The Elder Scrolls V, Skyrim, remains my favorite game of all time. It was Bethesda at their very best.
It had a massive world, loads to see and do, and plenty of interesting ways to do it. So too had Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas. Although they didn’t capture me like Skyrim did, they were still phenomenal open-world RPG games.
A lot of hype has been raised over the release of the fourth instalment in the Fallout series, and I couldn’t help but think to myself: “I hope it lives up to it”. Its an age-old truth that hyped up games rarely hit their mark, but there is a healthy handful that do.
Fallout 4 does and doesn’t at the same time. Lets delve deeper.
The story is quite a mature one. After being cryogenically frozen for 200 years just as the nuclear war starts, you wake just in time to see your wife shot dead (if you chose a male character) and your baby son kidnapped by unknown assailants. Once you’re free from your fridge bed, you set on your way to hunt down your son and reap revenge on the ones who took him.
But that’s a tough task considering the world is not as it was. Boston has been ravaged by nuclear war, becoming a barren wasteland filled with dangers.
Although the story is a decent one full of intrigue and mystery, if you’re like me when playing a Bethesda RPG, it will also be a broken one – as there are so many other side stories here that distract you too easily from your primary objective. Guess the kidnapped kid will just have to wait.
Characters come in all forms. Your funny Mr Handy robot Codsworth with his great British one-liners is a highlight, and Detective Valentine is a cool guy too.
If you played Fallout 3 and New Vegas, you’ll be instantly familiar with Fallout 4. The gameplay is similar in almost every way, with a few tweaks here and there. Notable changes are that enemies now slow down instead of stand still during the superb V.A.T.S. targeting system, which is just a brutal as ever here. Triggering this cool system no longer gives you all the time in the world to make your move.
You also have a wider choice of companions now. Codsworth is the first you’ll meet, but you will find more on your adventure, each with their own particular advantages. Dogmeat is my favorite: he sniffs out helpful items and drags enemies to the floor, leaving them open for you to finish off. He’s your personal bad-ass pooch.
Building your character is quite the task. The perk system has taken an overhaul, separating into different statistics that make your time in the wastelands more and more bearable. Aside from your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. attributes which make up the base of your character, there are many more that give you new abilities and strengths which will help you on your travels. Target animals for a chance to pacify them, give your dog special attack abilities, get things cheaper in stores or even be better with the ladies, the choice is yours and trust me the choice is a tough one.
The biggest changes comes in Fallout 4’s crafting system. Every item in the world now has its uses, so no more ignoring junk. That spoon can be ground-down to get silver, that plunger can offer up rubber and wood, and such components are used to craft upgrades for your armour or mods for your weapons and even build your own house.
Wait what was that I hear you say? Build your own house?! You heard me correctly.
In Fallout 4 you can build settlements from the ground up, if you have all the necessary materials. This can soak up your time in a flash, and it’s incredibly addictive. I built a small hut to get the feel of it, installed a water pump for a steady source of the fresh stuff, and built a generator to give me power. I then fixed up some lights and wired them up. I made my own bed and planted my own crops for a steady source of food. Why go and rescue my son when I can just chill in my very own home? It’s extremely complex but seriously fun. The early settlement missions ease you into it, but you are free to go wild from the get go.
Another big change is the way you use Power Armour, which you now get early on. It’s battered, but a great frame to build upon. I used mine to take out a hulking Deathclaw, then I took it to my settlement where there was a power armour station. It turned into my pride and joy. I came back to it whenever I found armour pieces to make it into a serious death-dealer, only using it whenever a tough mission beckoned. The gameplay differs slightly in power armour, now. You get a new HUD, you are unaffected by falling damage, and you can wield huge mini-guns with ease, not to mention it takes some time and damage to kill you.
Fallout 4 is without a doubt a phenomenal game, then, but as with any Bethesda RPG, it’s not without its fair share of bugs.
Noticeable graphical hitches plague the game. And although I haven’t had my experience ruined yet by any fatal ones, hiccups are plentiful. I went to speak to a guy in my settlement to find him stood on my TV with his head through the ceiling. It was both hilarious and stupid.
Fallout 4 lives up to its hype if you can look past its flaws. Its deep and complex crafting system, diverse perks, massive gameworld filled with cool locations, top notch combat and interesting stories makes it a memorable game. But it’s not without its faults.