Everyone has been waiting for this game for years. Fallout 4 was likely the most hyped videogame of 2015, and now it is released Impact asked Aidan Collett to provide a review. He focuses especially on the new settlement mechanics and its hugely detailed world, showing that the new sequel isn’t as excellent as it first seems. 

In loading the PS4 BluRay, you are treated to a selection videos explaining what the SPECIAL attributes are: Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility and Luck to those of you unfamiliar with the series, and then it loads. The launch menu. A heavy, heavy orchestral flourish of the classic Fallout music. At this point, I’ve got goosebumps all over. I press start new game, and I tear up when the line “War. War never changes” booms out of the TV, with so much feeling and emotion my heart smashes into a thousand pieces. It’s back!

On to more substantive parts of the game: how is it different or better than the other Fallout games? The story is classic Fallout, having you pursue an individual across the Commonwealth, or Boston as we know it, with decisions and random quests along the route. I played a good 10 hours before I even bothered doing the Nick Valentine missions in Diamond City: and this is the famous flexibility that Fallout offers. A story with various linear paths you can take, but with so many pointless and quirky side quests to perform at any point, you can’t really get bored with it. Having said that, I do feel there are fewer quests than you would find on Skyrim, and probably fewer than in NV. The base quest number will be augmented by the inevitable DLC, but really we shouldn’t be relying on DLC to provide the level of content that I expected coming to Fallout 4 from NV and Skyrim.

“You end up scouring the Commonwealth for some duct tape”

Fallout 4 is genuinely hard now. You can come across a Deathclaw or an Assaultron that will murder you instantly whether you are on level 1 or level 27. And there’s nothing you can do about it. You just take it, and avoid that area for the foreseeable future. The problem is when you are in the wilderness, and suddenly you find yourself trapped by a trifecta of Synths, a Deathclaw and a bunch of Gunners. Or Mirelurk Hunters. Or anything really. There is no escape, and that’s simultaneously part of both the problem and the beauty of Fallout 4: you can die at any time, making it extremely realistic. Really annoying, but really realistic.

Major changes include the new crafting system. This is utterly infuriating, but more realistic (as realistic as a post-apocalyptic world can be!), in that you have to salvage, say, an ashtray for ceramic or a pencil for lead. As cool as this sounds, it’s very frustrating when you have all of the requisite parts needed to fit your amazing automatic combat shotgun with a silencer except for one adhesive component. You end up scouring the Commonwealth for some duct tape, which, in terms of gameplay, is hardly ground-breaking. Fewer weapons, with a greater capacity for personalisation is an interesting mechanic compared to previous Fallouts which have provided a greater number of weapons with only pre purchasable mods. I preferred the previous system of repairing and maintaining weapons which you modded ever so slightly over the course of the game, rather than this current system where any weapon can last from the beginning of the game to the end, but it’s a much of a muchness. It is genuinely painful though, when you have started the game with a hunting rifle, slowly changing it into a deadly, silenced .50 calibre machine, only to pick up the same gun, but with a legendary perk that does 50% more damage to humans (for example). You have a tough choice. I chose the long established gun I had started with, which I christened Brian, in place of the fancy new model.

“The storyline is a little lacklustre, the side quests are very much of a “fetch and carry” sort, with little of the creativity that made Fallout 3 or New Vegas so appealing.”

My first play through, I experienced no bugs or glitches at all. This is very unusual for a Bethesda open world game, and I was pleasantly surprised. However on my second play through I had multiple failings such as bodies falling though the floor, VATS messing up and people’s heads disappearing mid fight. Inconvenient when you are a sniper from long range, or a shotgunner from short range looking to get that battle ending headshot. I had a very interesting conversation with Preston Garvey back at Sanctuary early on in the game where inexplicably mid conversation he decided he was going to drown himself. No warning was given, mid-sentence he jumped under the water and stayed there, thrashing around for as long as I could see him.

“Preston Garvey’s Settlement Builder Simulator is possibly the most woeful part of the game with never ending quests, poor building dynamics and settlers constantly stealing your stuff.”

Personally, having played Fallout 4 twice all the way through, I found it just a bit disappointing. Whilst the initial excitement is immense, this slowly fades away and is replaced by an odd feeling of grinding away at it. The storyline is a little lacklustre, the side quests are very much of a “fetch and carry” sort, with little of the creativity that made Fallout 3 or New Vegas so appealing. Fallout 3 was a shock to fans of the Fallout franchise, it was new and fresh. New Vegas was set in an interesting location with plenty of lore that the gamers actually wanted to discover. Fallout 4 feels like the same old formula but without any sort of the playful creativity we have come to expect. On top of that, Preston Garvey’s Settlement Builder Simulator is possibly the most woeful part of the game with never ending quests, poor building dynamics and settlers constantly stealing your stuff.

Fallout 4 is a good game that is definitely worth playing. However if you haven’t played Fallout 3 or Fallout New Vegas, I recommend you play those first, which is extremely disappointing. However Fallout 4 is still a solid 5.5/7 so, if you are a veteran of the Fallout series, what are you waiting for?

Aidan Collett 

Image: Fallout 4, Developed by Bethesda Game Studios.

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