Fallout 4 review: Adventure is out there!

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Beware of some spoilers.

Hands down one of my all-time favorite games from the last console generation was Fallout 3. I spent hours upon hours trekking through the dystopian wastelands of Washington DC in search of adventure. Walking to virtually every corner of the map, trying to squeeze every last bit of story I could out of the game. The game would go on to win numerous awards and was named by many gaming publications as Game of the Year. With the release of the new Fallout 4, it is easy to see that Bethesda has some mighty big shoes to fill and a lot to live up to with a new game. Can Fallout 4 retake its crown as Game of the Year? Does the game live up to the hype? Let’s find out.

You play as a former soldier who by pure luck has survived the apocalypse.  You awake to find out that your only son has been taken and your wife/husband has been murdered while your are completely helpless to do anything. After finally emerging from cryosleep, you venture out into the wasteland to find your son and find the people who did this. You come to find out that your son was taken by the shadowy organization called The Institute. The Institute was formed at the Commonwealth Institute of Technology, where the androids were first created. Since the development of the androids and the post-war fallout, The Institue has become extremely reclusive and secretive. They’ve been secretly taking people from the Commonwealth and replacing them with Synths. The reason why they do this is not entirely known. Now you, along with the help of some friends you’ve made along the way, will have to traverse the wastelands in search of clues behind The Institute’s mysterious activities in order to find your son. Dun dun dunnnn!

A majority of the game’s story revolves around the androids or synth. The Synths were first established in Fallout 3, where you choose whether or not to help an android escape out of the city. It was here that the franchise first established the existences of The Institue and The Railroad. The Railroad is a group of wastelanders who help androids escape and hide from clutches of The Institute. These two factions along with the Brotherhood of Steel will play a key role in the major story. Players will have to choose which faction to side with as the story unravels. If you’ve played Fallout before then you know you can usually choose the good or the bad options when it comes to story. This time around the distinction between the two is a bit hazy. You can still kill virtually anyone in the game, but it is not clear if you can actually be a bad guy in the game. Most dialogue options only range from nice guy to jerk. There are very few instances where I found you could threaten a character. Some fans may not like this, but for me it was not that big of a deal breaker.

12232929_10203973614935189_7979512797331572518_oAside from the main quest, there is literally hundreds of side quests you can do in the game. I spent the majority of last week playing the game for the review and I still feel like I’ve only scratched the surface. Bethesda has really done a great job at taking the setting of Boston and applying its rich history into the story.  I loved that Diamond City was a makeshift community built inside Fenway Park. There is even a mission in the city where someone ask you to get the correct shade of green to help repaint the Green Monster. It’s this level of detail that really helps make the places in the game come alive. Speaking of the city, while playing the game, I always felt like going into the city was more dangerous than wandering in the wastelands. Why? Everyone’s favorite Super Mutants and Raiders have taken refuge in key parts of the city. Even Synths along with packs of Feral Ghouls will control certain areas inside the Boston Commons when you first start out. This factors into gameplay later as over time you begin to feel like you slowly but surely are taking the city back.

There are also other smaller factions you can choose to aid outside the main three. One that I predominately stuck with were The Minutemen. The Minutemen were a group of settlers who banded together in order to help anyone who needed it in the wastelands. Due unfortunate circumstances, The Minutemen were no more aside from a few survivors. Together you can help rebuild the organization and help establish new settlements throughout the map. Establishing these locations will help broaden the network of The Minutemen. After completing some missions, you are appointed the role of General and as the leader you can choose settlers and move them from place to place. You can also build on these locations. As you may have seen in the E3 demonstration, you can build and remodel certain areas you’ve established by scraping elements like fallen trees or old chainlink fencing for materials. Using these along with other junk you find in the wasteland will help you build walls, gun turrets, and power generators. I also do like that more characters are now willing to share items with you as oppose to previous games. I can’t tell you the amount of times I was attacked by a town of wastelanders all because I accidently picked up some Instamash.

If I have one tip for you in this area it would be to establish your Supply Lines early. I did not know at first, but you can designate one person from each settlement to help send resources from one place to another. Doing this allows you to share all your materials amongst the settlements, which makes building a lot easier. A word of warning as well, if you do help establish settlements be prepared to take care of them. Despite the fact that many of the settlers are full grown adults, they will need help when it comes to growing crops, finding waters, setting up defenses and dealing with local threats. That last piece I talked about is probably the only thing I disliked most about the game because each mission would have me backtrack to an area I had already cleared out. It wouldn’t be a problem if the enemies weren’t setup in the exact same areas where they were when I previously cleared it out. You will also get alerts when they’ve come under attack. These alerts can also become annoying while you’re doing the main story because you will literally have to drop everything and help them. Not complying in a timely manner will result in the deaths of settlers and destruction of some of the items you may have built. Eventually, you will progress to the point where you can build Missile Turrets and other devices that will better defend these areas. I strongly suggest doing the Minutemen missions after the main story.

