Fallout 4 is a first person shooter role playing game set in a post apocalyptic earth. Made by Bethesda who purchased the Fallout licence and created their first instalment with Fallout 3. Shortly after Bethesda allowed Obsidian to make Fallout: New Vegas (which some consider to be a better game) and more recently Bethesda released Skyrim. This year has already been incredible for open world games (Pillars of Eternity, The Witcher 3 & GTA5) so how does Fallout 4 compare?
After creating your character you’re given an intro to all the controls and mechanics as well as the story before being kicked out into the wasteland to fend for yourself (and one last chance to change your starting stats). From this point you can do whatever you want from following quests to exploring to building settlements. Your character levels up as you play allowing you to upgrade your stats or unlock perks (using the well known SPECIAL system). Controls are what you’d expect in a first person shooter. Combat can be done in the normal way or by using the VATS system allowing you to attack enemies in slow motion by targeting a specific body part with different chances to hit.
There is a lot to do in Fallout 4 and a great deal of mechanics, some of them will be familiar (hacking, lock-picking, stealth, VATS, etc.) and a couple are new/changed (power armour changes, settlement building, crafting). Generally you’ll spend your time doing quests and getting distracted by exploration while doing them. Quests are mostly combat orientated and some are randomly generated (infinitely?). The world consists of a number of factions which you can join or become enemies with, you can easily join all of them despite each having conflicting goals which spoiled the immersion of the story late game. One thing that can’t be said about Fallout 4 is a lack of weapons, items, collectables, etc. The world is full of them. Sadly Fallout 4 suffers from the same unmanageable interface that plagues Bethesda games which makes sorting out your weight (how much you can carry) a nightmare. It is very easy to blow a day or evening playing Fallout 4 if you’re the type of person who wants to do “just that one more thing” and despite problems the game is very addictive and can be quite immersive (until things go wrong and spoils it).
Power armour is no longer a piece of armour you put on, it’s now similar to a vehicle in that you have to enter and leave it. While in the armour you can’t do a lot which is quite irritating (e.g. crafting, sitting down during story scenes). Armour now requires a power source which are fairly rare in the world and run out fairly quickly. I didn’t like having to keep an eye on the power usage so I installed a mod to remove it and enjoyed using power armour sporadically throughout the game after.
One of the few new things in Fallout 4 is the ability to create settlements on specific areas of land, build stuff and recruit settlers. Similar to their mobile game Fallout Shelter. Although this sounds cool actually trying to build things is horrendously implemented. You have to stand in a specific spot, enter the clunky build menu, find the item you want to build and hope you have stood on the exact spot necessary to build where you want to. Stand a tiny distance off and you need to start the process again. Want to assign an NPC to a building? You need to lead them point by point using the clunky menu (they wander off the second the reach the point too, just to keep you on your toes) to the building and hope you manage to stand in selection distance for the building and NPC in order to assign them, before the NPC wanders off. I’d say that building is implemented like a half assed after thought but it is ingrained from the start of game making the implementation quality baffling; did anyone try it!?
All the audio is voice acted and sound is put to good use throughout the game, in particular, exploding mini-nukes sound awesome. Graphics are a bit of an oddity, in some places (usually outdoors) the graphics are great but a lot of the indoor areas and buildings look a bit pants. Performance also ranges from a solid 60+ FPS to almost stuttering which is pretty bad considering my graphics card is a AMD Radeon 390. The game is really, really buggy in terms of game-play. I experienced two crash to desktops during my two day play-through.
It has to be mentioned that the game supports modding and there are already a great deal of mods out there along with official tools due for release soon (early next year?).
It took me 48 hours to complete the game with the majority of side quests completed. I think a third of that time was wasted due to the clunky interface (mostly trying to deal with weight loot limits).
I’m not going to rate Fallout 4 because it doesn’t feel right to recommend the game when it has so many problems. The sluggishness of the engine and poor interface really left me feeling annoyed and spoiled what would have otherwise been a good experience.