Hello all, This project has been some time in the making now and it was suppose to be released much earlier during November on the day that Fallout 4 was released a year ago. When no review was written for the original game in the weeks after the release of, we decided to instead write a review of the game when it was released in its totality (the base game and all of its DLCs) to give a general overview of the title. Also, instead of just having one or two reviewers voice their opinion the decision was made to allow several members on the forum to put in their opinion on the game, how the Fallout lore is treated, how it lives up to its predecessors, and the expectations of the Fallout fandom. The participants in this project were: Ediros, Chud (Richard P.), JO’Geran, 0wing, AgentBJ09 (Adam G.) and CT Phipps. Special thanks go to AgentBJ09 for proof reading, correcting, and editing this all into a single whole. Again, this review should have been put online much earlier but should give members and visitors to this site and forum a general idea of what the Fallout community of NMA thinks of Fallout 4 * * * * * Fallout 4 Review By No Mutants Allowed (NMA) The Fallout franchise has been around since 1997 starting with Fallout. An open world role-playing video game with a focus on tabletop mechanics of statistics, perks and traits, while player-agency was handled by reputation and karma in a fully realized and reactive world. Through the years, these elements that many consider to be staples to the franchise have been passed down from game to game. This tradition stopped with Fallout 4, with the adoption of new game mechanics and styles of world and character progression that move the IP away from being an RPG to an action game with RPG elements. Looking past the almost exclusively positive ‘professional’ critical reception of this game, to the opinions of those who spend their hard-earned money to get access to their games, it’s clear Bethesda made numerous mistakes in overhauling one of the longest running PC IPs into a mass-market mashup of genres and gameplay styles. One that appeals to everyone, and yet no-one. For this review, we have a group of members from the No Mutants Allowed forums ready to share their takes on this game. Each member’s segments will be labeled, and will be organized under specific headers as shown below. -- Participants - Ediros, Chud (Richard P.), JO’Geran, 0wing, AgentBJ09 (Adam G.) and CT Phipps. -- Table of Contents - Introduction General Story/World Gameplay Graphics Music/Sound Replayability Survival Mode The Lore of Fallout versus Fallout 4 Final Thoughts With that established, let’s begin. -- Introduction -- -- 0wing -- It seems like the number 4 is a cursed one in the games industry, for Bethesda especially. First there was The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and now Fallout 4 has fallen flat on its face. More so because Bethesda listened to their fans, not the classic Fallout fans, despite all the criticism of Fallout 3, and went their own way once again. They continued to hamper choice and consequence, and the core mechanics, like no other, because I suppose Fallout 3 wasn’t simplified enough. Now, it’s not even recognizable as an RPG system, but as a FarCry 3-esque leveling system. And then there’s Nexus Mods, where fans remade Fallout 3 into a slightly more modern title with mods like ‘Wanderer’s Edition’ and indirectly pointed Bethesda in the direction to take. For one, the settlement building system. Once a mod for Fallout 3 and New Vegas, it’s now a major feature and advertising point of Fallout 4; as we’ve come to find out from Bethesda’s blogs, it’s also there due in part to one of the devs noticing his children playing Minecraft and being inspired by it. By listening to the unsorted mess of criticism and fan requests for Fallout 3, and browsing the Nexus for ideas, it seems Bethesda didn’t have the time or desire to work on what mattered, so they filled the gaps with procedural content to pad the playtime before half-assing it on the handmade content. What results is a violence-pandering mess with an ingrained kill-loot-return system, with no room left for personality. The kind of compliance that became an undoing for Bethesda this time. -- Ediros -- Fallout 4 is a game that many people, including me, thought would be a quality successor to New Vegas. A game with good writing, believable characters, multiple side quests, adherence to the lore, etc. However, Bethesda’s first try was Fallout 3, something Fallout fans did not want, and so we also hoped they would go back and fix what they broke. They didn’t. Fallout 4 is, in my humble opinion, one of the worst Fallout games I have played in my entire life. Worse than the console Brotherhood of Steel, worse than Fallout 3. As such, I will explain my stance as best I can. -- CT Phipps -- Fallout 4, the much anticipated sequel to Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, is a game which I spent an hour waiting in line at Gamestop, at midnight in the rain, to get. In the end, I got my money's worth, but instead of being an unqualified success, I can't help but think the game floated rather than soared. There were numerous changes to a formula which had proven successful and while some were definite improvements, others were failures. In my opinion, warmed-over Fallout is better than ninety percent of the games on the market, and while I am still playing this new one, the flaws are now set in stone. -- Adam G. -- Having started my Bethesda library with The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and Daggerfall, I've long been aware of the steps backward Bethesda Game Studios has taken with their flagship RPG series. Removal of etiquette from dialogue, homogenizing skills, removing context specific actions like bashing down doors, removing skill requirements for guild advancement, removing spellcrafting, toning down race specific disposition and attitudes, removing the ability to play a class build or start blank, and on and on and on. (See here for an example of the kind of dialogue Elder Scrolls used to have. https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-wAIaWEQW...0/Elder_Scrolls_-_Daggerfall_%28DOS%29_22.png) The depths to which they took this in Fallout 4 have eclipsed bad taste and pushed dangerously close to franchise sabotage. Moreover, it proves that BGS never did think much of the IP as a whole. Just the brand recognition and what that could bring them in terms of sales, merchandising, and fan zeal/devotion. That said, I'm glad to see the game being torn into as the mediocre mess it is by more folks and buyers around the web, the DLC and Season Pass especially now that we've seen what that 49.99, which used to be 29.99, actually gets those who buy it. However, with the release of Nuka World, the damage that has been done cannot be undone, so let's dig into this ghoul of a Fallout sequel. -- General Story/World -- -- JO’Geran -- Whenever I think of Fallout 4, I think of the half-arsed world-design and nonsensical story. The post-war segment starts with you being unfrozen from cryostasis 210 years after the bombs fell, something that, as established in Fallout 2, has negative consequences. After returning to your hometown, you run across your robotic butler Codsworth, who somehow had enough fuel to keep functioning those same 210 years. He leads you to Preston Garvey of the Minutemen, someone whose radiant quests are a shining example of just how poor the world-building is. “Go help this farm with 2 people living on it, no walls or defenses, no weapons but pipe pistols, who are somehow having trouble with Raiders.” Seriously, if they were having such troubles with raiders, wouldn't they, more likely, be dead by now? The whole world is designed in such a way that it can’t exist without the player’s intervention. Not to mention, so few of these generic farm settlements actually have any meaningful backstory, as the entire world is supposed to be a blank slate for the player to build upon. And the game ends with you having to choose 1 of 4 factions to side with, which seems great until you realize that every single faction makes absolutely no sense. You have the Minutemen, who one guy made you leader of when they were struggling, and once they're fully-rebuilt, nobody even thinks to hold another election. They’ll just stick with a guy who has no idea what their history and customs are. By the way, the whole “General” thing is nothing but an empty title. Much like being the Archmage of the Winterhold College, or the sentinel of the Brotherhood, it has no meaning associated with it beyond a fancy name, once again showing that Bethesda doesn't understand, AT ALL, how to put players into a position of power. A game that knows how to handle such a thing would've made you work for the title, and given you some level of power and responsibility when you did get it so it would feel like an achievement. Instead, you get made “General” immediately, and not once do you make difficult decisions, nor have any power associated with it. The whole time you work with the Minutemen, you do solely what Preston wants you to do. He’s the one who decides which settlements you save, when you need to deal with problems, how you respond to issues and so forth. You make no tough decisions, and can have practically no effect on the faction, meaning that in every single way imaginable, except for titles, Preston is the general. When you side with the Minutemen, it becomes extremely unclear what the future of the Commonwealth actually is, since you don’t have to do anything about the Brotherhood, and they clearly have other plans. Oh, did I mention that you can bring raiders into the Commonwealth, slaughter all the Minutemen, and still be considered “General?” Or that you’re forced to hand Sanctuary Hills over to the Minutemen after rescuing Preston and crew? Or that you have no choice but to put up with the constant nagging and radiants from Preston? It reeks of a game failsafe, where you can do anything you want and not piss them off. (As an example, here’s what happens when you do the Concord mission after becoming Overboss. ) The Minutemen were clearly intended to be an independent option, but it fails to feel that way. They have their own ideals about the Commonwealth’s future, and have existing faction members. Given also that you’re not really General as Preston says you are, the Minutemen look less like an independent faction than the Railroad. Speaking of... The Railroad faction is too incompetent to exist. Why? Because the location of their top-secret base can be found through the riddle “Follow the Freedom Trail”. You could essentially pick up a tourist’s guide to Boston and find a path leading right into the middle of their base. Seriously, they couldn't be just a bit more vague? And then when you reach the Railroad’s top secret base, guess what their password is. That’s right, it’s “Railroad.” If you haven’t figured it out by that point, that’s OK; the letters are written along the entire trail. Keep in mind that the Railroad are considered, by the people of the Commonwealth, to be the