Wow! Fallout 4 is finally here and it seemed like such a long time coming. I guess that’s just what hype does to a game.
Before we get this review started, I feel I should mention that this will be my first Fallout experience since Fallout 3. I skipped out on New Vegas and haven’t even got around to playing the Fallout Shelter mobile app. This means it’s been about seven years since I played the last new game in the series.
I should also mention that I’m not the only one here at GiN that’s been playing Fallout 4. Todd did a wonderful piece about the Xbox One version of the game and it talks a lot about the core of the plot. You should really check it out to get a better understanding of those elements of the game. My experience was a little different from his and I’m going to talk about how it changed how I played the game.
In Fallout 4 there are a huge variety of quests that are available to the player. The main draw for some may be the main story, but this wasn’t the case for me. In fact, I did next to nothing in the main story and instead focused on exploring the Commonwealth and doing other quests. One quest line that I gave a huge part of my time to was the Minutemen.
I’m not going to go into huge detail about the Minutemen in an effort to avoid spoilers, but I do want to talk about the overall theme of the quests. The idea behind the Minutemen is to form a military force that can protect the people of the Commonwealth and help it flourish again.
This idea completely changed how I played Fallout 4 and my experience with it. The game was no longer about a post-nuclear-apocalypse world. Instead, it became about rebuilding that world. Is it ever going to reach the level that players see in the pre-war section of the game? No, but it’s all about making a living rather than just holding on.
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One of the greatest things about this is that it promotes unity between the player and the NPCs in Fallout 4. I’ll be honest, I typically play an evil character that doesn’t get attached to anyone and kills whenever I please, but the change that the Minutemen introduce encouraged me to completely change how I played and viewed the game.
A perfect example of this is the various privileges that come from being a part of the Minutemen. For most players, Fallout has always been about a lone survivor making their way through this horrible world. This means that all challenges the player faces were left to them and a possible companion. However, the changes introduced in Fallout 4 meant this wasn’t true for me anymore.
You’re exploring the Commonwealth when you come to the top of a small hill and you hear a loud roar that shakes your vision. To your left is a Deathclaw, one of the most vile creatures the Wasteland has to offer. You’ve left your Power Armor back at base and it’s just you and Dogmeat. Without hesitation, your trusty companion lunges for the Deathclaw. Now there’s two options: run for your life, or fight. The Deathclaw is a high level and with only Dogmeat’s help, you’ll likely lose. But you’re not alone. You whip out a flare gun. Point it straight to the sky and fire. You see another flare respond to your own. You switch back to your shotgun and start blasting the Deathclaw as Dogmeat holds it in place. Seconds later, the creature starts being hit by laser fire from all sides as nearby Minutemen come to your aid. It’s with their help that this fight is won.
The Minutemen do more than just show up when they’re needed. They can also provide artillery support to the player. A perfect example of this is running into a large area that is home to a group of Super Mutants. Sure, you could take it on your own with enough strategy and loading of previous saves, or you can throw a smoke grenade in there to mark it as a target, step back and watch the poor suckers get blasted to pieces by cannon fire.
Here’s the deal. You can’t just call for aid or request artillery anywhere. There needs to be Settlements nearby that have pledged to support the Minutemen’s cause. You also need these Settlements on your side before you can build artillery in them. This is what fuels the whole quest line of helping people. Sure, you do it because it’s the right thing to do, but it also helps you out as well.
The Minutemen wasn’t the only series of quests that I undertook. I did all sorts of them while travelling out in the Commonwealth. As I said before, I basically haven’t touched the main story. I’m not saying it wasn’t interesting, but it’s just not my play style to tackle it first.
For those wondering how much they’re going to get out of this game, I’ve got over 42 hours in it as of this writing. I know I still have a slew of other side quests to do, and the main quest when I finally get around to it. Not to mention there’s the prospect of building Settlements. I’ve really only focused on the one I’ve made my home and another one nearby (plus adding artillery to random ones for the coverage), but there’s a lot of them out there and I plan to fix them all up before I’m done with the game. Like I said, this game isn’t about surviving for me anymore. It’s about rebuilding.
My other major love in Fallout 4 is the weapon mods and leveling system. The way your SPECIAL stats work is much better this time around. Instead of being given so many points every level, players can unlock one Perk per level. Each Perk has a prerequisite before it can be obtained. This means that players will have to be the appropriate level and have a high enough SPECIAL stat to obtain the Perk. It works out really well and is reminiscent of Skyrim’s leveling system. Also, there’s no level cap.
I built my character to be highly focused on Luck, Intelligence, Agility, Perception and Charisma. With the different Perks available to me, I was able to create a character that focused on Critical Hits. This was done with a series of Perks that allowed me to save Critical Hits in VATS for when I wanted to use them and also increased my chances of storing Critical Hits with each shot. I played a sniper character and this allowed me to really go the distance with shots. This is because choosing to activate a Critical Hit in VATS means that the shot can’t miss, which makes long-range shots able to be pulled off at the player’s choice.
The great thing about Fallout 4’s leveling system is that it allows players to create loads of different characters that will truly play differently. However, those just looking to be good at everything can still do that due to the lack of a level cap.
The way I played the game also meant that I customized all of my weapons to best suit my needs. The only weapon I owned without a scope was the shotgun, and even then there was an option for it. This gave me a variety of different rifles and pistols to achieve my sniping goals with. I also renamed all of my weapons to make them stick out more in my HUD and give them a personal flair. Each of my is named after a Beatles song. Yes, I realize the irony of naming weapons after songs from a band that promoted peace.
My constant customizing of weapons meant that I needed a lot of supplies. Fallout 4 lets players take just about any junk they find out in the Commonwealth and break it down for use in customizing armors, weapons and crafting. This meant that I picked up almost everything that I saw. There’s also a nifty feature that lets players tag supplies for search. This means that items that can be broken down into those supplies will appear with a magnifying glass icon next to their name. It’s a small feature that really helps me remember what I’m searching for out in the Wasteland.
For those who are wondering about the general state of the game on the PC, it’s solid. There’s not a whole lot in the way of glitches to be found and those that I’ve run across haven’t been game breaking. Most will probably even go unnoticed. I will say that I hit frame rate issues in the game on a few occasions. This didn’t happen all that often and it was usually only after long sessions of running the game on two screens (my wife wanted to watch me play the game).
One thing that I absolutely love about Fallout 4 is the lack of green tint to everything. Fallout 3 put that green filter over the world and it really did make it feel like a place without hope. It not returning for this game was one of Bethesda’s best visual decisions.
I have to mention Fallout 3 again, but this time it’s for audio reasons. The game had an amazing soundtrack that fit well with the 40s and 50s vibe that the world had. Luckily, many of the classic songs that played from Galaxy News Radio in Fallout 3 can also be listened to in Fallout 4 from a new radio station. There’s also some new songs to help keep the lineup fresh.
I fell into the world of Fallout 4 quicker than any previous Bethesda title. Even Skyrim didn’t grab me like this and I prefer the fantasy setting over the post-apocalypse one. The game is a true treat visually, it improves the gameplay and leveling from Fallout 3 immensely and there are also loads of small changes that just make it a smoother experience than Skyrim.
Fallout 4 earns 5 GiN Gems out of 5!