Fallout 4, an open world RPG post-apocalyptic sequel game to a long loved franchise, has been out well over a month. The hype was intense for months ahead of release, was preceded by its own game app, then released with editions including the ability to purchase your very own Pip Boy and use the game’s very own companion app, not to mention the entire anthology that was released soon before the premiere of Fallout 4. The base game alone came with a poster, high-lighting all the level-ups, also described and shown during commercials while downloading the game. It’s highly unlikely that any gamer, or any person who uses social media at all, to have not heard something about this game before and since its release.
Though having never played this series before, I was very excited about the release of Fallout 4. I’m a sucker for alternative “pasts”, ones with the lifestyle of another era, but with the technology of the future or modern amenities (think Bioshock, or steampunk). I’ve had this game since the weekend it was released, though I didn’t pre-order. However, I have only just now felt I could give a fair look at this game and put it to words.
The game opens on a man and woman, which slowly moves into a character customization screen. You then meet your baby boy, Shaun, right before being convinced to sign up to be a part of Vault 111, a supposed “safe place” designed by Vault-Tec, to actually monitor the effects of suspended animation on unknowing test subjects. You watch your son taken away and partner, gender depending on how you chose to create your character, shot to death trying to hold on to the baby. You then awake to Vault 111 empty, and your neighbors that had joined in the vault, dead. The main purpose moving forward in the game is for you to find Shaun, with the Brotherhood of Steal, settlements with hidden agendas, the infamous Institute, and all sorts of mutants thrown into the mix.
Since release, I have only personally clocked in 7 hours in Fallout 4. At the time it came out, my “gaming mood” didn’t want something so free range, so to speak. I appreciate games that are linear. One quest, you achieve the goal, then move on to the next. In this way, games like Fallout 4 can overwhelm the senses. You can be all pumped to go find Diamond City, and then run into the
Brotherhood of Steal, or find Covenant. Then, in the middle of deciding what it is you want to do, raiders show up, or a group of bloat fly’s start swarming you, and those are horrible to shoot. In this way, Fallout 4 can sometimes be overwhelming. Furthermore, the quests can be multi-step, so for someone such as myself, leaving a quest unfinished because you can’t finish it yet can be extremely disheartening.
This freedom, though, is part of what makes the game great. I can sit with my partner as he plays, and enjoy watching him play, then sit down and play myself and have no overlap in gameplay. The game is expansive and the open world makes it possible to play the way that I want to. Sure, there will be overlap eventually, but I don’t have to go to Diamond City until I’m ready. My last game session I spent wandering the Commonwealth, discovering places and people, and tackled a quest I felt prepared for. Also, the game offers decisions, and it wasn’t until my last gameplay that I really appreciated how important those decisions could be. Had I answered incorrectly at first, I could have been suspected as a Synth. I also could have chosen to take a bribe and abandon someone. I would have stayed in good standing with one group of people, but fallen out of it with others. This could be highly significant later on. These decisions help me truly shape not only my character, but their story. Also, once I finally do finish these quests, I feel a special sense of accomplishment.
There are a few things about the game that I could nitpick about, due to personal pickiness. Questions like, if they are truly 200 years in the future, why are they still scavenging and not rebuilding and moving forward? Or, why does my character still believe Shaun is a baby? We have no way of knowing when it was I saw the people take Shaun away, it could have happened immediately after the Fallout. And why did everyone else just glitch out in their pods and die? So many unnecessary questions that aren’t relevant to the gameplay, but bother me (Also, for those who haven’t touched the game, these aren’t exactly spoilers, as they all happen in about the first 20 minutes of gameplay).
All in all, once I got into the game and stopped feeling so frustrated and stuck with it, I really began to enjoy it. Everyone mentions that itch they feel, the urge to keep playing. The only issue is getting over that first hump, and pushing yourself forward into the game. Also, if you do play, don’t feel the need to follow the main quests just yet or follow the pattern you’ve seen YouTuber’s do. The happiest I’ve been yet is exploring until I found a random quest, and getting into that one. That’s the best part about Fallout 4. You, the player, are in charge.