main opposition of the Institute, yet somehow the brightest minds of the 23rd century are somehow incapable of finding their super-secret hideout. What’s more, the Railroad’s methods are incredibly confusing. They wipe the memories of the Synths they rescue, which seems innocuous, but wouldn't a memory wipe change the personality of the Synth majorly? Couldn't it be argued that it’s now a different person altogether? If they fully forget their past lives and have their personalities changed so drastically, couldn't it be argued that it’s comparable to killing them? Surely it would be better if the Synths kept their memories to help fight the Institute in future? (Glory does, and she’s able to help the Railroad a lot more because of it.) And if they do this, what separates their treatment of Synths from the Institute's? While I understand the basic idea behind the memory-wiping, it seems to, like most of Fallout 4, leave more questions than answers. Later in the Railroad’s storyline, the base is under attack by the Brotherhood of Steel, who are supposed to be at open war with the Institute. (Sure, just piss off another supposedly powerful group for the fun of it.) That said, did you notice how easily the Brotherhood found the Railroad’s secret base? Within weeks, versus the Institute who've been unable to find it for years. Speaking of the Brotherhood, the third faction in this, they’re one that Bethesda tried to return to their roots, with no success. The Brotherhood are supposed to be isolationist, not getting involved with the events of the outside world, only ever letting outsiders in if they perform a remarkable service. What we got instead was a genocidal Elder, a descendant of the Maxson family no less, who not only persuades the people of the Commonwealth to assist him, he makes an outsider a Sentinel within a few months. That is as far removed from the Brotherhood’s roots as one could get, especially since this guy was approved for leadership by other Brotherhood Elders back west. It seems where Bethesda is involved, the Brotherhood is always going to get handled poorly; Fallout 3 showed that they can’t handle a radically more idealistic Brotherhood, and Fallout 4 showed they can’t handle a traditional style Brotherhood. Now, the Brotherhood has been portrayed as more idealistic before Bethesda bought the IP, namely in Fallout: Tactics, a game developed by Micro-Forte. Despite the poor writing and inconsistencies, Tactics handled the idea of a idealistic Brotherhood correctly. Micro-Forte showed them gradually opening up to the outside in response to the world around them, though it also implied that this Midwestern chapter would eventually come into conflict with the traditionalists of the Brotherhood. Speaking of traditionalists, New Vegas handled this far better than Bethesda did. Throughout Veronica’s quest “I Could Make You Care”, we saw that because the Brotherhood were so focused on pre-war tech, while making no changes to the outside world, they were fading away, suffering a slow, sorry death in isolation. The isolationism was also causing problems with food and supply scavenging, leaving them unable to repair their aging and malfunctioning bunkers, and creating conflicts with the more militaristic leaning members. (Here’s a chunk of that quest and how it progresses. Take note of the ‘We do not help them, or let them in’ part. ) This is the Brotherhood done right. What we got in Fallout 4 by comparison feels “Traditionalist” insofar as they can still be considered a badass army with a zeppelin at their disposal, but enough room for an outsider to reach the rank of Sentinel. In addition to being handled incorrectly, the Brotherhood are also stunningly incompetent. They focus their entire military force on one easy to destroy zeppelin, they waste resources hunting down Synths with little reason other than “they are a threat to humanity”, which they never bother to justify, and the vast majority of their questlines could be done without the player's intervention, yet for some reason they keep sending you along on missions. Lastly, we have the Institute, who are supposed to be the most technologically advanced faction in the world, yet all they have actually accomplished are Synths, 2 models of which are basically miniaturized Protectrons, and teleportation. It’s also incredibly ambiguous why they made Synths in the first place; most of what we see them doing are jobs like mining and cleaning the floors. The Synth Infiltrators I can understand, but so many AIs for menial jobs? No wonder these guys rebel. Not only are the goals of the Institute ambiguous at best, the actions they take before and during the game in pursuit of these goals are nonsensical. They create hundreds of Synths for no good reason, use other Synths to hunt down the ones that escape because they can’t think of a better solution to stop them from getting away, litter the Commonwealth with Super Mutants instead of coming up with something useful for the FEV, end a cybernetics project that allowed a key agent to live past 100 years, shut down Vault 111, which leads to the death of all but one of the residents, the ‘backup’, and the list goes on and on. Before we move on, there’s one final thing I’d like to do with this section: disprove the perception that Bethesda is somehow skilled at “Environmental Storytelling.” With so much of the story and lore tucked away in terminals and notes, what we mostly get here are skeletons placed in positions that point out the blatantly obvious, like someone getting kicked out of their house when the bombs fell. The few instances where this doesn't happen are either bland and generic, or easter eggs. http://i.imgur.com/YvlnTzV.jpg http://i.imgur.com/0XmJiQN.jpg A better example of “Environmental Storytelling” would be how you can find a ball gag in a character’s room in Fallout 2, or the “Happy Birthday” sign over Rhonda in New Vegas, which implies that Tabitha is still celebrating Rhonda’s birthday after all these years. Spooky skeletons do not equal good environmental storytelling. And then there’s the point that much of the story and lore is hidden in words on paper, books and computer screens. While I will admit that the terminal stories are a major improvement over dialogue ones, I’d say that’s because they didn't place ridiculous limits on them like only 4 options at a time. That said, given how bland and generic some of these stories can be, it says a lot about the strength of the world-building in this game. One describes ghoulification like it’s some kind of 28 Days Later-style virus, another details the lead-up to a business having to sell out to the army, and etc. This isn't helped by how shoddily patched together parts of the lore are if you take the time to read what you find and compare it to what came before. The Institute’s terminals especially leave more questions than answers, and not in a good way. -- 0wing -- Fallout 4 is a story about people, sometimes synthetic people. Fallout 4 is also a very personal story, not the player’s anymore. The game opens with a live-action introduction narrated by the protagonist instead of Ron Perlman, detailing the conflict leading to the Great War from his point of view. The sole point of this intro is to hammer home that America is strong with nuclear energy, and that the Chinese are invaders, but the protagonist is afraid for his wife and son. Not only is it a drag to hear, it’s also misleading because it’s told from a personal perspective instead of one coming from a neutral perspective. It also degrades the value of the “War Never Changes” line, the most poignant phrase Fallout has, by using it twice after the intro is finished. Remember the “Press F to pay respects” scene from Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare? Fallout 4 does something similar if you check the clothes in the closet. Once the intro is over, the character creation screen is presented, this time as a Sims 4-esque face sculpting tool. However, because of the way the story is written and presented, this system is not about choosing the look of our character, but the family member who will, very soon, be on a quest to find the MacGuffin the drives the story, Shaun. No matter who you choose, you’re always a middle-age veteran, if you’re male, or a lawyer with a new child, if you’re female, and you’re always living in a middle class suburban neighborhood with a nuclear powered car and a robot butler, who is sentient for some reason, but that’s for another time. Anyway, the intro content consists of a tiny environment -- the protagonist’s home -- where only two dialogues take place. The first with the Vault-Tec representative, where the SPECIAL stats are filled out, and then with the player’s spouse, where no matter what you choose, Codsworth calls both of you to the TV. Fast forward a few minutes, and as both characters stand on the platform leading down to the vault, the first nuclear explosion occurs. One that is close enough to, if not burn everyone to a crisp, at least blind them or pummel their bodies with radiation. The child too, which opens a gaping plot hole later in the story, but again, we’ll get to that. The fact that the blast wave only reached the elevator after the people standing on it were deep enough down to be saved from death I’ll also leave for now, but it’s quite an indication of how railroaded the rest of the story will be, and how much sense it will make. Afterward, the protagonist, along with their neighbors, spouse and child, are cryogenically frozen, for the purposes of science, and the central story. Centuries later, after thawing out and escaping the vault, the player is pushed out into the wasteland with the main goal established: Find the son, and avenge the spouse. Now, unlike Fallout 3, where you can make up any number of reasons not to go after your father, such as he’s a deluded asshole, the thing that pushes the player into the world in Fallout 4 is a time-sensitive mission. Something that contradicts Bethesda’s maxim of “maximum freedom for the player”, especially when the protagonist brings up the ‘Shaun’ subject so often. -- CT Phipps -- The story is a reversal of Fallout 3 where a child was looking for their father. This time, it’s a parent looking for their child. This is a questionable choice because as many reviewers have noted, it doesn't make sense to do sidequests when you have a helpless child missing versus an adult. I will give applause to the game developers for creating a main quest which results in you interacting with the four main factions of the Commonwealth however and coming to see their various points of view. Unfortunately, even this is hurt by the fact the primary antagonist, the Institute, is underwritten and confusing in its goals, while the Minutemen faction lacks the ambiguity which would make them interesting. I appreciate the handling of the Brotherhood of Steel though, since it is revised from its "white knight" status in Fallout 3 to something more interesting. I think they make more effective antagonists than the Institute, and this is why I always choose to side with the latter. The Railroad, by