At this point it’s safe to say that the Fallout franchise is legendary and any new release will create hype unlike any that’s regularly seen. This is totally understandable, the games combine the genres of post-apocalypse, sci-fi, FPS, and RPG, into one fun interactive game that can keep you busy for dozens, and possibly even hundreds of hours. Let me make it clear that I enjoyed Fallout 4 and think it’s a good game, but with numerous flaws. I spent around 46 hours playing this game and that’s not something you’d do with a game you dislike. At the same time, I have very conflicting thoughts when it comes to this game. There’s many things that I enjoyed about this game, but at the same there’s a lot about this game that bothered me. Throughout this review I will attempt to thoroughly discuss the pros, cons, and neutrals of this game. Being that this is an open-world game that’s non-linear, I won’t touch upon every single aspect of this game. My playthrough will most likely be different from your own and what I experienced may be something you potentially miss out on. Also, attempting to cover every single part of FO4 will just lead to an endless text that will be a chore to read. From what I write it’ll seem as if I was nitpicking for negative things to eventually write about, but it’s all related to my general thoughts/feelings towards the story and gameplay.
Fallout 4 is a game that consists of a post-apocalyptic environment that is similar to what Fallout 3 and New Vegas had to offer, minus the Boston specific locations. In FO4 you play as a male or female (depending on your choice) vault dweller who happens to be the sole survivor on a journey to rescue his/her abducted child. In this journey you will encounter many places, people, and enemies, most of which will result in quests/missions that need to be completed either to gain experience points or to further the main storyline. It’s important to note that since this is an open-world game, there is no linear path, it all depends on what you choose to do. Taking this to heart, at times I took my time with this game and decided it was worthwhile to actively explore the massive map to see what it had to offer and not simply stick to the main storyline to beat this game as quickly as possible. As a result of that, I learned just how much this game has to offer in regards to areas and locations that can be explored.
I’m not sure how large the FO4 map is in comparison to FO3 and NV, but all I can say is that it’s huge. I played this game for around 46 hours and there was still a huge part of my map that was left unexplored. Most of my game time was probably spent on just exploration, you can easily spend dozens of hours simply exploring the countless buildings that are located in the commonwealth (what FO4’s overall area is referred to). While having enjoyed the large map because of the endless possibilities for exploration, I feel as if the game lacks a reliable form of transportation to fully be able to explore new areas.
Depending on whether or not you choose to join the Brotherhood of Steel, you can have access to one of their helicopters, but it’s a step below fast travel and while allowing you to get a glimpse of the map’s areas, it doesn’t count (grant experience points) towards you discovering new areas. I’m sure that there’s a specific reason as to why your main form of transportation is simply walking, but you’d think that you’d be able to make use of the endless vehicles that you encounter in this game. There is a fast travel system that is very helpful, but it doesn’t work with undiscovered locations. Discovering locations is important not only for the shear fun of exploring, but also because it leads to you finding new communities that can be turned into one of your many settlements.
From how well developed the settlement crafting system is in FO4, I can easily determine that a great deal of time was spent on it. For the most part, all of the settlements that you encounter in this game are pre-made, but you’ll eventually reach a point where you have enough supplies to be able to fully customize each and every settlement to fit your ideal vision of them. This customization mainly consists of being able to decide what type of buildings/materials to use to house your settlers, what food to grow, and also what type of items to furnish the inside of your chosen dwellings. Honestly, the settlement crafting system is done well to the point where it offers more than most people will utilize in a single playthrough of FO4, it’s nice to have that much customization at your disposal.
One thing that really stood out to me about the settlement crafting system doesn’t even relate to being able to endlessly craft, it’s being able to trade between all of your developed settlements. I thought this was a great feature because it adds a sense of realism and it’s an easy way to be able to share supplies between more than one location. There’s so much to touch upon with this settlement crafting system, but it’s better to just experience it for yourself than to read me babble on about it. I also feel that it’s important to discuss FO4’s main story.
