Have you scoured every inch of the Commonwealth, plundered every radroach-infested vault and liberated every settlement from Abernathy Farm to Hangman’s Alley? It’s ok, neither have I. Just in case you have managed to exhaust all of your options in Fallout 4, brand new DLC is launching later this month. Is this a good enough reason to clamber about in power armour again? Probably not.
I Like Your Old Stuff Better Than Your New Stuff
In conversation with friends, I have found that there are two types of people: those who preferred Fallout 3 and those who loved New Vegas. These polarising opinions intrigue me because they highlight what people look for in their post-apocalyptic retro-50s experience. Specifically, do you like shooting shit or roleplaying?
So why are we talking about the past anyway? Well, a little biased context helps illustrate my disappointment with what should have been a title worthy of the hype.
360 Noscope is Not a Dirty Word … Not
Sadly, bang-bang-brrrap franchises like Call of Duty have corrupted the evolution of modern triple-A interactive storytelling. Wow, that’s an epic call. Alright, Ok, to be fair, I’m conflicted here because combat is a lot of fun. You can aim down sights, distract yourself with pretty visuals and hear the cacophony of angry mutants as one charges you with a primed mini nuke. All of these little dynamic touches to shooting shit originated from the likes of Modern Warfare and Black Ops. Been there, done that.
While the blap-blap-blap is far from clunky, it’s clear that dialogue, plot and the NPCs were compromised. Like, you know, the important bits that make an RPG great. I had the misfortune of investing points in charisma and speech-specific perks. A silver tongue can help you haggle for a couple of extra caps and that’s about it, unfortunately. New Vegas rewards the wise pacifist yet Fallout 4 just doesn’t care about your gift of the gab.
Faction loyalty hinges on the main quest; almost everything faction-wise depends on how you deal with the Institute. Linear as fuck. There is one hell of a disconnect when you find yourself grinding fetch quests for nothing more than caps and experience.
New Vegas offered a layered loyalty experience similar to GTA where respect from one mob would anger their direct rival. I felt this nuance was missing from Fallout 4.
Check Out My Wood
The sandbox workshop creation stuff is lame. There, I said it. You can level up early on in the game by spawning dozens of chairs and beds and other random fortifications with the junk that you scrap. Yup, pimpin out my crib is just not that interesting. This shit should have been scrapped to save the RPG pitfalls. Anyway …
Around the World in a Couple of Days
Exploration is a joy. Pick a landmark on the horizon and meander through trees, dilapidated buildings and so much more. And when you’re feeling lazy and there are no baddies on your tail you can fast-travel. There’s no rush. Why potentially miss something awesome by jumping around the map? Discover new places and enjoy. This is Fallout 4 at its best.
Balls of Steel
I recommend that you try playing without lugging your durable power armour. The difficulty curve is achievable and encourages you to be more strategic and careful (it’s like I’m wearing nothing at all). The whole power armour thing is Fallout 4 at its worst because it sets you up as this super-duper soldier that can go toe-to-claw with a Deathclaw far too early in your quest. Again with the ultra-violence.
I recently finished the main storyline. I was hoping for something more impressive than what New Vegas threw at me. I love the finer details in these sorts of adventures which is probably why the exploration aspect of the journey was the most entertaining and satisfying bit. I couldn’t immerse myself into the world though because I didn’t care about the story or the characters. When this happens in a large open world you’re pretty much doomed to whinge about it.
There were moments that were a lot of fun. Some of the NPC companions were fun to hang with while others drove me to irrational homicide. There were also frustrating times when things just didn’t gel. When you create a sequel to a successful series you need to be able to improve on the foundations and deliver a final product that is worthy of the name and the legacy. Fallout 4 managed to be a competent shooter at the expense of everything else. It’s just a shame that I was invested in everything else.