The Wasteland. The Wasteland never changes. Fallout 4 brings players back into the familiar world of Fallout where and alternate timeline America is brought to the brink of extinction after the world plunges into nuclear war. If you’ve played Bethesda’s stellar Fallout 3 or Obsidians exceptional Fallout New Vegas than you’ll feel instantly at home in Bethesda Softworks take on post-apocalyptic Boston. But after great promotion Fallout 4 has brought in a batch of players new to the Wasteland. Don’t worry there is plenty to love for both veteran survivors and people just stepping out of the vault in this amazingly fun game with 100s of hours of content.

Bethesda Softworks
Bethesda Softworks

Graphics: 9/10

This is Bethesda’s prettiest game, despite the often dulled color palette of greys and browns. It isn’t the most technologically marvelous imagine, that goes to games like Metal Gear Solid 5, but there is certainly nothing to complain about. Character models are done very well, especially considering the number that can be on screen at once, and the variety of NPC (non-playable characters) that inhabit the world of fallout. I haven’t noticed any repeated faces. Fallout 4 also marks the first time you see varied body shapes in a Bethesda title.

The game doesn’t have a hyper realistic look to it, which is fine considering it’s not what they were going for. In a world filled with radiated roaches, and super mutant monsters hyperrealism would clash with the aesthetic. Speaking of radiated monsters, the creatures of the wastes are appropriately disturbing. A couple of them, like the mongrel dogs, look a little plain and somewhat lazily detailed.

Where Fallout excels graphically is in its environment building. The wasteland itself evokes a feeling a dread, like danger is right around the corner. Charred trees and fallen trunks cover the hills and busted building filled with skeletons dot the map to help build an environment that feels alive, despite the death surrounding it. The draw distance in the game is fantastic, evoking a scenes of openness and truly showcases the grand scale of the games explore-able map. The Wasteland’s sky is stunning, especially when the weather turns sour. I don’t blame you if you stand outside staring at the sky as a radiated lightning storm slowly eats away at your health.

Sound: 10/10

The Wasteland never sounded so good. Everything is crisp, from your footfall to the screams of enemy raiders yelling what the plan to do to you. First, Fallout 4 has an astounding 111,000 recorded lines of dialogue. That’s more than its last two games, Skyrim & Fallout, combined.  What this means is the added variety will keep players immersed in the game after hours of gameplay. Nothing breaks immersion more than knowing every raider’s insults before they state them. Fallout 4 also introduced a voiced main character, which has its benefits and setbacks. Many fans liked the variety of choices offered by having text choices in place of recorded lines of dialogue. With 4 main options during conversations, some players feel they are missing some of the older Fallout’s more creative dialogue choices. But at least your character has good voice actor, with well delivered lines and timing. Conversations do take on a more natural sounding flow when NPC’s reacted to an audible statement as opposed to a silent protagonist.

The weapons of fallout have satisfying crack. Fallout 3 would often have mistimed sounds that didn’t coincide with the visible gunshot. Now ever gun has a nice distinguishable imprint that are as responsive as your trigger finger. Distant firefights have a nice frantic feel, and get louder the nearer you draw to them, making for great tension building as you draw finally see who’s fighting each other.

Finally, the smaller noises really help add something else to the game. Noises like the clicking on of a screen, the confetti and party kazoo when you open a vault-tec lunch box, or the alert when you’ve leveled up after a tough firefight. Everything is crisp and you quickly associate sound ques with specific actions. Last but not least, I couldn’t go over the sound without talking about the music. While roaming the wastes, Fallout boasts a stunning original soundtrack that is so good at setting the tone I like to crank it up as high as possible in the audio settings. For those that don’t like the doom and gloom building background music the radio will offer a sharp contrast to the drab world around you. You have two primary options for radio stations when you first start the game, one plays tunes from the 50’s like Atom Bomb Baby by the Five Stars and Crazy He Calls Me by Billie Holliday. The other option is classical radio, which can be just as mood setting as the original soundtrack. Bethesda did add more tracks to their radio station as many fans complained that if they ever heard Johnny Guitar they’ll riot. Hopefully Bethesda plans on adding more music later on as players sink more hours into the game and grow weary of the 55 tracks (13 classical, 5 original, and 37 Nineteen fifties track) offered on the radio.

