Before we begin, this review is going to contain minor spoilers. I’ll try my best to spoil nothing major but I can definitely say that the first hour (or twenty) or so of the game will be spoilt along with a couple other things that could be considered minor spoilers, you have been warned.
I’ve been looking forward to reviewing this game for so long now. I got it on Christmas Day and it’s basically the only thing I’ve played extensive amounts of, so far I’m almost thirty hours in and I’d say that’s about enough to make an opinion of the game. Having said that, I’ve went through a hefty chunk of the story and joined up with the three major factions of the game (Minutemen, Brotherhood of Steel and Railroad) all of which are very different factions that have their own unique side quests to follow throughout the game. I’ve gotten very far through all of those quests and I’ve just stopped myself after the “Mass Fusion” quest because anything after that is a pretty major spoiler.
Now, it only seems like the right thing to do to start with how the game looks graphically. I think, compared to other Fallout games it looked impressive at first but this whole new clean look makes the game look very, what’s the word, kid friendly. Instead of the rough textures seen in the previous Fallout games we have a very vibrant, colourful and squeaky clean style of graphics for your HUD, blood and Pip-Boy. Here’s an example of what I mean:
So that there is what the Fallout 4 HUD, menus and such looks like, a very clean look to everything, however compared to Fallout 3…
You see what I mean? Fallout 3 has this more mature HUD look to it, whereas Fallout 4’s looks a lot more vibrant than its predecessors. Personally, I like the new HUD change, I spent so much time with Fallout 3 and New Vegas it felt fresh to have a new graphical style to look at and it works well with the game and compliments the ambitiously colourful world you’re playing in.
Of course, ambitiously colourful doesn’t really remind anyone of the Fallout series. If I said that to someone then their first thoughts would not be “Oh yeah the Fallout games.” However if I said spilt coffee they’d probably say “Ah, Fallout, brings back memories.” Change isn’t bad, especially this one, I’m quite a fan of this style of graphics. The new style brings a lot of positives with it and it doesn’t ruin the ambiance and immersion of the previous Fallout games.
So, that’s the HUD talked about, now let’s talk about the graphics as a whole. Previous Fallout games have been very dark, gritty and I think that’s often what people think of when they hear Fallout games, like I stated in the previous paragraph. This new colourful style is great, that’s what I think personally anyway. Everything’s been tweaked and messed with to make it look the nicest it can possibly be for the new generation of consoles, and it’s worked.
However what hasn’t worked is the story. That one fell like a bombshell didn’t it? The problem with the story is that it’s too much like Fallout 3, except with the roles reversed. In Fallout 3, you searched for your father (who dies), in Fallout 4, you search for your son (Who’s old, dying, and then dies). The voices in general are pretty recognisable too, for example Nick Valentine (who’s a pretty major character in the game) is voiced by the same bloke as Mercer Frey from Skyrim. Turns out the guy who voiced Nick Valentine also voiced everybody else, so this game should just be called “The Adventures of Stephen Russell’s Acting Talent”, which isn’t that much.
Speaking of voice acting, the character you play as has a voice. Yeah, Brian T. Delaney voices the Sole Survivor, with his most notable work being Mr. Popper’s Penguins, a grim horror film wherein Jim Carrey tries to slowly kill penguins on his balcony by making them watch Charlie Chaplin (believe me, I’ve seen the film, it’s actually not too bad of a film). Everyone got really angry with the fact that our character had a voice now, and rightly so, we were used to having a character that showed no flicker of emotion, whether it was executing a raider with a spoon or winning a game of Blast Radius, he would have the same, emotionally dead grimace plastered onto his face. I ended up covering his face up with sunglasses so I didn’t have to look inside of the burning hell that was going on in his mind. I don’t mind the voice acting for our own character, it allows for a better flow of conversation, instead of “dialogue” silence “dialogue” and so on and so forth.
Which leads me swiftly on to the dialogue choices in this game. They’ve been dumbed down quite a bit, you get the choice of four options, which are: “Yes, no, tell me more about this current event and sarcasm”. That is it, good luck making a character you feel invested in when that’s all you can do. It doesn’t matter what you pick anyway, the NPCs in this game are basically robots anyways, or synths should I say. Yeah, that’s the big new enemy this time around, not quite robots but not quite humans either. We’ll get to that later.
