Review: Fallout 4
Bethesda passed us the Nuclear Football last week. We’ve explored the Commonwealth and are happy to report that it’s crammed with ridiculous amount of content, all with that creepy post-apocalyptic tongue-in-cheek humor that the series is known for. Fans will find Fallout 4 improved upon and optimized from numerous facets.
Fallout 4 runs on a modified Creation Engine (Skyrim’s engine), which includes better lighting, added crafting/structure building, and a new character editor. If you remember the worlds of previous Fallout titles, they were dominated by palettes of grey, brown, and green. The world of Fallout 4 is bursting with color and even blue skies (or the occasional green). It largely looks great, minus a few textures here and there.
Character models are vastly improved. The new character creation tool is a fine improvement from the tried and true tools from previous games. Many animations are also improved. Deathclaws have always been just about the scariest thing in any Fallout game, and they’ve found a way to make them even more worrisome with ferocious lunges and reactions to damage. Where some animations have truly been improved, it’s a little surprising where some haven’t, particularly, facial animations.
With the focus on spoken dialogue trees, it makes some discussions seems a little distracting when the animation doesn’t sync up. The spoken dialogue largely works, but sometimes four options for response seems a little limiting, especially when they’re vague one-word descriptions of what your character is about to say.
Since this game is teeming with content, Bethesda saw fit to remove the level cap from the game. Experience is plentiful and gaining levels and perks happen in every play session. The perk system is very logical now, allowing for easy planning on what kind of character you wish to be. After putting ranks into each of your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. attributes, you can choose to take a rank in a perk or raise one of your attributes. Perks are available depending on how many ranks are in each attribute as well as the player’s level. My favorite build is usually a super sneaky charismatic and strong melee character, what’s yours?
Both the overall gunplay as well as the optional RPG-like V.A.T.S. (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System) have received nice overhauls. Bethesda actually hired some ex-Bungie support to fix their gunplay from their previous game, stating that they wanted Fallout’s guns to feel more impactful. They’ve achieved that goal, with gunplay so good that V.A.T.S. is not as absolutely needed this time around. Having said that, V.A.T.S. works a whole lot better, with it slowing down time rather than pausing time. Successful hits on various limbs update on the fly while time slowly progresses. V.A.T.S. also has a critical meter that charges by the hit and can be unleashed at the player’s discretion. Melee attacks still only target the enemy singularly rather than limb by limb. Note that even though V.A.T.S. no longer pauses the game, entering into your Pip-Boy still does, so no rush on planning out what mix of chems and weapons you need to use to take out that Super Mutant Brute.
Crafting and settlement building have become a central pillar of Fallout 4. With the crafting system, Bethesda has put a value on every lootable item in the game as they can now be scrapped into component parts. These component parts can then be used to upgrade and customize weapons and armor, as well as build up your settlements. So now largely garbage items like Abraxo Cleaner and Antique Globes can be useful and sought after. Adhesive seems to be the most important for weapon modding, so grab that duct tape (especially if it’s military-grade).
The crafting system offers numerous layers of customization for weapons and armor. Normal weapons and armor can be upgraded with various effect depending on certain perks taken. There also exist unique items that offer various additional buffs. For example, I have a metal left leg that offers a +2 bonus to luck. Armor is no longer just an outfit and headwear, but now consists of seven separate pieces. There are some full outfits the player can find, but generally it’s best to go with a piecemeal approach. That means managing and upgrading left and right arms and legs pieces, a head piece, a chest piece and an undergarment. It can be a bit much to manage sometimes, especially when variously named customizations are applied to each piece. At times it felt like the Pip-Boy wasn’t perfectly suited for managing armor loadouts.
Power armor has changed drastically from an outfit to a complete exosuit that stacks against the armor you’re already wearing. You truly feel like a walking tank when you enter the cockpit of your suit. Like the regular armor, power armor now consists of a frame exosuit that can be equipped with mixed and matched customizable pieces of power armor. One drawback to note: power armor runs on fusion cores that are not always widely available, making the player consider if they should be hoarding for more desperate times.
Since this game is so heavy on customization, your musical experience is no different. There are two major music-based radio stations to tune into. One has a large selection of classical music, with the other a DJ playing a mix of newly selected oldies and some favorites from the previous games. I for one am happy that “I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire” has returned to the playlist. If you get sick of the radio, you’re also free to just enjoy the wonderful atmospheric noises (love the cicadas in the background) and 65 song composed soundtrack.
A few other things to note before you head into the Commonwealth. Bethesda released its companion Pip-Boy app early and I used it on a tablet. They weren’t kidding that it’s actually a pretty great second-screen experience. Managing inventory, taking first aid items, and even just leaving the map open while exploring was incredibly handy. It is also very responsive with no noticed lag time. It’s free and absolutely worth checking out.
Overall Fallout 4 on the Playstation 4 feels pretty optimized. Minor issues worth noting consist of some frame rate drops occasionally, and I’ve gotten stuck on the map and had to reload a save only once. I have never crashed the game. Companion AI is just as it was in previous games, but they are at least very interesting characters when you encounter them. The main caveat I have with this game is that while Fallout 4 is absolutely teaming with content and is a blast to play, mods will not be coming to the Playstation 4 anytime soon and have been promised to Xbox first. Strange world we live in. I know many people that love modding the previous Fallout and Elder scrolls games, so make sure to consider that before buying. With those issues and caveat, Fallout 4 has to be the most addicting and content heavy-game we’ve played on the Playstation 4. Looking forward to spending many more countless hours exploring every nook and cranny of the Commonwealth.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- New V.A.T.S.
- New Power Armor
- No Level Cap
- The App
What I Dislike:
- Character/Facial Animations
- Companion AI
- Framerate dips
- Modding Situation