Gaming / My work

Fallout 4: A Player’s Review

The long-awaited gem that is Fallout 4 has been a reality for a little over a month now. Though my husband and I have been too absorbed in the game to notice the time passing, I thought I might put my two cents in for all the poor souls who have to wait until Christmas to wander the wasteland.

A few things about this review:

  • I’m not a game reviewer or critic. I’m simply a passionate player who loves the series.
  • I’m only comparing Fallout 4 to previous Fallout games; I’m not considering it within the scope of other new console games released this year.
  • I play on a PS4 using the normal difficulty setting. Not that it matters particularly, but it’s probably worth mentioning.
  • Yes, I know that mods are the answer to everything. Too bad that I prefer to play and critique the game as it is.

Here goes.

The positives:

  • The graphics. Mod fanatics and those who like graphics to be as lifelike as possible will definitely disagree with me on this. But when compared to Fallout 3 or Fallout: New Vegas, the graphics have come a long way. I dig the colour and the more even terrain (the endless grey mountains in the other games got a bit boring after awhile).
  • The level system. The lack of a level cap creates an almost endless game, and allows me to focus on certain skills at certain points in my playthrough. I don’t feel rushed to take perks or focus on training a skill, because I know I’ll have all the perks eventually.
  • The HUD. Everything about the HUD is minimalistic and maximises screen space. I didn’t see the HUD as being an issue at all in the previous games, but I do like the integration of the health and rads bar, as well as using AP for stamina and steadying a weapon.
  • Crafting. The workbench in NV compensated for the lack of crafting capabilities in Fallout 3, but the crafting options in Fallout 4 make the NV workbench look like a child’s playset. The weapons workbench in particular is way more satisfying than Fallout 3’s repair system. Lugging around 12 Hunting Rifles to repair your Lincoln Repeater “just in case it gets damaged” isn’t ideal, but being able to glue razor blades to your baseball bat is pretty awesome.
  • Combat. I love everything about the combat — the critical meter in VATS, the new enemies, the new fighting techniques (like raiders hiding behind a door frame for cover), and of course the new weapons. I’m particularly happy that there isn’t as much pressure to use VATS like in the old games. Free shooting is fluid, easy, and satisfying (especially when the enemy explodes into a bloody mess).
  • The difficulty. I’m reluctant to use the word “difficulty” to describe a Fallout game; they’re fairly easy on the normal setting. But Fallout 4 doesn’t allow for a totally overpowered character at an early level. The health bar doesn’t regenerate automatically, VATS doesn’t freeze time, ammo isn’t always in surplus, and caps are generally harder to come by especially if you don’t have a settlement. In Fallout 3, I played almost 100 hours before my character died the first time. In Fallout 4, I died about 9 times fighting Sinjin at level 18. I appreciate a game much more when it’s challenging.

The problems:

  • The radio. One of the main things that frustrated me about the other games was the repetitiveness of the music. And let’s be honest, that hasn’t changed much in Fallout 4. Many of the overtly sexual songs they added didn’t fit very well and started to grate after about 10 or so hours of gameplay. Despite TheVerge’s view that the best part of Fallout 4 is the music, I find it hard to believe that “Rocket 69” didn’t get on Todd Howard’s nerves after 57 plays.
  • The building/workshop system. I’m totally guilty of spending hours tweaking structures in my settlement to make them just right. But there are a few problems with the building system, which I hope will be patched soon. For starters, the workshop section in the Pip-Boy is always wrong. Currently it says I have no food, water, or defence in Sanctuary when I actually have 30 food, 31 water, and 51 defence. I also have an issue with objects falling through tables and shelves. If you want to place flowers or magazines on a table, they’ll stay for awhile until you leave and come back to find they’ve mysteriously fallen through it. There are also issues with the “snap-to” mechanism that make building symmetrical structures difficult at times. I just want to make my settlement pretty, damnit!
  • The main quest. Rescuing your son is a pretty noble endeavour…except for the fact that the game doesn’t seem to want you to rescue your son immediately. It places much more emphasis on building settlements at the very start of the game. Which is fine – I get that they want to show off that shiny new feature, and Fallout has always allowed the player to set the pacing. When I play games, though, I try to make decisions as I would if I were that character stuck in that situation. If it was me in that wasteland, finding my son would be top priority, end of discussion (which is why I haven’t touched the Minutemen quests). But I guess there’s not much point in talking morals in a Fallout  game. I just think it takes away from being able to sympathise with the characters/main story a little bit.
  • The follower command system. I don’t know how many times my over-encumbered character has tried to trade with Nick Valentine only to have him walk away and take the trade dialogue option with him. I liked the companion wheel in the old games – while I respect that Bethesda has tried to reduce the amount of time-freezing screens in the game, it’s annoying that the only time you can trade is if you’re standing right in your follower’s face.

All in all, while there are a few issues with the latest instalment of Fallout 4, they pale in comparison to the positives. The problems I’ve mentioned are more of a slight annoyance than anything else, and they don’t detract from my experience in a huge way. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t care if the only song that ever played was “Way Back Home”, which I’ve loathed since the first hours of Fallout 3. I’m just happy that the game is finally here after years of not knowing if it would ever exist. The Fallout series will always have a special place in my heart as the first RPG I ever played, and I plan on sticking with them ‘til the very end.

Featured Image Credit: Retrieved from GameInformer.com.

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