Gameplay/Playability: 10/10

fallout4trailerwasteland1433355638png-64b497_765w
IGN.com

World/Level Design:

The people at Bethesda have become masters of creating game worlds. The game map has an abundance of locations to discover and vary their concentrations. Cities are dense with buildings and the wilderness regions have a good scattering of caves, huts, and dilapidated locations to keep you busy. The world is has the most vertical exploration of any Bethesda game, sewers, rooftops, elevators and lifts all play a part in how the player navigates the environment. What makes Bethesda worlds so amazing is that they evoke a feeling of life. They aren’t just set pieces that you wonder through. They’re expertly crafted to help frame the player within a post-apocalyptic world that still has plenty of life. One of Bethesda’s best world building techniques are what players like to call “Silent stories”. Basically Bethesda has purposely placed skeletons, or vehicles in specific locations as a means to display what these people were doing just as the bombs fell. One of my favorites is two skeletons strewn over a large safe, each with a gun in hand. Not every single room is going to host a “silent story” but I advise everyone to really give each room a good examination. If you want a good chuckle keep an eye open for the teddy bears. On top of these “silent stories”, Bethesda has scattered journal entries, holo-tapes, and more in order to give players a sense of the world that was lost.

5YtZi77

Gun play/enemy encounters:

Fallout 4 is the best playing Fallout game, probably the best playing Bethesda game. Bethesda has made small tweaks to the gun play that results in a far smoother first person shooter experience. Aiming down sights came late to the Fallout universe but now it’s become standard, making non-VATS combat a breeze. Bethesda added a melee ability by taping the upper-top shoulder button. Holding the top left shoulder button now allows you to throw grenades. While these two actions seem like standard FPS fare, they add much needed versatility and speed to Fallout’s combat. In the older games you had to switch to a melee weapon in order to melee and switch to a grenade in order to throw one. Now you can chuck a Molotov cocktail at an enemy on an over pass, turn and melee a charging raider, then fire at his buddy all in one uninterrupted sequence.

V.A.T.S. or Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System allows players to slow time, and target individual body parts on enemies and showcased the percent chance of hitting that target. Compared to past iterations Fallout 4’s VATS doesn’t slow down the game world nearly as much. Enemy now move at roughly half speed, in the past enemies moved far slower, nearly frozen in fact. I like the new speed of VATS. It makes VATS feel like an assist not a cheat. You’ll find yourself getting faster at making decisions in VATS. My problem with the new system is the critical hits. In videogames, Critical hits are random (percentage based chance) and offer a nice surprise damage boost. In Fallout 4 players get a critical hit bar, which fills as you deal damage in VATS. Once the bar is filled the player activates the critical shot during VATS, allowing for 100% hit chance and bonus damage. On one hand having a critical shot in the bank come in handy when you need to drop an enemy in a sticky situation. On the other hand, the tradition method allowed for more critical hits to occur. Bethesda does need to fix an issue between your decision in VATS and the character actually executing the shot. During that second or two your character is stuck in this slowed down aiming sequence while the enemies fire away at you.  All in all though VATS works like it should, it offers a way to track enemies and pick off weaknesses.

Enemies have been upgraded to have more dynamic AI and attack patterns. While the AI isn’t particularly innovative they’re at least competent enough. Raiders will use cover pretty well, and have incredible aim with grenades. Irradiated animals have greater variety in their behaviors. For example, molerats have gone from slow moving targets, to borrowing into the ground then popping up for a surprise attack. Perhaps the greatest change is the feral ghouls, who have emerged as an actually scary element. I’ve already received a few jump scares curtesy of these lightning fast zombies that lunge as soon as they’re within range. The best changes to enemy emergence has to be skirmishes. As you wander the wastes you’ll occasionally hear the sounds of battle, if you follow the sounds you’ll come across two factions battling each other in real-time. You can sit back and let them duke it out or join the fray and add to the chaos. Sometimes a Legendary enemy will be leading one of the skirmishing packs. These new beefed up enemies take a bunch of damage before “mutating”, which refills their health and makes them fight you harder. If you finally take down one of these enemies, which can be anything from a radroach to a Deathclaw, you’ll be given a weapon or piece of armor with a special upgrade like faster movement speed, or even explosive rounds. It’s an interesting twist that makes taking on these tough opponents worth the difficulty.

Fallout-4-Screenshot-Deathclaw

Power Armor:

Fallout 4 finally makes Power Armor feel like the powerful item all the other games hyped it up to be. In past iterations it functioned as little more than any other armor. But in Fallout 4 it works more like a vehicle and its amazing. First off, Power Armor requires batteries in the form of fusion cores in order to move. So collect them whenever you can, because you don’t want your suit powering down in the middle of fighting a Deathclaw. As soon as you step into your Power Armor you’ll notice that it comes with it’s own heads up display, your health, AP, and rads are all shown in dial form. Wearing Power Armor finally comes with a set of bonuses like more carrying strength, far better defense, the ability to drop from high distances without threat of death, and far better weapon handling. Their is also the option to customize your Power Armor with paint, arc coils, and even a freaking jet pack! Power Armor is finally the amazing piece of old world technology the citizens of the wasteland have always revered.

