Fallout 4 is a game that deals with various conflicting themes, such as loss of innocence when your child is ripped from your partner’s hands to the beginnings of hope you have as you first emerge from the Vault. This is not new however as other games this year, such as Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, have focused on similar issues. Fallout 4 succeeds in its new mechanical improvements such as being able to create new towns, settlements and home bases. Where Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain makes you think of what could have been looking towards the future, Fallout 4 reminds you of what was and forces you back to a future in which you walk once more into the sunset hoping to return home.
World Building in Fallout series has been a core focus within its post apocalypse landscape keeping the feeling of previous games but set in the mind-set of the 50’s. As the rampant demand for bigger goods, and faster cars occurs (drawing parallels to the 50’s capitalism) this has lead the world into a new dark age. One inhabited by super mutant creates that lumber over you, or to synthetic life forms that are reminiscent of Blade Runner lurking on the question of life and humanity.
In this Fallout game you a survivor of the vault on a personal mission and trying to come to grips of the world that was. Over the course of the game you’re a tourist going from town to town, righting wrongs, with a Client Eastwood approach on life, as in past games. However, where in Fallout New Vegas you could in a tussle over the control of a town; shoot a person’s head off to take their hat and head for the next town (after looting them of course) in Fallout 4 you are instead banding together to survive in the world hoping simply to see the next day.
The key flaw within Bethesda games is not the game world itself but the main quest tends to be a rather dull affair as is the case with The Elder Scroll V: Skyrim, the main quest is more there to provide you an excuse to initially explore but often to be forgotten when you bump into someone who needs you to go in another direction. This is similarly the case for Fallout 4, in which you may be told to head for the main hub city but you may get lost on the way and end up helping some random people who will likely give you a small amount of bottle caps for your time. The journey to the quest can sometimes be more fun than arriving to the destination.
In Fallout 4 there are several major changes to the gameplay mechanics and graphics, the first of which is the power armour systems. Instead of having to learn how to wear power armour and then equipping it like any other piece of clothing, as was the case in Fallout 3 and New Vegas you get your first suit of power armour pretty early on; with the only major issue being you need to find a source of power for it. It balances the game in some ways; as power armour is far more powerful in this Fallout than in previous versions. You can however customise and change the suit to how you see fit even painting it different colours if you find the right bucket of paint. The graphics are not the most gorgeous of 2015 but the game still holds firm and considering how slow the loading speed is and how much can be one screen at time. I would willingly trade fancy graphics to better functioning game any day. This leads me to my next point with regards to crafting; as the game has removed the old method of guns breaking down and instead replaced with a mechanic that allows you to take apart old guns and use the spare parts to improve it. For example, you can take the standard issue pistol and make into a silence pistol with a scope. Or turn another pistol into a sub-machine gun early on, however since the game is a based in a wasteland you always have to be careful and conserve ammo as best as you can.
This leads me to my next point with regards to the graphics and changes in animations, were as in Fallout 3 and New Vegas the game was running on a heavily upgraded but ageing graphics systems. Its animations often felt chucky, old and odd as well the graphics not always being the most ‘sophisticated.’ Fallout 4 improves the animation heavily, as with my first encounter with a Deathclaw allowed me to feel for the first time that this creature was based on a Chameleon seeing dash side to side, then seeing it grab you as you made a squeamish yelp. This was the Deathclaw I had always thought was trying to kill me, not the weird teddy bear monsters that looked like they failed to hug me in Fallout 3 and New Vegas whenever they attacked me. On a side note sprinting has finally been added to; which leads me to the next improvement to the game that is V.A.T.S. For those who have never played a Fallout game this is one of the most iconic mechanics of the game and a throwback to the original game and its turn based combat systemof yesteryear. The major improvement to Fallout 4 is that V.A.T.S. does not stop time but rather slows it down. This does not sound like a massive change but when you are being chased by a group of feral ghouls who run like 28 Days Later zombies it means picking a target is all the more difficult but satisfying when it hits.
However, the new changes to games have two major areas that I find myself confused and rather annoyed by. This was the change to dialogue with regards not to the voice actors who do an amazing job but rather by having whatever response simply put as one word or a short sentence. Mod’s have largely been able to put up to fix this issue for PC but as of writing this review Mod’s are not yet on PlayStation 4 or X Box One. This change feels like an attempt to be more of a Mass Effect game and possibly a step to take away the quirky and bizarre nature of Fallout. As I do enjoy the Mass Effect series, I noted that as the game went on the conversation became less and less important.
The other major change I did not enjoy as the change to Perks, as the new system seems to be a weird hybrid of the Skyrim system mixed with Fallout 3 and New Vegas. This being that the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. points are the only ones you need to focus on and that instead of say levelling up lockpicking after you reached a certain amount of exp in Fallout 3 or New Vegas. Instead you would pick a certain perk and then just keep ranking it up much like in Far Cry 4. This may seem like minor change, but it in game it feels like a hard choice considering in the old games you would have a set amount of skills you would need to level up. In Fallout 4 you would need to make your sure that S.P.E.C.I.A.L is higher enough and that pour your points into a certain perk to level it up.
The Soundtracks for the Fallout games as a whole has always been a key factor, if it’s the Metallic Monks helping to create a atmosphere of quietness and loneliness in the original Fallout or the main theme for Fallout New Vegas which gives it a feeling of dealing with things “the old west way” with a bullet to the head. The music in any franchise is important in its ability to convey themes and emotions that words may not, and in Fallout 4 the game succeeds in doing so. Helping to create a feeling of initial loss but then hope best shown with the main theme being a remix of the Fallout 3 theme and using the piano to help convey this.Whereas Fallout 3 felt more militaristic and more of a “picking yourself up after a battle”, Fallout 4 instead makes you want to in taking from the Vault-Tec ‘Prepare for the future.’
In Summary, Fallout 4 is an amazing game and a welcome addition to the franchise. However, what it lacks is the new and brave ideas that help make Fallout 3 and New Vegas those famous hits and iconic titans of gaming. Nevertheless, the games focus on making it simpler and more functional which allows the game to become affective in grabbing new fans into the rich Fallout lore. I now look forward to the expansion packs as Fallout has traditionally had some of the better expansion packs. I would love to go to New York and see it become much like Los Angeles in Fallout 1, a city of bones. Or maybe a return to Washington D.C and maybe bump into some old faces. However, at the time of writing I give this game 8 of 10 as my annoyance comes from the fact this games feels in some weird way a break from old and a new beginning; either being the lack of Ron Pearlman’s iconic voice narrating the introduction. I still though stand by my belief that the game is a welcome addition to the series and perhaps before Fallout 5 we will see Obsidian Entertainment take the reins to give us a cleaner and more polished Fallout as they did with Fallout New Vegas.
8 of 10