I couldn’t honestly tell you when I realised that Fallout 4 was ‘it’. Perhaps it was during its teaser trailer way back at E3 2015, mournful music playing over a camera swinging between pre- and post-war America. Perhaps it was during the months of hype since, the build up steady and inexorable, a rising tension in the whole community. Perhaps it was starting it up for the first time, building a character I could step into, exploring Bethesda’s most ambitiously detailed and superbly beautiful world to date. Or perhaps it was when my dog swam through solid concrete. Jury’s out.
But the point is, ‘it’ is most certainly what Fallout 4 is. The big one. The genre-definer, the landmark we’ll point to for all future open world sandboxes and action RPGs and sci-fi games and say ‘beat that’. As I’ve said before, Bethesda know what they do well, and this is the fucking magnum opus. There’s no doubt about it. With that in mind, allow me to tell you how I spent my first hours in the game.
Fallout 4 is your new obsession. That’s all there is to it. With a world of settlements to build, power armour to customise, dungeon-esque buildings to plunder, guns to play with, beasts to kill and robots to fuck, how could it not be?
I am not a rich man. Consequently, my beloved laptop – whilst just about capable of running the game – is by no means equipped for the graphical (and literal) armageddon that Fallout 4 wreaks upon processors. I run the game on low, limboing far beneath the bar of average settings, and still stagger through frame drops and sluggish performance. This is no criticism (it’s my own fault, really) but rather a compliment, because now you can properly appreciate what I mean when I say that even on low settings the Commonwealth is the most eye-wideningly gorgeous game world I’ve ever had the pleasure of sinking into. And you do sink into it, mark my words: you will, as I have, be caught off-guard by the tragic beauty of warped monuments, the overgrowth in a rusted diner, tattered skeletons clinging to Med-X and handguns. It’s a world well and truly alive with detail, and I was mesmerised by just how much love and attention has been put into it. My character – Jasmine, a kind-hearted, dedicated mother and closet robot fetishist with a long-repressed love of firearms – spends more time staring at the environment than anything else. I opted for a fairly well-rounded Sole Survivor with a specialisation in guns, and they really do feel amazing. Revolvers in particular feel exactly as powerful as they should, and combat on the whole is extremely satisfying – a marked improvement on Bethesda’s usual style. Sadistic though it might be, blowing a ghoul’s legs off and watching it gawk helplessly at you, waiting for the coup de grace, feels fantastic. Try not to think about the fact that you probably knew these people two hundred and ten years ago when you introduce their grey matter to the carpet.
Fallout 4 is your new obsession. That’s all there is to it. With a world of settlements to build, power armour to customise, dungeon-esque buildings to plunder, guns to play with, beasts to kill and robots to fuck, how could it not be? After five long years of silence, Fallout’s re-emergence into the gaming world comes as triumphantly, beautifully and spectacularly as it should. Needless to say, this is one not to miss, for fans and new players alike. With that, there’s really no better way to sum up than with the game’s own tagline.