Fallout 4 has had a pretty good run of late, after the original announcement at E3 on June 3rd earlier this year, the hype had been growing exponentially, pre-order records being broken, the Pip-Boy edition sold out resulting in Bethesda requesting more manufacturing lines to get more orders out there, the game was creating a storm and it hadn’t even been released yet.
On November 10th / November 11th the game was released, and for a little while Silence ensued as people left vault 111 and went exploring through the post-apocalyptic landscape of a 2877 Boston (Or the commonwealth as now referred). Now the dust has settled, Darkworld Gaming take a look….
Immediately, we noticed a number of changes from the previous game, some are instant, the use of colours for example, radiant reds of Nuka-Cola machines to the beautiful blue skies is a stark contrast to the dark and moody colours of The Capital Wastelands of Fallout 3, The creation game engine that has the ability to use dynamic volumetric lighting, and physical based rendering is a huge improvement over the Gamebryo engine used in Fallout 3, the difference between the generations is astonishing and shows how far game design has come in a relatively short period of time (Fallout 4, was 4 years in development).
You begin on the 23rd October 2077, the story begins with your creation of a character, there are over 900 names that Codsworth (your friendly Mr Handy – Come Butler) can say, but if you’re not one of the lucky few, fear not the generic ‘Sir’ will be as much as the friendly robot will say. As you would expect from a Bethesda game, the details are taken to a new level, for example the house gives you an interesting perspective of the game, it will show you life before the nuclear war and life after, it was briefly shown on the original game trailer, however, playing the game, just emphasises it to a new level.
Without going into a huge amount of detail, the salesman from Vault-Tec has undoubtedly saved your life (Can’t say that about many, door-to-door salesmen) by getting you to sign up for a place in Vault 111 (Think mega-sized fallout shelter, but much more technologically advanced), Just in case someone out there still hasn’t played the game, you are then thrown 200 years into the future, alone in the world without a friend in sight, you will have to quickly adapt, similar to Fallout 3 you end up in the nearest town and the rest will very quickly become apparent……..
As with all games in the Fallout series, this one attempts to keep the core Role Playing Game (RPG) genre, aspects from previous games are carried through, the SPECIAL System (Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility and Luck) has been revamped and streamlined to make it easier to upgrade your skills. At first it looked a little daunting but it’s quickly overcome. It is worth mentioning at this point that a level cap was purposefully left out the game and as a result to achieve a full SPECIAL poster unlocking everything would require you to have a level of around 270 (without exploiting the game).
Hardcore fans, have raised issues with the new level system, arguing that the system has been watered down, and as a result it’s a bit more friendly to new players, which for the majority isn’t an issue, the SPECIAL system in Fallout 3 was a bit more technical and what you leveled up would determine the path you followed in the game (as an example in Fallout 3, you mastered a skill you can use that to your advantage, in Fallout 4 you are more like a jack of all trades), following up on that is another re-occurring theme, the karma system that featured in the earlier game, you could decide whether to be good or bad is missing in Fallout 4, it appears as though you can only be good (Fallout 3 – Megaton anyone?).
Finally the big one that keeps coming up is the steering towards utilising the First Person perspective, It’s well documented through interviews with Todd Howard (Game Director), that whilst keeping to the lines of an RPG they have aimed at creating an element of First Person Shooter (FPS), the main reason behind the decision was in Fallout 3, most gamers heavily relied on VATS (Vault-Tec, Assisted, Targeting, System), when used it would effectively freeze time and allow you to aim at the part, in 4, time keeps moving albeit at a slower speed, personally it makes sense to me, but to others this is a major problem.
For all the negativity however there have been some huge improvements, crafting on its own will take huge chunks of your time, from building your own settlement up including buildings, defences, power, resources and furniture amongst others to crafting new weapons and armour (Including new power armour!). The game is immense in what you can build and achieve, YouTube is already full of settlement videos it’s a credit to the developers that the game has taken off so quickly, the detail is quite astonishing.
