I’ve been spending a lot of time on Fallout 4 recently. I have no idea how many hours I’ve played (and I don’t want to know because I’ve already gone through several existential crises) but I’ve pretty much exhausted the game’s content.
I’m a big fan of New Vegas and I told myself that Fallout 4 could never be as good as that, but for the first few hours it came damn close. The gunplay was so much better! You could customise your weapons fully! The Power Armour makes me feel like a Warhammer 40k Space Marine! The character models don’t look like they all have water on the brain!
After a while the cracks started to show… Fallout 4 is very pretty and is a lot of fun to spend time with, but as time goes on, you find that there’s not much you can do with it. Fallout 4 isn’t a good Fallout game. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very well crafted and kicks the shit out of the green tinged subway tour that was Fallout 3 in a lot of respects, but it has some major flaws and dead ends. Huh. I guess this paragraph means the title is officially Clickbait.
IT’S NOT AN RPG
Fallout subscribed to the 90’s video game philosophy that gave multiple solutions to the same problem. Say you had to fix the generator for a village’s turret system and that an integral component was in a nearby factory full of Raiders – in previous games, you could jury rig the system with your Repair skill or build an improvised part with rubber band and the alternator from a nearby Chevy if you had the Scavenger perk, or you could just go shoot the raiders and retrieve it.
In Fallout 4, your only choice would be the latter one.
Bethesda games used to give the player a lot of freedom. You could be a revolver toting computer hacker or you could be a silver tongued mercenary or even a mentally challenged thief. In the original Fallout games, if your Intelligence was lower than three, your character would speak like an imbecile in dialogue to hilarious results. If it was set at one, they’ll only say, “UGH”. Seriously.
Your character choices are severely limited, mechanically by the Perk system and personally by the Dialogue system.
Fallout 4 is the first game in the series to have a voiced main character and adopts a Mass Effect style Dialogue wheel. You’re given four options in each instance, Polite, Neutral, Angry and Inquisitive.
There’s also the dreaded ‘Sarcastic’ response. I always chose it thinking my character would respond wittily, but it almost always came out petty and bratty. “GREEAATT I LOVEE RADROACHES”. This is what 13 year old DnD players or people who legitimately enjoy The Big Bang Theory call wit.
Because your dialogue responses are so black and white, your role playing opportunities are severely hampered. If you wanted to be a less than upstanding wasteland citizen, the most negative dialogue responses make you sound like Shadow the Hedgehog and rarely burn bridges for you.
This system can and does work in games where you play as a pre-established character, like in Mass Effect or The Witcher. Commander Shepard and Geralt of Rivia live by their own ethics and the laws of the land. Their choices can be Selfless or Ruthless, there’s no flat out Evil option because such behaviour would be punished extremely harshly.
In Fallout, there is no limitation of law and order anymore. I can be anyone and anything in this world…. Except I can’t, because I’m tied to this stupid baby and my character’s stupid pre-war morals.
Even if you acted completely evil outside of the game’s restrains by massacring villagers and eating babies, the dialogue would make your character seem extremely inconsistent. It’s like in Grand Theft Auto 4, when Niko Bellic is talking to his cousin in the car about how he wants to stop hurting people for a living… while the player drives Niko’s car into four pedestrians at 100 mph.
Also, I played as a woman and my flatmate played as a man and as far as I know there’s no difference in dialogue between the genders. Thanks, Anita Sarkessian. Thanks.
DUMBED DOWN PERKS
Skyrim’s Perk system was awesome. It’s a great combination of Fallout and The Elder Scrolls’ levelling systems. When you got skilled enough in a certain skill, you could unlock certain perks that complemented your proficiency. It made sense, they were tangible markers of your proficiency. It didn’t need to be changed.
But they did it anyway.
No skill scores! Only Perks now, and they’re tied to your characters’ natural attributes.
Not only are the Perks limited, they kinda suck. The entire Endurance tree is made of the worst kind of upgrades. Increased Damage Resistance. Decreased Radiation from drinking Water. Lowered chance of Chem addiction. Exciting.
I admit, the whole Weapons skill determining weapon power didn’t make much sense in the previous games. I like how a Rocket Launcher will no longer only do 2 damage if your Explosives score is low. Now, a weapon’s damage is based on how well your weapon’s reciever is upgraded.
Sounds well and good, but upgrading your weapons will require you to make some sacrifices. You’ll either have to A.) Try your luck drudging through dungeons in hopes you’ll maybe find that certain weapon with those certain parts, or B.) Sink some upgrade points into Gun Nut and skip all that shit.
90% of players are going to choose the latter. I had my way, I’d make the higher level Crafting skills passive and make upgrades dependent on Blueprints found in the field.
The game has the same issue all the other Fallout games have when it comes to Ammunition. It’s what I call “The Walking Dead Problem”. After a while, say, level 10, you find you don’t have to worry about Ammunition anymore. It’s convenient, but it really takes the tension out of the whole scenario if you’re not panicking about resources constantly.
SETTLEMENTS DO NOTHING
The ability to build settlements in the Wasteland was the biggest draw for Fallout 4. It was ambitious, I mean, you could not only build your house from the ground up, you could potentially start a new society. In Fallout 5, I hope the Minutemen grow into something to rival of the NCR on the East Coast.
I loved finding new settlements, renovating them, raising the rental price and causing a Wasteland housing crisis. I expected to unlock extra features as my empire grew… but they never came. I had become the Post-Apocalyptic Donald Trump and had nothing to show for it. Granted, the Artillery was very useful at times but there’s no way to see if you’re within range of a battery until you’ve thrown your flare down and alerted every enemy in the tristate area.