Leveling:

The leveling up system takes a step back. It’s a lot more simplified, doing away with the skill points of Fallout 3 and the interactive leveling of skills by using them of Skyrim, Fallout 4 is simply level up and put a point in either a SPECIAL stat or a perk associated with that stat. While not a big complaint, it would be far more satisfying to increase ones, for example, sneak skill by constantly sneaking around. It feels more immersive.

Loot:

Fallout loves their loot, and Bethesda has made some tweaks to the system to allow for quicker looting. All Bethesda games let you take damn near anything that isn’t bolted down. If you kill an enemy, you can take everything off of their bodies, from their weapon to the clothes off their backs. Now you can take all their items from a convenient window that’s usable in real-time. You scroll through the items with the D-pad and take them with the action button. If you liked the older system that takes you to a loot “menu”, all you need to do is push the reload button. Giving players two options for looting as a great way to satisfy two camps of players.

Fallout4_E3_LaserMod.0

Settlements/Crafting:

Fallout 4 has introduced a settlement building mechanic that gives players the ability to build up settlements in various locations in the world. Items range from walls, to house, and defensive turrets.  On top of this settlement building there are also weapon benches, armor building, chem stations and cooking fires. What this means is that the game requires players to too pick up everything. You need wood, steel, glass, screws. The amount of recourses required is staggering and you quickly fill up inventory space. The rewards for settlement building are still iffy. If you spend a lot of time and perk points you can eventually build up a settlement that has all the amenities of a major hub but that takes a lot of time gathering up the vast amount of recourses needed. Worse though is that resources are exclusive to the settlement you take them too, unless you get a specific perk then assign one of your settlers to traverse the wastes as a supply line between settlements you want to connect. The settlement building offers a nice distraction but ultimately I haven’t found the rewards to justify the amount of work. Your settlements don’t end up looking nicer than a raider camp no matter how much you want.

Weapon crafting puts a new spin on looting guns. In the older iterations of Fallout, weapons lost their condition as the player used them, encouraging players to pick up extra weapons as a means to repair their guns. Fallout 4 doesn’t have conditions so there isn’t the same need to pick up multiples of the same gun. However now with weapon crafting/customization you can pick up a gun, go to a weapon bench, take its scope off and add it to your own. This allows players to bypass having to unlock perks in order to build some of the higher level weapon parts if they keep an eye out for customized loot.

Lock-picking, Hacking and Pip-boy:

What Bethesda sorely needs to update however is the user interface and menus. The Pip-boy, and hacking are literally the same thing from Fallout 3 (2008). The lock picking mechanic has been the same since Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion (2006). I guess Bethesda feels that if it aint broke don’t fix it, but at this point its just lazy. Lock picking and hacking are just a nuisances to veteran players, throw some variations of the locking picking and hacking mini-games at us. Both new and old players would appreciate the variety, and it’ll add depth to the world. Why does every door have the same lock? Bethesda took a risk and changed up Skyrim’s inventory menu, I hoped they would do the same with the Pip-boy. It functions but there are a lot of quality of life changes that could have improved the Pip-boy. The menu seems clunky to navigate. You need to leave the Pip-boy in order to see what your character looks like with the equipped item on. Just write in that someone customized the Pip-boy during the last 200 years, not a stretch by any means, and include some innovative designs like current smartphone use. But smart phones could be the reason behind the current design. With the companion app players can use their phones to access the Pip-boy at any time without pausing the game. It’s a neat addition but more of a gimmick than a game changer.

 

Final Verdict: 9.5/10

Fallout 4 is a damn good game, with so much content that you could play it for dozens of hours without even touching the main storyline. If you’re a fan of Bethesda games just buy it and lose yourself in the world of Fallout 4. It’s understandable that Bethesda’s approach doesn’t appeal to everyone. The typically slow start, clunky AI, and sometimes overwhelming world and lore can bug some players. But for those looking to explore an immersive game world with some solid combat and hundreds of hours of content, load up your rifle and get a stim-pack ready because the wasteland… well it never changes.

Bethesda Softworks
Bethesda Softworks
https://i0.wp.com/www.myfantasysportstalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/58484_2_1.jpg?fit=1024%2C576&ssl=1https://i0.wp.com/www.myfantasysportstalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/58484_2_1.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1Michael GomezAnalysisGamingRecent PostsBethesda,Commonwealth,Fallout,Fallout 4,gameplay review,gamingThe Wasteland. The Wasteland never changes. Fallout 4 brings players back into the familiar world of Fallout where and alternate timeline America is brought to the brink of extinction after the world plunges into nuclear war. If you’ve played Bethesda’s stellar Fallout 3 or Obsidians exceptional Fallout New Vegas...Why go anywhere else for sports and entertainment?