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Fallout 4 Review: The Wasteland is Calling
Posted on November 09, 2015 by Justin Hernandez

The Fallout series has always been near and dear to my heart. My first experience with this series was with Fallout 3. I wasn't much of a PC gamer, so I had no idea of the existence of the previous Fallout titles. Fallout 3 showed me what it was to survive a nuclear attack and the world that follows. Filled with people to meet and fight, it was a world that existed as you wanted it to.

This type of open gameplay was becoming a popular genre in the gaming world. And of course, the game itself received many accolades, and led to other titles connected in the same universe.

Fallout: New Vegas happened and changed the way we survived with new weapon enhancements, enemy types, and a new Wasteland to get lost in.

So after seeing the success of these previous entries, was there ever a doubt that we would see another Fallout game? After all, war never changes.

FALLING IN LOVE ALL OVER AGAIN

You're so S.P.E.C.I.A.L. to Me - My time with Fallout 4 started with creating my character. The character creation has come a long way, utilizing an interactive menu where you can choose individual facial features to change and skew as much as you'd like. There are pre-created faces you can select from, but where is the fun in that? I did my best to make a suave 50's male and female in order to fit into the game’s aesthetic. Watching the male and female trying to use the mirror is a fun way to make the system memorable.

Then came the allocations of points into S.P.E.C.I.A.L., which stands for Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility and Luck. A mainstay in the Fallout series, a new change in Fallout 4 is a wider range of perks that can offer a variety of benefits like befriending animals or influencing people by brandishing your gun. 

While there's a familiarity with the character creation setup, Fallout 4 adds new depth to it in regards to character models and the overall build of a character.  

A New Heroic Adventure - In previous Fallout games, your character had a vague quest to follow that eventually became a larger adventure to save your part of the Wasteland. Bethesda appears to want a little more for players as this time around you start off in dramatic fashion. Without going into SPOILERS, Fallout 4 starts off in the world before the nuclear war. You see how a futuristic world, but with a 50's theme goes straight to hell in no time.

What follows is an emotional main quest that is unlike any previous Fallout game. You may find yourself getting sidetracked, but learning more about the powers in control of this part of the country, known as The Institute, you'll get a far greater sense of the actual world and lore of Fallout. 

Boston Paradise Lost - In the Fallout series, you traverse a wasteland filled with things to do. I started up my adventure and headed towards the sound of gunshots. Finding Raiders to take on is one of my favorite things to do. After clearing out the streets, I helped a group of settlers clean house.

The first taste of real combat was better than I could have ever hoped for. The gun-play is solid and is definitely a step up from the previous games' handling. I found myself using free aiming more than the returning V.A.T.S. mode, which allows you to select and damage specific body parts. It doesn't take me long to find my favorite Fallout weapon ever, the hunting rifle. With different variations available, my first hunting rifle was a short barrel version. More akin to a dueling pistol in size, this handheld bolt-action beast was my go to weapon. Other weapons like the Pipe-Rifle or the Laser Musket were great, but the hunting rifle took me back to my days around Washington D.C.

During my search for parts and gear, I ran into friendlier inhabitants of the Wasteland. Of course, one thing leads to another and now I am running errands, clearing out Super Duper Marts of ghouls, and becoming the stuff of Super Mutant nightmares.

There are multiple quest lines in the game, each taking hours upon hours to complete. Then you have all the sidequests that adds even more time to the game. Although Fallout 4's map isn't that much bigger than Fallout 3, the amount of questing available is considerably greater this time around.

Rule #15: A Hero is Only as Good as His/Her Weapon - As soon as I could, I found a weapon mod table. To mod weapons and armor, you need to first unlock that particular perk, which can be done fairly early.

I added a scope, a long barrel, a hardened receiver and a marksman's scope to my rifle. Now my small hunting rifle had just gone through the transformation into a full-fledged sniper rifle. Very quickly, I found that modding weapons was a reward experience this time around. Fallout: New Vegas introduced the concept of weapon modification, but required you to find or buy the mods. In Fallout 4, you create these adjustments from all kinds of junk in the wasteland.

