Fallout 4 (Bethesda Game Studios, 2015)

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Fallout 4, developed by Bethesda Game Studios (PS4, 2015).

Score: Like Fallout 3, but with more stuff.

Which is not a bad thing, mind you. I think Fallout 3 was the first game ever that I played for more than a hundred hours in total. So after seven years of waiting I wanted what I guess everyone wanted: the same general feeling that made me enjoy Fallout 3 so much and a little something extra so I’m not playing the same thing over. Mission accomplished.

Fallout 4 takes place ten years after the events of Fallout 3 in Boston and its surroundings. The playable character, the Lone Survivor, lived in Sanctuary Hills with their spouse and their son Shaun, when the bombs fell in 2077 and they took refuge in Vault 111. The Lone Survivor is cryogenized upon entering the Vault and awakes briefly to see two people killing their spouse and taking their baby away. The Lone Survivor is later released to the post-apocalyptic Commonwealth of Massachusetts 210 years later, where they resolve to retrieve their kidnapped son and take revenge on his captors.

For those of you who don’t know, the setting is a post-apocalyptic dieselpunk, which sounds weird as fuck but it’s very fun to play. This means you get to encounter robot butlers that go berserk and start showering you with flamethrowers, visit the ruins of unscrupulous megacorps that experimented on people and marketed failed medicines as chemical weapons, and defend yourself from absurdly mutated animals such as mole rats, radroaches or the always exasperating Deathclaws.

So, the great improvement from Fallout 3 (and, to a lesser degree,Fallout New Vegas) is the plot. Let’s admit it, the plot in Fallout 3 was quite uninteresting and the fun came from other places. The plot inFallout 4 is quite impressive when compared with the previous two games. Your search for your abducted baby takes some pleasantly surprising turns and there is one major addition to the universe that makes the world much more interesting: synths and the Insititute. In this aspect, Fallout 4 plays the classical trope of artificial intelligence straight but in a very interesting way. You have four different factions that each have their own interests and agendas and in the end you have to choose; these are better developed than the factions in New Vegasbut the idea is more or less the same. There is a grand total of thirteen possible companions with different personalities. Hint: my favourite is Nick Valentine.

As for the gameplay, some things have stayed the same, some things have been passed on from New Vegas and some others are new. V.A.T.S. still exists but now it doesn’t stop time completely. The perk tree is very similar and some perks have stayed the same, but now it’s visually less confusing. Weapons don’t break down anymore and you can mod them just like in New Vegas. You can also craft items such as food, drugs, and armor and weapon mods. The power armor system is new. Power armor does break down and you need to repair it, but you can also mod it. It needs Fusion Cores to work, otherwise you can’t run in it and can’t use V.A.T.S. It’s not really an option for stealth players but I fucking love it because I’m such a Timmy. The other new thing is the settlements minigame. We were kind of introduced to how the system would work with Fallout Shelter, but still the in-game tutorial could have been so much better because it took a lot of trial and error and looking things up on forums to finally figure out how it works. It’s sort of fun once you get the hang of it.

There’s no Hardcore Mode this time, like there was in New Vegas, and I’ve tried both Normal and Survival modes. Normal is fine if you want to do a quick run of the main story and not much else, but it will get boring if you start doing every sidequest unless you like your games very easy. There is a new set of quests called Radiance Quests which are given by every faction and are basically infinite. They usually take the form of “Clear X location” or “Retrieve X object”. These get very boring very soon in Normal or easier modes, but the good news is you don’t have to take them. On the other hand, they are key in Survival mode as they help you level up and stack up on caps and gear. Hardcore Mode consists of your health replenishing more slowly and there being more special enemies. It might sound stupid but it increases the difficulty in a very effective way, and you get rewarded for your efforts with more gear with special perks. The difficulty curve is quite well achieved in the sense that difficulty stays steady. You don’t want to gouge your eyes out when you’re still at low levels and you will still get your ass handed to you if you’re not careful at high levels. This is achieved by having the enemies level up with you, and it’s barely noticeable.

All in all, if you liked the previous Fallout games you’re not going to be let down. If you’re new to the Fallout universe, I hope you have as much fun as I did.

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