But the dialogue choices seem very lacking in this game, especially when compared to the previous games in the series (prime example again, Fallout 3). Also, the lack of a Karma System really makes your choices almost redundant as you have no karma to keep you from picking certain things. If you have a companion they will like/dislike your choices, but that boils it down to being about as fun as someone liking your post on Facebook. Speaking of companions, they’re bloody useless unless you want someone to absorb bullets and carry all the heavy items.
Companions also seem to have changed, maybe for the better in this case though. You can now actually have a full conversation with them and if they like you enough they’ll give you a fetch quest. Finish that fetch quest and you’ll gain their loyalty and an achievement or something. I dunno, I haven’t bothered with the fetch quests yet, too busy getting all the other achievements first. You can do the usual stuff of making them carry things and so on, but there isn’t really anything else you can do, with the lack of a command wheel all you can do is make them shoot, wait and pick up objects. Which is a real shame because I distinctly remember there were more choices in Fallout New Vegas with companions. Thanks Boone.
Of course, I need to talk about the settlement building. It’s what the community had been wanting for a long while now, a mod was made for this kinda stuff on New Vegas PC, but it was never apart of the base game. So, with the inclusion of base building, how is it? It’s pretty bare bones if I’m honest. I thought we would’ve gotten some form of “Go out there into the wilderness and build what you want.”, what we got was “See this fixed, green parameter that’s fairly small? Yeah, off you go.” It really takes away from the freedom of the game when you can’t go past a river to expand your settlement. I also found it extremely strange and stupid even that you could be attacked and killed in the build mode. If they’d just added some form of top down view then it would’ve worked so much better as it’d allow us to take full advantage of the customization of settlements available in the game. It’s a shame really, I didn’t bother with the settlements anymore after I discovered I could take damage and even die in the build mode.
You may be wondering why I have yet to touch on the story, the reason is that Fallout 4 is also yet to touch on a story. Unlike the predecessors, Fallout 4 doesn’t really have any pacing, the “story” is centred around finding your son Shaun, but to be quite honest some of the things you do to find him are a bit odd and the way they string the story together through pretty much a dream sequence in someone elses head to advance the plot was plain ridiculous. But what about the side quests? The Brotherhood of Steel, Minutemen and Railroad? They must be good, right? Well, all the factions hate one another for some strange reason so you can’t side with all of them, because The Brotherhood of Steel want to destroy the Railroad and the Minutemen want to abolish the Institute. This really adds an “Okay, pick one or the other” feel to the game and I really didn’t like it. I know the game has to have consequences, but this wasn’t the way to do it. The Brotherhood of Steel story is fairly fun, and that’s only because you get to rebuild Liberty Prime, however I haven’t made it far enough into the game because I got bored. As for the Minutemen, all you really have to do with them is build settlements around the wasteland and they’ll make you general for some daft reason.
But the one thing I haven’t talked about yet, it’s the big one. It’s what ties the game together and it’s basically make or break. If this doesn’t work then it’s all ruined. The combat. How is it? Honestly, I thought it was fantastic and satisfying. There’s something extremely sweet in a demented way about not using V.A.T.S. and still being able to pull off headshots. I used to rely very heavily on V.A.T.S. but now seeing as though it’s as useful as the tin foil around a baked potato, I left it, I completely forgot about it. I use it from time to time if I’m lazy but other than that there isn’t really any reason to use V.A.T.S. anymore. If you’ve got a decent gun like the Hunting Rifle, slap a red dot sight onto it. Yeah, you can modify guns to a much larger extent now, which I forgot you could do because I found pretty much the best gun ever and that’s the gun I’ve used ever since.
The combat is quite honestly the best in the series. I’m sorry if you disagree with me, but that’s what I think. It’s very smooth overall, the animations look nice and I haven’t experienced any bugs as of yet. Apart from the one that they couldn’t iron out…
I got bored. Now, to be fair, I get bored with a lot of games and I got bored with this one after thirty hours of playtime, so I’d say the game did it’s job extremely well. But this was supposed to be so good. Seven years of waiting for a sequel to Fallout 3 (if we don’t include Vegas, which we wont, even though it’s the best in the series) and this is what we got. A game that’s made so many attempts to make itself new that it falls short. Maybe the DLC and Mods will fix this, but we shouldn’t need DLC Packs and user modifications to make the game fun.
With all of that in mind…
Fallout 4 gets a 7/10