Fallout 4: A Nuclear Family

If, for some reason, you’ve been living underground in a bunker for the past decade you may not have heard of the Fallout franchise. If this is the case, I am sorry. I urge you to bust open that Vault door, step out into the light, and grab hold of Fallout 4. Fallout 4 follows the same trends that the established franchise has always experienced: vast open-world experience, exceptional story arcs, and riddled with enough bugs to make a radroach colony jealous. I say this to preempt this review, because I want people to understand that just because a game has flaws, doesn’t mean that it’s not a magical, fun experience that should be enjoyed.

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First off, let me start by saying Fallout 4 has so many complexities, so many side quests, and so much of well – everything, that I can’t begin to cover it all in the scheme of a single review. This game will eat up hours of your life, but you’ll enjoy every minute of it. Even with the technical hiccups that sprinkle themselves throughout the coding, like a frosted doughnut, Fallout 4 is just too good to put down.

As in all Fallout games you become the unnamed citizen who escapes the fallout of a nuclear explosion by securing yourself within a Vault, an underground bunker designed with the soul purpose of protecting citizens. In Fallout 4, you are a survivor of Vault 111, finding yourself staggering about the future in search of your family. This is about as much as the game gives you initially, and it’s the perfect way to start things off. The more vague the initial storyline is the more enjoyable an RPG game, such as this, can become.

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You feel like you have a sense of choice and decision making in Fallout 4 that I hadn’t felt in previous renditions. Fallout is know for giving exceptional player agency, and this is no different, but the method in which they go about it is. The stat system: S.P.E.C.I.A.L, and the massive Perks chart allow for endless possibilities of playthroughs. If you’ve never played, but want to have a specific style I recommend checking out FudgeMuppet on Youtube for specific builds.

The biggest change in the Fallout system is V.A.T.S. The “Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System” has been around in previous renditions, but accessibly, this new version falters where it’s predecessor succeeded. V.A.T.S used to pause the game entirely, which made the game more accessible for players with mobility based limitations to play it. The ability to be able to time your attack and prep where you want to shoot is a necessity to some players. Bethesda has removed this from the game and instead V.A.T.S. now slows down time, instead of fully pausing it. It functions all well and good, but many of the Fallout 4 enemies have faster A.I. and response times than the V.A.T.S has time to slow properly.

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The actual mechanics of shooting and moving around the vast environment are a rise above that now makes Fallout 4 a less clunky and more like a streamlined shooter. The crafting system in the game is massive, and I mean, MASSIVE. Each and every single piece of gear you can equip can be altered. It is a beautiful thing to behold. Now, no matter what gear you have, know you’re going to experience death – a lot. Fallout 4 doesn’t shy away from making the wasteland of the Commonwealth a beautiful, challenging death trap. If you can bear with the fact that there is key remapping, a requirement of precision skills in lock-picking, and lack of V.A.T.S. pause – you can get through Fallout 4.

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The soundtrack is beautiful and the dialog between characters, while sometimes expected, is quirky, exceptional, and keeps me coming back for more. The subtitles didn’t always play in certain parts of the game, and often times, would overlap one another if I had a radio signal on. The audio cues and subtitles don’t take away from the accessibility of the gameplay though, so you can finish the game without sound. Visually, it’s the most stunning game I’ve seen to date. The sprawling world of Commonwealth, combined with the lush NPC’s you can experience, gives such a depth that I couldn’t draw myself away.

Bethesda has really attacked the visual market by allowing for HUD, subtitle, and menu colors to be adjusted for ease of use. The color pallet for the game is varied enough that it shouldn’t affect colorblind players. I can’t speak to it, because I’m not colorblind myself, but there was nothing jarring or off-putting as I walked around Fallout 4. The subtitles can sometimes be difficult to read, but you can easily get past this by adjusting the color to something you can see from afar. If you can move past some of the jarring visual bugs and crashes, then Fallout 4 will wrap you up in it’s post-apocalyptic beauty.

Wrap Up:

Fallout 4 has one of the most well written and entertaining worlds I’ve ever experienced in a game. The Commonwealth is littered with people, and not just wall flower NPC’s I casually interact with. These companions, characters, and even vendors have such a depth that I wanted to play with each one of them. I wanted to experience their life stories, goals, and ups and downs, as much as I wanted to craft my own. They became a part of my family. I grew eager to see what would happen next on this journey. I now see what Fallout fans have been clamoring about for years. A beautiful world with such character you can’t help but be caught up in the chaos – and spend days exploring every facet of it.

It may have it’s hiccups from time to time, and Bethesda could do more to make the game more accessible in future iterations, but this version is quite refined. Fallout 4 gives the player so many options to experience the story however they wish. The crafting systems and settlement building feel like a whole separate game in and of themselves, and I could spend hours just altering my homestead. I haven’t touched the DLC yet, but from what I’ve experienced, I can’t wait. I want to get lost in this world again, and again, soaking up new stories of the Commonwealth like radiated Nuka-Cola.

  • Mods fix a lot of the problems in the PC and XBox One versions, but I wasn’t able to experience these first hand. The review is solely expressed with my PS4 journey, which doesn’t currently allow modding. 

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