Fallout 4 is a fantastic adventure that invites you to explore its bleak post-apocalyptic world. You never know what sort of settlement is lurking around the corner and whether there’s a new questline to be found, or if you are walking into a hive of Raider or Super Mutant scum. There are a lot of interesting characters to meet and many various factions to align yourself with in this 1950’s-esque Boston wasteland. Fallout 4 will suck you in and will leave you to your brains and brawn to survive.

Before you turn into a champion of the wasteland you start out as a loving family man. The game begins with a peaceful morning with your spouse and infant child in a lovely suburban area of Boston. Before long, however, there’s a distressful television broadcast warning of the imminent nuclear apocalypse. Good thing you had a spot reserved for you and your family at the nearby vault-tec Vault 111. Once inside it seems you are safe and you enter cryogenic hibernation. The illusion of safety is abruptly swept aside as you awake from cryo-sleep and witness the murder of your spouse and kidnapping of your child. 200 years have passed since the bombs fell, and the world you emerge to is a vastly different one from what you once knew.

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As you walk amongst the ruins of your once perfect suburban hometown of Sanctuary you can see hideous two-headed mutated deer drinking from the irradiated streams, pastures and tree lines are sickly and decayed, and you never know if the next person you meet is going to want your help or straight-up murder you. A trip through the once great city of Boston is a treacherous one indeed, and is filled with thrills, perils, joy, and sorrow.

As you set out on the path to track down and rescue your son, you’ll come across various allies like the minutemen and find many neutral settlements where you can trade goods and services for bottlecaps, and there are few different factions and companions that you can enlist the help of. But this is the wasteland after all, so there is no short supply of wretched criminals, crazed scavengers, feral ghouls, super mutants, and mutated monstrosities that are out to get you. The big bad boogey man of the wasteland is, however, the mysterious and illusive Institute: a secretive organization that everybody is terrified of and nobody seems to know much about. What people do know is that the institute is experimenting with creating androids, known as Synths, and they’ve recently started producing models that are nearly indistinguishable from real humans. You’ll face mannequin like combat drones, but you will also deal with the lifelike sentient models, some of which have broken away from the Institute. This all makes for a lot of interesting questlines, taking a page out of Blade Runner, where you start to question what it means to be human.

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The scope of Fallout 4’s story is grand, and the player will see what effect it has on both the major players as well as the smaller factions and settlements caught in the middle of it all. At first you’ll start out by doing people favors in turn for leads as to the whereabouts of your son, but as you climb the social ranks and the stakes get higher, you will start to feel the impact of your choices and sacrifices a lot more.

The gameplay mechanics will feel instantly familiar to most who played Fallout 3 and New Vegas, albeit with a few new twists. The shooting mechanics are slicker than ever, making it easier to rely on your god-given gunfighting skills in combat. The V.A.T.S. system makes a return, but instead of stopping time completely while you are targeting enemies, it merely slows down time, which adds a great sense of urgency in firefights, especially in close quarters. It offers a great blend of action and strategy and makes most fights an intense experience where you have to be as quick on your feet as you are at strategic planning.

Another change to the formula is in the leveling system. Whenever you level up you can apply a stat point to one of your seven attributes: Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, and Luck. Each skill tree leads to various perks that will determine how good you are in dealing with others, attack and defense boosts etc. There is however no level cap, which means you have a lot of freedom to invest in whatever attribute you feel like, as you can max out your character eventually if you play for long enough. While it offers a lot of freedom to enjoy the game in various ways, it can detract for the satisfaction of creating a unique character build. This issue will come down to preference for most gamers.

Another new addition is the base building feature. There are several settlements that you can build up and customize to your heart’s content. You can build structures, furnish them, add defenses to ward off periodical attacks, and populate with companions and other survivors. This aspect of the game is very well fleshed out, and could almost be an entire game in its own right. At the same time it is not really mandatory at all (apart from a couple of tutorial missions early in the game) and the effort put into this feature is to be applauded. There is also an extensive crafting system that you can use to modify and reinforce your weapons and gear with materials from various mundane items you collect on your adventures. There is a lot of depth for those that love tinkering around with customizations and upgrades.

The game’s presentation is quite solid on all fronts. As with many of the Bethesda open-world games there are a few rough graphical edges, some stiff facial animations, and the occasional clipping and freak glitch. This, however, doesn’t detract from the overall experience as the developers have done a great job at crafting this expansive wasteland and populating it with plenty of pretty sounds and sights. The visual landscape instills you with that sense of dread and adventure that is so essential Fallout. The radio station soundtracks are great and fitting as ever, and all the sound effects are great. The voice performances leave a little to be desired, but are overall good.

In conclusion Fallout 4 is an epic adventure that will provide you with hours of engaging exploration and gameplay. It is apparent that the series is moving towards a more streamlined experience to cater to a wider audience, but that is not a flaw with this game. Fallout 4 is instantly accessible to pick up and play by any gamer that is into shooters and adventure games, and its story and presentation will fulfill your post-apocalyptic thrill needs for a good while to come. Overall it is a fantastic addition to the series.

Fallout 4 Review
Graphics80%
Audio93%
Story90%
Gameplay92%
Pros
  • Great story
  • A lot of content
  • Engaging gameplay
Cons
  • A few janky animations
  • Some drab locations
89%Overall Score
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About The Author

Ingólfur Ólafsson

Metal head, front-man, natural gamer and editor at Eskimo Press.