The loot system from previous games is present, however with this new crafting system the collection of everyday objects now takes on a very different stance. Everything you collect can be used to craft with, everything. You’ll find yourself running round buildings picking up cups, typewriters, light bulbs, duct tape anything that you can grab, and if you are like me you’ll overburden yourself and start getting attacked and have no way of escaping without getting the pipboy out and dropping items! Legendary items can be gained from fighting higher levelled opponents and these items can be improved at your nearest workbench. Items can be transferred to the workshop and when you craft items it will automatically dismantle items from the inventory – no need to manually get involved other than to locate your item and accept. You can literally lose hours (I’ve been there). The ability to fast travel is a saviour here, as you’ll find yourself regularly going backwards and forwards to your settlement to drop items off. Just remember to pay close attention to the tutorials or you’ll be asking a well informed friend how to do simple tasks like plant a fruit…
Bethesda could have gotten away without utilising the crafting aspect to the game, without it the game would still be huge, still have plenty to be getting on with and still be a great game; however this just notches it up another level.
Dialogue has been vastly improved with over 111,000 lines recorded, which Bethesda announced was more than Fallout 3 and Skyrim combined. 13,000 of these were performed by each of the main Voice Actors (Kudos to Brian T Delaney & Courtenay Taylor). Each interaction with a character leads to at first a little unease, are they a friend or foe, do they want to help me, or eat my face, if a friendly it leads on to a Mass Effect style conversation with 4 answers, which has received a little negativity from fans (In particular the PC based users, understandably the 4 answers works better on a console…), despite this it appears to work well, is smooth and it does form coherent dialogues.
— BethesdaGameStudios (@BethesdaStudios) September 3, 2015
Enemy AI is much improved with enemies taking cover from long distance and trying to pick you off from afar, they flank your position or just out right sneak up on you, if they are not using these techniques then they just flat out charge your position, giving to sporadic gameplay that makes you change up your approach with every encounter. The ability to setup favourite weapons (Coincidentally on weapons, the sound design on the guns is sublime, there is a certain after ring when firing energy weapons that is so deep in bass tone, it’s wonderful to just fire off shots to hear it), items and aid is a plus as well, as you can setup heavy weapons on 1 direction of the D Pad, Pipe Weapons on another, Stimpacks on another, etc all angles are covered, it requires investment to get it setup, but boy is it worth it).
A huge part of the game revolves around companions, each one with their own background story to which you normally go through a mission and at the end they offer their assistance, if you don’t need them or prefer to venture on your own you can ask them to return to a settlement of your choice, send them all to one and they interact with each other or objects (for example send Dogmeat to a settlement and if you have a doghouse in the back garden he will be waiting for you), be aware if you leave power armour at a settlement it may be missing when you get back as a companion has ‘borrowed’ it. All these touches are why the game generated so much hype from June onwards.
The Storyline has been reported to be short, however if, like me you spend most of the time chasing up side quests and occasionally coming back to the main storyline, there is easily more than enough to keep you busy (Crafting, Settlement, anyone?). I found it intriguing and without revealing too much from early on you have more than enough to get your teeth into. You can form alliances with some of the commonwealth powers and carry out side missions for them (Brotherhood of Steel anyone…)
Despite some concerns from fans, that the experience has been watered down, I believe the franchise is going in the right direction, it has to appeal to the masses and with the rise of games like Call Of Duty, Destiny and Titanfall First Person Shooters are hugely appealing. I believe Bethesda have been clever, they have kept the Role Playing aspect at the core and slightly blurred the lines to allow people to play it the way they want to, and that is no bad thing, after 4 years in development the end result is a game that can attract new players and retain existing.
There is an incredible depth to the game with various side missions, crafting, and weapon creation even down to collecting holotapes to play mini games on the pip-boy. I’ve invested over 100 hours in the game and I still have not touched the sides. In reality I could continue writing about other details that make this game a generational title, but I won’t. All I would say is this is a must have title.
If you haven’t purchased this game yet, go now, what are you waiting for…
With thanks to Bethesda for the PlayStation 4 review copy. Due to the size and depth of this game the review was put together by myself and Bradford. We have both put many hours into this game to bring you this review which we are both huge fans of and hope we have managed to show you all how great this is.