Well, what can I say? Fallout 4 is here, and my free time is slowly dissipating into the void. I cheekily made Steam think I was in New Zealand so I could play it 16 hours early. That, my friends, is desperation and hype gone haywire, but I don’t regret it, because of the countless shameful hours I’ve sunk into this dystopian behemoth, I want to re-live every single one of them.
My main draw to games like Fallout is the way in which game developers can create an intricate, vibrant and intoxicating world, one that not only makes you want to search every nook and cranny, but rewards you for doing just that. That’s what sets Fallout miles ahead from your typical RPG, and Fallout 4 takes that concept and runs with it. Random encounters can occur anywhere, and each crumbling building has a story to tell.
Sanctuary - the first settlement you claim in the first hours - became my home away from home in the Commonwealth. I have a garage to house my power armor frames, toolboxes littered with unique weapons and outfits, and of course, a little doghouse for my trusty canine companion.
My initial reserved judgments of the game were the strange new way in which the power armor/crafting system is utilized, the voiced protagonist, and of course, the removal of skills like Repair and Medicine. However, Bethesda has managed to absolutely pull off all three of these rather brutish changes, whilst also refining everything we know and love about the previous Fallout games.
The game oozes sentimentality, which I think is what the Fallout games were missing. Now, the settlement system has you scouring the wasteland for what is, in honesty, rubbish. The pointless scrap that cluttered your inventory in 3 and New Vegas is now entirely vital. For example, Sanctuary - the first settlement you claim in the first hours - became my home away from home in the Commonwealth. I have a garage to house my power armor frames, toolboxes littered with unique weapons and outfits, and of course, a little doghouse for my trusty canine companion. The key thing, however is that none of it could be done without the scrap you accumulate on your travels. Without important ingredients like adhesive and fibre optics, I could never have the “Rick Grimes” bull nosed magnum of my dreams, or my bachelor pad complete with bobblehead stand.
Once you get it all up and running, a clear sense of community is established. You have settlers that you’ve personally saved, each working to provide different resources and establish security in a hostile environment, and the game makes you want to come back after every quest to check in and help out. Speaking of quests, they’re back and better than ever. On the command line surface, they’re all very basic, but what makes them tick is the writing and the characters. The voiced protagonist allows for a lot of comedic and heartfelt moments, and the zany inhabitants that you meet are endearing and intriguing. A few choice favourites would be a Detective Synth, and a Super Mutant who loves Shakespeare more than the average English Lit lecturer. The distortion of the Commonwealth’s lively history and landmarks to create compelling situations is also a delightful touch (seriously, go find the USS Constitution).
Post-nuclear Boston is a truly compelling place to be, and I can’t wait to sink more of my teeth into it, if I have any left.