Fallout 3 is one of the most important games of the 7th generation, and possibly one of the most important games ever developed. While most Action/RPGs follow the Tolkienesque path established by TSR tabletops back in the 70s, Fallout has taken a page from Gamma World’s book and turned the modern RPG into a huge, and hugely successful, post apocalyptic shooter. Fallout 4 is finally here and it has some very big shoes to fill.
Fallout 4 is set in postwar Boston in the year 2287, ten years after the events of Fallout 3. A family of frozen suburbanites has been devastated by murder, kidnapping, and cryogenics. The player assumes the role of the surviving parent, escaping from Vault 111 with only a jumpsuit, some radroach meat, and a lot of questions. What happened to the son, Shaun? How has Boston changed in 210 years? Why hasn’t Codsworth cleaned anything in the last 21 decades? The Abraxo was right there in the closet the whole time. Lazy robot.
Your New Neighbors
This militia group has good intentions, but lacks the skill and leadership to protect the citizens of Boston from raiders, ghouls, and mutants. Some incident at a fortified camp, known as The Castle, has decimated their numbers and taken a toll on their collective nerve. Their goal is to reclaim lost settlements and set up a system of trade and protection for this loose affiliation of farms.
The Brotherhood of Steel
Power armor, airships, big guns, and a singular love for homo sapiens are what The Brotherhood is all about. Drawn to Boston because of its Super Mutant and Synth problems, the BOH is in town to kill muties and synthetics with extreme prejudice and a giant robot.
Railroad agents operate in the shadows in their mission to liberate Institute synths, which puts them at odds with both The Institute and The Brotherhood.
This hidden scientific collective specializes in kidnapping locals and replacing them with synthetic doppelgangers, if the rumors are to be believed. Regardless, you’re not getting in through the door by kicking or picking it.
Naturally, alignment with one faction will put the player in opposition with most or all of the other factions, so choose wisely. I ultimately aligned with the Brotherhood of Steel so I could storm the battlefield with Liberty Prime chucking nukes and spewing his robotic brand of patriotic propaganda.
This Mr. Handy was your pre-war family robotic caretaker. He has survived the apocalypse but has neglected his household cleaning duties for over two centuries. This kind of laziness must be addressed in the harshest possible manner...or you could just let him off with a warning. It’s your game. If you must take chems during the game don’t let Codsworth see it. He’s so judgemental.
This is your loyal German Shepherd. He helps kill stuff and can temporarily detain/delay an aggressor. Dogmeat doesn’t judge and the player will never lose his loyalty...unlike some other companions on this list.
High atop the tallest building in Boston is a Super Mutant with a penchant for Shakespeare and a desire to find the milk of human kindness...so he can drink it. He’s not super bright. Anyway, as his name implies, he can carry a ton of junk, but he will verbally pummel you for stopping to look for it. He’s not a fan of scavenging, human junk, or human kindness: he may be missing part or all of that concept.
This ghoul is the serving Mayor of Goodneighbor, after murdering his predecessor. This guy has some deep and dirty connections, but really just wants to get away from it all and cruise around the wasteland.
A former Raider with a questionable career in the theater, Cait is a big fan of B&E and just loves a good lockpicking. Stay mean and sarcastic if you want on Cait’s good side.
Danse is all about the Brotherhood. He likes enthusiasm, killing stuff, and big weapons. Kill super mutants, ghouls, and speak favorably about the Boys and Girls in Power Armor and you two will be tight until the end.
Curie is a Miss Nanny robot and can be found in Vault 81. She acts as a combat medic during battle.
This guy is part of the Railroad and has a soft-spot for synths. He’s the stealthy agent type and a real do-gooder.
MacCready is the mouthy former Mayor of Little Lamplight, from Fallout 3, and is now working in Boston as a merc. He’ll join you, but you better have the caps.
Nick is the premiere, and only, synth detective for hire in the Commonwealth. Help him out and he may help you back...in case you ever need to find a missing person or something. He doesn’t react particularly well to sarcasm.
Piper is the writer and editor of the local piece of shit newspaper. Taking Piper along can open up some new conversation options. Piper is very justice-minded and will disapprove of a heavy-handed approach to conflict resolution.
Preston is the de facto leader of the Minutemen. He will encourage you to expand Minuteman influence and protection across the Commonwealth. He’s a real baby when it comes to mass murder, and he will have a fit if you kill hundreds of people. Really, Preston, embrace your destructive nature and I’ll let you help me nuke Diamond City. Obviously, I left this character behind, because I kill stuff, but Preston always has a mission or two for you.
This guy is a Synth Courser, which means he gets around. Complete lamewad...ditch him early and often.
There’s Been Some...Changes
Fallout 4 plays differently from both Fallout 3 and New Vegas. VATS will slow time down considerably, but will not stop it like in the previous games. Couple this with a new corner cover system and my playstyle shifted to more shooter and less reliance on VATS. To utilize the cover system move close to a corner; your character will move their weapon to a neutral position. Activate the aim feature (left trigger on a default XB1 setup) to emerge from cover.
Obsidian’s New Vegas creatures have been cut from Bethesda’s new roster, so no Cazadores or snakedogs to contend with in the Commonwealth. Many of the creatures from Fallout 3 have been more comprehensively subdivided from their original classes: there are more types of Super Mutants, Deathclaws, Yao Guai, Ghouls, and even dogs. Bethesda has also added a few new beasties that are exclusive to the Boston area.
Feral ghouls are former humans blasted into aggressive insanity by radiation...a lot of it. They have a new dash attack that does greater damage, but leaves them vulnerable for a few seconds afterward. Ghouls have sort of a pack mentality and are seldom encountered alone. New types include bloated, withered, and gangrenous. Reavers have been dumbed down for this game and are not nearly as formidable as their DC counterparts.