Attempting to discuss a game’s main storyline without getting into spoiler territory is difficult to do, but it’s necessary for this game. I previously stated that I have conflicting thoughts towards this game and that’s mainly because I could simultaneously see the good and bad of it, one of these things being the main storyline. Generally, I feel as if it is too similar to what has already been offered in previous Fallout titles, you’re an out of place individual and you’re trying to right a wrong that has been done to you. At the same time, I feel as if the originality of this story comes in how it is approached differently than in the other games, it’s not a full-on copy. The story will leave you feeling very conflicted, which I feel is one part of a good story, being able to evoke real emotions that leave you wondering whether or not you made the right choice.
I feel as if the Fallout universe has enough material to work with so that the main storylines don’t have to end up being similar to one another. It also doesn’t help that the story seems to drag on when you think you’re close to beating the game. This could be seen as a good thing, especially for gamers that prefer longer games, but sometimes concise is better than drawn out. This could be seen through how at times I felt as if the NPCs dealt with more interesting events than the main character and it shouldn’t be that way. Besides this, FO4 has many, many more issues that I’d like to discuss.
For the most part, my reviews generally discuss positive and negative things about the games that I play, but I found a few things that were more towards the neutral side. Having played the two previous Fallout games, I was constantly comparing this one to those two. I know that’s not an entirely fair thing to do, since all games, even those that are part of a series, should be able to stand alone. A habit I picked up from the two previous Fallout games was picking up just about every weapon I encountered, even if there was a possibility that I already had it in my inventory. My reason for doing this was because even if you had multiples of the same firearm, you’d be able to condense it all into one by repairing the weapon and ending up with one that’s well-conditioned. That isn’t the case at all in FO4, the durability functionality has been taken out in this game and as a result, you’re no longer able to endlessly pick up weapons and “discard” them by repairing them, this usually lead to endless moments of being encumbered.
I’m sure this’ll be seen as a positive aspect of the game, but for me, I felt as if the default setting was too easy. There were numerous opportunities and reminders to increase the difficulty setting of the game if you felt it was too easy, but I figured that would just result in an experience that would end up being entirely too difficult rather than being somewhere in the middle. A specific example of this was how deathclaws used to be damn near impossible to beat in previous Fallout games, but in this one, it’s easy as long as you’ve got a decent companion. In general, I felt as if I was easily able to coast through groups of enemies when it should’ve been a much more difficult task, even at the default difficulty setting. Besides these two neutral issues I encountered, there were many more problems that ranged from minor to major.
Despite having greatly enjoyed this game, it’s not perfect and it is flawed in many ways. By the end of this section it’ll seem as if I absolutely hated this game, but I didn’t, it’s just that at times it came off as a buggy mess and these things regularly stood out. It’s understandable for any game to have bugs, especially one of this size, but you’d think a AAA game would be shipped out in much better shape. I’m sure some readers will think/say that modding is an easy solution for this problem and I’m sure that it is, but game studios shouldn’t rely on modders to fix something that they should be dealing with, even before a game is sold to the public.
While playing FO4, there were three main problems/bugs that I encountered. One may even be unrelated to FO4, but I doubt it is. I’m not sure if it’s just because of my PC setup or if it’s because of the game itself, but my PC regularly heated up while playing this game, despite being well cooled with multiple fans. This doesn’t really happen to me while playing other games and I could see it being a problem for PC gamers with much more humble setups, it may have even contributed to my computer automatically shutting itself off a few times while playing this game.
One more issue that’s slightly related to my PC setup was how long it would take for things to load in this game. It regularly took one to three minutes to properly load itself and sometimes it never loaded at all, which led to me having to force quit the game and restart it. I’m sure many PC gamers install their games on SSDs to avoid this issue, but the two I own don’t have much space and as a result, all of my games are installed on my fairly large HDDs. As a result of this, I was forced to deal with long loading times, even on a good gaming pc. You’d think this would be a problem only consoles would deal with, but I don’t know what was up with this.
