I wasn’t planning on picking up Fallout 4 so early, but after the hype of my friends that leached onto every social media platform. I thought I might as well have a look. A Sequel to Bethesda’s Fallout 3 (They don’t like to talk about their Bastard child Fallout: New Vegas). Fallout’s Universe key difference is when the bombs dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki they used the nuclear power as a way to transform technology and such it became a more developed world earlier. Fallout 4 takes place after a nuclear warfare between the Chinese and the Americans that roots back to the scarcity of resources due to overuse. 200 years later, the aftermath leaves us with devastation across world but we are focused in a wasteland called ‘The Commonwealth’. Going into this game, I had completed both F3 and F:NV but knowing the last Bethesda Fallout was 7 years ago, I was sure there was going to be major differences. My worry was though, is it going to be unrecognisably different?
The game starts you off in pre-war time, in the 1950s but of course it is drastically different due to the nuclear power. Bethesda did a great job of setting up the atmosphere of a futuristic 1950’s era. It was also the first time we could see the graphics of the newly updated Creation Engine that Bethesda have used since Skyrim and they were pretty stunning, the shadows and lighting has had a definite increase since their last titles and walking around the happy neighbourhood, it really added to the realism of the game. Though, nothing lasts forever and such the nukes begin to fall.
I will leave out what happens in the Vault since its heavy spoiler territory but coming out to the Commonwealth wasteland was pretty awesome. Before in F3 and F:NV the wasteland would look like a patchy-textured dessert which all looked like it was done with a terraform tool in one sweep but in F4 you are greeted with an immense apocalyptic land with detail in every rock. The map itself is massive, taking 20 minutes to walk from one corner of the map to the other and the concentration of fast-travel locations is so large now if you walked in any direction you are sure to run into one in no less than five minutes.
There are a few key gameplay mechanics in the past titles that have change in F4 though. The V.A.Ts system now moves instead of a solid picture of the deathclaw swiping your eyes out. I think it makes combat flow a bit better than before as you can’t just use it as your little safe zone away from the explosions and guns, but it also means decision-making of going for that 30% shot or not has to speed up leaving you at the start with some pretty slop plays. Stimpaks now need a little animation before they boost you with health which tidies up the gameplay a bit so you can’t run in there and try to smack all the bewildered raiders with a bat. A final major change is the Power Armour, and [Spoiler Alert!] you get a set T-45 pretty early on. This kills the original feeling of the set for me. I remember how much it took to get it in Fallout 3 and New Vegas, you had to get practically in bed with the Brotherhood of Steel (Who are a main faction in F4 but are predominant in the other titles of the franchise) before they train you to use it or in NV you had to practically wait till the end of the game before meeting the Enclave Remnants and doing their quests so you could unlock the option to train.Yet in F4, it just gets given to you on some roof without any training required (which for the LORE fans it doesn’t make any sense) making it feel like a mini powerup rather than a massive, upgraded and badass armour set.
Yet, my focus for the first four hours wasn’t on exploring the commonwealth or clearing out tunnels from Feral Ghouls or even searching for epic weapons but it was building a wooden shack. Fallout 4 adds a sweet new feature of building which the modding community politely added back in Fallout: 3 but uses a similar building style to Rust (The Garry’s Mod creator’s survival game) in which it has snap to position building style. I loved being able to build my own little wasteland city for the residents. What I despised was the limitations of placing objects being greeted by a red outline every position I rotated it. Although, the real pain with the new settlement system is the fact that you get new areas to work on just from doing missions when all you want is Sanctuary Hills to be a utopia for survivors, but you can’t transfer your newly saved dwellers because they want to stay in the middle of nowhere. So my way of saying f*** you to the game is scraping everything the dwellers own ; stealing their food whilst trading with them and taking all of their inventory. That will teach them to trust the minutemen.
Overall, pretty solid start to the game but I can see why fans of the original series are feeling a bit let down.
Special Thanks to Nick Habbeshaw for the refreshments (and some KNOWLEDGE)