“Fallout 4,” an apocalyptic wonderland

BY CHRIS KRAUSS & MIKE BEVERLEY

Editorial Editor & Staff Editor

@reigningpandas and @TheMikeBeverley

The death of everything we know and love has never been as appealing as it is in “Fallout 4.”

Recently released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC, “Fallout 4” has received almost nothing but praise and fame.

“I’ve played the game probably 400 hours, and I’m still finding stuff that I haven’t seen yet,” lead producer of Bethesda Games Jeff Gardiner said.

IGN has already reported that within the first 15 hours of the game being released, PC users have cumulatively played over 4.5 million hours, meaning that the lead producer would have to play his 400 hours, 11,250 more times in order to equal the same amount spent playing.

In addition to this, IGN has also noted that over 1.87 million copies have been sold, and before “Fallout 4” even released it managed to become one of the bestselling video games to date via pre-sales and pre-orders.

1. Gameplay

“Fallout 4” is an open world action role-playing game where players assume the role of their created character, and traverse a large open map obtaining quests, all while exploring the wreckage of post-apocalyptic Boston.

ID Software (“Doom” and “Rage”) was brought on early in the development of “Fallout 4” to assist in developing the shooting mechanics for the game, and it shows. Games from ID Software have always had extremely well done gunplay, and the same can be said for “Fallout 4.”

In the previous Fallout game made by Bethesda, “Fallout 3” it was obvious that there were dice rolls happening behind the scenes. Shots would either hit or miss depending on a character’s stats, no matter how close the character was to the enemy. This is not the case in “Fallout 4.”

This game plays like a first-person-shooter, and a good one at that. It is the game’s greatest strength and one of its greatest criticisms.

The “Fallout” series has always been a role-playing game series, but the RPG elements have been stripped down considerably in “Fallout 4.”

Character progression is handled on one screen, and there is no level cap. There is no real risk of choosing a wrong perk or a specific way to build a character because even though it would take a really long time, a player could max out everything in “Fallout 4” eventually.

Bethesda clearly focused more on the shooter mechanics for “Fallout 4” rather than the RPG mechanics. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as the game is still fun to play, but if the player is looking for a deep RPG with a lot of stats and numbers this is not the game for them.

Other than that, “Fallout 4” plays very much like “Fallout 3” or “Fallout: New Vegas.” The player will spend a large amount of time running across the wasteland and finishing quests. However, there is an ungodly amount of stuff to do in “Fallout 4” between the main story and side quests that it is almost overwhelming sometimes, which is pretty standard for recent Bethesda games.

Killing enemies in “Fallout 4” grants the player experience points, eventually leveling the player up and granting one skill point that they can either put into one of seven core stats or to receive a perk.

Perks are the closest thing “Fallout 4” has to skills. They can grant the player the ability to do anything from hack computers to dealing more damage. The screen for perks can be a little jarring at first because the game shows every single perk that can be unlocked even if you do not have the necessary stats to unlock it.

Another feature in the previous two “Fallout” games was the V.A.T.S system. The V.A.T.S system would pause the game during combat and allow the player to select an enemy to shoot, while showing the percentage chance to hit them.

V.A.T.S returns in “Fallout 4” but instead of pausing the game, enemies move in slow motion. If the enemy moves behind cover, then they cannot be hit, which benefits the more fast-paced combat of this game.

As per other Bethesda games, “Fallout 4” has shipped with some bugs. The frame rate will occasionally dip, textures will pop in and characters will get stuck in the environment. Thankfully these are not game breaking and the game will not crash on you, but they can be immersion breaking.

Another problem is that “Fallout 4” has long load times on consoles. Loading screens can take around thirty seconds in some parts and in a large open world game where a player is constantly fast traveling or entering a building, those loading screens add up.

These criticisms and changes do not mean that “Fallout 4” is a bad game. It actually does exactly what it wants to do; it is a fun action RPG with improved combat over its predecessor, and enough content to keep the player busy for hours on end.

2. The First Two Hours

When booting up “Fallout 4” for the first time a quick introductory cinematic steals the screen, which sets the tone, and gives the player some background information if they are new to the series.

Once the cinematic is over, which thankfully is not too long, the player will get to make a character, and his or her significant other.

