FALLOUT, FALLOUT NEVER REALLY CHANGES
Telling you this game is good is somewhere up there with telling you that water is wet or that Call of Duty fans would blow their own foot off the moment you hand them a gun in terms of obviousness. If you liked Fallout 3, this is basically that with some very welcome changes, so you’ll like this.
Let’s get the obvious criticism out of the way first: It doesn’t look great. The graphics really aren’t anything worth mentioning, but who plays Fallout for the graphics anyway? We really don’t get why people have been complaining about this so much. Who cares how it looks? Nobody’s gonna look at the environments anyway, because they’re boring as all hell.
Personally, we really don’t care if the vast expanses of nothing but dirt and rubble are being rendered as perfectly as they could be. Seen one crumbled building, seen all 60,000 of them.
That being said, Fallout 4 is still a great game. New additions to gameplay like being able to run, some slightly improved gunplay and the massively improved looting system are all very, very welcome and really grind down some of the rough edges from Fallout 3 and New Vegas.
Something simple like no longer having to actually open a container to see what is in it is really something we didn’t know we wanted until we had it, but it certainly speeds up the process of looting. And that’s really what the idea seems to have been while Bethesda were making this game. The intention wasn’t to really bring us something new, but rather to enhance something people already liked.
The perk system got a bit of an upgrade too, albeit a mostly visual one. Nevertheless, this is much clearer than trying to find the perk you need in a really long list of perks, all in the same font and colour, and the new animations for each perk are a nice touch.
Of course, in trying to work out all the wrinkles of previous games, Bethesda wound up creating all new wrinkles, so let’s talk about those for a bit. Before we do, though, note that we are nowhere near done with the game. We’ve already put our fair share of hours into it, but if we’re going to wait until after we’ve finished all quests and side quests, this review won’t go up for another month.
Therefore, some of the points we raise here may be patched later or we might simply have missed something because there’s not that much information available yet.
One of the game’s main problems is that it probably gives you some of the best toys far too early. Remember in previous instalments when power armour actually felt somewhat rare and important? Yeah, you get it in the first 3 or 4 quests in this game, including a fully loaded minigun, which you then have to use to take out a Deathclaw.
Remember what a pain in the ass Deathclaws were to fight? Yeah, not so much when you’re essentially Iron Man. This sequence does feel like it should have happened much later.
Don’t get us wrong, we love what they’ve done with the power armour. Customizing both it and your weapons are the main reason we bothered getting the associated perks at all and there’s a real feeling of glee when you find pieces from a different set of power armour or even a second frame to put them on. It’s kinda like collecting pokemon cards, or something. We just can’t bring ourselves to use a set if we don’t have every last piece.
That being said, it does take the challenge out of the game somewhat.
We tend to play games like Fallout or Skyrim as some sort of conman/master thief who prefers to hit his enemies from 5 miles away over getting into anything that could actually be called a fight. This generally works great, but Fallout had a tendency to kick your ass in combat if you were noticed, because you sank all your points into being a smartass and stealing shit. This is still somewhat true, but your power armour can soak up so much damage that you can get out of most fights just fine, no matter how lousy a shot you are.
Yes, you can’t use the armour once you run out of fusion cores, but these are not nearly as rare as the game pretends.
Of course to most people the game’s main appeal, aside from being a Fallout game, are the new base building and customization functions. Remember all that random junk lying around everywhere? There’s finally a reason to take it with you!
You can customize your weapons, your regular armour and your power armour, all by getting the materials you need by bringing junk back to your workbench and scrapping it. You’ll need to do this a lot too, because the modifications are not cheap. You can take a simple rifle and, depending on your preferred type of weapon, turn it into an automatic rifle with a high rate of fire or a powerful sniper rifle with incredible range. This system works very well and you’ll find yourself happily taking 50 desk fans with you, because they have the screws you need for your next upgrade.
These materials are also used in base building. There are workbenches found in a number of areas in Fallout 4 and, after clearing the area of enemies, you can use the workbench to build a base there. Everything from houses, furniture and water pumps to automated defences.
Sadly, this is pretty poorly implemented, which is very strange considering the big deal Bethesda made out of it before release.
Building houses is all well and good, that works fine, but say you want to put lights up in your house, with a switch inside to turn them on and off. Currently, this is basically not possible without a pain in the ass of a work around, because it is impossible to pull electrical wires through the walls of your home.
It’s a minor complaint, sure, but there’s a lot of these.
- Building on a slight slopes looks idiotic and you can basically only do it on flat areas if you don’t want floating rooms.
- The game is really picky on what is or is not dirt, even when it’s all the same shade of brown.
- Power cables have a pathetically short reach, forcing you to put down a lot of ugly pylons to extend it.
- Assigning settlers to certain duties, like tending to vegetables, manning security barriers or selling wares from stands basically only works when they feel like it.
- Have a new stand you need someone to man? Good luck remembering who already has a job and who doesn’t, because nobody has a name or job title. The only way we managed was to give them all different hats, depending on the job.
- Can we please make something that doesn’t look like shit? Why can’t I make a nice couch or a wall without holes? We’re not even talking graphics here, we’d just like that chair we spent resources on to not look like somebody died on it when we personally made it.
On top of this, it didn’t take us long to stop taking missions that would unlock new settlement areas, because there’s way too many and the game does expect you to maintain and protect all of them. We’d rather use the time and scrap to put a silencer on our sniper rifle, thank you.
In the end, this is still a really good game. Some things were developed pretty lazily and base building is a bit useless and boring, but it’s still Fallout. It’s still got the fun quests, the weird characters and the crazy weapons. For every annoyance it has at least two very welcome changes to the formula, so the game is absolutely worth playing.