contrast, has interesting characters but I don't know how they got together nor how they became such a powerful faction. The world itself is a disappointment as there's some truly great set pieces like the Glowing Sea, Institute, and Diamond City, but the majority of the map is nothing more than nearly identical settlements along with ruins which lack grandiosity. Exploration rarely rewards the player character with fascinating new locations and this is perhaps Fallout 4's biggest flaw. The game would have strongly benefited from more eye-popping locations or taking advantage of Boston's more famous locations and history. If I were to give one area credit, it would be the companions and their stories. These are the most detailed and interesting companions in the series yet; I especially loved the characters of Piper, Nick Valentine, Cait, and Paladin Danse. I think the option to allow romances was a good one as well, even if the "Like" and "Dislike" system is very clunky. The fact they're player sexual and capable of being romanced in multiple ways may strike some people as unrealistic (which it is) but I think it was a good choice. I also felt like the game discouraged lore-seeking as there's only a few places where the past 200 years of the factions is explorable. -- Ediros -- Because the story of Fallout 4 is a rehash of 3, we once again have limited role-playing capabilities to go along with the poorly written story and ridiculous locations. Fallout 3 didn’t have an issue with the latter; if it had been a spin-off and fixed some of its writing issues, it could have been a decent game. Aside from being cliche ridden and full of plot holes, the story of Fallout 4 does not give anyone time to care about their spouse and son before both are taken away. At most, you’ll have ten minutes, which I guess is all Bethesda thought players needed since these two are family, but it doesn’t work. Not even for a second did I feel anything positive about the child or the wife/spouse. Also, when the Vault-Tec rep appears and tells us about the vault that is less than 100 meters from the house we start in, I found it very odd that neither member of this family even acknowledged it. It gets worse as it goes on, and I could spend an entire review pointing out the terrible writing, but we’ll leave it at that and focus on the world next. The world of Fallout 4 is small; there’s no other word that sums it up better. It’s smaller than Skyrim, much more boring, and all the locations are essentially the same: a place infested with super mutants, ghouls, raiders, etc., with some kind of major loot crate at the end, behind some doors, or in a notable location, and there’s Power Armor everywhere, either the frames or the complete models. For a technology that is supposed to be akin to rare, end-game loot, it loses its value by being another level-dependent item, much less something you can get within two Main Quest missions. Last, Legendaries. There are no unique weapons in this game, as I see it. The unique effects are just applied to normal weapons, which can then be modified as all base models can. It’s when you see effects like Two Shot and Bloodied that you realize these effects are no different than magic effects from Skyrim. It’s not only completely ridiculous, but a detriment to the kind of series Fallout is. -- Adam G. -- I'm sure many who were paying attention to the pre-release hype for Fallout 4 remember what happened when the news leaked that your character's son was going to be one of the big names among the factions playing at controlling the Commonwealth. Fans who thought this was a huge spoiler went crazy, the joke about how to kill your son went viral, and then we had Pete Hines enter the fray with a statement that regardless of this reveal, players would have more than enough to like about Fallout 4. (https://i.redditmedia.com/jXxmvZm9c....jpg?w=320&s=baf0d119ef19e411e699b049ce9c851b) Sorry Pete. That's a lie if I ever heard one. In essence, what he was admitting to was this part of the main plot, the part that pulls the Sole Survivor into and through the world of Fallout 4, is completely forgettable and not as big a deal spoiled as it would've been unspoiled. Here's a comparative example, just to show how dumb this is. Let's say Fallout 1 had the same caliber of hype surrounding it that Fallout 4 had, and then some players got their hands into the core of the game early, found out about how the main plot ends, and then posted things like, "Hey, don't ask the water merchants to supply your vault. You'll lose more easily that way." And then let's say Tim Cain (Sorry, Tim) came forward and said, "I'm sorry this got spoiled for you, but it's just one option in our game. You can try it if you choose, though." See how dumb this gets? Finding the water chip is the crux of the early game in Fallout 1, and you're on a timer, so of course the water merchants making trips to extend your time seems like a great idea, but being told that choice, and its consequence, is not that bad spoiled versus unspoiled is a blatant lie because it changes the outcome of events in the game in a big way. All that said, I was laughing all the way to the bank at the reveal; I was under the impression that the Sole Survivor would be turned synth while under then given false memories before being let loose. You know, something very sci-fi and in line with the film the developers thought so highly of when designing this game and the central plot threads you get tangled up in. Of course, the main plot of finding the protagonist’s son is terrible in many other ways. For one, it's something that leaves a segment of players, likely a large one, open to simply not care about it and abandon it in favor of wandering the wastes. A major sin for RPG storytelling on par with giving your character the wrong emphasis for stopping the Darkspawn in Dragon Age: Origins, and in turn, what does that say about the rest of the game? Now, full disclosure here: I have not played the DLCs, nor do I ever plan to. I've seen plenty of them thanks to past roommates and other players to know that the 49.99 I would be spending to get those DLCs would be better spent on other games, or new PC hardware. (On that note, Bethesda can get fucked for hiking the price of the Season Pass post-release as they did, especially after they planned to sell in-game assets as settlement DLC with Wasteland Workshop.) What I have to say here is strictly on the core game, but, again, if the core game is bad, what should that say about the rest of the game? The impression I got as I went through the game was Bethesda was trying to ape New Vegas. They gave four main factions vying for the Commonwealth (The Institute, The Railroad, The Brotherhood of Steel and The Minutemen) just as you had four factions vying for New Vegas (Caesar's Legion, The NCR, Mr. House, and Yes Man (Independent)), and the story even progresses in a similar fashion, with your goals changing once you realize where your son has been since he was stolen, but they failed to grasp why the story, and your choices, in New Vegas had such an impact. Because the characters and world on display in New Vegas supported the desire that the three main factions had to control such an important area of the West Coast, which in turn made you think about what direction you wanted to take the story, and because the West Coast area of California and Nevada has been part of Fallout canon since 1997. New Vegas also drew from the isometric games to help build the world, while Fallout 4 builds on whatever Bethesda felt was enough to use from Fallout 3. (Dr. Li and several other faces return from Fallout 3, in fact.) This isn’t helped by how much the game goes the ‘tell you’ rather than ‘show you’ route with things. This is something that a fellow NMA-goer brought up a while back, and having thought about it since I last played the game, they’re right. So much of what you’re told about this world comes from notes, computer terminals, and other static things that you can’t engage with, and when the characters you can talk to are unable to detail things you might be interested in hearing about most times, in my case what exactly made caps the new world currency versus old bills and coins, it all adds onto the shallow feel of the world. (I know why this was thanks to Fallout 1 and the Fallout Bible, but still, the point stands.) What makes this even worse is the fact that there are only two endings in the game, one for if you sided with The Institute, and the other for if you did not. You're also shown no slides detailing choices you made throughout the game, because there are no decisions you can make, or things you can affect, on a scale even comparable to The Necropolis, Vault City, New Vegas, or any other games from Black Isle/Obsidian. That or Bethesda Game Studios simply left the meat of the concept on the cutting room floor like other things I'll get to shortly. It really makes one appreciate the slides you earned by finishing New Vegas, Dragon Age: Origins, or Skies of Arcadia. (Yeah, that game had ending slides, and earning them is still awesome to this day.) -- Gameplay -- -- Ediros -- Dull, boring, repetitive, and poorly balanced. The guns all feel the same owing to the limited range of models, that being around 50 in all, and despite Bethesda pushing weapon mods as a new, major feature, the inclusion of bullet sponge enemies makes it all pointless because you’ll never want anything besides what deals the most damage the quickest. Plus, most of the gameplay is shooting things, and the side quests rarely give an outcome that doesn't involve doing this, so you’ll never want anything but the best damage dealing arms at the ready. Even without Survival Mode as a factor, this gameplay set-up eclipses difficulty and prat falls into tedium. Is there anything good about it? The shooting feels more responsive. That’s it. -- JO’Geran -- The shooting gameplay has improved alot since Fallout 3 and New Vegas with the changes to V.A.T.S., how enemies can now throw grenades, and etc., but with that improvement comes the pain of level scaling and bullet sponge enemies. The further south or east a player goes from Vault 111, the higher the base enemy levels climb, but once a player levels past that point, enemies will rise to match, which begs the question of whether this truly is an improvement. Another issue Fallout 4 has, whether it’s in regard to quests, exploring, or encounters, is how often combat is the only way a player can respond to situations. It’s a stark contrast to previous games where skill checks were frequent, and with the right build a player could complete a task with an alternate solution, despite the combat centric nature of those same previous games. Here’s a couple of examples: Using Science in Fallout 1 to help the residents of Shady Sands figure out more effective farming methods, and using Science, high Luck, or, funnily enough, low-Intelligence, to figure out the password to the upper floors of the REPCONN facility. Because Skills no longer exist in Fallout 4, this previous variety in approaches went with them. Speech checks, which are