The game’s character creation is different than most games; instead of adjusting sliders and selecting body parts to edit from a list, the player moves their cursor to highlight parts of the character’s face, and use the analog stick to adjust and move the parts around.

It is not exactly user-friendly, as the game does not tell the player exactly what parts they can and cannot edit, but once it is learned, it allows for deeper customization than most other games.

Once the player is done with their character they will get to see Pre-Nuclear Apocalypse Boston where the main protagonist happily lives with his wife (or husband), baby and robot butler, Codsworth.

One of the coolest parts of the game’s opening is that Codsworth’s voice actor, Stephen Russell, read a variety of common names, and some not so common, for his dialogue. Hearing a character call you by your character’s actual name was an extremely pleasant surprise.

Due to some events in the story, that we will not spoil here, the main character is sent 200 years into the future, and the events that led up to this happening were actually very interesting.

The new voice acting for the main character, which is a first for the series, actually lent to the drama very well. The reasoning behind Bethesda making the change to a voiced protagonist makes sense here.

After this the player’s character is dumped into Post-Nuclear Fallout Boston, like other Fallout games, they can run in any direction they want, but where they are supposed to go for the main story is pretty obvious.

If the player follows the main story they will find their favorite robot butler, who will point them in the direction of the next town. It is here they will get to experience their first big fight against multiple enemies, and a Deathclaw, which is about as dangerous as the name sounds.

This fight is a giant set piece where the game gives you a huge mini-gun and lets you go at it. It is a fun and brutal fight that is supposed to hook the player, and it works.

“Fallout 4” opens and digs its claws into you, and does exactly what it is designed to do, make you want to play more.

3. Town Building and Weapon Crafting

The sheer amount of content in the town building and weapon crafting systems alone is enough to last months. Before beginning, it is important to note that the two are completely optional and the player suffers no consequences for not participating in one.

However, if the player does decide to partake, they will enjoy a feature that is enough to build an entirely separate game on.

Town building is almost immediately available in the game, thrust upon the player with very little explanation and although this is frustrating at first, it is quickly remedied by the amazing open ended possibilities.

Players are able to clear entire structures from the world within a certain radius of the town/base and then are able to build what they want on top of this newly claimed ground.

Materials are gained from literally almost everything in the world, as everything you pick up or see can be broken down into raw materials to then be used to create new structures, furniture or defenses.

After building structures around the creation zone, players are able to assign residents that are in the town to specific jobs whether that be harvesting food or defending the town. A town will initially start with two residents, but building a radio communication tower quickly allows for players to gain more.

The game allows for the player to be as detailed or dull as they want in the creation process, giving the player the option to decorate with posters, colored lights and electronics or build one large building with nothing inside of it.

After the player progresses far enough into the side quests concerning town building, they acquire the ability to send caravans between their bases via trade routes and even be attacked by waves of raiders.

This unpredictability and customization is what makes the base building so much fun to play and each base gives the player a different setting to build something new.

The feature is amazing, although it does not come without its bugs. Often placed walls will have troubles snapping together, leaving awkward gaps between walls and the floor. The overall process can be overwhelming, even after getting used to it and for those that are perfectionist, they will spend days trying to make sure every base is aesthetically pleasing and secure.

The weapon crafting system offers a similar problem to the town building, as the entire process is incredibly in-depth, but by doing so, it creates an overwhelming sensation. However, the game attempts to aid the player in a few different ways.

Weapons that are owned, all of which can be modified, are placed into a weapon bench and individually sectioned off into specific groups (grips, sights, barrels, etc.). Each portion of the gun can be upgraded to fit the play style of the player, meaning something as random as a scope can be put onto a shotgun or sniper rifle’s barrel onto a pistol.

“Fallout 4” allows for almost infinite possibilities and mixes in a single gun, and caters to anyone that wants to edit the basic weapons even a little bit.

Conclusion

“Fallout 4” is a brutally intense entry in the next generation of the post-apocalyptic world, but it does not manage to come without its flaws. Awkward glitches and long load times take away from the immersion, and the complicated perk tree can be confusing to new users.

However, this entry into the series brings the game into a great shooter realm, offering hundreds of hours of gameplay, and unlimited customization options. Almost everything else new that it brings to the series comes as a positive, especially its town building and weapon customization.

The Flyer gives “Fallout 4” an 8/10. This game was reviewed for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

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