There is a very good reason Bethesda took away not one, not two, but 3 game critics awards for their showing of Fallout 4. It promises to be one of the best games this year. To put that in perspective; it was pretty much announced this year. As in two months ago. At this year’s E3. That never happens. Most games these days make their entire dev cycle in a PR circus up to the point in which they have to postpone or rush the deadline just so they can ship out a mediocre product that ends up getting thumbs down by guys like me. Bethesda studios did it right; they showed up to the PR conference with Fallout 4 near completion, an honest demonstration of the gameplay, and on top of that a finished phone application that promises to become more popular then the game, for reasons we will discuss.
Since this is my first review in a LONG time, and I am still working on redesigning this site, it might be a good idea to restructure my game reviews in a slightly less obscure format. I will be sticking to the usual 7 word Synopsis, but I feel that this approach needs a little tweaking. Instead of attempting to define what could be a 50 hour experience into 7 words, I will simply write a small paragraph for each section. A paragraph for the good, for the bad, and for the summary. I might revert to my old method when posting on twitter, but that seems to be the only time where the “traditional” format is useful. That, and maybe for those vine reviews I always wanted to do.
Anyway enough chitchat; here is the 7 word synopsis regarding whether or not those E3 awards mean anything.
Here’s my Review of Fallout 4
Let me start off by saying that I love playing this game. Period. I was a big fan of the previous game Fallout 3 and actually enjoyed Fallout:New Vegas despite some of its flaws. I think almost every decision made in the game itself was either necessary or at the very least necessary to make this a top quality game. The graphics look very realistic when your not moving something in a weird way. The controls are responsive, and more attuned to FPS style combat then any other Fallout game to date. Even the command system, while not completely flawless, does offer you a degree of control over companions. The little tutorial videos for the series patented S.P.E.C.I.A.L system look like they were made by a professional animation studio from 1935 . The story, while simplistic, offers a wide variety of options without adding too much complexity, and the sheer depth to character statistics make crafting your character feel like an art form him OR herself.
and speaking of crafting…
never have I seen the core mechanics of RPG, RTS, and world-building games like Minecraft come together so seamlessly. Not only can you build modifications, not only can you build cities AND run them. Not only can you upgrade machines and augment your massive robot power armor, but you do it in a way that compliments your exploration and RPGing. Rather then being just tacked on, it becomes part of both the story and the game as a whole. You know all that useless junk you end up hoarding in every single Bethesda game (not just Fallout; Skyrim had this issue too) when your looting a cave? That’s all useful now. Everything from the teddy bear to the globe to the broom sticks can be McGuyvered into something as cool as a weapon mod, a power up, a new type of explosive, or even a new house and piece of furniture. All the Homemade stuff that served as mere backdrops for the previous Fallout games that were obviously made from scrap are now yours to build and command. You are no longer just a lone adventurer but an active leader of a community and a builder of your own monuments.
Do use responsibly
That’s it for the Good. We got a few things for the Bad that you need to watch out for.
I’m not going to talk about how the animations sometimes gets weird when certain objects like items or AI chicken heads move in the wrong spot. I’m not going to talk to you about how there is no tutorial for the V.A.T.S. system that still predominates the combat system. I’m not even going to complain about how you can build everything in Fallout 4 except bullets and ammo; two very important resources in a game with dozens of guns as the primary weapon. Those are all things to watch out for, to be certain, but one thing trumps them all that actually ruins the experience pretty badly if your not careful.
See this screen?
This is free wallpaper that is based off the loading screen. The one where you press start and it loads that awesome game I told you about. I pressed start when beginning this game at around 8:00 am this morning, hoping to get a little more play time before writing this thing.
It’s almost 12:00 at noon as I type these words. IT’s STILL LOADING.
I am not the only one with this problem either. I played this game on the Xbox One, and its supposed to be even worse for the PS4 and PC. Plus there are supposed to be glitches to watch out for, including one where your weapon disappears. I thankfully haven’t run into any problems like these. Worst that happened to me was that there is too much load time and I sometimes saw characters and objects float while on the edge of surfaces. This is pretty normal though.
What isn’t normal is having to wait 4 + hours to not just play for the first time, but continue playing. This is ridiculous. I have tried restarting the app, unplugging the Xbox One, and it still loads like molasses. I will try updating the Xbox One and see if it helps, but a word of caution to the unwary consumer; be prepared to wait.
Okay that’s the brunt of the bad, lets wrap things up.
You might think that playing this game isn’t worth it based off my previous statements. Especially if you never played a Fallout game before. While I can say for sure that veteran Fallout fans will have a much better experience with this game then inexperienced players, the game is worth learning and worth the wait. My advice would be to start the game before heading to work on Friday and then playing it for the rest of the weekend. It takes that much time to load, that much time to master, and you will have fun for hours upon hours.
It’s like building a shack out of scrap metal, or modifying you Fat Boy to carry more nuclear payloads; all it takes is some time and work.
That’s it for Fallout 4. Next I will be finishing a long overdue coverage of last year’s South Jersey Geekfest, and maybe a special article about a Fallout 4 perk that personally offends me. Hold my calls.
Go figure. I update my Xbox One, and the game loads like a dream. Remember kids; always update your consoles!