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What rubs me the wrong way about Bethesda's Fallout is that they care more about the trappings of the setting over any kind of message or theme. There's vault-dwellers, super-mutants, the Brotherhood, and Vault Boy ahoy. What there isn't is any kind of satire or introspection. They're content to repeat the same elements and not evolve the setting because the iconography sells, sort of like Star Wars.
Fallout 4 is a big game yet at the same time there isn't much of it. Strip away the disconnected settlement-building and ignore the randomly-generated fetch-quests and you're left with a 100 odd missions. Each one of these involves shooting some dudes or giant bugs.
A great game would dress these tasks up with a neat story. Fallout 4 can only offer ear-grating dialogue and bald-cliche.
The problem with the shedding of RPG elements is that it leaves the game less legs to stand on. Without interesting quest-design, memorable dialogue, or novel character-progression then the bulk of the game relies on shooting and looting. But the shooting is clunky and looting is hampered by the horrendous UI and encumbrance. The combat in Witcher 3 and New Vegas wasn't hot either but those games succeeded by offering so much more beyond killing dudes. It you want a shooter, play Borderlands. If you want a looter, play Dying Light.
I genuinely hated the ending cutscene because it resolves nothing and pays lip-service to notion of consequences, in other words the "fallout" of your actions. There are so many systems and stories in the game with no sinew between them. The settlement-building only crosses with the main quest once. Most of your companions have the hint of a character-arc but they don't go anywhere. I hated the Cabot questline because it felt out of place yet also utterly boring despite its premise.
Before you can play Fallout 4 there's a bevy of issues you have to tinker with before you can play. Don't like Godrays? Is the mouse too floaty? Go screw yourself. This engine was good for Morrowind in 2002 so it must be good now.
Fallout 4 follows the sin of Skyrim in that its interesting content is dwarfed by randomly generated-filler and identikit dungeons. In hindsight Fallout 76 was inevitable. This will be my last Bethesda purchase.
5/10. Played on PC with mods.
In some ways, Fallout 4 is superior to Fallout 3 and New Vegas, but in many ways, it is an inferior product to both. It is better superficially and on a gamist perspective, but substantially weaker in plot and character.
Visuals and sound are slightly improved from Fallout 3/New Vegas. The game looks to be on the quality level of Skyrim, but that's about par for the course. Skyrim was never the most gorgeous game, but is workable for what it is.
Sound is a bit improved, especially in the area of voice acting. Bethesda went out of its way to hire more voice actors and more lines for these characters to say in the background, but it's not really there for story purposes, it's all for ambiance.
The majority of the soundtrack from Fallout 3 is re-used, added mostly to by royalty free song tracks that were included in fan-made addons for 3/New Vegas. This creates a weird form of Mood Whiplash when you listen to a charming or brooding jazz era song and then you're hit with those over-the-top atomic songs like "Atom Bomb Baby."
Mechanics-wise, Fallout 4 has attempted to improve and simplify it's interface by taking elements from other games and applying it here. The result is a mixed bag that relies on systems that are not conducive to a good roleplaying game. It wants to be New Vegas, Mass Effect, Destiny, and others, but doesn't quite stick the landing or hold to a coherent, meaningful narrative.
The combat is much more polished than previous games, taking a lot of inspiration from Bungie's Destiny game to improve the combat. The result is a much more polished system than previous Fallout games, but is then paired with a crafting system that isn't nearly as fun as it should be.
The biggest change, and the most polarizing mechanic, is the settlement building system. Clearly inspired by building games like Minecraft, it does add a system for building your own bases and settlements by collecting resources and using those to make houses and defenses for people to live in your settlements. Much of the DLC for Fallout 4 is based around this system. However, it adds nothing substantial to the roleplaying element, other than when it's required for the main plot.
The dialogue wheel comes straight from other, more tightly written, structured games such as Mass Effect. It is also combined with a voiced protagonist. This is not an improvement, as the "do anything you want" approach of previous games is tossed out the window for poorly written dialogue where players do not really know what they are going to say.
Furthermore, the story behind the factions is threadbare at best. The majority of interaction are a few faction-related quests and tons of repetitive radiant quests.
Rather than rehash what's already been said towards the main game, I'm going to focus on the DLCs.
Plot's okay but really short. Introduces a few new characters and an utterly pointless base (seriously, we have enough of them in the core game). Building robot companions is a fun mechanic but also a total gamebreaker. Still decent, sometimes I just don't feel like putting effort into a fight so having a super robot to vaporize all my foes for me is fine.
