Finally, after eight long years we have another Fallout game in the main series. I don’t count New Vegas an part of the main series as it felt more like a side project or spin off despite being an entirely new game. If I were to sum up Fallout 4 into one setence it would be that it’s evolved and yet very familiar, and Fallout 4 isn’t without its faults. I’m going to walk you through my experiences in my first eight hours of gameplay and help people who are still on the fence about Fallout 4. Understand this is not the official review yet, but mainly the clay that I am using to mold my overall experience.
I have to say it’s quite epic and very satisfying. I liked the opening of Fallout 3, and New Vegas was just a big disappointment, but Fallout 4 gives you the entire universe of Fallout and the atmosphere in just one scene. You start with a cut scene no longer voiced by by Ron Perlman, but the new voice actor for the male character. Yes, the characters are voiced which is actually a huge step for the series. I personally feel the silent protaganist is a lazy and easy approach and only works in few situations (Zelda, Half-Life, etc).
The opening makes a little more sense of the overall scope of Fallout and is summed up very well. We basically discovered the use of nuclear engery and used it so much that the resources could not keep up. Once this scene is over you start out with a wife and husband staring in their bathroom mirror. This is a brand new way to approach creating a new character from scratch. Right away I could see the new engine working well here with better animations, higher-res textures, and beautiful lighting effects. The character customization still isn’t up to snuff with modded character customization, but Bethesda is moving in the right direction. You can now add more things on characters’ faces like makeup and individually change the skin texture of each part of the face. However, I’m still hung up on the limited hair styles and not being able to do anything with the body itself.
After I spend a good 20 minutes making my character I was let go into the house. This is to mainly explore and get a feel for your surroundings. I looked out the window, talked to my husband, and even talked to the Mr. Gutsy who maintained the house. I really felt like I was living in a 50’s style home as the aesthetics were nailed 100% and the Fallout theme was really living and breathing here. After talking to my baby son Shaun, I got a knock on the door from a salesman trying to enlist me in one of the vaults. My husband insisted everyone’s just paranoid and the bombs aren’t going to fall. This is when you decide your SPECIAL and allocate your stats.
I grab some coffee and continue looking at all the various things the house like Sugar Bombs and Blamco Mac & Cheese that are Fallout staples, as well other items I recognized throughout the franchise. My robot campanion then calls us from the living room and tells us to come quick. A news anchor has announced that bombs just fell in various cities on the East Coast and everyone needs to evacuate. We then see people running and screaming outside and then it’s time to flee.
This is the awesome part about the opening as we run up a hill a ways as the National Guard directs us in the right direction. We see people not getting let in through the gates, people falling and stumbling, people arguing about possessions which adds to a more realistic and panicked state for the game. After we get through the gate and on the elevator to Vault 111 the bomb goes off for Boston and we barely make it in time.
As we head down we get our Vault Jumpsuit and climb into a machine that we are told will give us a power suit, we are then cryogenically frozen and ultimately tricked into thinking we could live a peaceful life down here.
I then wake up to the Vault in distress and see as my husband is shot and my baby taken across from me. I then go back to sleep only to wake up 200 years later to a diserted vault.
The opening sequence was quite epic, but it felt rushed; somehow forced. How conveniant that a salesman just so happens to enlist my family in the vault about 10 minutes before the bombs drop? Really? And how conveinant that the shelter is just a 2 minute run down the run? It was a bit awkward, but if you want a quick beginning that’s the way to do it. Overall, the opening is one of the best I have seen in any game, probably one of my top five.
Learning the Ropes
I then wandered the Vault to learn the various controls which feel much better and are updated for the current times. Guns feel really solid in Fallout 4 and less like an after thought like in Fallout 3 and New Vegas. They all have weight and the amount of sounds and animations for everything is tripled by the looks of it. There is so much detail in the game all the way down to the bricks and debris. It feels like a living breathing world despite being completely dead which is hard to do. I also learned to hack a computer and pick locks which actually has not changed at all. Not sure if this is good or bad, but being familiar made me more comfortable doing these tasks often. I then fought some Radroaches and learned how to use V.A.T.S. It’s smarter and easier to use albeit pretty much the same setup. I found it easier to use with fast moving enemies or ones that are far away; it didn’t feel forced like in Fallout 3.
One thing that I really loved in Fallout 4 was the overall HUD upgrade, it is exactly like how we remember from older games, but just more streamlined and much cleaner looking. Icons on the compass are easier to read, as we actually get icons. Before you couldn’t tell if your objective was out in the open or inside a new area. A door icon indicates that it’s in a new area which is a huge help. Quest pop ups and various achievement stats are now fully animated uisng the Pip-Boy which is a joy to see.
Overall, the controls and feeling the controlling Fallout 4 has improved immensely and it felt so natural.
Into the Apocalypse
As I opened the vault door I got the same excited feeling from Fallout 3 (not so much New Vegas) as my eyes adjusted to the light and I stepped out. Unlike Fallout 3, this place was familiar as it was my neighborhood. I recognized mostly everything from running out to the vault, but that was 200 years ago. I then met up with my robot who was somehow still around and maintaining what was left of the house. It was insane to see the destruction from the bomb, and the fact that you just up and leave your house without much of a word. It’s something that would happen in real life, and walking through the house gave me an eerie feeling. I walked through some of the other houses with my robot and saw some skeletons which were people who never made it out.
