Bethesda Game Studios, the award-winning creators of Fallout 3 and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, welcome you to the world of Fallout 4 - their most ambitious game ever, and the next generation of open-world gaming.
A Familiar Wasteland
by Andrew Reiner
A straightforward sequel with improved combat and a denser world to explore
The visuals can be simultaneously breathtaking and a little ugly. The vistas and lighting are beautifully created, but some of the texture work is muddled and steals some of the finer details
From the powerful Fallout 4 theme to radio stations filled with classic tunes, the score is brilliant. Most of the voice work (especially the protagonists') is equally as good
Gunplay is vastly improved, making the act of exploring the wasteland more enjoyable. Better yet, I didn't run into too many glitches in my playthrough
Bethesda has created another game you can lose your life in. New experiences just keep coming, and you always have another perk to unlock
My lone wanderer from Vault 111 is as much a stranger in a strange land as he is a person returning to the familiarity of his own home. His crisis of identifying with the world echoes my journey through Fallout 4, a game that is as new and exciting as it is old and familiar.
Roughly seven years have passed since Bethesda Game Studios ventured into Fallout's wasteland, but you'd think the development team never left it, as Fallout 4 feels like a well-worn Pip-Boy. The studio clings to many of the great (and not-so-great) gameplay trappings and overarching designs that made Fallout 3 such a captivating release. This wealth of identifiable content is used as the backbone of this sequel - sometimes to a fault - but all in support of making the act of wandering the Commonwealth Wasteland one of the most rewarding (and time-consuming) experiences in gaming.
Despite the image of a large, hulking character on the box art, Fallout 4 doesn't roar out of the gate with guns blazing. As much as I enjoyed seeing the world prior to the bombs falling in the game's opening moments, Bethesda rushes through this event. The player is given barely enough time to take a snapshot of it, let alone develop a meaningful connection with the family members - whom are supposed to be the central hook of the narrative. The subsequent descent into the vault doesn't fare much better, and is used mostly to establish an antagonist in the brief minutes the player spends there. The studio clearly wanted to get the player into the wasteland as quickly as possible, but the rapid pace hurts the story in the process. As a result, I didn't understand who my character was; I just knew what he lost.
The wanderer (who can be male or female) comes into his own when he becomes a conduit for your choices, and ends up being more than a blank slate this time around. The new spoken dialogue fleshes this protagonist out, much like Mass Effect's Commander Shepard. I connected with his actions, but was fascinated by his choice of words and tone, which are not spelled out in the streamlined (and improved) dialogue tree. The protagonist's lines are well-written and believable, no matter what approach was used in conversation. If you enjoy role-playing as a cannibalistic madman, however, the voice work doesn't mesh with that fantasy, or any other that detours from a normal mannered person. Interesting, I didn't rush through one line of dialogue, and never turned on the subtitles. I watched it all unfold in real time, and was only forced to read stories on computers spread across the Commonwealth. I consider the new voice work a giant success for the series, even if it does remove a bit of the player's personality from the experience.
The main story arc for the wanderer offers some surprising twists and turns relating to his family, but a lot of the surrounding story lines mirror events from Fallout 3, and end up falling flat despite the huge world-changing events they bring. The real points of interest come from how you can toy with and poke at the different factions that preside in the wasteland. I reached a point in one faction line that would have completely shut down any involvement I could have in working with the Brotherhood of Steel, and it came early in my playthrough. Player choice pops up everywhere, but it's rarely as black and white as "save this city or nuke it." I was forced to make a handful of difficult choices along the way, and can't wait to see how they play out from other perspectives. The spider-web of choice that Bethesda intertwined is impressive, and it's fascinating to see the inhabitants of the world keeping tabs on your involvements.
Do whatever you want in a massive open world with hundreds of locations, characters, and quests. Join multiple factions vying for power or go it alone, the choices are all yours.
Be whoever you want with the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. character system. From a Power Armored soldier to the charismatic smooth talker, you can choose from hundreds of Perks and develop your own playstyle.
COLLECT AND BUILD!
Collect, upgrade, and build thousands of items in the most advanced crafting system ever. Weapons, armor, chemicals, and food are just the beginning - you can even build and manage entire settlements.
SUPER DELUXE PIXELS!
An all-new next generation graphics and lighting engine brings to life the world of Fallout like never before. From the blasted forests of the Commonwealth to the ruins of Boston, every location is packed with dynamic detail.
VIOLENCE AND V.A.T.S.!
Intense first or third person combat can also be slowed down with the new dynamic Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System (V.A.T.S) that lets you choose your attacks and enjoy cinematic carnage.
FOR USE IN SURVIVAL
TIPS FROM THE VAULT
RADIATION AND YOU
BEWARE THE SILENT KILLER
While some harmful radiation should have dissipated years ago, lingering radiation will remain. In the Wasteland, ceaseless radioactive bombardment will attack your body without warning until it's too late. This will be a real threat to your survival. Use your Vault-Tec assigned Pip-Boy to monitor radiation levels at all times.
ADAPTING TO THE OUTSIDE
YOU'VE LEFT THE VAULT. NOW WHAT?
The moment you exit the vault, you will notice a piercing bright light. Like a creature of the night, your eyes are not accustomed to the bare sun. Make sure to shield the retinas with tinted goggles.
Hard Drive Space
Fallout 4 requires 28-35 GB depending on territory and languages supported.