Fallout 4 is the latest installment in the Fallout franchise developed by Bethesda. If you haven’t played any of the Fallout games at this point, well this is a good one to start with. They’re all stand-alone games so don’t worry about having missed anything from prior games. Fallout 4 is available on Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
Setting is standard: survive in a post-apocalyptic nuclear wasteland while searching for answers. I know, boring when it’s condensed into just one sentence without spoilers and very generic but experiencing it is of course an exhilarating (and oft infuriating) experience.
WARNING: There will be minor spoilers after discussing gameplay and major spoilers past the scoring segment which discusses the Railroad faction’s ending. Bit of a rant.
The character creation is pretty nice and flushed out, allowing you to select and drag parts instead of using sliders but also uses the D-pad for fine tuning. My friend said that editing with a controlled was a lot simpler than using mouse and keyboard but your mileage may vary. That being said, I do have a few gripes but it has more to do with just personal taste:
- Limited hair styles which is more late 1950/early 1960’s style with no customization outside of color.
- Can’t change your voice
- Can’t change your height
Basically, customizing the face is great. Everything else leaves something to be desired. Well, most people would be playing in first person anyways and only seeing their character during dialogue so not really a big deal. Now, one thing you may have noticed is that you can switch between and customize both characters. Well, in case you haven’t heard, you should really work on both since you are the proud parent of a newborn son that will of course be made to look like a natural offspring. No need to spend an exorbitant amount of time customizing your other half; just get the basics and call it good (race, body type, general facial features). I’m not sure how flushed out the system is but it does have an impact later on.
Now, I played the PC version but used a controller. Graphically, the game looks solid and performs well. The environment is immersive and it helps to actually turn off the music so you actually get a sense of the isolation and destruction you’re wandering around in. I played about a third of the way through the main storyline before I decided I’m going to forego 99% of side quests and streamline my way to the end with the help of some mods to keep me entertained and to speed things up. Up to this point, i will say the game has been quite challenging but very fun. The only other Fallout game I’ve attempted to play was Fallout 3 and I never completed it because it simply took far too much time and I got bored with it. Admittedly, if I didn’t have this on PC with mods, I probably would have stopped after Preston (man I really hate him) told me to help another settlement for the fourth time.
Honestly, I don’t do well with sandbox games or just big, open environments in general. Loved the story, but if it’s going to take me half a year to cut to the chase, I’ve got better things to do. Take that with a grain of salt since the game type was never my favorite to begin with (nor the setting).
Gameplay is really fun but I wasn’t able to get the full experience because the right bumper on my controller is all but barely functional so I could never actually use any grenades which would have helped in a lot of situations. The VATS system now has slow motion which is pretty neat, adding a small element of pseudo real-time strategy as opposed to the traditional snapshot and freeze-frame VATS. Sniping is also very fun and satisfying as always. Just make sure you have an escape route that doesn’t involve surprise super mutants that were on patrol. Bad times.
**Minor spoiler past this point.**
You are the Sole Survivor (what your character is referred as) for Vault 111 which, surprise, was just another Vault-Tec human experiment. Those cheeky bastards. Not sure why all the pods are activated/deactivated on the same line but has the ability to open and close each pod individually but you are woken up from cryo-sleep only to see some people kidnap your son and murder your husband/wife. That is one hell of a way to wake up.
Once you officially awake from your slumber, you make a vow to find those responsible and make them pay. I don’t know about others, but this was basically what was going through my head most of the time – just constantly screaming for Shaun. As you proceed through Commonwealth, you will meet with various factions starting with the Minutemen first and foremost. Each faction has their own line of quests to provide you on top of your main story and various side missions you can discover on your own. Each faction will eventually have a quest that, should you choose to complete it, will officially turn you into an enemy of another faction. Whatever quests you had active and not completed will be forfeited and the story will change from that point on so be sure to create multiple save files! Prior to that point, it’s good to be all buddy-buddy with everyone because you get companions that also provide perks for you which definitely helps slog through side quests if you’re into that or just exploring and surviving.
There was one part that really stood out to me: when you enter Kellogg’s memories. That segment was pretty damn surreal and I actually did question how I felt and was a little sorry for him. Still, he messed with the wrong person and he knew it. Shame he couldn’t become a companion; would’ve made a pretty good team. I can’t say much else since after I discovered and joined the third faction, I decided it was time to high-tail it to the end and installed some mods to help so here’s the scoring for Fallout 4 without mods. My only regret is that I never really talked to Hancock after the initial meeting. That guy is a bauss.
