It’s a wasteland out there.
Fallout 4 is just about here and there’s a host of Fallout fans who are going to leave their everyday lives behind to travel 250 years into the future to experience the game’s dystopic take on the fate of mankind. For those players, this will be a wasteland that visually looks better and offers more to do than previous Fallout games.
The story begins in 2287 with you escaping from a Vault-Tec vault as your infant son is kidnapped. Your quest is to find him. The open world this time around is centered in the Boston area, now referred to as the Commonwealth. A shadowy organization called the Institute seems to be behind the kidnapping.
Along the way, you’ll encounter other people trying to survive and a variety of other species intent on killing you. The journey can be made solo or with a companion, who can be one of several you encounter along the way. The companion comes in handy during combat and cannot be killed by enemies, only temporarily incapacitated.
Helping you to keep track of your weapons, health, armor and incidentals again is your trusty Pip-Boy – a wrist-mounted computer. New with Fallout 4 is the option of downloading an app to your smartphone that acts as the Pip-Boy, allowing access to the minutiae without pausing the action.
Combat returns in two forms – V.A.T.S. (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System) and free shooting. Using V.A.T.S., the player can view the odds of hitting individual limbs on a foe, then decide which areas to target, with the number of shots tied to your Action Point level. V.A.T.S. targeting can be used as long as the player has sufficient Action Points.
You travel the Commonwealth bartering for goods – especially bottlecaps (the coin of the realm), lock picking and hacking computer terminals and killing foes. Battles can pop up from just about anywhere, necessitating a frequent selection of the “quick save” feature. Players can also locate station to mod weapons and armor and mix chemicals and foodstuffs to create more powerful aids to health.
Building your character’s abilities again implements the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system, with the primary attributes of Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck. An extensive sub-system of perks become available as you rank up in the seven primary perks. You can hone your personality to focus on strength or intelligence or any number of combinations to develop a character who is uniquely you.
New to the series is the ability to use workshops to create settlements, kind of a SimWasteland. Recycling nearby raw materials, the player can construct settlements that, by using a radio beacon, can be populated by area residents.
The settlements then begin to produce food, water and power, while the player must keep the settlers happy by providing beds to sleep in, food and water and safety. More than one settlement can be built and connections can be made between them.
In the course of this review, the settlement building wasn’t tested much. It will more likely be used by many players as a post-story aspect of the game.
The game will provide literally dozens of hours of gameplay, whether traveling through the wilderness, fighting and discovering new areas or purposely following the storyline to conclusion.
Fallout 4, the first full Fallout game since 2010’s Fallout New Vegas, delivers the fun and adventure fans of the series have come to expect. The many, many hours that players will spend in the Commonwealth will be enhanced by the world-building aspect of the game.
Platform: Xbox One, Playstation 4
Score: 9.25 “quick save” chilies
Review Statement: An Xbox One retail copy of this game was provided by Bethesda for the purpose of this review.