based in Charisma, are now the only approaches to alternate dialogue and outcomes; Lady Killer/Black Widow is the only way to affect success chance beyond this core stat. When this one stat isn't being used as a way to progress dialogues or, on rare occasions, getting a free pass on a combat situation, it’s being used to squeeze more caps out of whoever you’re talking to. It all seems like an afterthought; while Skill Checks may have not been as entertaining as combat, they served a purpose for character building, as they allowed you to approach situations in different ways, based on the kind of character you were playing. -- 0wing -- Among the notes Bethesda took from New Vegas was how long to make the intro to the game. While it is brief compared to the intro to Fallout 3, taking about ten to twenty minutes versus near an hour, it leaves little room for roleplaying, unless always saying ‘No’ only to get pushed into a result you can’t change counts. The new dialogue system’s camera also has an issue with going off target and focusing on completely irrelevant things instead of, you know, the NPC you’re talking to. Bethesda’s touted multiple-NPCs-in-dialogue claim also doesn't get used very often, with just one time where it’s in any way meaningful. And then there’s cutting off dialogue by walking away, which works well, but then you get that one NPC who will break off even if they started the chat. Classic ‘Is it a bug, or a feature’ issue, but credit where it’s due otherwise. However, the elephant in the room is not the glitchy camera or NPC AI, it’s the now infamous four-button dialogue system. (You can see both on display here; this was from the same conversation. - Part 1, - Part 2) There are those who remember this negatively from Mass Effect (https://independentphilosopher.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/masseffect-best-line-ever.jpg ), and positively from Alpha Protocol (https://thepixelbeat.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/ap-dialogue1.jpg ), but Bethesda has learned nothing from either. There are always four responses maximum, and in turn, two different choices can lead to the same result. While Mass Effect got away with this by putting options on a six section circle, taking away selections as needed, and hiding more options behind certain selections, Alpha Protocol, because of the timer on dialogue choices, gave a description brief enough to make a judgement call on. In Fallout 4, the one to three word descriptions are often too vague, and sometimes can make the character say something completely different than what you think. Not only is this bad design, but Deus Ex: Human Revolution, a 2011 game, showed how to make this work. Put the descriptions on the left, and the textbox on the right, with your dialogue listed in full in the latter. (Take it away, Adam Jensen. https://tsupp.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/maxresdefault.jpg ) And then there’s the loss of Skills, which puts all the weight of dialogue checks on the Charisma SPECIAL stat. Perks are never put to use in dialogue where they could be, for example using Robotics Expert to shut down Ironsides, and the ones that do affect dialogue do not do so with direct effects. Just passives that improve the chance to succeed when a check comes up. What’s more, these dialogue checks are not shown with numbers, but colors, and they do not change even if you have Lady Killer/Black Widow maxed out. In terms of the gunplay, Fallout 4 is a tremendous improvement compared to Fallout 3, though I can’t say I fully agree with this change. While there is a lot of flash in the gunplay with better animations, sounds, battle effects and the like, all that was really done was a toning down of randomness to bullet hit detection and the weight of stats on how good non-VATS aim is. By all accounts, it’s a modern FPS. A very basic one though because of the loss of special ammo, among other things. It wouldn’t have been hard to put this feature into the game, not just for immersion but for dealing with the still present bullet sponge enemies. There’s also no prone state, just a crouch and a ‘Hold Breath’ function for steady iron-sight aim. The new leveling system also adds issues to the gunplay, with automatic weapons, even huge ones like the Minigun, stuck with low per-shot damage until several points are invested in their respective Perks; the melee combat, working off Skyrim’s animations, feels a touch better thanks to the animations. In terms of enemy AI, it’s a step up, but not far enough of one. While enemies have new moves and attacks -- Deathclaws will bob and weave, as well as throw environment clutter, mole rats and radscorpions dig underground then pop up when at low health, and humans will now use cover and throw grenades to flush players out of hiding -- in practice, it only works half the time. Enemies can still get stuck thanks to pathfinding or other issues with the navmesh, and melee enemies will always charge your position, even if you're riddling them with bullets/energy as they do so, as though they know it’s their destiny to get left-clicked to death. The same applies to Super Mutants and Synths, the former of which have a new type: Kamikaze Mutants. Just like melee enemies, they’ll charge right at you, completely self-aware of their destiny, hoping they take you down with them. I’d like to know who thought this was a good idea, even if it works in the player’s favor when a successful hit on the bomb they carry is made. Lore-wise, it’s a contradiction. And then there are the flying enemies. They’re smarter than the ones in New Vegas, sure, but if you get any sort of lag while fighting them, the stronger types will deplete your health in seconds. In turn, VATS becomes the best way to counter their speed and hit them. -- CT Phipps -- The dramatic changes to gameplay are the next most troublesome element after the blandness of exploration. The addition of a voice actor should have been a big boon, but the majority of the lines lack emotion and are blandly written. Worse, there's no real way to affect the outcome of events save through Speech checks; there are Intelligence checks in the US Constitution quest, but these are exceptions to the rule. Much like Skyrim, all we get is a chart of Perks tied to Attribute requirements, which is much less interesting roleplaying-wise. Worse, the more interesting ones are toned down in use or gone entirely; the social effects of Lady Killer are little more than a better chance to succeed at Speech checks, and its cousin, Confirmed Bachelor, is gone. This is upsetting as part of the appeal of Fallout has always been doing it your way. Combat is slightly improved from the previous games with Stimpacks and other healing items no longer instantaneously taking effect. Better still, the amount of radiation you have detracts from your maximum number of Hit Points. This is genius and really brings home the dangers of radiation in the Post-War world. Enemies also level with you, which has its upsides, though “Legendary” enemies are really just ones with more than one health bar. My one real complaint aside from the loss of Skills are the Ghouls. Yes they run, which should be terrifying, but unlike the zombies they’re made to imitate, they can’t kill you in one hit, so what results is a giant slap fight. The settlement system is one of the more controversial elements of the game and honestly it feels like the developers found it significantly more interesting than I and many others did. You’re given two and a half dozen locations to build and populate, and the DLCs are mostly focused on this as well. While I had fun building up Sanctuary Hills, if this is where the majority of development time went, I think this game would've been better served as a spin-off in the vein of Tactics, something like "Fallout: Rebuild" or the like, rather than an official numbered release. -- Adam G. -- Before I get into this segment of the review, let me first reiterate what I said in our website podcast about how I got into Fallout. I started with Fallout 3, which had ARPG type shooting, not S.T.A.L.K.E.R. type shooting. When I heard about ID Software's involvement in Fallout 4, I went back to S.T.A.L.K.E.R. for a while to relive why I loved those games so much. What happened when Fallout 4 came out? While the game does allow me to play the sniper and assassin archetypes that I love in shooters, it rubs me into the problem I've had with the game's overhaul to Skills ever since I heard the news about it. That you're dependent on Perks to build your character, unlike Skills of past games where you could specialize in a few and make yourself very good at one thing very quickly, with Perks to round out the rest. This arbitrary restriction placed on game mechanics means that until I'm at the right level, or have the right SPECIAL stat, I'm hamstrung in how I can build my character. Moreover, this proves how little Bethesda understood about what made SPECIAL, Perks and Skills separate yet versatile things for character building when they took the approach they did for this game. (Take note of the various stats on offer, as well as the choices of Skills. This is what Bethesda sacrificed on the ARPG altar. https://i.ytimg.com/vi/gFerNt8_OCg/maxresdefault.jpg ) Things that are Skills like Lockpicking and Hacking should not be restricted to Perks, because they are not unique bonuses, just as Sneak, Unarmed, Barter and the like should not be dependent on SPECIAL stats with no way to improve them outside of SPECIAL increases and Perks, because these are not inherent abilities. By restricting Skills to Perks, Bethesda bloated the Perks system and subsequently took away some of its appeal. Gaining levels no longer feels special because all you’re given is a single Perk point versus a pool of Skill points, and in fact, you can let your points pile up before using them, just as you could in Skyrim. It’s the kind of progression system I expect from Action-RPGs, not Fallout. And then there's a lot of Skyrim Syndrome on display with this system. By this I mean there are a lot of parallels to the inefficient design of Skyrim's "Perk Trees", and the style of benefits a player gets for their point investments. If you go back to Skyrim right now and look at the first Perks available for any of the 18 trees, what do you find? 12 that are percentage increases to effectiveness, 5 that reduce Magicka costs for certain spells, and one that allows new Armor creation. All of these are bog-standard upgrades for an ARPG, with the Armor one being little more than a key to unlock something that could work independent of the avatar you choose. And then you climb the trees and notice something else: You're forced to drop points into things you may not want to reach things you likely will. (You can see this in the Enchanting tree, but rest assured, there are many more examples of this. http://www.gameranx.com/img/11-Nov/enchanting.jpg ) In Fallout 4, this problem is present in another way. Around 60% of the Perks on display are little more than increases in effectiveness or stat/chance totals, and eight are little more