If there ever were a game series that always ended up in my backlog, it would be any one of the Fallout games. I always purchased them day one, but never ended up playing them until years after release. Fallout 4 was no different. Releasing back in November 2015, for PC, PS4 and Xbox One.
Fallout 4’s story may not be as in depth or as captivating as the previous titles in the series, but there is enough going on in the commonwealth wasteland that kept me intrigued right the way through my playthrough. You play as one of the lucky few who have been selected to have a spot within a vault, which were built to protect the human race from extinction come war time. After you and your family enter the vault, you are all put into cryogenic pods, freezing you for years. Waking up from cryogenics freezing, you find out your son has been kidnapped, and your wife was murdered, you mission, is to find your son. This is the start of a long road ahead of you which will more often than not lead you down paths that you really wouldn’t expect a father to go down if he is so determined to find his son, but hey, open world RPGs, eh?
Whilst this is the 4th (okay, 5th) game in the Fallout franchise, you don’t need to have played the previous releases to understand what is going on. Of course it is going to help to get a better understanding of the backstory, but all the main characters, and main plot lines throughout Fallout 4 are self contained to this game only. For a modern gamer entering the Fallout series, this may very well be the best starting point for them.
As you’d expect from a huge open world game like Fallout, the majority of the story does not come from the main story line. For the most part, it comes from side quests and activities. This really allows you to learn about the commonwealth at your own pace, and soak in everything it has to offer, before moving onto the next part.
The main story in Fallout 4 will take you roughly 24 hours to complete, but as with the story, the main time draw will come from the side quests. My vanilla playthrough is up to 84 hours so far, and that’s with completing almost every single quest the base game of Fallout 4 has to offer. Due to the nature of some o the side quests, you will actually lock yourself out from seeing a good portion of them. This lends itself to either multiple playthroughs, or if multiple save points, that will allow you to jump back before a key decision and playout things differently, in order to experience a different side of things. This sounds annoying, but story wise it ends up making sense, and you have to pick a faction to side with before reaching the end game. You can either side with a group of Minute Men, The Railroad, Brotherhood of Steel, or The Institute. Each of these factions has about 5 or 6 main quests, with a varying amount of side quests to tackle too.
On top of these, you also have 30-40 side quests, miscellaneous quests and unmarked quests to handle too. It’s easy to see how you can wrack up close to 100 hours, even on just the base game of Fallout 4.
One of the key new features to Fallout 4, is building and managing a settlement. Even though the base game only really introduces the basics of the mechanic, you do get left to your own devices to play around, and learn a lot as you go, but you can really build quite impressive bases, the base building aspect of Fallout 4 is improved on with DLC, which we’ll cover in a separate review, but the base game is merely a learning experience, as most of the missions which have you interact with your base, handhold you till completion anyway.
This iteration of Fallout certainly felt a lot more combat oriented than previous games; this is a common thought among many critics, but it’s hard to compare it to the likes of Fallout New Vegas, or even Fallout 3, when there is such a contrasting difference in the way most scenarios play out. New Vegas and 3 would often give the player multiple options on how to carry out an objective, maybe you want to be diplomatic, or peaceful for the most part and stay out of trouble, Fallout 4 really makes the player jump in both feet first, and it doesn’t matter how many people die who get in your way. This is fine for someone who enjoys shooty-rooty action, but the heavy RPG fans certainly didn’t enjoy this much of a change. I personally enjoyed the heavy combat influences, and didn’t have a problem with it.
The bulk of the gameplay is first person shooting, with assisted aim using the VATS system too. With a wide variety of weaponry to select from, and a huge amount of choice when it comes to building your character exactly how you want to play using the perk system, your character turns into a raider murdering machine by the time you reach the level 40 mark.
Much like with the story, I can’t help but feel like Fallout 4 would be a good game to introduce someone to the genre. It’s not a super in depth RPG that has reams and reams of reading for someone, and has just enough RPG lite mechanics to get to grips with, before having someone handle much more in depth titles in the genre.
Playing the game on PC, there was really only one optimal option when it came to controls. Keyboard and mouse are the primary choice, but controller support is available if desired.
It wouldn’t be a Bethesda game without a handful of bugs would it? Even now, getting on towards 3 years after release, the game is still riddled with errors and potential game breaking bugs. You can fix a lot of these with mods and unofficial patches, but this was a complete vanilla run, and I ran into multiple bugs along the way. The most annoying one for me was during cut scenes where NPCs would just randomly start turning around mid conversation and wandering off. This causes the talking scenes to just cut out mid sentences, and this was a real annoyance for me. Not to mention horrendously buggy AI, which just acts so dumb sometimes, it’s hard to comprehend how it manages to function at all sometimes.
Fallout 4 may not be everyone’s cup of tea, especially if you loved how the other Fallout games play and feel, it will certainly feel foreign for returning players. But for a more action oriented RPG experience, you really can’t go wrong with Fallout 4, it has tons of content on offer, with interesting characters and subplots to keep you entertained. With a full season pass worth of content still to come after your first playthrough, and we’ve not even mentioned the mod support Fallout 4 has to offer, you have a real centrepiece when it comes to modern day RPGs.
- Interesting characters
- Wide variety of storylines
- Action orientated
- Tons of content
- Some quests can be missed if you aren't careful
- Different feel to previous Fallout games, hardcore fans will be put off