It has been seven full years since Fallout 3 exploded onto the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC back in 2008, and while Fallout: New Vegas was a nice addition to keep the train rolling, Fallout 4 is the game fans have been waiting for. Not only is Fallout 4 innovative in its own series of games, but it weaves a story for you that is filled with emotion, and on top of that, will give you hundreds of side quests that help make this game truly exceptional.
Fallout 4 takes places in what remains of Boston after the nuclear holocaust that wiped out most of the population and generally led to a lot of bad things. Those who did survive largely turned to crime as a way of staying alive, and many have different ideals about how they could change the wasteland for the better.
While the main story of Fallout 4 is very well put together and gives you not only a purpose to traverse the godforsaken hell-hole that is the USA in 2287, but motivation to do so too – the real thing that makes this game is the small details.
The featured combat system is very similar to the one featured in Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, simply because if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. You have basic first-person and third-person shooting mechanics, and you have the Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System (V.A.T.S.) to improve pinpoint shooting accuracy, if accuracy isn’t really your forte. This is a necessary addition to the game, as some would see it as more of an open-world RPG than a first person shooter; V.A.T.S gives you the opportunity to minimise the time spent having to peer through your aim trying to get a shot on target, and will do most of the work for you. One perk (an additional ability upon levelling up) even allows you to see the level of what you’re fighting, and the best way to damage it.
The big thing that was new about Fallout 4, however, was the inclusion of settlements. Settlements are places where you can set up home, and invite other people into your base in order to bring a community together. Scrap is needed for all the different things you can make, and storing it all in your backpack can be quite problematic when travelling all over the Commonwealth. The most common things you will need are wood and steel, along with copper for anything that requires electricity. Wood and steel can easily be sourced by going into your workshop mode and scrapping any trees, or junk that is left lying around from before your arrival.
However, having a settlement brings its own set of complications. With every new settler that joins your ragtag band of misfits just trying to live in a pretty awful situation, there’s a whole new person’s needs to address, so while you are travelling, you’ll need to provide them with food, water, bedding, security and electricity. The more people you invite in, the more things they will ask you to do for them to help them rest well at night, such as saving a kidnapped friend of theirs. It’s hard to say whether it’s just the world they live in, but having to rescue a random person every five minutes is just irritating after a while. Can’t I just give them a half decent gun and let them deal with it? I have my own stuff going on, dammit. That being said, these quests can be useful along the way as at times when you need to level up; they will not only give you more enemies to kill, but a juicy set of XP at the end of the mission.
While travelling across an area as large as the Commonwealth, there will be lots of things to keep you entertained, so while it is a lot quicker to fast travel, do not always be immediately tempted into doing so, as what you will encounter on your journeys really plays a big part in making Fallout 4 feel SPECIAL.
For instance, upon discovering a small town called Covenant, a character named Swanson will ask you a series of questions before permitting your entry. If you have played Fallout 3, these questions will sound familiar to you, as they are the same questions you would have answered during your G.O.A.T test. While these questions have no implications on your game in Fallout 4, it’s a nice little throwback.
Another little Easter Egg that not many people will have come across can be found during the hacking mini-game. It has been found that sometime the computer will throw the word “GURPS” into the mix. What the hell is GURPS? GURPS is an indicator to the fact that Fallout was almost made into a board game series, which would be titled “Vault 13: A GURPS Post-Nuclear Adventure”. GURPS stood for Generic Universal Role Playing System.
During the game, you come across people living their regular lives, and get an insight into what sort of life people led before the war by looking into their computer files (sadly, no browser histories available). Upon discovering different vaults, you can read through what their objectives were, and how they were dealing with the situation following the detonation of nuclear weapons. Vault-Tec were bad people.
There is one place you come across that really captured my heart though; the races at the location ‘Easy City Downs’. You can hear the announcer talking his way through the race, until you interrupt. It’s an almost-beautiful scene of people just living their lives, but when it’s apparent that you have joined the party, all present, apart from the robots who are racing, start shooting you. Then, in a heartbreaking twist, the robots turn on you as well if they get hit by your stray bullets. It’s now on you to destroy this scene that just a few moments ago you thought was so great.
That encapsulates your life in the Commonwealth. You’re like Stone Cold Steve Austin: “Arrive. Raise Hell. Leave.”
Before the war, you were a family man who had a career and had spent some time in the armed forces. After you awake from your slumber, 210 years later, you have to be this ass-kicking machine who doesn’t take anything from anybody, whose best intentions sometimes lead to a lot of people getting hurt.
The final thing that is extremely cool in Fallout 4 are your companions. You can travel round with one other character out of a possible 13 different choices, all of whom have special side quests and character traits that will react to your actions; well, apart from Dogmeat – man’s best friend will love you no matter what you do.
Each action you take in Fallout 4 could lead to a positive or negative reaction from your companion; for instance, if you are travelling with a Super Mutant named Strong, any type of allegiance towards the Brotherhood Of Steel will make him react poorly towards you – so no power armour and no vertibirds for you. Some can have a very strong reaction for things you do – such as Preston Garvey when you help with Minutemen quests.
However, you can sometimes be put in no-win situations. If you complete the quest ‘The Devil’s Due’ – where you decide the fate of a Deathclaw egg – while paired with Paladin Danse, no matter which option you choose to complete the mission, you will receive a strongly negative reaction. As noted before, each companion has special missions for you to go on provided they trust you enough to let you in to their personal lives, and that will lead to new perks and them being a better travelling buddy for you in the Commonwealth.
In summary, if you haven’t played Fallout 4 yet, you should. You will pour hours and hours of your life into this game that will ultimately leave you with a heavy heart at times, and every second is worth it.