Protectrons now come in Firefighter, Police, and Medic models. Mr. Handy, Mr. Gutsy, and the Sentry Bot are nearly the same, but are much more varied in personality. The new Assaultron is a bipedal nightmare for low-level wanderers. They are fast, ninja-like melee opponents armed with a powerful face laser, which makes them a threat from a distance, as well. The Assaultron should be a high-priority target in any skirmish. Some Assaultron models come with a stealth mode, so have fun with that.
Synths are the oppositional newness in Fallout 4. These synthetic humans are Institute creations, and generally armed with Institute energy weapons. Synths can vary in appearance from the metal skeleton Terminator-style appearance of the first-gen models to high-tech models that are indistinguishable from humans.
It wouldn’t be a Fallout game without Super Mutants, and they’re a prominent source of conflict across the Commonwealth. The Behemoth and Overlord have returned, along with a few newbies, like the Primus, Butcher, and Skirmisher. One of the more problematic new Super Mutant, the Suicider, charges the player with a powerful explosive device in his hand. Aim for that hand, amigo.
The undisputed king of wasteland badassery is the Deathclaw, and you will run across this abomination early and often. The Deathclaw will rush in a maul the player to death, but will hesitate to roar for a precious few seconds upon the initial discovery of the player. Use VATS to target him from a distance and hit him with the shotgun once he’s close, and VATS has been depleted. I heard that there is a Chameleon Deathclaw in the game, but I didn’t see him. Har har har.
Raiders, Scavengers, and general “Dick of the Wasteland” types complete the roster of enemy types. Radroaches and Radscorpions are back. There are a couple of new flying insect enemies and Mirelurks have new Queen and Razorclaw types, and the Hunter has a more insectile or crawfish-like appearance than Fallout 3. Radstags are new, but generally docile, until provoked.
Legendary enemy types will “mutate” and recover all of their health if the player doesn’t take them out quickly, but will have better loot than its non-legendary compatriots. Take these guys out quick. Raiders have learned to use power armor and heavy weaponry, like the minigun. Enemies with a skull icon next to their name indicates a skill/level mismatch in their favor. Go level up or give it hell, just know what you’re getting into.
Weapon customization was present in New Vegas, but Fallout 4 has taken crafting to a whole new level, for the genre. Players are able to craft, modify, and repair almost every weapon and piece of armor. Even Brotherhood Power Armor can be upgraded or modified, and you may meet some cool cats on the east side who can help you get the right look. Weapons no longer slowly disintegrate over time: they will remain in perfect working condition the entire game and will never need repair.
The settlements liberated by and allied with the Minutemen can be customized. The player can erect structures, craft furniture and armaments, maintain crops and livestock, and establish trading posts and supply lines between settlements. The game will progress whether you choose to nurture or neglect your little pockets of civilization, so play it your way.
SPECIAL and Perks
SPECIAL scores and perks are customizable, and players can distribute their points in attributes or perks to benefit their particular playstyle. Perks are tied to attributes, so you may have to raise a particular score before the perk will be available. I pumped my points into the intelligence, charisma, and agility to complement my sneaky, tech savvy character playstyle.
The Good Stuff
Bethesda has, for the most part, developed a sequel that does what a sequel should do: keep what was good about the previous game and improve the rest. Gunplay was much faster and reliable than previous games. It’s an ugly game, but it looks better than either Fallout 3 or New Vegas.
Bethesda steps pretty hard on the nostalgia pedal, with references to, and returning characters, Fallout 3. Madison Li, Mayor MacCready and Liberty Prime are all in the game. If a player were willing to go the distance, the Dunwich family has an industrial presence in the Commonwealth, so don’t be surprised about what you find inside.
The game is immense, like any good Bethesda RPG should be, and the story is pretty good. However, the game really rewards exploration, and the random and side stuff was often far more entertaining than progressing the main quest.
You Knew It Was Coming
Fallout 4 is the best looking Fallout game ever, but still looks like complete shit. Character models, especially Super Mutants and Ghouls, are reused to the point of absurdity, and then something identical to absurdity. NPC vocal tracks are also repetitive to the point of annoyance and, in extreme cases, violence. I know you appreciate the help with that Trudy situation, Mr. Jet Dealer, now shut up about it. Oh, you can’t wait to see the next Brotherhood victory, Ms. Brotherhood Knight? I must have missed that the first fifty fucking times you said it. I look forward to hearing it again soon!
I went OP way too quick. There is no level cap, as far as the player is concerned, in Fallout 4. Once the Level 45 plateau has been reached the game loses most of its challenge and at level 60 it’s just not fun anymore. My level 62 Carmen San Diego clone slays Legendary Deathclaws in 5 pistol shots and can negotiate almost any baddie-infested building with a Silenced 10mm Pistol. There are a few never ending quests, like the Brotherhood Quartermastery and Cleansing the Commonwealth quests, as well as a couple from the Minutemen, but after the main quest is complete it’s all wandering around and occasional delve in God-Mode. The thrill is gone, baby.
The game is ate up with bugs and technical glitches. Sometimes the game stuttered so much that it stuttered while my character was sleeping. However, the most unforgivable sin of all is the time it takes, and frequency of, the load time. I thought Skyrim had long load times: these are longer and it’s not always apparent that they are actually loading. The only thing worse than a long load is a fake load, and Fallout 4 has them both.
Fallout 4 is an excellent game, but it’s built on a technically shaky foundation. It’s very nearly a bullseye for Bethesda and a suitable successor to Fallout 3, but it felt like it came and went all too soon. Perhaps that is the mark of a great game. Fallout 4 will scratch the old Fallout itch, but it has the same old Fallout problems as well.