The Fallout series is one of the most well-known and celebrated franchises in recent history. It particularly hit the main stream with the release of Fallout 3 and any installments afterwards. So needless to say when Fallout 4 was announced people lost their minds. New mechanics, new features, new settings, we all had reason to be excited. I’m personally a huge Fallout fan, it’s one of my favorite series of all time so that’s why it’s painful to say Fallout 4 is the weakest installment since 3.
Don’t take that the wrong way, it’s not a bad game by any means. Fallout 4 however fails in multiple areas to live up to its predecessors. It tries some new things and while some of it works, many don’t. The characters are all rather uninteresting, and the environment itself leaves one wanting more to see.
For those who don’t know, the general premise of the Fallout games is set after nukes go off and some of the denizens of the world take shelter in Vaults, which sometimes work and sometimes don’t. The protagonist (generally) is a Vault Dweller who leaves and faces the outside world, fighting new mutated threats and corrupted humans as well.
Fallout is an RPG series, and one of the most important aspects of an RPG game are the quests. Sadly, Fallout 4 had an incredibly weak selection of such. While “The Silver Shroud,” a quest where the protagonist becomes a real-life version of a comic book character may be one of the best quests in the franchise, it fails to be enough. Many of the sidequests are short and far too easy.
Even the Main Quest is weak. It’s similar to the previous installment, New Vegas where you can chose a faction to side with at the end of the road. The only issue is by the time you have to pick a side, the game is essentially over. For the most part once you choose a faction the rest turn hostile through natural progression. However, the missions you go on aren’t fulfilling. It’s not noble like in Fallout 3. The whole story just seems bland, and quite frankly a bit silly.
A unique change to the series is the lack of skills. Rather, they are all grouped together in perks, with perks unlocking in relating to how high your “S.P.E.C.I.A.L.” is. It’s actually quite interesting and I personally find it better than the old system.
In previous games, many players would just stack their points into a certain handful of skills, while this one rewards you for branching out. While there can be a small learning curve to it, once you get used to it you might end up preferring it opposed to the old way.
Another pleasant surprise is the nerf to VATS. In previous installments, it would stop time completely. However in Fallout 4, it merely slows time down and enemies can still attack you. Non VATS combat has also improved, and I found myself using VATS much less than I did in other Fallout games. You can also sprint now, at the expense of Action Points. It’s a pleasant addition, albeit one that should of been included earlier.
The biggest new features talked about leading up to the game’s release was the addition of settlements that the player can build and manage. It was an interesting concept, and one that could of been really awesome…if it worked well. The building system is a nightmare to work with, and it’s only harder to actually make buildings.
Making sure the settlers are happy isn’t a picnic either, and reaching max happiness in a settlement is complete torture, that many gave up upon. It’s something I personally chose to ignore completely, and I recommend you do the same.
Fallout 4 is easier than previous installments as well. You can get really good armor early on in the game (via “The Silver Shroud” quest) and even ammo and guns aren’t too hard to come by. You can easily upgrade from the less than stellar starter weapons to guns you’ll use the whole game.
Scrap is something used more often now, which is a welcome addition. It can be used to craft weapon mods to make guns stronger. You can easily progress through the game without that, but if that’s something you wanted more of Fallout 4 expanded on what New Vegas started.
All in all, Fallout 4 is not a bad game by any means, but it is certainly a disappointment. The upcoming DLC could change that for the better, but with the Fallout series DLC has been very hit or miss. The game tries some new things, and to its credit some of it does stick, and I personally hope to see it in the next installment; but overall there are a lot of foul balls.