than keys to unlock things independent of the avatar, which leaves 20 Perks that actually feel like Perks. As for the rest, the real game changing effects are often not put to use until several points have been invested in individual Perks, and all of those are locked behind levels, so if you want to specialize your character, you have no choice but to wait out the levels you need before making the investment you want. As a double example of this, let's look at Local Leader, a Perk I took for every character I made. Its Rank 1 unlock allows Supply Lines between settlements, something that could just as easily be done by dedicated settlers, caravans, or even your Companions when you're not using them and they're hanging out at one of the settlements. Remember, this is a game where you can have two Companions and five settlers ready within the first few Main Quest missions, one of which is your Mr. Handy that is still functioning 210 years after the Great War. Local Leader’s Level 23 Rank 2 unlock is the ability to build certain things within settlements, specifically stores and workbenches. While I assume the latter is meant as a response to how the first two settlement locations have every kind of crafting station ready to go, the stores one sounds like it would be better served as an unlock for locations with a certain number of settlers, not something a simple Perk point would allow. In fact, much of Fallout 4 seems geared around the feel of Minecraft meets Far Cry meets Elder Scrolls, with the Fallout theme painted over all of it for flavor. The lore changes don't help this feeling, many of which are blatant disregards for the canon of the series up to this point, and show what Emil actually meant when he said in the "Making of Fallout 3" video that Bethesda didn't want to step over Black Isle's work. (Here’s the video link, set to the proper starting point. 1:26 just in case. https://youtu.be/Lr5olzm9jXg?t=1m26s ) Trust me, we’ll get to all that later. Once I realized what a Skinner Box Fallout 4 was, I couldn't push myself to play it for any length of time. Even with the addition of Survival Mode, something that Bethesda added well over eight months post-launch instead of planning to include with the game at launch like Obsidian did. And then there's the gunplay. ID Software's hand is well displayed here with the animations involved, though everything else about it makes me wonder what Bethesda's goal was with making the shooting so similar to RAGE and FarCry. If it was to address the people who felt the shooting in Fallout 3 was bad, they failed on that front. Numbers are still the deciding factor in whether or not a stealth headshot with a rifle will drop an enemy in one hit, which is the reason why anyone would consider using a sniper rifle. The loss of special ammo is also felt with this system in use; though I'm not a gun expert, even I know that changing the receiver on a weapon is not enough to allow it to use bigger or smaller caliber rounds, nor would changing the mechanism to full auto suddenly make loaded ammo into AP rounds. There's a reason why special ammo was so loved in New Vegas, and the Fallout 4 crafting system, which requires the player to keep two guns in order to have the same capability as one box of normal and AP ammo, puts it all on display. -- Presentation -- -- 0wing -- For Fallout 4, the artists and level designers put together a beautiful environment with lots of potential to build the idea of a working society in this new world. While it looks more impressive, not everything works, as the coasts and whole north side of the map can prove, as well as the rundown city environments. They don’t look as convincing as the slices of Washington D.C. and New Vegas, and the verticality doesn't help. Not only is the verticality wasted potential with the shoot-and-loot gameplay, it makes little logical sense to use buildings that are breaking apart and look about to topple over as shelter. Speaking of buildings, the interiors in the game world are painful to go through. It’s clear the Skyrim mold has been recycled here as many of these places have only one route through them, with the handful that don’t being a mess of hallways, samey rooms, and multiple floors. Thanks to the Pip-Boy’s 2D map, and poor UI, these floors aren't displayed well either. And then there’s south part of the map and the Glowing Sea. It looks like the surface of another planet because, once again, the artists and world designers overreacted with their ideas of what a nuclear detonation would do to the site of the impact. Moreover, there’s so little to this area besides random pieces of ruins over badly textured hills that the ever-present green tint becomes as much an annoyance as it was in Fallout 3. In fact, the whole trip south is like watching the game go downhill. A great metaphor for the Fallout 4 experience, and its presentation. And then the UI…oh boy, the UI. The one positive I can give is the colors can be fine-tuned, but even that is half praise because of the color coded speech checks. Those don’t change color if you change the UI color, so any reds, oranges or yellows will hide the respective checks. (Here’s an example. Remember, the top option is an ‘easy’ check. - https://uwodow-sn3301.files.1drv.co...dJyWaVcMc8dc/12-19-2016_2-15-41_AM.png?psid=1 ) Otherwise, Bethesda seems obsessed with cramming the pause menu UI into the Pip-Boy. Unlocked Perks, stats, inventory, the previously mentioned 2D map, everything besides the Perk Chart itself. Now, the problem isn't that it’s a gimmick Bethesda uses because they like the device. It’s how unintuitive it can be to use. For one, because it’s an in-game object, standing in certain angles will cause light sources to flood the screen, making it impossible to read. The limited zoom on the map screen also gives misleading impressions about the size of the world, and coupled with the small screen size, this means many more screens to juggle, or in the case of the Misc. tab in the inventory, one that holds numerous different things. Speaking of inventory, both armor and weapons, when modded, are sorted by the mod’s name instead of the core weapon’s. In game, the edgy lines and generic icons of the UI do the job they need, but then comes the settlement building UI. It’s a mess. Not only is it impossible to navigate with a mouse, the menu has a lot of sub-categories instead of a box with icons or a wheel menu. It’s also easy to forget where a desired item is, it’s impossible to favorite items for quick recall, and only possible to place anything in first-person mode, one by one. It’s much more time-consuming, and inconvenient in turn, which is good for marketing purposes where players won’t realize all that right away. Lastly, the gore. It looks cartoonish in this game, with blood you could mistake for cherry syrup, and only decapitations and dismemberment follow even the biggest explosions. It’s strange to say, but this is all a step down from Fallout 3, and especially from the critical hit animations of Fallout 1 and 2. -- Ediros -- Old and dated compared to the likes of The Witcher 3, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, and other games like these. Animations are decent, and some of the enemies look a bit better than in Fallout 3, but that’s not saying much. The game also runs like crap no matter how good your PC is from it being so terribly optimized. I don’t know what else to say. It is just that bad. -- CT Phipps -- The graphics are noticeably improved from Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, especially with the faces, which I think had the best overall improvement. The Commonwealth meanwhile looks like it could've been handled on the previous generation's hardware; compared to The Witcher 3, it's a massive step down and isn't even as good as Dragon Age: Inquisition. There's also a flaw in the fact the designs don't seem terribly inspiring. With the exception of the Institute and The Glowing Sea, there are few places which really jump off the screen. Both Far Harbor and Nuka World however have interesting sights, with the former being a radioactive fog-covered region which is beautiful to explore, while the latter is a surreal theme park which has been taken over by scum. Both locations show an ambition of design that goes in opposite directions, which I love. In particular the Galactic Zone in Nuka World because there's a point-by-point reproduction of Space Mountain that can be explored with and without its lights on. -- Adam G. -- For this part, I'd like to touch on aesthetics as well as the graphics; I was not willing to drop the cash on a PC copy of this game, owing to Bethesda's well known track record of shoddy PC ports with glitches out the wazoo, so I rented an XBOX One copy from Redbox to get my opinion sorted. In terms of general graphics, the 2K textures never looked as nice as they could've been. More so if you manage to get onto the rooftops of places like Concord where the textures look as though they're perpetually stuck in pre-rendering, low texture mode. Quite an oversight for a game that gives you access to a jetpack for Power Armor. http://i.imgur.com/K9eAsQj.jpg Glitches like bodies getting stuck in floors, rattling static objects and vegetation, double layered, flashing textures, and many others continued to pop up even with the newest patch, and each time it reminded me of what kind of game I was playing. Plus, I'll wager some poor soul out there is already making a User Patch mod to fix these issues, for free and on his own time, that Bethesda will never acknowledge them for. http://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/4598/ https://youtu.be/nqhd375zf1E?t=2m21s - A video from 10/25/2016. Stop at 2:22. Top left corner. Same mod author. As for aesthetics, this was mostly fine. The 50's flavor was everywhere I went, and at times, it was nice to see. That said, having just played Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, which had a very slick future and cyberpunk aesthetic to everything, looking back on Fallout 4, it pales in comparison in terms of art and world design. -- Music/Sound -- -- Adam G. -- Since the music was what I noticed most in this game, I'll start there. When I'm playing New Vegas, hearing the exploration theme from Fallout 1 was a treat because it reminded me of the past games made by the guys who now work at Obsidian. When that same music plays in Fallout 4, it jars me a bit because Bethesda was not involved in development pre-2004. In fact, I heard old Fallout themes so much that turning the music off entirely and listening to other media I like was what I had to do to make the game bearable to play. (Travis' Diamond City Radio can't hold a candle to Mr. New Vegas, and his character annoyed far more often than not.) In terms of sound effects, I didn't find any truly awful ones while playing. They did the jobs they needed, though the bass of many explosions sounded rather weak. Dialogue however… I think it's been long since proven that the voiced protagonist was a bad design decision, along with the loss of any option to play any kind of evil character. (I don't count Nuka World here because it's an option added into the game through a $20 piece of content versus a choice you've had since the game released like in Fallout 2, and one that ties into destroying what most players probably spent hours building before taking the dive.) There's a reason why Dragon Age: Origins is still regarded as one of the best CRPGs of the previous decade. Bioware was smart enough to restrict spoken dialogue to characters other than the protagonist, because it was possible throughout the game to change your attitudes on a whim, and not possible to account for every instance of such things vocally. Moreover, it leaves how the player sounds open to interpretation from the person behind the keyboard, an always superior method of characterizing in games. (http://lusipurr.