- Difficulty: Medium (the difficulty setting in game determines how much hp you regen and how often you discover legendary enemies. Managing all your resources is quite challenging sometimes.)
- Gameplay: 4/5 (Love the new VATS system; depending on the build you went with, there are many different approaches to combat. There are some pretty sweet animations for unarmed combat.)
- Graphics: 4/5 (Looks about as good as you could expect a wasteland to look. Character models are great though.)
- Music: 2.5/5 ( Meh. Honestly better in this situation with just ambient sounds. Never bothered to listen to the radio but it’s old timey music from what I’ve gathered.)
I would definitely recommend this game since it offers so much replayability and just offers so much to do even on your first run through. Admittedly, I was only able to complete this game with the help of mods but that’s mostly due to the fact that I simply didn’t have the time to faff about and just wanted the ending to my story without the sandbox element thrown in. The open world environment is very immersive and keeps you on edge and the story offers lots of opportunities to really question your decisions and objectives.
If you’re interested in reading more about the Railroad ending and my thoughts on it, please continue on. If not, thank you for reading!
See you next game! -DecoyEC has logged out
**Major spoilers ahead! Railroad ending**
So after interacting with all the factions, I naturally just went with the Railroad. Preston seriously turned me away from helping the Minutemen despite their valiant goal of restoration of their ranks and preserving the peace. The Brotherhood of Steel was just a bit too aggressive and I just didn’t feel comfortable around them. I was really torn between siding with the Railroad and the Institute at the end but ultimately, the hostility from the directors at the Institute made the choice pretty clear especially when combined with the experiences I’ve had with some other synths along the way. The decision was also made pretty easy after a brief discussion with Father.
Call me petty, but if you treat your own flesh and blood as just another experiment when they risked everything just to find you and not even bat an eye when questioned about it, I’m going to f***ing destroy you. I will indeed see you in hell, but don’t hold your breath – I’ve still got some work to do.
Now, the Railroad’s goal was ultimately pretty short sighted but the results of freeing the synths can definitely help in the future as well. The synths are known to be sentient, even if they were created with someone else’s memories. I really like discussing topics such as this and it begs to question where the line is between man and machine when you reach the ability to create something like the third generation of synths in Fallout 4. Nick Valentine serves as a fine example – fully aware his memories are not his own and thus even his entire existence was hinged on whose memories were implanted into him. Regardless, he still functions and behaves as the original Nick would (lets not bring in the multiverse theory). The third generation of synths are fully sentient by definition but this is also the generation that begins to demonstrate consciousness. Nick is a prototype but it’s pretty clear he still helped bridge an important gap. With that being said, the most recent synths are, basically, human. Heck, Dean even tried to have a baby with what turned out to be a synth so that implies that they are even designed functionally – to a degree – for sex.
The point is that the Institute only saw synths as tools, and if they were indeed sentient and conscious, then that is slavery. Even Z1-14 says that what they want is simply freedom. A few tough choices were made along the way and it was in essence a trade off between death and rebirth: you are sent by Father on a few missions to capture and return some rogue synths. To do so, you have a Courser escort and you had to initiate the reset command. This ultimately is the act of killing whatever consciousness they currently had (thus killing that person entirely) but also allows for (hopefully) implanting a fresh memory instead of just a program.
If you spend some time just wandering around the Institute, you can come across a maintenance synth being interrogated by a Courser and the synth was clearly hiding something but she kept flipping between a half-assed programmed response to actually stuttering to cover her tracks, which the Courser immediately questions but ultimately lets go. It wouldn’t have been so different if it were just two humans.
So the question became a choice between helping an organization provide freedom to those that seek it and can in turn provide help to Commonwealth and its residents (to a very small and temporary degree) or helping an organization that ultimately has a solution for securing the future of humanity but only within the Institute itself (akin to another Vault) with the potential threat of tyranny to Commonwealth by developing more synths which will ultimately become WMDs. The directors also really, really don’t like you even if you forgive their insubordination. Well that was a bit of a rant but I blew the Institute to kingdom-come (along with Shaun) and it looked cool as hell.