I know what you are thinking.
“Fallout 4 has been out for a while. Why’s he reviewing a game this old? Shouldn’t he be playing DeusEx: Mankind Divided?”
Fallout 4 was released last year, yes. Let’s not forget the DLCs or expansions (same thing) have been released lately. Both NukaWorld and Far Harbor look like they have some incredible quests and scenarios included to add to the wonder of the base game. I do know Mankind Divided is out finally. I talked about how much I looked forward to it, but I’ve not had the time to buy the game yet, let alone playing something new. I’ve been enjoying Fallout 4 over the past two months and I can say without a doubt that despite what some of the more harsher critics have said it is an incredible masterpiece of a game. It is more than just Skyrim with guns with it’s story, characters, and gameplay.
Fallout 4 (2015)
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Bethesda Game Studio
Price: I bought this on sale, $39.99. I believe it was on either Humble Bundle or Steam. I forget
Platform Played: PC
The Story: [Spoilers Minimized] Nuclear war comes to an alternative universe. The player is an American citizen, a family man or a family woman. The player is visited by a mysterious salesman who comes in the nick of time offering the player a chance to survive a nuclear holocaust in a bunker called a vault. Nuclear bombs burst around the player’s home in an alternative 21st century Boston. The player’s family is broken, and the player is beginning a search for not only his son but finding a new normal in a new world (The Commonwealth).
The player has a choice of which factions to align themselves with. The player has a choice of how this quest will end, and the player can wander across a landscape of a shattered world and an unrecognizable America. Along the way the player will encounter The Minuteman, a faction that celebrates the colonial militia of old. The Railroad, a faction that a stealth based character will fit right in at. This clandestine network of spies, commandos, transporters, and smugglers rivals the World War II resistance groups and the Harriet Tubman’s Underground Railroad. There are other groups too. I allied myself with these though as they best represent my values in real life. I could not ally myself with the theocratic Brotherhood of Steel, and I could not ally myself with the manipulative STEM-focused Institute which favors only scientists and abuses their synthetic creations and treats them like slaves. After all, Nick Valentine is a ‘Synth’
The Characters, Two Examples:
The Private Investigator: Nick Valentine is a travelling companion who will fight alongside the player character and play a key role in the main quest. Valentine is a synthetic being programmed with the personality of an old school cop. Valentine is the Agent-In-Charge and Owner of the Valentine Detective Agency. Valentine can hack terminals and assist the player by offering wise counsel. Valentine mainly wields a pipe revolver chambered in .45 ACP or a laser weapon. Valentine is by far, my partner of choice while playing this game. He’s a cyborg Sam Spade and a hardboiled gumshoe who echoes Rick Deckard and Mike Hammer while surviving in a world where humans despise or enslave his people.
The Reporter: Piper Wright is an investigative journalist who assists the player. She is seeking to bring truth to the Commonwealth about The Institute’s people snatching operations and their practices with synthetic people. Wright is a companion who like Valentine is a searcher of truth and although he is not as helpful as Valentine she provides earthy, authentic, and poignant commentary regarding life in The Commonwealth.
There are other examples of interesting, thoughtful, and well-written characters. These two only scrape the surface.
Gameplay: Fallout 4, like Fallout: New Vegas (2010) is a excellent example of an open world game. There’s a main quest. There are side quests. And there’s no linear path for much of the game. The only segments that felt linear were the beginning and the first few areas of the game after the initial exit from the Vault. The player can be a charismatic settlement leader, a scientist, builder, a soldier, a detective, a commando, or a merchant. The player’s options are almost endless on where they go and what they do at each location. However, the excellent skills system from Fallout: New Vegas was replaced by a perk system similar to Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011). That was not a pleasant move for those of us who wanted an incredible role-playing game. Instead we get a DeusEx: The Conspiracy (2000) style shooter with role playing elements. Still that is a recipe for success.
Crafting is a common thread in gaming nowadays. I did not mind this in Skyrim. In Fallout 4, you can upgrade your armor (traditional and powered), weapons: (Melee, firearms, energy, launchers), and build settlement components from fortifications to water purification equipment. In this game though crafting at times seems like it is an overused situation. This is the reason why I did not finish The Minutemen questline. All in all, though the gameplay is brilliant.
Final Analysis: Late review? Yes. Timely review, certainly. Fallout 4, is a game that while it is far from perfect, it certainly showcases the abilities of Bethesda and the direction of modern gaming for better or worse. I’m eager to play the DLCs and later review the mods. This beats the last Elder Scrolls game hands down.