Fallout 4 really pushes the feeling of beling alone and really makes you feel that early on by walking you through these areas and scenes. After I was done talking to my robot I headed out to a Red Rocket gas station to find Dogmeat (a long running dog companion in the series) and my first true combat scene with Molerats. I was blown away with the new enemy animations as well the ones for the dog. The molerats came after me in packs and tried to overwhelm me, they were hard to shoot, and burrowed underground and came back up. I watched Dogmeat tackle a molerate and tear it apart which was just so awesome to watch. Fallout 3 and New Vegas were notorious for sloppy animations and almost no life being put into enemies.
After walking away from that fight I headed out into the town to hear gun shots and later ran across the Minutemen who are one of the factions in the game. They were humanities last hope and helped protect people, but deception ran amock in the group and tore them apart. This was also when I was introduced to one of the biggest additions to the series; fully operational Power Suits that aren’t just equippable armor.
After helping the minutemen I got a full feel of the new conversation system which feels a little more like Mass Effect and Dragon Age: Inquisition. No longer are conversations like Excel spreadsheets, but more like choices. Each saying is tied to a face button and sayings that can sway a character are yellow, orange, or red for how difficult it would be to convince them of something. The series has also moved away from staring directly at a character and goes for more of a Mass Effect conversation style where the camera looks at each character speaking. Everything is done in more real time and less of the controls being taken away from you. It’s a great move away from what started with Morrowind way back when, and was a much needed change.
The Power Suit
Once I finished talking with the Minutemen I was to go to the roof and use the new Power Suit. This thing is like a mech you climb inside with its own HUD. You’re a lumbering suit of metal and it’s very hard to get killed in this thing. I ripped a mini-gun off a helicopter and mowed down everyone below me. I then jumped down to battle a Deathclaw who had a skull icon next to their health bar which meant he was a boss type character, and this is a first of the series. Without the Power Suit I would have been dead in an instant, but I noticed the armor plating around me was taking massive damage. Plating can be upgraded and changed out while you are wearing the suit or storing it.
Building a New Home
After I wiped out the enemies I made it to my first player home base called Sanctuary where I was introduced to one of the biggest additions to the series: Base building. Not just building home and defense, but tearing everything down as well. Nearly everything was scrapped for parts down to tin cans and tires which was amazing. It really woke up the OCD in me. After I spent about 30 minutes scrapping everything in existence in the player base (which is closed off with a green wall) I started supplying what the base was low on. Beds, defense, and water.
I put a guard post at the bridge leading to the base an assigned an NPC to it and then I setup a turret. I setup another guard post where a housing foundation used to be overlooking the main area and then I put a water pump in the water. I then built a generator and attached the wire and all was set. Later I closed off the main house with walls and added roofing. Base building is actually quite fun, but there are some quirks you need to forgive such as everything needing to line up correctly or your placements will be crooked. You have to walk everywhere to place something down, as I wish there was an over the top camera mode that could be switched to. I also haven’t unlocked much to build, but I will find more stuff and hopefully be able to bulid quite a bit more.
Crafting was introduced in New Vegas with weapon mods, but these weren’t more than something you apply in the Pip-Boy. In Fallout 4 it has even evolved past what Skyrim did with armor now being attached to each part of your body rather than whole pieces of armor. I can change my legs and arm to girded or boiled leather or add pockets to them to put in lead lining which will reduce my rad intake. Same goes for weapons as I can add so many different types of mods to completely change the weapon into something new. It’s addictive and done right this time, and honestly it’s the best crafting system in any main Bethesda game.
Crafting will go a long way as there are parts to find, mods to make, and it encourages foraging and scrapping parts. Collecting useless junk isn’t just for selling at markets anymore, but it can all mean something which is something this series has needed for quite a while.
More Missions and Beyond
With that said, I wandered the wasteland and completed missions for the Minutemen to discover new missions which was quite fun. I found the Brotherhood of Steel and learned their ways (and I could join them, but I would abandon the Minutmen) as well as settling four new player bases and one long mission in a robot factory. Honestly, I can’t stress enough how much more intense the shooting and combat is in this game. There are more enemies, and they are harder to kill, but this forces you to think about which weapons to use for each situation and that’s something EVERY shooter needs. Fallout 4 feels like a true shooter and RPG clashed together to make the perfect blend.
Around the 8 hour mark I had finally made it into Diamond City and met a new follower named Piper who is a reporter. I learned about a new enemy called Synths and I’m off to still look for my son. During this play through I hadn’t discovered any bugs or glitches, but I did see that the loading times were way too long and will hopefully be patched later. I also noticed that Boston is the smallest play area in any Bethesda game, but I can’t tell if this is good or bad until later in the game. I’ve hear that there is over 400 hours of content, but we will see at 70 hour mark.
As it stands, Fallout 4 is shaping up to live up to my expectations and beyond and I’m still getting surprises thrown at me. We will see how the games lasts in the long run and if Fallout 4 uses all its tricks too early leaving players hanging. Only time will tell.