Video Games

Fallout 4: The Goliath Review

http://www.polygon.com/2015/6/3/8718881/fallout-4-boston-trailer-analysis Source: polygon.com

Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Available On: PS4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Released: November 10th, 2015

After a long wait, it is once again time to enter the Wasteland of post-nuclear America and discover that, if nothing else, war never changes. With the latest entry into the Fallout universe, Bethesda brings back the classic style that made the franchise so popular, but continues to add new twists to keep things fresh. So, does Fallout 4 bring enough good stuff to the table to be a great game, even while laboring under the idiosyncrasies that are standard in pretty much every Bethesda open world offering? The short answer is, well, mostly.

Warning: The following review will contain spoilers for the very early story content of Fallout 4. If you want to go in without knowing the setup for the overarching plot, you should probably stop now.

Before we get into the game itself, we have to give some love to Fallout 4‘s character creator. The game allows you to fully customize both male and female characters at the very beginning (whomever you don’t choose to use becomes your spouse), and when we say “fully customizable”, we mean that you can be anyone you can put your mind. The community has already been hard at work since launch, making some truly horrific creations, as well as several pretty good celebrity impersonations. The depth to the creation suite is incredible, and you may find yourself spending a good amount of time tweaking your personal character. Or, you can just skip all that and go with a pre-set face, but why would anyone do that? Also, because it wouldn’t be the Internet without a meme, here’s Interrupting John Cena:

http://imgur.com/gallery/nuaU01H Source: imgur.com

http://imgur.com/gallery/nuaU01H Source: imgur.com


This may be a spoiler, but at the beginning of Fallout 4, the nuclear apocalypse happens. We’re sorry if you didn’t know that, but in hindsight, it was pretty obvious, wasn’t it? At any rate, the game opens in a time just before everything went horribly wrong, setting up the timeline of this alternate Earth. Basically, the end of World War II did not lead to nuclear proliferation, but widespread use of its energy to speed scientific breakthroughs. Unfortunately, resources run short and the world’s powers end up firing off nuclear weapons at each other. You play a regular family, with a loving spouse and a baby boy named Shaun. When the bombs begin to fall, your family is one of the lucky few to be placed in Vault 111, and survive the immediate danger. Of course, since this is a Vault in the Fallout universe, there are ulterior motives in play, and you and your family end up cryogenically frozen for 200 years. Near the end of your confinement, however, someone breaks into the Vault, kills your significant other, and steals your child! Your ultimate mission, after thawing out, is to find the bastards who stole your son and get him back, by whatever means necessary.

And with that, you’re thrown into the Wasteland, located somewhere around what used to be Boston, Massachusetts, and the game begins for real. Make no mistake, the dangers of the world are real and numerous, but you’ll have a multitude of options available to you as you progress through this post-apocalyptic setting. Fallout 4, in the tradition of recent Bethesda games such as Skyrim, lets you pick up almost anything you can find, from weapons and ammunition to mundane items like scissors and alarm clocks. Everything you grab can be used in a robust crafting interface, which is how you build and modify your weapons and armor. And yes, you’ll even find a handy suit of power armor very early in the game (also fully customizable), for those really tough encounters. In addition, this game debuts a new base-building mechanic, allowing you to salvage and rebuild entire settlements with new structures and defenses, if you want to put in the time. The base building section of the game is almost completely optional (though it can provide you with some nice benefits, like a safe place to recover health), so don’t worry if it seems overwhelming, you can safely ignore it, or indulge to your heart’s content.

