By Jason Parker (Ragachak)
Fallout 4 has managed to be the most talked about/most hyped game of the year. This is clearly a double-edged sword, because people who weren’t fans of the series are likely even less excited and people who are fans but don’t like some of the changes are up in arms. It’s kind of ridiculous how people have reacted to Fallout, but it’s a good marketing strategy: No PR is bad PR, so the saying goes. Personally, I’m of the opinion that Bethesda made a tremendous mistake throwing so much money behind the marketing of Fallout 4. Was it cool? Sure. Flashy? Absolutely. But necessary? Lord no. It’s not like Fallout’s some new franchise they’re trying to build. The original Fallout on PC was released in 1997, and has remained relevant to this day. When Square Enix announced the remake of Final Fantasy VII, they used just those three words. Final Fantasy VII. And EVERYONE was talking about it, even people like me who aren’t fans of that particular FF title.
That’s the biggest complaint I think I have about the Fallout controversy: Let the game stand on its own laurels, don’t throw millions behind a game that people are already excited for! Fallout 4 takes us to Boston, and starts before the Nuclear Event even happens. It’s brighter, more vivid than the previous action Fallout titles. The big complaint about Fallout 3 always seemed to be how Brown and Gray it was. The pre-detonation Boston is so vibrant, and even post-apocalypse, I enjoyed how the world around me looked. From the occasional green, thunder-lit skies to the ruined interiors of historic Boston buildings, I fell in love with the visual and the narrative. While not by any means a perfect game, Fallout 4 is the game I’ve been waiting for. I’m not disappointed by what I’ve played.
It’s far from perfect though: I’ve had ridiculous, random framerate drops, where the only way to stop it was to save, and reload the game. Dialogue stops moving on my subtitles randomly, and if I am not listening, I could miss important shit. But for every negative there’s a positive: I love how some enemies evolve, mutate and become stronger or even Legendary. I’ve fought legendary mutated dogs/wolves that kicked my ass because I didn’t see them coming!
One of the best things about it is the voice work: The Survivor is fully voiced, male or female, and your loyal robotic servant Codsworth knows up to 900~ names, so the chances are fair that he will know your name and speak it. Not my first character, but when I play it for the Bottom Tier/MMOHuts’ Youtube channels, rest assured that Codsworth will know my name! One of the problems with some Bethesda games [looking at you, Skyrim] is that the voices all mush together and sound the same. But Ron Perlman is the Narrator, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Some of the characters sound a little unenthused or weak, but the ones that matter to drive the story along are deep into character. Though I do hate the design for the dialogue choices; it looks like it was slapped together at the last minute. I feel like there are probably fewer dialogue choices than there could be. If I pick “sarcastic” I have no idea what it’s going to be! My idea of being sarcastic is typically far more barbed than how Fallout portrays me. While I love the sound of the voices, I detest the choices and how they’re aligned.
Speaking of the story, I won’t lie, the main story [recovering your son] didn’t really grab me. From a very early point in the game I found myself doing the exact same thing I did in Skyrim: Wander the land and cause mischief/do side quests. Maybe the main story picks up, but where it stood, I just didn’t feel motivated to get to it. When I found I could go my own way, as Fleetwood Mac did before me, I did just that! Well over 10-15 hours into the game and I have yet to go back to the story. I’ve been too invested in the lives of people who survived the Fallout. The story is good though! Don’t get me wrong. I just didn’t care too much about the baby, no matter how adorable it is and how much time I spent hanging out in my home pre-Fallout. . . I just get so wrapped up in the well-prepared side missions, looking into the factions, exploring cities and blasting the body-parts off of Raiders.
I think one of the things I’ve heard bitched about the absolute most were the perks. “HOW DARE THEY LOWER THE AMOUNT OF PERKS. IT IS SHIT. OMG.” Et cetera. Did they lower the amount of perks in the game from 3/NV? Probably. Are Skill Points gone? Yes. But I’m glad Skill Points are *bleep* gone. I hated juggling those, trying to figure out the mathematical equation I needed each level to take care of things I needed to take care of, like . . .everything. Instead I can pick perks that have ranks, or add stats to my level. That’s the best part about it right there. Now I can adjust my stats as I go, instead of mostly being stuck with whatever I chose at the beginning: This represents the growth of your character as they survive the wilderness of Nuked Boston. Is it a bit simplified? Sure, why not? Now you have different choices. Instead of worrying over putting 3 skill points in science but you need 1 or 2 for your lasers/pistols/melee/Djing, now you consider the perks on offer with the need to increase your stats so that you can get some of the higher end perks if you want them. It trades one style of customization for a different one. It’s different, and that’s scary for some people. But it’s not bad; just new and different.
