Game Review: Fallout 4 (Xbox One)

It’s been 7 years since the release of Fallout 3; much like many of you I have been eagerly awaiting a new installment. In that time my imagination has gone wild with ideas of what such a game would be like but is this the Fallout that we’ve all been waiting for or will it leave us longing for more?

Fallout 4 is set in a post-apocalyptic Boston in the year 2287, 210 years after a devastating nuclear war, in which the player character emerges from an underground bunker known as Vault 111.

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Fallout 4’s game play is similar to that of Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, the previous two main entries in the series. Returning features include a camera that can switch between a first-person and third-person perspective, and the ability to roam anywhere on the map. Fallout 4 is supposed to feature more appealing gameplay, a layered armour system, base-building, a dynamic dialogue system featuring 111,000 lines of dialogue, an in-depth crafting system which implements every loot able object in the game, and much more.

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Players have the ability to roam anywhere on the map, or leave a conversation at any time. They have the ability to customize weapons; the game includes over 50 base guns, which can be crafted with a variety of modifications, such as barrel types and laser focus, with over 700 modifications available. Power Armour has been redesigned to be more like a vehicle than an equitable suit of armour, and can also be modified, adding items such as a jetpack or selecting separate types of armour for each part of the suit.

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A new feature to the series is the ability to craft and deconstruct settlements and buildings. Players can select some in-game objects and structures, and use them to freely build their own structures. In addition, the towns can be powered with working electricity, using a dynamic power line system.

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The story begins on the morning of October 23, 2077, with the player character and their spouse (Nate/Nora) preparing for an event at the Veteran’s Hall when a Vault-Tec representative comes to inform them their family is approved for admittance into Vault 111. Moments later, a news bulletin warns of an imminent nuclear attack, forcing the family to rush to the vault, where they are temporarily trapped outside when a nuclear bomb detonates nearby. The platform below them lowers, and the family and other residents of the town are tricked into being placed in cryosleep.

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Years later, the player and their spouse are re-awakened by two unknown individuals, who open the spouse’s Cryo tube with the intent of taking the player’s baby, Shaun. When the spouse tries to prevent the kidnapping they are killed by one of the strangers, who take Shaun and reactivates the survivor’s Cryo tube. The Sole Survivor manages to get free of their Cryo tube in 2287, where they discover that they are the only survivor of Vault 111, as the remaining residents have died due to the strangers tampering with the Cryo tube controls and life-support system. Once they emerge from Vault 111, the Sole Survivor vows to avenge their spouse’s death and find Shaun.

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So, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way let me get to my actual opinion on the game.

There’s been a lot of negative reaction to the way that Fallout 4 looks and rightfully so. I wouldn’t go as far as to call the game ugly because there are times in which it can look really beautiful but these moments are too few. This is clearly the Fallout 3/New Vegas/Skyrim graphics engine and it’s a huge let down for those hoping to see a brand new, next gen Fallout.

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The character models are as ugly as ever, most usually appearing hilariously expressionless with strange, shiny, plastic looking skin. I won’t even get into how sloppily done the lip syncing is because it’s painfully obvious to see and needs to be addressed in Bethesda’s next open-world RPG outing.

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The Commonwealth is thankfully brighter and more vibrant than the dark and dreary wasteland which is wonderful to see but we’re still stuck with far too much low-resolution environments and graphical bugs for 2015, it’s simply not up to par.

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If you enjoyed Fallout 3 then expect more of the same, this isn’t exactly a bad thing as there a host of memorable highlights/moments that you’ll experience during your time in the Commonwealth. There are a few visual upgrades and some other tacked on elements to the game that feel just that, tacked on. This isn’t the next gen Fallout that I and many others like me were desperately wanting it to be but it’s still a hugely enjoyable experience even if it does end up feeling a little too familiar.

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With such huge advances made in open world RPG’s with games like The Witcher 3 and Metal Gear Solid this year, it really exposes Fallout 4’s lack of advancements. Loading screens plague the game, going from one building to another is a serious pain as you find yourself waiting through unacceptably long loading times.

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I feel the game is becoming far too action orientated, every single location seems to contain some type of enemy which in turn means you’ll be finding yourself in an almost constant firefight. I’ve discovered over 150 locations in the game and I can only remember a handful that contained something different and creative and that wasn’t just some raider or super mutant encampment. The game itself will spoil its neatest surprises with a consistency that makes me wonder where the heart of Fallout 4 even lies. Some of the games more intriguing aspects are over and done with before you get a moment to really lose yourself in the world.

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When I found out that there would be a pre-nuclear fallout section in the game, I was more than excited to see how it would be but it’s painfully brief and linear.

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The world of Fallout 4 is huge and it’s crying out for you to explore, in that regard the game succeeds because it’s amazingly addictive to explore and discover location after location even if you quickly realise there isn’t that much to see.

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Other than the fact that the game does have a very detailed and extensive character creation system, the perk system felt like a bit of a confusing mess to me. Other than the charisma tree, there didn’t seem to be much of any reason to put points into intelligence, luck or many others. In the past these types of perks would have played a pivotal role in shaping your story and the world around you. This is just another example of how Bethesda has dumbed down the RPG elements in the game.

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I might be giving you the impression that I disliked the game and honestly, it’s the complete opposite. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time roaming the Commonwealth but it just feels like a kick in the gut for me and everyone that has waited with great anticipation for a next gen Fallout. What we have instead is a game that feels a lot like Fallout 3.5 and still that’s a tough thing to complain about because it’s Fallout!

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Although there is a fairly epic showdown with the brotherhood of steel before the ending if you side with the institute like I did, it’s very disappointing and leaves you with a “is that it?” type of feeling which is never good. Bethesda games are about much more than the main quest line, it’s the side quests that usually lead to some of the more memorable moments and Fallout 4 is no different in that regard but it’s in much smaller doses than before.

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As you can tell, I have a lot of opinions on what I liked and disliked about the game and that’s mainly down to the fact that I love Fallout and wanted it to be as good as it can be. I genuinely enjoyed my time with Fallout 4 but in the end I doubt much of any of it will be that memorable in the ways that Fallout 3 was or other more recent RPGS. I Hope Bethesda will listen to the criticisms and the positives and use them to craft the next gen fallout that we all want.

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This may just be the toughest rating that I’ve ever had to decide on because I’m torn. On one hand I had a huge amount of fun with the game but then there’s this other part of me that’s quite disappointed and underwhelmed by it all, If you’re a Fallout fan then you’ll likely feel the same. I’m being hard on the game because I love it so much and It’s failed to reach it’s highest possible potential.

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Fallout 4
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0 thoughts on “Game Review: Fallout 4 (Xbox One)

  • December 5, 2015 at 10:23 pm
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    For someone who was equally hyped about Fallout 4, the game has been somewhat underwhelming to play. The main narrative lacks nuance, depth and is poorly paced; graphics don’t look up to scratch and the whole game doesn’t feel as cohesive as it should, but it remains weirdly addictive. I still can’t resist exploring the Bostonian wasteland, but it feels overall a little too similar to its predecessors and not the standard we would expect of other 2015 titles, such as The Witcher 3, which is an infinitely richer and more sophisticated gaming experience.

    I can related to your feeling of being torn about Fallout 4. For me, my response is a mixture of disappointment and addiction to a game which is fun to play, but is that enough? It’s made up of lots of different little bits and pieces which keep you entertained but nothing really shines. Anyway, just like to say great review. Looking forward to reading more.

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