Eventually, though, you’ll set off into the open world itself, finding all sorts of creepy, mutated enemies (and just regular, jerk-ass humans) to kill before they kill you. And of course, the VATS combat system is back, allowing you to massively slow down (though not completely stop) the action so you can target enemies in specific locations rather than just fire wildly. But if you’re not interested in making battles take longer, Fallout 4 has improved its FPS mechanics, to a point that a reasonably skilled player can probably treat the combat just like an ordinary shooter, and do just fine. VATS is there for the tougher and more complicated fights, but for your run-of-the-mill encounters with giant irradiated mole rats, you can probably do without it.

http://fallout.wikia.com/wiki/Deathclaw_(Fallout_4) Source: fallout.wikia.com

http://fallout.wikia.com/wiki/Deathclaw_(Fallout_4) Source: fallout.wikia.com


Unfortunately, combat is also where the flaws of Fallout 4 start to rear their ugly head, as framerate drops can be common in larger fights, especially when they take place indoors. At that point, you’ll be glad you have VATS, but some difficult battles become even harder with the game starts to chug. Obviously, this is more a problem on consoles, which are starting at a lower rate to begin with, but it exists across all available platforms. It never renders the game unplayable, but you may find yourself occasionally frustrated when you get yourself into a particularly tight spot. In addition, your companion AI is good, but not great, and you may find yourself accidentally blocked by your loyal friend when going through doorways, which is another problem if you happen to be fighting for your life at the time. There’s also the usual amount of “models floating in air” and “random NPCs walking into frame during your conversations with other characters” moments that have become a staple of Bethesda’s open world games, and make for so many hilarious videos on the Internet. These things are annoying, but not game-breaking, and while it’s disappointing that this problem seems unfix-able due to the scope of open world games, it probably won’t be the thing that stops you from playing what is otherwise an incredible game.

Visually, the game won’t completely blow you away like other current generation games like The Witcher 3, but the open world is still incredible to look at. As you’d expect, there’s a lot of browns and grays, but the detail of the Wasteland is simply remarkable. The character models take a slight hit, especially on consoles, but again, when you’re creating a massive world full of unique NPC’s, the ability to have spectacular-looking characters takes a backseat to having an incredible volume of different models. Audio-wise, the environmental sounds are on point, and the game includes several post-apocalyptic radio stations that you can play from your Pip-Boy, in case you want to fill the long hours in the Wasteland with some peppy swing jazz.

http://www.gamespot.com/articles/why-fallout-4-is-set-in-boston/1100-6428296/ Source: gamespot.com

http://www.gamespot.com/articles/why-fallout-4-is-set-in-boston/1100-6428296/ Source: gamespot.com


Fallout 4 is a Bethesda game in every sense of the word. If you love the franchise, played any Elder Scrolls games, or are just a fan of the open world genre, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. The game provides an incredibly detailed world to run around in, shoot things, and gather supplies, and offers quests and characters that are both unique and complex. The increased dedication to making the game a viable FPS will help players speed through combat, but it’s nice to still be able to rely on the VATS system if your gun hand is a little shaky. Obviously, with such a wide array of options, bugs and little problems are going to arise, and the framerate drops might occasionally drive you nuts, but the game itself seems largely stable (there have been reports of occasional crashes, but nothing that would suggest alarming regularity), and there’s a lot of fun to be had in the Wasteland. If you’ve been waiting impatiently for the next entry in the Fallout franchise, your dedication has been rewarded, but even if this is your first venture into the dark, depressing, and often quirky and hilarious world of post-apocalyptic America, you’ll find plenty of good reasons to keep playing.

If that’s not enough to convince you, or you just hate text, here’s a short video of one of our editors wandering his way through the Wasteland (obviously, this video will contain minor spoilers for the early part of the game). Give it a look and see if that helps you make a decision!

Good

– The Wasteland is a spectacular world with lots to see and do, and rarely a dull moment

– Unique and unforgettable characters and factions abound

– Better FPS accuracy means you don’t have to rely on VATS to hit things

Bad

– Massive framerate drops during combat, especially on consoles

– The usual open world bugs and AI failures you’ve come to expect

– The base building sections of the game are fairly boring and poorly explained, but fortunately, completely optional

8

A worthy entry in the Fallout universe, with an incredible open world. Some technical flaws might be frustrating, but overall, the game is good enough to overcome them.

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