The big gem for Fallout 4 though is crafting! You can build your own civilization; Hell, you can build several civilizations! I’ve seen some amazing ones, too. I saw a friend develop a humongous garage that looked like the inside of Anaheim Electronics from the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise: Power Armor everywhere, all painted and beautiful. But holy damnit it’s annoying to do some of this stuff. Set up a power generator. Run wires to the thing that needs power from the generator. Set up a water filtering system. Build houses. Give people “beds”. These damn survivors are so needy. It’s like the phone app on a greater scale. I think it’s awesome, but I don’t enjoy it like other folks do. I’ll come back to my buildings at a later date probably.
This means that you have to save EVERYTHING. Virtually every item you can pick up in the game can be used, and that sucks. I’ve had so many times where I had to stop what I was doing, trade a bunch of crap to my loyal buddy Dogmeat, or one of the other companions, or run back to civilization just so I can resume killing. When I get to an area with a workshop, I immediately go into Workshop Mode, so I can scrap buildings, cars, trees, anything that is dead and break it down into component parts for building things. The modding of weapons, power armor and other items is better than ever too, and perks give you more options. You do get a lot of Power Armor as the game goes on, but if you’re keen on just one set you can repair it if you have the steel/circuitry/etc. Speaking of Power Armor, it actually FEELS like Power Armor. You step into it, it has a different/fantastic UI, and it’s not so hard to come across caps to buy power cores (or kill people/steal for theirs if that’s your bag).
War. . . War Never Changes:
Overall Score: Great
There’s no damn need to reinvent the wheel, but consequently, you don’t want it to feel the same as other games in the series. Fallout 4 feels different, and in some ways, easier than the others. But don’t worry, you can crank up the difficulty if that’s how you feel. There are little things that bug me, but it has left me with a cast of fantastic characters [Oh, KL-E-O. . .], crazy guns, interesting factions, and a narrative that takes me across the ruins of Boston at roughly the same time as Fallout 3. This game has divided a lot of people and for some relatively petty reasons. It’s not perfect and not polished, but the product IS good. There is so much to see and do, to construct for yourself, or deconstruct at your leisure. No matter what I say, there’s going to be someone who agrees and lights up the torches and grabs the pitchforks, and that’s absolutely fine! I’ve found myself immersed in the story, caught up in the drama of the lives of survivors.
Pros: Fancy guns, cool melee’ weapons, lots of customization. The favorites tab is easy to access and swapping weapons isn’t really that difficult. Spontaneous mutating of enemies reflects the apocalyptic/nuclear world we struggle through.
Cons: Not seeing an enemy around a corner/coming up behind you can mean death without any ability to fight back. Fallout 4’s pretty unforgiving like that. Had the occasional glitch where my Super Sledge would not swing and cost me a death.
Pros: I feel like there are more radio channels than before, and the radio towers apparently are stronger in Boston. Silver Shroud Radio is the best; I get to listen to 30s/40s style detective/hero Radio Series. It’s so amazing.
Cons: The list of music on certain channels is too thin. I love the Classical Radio station, but I found myself listening to the same tracks over and over. Hopefully there’s a mod that will let you adjust the music on radio stations.
Pros: So many things can be customized! At least you can transfer stuff into workshops and use it anywhere you go instead of having to grab stuff, and haul it away to other settlements.
Cons: So many things can be customized! It takes damn forever to really craft a quality home for yourself. I won’t lie, I feel like it’s horribly tedious. Rewarding, but tedious as hell.
Pros: Cool factions, well-written dialogue/side missions. Characters are well thought-out and less generic than I expected.
Cons: Not as inspired by the main story quest (Skyrim Syndrome). It’s a great story, but I’ve had more fun on the side missions. Too many different quests at once can be distracting and bogs me down.