The Bethesda title isn’t perfect; in fact, it has glaring flaws. But it’s still a lot of fun, even if the fun sometimes feels aimless.
Grab your power armor and get to work
Fallout 4 brings new beauty to the Wasteland as well as plenty of factions all fighting for control.
Bethesda titles are known for their lofty goals and massive worlds. They’re equally known for buggy releases, and Fallout 4 is no different. The scale of the map and scope of the game is huge, but so are the quirky physics errors and animations.
The game starts out with the atomic 50s aesthetic, but with a few tech advances like robotic assistants. You’ll choose whether to play a male or female character, and you get to customize your character’s face. Cue the air raid sirens shortly after, and you and your family are taken to a fallout shelter to be kept safe from the atomic blasts destroying the world. While inside, your son is stolen from your spouse, they’re killed right in front of you, and you later awake and escape to begin your journey.
The dialogue is a step down from previous entries. While voice acting has been added in Fallout 4, the breadth of options has significantly decreased. You get down to four options that don’t seem to be affected by your stats. In previous Fallout games, traits like Intelligence determined how your character spoke. That’s not the case here.
The voice acting is meant to give more emotional weight to the story, but it’s hampered by the fact that the central plot is thin and bare.
Honestly, the main plotline is the weakest quest in the game, as seems to be par for the course in recent Bethesda titles. The interesting stories revolve around other characters’ struggles or those of the few powerful factions left in the world. The Brotherhood of Steel nets you some great power armor, while the Institute has arguably the better weapons.
You bring a companion along with you, and you meet a few characters along the way that fit the bill as solid companions. Nick Valentine is an interesting fella, for instance. They all pale in comparison to Dogmeat, the first companion you get. He’s a german shepherd with a tacvest, and he has enough carrying capacity to haul off a city’s worth of scrap.
That’s useful, especially since you’ll need all the scrap to focus on the base building, which should be the main draw of the game but somehow is. You’ll be spending hours figuring out your power lines, getting clean water and supply lines, recruiting more settlers, and building defenses. Raiders will often come try to steal your stuff, so it’s a good idea to arm your settlers with solid weapons and power armor if you can spare it.
The locales in the game are gorgeous in that “wow look at the detail” kind of way. They’re fully realized and, in some cases, just flat out incredible to look at. Other times, you get a bit of distance between you and a group of buildings are starting seeing the repeating textures and it breaks the immersion. It’s as if the team responsible for the world had grander visions than their engine would allow them to run.
And in this massive world, you’ll encounter random events that make it feel alive. You might run across a skirmish between some Minutemen and raiders, or the Brotherhood of Steel taking out the Railroad. Whenever you run across battles in the wasteland, it always feels engaging, especially since you can hear them occurring from a long way off.
The weakest point in the game, though, is definitely the minute-to-minute gameplay. The VATS system can quickly become just guaranteed hits, and it slows the action enough for you to catch your breath. And if you’re in power armor, it’s even less inspiring. It used to be that power armor was a rare find; now you can get it everywhere and find dozens of power cells in an hour.
This game banks on the sheer number of quests to undertake. If you stuck to the main plot, you’d be done in about four hours. Follow all of the side-missions, though, and you’ll hit around 60 hours, probably more when you inevitably get sidetracked building settlements.
If you’re hoping for a story with some gravitas, you won’t find it here. If you’re hoping for incredible gunplay, look elsewhere. But if you’d be satisfied with roaming the world for hours to complete shopping lists and escort missions, you’ve found the right game.
Where can you run this program?
This game requires Windows 7 64-bit or later.
Is there a better alternative?
No. While fans of the series may prefer the older entries of the franchise, Fallout 4 has an entertaining blend of base-building, crafting, and questing. If you’re looking for more meaningful gameplay, however, try Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas.
Fallout 4 has just enough to keep it interesting, giving you a reason to trudge through the frustratingly thin main plot. You’ll spend hours just building up your settlements, and even more time scrounging for the materials. All-in-all, it’s certainly a game that holds your attention.
Should you download it?
Yes, if you’re a casual player looking for quests and crafting, Fallout 4 has plenty of it. If you’re a long-time Fallout fan, however, this entry will be too watered-down for you.