GamingReview: Fallout 4

Review: Fallout 4

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It’s been a long time waiting since the greatness of Fallout 3 and New Vegas and it’s fair to say my hopes are high. It’s a difficult title to follow but at least Bethesda took their time and waited until Fallout 4 was ready. Possible more importantly we’re all ready too. Fallout 4 begins in the glory days of the 50’s when nuclear power was the future of technology. Cars, TVs and just about everything are running on the new source of energy. It’s always been part of the Fallout lore but now we actually get to see it.

After dynamically creating your character in the bathroom mirror with a whole new set of slick controls and options you get to play a game of normal life. Only for a little while though and then the bombs drop and you and your family are rushed to Vault 111. Safe from the bombs and their radiation but as we all know Vaults aren’t always as safe as they seem. After a short setup you make the return to the surface and begin your adventure.

With a single objective you are free to explore and become amazingly distracted by the plethora of objectives and places to visit that inevitably come your way. That wonderfully dense map that doesn’t let you travel more than about 5 minute without finding something, meeting someone or starting a new quest is back and better than ever. It’s still a wonder to me how it’s possible to get so much in every single area but that’s definitely Bethesda’s party trick. And they haven’t lost it one bit.

It’s impossible for me to cover the vast content in Fallout 4 in one review. Hell I could probably write a reasonably sized novel on it. So unfortunately you’ll just have to take it from me that you will not be disappointed. And please accept my apologies if I miss something, because given the scale of Fallout I will miss something. Even simple fetch quests often see you finding new places and people or starting another quest. Some are fully fledged lines that will take you across the wasteland. There are unique rewards and custom items and even settlements to take control of.

Undoubtedly the biggest new feature in Fallout 4 is the base building mechanic. Oh yes. There are multiple settlements to secure in the wasteland and each will need you to supply them with sources of food and water. On top of that a bit of shelter and some beds will just about do. For anyone who has played Fallout Shelter there are similar resource values at work. Later in the game your settlements will become substantial, defended populations. The controls take a bit of getting use to and there are some features that Fallout just doesn’t bother explaining to you but in the end it is a robust and fun distraction. You can really spend hour after hour perfecting your base and I’m still getting all of mine just right.

It also provides a meaningful scavenging system to all that junk that lies around the world. No longer do you just pick up an item based on its value at the closest store. Now each item will break down into various components. Duct tape for instance counts as 2 adhesive and a cloth. To make a bed you need a certain amount of cloth and some steel. Items like cameras and microscopes contain rare parts that you will need for the best upgrades. It’s a cool moment when you search through a destroyed building and spot something mundane but valuable because it has the components you need.

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Searching through boxes and cupboards is made simple due to the fact you no longer have to open everything to reveal its contents. In Fallout 4 an incredibly handy little box will show up on the right of the screen showing the contents of the container. You can cycle through and select which items to take or even transfer things the ‘old fashioned’ way. It’s a small feature that will never be a huge deal that most will never even mention but makes Fallout 4 that much slicker.

Another slight change that makes a huge difference is the lack of weapon specialization. No longer do you decide between ballistic, laser and plasma weapon perks. Instead there are pistol, rifle and automatic perks and you are free to use the weapons you want. It’s nice to see conventional weapons get a bigger shout than just the first 3 minutes of the game. Lasers and Plasmas are still good but there’s so much more to chose from now. There’s even a new class of weapons in the form of pipe guns. Basically they’re hand made weapons using blocks of wood and scraps of metal firing .38 rounds. Truth be told they’re pretty useless but with .38 rounds so much more common than the others they’re useful for the odd molerat or pesky radroach.

Then there’s the weapons customization system which is nothing short of awesome. Each weapon can be significantly altered. Scopes and muzzles aren’t all you can do. You can alter almost everything changing laser rifles from snipers to automatic assault weapons. Shotguns from drum fed automatic beasts to single shot ranged power houses. It’s robust and in depth enough thanks to more options than you could ever want and the new scavenger system just makes it all the more satisfying and meaningful. You can upgrade and customize your armour too. And yes that does go for the awesome new power armour that requires your character entering the suit making you feel just a tiny bit like Tony Stark each time.

Of course it wouldn’t be Fallout without the S.P.E.C.I.A.L levelling mechanic. You have seven core stats and each has an associated set of perks an abilities. There’s a whole 50 levels to work through and spending those hard earned points has never been easier. You can even chose not to spend it on a perk and instead increase the core statistic itself. This gives you a huge amount of freedom when levelling up and creating your character. Not having to spend every single perk on skills that you more or less need to have is a real relief.

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Both the audio and the visuals has been given a notable boost. It’s been 5 years since the last Fallout and it’s nice to see that Bethesda haven’t just been sitting around doing nothing. Everything looks so much more polished and somehow brighter and more colourful. There’s still the washed out feel to the post nuclear world but environments in particular have had a serious overhaul. The music of Fallout has always been great but taken a bit of a back seat during the game. Even though it’s a little stronger in Fallout 4 it’s very difficult to enjoy with that massive bass that drives away in the background. I made it around ten hours this time before it drove me, and everyone in my house, mad and I turned the music off. A constant droning base note adds no atmosphere and ruins an otherwise great soundtrack.

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Fallout 4 is everything it needed to be. Essentially it’s a brilliant sequel. Everything is recognizable and the humour and dark atmosphere haven’t changed a bit. But there’s a completely new settlement and base building system. Some totally new and unique weapons along with a fantastic customization system on top of the old weapons. Levelling up is more free and allows you to make the character you want without using a guide right from the start. Fallout 4 offers massive amounts of content staying true to the franchise and changes are made only to improve the experience. There’s huge fun in the wasteland and Fallout 4 is an amazing way to experience it.

SUMMARY

+ Dense wasteland to explore
+ Altered SPECIAL levelling system
+ Weapon and armour customization
+ Base building
+ Meaningful scavenging
- Some items completely omitted from tutorials

Reviewed on PC. Also available on PS4 and Xbox One.
phillvine
phillvine
Phill has been the director of a small IT repair business since 2011 which he runs alongside studying for his degree in Information and Communication Technologies at the Open University. Video games are his real passion and they take up more of his time than he'd like to admit.

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+ Dense wasteland to explore <br /> + Altered SPECIAL levelling system <br /> + Weapon and armour customization <br /> + Base building <br /> + Meaningful scavenging <br /> - Some items completely omitted from tutorials <br /> <br /> Reviewed on PC. Also available on PS4 and Xbox One.Review: Fallout 4