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/dragonagedialogue.jpg) That is, if you have the right group of writers on staff. -- Ediros -- There were some good tracks here and there, but the way I see, this music didn't fit Fallout. I can’t for the life of me remember anything beyond “Atom Bomb, Baby”, and only because it ran constantly in trailers. Forgettable, but not annoying. One of the better parts of Fallout 4. -- 0wing -- My take on Fallout 4’s music? Aside from a few good tracks, such as the Railroad’s interior theme “Covert Action”, nothing is lost by turning it off. The soundtrack is a huge mix of piano, synth piano, pipes, accordions, drums and strings, among others, which gets shunted aside at the faintest hint of danger and the onset of the battle themes. With the general sound design, for every great sound effect, such as the many animal noises, especially the Deathclaws, there are numerous others that seem off-point; the .44 magnum sounds weaker than the 10mm, as well as the plasma rifle versus the ones from games past, and the percussion from explosions is weak compared to games like Battlefield. --CT Phipps-- The ambient music of Fallout is large, bombastic, and a little off for the tone of the character I wanted to play. I wanted to play a melancholy haunted character and it was hard at times. The sound selection of 50s music is great though, even if it is loud and joyous. I particularly liked "Wanderer", "Atom Bomb, Baby", "Don't They Know It's the End of the World", and "Rocket 69." The DJ Travis for Diamond City Radio is somewhat annoying and even though you can turn him into a better broadcaster, I actually think it would have been better to have someone with more confidence. Still, his stuttering and nebbishness is actually rather endearing and I quickly grew used to his stage fright. Much better is the Nuka World DJ, Redeye, who has a number of original songs and raider stories which I think would have been awesome to do as a contrast to Travis in the main game. -- Replayability -- -- Adam G. -- This I can sum up with one question, and it's answer… (And this very topical picture: https://i.imgur.com/nE6Bv75.jpg) Do I want to come back to Fallout 4 in the future? Not if I can help it. Everything I could possibly do in the game, outside of the final faction quests, could be done with one character, if I was willing to pour the time into reaching that point, and what I have seen of this game and its DLCs is enough to make me keep my distance. -- Ediros -- I’ll start with the fact that Fallout 4 doesn't let you roleplay much, if at all. You always start off as a concerned father/mother who is looking for his/her son, and while having a set background isn't bad, it has to be designed properly, and here it is not. Moreover the Fallout series, unlike The Witcher, Mass Effect, Deus Ex and etc., has never had a main character like this. Just people with titles like Vault Dweller, Chosen One, Lone Wanderer, or Courier, because it’s up to the player to decide who they are and how they act. Yes, you are the Sole Survivor in this game, but at what point can you be a character besides what Bethesda pre-planned? When can you be evil, crazy, silver-tongued, or any other such things beyond a one or two-time instance? That’s why I can’t find a single reason to replay this game. -- JO’Geran -- Fallout 4, for me, is a one-off game. The type you would never go back to. This is because, for a game to have replay value, it has to excel at something. Do something better than any other in it’s field. Have a unique thing that, rather than buying new games, makes you want to play that specific game again and again and again. Fallout 4 has none of that. The roleplaying is shoddy, backed by mechanics so simple that the roleplaying games of the 90’s stand out even more. The shooting is mediocre compared to the ocean of games that handle shooting shit far better, RPG or not. The story is nonsensical and bland. The atmosphere is ‘generic, raider-infested hellhole’, not helped by how little of interest the Commonwealth has to offer. The settlement building is bare bones, unless you buy the assets that already exist in the game as DLC, and like hell am I doing that. Any attempts at exploration will have you wind up at another generic raider dungeon, or some place where the environmental storytelling mostly consisted of 'spooky' skeletons in funny positions. There is absolutely nothing that separates Fallout 4 from the piles of generic games out there; if I wanted to play any aspect of Fallout 4, I could go to literally any other game ever made and see it done a hundred times better. (http://images.akamai.steamuserconte...241/C5DCEA3E4EE42D1C72E06F7A60D4D4A3BBD37809/ and https://staticdelivery.nexusmods.com/mods/952/images/311-3-1439551173.jpg and https://images8.alphacoders.com/613/613912.jpg - Games that star a pre-set protagonist, but still handle role-playing well.) As harsh as this sounds, Fallout 4 is mediocre in absolutely every regard and has literally nothing to draw me back into it. -- 0wing -- Despite the strong first impression Fallout 4 gives, there’s no reason to continue with it after a first run because everything the player achieves, even in the main quest, is so hollow. Since Fallout 3, despite the survivor simulation boom and the release of Skyrim, open world games have become a thing and standards for them have been set. Fallout 4, even with all the DLC, plays like a late 7th gen Ubisoft title; instead of connection towers and world objects, we’re capturing plots of land, workbenches and the like between the subpar main story. Sure, Fallout 4 channels other games at times, Dying Light and RUST come to mind, but it does so without the parts that made said games so good, respectively the parkour and appropriate construction UI. In turn, Fallout 4 becomes a mindless compilation of pieces from other games. Though some would argue the post-apocalyptic setting makes all this redeemable, setting is not gameplay, and the gameplay of Fallout 4 is a bitch to slog through. -- Survival Mode -- -- Richard P.-- The most glaring issue with Survival Mode is that it was never a part of the initial creation of the game itself; the first version of this particular mode, like the other difficulty modes, only increased combat difficulty and made healing items work slower. Many players were unhappy about this at launch, for they wanted a real challenge, an added sense of realism to the game world, much like how Hardcore Mode was to Fallout: New Vegas. This resulted in Bethesda revamping Survival difficulty to include several new features: contracting an illness, ammo given carry weight, Fast Travel disabled, and having to deal with hunger, thirst, and sleep. On the surface, these changes seem in line with those found in the previous Hardcore Mode, yet other additions and forms of balancing were introduced as well, often to questionable degrees. A player suffering from rads may use Radaway, only to now find hunger added to the player’s status, along with fatigue and a chance to catch an illness from having a weakened immune system. Using alcohol and stimpacks will increase thirst, whereas using chems will increase hunger. This can lead to a vicious cycle, in which the player treats one negative status, only to incur another one. With purified water being a rarer resource early on in the game, a player may find themselves suffering from increased levels of thirst, which in turn lowers Intelligence, then Perception, and finally Luck as it increases to Mildly Dehydrated and beyond. Likewise, increased hunger and sleep will also lower three specific stats as well. At severe levels, the player will even suffer from periodic damage to health, along with other negative effects, and it only takes around 12 minutes to reach parched, 18 minutes to reach peckish, and 81 minutes to reach tired. The sole HUD displays for any of these statuses are three icons -- a water drop, a fork and knife, and a bed -- that eventually change to red to indicate severe status. Strangely, the color used to indicate the lowest forms of thirst, hunger, and sleep is the color green, which is the same color used for positive icons. Early on, this can be confusing, as seeing a green water drop seems like it should be a good indicator instead of a negative one. To make matters worse, consumables in the inventory do not show the player how much they will sate, nor for how long temporary sleep suppressants, such as the caffeinated effect, given by the various forms of Nuka Cola will last. There are soup and melon consumables that can sate both thirst and hunger, but these do not indicate this ability when viewed. The various forms of foodstuff may partially or fully remove a tier of hunger, yet only through experimentation will the player know which foodstuffs do what, and while hungry, a player no longer gains any health or bonuses from eating. A player may go and unwittingly eat a piece of stat boosting food in order to remove hunger, and find no boost given, a stark contrast to New Vegas, and even Skyrim, where benefits were always given when certain foods or drinks were consumed. It seems designed to encourage the wasting of resources, which is not in line with 'survival' gameplay. And then there's ways of catching an illness, such as attacks from diseased creatures, using needle based chems, eating uncooked food, drinking dirty water, and sleeping in short bursts. This shows up as a red medical bag and depending on the illness, it can lead to detrimental effects, such as, in the case of parasites, increased hunger. There are also consumable herbal remedies, yet these do not cure an illness and instead only add a temporary resistance to catching them. Only a visit to a doctor, or using an expensive antibiotic, may remove the current illness. This doesn't seem very detrimental at first, yet few locations provide doctors. This means buying, finding, and crafting antibiotics, or having to depend on places like Diamond City or settlement clinics for medical treatment. The removal of Fast Travel, and most forms of saving, coupled with densely packed areas of combat and a heightened difficulty, often leads to player death. Factor in the unevenness of Legendary enemies, enemies that level, large mobs, or random enemy encounters that may spawn right next to the player, and even