The hype train for Fallout 4 would have put the old Union Pacific to shame. But can it possibly live up to it’s name? In short, a hesitant but enthusiastic “yes.” As is common with Bethesda games, Fallout 4 is massive in its scope and scale. The amount of stuff this game presents is almost overwhelming.
You begin the game staring at your character’s stock features and think, “Wow, I’m ugly,” and after 45 minutes of Bethesda-grade detail in adjusting elbow pointedness and chin sweep, you’re released into a picturesque 50’s style Boston suburb with your spouse (gender depending on what gender you picked), young son Shaun, and hovering, buzz-saw armed robot butler, Codsworth. This nice clean neighborhood doesn’t last long, and the world descends into nuclear war. You and your family have just enough time to escape to a local Vault, where you are then cryogenically frozen to wait out the nuclear holocaust. Of course, it can’t just go well, and you are woken up 200 in the future, only to helplessly witness your spouse murdered and child kidnapped. When you are able to escape some unknown years later, you vow for vengeance and to rescue Shaun.Thus you are spat into the unforgiving wasteland that used to be Boston.
Quite a bit has changed since Fallout 3 and New Vegas, but it’s still warm and familiar and smells like the same irradiated mess. First of all, the graphics. I’m probably being biased here because I had to turn the graphics to medium just to shove it on my PC. Some have put forth the argument that 3 looks better, but let’s all remember that every bit of city was broken into 3-foot cubes by loading screens. I can forgive 4 for going a bit light on the render distance because I can actually walk through a town now. Most other things have gotten a nice facelift too, especially the characters. They look human now and can show emotion and don’t walk like they’ve been riding on the world’s worst saddle.
Gameplay has changed a bit too. Power armor, only really seen from a distance in the past games, is now everywhere in the game. And on the cover. And the novelty underpants. You can climb in and lumber around, modify it, build parts for it, all that junk. They’ve also added quite a lot of crafting options. You can modify all weapons to suit you, finding a small pistol made from a board, pipe, and bit of string, and turn it into a repeating rifle. Also introduced are armor pieces. Each limb and the torso can be equipped with different armors like leather, metal, or your neighbors cutlery drawer. There are some other neat gimmicks, like Codsworth is apparently able to recognize and call you over 1,000 character names like James or Sarah. (I wasn’t surprised when he didn’t know Pepin the Short.)
Combat is relatively unchanged. You fire your gun, run out of ammo, then hit them with a novelty barbarian axe looted from a Cambridge comic book store. Except you might want to skip the last part, because the passing cough of an irradiated flea can interrupt your melee attacks. Most of the guns are the same, and the nice modding changes you can make do pack a punch. Ammo is a bit easier to find once you level up, but you will always be lacking at the right times. melee combat feels a bit sticky, but is still pretty intense. Those lovable Ghouls are back too, and instead of standing gormlessly around for sniping then lining up for free bullet samples, they act like zombies.
Again, if you’re just getting into a Bethesda sized game, Fallout 4 can seem a bit overwhelming. Even if you just played Skyrim (Bethesda’s 2011 smash hit) yesterday, Fallout 4 can seem a bit overwhelming. There is still a plethora of bugs and glitches riddling the game, but from the first opening of the Vault door, it is a truly captivating and unique world, if you allow it to be.
Brady Adair, guest reporter