Reviewing all three of them. To be honest, these were annoying. Base management is one of the worst aspects of this game, and none of these DLCs did anything to change that. Sure, it's nice to be able to build a gladiator arena and have your own pet Deathclaw walking around Sanctuary, but if I hadn't gotten the Season Pass I wouldn't have bothered with these DLCs and been completely happy. Getting one plot-driven DLC would have been better than these three. Unless you're a huge fan of constructing structures or you've already got the Season Pass, these can honestly be safely bypassed without issue.
Easily the best DLC of the bunch. New weapons, new enemies, a large new map to explore, lots of good content.
Fun location, lots of exploring in an interesting environment, an actual real assault rifle, quirky new NPCs... and then Bethesda fucked up by making it so that you either had to turn most of the factions you work with in the core game permanently hostile or miss out on a serious chunk of the DLC's content. What the hell were they thinking?
Bethesda you had one job, and given your wealth and resources it should have been a relatively simple one- take the mechanics of New Vegas, add some HD spit and polish, and make a solid post-apocalyptic RPG. What'd we get? Something with half the depth, half the playtime and a plot that's just as bad as Fallout 3. Along with many chunks of content being simply discarded like the karma system, the ability to see your weapon when holstered, and half the armory/wardrobe of previous titles.
And the dialogue system. Oh, dear lord. I wasn't wholly against the idea of a voiced protagonist, but that shift didn't require an utter removal of proper dialogue. You're limited to four responses that boil down to: Yes, Yes, Yes (with snark) and No but Actually Yes. All while the people voicing your character snore their way through their dialogue. They're not untalented, but it's like they've been outright told not to try. You wind up with a character with less personality than a voiceless blank slate. Bethesda claims that the script for this is more than Skyrim and FO 3 combined, but with such a braindead dialogue system it sure doesn't feel that way.
Beyond that there's the other issues, like the skills/perks/stats being merged into an incestuous blob, rendering all your characters feeling about the exact same and turning levelling into a chore. Or the fact that there are barely any sidequests, and instead most content is found in the faction quests, which are entangled into the main quest this time, and radiant quests that get boring after five minutes. While there is more nuance to the main story, Gray and Gray Morality can be problematic in this case by making it hard to root for anyone, or give any of Fallout 4's faction your aid.
Graphics are serviceable. Colourful, for a change, and anything mechanical actually looks quite nice. But Bethesda I don't care how much duct tape you slap on that ancient engine, it's just not good enough. So open your goddamn pursestrings, and get a new one, you lazy misers. Some minor improvements like more solid gunplay, a rather impressive depiction of power armour (undercut by a dearth of models and a customization clusterfuck) a potentially interesting but woefully unfinished settlement system...
It had a chance. Bethesda could have sculpted something amazing, but instead they decided to be lazy.
Gameplay is adequate. It feels a lot smoother than in FNV and F3 and I actually like that the VATS doesn't stop time completely. Same with the visuals, although I guess nowadays that's not much of a milestone.
The radiation system is also a nice touch, and impacts the gameplay nicely.
The Companions. It's good that this time around the Companions will sometimes actually say something appropriate in certain situations, and during dialogue with other characters. Although it's a little ridiculous that certain characters will fawn over you just because you managed to hack enough computers. Personally though, I just didn't find them as interesting as the Companions in FNV.
The romance part. All in all, it can range from heartwarming to awkward, depending on how long you've known the Companion in question before romancing them. There's also the whole thing where they will romance you regardless of your gender. Some call it fine, as it doesn't limit the player's freedom. I call it lazy. In FNV your companions include a gay man and a lesbian, and with certain perks you could be either of that, bisexual, or straight. In Fallout 4 you only get the straight perk, and it doesn't even give you specific dialogue options this time. All of that is very annoying for people who want to play a gay character.
The dialogue system. People often say it's bland, unoriginal, and dumbed down. And, well, it is. Funny or quirky dialogue options are very rare, and especially the 'Sarcasm' choice is ridiculously ambiguous, as it ranges from being playful to being a complete asshole.
Roleplaying. From the start of the game you're given a spouse and a baby and the game forces your character to care for them regardless of what you want. Gameplay and Story Segregation is in full effect when your character acts as if though finding their son is the most important thing to be done, yet nothing stops you from dicking around in the Wasteland doing nothing for a month in-game time. The drama just fails if you don't ignore all that. And if you don't give a damn about your son to begin with, it falls even flatter.