the most careful player utilizing stealth tactics may die at any given moment. This isn't helped by how a player can pump a clip of .308 rounds into an enemy’s body and not slow them down, yet a direct assault on the player might result in instant death regardless of armor level. To compound these enforced limitations, only three save files are allowed at any given time and new saves will delete the oldest which, in the case of areas that lock the player into a building or structure, may result in getting trapped in an area far too difficult to complete. An example of this can be found in the recent Nuka World DLC, in which the player is forced into a long gauntlet filled with enemies, traps, and a boss at the very end. Beds are available along the way for saving, which may result in a player having saved to the point of no longer having a save file before the start of the DLC. Speaking of DLCs, the inclusion of the Automatron DLC may add an unwanted level of difficulty at lower levels with the introduction of Rust Devil and Mechanist forces brought into the random encounter pool. A player lacking perks to engage stronger enemies may find a group of deadly swarmbots closing in that they can’t fight, or worse yet, getting a single blow from a tankbot that ends in instant death. Settlements, which are mostly optional in the other forms of difficulty, become necessary when playing in Survival Mode. A player needs to collect junk in order to build settlements for saving and added survival, yet carry weight is severely reduced, almost all items have an added carry weight, and becoming over encumbered, which is a red pill icon on the lower right of the HUD, means taking periodic damage to the legs. Factor in the lack of Fast Travel and the heightened risk of death and the game becomes tedious and grueling as the player lugs loot and crafting materials back to a settlement. Worse yet, without Fast Travel, a settlement under attack is more likely to be damaged, leaving resources and defenses in need of repairs, which then eats up stockpiled materials. That said, forcing the player to walk the whole of the map can often lead to discovering things like unmarked locations, areas ripe with crafting supplies, or stumbling on a safer route through dangerous territory. This, along with the ability to run and leap away from enemies, can add moments of genuine survival and a sense of making it out by the skin of their teeth. A fast escape can often feel as exciting as winning a prolonged firefight, and it’s in these rare moments that Survival Mode truly shines. Not through engaging combat, but in narrowly avoiding it. With the removal of Skills, and an over-reliance on the Perk system, player growth in Survival Mode is hampered greatly. Gone are the days of focusing on a single attack skill in order to deal better damage, or having a useful skill like Survival that increased the power of consumables. Instead, the player must struggle with being a Jack of All Trades, since higher ranks in a perk like Gun Nut are now arbitrarily level locked. This can lead to moments where a weapon suddenly loses its effectiveness when encountering a newly unlocked tier of enemy, and thus they become damage sponges and ammo quickly dwindles away. The newly added Adrenaline Perk adds some much needed bonus damage, which increases by 5% for every fifth kill, up to a maximum of 50% bonus damage. However, sleeping reduces part or all of the perk depending on the length of the rest period. Lastly, we have the least forgiving aspect of Survival Mode: lost progress. While there was a quick exit save feature added to the game in patch 1.6, this only works if a manual exit to the main menu is made, and the save deletes once loaded. So, a player can still play for an hour only to get stuck in terrain, where such a save is useless, or have the game crash, which we know is a chronic issue with Bethesda games going all the way back to Arena, which means no created save. All of these scenarios lead to replaying the same stretch of gameplay with the possibility of another unforeseen event occurring and resulting in another restart. In the end, the arbitrary nature of the enforced difficulty, lack of true balance, and the sheer buggy nature of the game results in Survival Mode punishing the player instead of challenging them, leading to moments of genuine frustration. What should be an optional layer of difficulty instead becomes a masochistic battle of how much the player’s willing to suffer in tedium. -- Adam G. -- As a side note concerning damage output, there is a reason why it feels this way, as I found from digging around the Nexus. During the beta testing of this feature, Bethesda made both players and enemies deal 2.0X damage. The actual release in game goes back to player_damage = 0.5 while enemy_damage = 2.0. So, if you've been wondering why enemies still soak up damage in this mode, despite Bethesda’s claims that both player and enemy are on equal ground, that’s why. Tell me lies... All of this however does make me appreciate the effort From Software puts into the Dark Souls games and Bloodbourne in order to make them difficult yet fair. -- The Lore of Fallout versus Fallout 4 -- -- 0wing -- Because Bethesda owns the Fallout IP and has made the latest game a continuation of the main line versus a spin-off, the lore contradictions on display in Fallout 4 spread all the way back to the first Fallout, and even cross into Bethesda’s efforts. -- The sentient Mr. Handy. In the world of Fallout, AIs are literally a big deal. Only room sized computers, the kind we remember from the 1940s that filled entire rooms and ran off vacuum tubes, could handle such a program, hence ZAX in Fallout 1. In Fallout 2, we had Skynet, which could become mobile once a Robobrain was acquired for it to download into. In Fallout 4, Codsworth, a maintenance robot, is somehow much more than both of them, able to reason, determine right and wrong, have opinions on various subject, you included, and has a personality. Why? Why is he leagues beyond the military Mr. Gutsy models or ZAX type AIs, and why is such a thing on the market for general consumers? Never answered. -- Iguana bits. Long-time Fallout players will know this one as slang for ‘human flesh’; real iguanas are nowhere to be seen. The term originated from the first Fallout, and were things made by Iguana Bob from the remains of corpses supplied to him by Doc Morbid of Junktown. The inconsistency has carried over many games, but a west coast slang term would not be something so easy to carry onto the east coast, much less remain in use for another 120 plus years. -- Shaun and the 3rd Gen Synths. Remember when I said we'll return to the big plot hole caused by the opening scene’s nuclear explosion? The Institute's 3rd gen synths are developed with pure DNA samples taken from the infant Shaun, because as the game states, all other Institute members have been exposed to radiation and their DNA could not be used. This is wrong. Shaun, like everyone else on the platform going down to Vault 111, was exposed during said explosion. An oversight in favor of a cool moment if I ever saw one, and this particular one conflicts with the rest of the game. Either there should not be 3rd Gen synths at all, or Shaun should be irrelevant to their creation as he couldn’t be the one who provided the pure DNA. Either way, the central story gets flushed right down the toilet with this. -- The kid in a fridge - While actually a ghoulified kid, for 200 years he’s survived without food or water, and when you rescue him, he has no psychological or physical trauma from the experience. This is contradicted in the very same game it appears, specifically in the ‘Duty or Dishonor’ quest. During that quest, you find out that the BoS initiate Clarke fed feral ghouls with Brotherhood provisions so they’d remain calm and so none would die, which indicates why ferals hunt and stalk wastelanders. Not because of brain decay, but sustenance. There’s also the Slog settlement, a place where non-feral ghouls produce their own food and have integrated into the Commonwealth economy and trade routes. If the settlement is not producing enough food, they’ll suffer as regular settlers will. And then there’s Pete ‘Not Interested’ Hines, who hinted that the ‘Kid in a Fridge’ quest was just for fun. ( https://twitter.com/DCDeacon/status/668832355608563712 ) Originally, just for fun events like special encounters or dialogues had their own place in the Fallout world and were considered non-canon, or were later declared stupid or unfitting in the Fallout bible. (Fallout 2 had a lot of this.) The same could be said of this quest, except Bethesda has never seen the need to acknowledge it as such, or its flaws. Third, this is a case of a bad joke hurting the lore akin to Coffin Willy from Fallout 2, only worse in this case since it’s clear this kid wasn’t lying about how he was in there, whereas with Willy there was enough room to handwave him. Why this quest pops out like a dead pixel on a monitor though is, from a gameplay and writing standpoint, it’s one of the better ones in terms of how a player can progress and complete it in terms of role-playing. This is in contrast to the many other, more sensible quests in the game which for some reason don’t offer this same experience. -- Adam G. -- This is something that has been on all of our thoughts since the game launched last year. Along with being quite a showcase of disrespect to the IP, it’s a chronic problem with Bethesda Game Studios and the companies that work with them or their IPs. See also: Elder Scrolls Online. Why is this? I honestly don’t know, but speaking from the POV of a creator, I’d lay it at the feet of laziness; Bethesda seems to use whatever they want as canon when they feel like it, even when, as we’ll see in just a moment, it leads to contradictions within the same game. With that, here’s a handful of things that I noticed, and called BS on. -- The T-60 Power Armor in the base game defined as a Pre-War model, as well as the X-01 Enclave Armor with the release of Nuka World. I’ve heard some argue that X-01 is not the “Advanced Power Armor” we saw in Fallout 2, and thus this disconnect makes sense, but recall that the loading screens of the base game state that X-01 was a Post-War model, and thus it couldn’t appear in Nuka World, a Pre-War location. Plus, as longtime fans know, the T-51b Power Armor was the top of the line model during Pre-War times, existing for just one year before the Great War, and the T-45d was the original model, which helped tip the Anchorage conflict in America’s favor during the Sino-American War. No other armor models besides the Enclave ones exist, and both were models made, and put to use, during Post-War times. The existence of T-60 as a Power Armor model at all, much less a Pre-War one, is disrespectful enough, but then we get the X-01 armor on display in Nuka World, a contradiction to the base game where it’s a Post-War model. Why did Bethesda Game Studios allow this? Rule of Cool, or just plain laziness? (You can find more on this daming contradiction in the Bradberton Office