All the trash you would normally leave on the ground is now valuable components for upgrades. Screws, adhesive, steel, and wood are the most commonly found while radioactive materials and glass were necessary from time to time. The higher your skills in the Gun Nut or Blacksmith perks, the better the modifications to weapons.

Luckily, weapons aren't the only items to get some attention with mods. Armor can be changed to better suit playstyle. I chose whatever would give me the most defense early in the game and started to switch to a more stealthy approach, offering less armor but better coverage in the dark. The best part of all these armor mods is that they are completely visible and change the way the armor looks, sometimes radically. The only downside to any modifications is that they are sure to eat up a lot of your time. I spent a few hours just wandering the Wasteland looking for super markets and apartment buildings to ransack just to find more parts or gear. I won't say this is time wasted, but it did sidetrack me.

Home is Where You Make It - Easily one of the most enjoyable new features is creating your own settlement is so much fun. With two different characters, no two settlements looked the same. An abundance of one material over the other usually dictates what you build with primarily, either wood or metal. With somewhat a surplus in both at the beginning, I had the chance to make some ridiculous settlements. On one, I decided to go fortified minimalist, focusing on tight spaces and a main entrance. On the other build, I went nuts and made one huge estate with all of the extras that I probably didn't need. Both homesteads became useful in their own way. With bandit attacks happening on what seemed to be a random occurrence, my minimalist fortress made it easier to corral the enemies into a bottleneck that my turrets quickly cut down. On the other hand, my giant Wasteland castle gave me the sniping points necessary to deal with the oncoming threat from a better distance.

Building is fun and engaging with a lot to choose from. With your imagination, you can build almost anything. Materials are found through the game world, so finding those last bits of wood, metal, or cloth shouldn't be too hard. It's when you try to take your design into the future that things get slightly difficult. It's always the small bits like copper wire or circuit boards that are the tough ones to find. Only after scavenging through a broken down robotics factory did I find what I needed. I didn't find a mountain of resources, but enough to get by. By requiring you to find these odds and ends, the developer did a fantastic job fleshing out this meta game. Without the different options and need to farm, I'm almost certain that this mode would be less than fun.

Did I mention that you can have multiple settlements to build as you see fit? Once you clear out areas, you can take it over and build your own settlements. This new options is just begging for you to spend days working on creating the ultimate bases in the Wasteland. 



WHAT A WASTELAND

Pitfalls of the Wasteland - Not everything is perfect in Boston. I had several issues with enemies and other NPCs falling through the map and showing up somewhere else. In other situations, I had enemies run directly in to wall and slowly climb up when there is no ladder or stairs available. While they aren't necessarily game-breaking issues, it did make finding quest givers a bit harder. Other than bugs, the only other complaint would be some issues with the enemy A.I in some cases.

My first run in with an infamous Deathclaw was memorable. The Deathclaw flipped a car to get closer to me, and with this new tactic, it was beyond terrifying. This horrific moment was brought to an end when the car was dropped on to his head and knocking him down. A gigantic monster was turned into cannon fodder in one fell swoop. Not exactly the A student of Deathclaws. Now these aren't cardinal sins or anything, especially of a game with this scale, but some definite glaring issues.

This is Next Gen? - With so much power available to Bethesda with the PS4 and Xbox One, one has to wonder why couldn't they make Fallout 4 look better? Yes, the Wasteland has more color to it then Fallout 3 and New Vegas, but the character models are slightly better than before. It's disappointing that Bethesda didn't "wow" me with the graphics for Fallout 4. Instead if left me unsatisfied and wondering if this game was actually developed with next gen hardware in mind. 





I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Fallout 4. Granted, I didn't finish the story mode, but I was happy with what I accomplished. The grand scope of the game, new features, and a new sprawling map makes for a memorable experience. It's easy to be blinded by a game you have waited so long for, especially nowadays when we get so little sometimes. When I was putting the disc in, the thought of worry cross my mind. I was worried that the year that I waited for this game would be wasted.

All worries have been addressed, and this is without a doubt one of the best games I have played from Bethesda since The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. It means that much to me now, and without a second thought, I can guarantee I'll be playing this game for months on end. 

 

Justin Hernandez - Staff Writer justin (@) original-gamer.com | all author's articles

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