passed my face, my next feeling was excitement. If I could find a random monster like that without having heard anything about it prior to playing the game, what else is there to discover?
The exploration of this game can seem daunting in the beginning, but after a bit of leveling it’s a bit less intimidating. I even had an opportunity to stop and enjoy a beautiful looking thunderstorm rolling over me as I stood at the edge of a cliff, that is until I realized that it was a radiation storm and I was getting +5 Rads for ever thunderclap. I suppose I should also throw in how fun the V.A.T.S. targeting system is in the game, but I’m maybe one of the only people on the planet playing Fallout 4 who didn’t already experience it in Fallout 3. Overall for gameplay, I’d say that there is plenty to keep you busy. Whether it’s building a town, exploring the wastelands, or scavenging the ruins of Boston for old telephones and desk fans. My next stop, Salem!