terminals in Nuka-World, specifically the 10-20-2076 entry. And here’s the line that shows this: “...and we've even used the Quantum to enhance one of the military's power armor suits.”) -- Jet, a Post-War drug created in 2241, being put to use in Vault 95. Pete Hines was asked about this, leading to the famous “not interested in discussing how realistic things are in an alternate universe” line. Granted, he is a PR guy, not a lore master, but someone at Bethesda made this obvious mistake and now it’s a symbol of what level of care they apply to lore they had no hand in shaping. -- Nuka-Cola Quantum. Now for something from Bethesda’s camp. If we recall the Nuka Challenge Quest from Fallout 3, Sierra clearly stated that Quantum was a prototype drink, one that was in the test marketing phase of distribution on October 23rd, 2077, the same day the bombs dropped. Those who've worked retail long enough like I have know that means a limited distribution in case of low sales, and even the real Nuka-Cola was released this way; you could only find it at Target at first. And yet, in Fallout 4, you can find this drink as reliably as regular Nuka Cola, untouched after 210 years, even in houses that have been gutted. -- Nuka Cherry. Back to Black Isle for moment. This flavor of Nuka-Cola was featured in Fallout: Tactics, a non-canon story from the isometric days which has become semi-canon with Bethesda’s acquisition of the IP. It was also described as a “failure of a soft drink” in that game because of the taste. In Fallout 4, not only does it resurface, in Nuka-World, it’s described as an “instant success”, something that came to my attention while watching a long-play of the DLC. (Don’t believe the line that this shouldn’t be confused with ‘Cherry Nuka-Cola.’ What else could this thing be? http://fallout.wikia.com/wiki/Nuka-Cherry) -- The FEV Cure Serum. Oh boy, this one makes my head spin. The FEV has long been established as a destroyer of the body and potentially the mind, hence why we see such things as The Master, the several gens of Super Mutants, as well as the Nightkin, all of whom are sterile and incapable of reproducing, Deathclaws and others. In short, while there have been several strains of this virus throughout Fallout's history, all of which have a root in common, that being the research to find a cure for the New Plague in 2053, not once has it ever been detailed as anything other than a destructive force on par with radiation to unshielded flesh. Yet in Fallout 4, during Vergil’s quest, you can find a cure serum for him that, in three days, makes him human again, with barely noticeable side-effects. A handwave if I ever saw one. -- Vertibirds in Pre-War US. Short and sweet, these things were not in use during Pre-War times. It wasn’t until the early 23rd century, before the events of Fallout 2, that the Enclave put them into use. -- Pre-War Serenity. If there’s any major change Bethesda made to Fallout that exposes how little respect they have for the lore of this series, it’s this. The Pre-War world was in no way serene as Fallout 4 would have you believe from the brief span of time you spend in it. So, time for a history lesson. In the Fallout timeline, from April 2052 to October 23rd, 2077, the whole of the world was embroiled in what was known as the Resource Wars, conflicts waged over the drying up reserves of fossil fuels. Because the microprocessor was never invented in the Fallout timeline, the things we know today that depend on such technology, including computers, depended on fossil fuels, or in later years nuclear power, to function. When the Middle East spiked prices on oil in 2052, the European Commonwealth declared war, marking the start of the Resource Wars. The resulting second rise in oil prices caused many smaller nations to go bankrupt, and two nuclear incidents, one in December 2052 from a terrorist attack, and another in early 2054 between several Middle Eastern countries, caused enough concern to get the US to start Project Safehouse. The project that would see the infamous Vaults created. While the rest of the world was fighting over these resources, the US was experimenting with nuclear power, which took some of the resource strain off the nation. China meanwhile, being more dependent on fossil fuels than the US, invaded Alaska in 2066 as their sources of oil dried up; the US was becoming more successful with nuclear power at this time while holding onto oil reserves. (According to Fallout: Tactics, this was how high gas prices went before the bombs dropped. http://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net..._Prices.png/revision/latest?cb=20090902133931 ) For the last 11 years before the Great War, the US’s war against China would cause civil tensions to rise at home and in Canada, which had been pressured into allowing American soldiers to travel north through said nation. When Canada became annexed in 2076, the US responded to the resulting rioting and protests by executing those involved, which for those who remember the intro to the original Fallout was what we saw power-armored troops doing before waving to the camera. Civil disorder and anti-government sentiment, already fueled through waning resources of food and energy, as well as war weariness from a decade of fighting with China, spiked in the wake of such atrocities and the US went under martial law. Then came 2077, and October 23rd. While no one knows who fired the first missile, what we do know is long before the Great War happened, there were several drills and false alarms about incoming nukes aimed at all the populace, not just those who were chosen to be housed in Vaults. As such, when the actual event happened on the 23rd, millions died because they were convinced it was another false alarm. In Fallout 4, we not only see the bombs dropping in the early morning on the East Coast, which contradicts bits of story in two of the New Vegas DLCs, Dead Money and Old World Blues, that the bombs fell during early evening on the West Coast, but Bethesda also skipped a two-fold opportunity to show some kind of role-playing chops in the intro they gave. While I do not wish to give them ideas, lest they end up being taken like the mods they use from the Nexus and other places, I and likely others saw how the time between the morning character creation and the actual bombs falling could've been used to actually go to places around Boston and take part in certain events, things that flesh out the character you picked and let you see what’s going on with the rest of the world instead of the serene community you start in and never leave until it’s time to run to the Vault. -- Final Thoughts -- -- Adam G. -- It's very disheartening to see the road Fallout has been dragged down thanks to Bethesda. More so because fan devotion, and the free Q&A modders provide post launch, will continue to make it so Bethesda will never learn what they should be doing to improve as a company, and retain what so many loved about the Fallout IP, a mindset that will bleed more into The Elder Scrolls should it continue. My hope is the modding community starts to catch onto this fact and stops helping drive sales with the free work they do. We’ve already seen what Bethesda is willing to take from them, and cause among their ranks, if given half the chance. And on that note, the next time you see a Bethesda game on shelves and hear someone say that it’s only good with mods, especially the kinds that fix issues instead of add content, let that be a warning about the caliber of quality you’re getting for the money you spend. With Wasteland 3 in pre-production, it’s clear that a considerable segment of gamers want the true computer role-playing genre to continue in post-apocalyptic settings, though it would be nice if the sacrifice of Wasteland’s prodigy wasn't something we had to deal with alongside this fact. -- 0wing -- The biggest problem of Fallout 4 isn't its half-baked story, or lore contradictions with itself and past games, or lackluster gameplay, or the horrible presentation and UI, but its lack of redeeming qualities. If the game had a better presented story and gameplay that was closer to the series roots, I could’ve forgiven most of these flaws. As it is, there’s no reason to play Fallout 4. There’s nothing Bethesda Game Studios is famous for that other studios haven’t improved on; ‘open world’ is now a more common feature than ever, with developers doing as good a job as them, (Dying Light’s Techland and FarCry 3’s Ubisoft Montreal) or even better (Grand Theft Auto V’s Rockstar North). Fallout 4 is simply outdated, and the attitude Bethesda has taken with this entry feels like a dangling of the concept over the abyss. That said, it was both funny and amusing at times watching this Brazilian soap opera progress as it did. It was obvious from the first look that the series was going downhill instead of up with Bethesda throwing in every big gimmick they could in the drive for easy money. Although that paid off, the mixed reviews across the board won’t help their future reputation with the general public. On a more serious note, let this series die and don’t look back after this. There’s plenty of godsends in the RPG market besides this series. InSomnia, The Fall: Last Days of Gaya, Age of Decadence, Underrail, Wasteland 2, Olympus 2207 and others. While nothing may surpass Fallout in terms of world building, quest design or engaging lore, all of these other efforts should not be overlooked. Just as well, there’s the efforts of the fan communities around the globe for the older games. Fallout 2 has been fixed up and made more playable, and two total conversions -- Fallout: Resurrection 1.5 and Fallout: Nevada -- exist for the engine. Mutants Rising, fingers crossed, will be joining them someday. And let’s not forget the many quality mods for Fallout: New Vegas. The people behind these works nailed it, and they deserve a look too. -- Ediros -- This game is nothing but an insult to Fallout franchise. It repeats the mistakes of its predecessor then adds a ton of its own, and what we get is small, boring sandbox with bland characters, a terrible plot and a protagonist that gets overpowered way too quickly. It also has one of the worst season passes I’ve ever seen. Not only was its price hiked by 66% to 49.99 after less than five months, something Bethesda tried to justify by saying they were making so much content that the original 29.99 felt too cheap, but as we all soon realized, four of the six content packs were cheap cash-grabs. They even had the balls to charge for use of assets within the game with Wasteland Workshop for the settlement system. Disappointment of the decade as far as I’m concerned. -- CT Phipps -- Fallout 4 is a game which feels like it's been horribly underdeveloped. The settlements are nearly identical, there's not nearly as many sidequests as the size of the game should attest, and the lore is virtually absent. While I enjoyed playing the game as it served as an excellent time-sink, I felt there was too much time devoted to the settlement system over the main game and its traditional values of choice and quality writing.