I began my journey into the Fallout 4 without many preconceptions. I had not heavily followed its development, so much so that its release damn near caught me off guard. Now, hours upon hours into the game, it’s time to finally dispense our take on Fallout 4 in our new Final Opinion format (which you can read more about here).
Fallout 4 is Bethesda’s latest single player RPG epic since Skyrim, and if I were to compare the two of them head to head, Fallout 4 comes out a little scattershot. On the surface it seems less cohesive, less directed, and with less interconnecting parts than Skyrim. There are various disparate factions like the Minutemen and the Brotherhood of Steel who you can work with, and they don’t always get along, but at times they seemed too much like different voices, same content. It’s usually “such-and-such a place is filled with baddies. Go clear it out, then report back when you’re done.” It’s not until you dig deeper into the factions that you find their various idiosyncrasies.
The first that you encounter is the Minutemen, and their quirk – build up settlements, then protect them from attacks – is probably the most obviously dramatic. You can build entire towns using supplies that you salvage and stock them with shops and workers. This has become a rather divisive mechanic (just Google “Preston Garvey” for evidence of that) but it is actually one that you can more or less ignore. It is something you encounter early in the game but you don’t have to follow their quest line, and settlements won’t get attacked (and thus need constant defending) if you don’t liberate them in the first place.
The gunplay is well ahead of Fallout 3 and New Vegas. Skill shots with iron sights are much easier to pull off now and VATS is just as handy as ever. The various weapons you find can be broken down and modified to make customized weapons of your own design (within reason, of course) that fit your playstyle. I like to hit hard while on the move so I carry heavy pistols and shotguns most of the time, modified for more damage and improved hip firing accuracy. There are also Diablo-style Legendary enemies who, while harder to kill, carry rare loot. The ingenious part of that is the higher the difficulty you play on, the more Legendary baddies you’ll find, rewarding players who want more of a challenge with more rare loot.
Fallout 4 isn’t a beautiful game. It’s good looking, and some of the effects (the lighting in particular) are nice, but all in all it hovers between good and average looking. The sound is highlighted by good VA work, and I like the change of giving your character a voice, in the vein of Commander Shepard in Mass Effect. Also along those lines, you get to pick your response in conversations but what you actually say often isn’t well conveyed on the response selection screen, resulting in some occasionally unintended comedy or hurt feelings for the NPCs. Speaking of NPCs, the various companions are fun to bring along both for their fire support and their company. I tend to travel with Piper, personally, but there’s a range of personalities to join up with, including the now-immortal Dogmeat. The revamped perk system allows you to buff your companions, or alternatively buff yourself when you’re traveling alone, making both playstyles perfectly viable.
Fallout 4 is good. Really good. It doesn’t always come together as a whole like Bethesda’s past games, but it is still a great game, and is…