Like le epic reddit meme claims, your settlements constantly call for your help defending themselves from enemies. After a while, you realise this is pointless because 1. They sometimes fend for themselves, 2. The worst that could happen is that one piece of equipment could be destroyed and 3. THE SETTLERS ARE INVINCIBLE.
Oh, they say that Settlements are completely optional. Well, it is, but it’s heavily emphasised throughout the game. I loved how difficult everything was at first. When you first come out of the Vault, you’re as fragile as a 16 year old Tumblr Blogger from Remuera. You need experience, so you’re going to need to take a few training wheel quests.
The closest source of these quests are from The Minutemen, who are literally 100 metres away from your starting location. If you ignore these quests completely, there’s a high chance you’re going to repeatedly get your shit pushed in by low level enemies because you’ll be woefully low on health, ammo and equipment. Either hop on the Garvey train or book a ticket to frustration town.
Hey, You know who likes enemies that regenerate their health?
No-one. No-one does.
I fucking hate Legendary Enemies. I’ve read glue swallowers on the internet say, “Oh, they’re great! They encourage you to kill them fast!” These people should be dragged into the street hung from a streetlamp like Mussolini.
Every single legendary I’ve faced regained their health when they hit the half health threshold. Even if you catch the enemy by surprise with a rocket and criticially hit them in the head, they’ll rejuvenate and gain superpowers like they’re goddamn Saiyan if they have one nanopixel of health left. If the legendary enemies had double health, I’d be fine with that. The audio cue and the notification felt like a “HAHA Fuck you idiot!” after a while.
I do like the Legendary items though. The chances you’ll get something even remotely useful (or unique) are extremely slim. The legendary armour however, is completely imbalanced.
FLAWED ARMOUR SYSTEM
In true Mad Max fashion, we can now strap bits of metal and random car parts to ourselves as protection from the Wasteland’s denizens.
It’s a throwback to Morrowind’s armour system where you could be kitted out with Daedric Armour but still have your bollocks hanging out. Only now, your character won’t look like complete shit when wearing mismatched pieces.
Unfortunately, since only 5 pieces of clothing can be worn under armour, 99% of the clothing available in the game is now completely useless and will be ignored by players.
Yeah, the Minuteman General’s Outfit is really cool, but I wouldn’t be able to wear my tatty leather shoulder pads that give me +1 Strength and +1 Endurance so this priceless historical artefact is going straight in the trash.
I unlock a Novice Lock. I get a tube of Toothpaste, a Silver Fork and a Modified Pipe Pistol. I unlock a Master Safe. I get a tube of Toothpaste, a Silver Fork and a Modified Pipe Pistol with a Scope. Amazing. WOW.
I killed a Legendary Super Mutant King with a Minigun that fires .50cal covered in Ebola and I looted a Leather Kneeguard which gave me 15% protect from Animals.
I killed a Legendary Mongrel and I got a Laser Rifle with infinite ammo capacity.
The only thing that I exaggerated about this paragraph was the Super Mutant’s Minigun. He was carrying a board with a nail in it.
$9.99 to build a robot. Nah.
GENERIC HOMEBRAND RAIDERS
Jesus Christ not again.
This happens in every Bethesda game. Thousands of nameless brigands hiding out in abandoned buildings and caves. Granted, it isn’t as bad as Fallout 3 or Skyrim, where every single dungeon was filled with Bandits.
New Vegas solved this problem. If some guy with a tire strapped to their chest was shooting at you, they were from one of the Mojave’s organised gangs. It could be the Tribal Great Khans, the Drug addicted Fiends or the most impressive of them all, Caesar’s Legion, A large faction of Raiders who base themselves on Roman Society… with less emphasis on the ‘Society’ part.
You mean to tell me that, in the 200 years that Raiders have existed, none of the East Coast gangs decided to band together and form a more permanent faction? Or even name their gangs? Ugh.
Well, some actually did. There’s a new hostile faction called the Gunners. NPCs say they are unscrupulous mercenaries who will take any job, but in game they act like any other Raider. You never interact with them, they just shot on sight. Not a very sound business strategy. They’re very dull enemies too, their gimmick is that they use top of the line Military Hardware… but that’s it.
You don’t anything about their organisation, Why are they in the Commonwealth? Who hires them? What’s their initiation like? Where do they get their weapons and armour? Who leads them? What’s the hierarchy like? None of these questions are answered. They’re just another raider band. One step forward, one step back.
WOW SUCH A FANBOY *GHETTO CRYING LAUGHING FACE x6* YOU DON’T EVEN LIKE ANYTHING ABOUT FALLOUT 4!
Wrong. I like how the weapons feel. The firearms have a lot of punch to them and I love how the Laser weapons sound. I’m a big fan of the Power Armour system too. It’s rare to see media where Power Armour needs, you know, Power.
As critical as I am of the customisation system, it’s still very solid. You can turn a lot of guns into completely different weapons. It’s a shame that there are so few weapons types. 10mm rounds are ONLY for the Pistol 5.56 bullets are ONLY for the Assault Rifle. Give me some variety man!
The Radiation system was a much need overhaul. In previous games, I would completely ignore my radiation level until it impacted my Strength levels and was unable to lug around the metric tonne worth of shit I never used.
The stories of Fallout games have never been that amazing. Fallout 3’s story was a shitshow, I barely remember it… there was a vault, your dad ran away, The Enclave wanted the water supply for…. Some reason never explained. Your dad died for no reason… I dunno.
While disjoined and hammy at times, Fallout 4’s narrative is pretty good. The intro is unexpectedly punchy too. The addition of multiple endings was awesome too. It adds a lot of replayability.
There, are you happy now?
OKAY. BUT YOU’RE JUST GOING TO END THIS ARTICLE BY SAYING “THE FALLOUT DEVELOPMENT RIGHTS SHOULD JUST GO TO OBSIDIAN”
Yeah. I am.