Now before we begin I feel like I should say that I have been a fan of Bethesda games for a long time, but I would be doing a major disservice to our readers if I wasn’t completely objective about this review. Be prepared for some pretty brutal honesty.
Alright, now with that out of the way we can finally get started.
Although a significant improvement from previous Fallout releases, for a game that released 5 years after the most recent release one would expect a little more of an upgrade that what we have received. Not only is Fallout 4 visually underwhelming, it is pretty disappointing.
This happens to be the most disappointing aspect of Fallout 4’s visuals. I can’t count how many times I walked in to areas where a super low texture had loaded and no matter how many times I fast traveled away and returned I could not get the proper textures to load. On top of the glitches the textures themselves just LOOK bad when compared to other games released this year.
Now this aspect has significantly been improved from previous the Previous Fallout titles which allows for much smoother models, this is especially noticeable in the character models as the NPCs have a much more diverse range of facial expressions.
This aspect of the game has to be one of the single best improvements in Fallout 4, aside from weapon reloads it seems that most of Fallout 4’s animations are improved. A lot of these do seem to be copied over from Skyrim, but to an extent this is understandable and this is a big improvement over the previous titles, because as I’m sure you all know animation has NEVER been Fallout’s strong suit.
Fallout New Vegas improved on many elements from Fallout 3 that causes many headaches for players, hit detection being a major issue. Fallout takes all of these things further bringing a whole lot to the table.
Fallout New Vegas brought many requested improvements to the Fallout universe, Iron sights being one of these improvements. Fallout 4 takes this a step further and really makes it feel like you actually have some control over your weapon as you fire it. I find that I can actually control the recoil of the weapon and aim accurately even when firing automatic weapons.
Not that I did not like unarmed or melee combat in previous Fallout releases, but in Fallout 4 for once I feel like I am finally not just wildly flailing about like a fish thrown ashore. That with a wide selection of classical scores I truly felt like Hannibal Lecter as I hacked my way through the wasteland.
Although I dearly miss ammo reloading from Fallout: New Vegas, Fallout 4 really expanded on the weapon modding system and adding armor modding as well. Instead of just getting all of your armor in a set (which you still can do) you find each component individually
I feel that each different type of crafting deserves its own section just because it is SO diverse, and with so many options. The most common armor pieces you are going to find for the first 5 -10 levels are leather and raider, with other pieces being found later depending on how far you travel. These pieces can be modified to provide extra physical damage resistance and energy resistance. They can also be modded to decrease the weight of the item and/or add additional capacity by adding pockets to the armor. These are just a small number of mods that can be applied to armor. If you move to another bench you will be able to modify a totally different set of armor, Power Armor. Like your character’s armor your power armor comes in 6 pieces and can be upgraded and even painted. What makes the power armor different is that is requires Fusion Core to power it which lasts roughly 20 minutes depending on what you are doing and what perks you have.
Although melee weapons don’t quite have as many customization options as the guns they still offer their own set of unique modifications. Want a metal baseball bat with saw blades attached? You got it. Now guns on the other hand have several different modifications across 5 different categories, Barrel, Muzzle Attachment/Receiver, Magazine, Stock, and Sight. This allows for a massive number of different weapon combinations to suit almost every play-style.
Yep, that’s right, you can cook in Fallout 4 too. Now I know you could cook in New Vegas, but this time around cooking and chems crafting is done on two separate benches eliminating a lot of the confusion and making things a lot less cluttered. In New Vegas I found myself only using cooking a handful of times, one being my hardcore survivalist play through where I could not use stims and I only did unarmed damage. In Fallout 4 is use it pretty frequently to cook the meat I cut off various creatures in the wasteland to make it edible. The often provides a pretty nice stat boost as well as the returned HP.
Although this area isn’t EXACTLY crafting it still belongs in the section. This honestly has to be one of my favorite elements of Fallout as I have been a long time fan of city building sims. Out of all of my playtime I have probably allocated 15 hours to just this section alone. Throughout the Wasteland as you clear out different area’s you will be able to build on to them and form settlements. There are exactly 30 settlements spread throughout, so are fairly easy to acquire, while others can be a major challenge. For those of you who played the Fallout Shelter Android/iOS app then you are somewhat prepared for this part of the game as far as resource management is concerned. In order for a settlement to thrive you need 4 essential things: Food, Water, People, and Defenses. Now you can also have electricity, while not an essential it is still really nice to have for various defensive and decorative options. Now although there are many pre-built options actually assembling your buildings yourself can be a bit clunky and incredibly frustrating. The most frustrating part of building settlements for this writer has to be trying to wire thing inside buildings. Although it makes sense that wires can not pass through walls, trying to wire say a terminal in doors can be a major pain as you will have to run the wire from some opening in the building, and without a window template that proves to be a pretty daunting task.
