By now, everything that has to be said about Fallout 4, has been said. I didn’t expect it to be so divisive–Fallout is a franchise that constantly attracts 10/10 scores and countless Game of the Year nods, with every iteration. I’ve had plenty of people tell me that Fallout 3 or New Vegas is their favourite game of all time, bar none. So, when Fallout 4 came out, to hear those same people say that it was nothing special came as a bit of a shock.
And then I played it for myself. Lots. It took me a while to get into it at first, as I’m not really an open world guy at the best of times–I prefer to have a bit of direction to my action, rather than just being chucked in a sandbox and given a gun. I’ve also never played a Fallout game before, at least not in full. I played about half a dozen hours of Fallout 3 before my computer decided it would randomly crash to desktop every five minutes. The post-nuclear apocalyptic setting just didn’t really interest me in the past. I know, I’m not a real “gamer”.
I spent at least an hour customising the appearance of my character and my character’s wife to ensure that he looked as much like me as possible, and she looked as much like Emma Watson as possible. After another hour of play, I lamented spending so much time on her. Yet another hour in, I noticed that, superficially, Fallout 4 is a zooped up, re-skinned version of TESV: Skyrim. Which is not a bad thing, by any means.
Set in post-apocalyptic Boston, you play as the “Sole Survivor”. On the 23rd of October, 2077 (“Weird Al” Yankovic’s birthday, by the way,) Nuka Cola Quantum is released to the public, and the Great War begins. Your family is taken to an underground self-sustaining bunker known as a “Vault”. 200 or so years later, you come out of the vault, all confused and whatnot, and stumble upon your old house. Almost immediately you are invited to become the General of the Minutemen, a group of soldiers who make it their mission to help folks in trouble on a minute’s notice, and you’re pointed in the direction of Diamond City, a shanty town built within an old baseball stadium.
This is where Fallout 4 was able to hold my interest when other open world games were not. When it comes to an open world environment, I need comfort. Somewhere I can sit, relax, go shopping for a bit, maybe even have a drink. Shadow of Mordor, while I appreciate the game for what it is, couldn’t hold my attention for more than a couple of hours because the world was just too hostile for my tastes. Fallout 4 has the hostile environments, sure–the entirety of the wasteland–but you’ll often come across a friendly NPC like a trader who just wants a chat, and there’s a number of safe, secure settlements like the aforementioned Diamond City that ensure I don’t get battle-weary.
This whole idea culminates in the “settlement” system. There’s about two dozen potential settlement areas in the Commonwealth, which start off neutral and become friendly after you do a quest to help them out. After that, you can customise their land, placing a radio beacon to attract new (generic nameless) settlers, beds and shacks, sources of food and water, defense and even shops to enable trading. It’s a great idea, in theory, but it has a bit of a feel that it was rushed–not only is the interface incredibly clunky, but it also doesn’t really offer enough options or rewards to remain interesting beyond improving one or two settlements.
That sort of brings me to my major gripe with Fallout 4. It’s not new. It’s fun, it entertained me for a long time, but after playing it I was left with the exact same feeling that I got after playing Skyrim–yeah, I enjoyed it, but it didn’t really offer anything of real value or variety. It’s cheap, mindless fun. Again, I feel like I have to clarify that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’ve got a bunch of games that I return to if I need an hour or two of autopilot gaming, and Fallout 4 will neatly fit into that list. It didn’t blow me away or anything. It was fun.
I guess I have a couple more small gripes. I found the boss fights rather anti-climactic but that’s probably my fault, because I’d ask Piper for my Big Boy and just shoot the boss once. I wish combat was a bit more thought out and tactical beyond just running and shooting, but again, maybe that’s on me, because I’ve just been playing Rainbow Six Siege, an incomparable game in a completely different genre which has completely changed my view on what a shooter should be. Oh, and I found it a little bit too colourless and dry, but a SweetFX colour filter significantly improved that so it didn’t bother me at all.
I’ve not played all that much Fallout, so I had only the most basic of expectations going into Fallout 4, and that’s exactly what I got, to the point where I really don’t have that much to say about it. If you like open world games, power armour, guns, and a post-apocalyptic setting, you’ll love Fallout 4. If it doesn’t really interest you, chances are it’s not going to blow you away. It’s fun–just like Skyrim before it, I played it non-stop for a long time, just stopped all of a sudden, and haven’t returned yet. I enjoyed it.
Select Start Media was provided with a review copy of Fallout 4 by Bethesda.