But, with all that said, it's still great fun and worth giving a try. Now, if only they let Obsidian do the story and characters it might have been perfect.
Considering I've put 200+ hours into the game so far, I would say I got my money's worth. That said now that I've beaten the game with all the faction storylines, multiple times, some of the game's flaws and limitations have come to light.
As noted in other reviews here, your character is pretty railroaded and you pretty much can't say no to certain characters. There is much less freedom storywise and too many "essential" NPC's.
Most annoying for me is trying to play the stealth route. The sneaking system is greatly improved, but the game just about forces you to take on companions, especially the dog who gets shoved in your face even if you don't want him. I'm fine with using the dog on the one mission where he's needed, but then the game just automatically assumes you need a companion and pairs you with him, forcing you to dismiss him, and the dismiss command doesn't come up half the time.
Another annoyance is even if you take the tight lipped route and give away as little info about yourself as possible, Piper somehow knows who you are and that you're looking for someone. Her deducing that you're from a vault is fair enough, but how could she possibly know that you came to Diamond City to find somebody? Speaking of Piper, I don't like her character. She comes off as too pushy with quips like "you owe me an interview" and you can't stop her from finding out that the Institute kidnapped your son.
That said, overall I think the game is a big improvement on the technical front, and having avoided spoilers I thought the story was interesting enough, especially the twist once you reach the Institute. The crafting and building systems provide a good amount of customization, though I wish there was at least one type of roof my character could build that didn't have holes in it.
It's a heck of a lot more stable then 3 or New Vegas. It still crashes on occasion, but not like 3 or New Vegas did. It does like to hang while loading, which I hope Bethesda fixes.
Graphics wise I'm pretty pleased with it. Miles above 3 and New Vegas, with little details like the primers in bullets being punched out as you fire the pipe revolver, good weather effects (even though it sometimes rains indoors and places that shouldn't be wet are), and better lighting.
So yeah, to me it was worth $60. Needs more work though.
The Small Reference Pool is intentional; while it still doens't hold a candle in terms of story to New Vegas or the original games, it's a significant improvement over Fallout 3, and Skyrim, even if that isn't apparent for the first few hours of the main quest, which ranges from mediocre to cringeworthy. Things pick up when the major factions come into play. If there's one thing Bethesda learned from New Vegas, it's how to do effective Grey and Gray Morality; all of the factions have reasonable arguments and clear flaws in their ideology and methods, with the arguable exception of the Minutemen, who, as a faction are built largely through the player's actions.
The companion characters have much more personality than in Fallout 3, though there's pretty much nothing to talk with them about after completing their personal quests. Most of them have at least some Character Development, and several of them can and will turn on or abandon the player under certain circumstances.
As with Fallout 3, sandbox gameplay is where Fallout 4 shines. Exploration feels and works a lot like it did in Fallout 3, and the map is about the same size. Virtually every weapon can be customized, though this customization is fairly linear for most of the weapons. Even when sidegrades are present, there's almost always a clear winner among them, though there are some exceptions. Armor has fairly limited customization, limited to one bonus and a paint coat in most cases, though there's more genuine sidegrades to be found. Taking a page of Gearbox's book, there are now elite "Legendary" enemies who will drop weapons with unique, randomized properties, which can range from useless to impractical to hideously overpowered.
The shooter gameplay is a major improvement over previous 3d Fallout titles, though as of now, minor changes to the .ini files are necessary to get the controls to behave like a proper PC shooter. As in New Vegas, iron sights have been added, along with an action point based sprint meter and a dedicated melee/grenade key.
Ultimately, Fallout 4 is a game that fans of Fallout 3 will love, and Fallout: New Vegas fans like myself can at least tolerate.
Ever since Morrowind, Bethesda has demonstrated a remarkable tendency to strip roleplaying elements from what are supposed to be roleplaying games. Fallout 4 marks a culmination of this trend, an event made all the more tragic by its series' history as an incredibly reactive cRPG. But more on reactivity later. The gameplay has improved from previous entries and the world design is still top-notch, but the actual roleplaying mechanics and the storytelling/quest design framed around them leave practically everything to be desired for, as they just aren't there.
To demonstrate, let us compare one of New Vegas' first quests with Fo4's - Ghost Town Gunfight/Run, Goodsprings, Run vs. When Freedom Calls. GTG involves the appearance of a stranded caravaneer and the gang hunting him, with the town of Goodsprings caught in the middle. You, the player, can choose to side with the town and the caravaneer or you can betray them all and help the gang take over the town. Regardless of which side you choose, you will get on someone's bad side - there are consequences - and you will be able to influence the conditions of the fight with more than just your own combat skills. You can convince the trader to lend you armor, rally the townspeople, and secure explosives by using a variety of skillchecks. The game recognizes facets of the character you created and responds accordingly. It gives you plenty of freedom and reactivity as far as roleplaying is concerned.
