“There is another settlement that needs our help” – Preston Garvey
Ever since Fallout: New Vegas was launched back in October 2010, fans have been asking, and sometimes begging, for Bethesda to come out with Fallout 4. Once the announcement was made that indeed Fallout 4 was not only in production, but getting close to completion, the anticipation and hype began to grow very quickly. The question is this, is Fallout 4 the game that everyone wanted, or is it just a game that was slapped together to quiet the fanbase? Let’s drag our way through the Wastelands and see how the game settled in.
Fallout 4 is based on post-apocalyptic happenings in Boston. The entire city is in ruins and has been renamed, The Commonwealth. You will see some familiar landmarks as you go through the game. For example one of the biggest cities that you will spend a lot of time in is called, Diamond City. This is actually a city stationed within Fenway Park. I’m not a big fan of the team that normally plays there but it was still cool to see the stadium from within and on the ground level. You will travel through most of the city and around the surrounding areas as you progress through the game.
If you are one of those people who like to sit down and customize your character, you will love this game. The character customization can literally take you hours to build your perfect character. From skin textures, to eye separation and angels, to even how your nose looks, the customization will allow you to create any kind of character that you want.
The premise of Fallout 4 is pretty simple down to the core. Do a few missions to collect clues and track down the group who is responsible for everything. The bad thing is that this game starts to get very repetitive after the first few hours of playing it. You are constantly fighting the same type of enemies over and over again. There are some very slight differences in the Mutants, but overall it’s the same wash and repeat enemies. Some of the NPC characters that you can interact with will give you typical, go fetch this and bring it back to me, type of missions. There are two specific characters in the Brotherhood of Steel clan that offer these type of missions to you. While they are great for leveling your character, doing them for hours at a time, with no real end in sight, makes it very tedious and boring. All that stuff you collect really had no bearing on the game or the outcome for it. They felt more like time wasters to add length to the game itself.
Before all of that begins you have to survive through your chronic frozen state that you have been subjected to. Before you are frozen, you witness the death of your wife and the kidnapping of your son. You awake 200 years into the future, to the city of Boston that has been torn apart from the war that was happening while you was in your frozen state. You then start on your quest to find who kidnapped your son and who murdered your wife.
If you are a looter and like to collect everything you see in sight, then this is your game. It will reward you for going off the proverbial beaten path. You can find special rare guns, unmarked towns that can be turned into settlements, different Vaults that you can explore and yes even Power Armour. The more you explore the Wastelands the rarer and vast amount of items you can collect. I will warn you though, that since there is so much stuff you can collect, you will be over encumbered quickly and very often. Everything you pick up has a purpose. Even the smallest things, like an empty can, will be broken down and used for crafting add-ons for your weapons, building material, personal amour and etc. Nothing is actual junk. By the end of the game you will collect a vast amount of material. Suiting up in Power Armour will help you carry a few extra pounds, but that also means you will be burning though Fusion Cores a lot more quickly.
One of the neat things that this game does is allow you to have Supply Lines between each of your settlements. Basically what this does is allow other towns to share the resources that you collect from your main settlement. When you get some settlers who live in your main settlement, you can assign them do these Supply Lines. For example, if you are trying to build a small storage area in a settlement on the other side of the map, but realize that you don’t have all the material there to accomplish this, you can create a Supply Line to that settlement. Once you try again, all the materials that you have collected and stored at your main settlement will be available at the other settlement. This is extremely useful and cuts down on the tedious time consuming gameplay of trying to collect the materials that are required.
As I mentioned above, everything you collect has a small purpose in crafting. One of the things that bugged me the most is when crafting walls. Those walls will have tears, holes and just down right look like garbage. To me if you are building something from scrap, it should be complete whole items, not something that you might find laying around in a junk yard. Another thing that bothered is the ability to scrap large items. For example the house I was using to store some of my items, like my bed and bobble heads, was extremely run down and had holes everywhere in the roof. I wanted on many occasions to scrap my roof and build myself a new one. The back entrance to the house had no door on it. Every kind of door I tried to build would not attach to the door frame, even though it would fit perfectly. Little things like that can make the game frustrating. If you have a creative mind and if you have the patience, you can make some really elaborate stuff in the game.
A portion of Fallout 4 turns into a Sim type of game. The good thing about this portion is you can ignore them all together if you don’t feel like messing with them. They have no bearing on the story or the ending. In these you can actually build new housing structures, lights, defense, farming and water purification systems. If you have a knack for these things you can literally spends 10s if not 100s of hours in building and perfecting your settlements. There are numerous ones you can build up. For those that like to unlock achievements/trophies, there is one attached to the complete happiness of a single settlement. This can take some time to build up as for no reason what so ever your settlers will start to get sad and grumpy, even though they have everything they need to be happy. While it does help break up the grinding this game can possess, it does make things frustrating to constantly keep their happiness level rising.
Fallout 4 does have companions, in fact there are thirteen all together. Each one of them has their own personal perks you can use. Some of these perks are very useful while in combat if some stats fall below a certain level. Other perks can be used while communicating with NPCs. For me personally, I always went back and forth between Cait and Piper. I used Strong once in a while to carry some heavy items. Even with a vast amount of companions you could choose from they are suffer from the same problem. They just talk and talk and talk. A lot of the times it would be the same lines over and over again. The first few times it was ok but after hours on end it got really annoying to listen to them say the same things over and over. Some of the companions you can flirt with them and raise their relationship level to a max state. When you do this, you can go to any bed and sleep with them, as long as they are in your party. When this happens, you get a bonus of an extra +15% XP earned for a limited time.
Graphical wise, Fallout 4 is not really going to impress a whole lot. To me it seemed more like a polished up last gen game. There are some graphical pop in and some draw distance flaws. One of the things I noticed the most was the texture overlay. You can really tell this during the cutscenes the game has. Everything will be blurry and mushy looking, then the multiple layers will quickly start to pop on the characters. It doesn’t hurt the game but it is very noticeable. This is one of the main areas that Bethesda could use a lot more time, work and QA to get things right. Another thing that could have used some more time on was the loading of the environments. There was a few times that I had to back out of the game and reload my save file as the game would not load the environment. My character would be on the screen but nothing was around him. That only thing you could see was some outlines of a few things and a grayish background.
If you have played any kind of Bethesda game, you will know how they handle their games. You will constantly run across all kinds of bugs and glitches though your travels. Fallout 4 is really no different. From enemies just vanishing off the screen, guns misfiring, to even portions of the map not loading, Fallout 4 is riddled with little things that should have been cleaned up. Bethesda could have easily stuck another six months to a year to polish this game up, then throw in another six months of nothing but just QA. For me, this is what is keeping Fallout 4 from being a serious game of the year contender. The good thing is that Bethesda is working on patches and have already released some.
Even with the bugs and glitches that Fallout 4 possesses, this is a nice installment into the Fallout franchise. All together I clocked in roughly about 150 hours with my character reaching a level of 63. Since your character does not have a max level, you could literally play this game for however long you want. If you are lucky enough to get one of the collector editions that comes with the Pip-Boy, you can use that along with your phone, to interact with the game, with the app that is free to download. This is a slick way to interact with the game outside of the game. Hopefully they continue this trend with future installments.
In the end, I would rate Fallout 4 with a 8.5 out of 10. Still a solid game but the bugs, glitches and other problems, really hold it back. If you love the Fallout franchise then defiantly pick this game up if you have not already. If this is your first installment in the franchise, you might want to wait until the Game of the Year version comes out. By then some of these problems should be addressed and corrected. If you are planning on buying this for a console, then the mods should be incorporated by then.