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While I do believe the game is beautiful at times I don’t think it will be considered to have the best graphics this year. Where the game really excels is fleshing out the world and expanding on what we’ve come to know and love about Fallout. Some enemies have been given an updated look and some are far more imposing than they originally were. Sentry Bots now seem like walking tanks and after a first few encounters with them you will probably be less likely to attack them. Radscorpions are another enemy that I found to be way more imposing than I originally remembered. I also loved that the enemy classes are a lot deeper. Super Mutants and other baddies have way more variety. I remember the first time I ran into the suicide bomber like Super Mutant, I was completely caught by surprises, especially when he ran up to me with a Mini Nuke in his hand and killed both of us. It is nice to see that even though they’ve brought back classic enemies, they’ve added a nice amount of new variety to them. I also loved the attention to detail when it comes to damage on enemies. For instance, when you fight robots you will notice that bits and pieces will begin break and fall off. The same can be said for Mirelurks. If you inflict enough damage on these little crustaceans, their shell will literally explode or you can even shoot limbs off of Feral Ghouls and they will still keep coming.

Aside from enemies, the weapons also have a vast variety thanks to the new customization option. You can know change sights, barrels and even upgrade the weapons key components to help deliver the most damage. In previous games, players used to just horde random junk to sell later, or you’d find that one guy collecting Nuka Cola memorabilia. In Fallout 4, all the junk you pick up in the wastelands can be used to help modify your weapons or add to whatever establishment you are building. First-person shooting in the game has also been massively improved. Once I leveled up my character around the 20 mark, I found myself using V.A.T.S a lot less. For me, I chose to use Sniper Rifles and other Assault weapons. You can build you character to cater to you playstyle by picking specific perks in the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. menu. Depending on which attributes you choose to level up, more and more different perks will become available to you. Armor is another element that has more variety and depth. Aside from what you can build or the different types of armor there are, I just loved the fact that putting on Power Armor actually feels like your character is wearing it. Once in the suit you have an entirely different HUD. Your movements have weight and when jumping down from higher platforms, you can feel the thunderous rumble when you land on the ground. I also love that in the armor your character is actually taller. Upon venturing out with a companion to do a mission, I noticed I was significantly taller than I once was.

Companions are another feature that has really been expanded. Each character has their own unique style and some have unique abilities that can help you in missions. Like Nick Valentine, an android private eye who you befriend in the game, is really good at hacking terminals. Dogmeat, on the other hand, is great at finding items and you can even command him to look for stuff if you happen to be low on ammo or food. Each character also has their own set of unique dialogue when you take them on missions. I remember thinking it was probably not the best idea to take Valentine with me to meet the Brotherhood of Steel, being that they see androids as abominations and want to destroy The Institute because of them. Walking around their base a few knights and scribes made some rude comments, but Valentine was quick to come back with some snarky comment of his own. Even Codsworth, your Mister Handy robot who survived the apocalypse, will have some hilarious things to say. If Codsworth saw another robot, he’d always go up and talk to them. One thing I loved about this character was that anytime I talked to him it felt like he was really talking to me. I could see his eye lenses close and retract as he conversed with me. If I had one critique about the companions, it is that I wish they didn’t have Collision Detection. Time and time again, whoever was helping would get in my way. I can’t even tell you how many times I wanted to kill Dogmeat because he corner trapped me or wouldn’t get out of my way while I was trying to recover from enemy fire.

Certainly there are a few bugs. There was one instance where I was fighting a Radscorpion that was ten feet in the air. There were also a few times where the frame rate really seemed to drop at times, but nothing too game breaking and certainly not something they couldn’t patch within the first week. Despite my few cons that I’ve laid out, there is not much I don’t love about Fallout 4. The key elements that I loved about Fallout 3 are here. Even after playing for seven days I still feel like there is always something new to be discovered. No raiders outpost feels the same, no abandoned factory feels the same, each area has its own story. The world and streets of The Commonwealth feel alive. Whether it’s simply walking down the street and seeing a Vertibird fly over ahead as Brotherhood Knights charge on foot to some battle off in the distant or trying to take shelter from radiations storms, you can’t help but get lost in the vast world that Bethesda has built.

Rating: 4.5/5 Atoms

NR 4_5 Atoms - A-

 

 

 

This review is based on the PS4 version of the game.

You can also check out our PC video review here.

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Mike Villarreal
Mike Villarreal 1363 posts

Mike once killed a man with a plastic butter knife. True story. #ViolentGentlemen