Review: Fallout 4

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One of the most – if not the most – anticipated games of 2015 has finally arrived. No, it’s not a sequel to Hulk Hogan’s Main Event. I am, of course, talking about Fallout 4.

The game hasn’t been without massive hype, leaving many to wonder if it would be a worthy entry into the beloved series. I would love to answer that question, but unfortunately, I can’t.

Originally Posted on GameFocus

What I am about to say may anger a lot of readers: I have never played Fallout. For one reason or another, I have managed to never cross paths with any of the games. So in turn, my review highlights a unique perspective – one that will judge the game as a separate entity, rather than a sequel. Please keep that in mind.

I do, however, know that Fallout is a series about exploration and atmosphere, rather than a true narrative-driven experience. When jumping into the open-world, RPG-lite game, I was under the impression that the latest instalment wouldn’t present a five-star story, but I never expected it to be as underwhelming as it actually is.

Players control a character (male or female!) who has thawed out and escaped the confines of Vault 111 – an underground safe-space for a catastrophic event – in search of their missing son. Upon exiting the vault after 200 years passing, it is apparent that the apocalypse really did happen. Boston, where the game takes place, is an utter wasteland filled with ghouls, mutated monsters, and extremely dangerous living conditions.

Here lies the internal struggle that most open-world games often develop: as a person, I want to zoom through the story and do whatever it takes to reclaim my son. But as a player, I want to explore everything that the hazardous and venturesome world has to offer. This creates a bonafide issue, as I’m left feeling guilty for spending hours upon hours accomplishing silly tasks for characters I will never run into again.

And there are a lot of NPC that you’ll never run into again – the character list is massive. Post-apocalyptic Boston is littered with interesting oddities with various tasks designed to help you collect items for survival. The tertiary characters play an integral role in bringing the remarkably vibrant world to life.

But one character, in particular, is regrettably un-noteworthy: the character you play as. I understand they are meant to be a blank slate and entirely unaware of their surroundings, but I feel there isn’t enough development as the story progresses. Even the moments when they are discussing their son, I feel little to no empathy because there is no sense of urgency in their voice or actions.

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And to be honest, I actually found myself caring deeply about an antagonist the most, as the story dives much further into their history than the character you actually play as. There is an incredible sequence involving the evil dweller that shines bright as the defining narrative moment in the game, despite it having little to do with the grand scheme conquest. I wish we had experienced this moment for the character we spend the most time with, but that never occurs.

Although the narrative of the game doesn’t achieve great heights, it’s nearly impossible not to respect the scope of Fallout 4. There are an endless amount of things to do, from hunting animals to erecting an entire community in the game’s improved build-mode, but nothing feels satisfying enough to warrant full examination. And like I previously stated, when concentrating on peripheral escapades, what little momentum that is felt to save your son is instantaneously lost.

For newcomers, like myself, how you engage dangerous enemies may be a tough hurdle to overcome. The run-and-gun style just won’t fly, due in part to the terrible aiming mechanics, so utilizing the ability to sneak is always the best course of action. This became extremely apparent early on, as I was mowed down in almost every firefight. Additionally, using your pip-boy to target assailants via the Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System (V.A.T.S.) is a technique that is vital to maintaining life in the game.

Oh, and don’t forget to utilize the brand new sprint option.

Bethesda is known for shipping out conglomerate but broken games, and Fallout 4 is no different. Within the first half hour or so, I encountered a massive glitch that had a deathclaw appear and then reappear, only to then get half stuck into the ground. Fortunately, this mistake worked in my favour, as I was able to demolish the monster within seconds thanks to my minigun.

In other instances, the glitches have made the game significantly less enjoyable. While texture glitches can (sometimes) be excused in a game as massive as Fallout 4, control glitches cannot. At multiple points of playing, the movement of my joysticks did not correspond with the movement of my character, rendering the affected time unplayable.

The visuals of Fallout 4 is a mixed bag. At times, it is stunning and realized, and then a moment later looks horribly dated. The environment design is a definite highlight, while character models are the game’s visual downfall.

But in terms of all things audio, nearly every aspect of it is stellar. From the beautifully orchestrated score, to the respectable voice acting (aside from Nick Valentine’s character) it is hard to find anything negative about it. This is one of the few aspects of the game that Bethesda truly hit a home run on.

Final Thoughts

Fallout 4 may be the most conflicting game you will ever play. While there are moments of true brilliance, they are quickly shot down by a glitch or some other frustrating element. There is a little something for everyone within the game, and while that may seem like a positive attribute, nothing feels like it’s truly finalized. Bethesda develops games that encourage patience – in all aspects – and those willing to fight through the issues and never-ending quests in Fallout 4 will receive a decent amount of satisfaction.

 

Agree or disagree? Comment in the section below or tweet me at @TylerTalksGames.

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