Another bug that I felt was completely ridiculous was how horrible FPS drops would come out of nowhere, something that made me having a gtx 1080 completely useless. At times I’d have to restart the game because it was moving way too slowly for me to advance or do anything. This was a hassle to deal with because sometimes my save file may have been really far back from when I was forced to restart the game.
The following bug was both minor and major at the same time and it happened all over the game at completely random times. I don’t know why, but sometimes the game textures and character models would bounce around all over the screen or even act out unconventional movements while the game was in dialogue mode. It was just annoying to see this and at times it seemed as if the game was crashing. For a game that had certain systems be so well thought out, you’d think something like this wouldn’t be present.
I know I previously praised these weapon + settlement crafting systems, but while being generally well done, at the same time I felt as if it was quite imbalanced and at times problematic to deal with. One big problem I dealt with when trying to make use of the settlement crafting system was how much junk/supplies were needed to craft things. As a result of this, you’d have to endlessly pick up and deliver these items to your settlements. The problem is that these items took up space/weight in your inventory and it wasn’t always possible to bring as much as was needed. Needing a lot of junk to build stuff and having a limit to what you can carry was annoying. You could also have your companion carry things for you, but they too have a weight limit. Also, people in your settlements can gather sources for you, but the bulk of the work is generally done by you hauling in junk items.
To further my discussion of the settlement crafting system, there were more specific choices/possibilities when it came to crafting your different settlements, by being able to choose which buildings to place and out of what material, but there wasn’t much room for imagination when it came to modifying your weapons. As a result, you were left with weapons that lacked true variety, as most of them were homemade pistols or rifles that were only different in their rate of fire and damage that they dealt. It would’ve been great if you could create weapons from scratch by mixing and matching from weapons in your inventory. The weapon modification system simply consists of adding or removing certain parts from the weapons you already own.
Besides those issues, I also felt that there were problems with the quests and how the story is organized. Having played many open world games, I know not all quests will be entirely original, unless you’re The Witcher 3, and that’s an issue in FO4. Certain missions can be repetitive to the point where you’ll just end up ignoring them, even if they do grant you experience points. This is primarily encountered when visiting certain factions, it mainly happened to me with the Minutemen and the Brotherhood of Steel. One of the best ways to deal with this was to simply accept these types of missions and ignore them. My main issue with repetitive quests is that they come off as a lazy way of attempting to fill the game with more content.
FO4 attempts to come off as a game with endless possibilities and to a certain extent that is true, but it’s not quite as open ended as you’d think it really is. At times it could be quite restrictive, primarily when it comes to how dialogue/missions are approached. It offers multiple ways to approach a mission, but it just comes off as “two sides of the same coin”. I keep mentioning FO3 and NV, but it’s because those two games had an overall better approach. In those previous games your stats/character build greatly affected almost every aspect of gameplay, especially how you experienced the story. If you had low intellect, your dialogue consisted of caveman-like sayings and if you had high charisma/intellect, you could have interesting things pop up or you could resolve a situation with just your words. It’s not that FO4 doesn’t do this, but it does it on a lesser level and that’s highly disappointing.
In general, I’ve come to the conclusion that FO4 suffers as a result of trying to forcibly innovate certain areas of the game while allowing others to suffer. This mainly relates to the imbalance between the two main crafting systems and how the main character is well developed while also having a voice actor. One part of RPGs that many people enjoy is being able to actually roleplay and put yourself in the character’s shoes. As a result of the main character having a well-developed personality and having his/her own voice, the player isn’t fully able to immerse themselves in this game like it was done in other Fallout games. This can be seen as bothersome because that’s what veteran Fallout fans have come to expect, an experience where it’s as if you’re telling the story and not the other way around.
To conclude this review, I once again must say that I didn’t hate this game, I enjoyed it, but I also don’t think it will be remembered quite like the other games within the Fallout franchise. As if it weren’t obvious enough from the times that I compared this game to FO3 and NV, I can easily say that those two games, specifically NV, were much better. Still, FO4 is entertaining for what it offers and I do believe that it’s worth playing, but it’d probably be best to buy it when it’s on sale, just in case you end up highly disliking it and feel as if you wasted your money.