Like riding an old bicycle.
I didn’t have much of a chance to play Fallout when it came out on Tuesday. I didn’t get home from work until 5 and had to take care of the baby. I ended up crashing at 9:30. Fortunately, yesterday was a holiday and I was able to devote a considerable amount of time to Fallout and here are my thoughts so far.
First, the game does not hold your hand. It fully expects you to have played Fallout 3 and remember the controls. The tutorial level, if you can even call it that, only explains the bare bones of the game. Here’s how you move, here’s how you punch, here’s the V.A.T.S. system, now have fun. If you do remember Fallout 3, then it’s an absolute blast. I immediately found the local radio station and started wandering the wasteland, humming along to the same tunes from Fallout 3. At first, I was disappointed that the music seems mostly recycled from Fallout 3, but that quickly went once I was out in the Wasteland. The retro music adds a nice charm to the bizarre enemies and questlines in the game.
I know, since I’m trying to review this game quickly, I’m supposed to be pushing through the main quest to finish the game. But, before I knew it I was sucked in by all the engaging side quests. I was helping the Brotherhood of Steel clear out raider camps and find lost tech. I was helping reform the Minutemen and grow my fledgling settlement. I was exploring a Metro Tunnel or clearing out an old abandoned mine. Then I realized I had been playing for 14 hours and had completely forgotten about my main mission of RESCUING MY INFANT SON (which resonated a bit more now than it would have a year ago).
That’s the beauty of this game. It sucks you in and makes you want to keep going. Just one more quest, you say for the millionth time. I’ll get up right after I do this. This is why I’m exhausted today at work. I stayed up finishing a questline where you embodied a 1950s radio show super hero called The Silver Shroud. You eradicate the criminals in the town of GoodNeighbor in a fedora and silver suit. It was absolutely worth it.
In case it hasn’t been made clear, the game is a blast to play. The combat has been slightly improved. You’re still going to use V.A.T.S. for most situations, but the combat is improved from Fallout 3. The new power armor is a nice tweak to the combat. Almost immediately, you receive a suit of power armor. It’s like a mech suit. You press a button to enter the armor. It limits your speed and mobility, but enhances your strength and damage resistance. You can easily mow through a horde of feral ghouls, a band of raiders, and even a Deathclaw. The karma system has been removed. V.A.T.S. is slightly different. Instead of having a chance at scoring a critical hit whenever you land a shot, each shot slightly builds a critical meter. When the meter is full, you can execute a critical attack causing high damage.
Like Fallout 3, the main story is simple. In Fallout 3, you were searching for your missing father. In Fallout 4, you’re searching for your missing son. The central story revolves around the mysterious Institute. The Institute has been creating more and more advanced synths. Synths are robotic beings that (to put it nicely) dislike humanity. The basic versions are skeletons full of wires and circuitry. But upgraded models look and act exactly like humans. Everyone, even Super Mutants and Ghouls, dislike and are afraid of synths. The Institute, for reasons unknown as of yet, murdered your wife and kidnapped your infant son while you are in a cryogenic state. In order to find your son, you need to locate this mysterious Institute.
I’ve only experienced one major bug in my playthrough. There are plenty of loading screens, but they are mercifully brief. Graphics are great. It looks more like Fallout 3 than New Vegas. It’s dark and rainy for the most part. My only major complaint is level design. Most of the buildings you visit are decrepit and rundown. Some are on fire and most have entrances and doors blocked by debris and rubble. It’s very easy to get lost and confused, especially when you’re being shot at by raiders or synths.
Overall, this is the best game I’ve played in recent memory. I’ve only put a dent in it, but I’ve having a blast. A full review will be (hopefully) coming this weekend.