There are plenty of words that come to mind when I think of Fallout: Desolate, barren, expansive, futile, wasteland. While those words come to mind when I think of Fallout 4, so do the words colourful, hopeful, togetherness, and rebuilding. Unlike previous Fallout titles, you definitely feel like you’re helping from the ground up, literally rebuilding parts of the world for people to once again inhabit and eventually call home but that’s aside to the main game and can be completely ignored should you want to. If you do invest into it, you can expect a game in itself and one that offers a different kind of satisfaction, one that can hit home and make you feel like you’re making a difference in the world, not just helping questgivers.
And that’s the beauty of Fallout 4: The possibilities to make you feel like you are actually a part of this one, not just some incredibly adept guy at shooting, and persuasion, to go above and beyond most people without ever being able to before. You have a place in the world should you want. You also have Boston to explore and not have a home. You can spend your entire time in the wasteland not having somewhere and that’s just as defining as returning to your abode once in a while to build it back up using the tools at your disposal.
Fallout 4 is one of those games that you can lose dozens of hours doing any one thing. Quests could easily break 50 hours alone and that’s not even taking in the time to accommodate simply exploring the wasteland finding new stories in what’s been left behind. It’s those stories though that you simple stumble upon that you remember: The remnants of a previous life that was wiped out right on the spot.
The main quest in Fallout 4 sees you looking for your son Shaun after being frozen in Vault 111. While there, you are momentarily unfrozen and see some people take your son and murder your other half, depending on which you choose. Your quest becomes one of befriending some people and utilising their help in order to track down who took your son and get him back.
It’s a decent main questline that goes in some interesting places. It starts very action-heavy as you defend a town from an onslaught of raiders and very quickly you get to try out the illustrious power armour and in massive showdown with a deathclaw. It’s jarring for fans of the series, especially the ones handled by Bethesda to be thrown into action sequences but it is indicative of the type of game Fallout 4. The shooting in previous Fallout titles were not that good, the gunplay in Fallout 4 is really good, so much in fact that it feels and plays like a good First Person Shooter.
Fallout 4 can feel overwhelming simply because of everything it offers. Apart from settlement building, main and side quests, and simply exploring the wasteland, there are so many nuances in between. To compliment the much improved shooting mechanics, the game offers an exhaustive weapon crafting system that allows you to change every part of each gun to your liking. Parts can be taken from some guns and applied to other ones to create the best of each kind.
Visually, the game is certainly a step up from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim with a much better lighting system but it’s definitely unimpressive compared to a lot of other games on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The reduced visuals is the price to pay to allow such an interactive world and one that allows you to build up your own settlements whatever way you want.
Unfortunately, technically, the game is a bit disappointing on console. Reviewing it on Xbox One, moving into certain areas and even gunfights have led to the game chugging along at 20 frames or less for a few seconds which is very distracting and frustrating in tough fights. It’s something that could probably be fixed down the line but it happened often enough that it was worth mentioning.
The world of Fallout 4 doesn’t feel as barren as previous games. As you wander, you’ll come across multiple towns with dense streets and plenty of buildings to explore. You never really have many times where you are on higher ground and everything in front of you is empty. It always feels like a landmark is visible everywhere you go.
I could probably spend the next 1000 words telling you of adventures of my own that I’ve had in the wasteland, ones that didn’t feel scripted, where crazy things happened around me but I won’t. That’s the beauty of Fallout 4: You have so many stories of your own to tell, like an old man desperately reclaiming his past, Fallout 4 is sad in thinking it’s all we have, memories. The world still hasn’t let go of the world pre-war as people try to rebuild the same again. As with your adventures in Fallout 4, you’re always reclaiming and building your own way through the game and it’ll be different for everyone.
While it’s technically disappointing, this is the deepest, most robust, and responsive Bethesda game in a very long time.