Just like in Fallout New Vegas, Fallout 4 brings back the ability to craft chems, although this time around it is much more refined and feels actually useful instead of a gimmick employed just so the developers can pat themselves on the back and say they put it in the game. During my play through I did not do very much chems crafting as I mostly just used stimpacks and radaway with the occasional Med-X or Rad-X thrown in to the mix. I’m sure someone will along the way will do a “Mad Scientist” or “Chemist” Role Play.
Which brings us to the next section of the Gameplay, how does it play as an RPG? Well in previous titles, even though you had some sort of back story, your character felt less of a written person so much as an extension of your imagination. This isn’t really the case in Fallout 4. Although having the Sole Survivor fully voiced seems like a good idea at first, seeing them talk in the 3rd person kind of breaks the immersion for me and makes it so that I identify my character as the Sole Survivor and not what ever role I had dreamed up for it. This is pretty disappointing for me because that was one of my favorite parts of playing previous Fallout games and TES. In Fallout 4 I am only the Lone Survivor and not Michael Robinson, boxer and collector of vintage Nuka-Cola paraphernalia. This may not be as big of a deal to those of you whom play the game more objectively, but for those of you, like myself, really enjoyed the strong RPG element of previous titles Fallout 4 is a major let down.
One thing that has been pretty iconic for the series (well the Bethesda Fallouts that is) is the radio stations. After my many play-throughs I pretty much know every song by heart as the stations usually repeat many many times even over fairly short sessions. This remains true in Fallout 4 and although I feel that the song choice is prime, I still would have liked to hear more songs in the game. I do have to say that the developer’s choice of a Classical station was a wise one as Classical music isn’t quite as offensive when listened to on repeat because it is instrumental.
Although I would have liked to hear a different set of sound effects for weapon fire and footsteps from previous titles this isn’t really that big of a deal as these were fine to begin with.
Without giving too much away I feel that it is important that I touch on how well the main quest line plays out as well as the quality of the side quests throughout the game.
It seems that the numerical Fallout titles seem to alternate between starting out in the vault and not. Fallout 4 not only starts you out not in the vault but also before the war even begins, or as it begins really only for you to go in to the Vault and then emerge from it then after. Fallout 4 definitely feels as if it has the most streamlined main quest line which branches several side quests very fluidly. Many of the side quests play so well in to the main quest line you will often forget that it is even a side quest. Fallout 4 is definitely a lot more cinematic than previous titles often alternating between several different camera angles during conversations depending on what is going on. Many of you will praise Fallout 4 for this element, but I find it to be kind of distracting and it breaks the immersion for me.
It was also pretty disappointing that in Fallout 4 you don’t really have much control over what happens in the main quest line. Regardless of your decisions the end is mostly the same. I would go into further detail but that would be a major spoiler.
Just like its predecessors Fallout 4 is packed to the brim with side quests some have more impact in the player than others. If there is one quest that isn’t required but no one should miss out on, it would definitely have to be “Last Voyage of the USS Constitution”. The USS Constitution has been commandeered by a group of robots who seem to have shorted a few circuits over the years. This group of loopy bots have taken it upon themselves to repair the constitution so she may take flight once again. I have never laughed so hard while playing a Fallout game, don’t pass this one up.
Fallout 4 is so massive that it would be impossible for me to cover everything in the amount of time that I have had the game, well, unless I wanted to live in the wasteland for 10 hours a day. This bodes well for the game’s replay-ability as it assures that the average player will be able to easily squeeze hundreds of hours of enjoyment out of this title. Unfortunately that doesn’t mean it gets the A-OK with me.
Fallout 4 just feels, well lazy. Yes there are a lot of weapon and armor mods, but one of the best part of previous Fallout titles was the sheer number of different items available, there are half as many unique items available in Fallout 4 as there is in previous titles.
Interacting with NPCs in the Wasteland is a painful experience thanks to the “Streamlined” (read dumbed down) dialog options. Your responses are now limited to an obvious Positive response, a negative, neutral, and a sarcastic response which is usually also
Fallout 4 isn’t a bad game as it is actually really fun to play, but it is an awful RPG and a fairly poor Fallout title. It is fairly obvious that Bethesda planned on the mod community fixing many of their shortcomings and they should be ashamed of themselves.
Speaking of mods, since Fallout 4 has so many shortcomings I have compiled a list of what I would consider essential mods that won’t impact your performance negatively:
Texture Optimization Project – This mod keeps the vanilla texture look while reducing VRAM usage.
Full Dialog – A throw back to more classic dialog options.
FPS Dynamic Shadows – Dynamically Controls shadow quality based on FPS
All in all despite its flaws Fallout 4 is incredibly fun, but that does not mean Bethesda should get a free pass. It is very obvious that a lot of content is missing either due to the fact that they know the modding community will add a lot of content to the game (this theory is definitely probable considering consoles will also be receiving mod support) or it is being saved for future DLC releases. What ever the reason may be, neither is good and it is your jobs as the consumers to let Bethesda know that whether or not you’re okay with that.