Fallout 4 – PlayStation 4
Platform: PlayStation 4
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date (NA): November 10th, 2015
Genre: Action RPG
Nerd Rating: 8 out of 10
Several months ago, I followed the news of a new Fallout game. I even waited by the clock on the official Fallout website until it reached zero. However, after that, it was over. I didn’t care about Fallout 4. I didn’t watch the pre-release trailers, I didn’t pre-order it, the release date came and went without a care.
My experiences with Skyrim had put me off of Bethesda’s lineup, just as Dragon Age II had put me off of Bioware for a while. However, while Dragon Age: Inquisition “seemed” to give the series its needed re-start, I only assumed Fallout 4 would be more of the same. Then Christmas happened.
The PlayStation 4 I ordered came with Fallout 4 as a free game. While I had collected together almost a dozen other PS4 titles by the time I received it, I decided to give Fallout 4 a try, because maybe I was wrong.
Fallout 4 turned out to not be the perfect game, but it was the game Bethesda needed to make. Like Bioware took Skyrim as inspiration when tackling Dragon Age: Inquisition, Bethesda must have been looking back. While Fallout 4 uses a similar approach to gameplay that every Bethesda title since Morrowind has, it takes tons of new risks and changes in style.
For the first time in any of Bethesda’s major RPGs, the game’s protagonist is fully voiced, conversations have the same cinematic quality that Bioware’s games do, and gameplay mechanics are revised in ways that don’t feel like a dumbing down, but instead a refining. Everything from the story, characters, environments, and even voice acting is just better.
Fallout 4 starts out before the Great War, in the bathroom of the the protagonist and their spouse. The player can choose to play as either the husband or wife, with the character left becoming another NPC. The player goes through a short character-creation done through a Vault-Tec forum. Everything seems normal until the newscaster (Ron Perlman by the way), comes on to report the first nuclear bombs, that would go on to start the Great War.
The player, and family, then rush to Vault 111, where they end up being cryogenically preserved. Between then and when the player is finally thawed out, he or she witnesses the death of their spouse and kidnapping of their son, Shaun, at the hands of several unknown assailants. This kicks off the main quest, and the search for the player’s lost son.
While the lost son-part of the game wasn’t played up as well as it could have for the majority of the game, when it was, it really showed off the skill of the voice actors for the player characters. Most of the time however, the player will most likely be exploring the Commonwealth wastes and its many secrets. There’s a ton to do, and a lot of interesting side quests to complete.
Bethesda’s king at creating huge, interesting worlds to explore, and the world of Fallout 4 is no exception. This time, they really upped their game by making areas huge, complex, and multi-layered. For example, the huge destroyed highway that runs across the Boston ruins is not only reachable without cheats, but contains its own areas and enemies. By the middle of the game, the player can even gain access to Vertibirds that can be called up to fly across the Commonwealth in real-time!
As expected of any eight-gen game, the graphics are hyper-realistic, and unlike the seventh gen Fallout titles, aren’t shaded any specific color. Lighting effects are also used with great effect in Fallout 4, and at times it feels cinematic. For example, the Warehouses in Goodneighbor’s use of bright lights and heavy shadows really compliments the film-noir feel that the town exhibits. The game’s fantastic score only adds to it, with its heavy use of strings.
Fallout 4 also includes thirteen possible companions (including one from each faction) this time around. These possible companions include; Dogmeat, Codsworth, Preston Garvey, Piper, Nick Valentine, John Hancock, RJ MacCready, Cait, Paladin Danse, Curie, Deacon, Strong, and X6-88. Seven of these characters can romanced (Garvey, Piper, MacCready, Cait, Hancock, Danse, Curie) regardless of gender and regardless of the player’s current romances.
Fallout 4‘s romance system works similar to that of Bioware’s titles than Skyrim‘s. Romancing a character entails gaining maximum affinity with them and succeeding the romance speech check in their final affinity conversation. While romancing a character doesn’t net you any special cutscenes, it gives you the temporary “Lover’s Embrace” experience buff when sleeping while they’re near.
While it may sound a bit lacking, the romance system in Fallout 4 is so much better than the marriage system in Skyrim. For one, the potential characters in this game are actually fleshed out and reaching the maximum affinity with them feels more like an accomplishment. The game also gives you the option to break things off with romanced companions, as well as a second chance to initiate one should you fail the original speech check or not pick it the first time around.
Regardless of if you choose to romance any characters, reaching maximum affinity also gives you a perk, similar to those in Fallout: New Vegas. Raising affinity is pretty simple too, all you have to do is perform actions or pick dialog options/make choices during quests that said companion approve of. MacCready, for instance, approves of stealing and succeeding at speech checks for extra caps from quests. However, should you offer your services for free and give out items, his affinity drops.
AsI mentioned above, the writing in Fallout 4 is a huge improvement from previous Bethesda titles. Aided by the use of the new third-person conversation cameras, interactions with characters feel more intimate, with voiced dialog that feels real. And although the player character’s actions and choices were all made by the player, I actually cared about who I was playing as.
For once in a Bethesda game since Morrowind, my decisions really mattered, yet I was also made to feel the burden of them. Especially during the final act of the game, the drama of inevitably having to pick a side and possibly take out previous allies, was really done up well. Even when played with the most peaceful options, the player will still have to make some painful sacrifices.
Of course, like the last few Bethesda games, Fallout 4 was also shipped with tons of bugs. From stupid things like companions being trapped inside of barrels to the Pipboy’s background disappearing. The old limbs-stuck-under-the-door glitch that I remember all the way from Oblivion, is also still around. Luckily, I managed to avoid any game-breaking glitches during my two playthroughs. But GOD the lag during ANY cell infested by Super Mutants. In fact, the last few quests in the game are just lag-hell.
Fallout 4 takes a lot of risks in its approach to modernizing the Fallout series and adapting to what is expected of an eight generation triple-A title. While it’s still not the same Fallout that we remember from our beloved Fallout 2, I honestly think Bethesda did the franchise some service here. Fallout 4 takes a return to the more matured aspects of the series, while also showcasing the destructive nature of war. And thankfully, Bethesda ended up taking some hints from Fallout: New Vegas in terms of gameplay mechanics and story.
The game also gives off a Morrowind-like feel at times, with a return of the intersecting story lines for every faction, as well as the ability to wear different types of armor on each limb as well as some regular clothes underneath. Quests can also be started and ended in alternate ways, and unlike Skyrim, won’t cause any game-breaking glitches. If Fallout 4 is a sign of what the future of Bethesda Game Studios’ RPGs will be like, than it looks to be a decent one.
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