The original Fallout is one of my favorite games, and Fallout 2 was even better. When Fallout 3 brought the game into the modern era I had some mixed feelings… not so much because the new gameplay style was an issue, but because the story felt quite weak. It lacked the humor of its predecessors, and the ending didn’t give the same impression as earlier editions had that the player had had a real effect on the world.
Fallout: New Vegas, somehow existing outside of the numbering cycle, was an excellent followup: it captured everything that had been missing and tied it together very well. So going in to Fallout 4, the question on my mind was “where are they going to go with it now?”
The answer, apparently, is back to Fallout 3. The humor isn’t quite as lacking, but it’s not really there. The ending is deeply unsatisfying and in fact, is in large part a copy/paste from Fallout 3, in both the good and bad says. In fact, one of the same, err, characters from that ending returns to play the exact same role in the exact same manner.
So right out of the gate, this sounds like I’m pretty down on the game. Fallout, having low-end graphics roots, built itself on a strong story with excellent and appropriate-to-the-situation humor, with memorable characters to go with. Fallout 4 definitely has the characters, but otherwise… eeeeeeehhh.
But let’s move on. The graphics are better than the screenshots on game sites would lead you to think (on the PC it looks WAY better than on the Playstation 4 and XBox One), although it’s still not great and some of the character animations are weird. Sound is fine, it’s hard to screw up sound anymore. For the most part the gameplay is the same as FO3 and FNV, no surprise there.
There are three major changes, though. One is the crafting and modding: it’s massively easier and yet more interesting to upgrade your weapons and that makes a major difference in the game. The early starter weapons, which are crap, can last a lot longer as you slowly get them upgraded. Armor too. I really like this change.
Two is the addition of “settlements”. You can collect and add buildings and equipment to assorted settlements, attract settlers, blah blah. This is really unnecessary for the main campaign but once I finished the story, it gave me something to do. It’s an ok time-waster for folks that don’t want the game to be 24/7 combat.
Third is the rather stark changes to the way the game handles its iconic power armor. It’s not just another set of armor to put on: it’s an event. You have to find/buy power cores to provide fuel for it. You have to get out of it to perform certain tasks. You can’t wear it at all times anymore, unlike previously. This was strange, but I quite like it.
But the story. While it brings some interesting characters into your life, so much of it has become commonplace stuff. Go here, get item X, come back. Go there, Item Y turns out to be missing, find at location Z. Fight bad guy A. Just like FO3 and FNV, different buildings have the same bad guys infesting them in the same style. The overall storyline, in spite of trying something new to infuse new life into it, does in fact seriously mirror Fallout 3, just with some tonal differences. New Vegas was a truly new story. I hope they get back to that.
With all that said, I certainly enjoy the game. It has good gameplay and whatnot, and I’ve always liked the universe. But this just feels largely flat. Like it’s not getting anywhere. And again, that ending was a massive disappointment.
If you haven’t gotten it yet and are interested, wait for a sale. There’s really no need to go for full price. It’ll just let you down.