WFC, conversely, is entirely linear. You must help the surrounded, beleaguered militiamen, and you must help them via combat and combat alone. There are no skillchecks for more passive solutions, as Fo4's leveling system has no skills. You can't leave them to their fate, either; they will remain in their precarious situation for the rest of the game. Even if you tell their leader you won't help them, he'll insult you and the quest will continue as though you accepted. It's not even as though you get to pick your fighting style, either. You must boot up a suit of power armor and go to town on the mercs with a minigun. This is the first real part of the main quest, by the way. Poor pacing aside, there are hardly any opportunities to actually roleplay. It's more of a shooting gallery than anything else. So are most quests; it's always "go somewhere and kill something," rinse and repeat.
Without spoiling anything, all I can say is the main quest's plot isn't exactly bad, but it's not quite as engaging as I hoped it would be. That said, it's much better than what Bethesda did with Skyrim in terms of characters and player choice, and many scenes benefitted greatly from the more cinematic dialogue cameras. One thing I really enjoy is that each faction you side with has a different effect on the story and the state of the world after you complete the quest, so it's actually a good excuse for replaying the game.
As for stories surrounding characters and locations? One of Bethesda's best works by far. For example, there's a few Raider hideouts throughout the Commonwealth, and you can access terminals and notes that link them all together. Depending on which ones are still active and which ones you clear out, you actually get entries acknowledging it. Little touches like that really make the world of Fallout 4 feel alive.
Aside from some lower quality models and textures here and there, Fallout 4 looks really nice. Some people are put off by the more colorful graphical style, but I think it's a nice change of pace from the perpetual green hue in Fallout 3.
Gameplay as a whole has been streamlined quite well. We finally have a grenade hot-key, the ability to use melee attacks with a weapon, the ability to sprint, and VATS has somewhat of a bullet-time effect. Combat is more active than previous games thanks to more intelligent enemy AI and a generally higher overall difficulty. It really gets fun once you have access to weapon mods, which opens up a ton of different playstyles and adds a sense of growth beyond just your level number.
Dialogue is hit or miss. Your choices do not express exactly what you're going to say, so if you like to choose "sarcastic" a lot, you can vary from merely teasing someone to being a complete asshole. Unlike in previous games, speech checks VERY rarely allow for skill/SPECIAL checks, so your character will still be clueless/be talked down to by scientists despite having max Intelligence.
Fallout 4 is a flawed, but still very enjoyable game. I've already invested about 100+ hours into the game, and I expect that number will only grow as DLC and mods come out.
Personally, I don't hate Fallout 4. Yes, New Vegas was better, but by no means is Fallout 4 a bad game.
The Great: The graphics are gorgeous! The game uses the same engine as Skyrim, but an 8th-generation console works wonders. Crossdressing! This doesn't mean or do much, but now your male character can put on a dress, and your female character can wear a pompadour and tuxedo! This one ties in with graphics, but the enemies are really, really cool! From the fluidity of the Deathclaw's movements, to the feral ghoul's zombie-like shambling, they now look more lifelike than ever before! Dear Atom, the crafting system! Now all that useless junk you find in the Wasteland has a use! You can break them down into resources, which can be used for a whole slew of things, including modding weapons! The Annoying: VATS. In previous games, your enemies would freeze, and you would be able to calmly think your way through the battle. But now, whatever you're aiming at still moves (albeit slowly). No longer can you strategize easily. Stimpeks. Once a vital insta-heal, they now only heal 30% of your health (Though you can improve this)...over time. At this point, even food will be more helpful to you. They do seem to heal crippled limbs more easily, though! Radiation. No longer is it something you can keep in the back of your mind. Instead, it now eats out your max health. The Mixed Power armor is really fun. You climb into it like a tank, and look like a real Badass! You even get a cool robotic voice while talking in it! Unfortunately, it runs on fusion cores. The removal of Skills. While I'm glad it places more importance on SPECIAL, I still miss having 75 Speech and 100 in Energy Weapons. I'll admit, this is just a nitpick. The Mysterious Stranger's signature guitar chord has been replaced with a piano. Still Badass, but I miss the guitar.
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