Fallout 4 (PC) Review

By Athanasios 21.11.2015 2

Review for Fallout 4 on PC

Every year has its fair share of triple-A titles, yet not all of them carry the same weight. Sure, the next Assassin's Creed, Call of Duty, or GTA will make many a gamer happy, but the anticipation for a new addition to Metal Gear, The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Doom, and so on, is beyond comparison. Case in point, Bethesda's ambitious, and much awaited, third trip into post-nuclear USA, Fallout 4; a trip that, for the most part, feels almost identical to previous instalments, although it certainly does add some new goodies and updates to the franchise's standard recipe. To be honest, however, and to paraphrase the series' famous quote: Bethesda. Bethesda never changes - which means that, in many ways, not only is this just a slightly altered Fallout 3, but most of the later one's problems were carried over. Is the end result disappointing, though? Thankfully, the answer is: far from it.

2077 was the year that the Great War started, only to end two hours later, when the last A-bomb fell on earth's now irradiated soil. Of course, anyone coming from any iteration of Fallout's alternative universe already knows this, but it's the first time that the main character will start his or her journey a couple of minutes before this horrifying event - that is, if the player finds the courage to interrupt the main title's majestic theme, and press the 'New Game' button, which, in turn, leads to the protagonist and his wife/her husband looking at the mirror, in what seems to be the most flexible facial creation sequence in recent history. The important thing here, though, is how these few moments in the colourful pop art-inspired pre-war era, succeed in creating a wonderful contrast with the strain of total nuclear annihilation, especially while watching the two main characters running towards Vault-Tec's underground shelter, and reaching it moments before Armageddon.

Both metaphorically and literally, it all starts with a bang. It's impressive. It's cool. It's awesome. Even better, this time around the protagonist will have to deal with a task far more imperative than finding a functioning Water Chip, a missing father, or some guys that need to be fed a couple of bullets, and that is none other than the rescuing of his/her infant son. Exiting this high-tech hole, and taking the first step into the strangely beautiful, post-apocalyptic Commonwealth wasteland, will lead to the realisation of two things: first, that the criticism about this game having the look of a marginally upgraded Skyrim was correct, and, second, that it doesn't really matter. Why? While this isn't as "next"-gen as it should be, this stops being a problem after gazing upon the war-ravaged, yet highly-detailed, Boston forests and settlements, the misty Glowing Sea and it's yellow landscapes, or a charging Deathclaw, the towering, nightmarish inhabitant of this hostile environment.

Screenshot for Fallout 4 on PC

This isn't a technical masterpiece, and why should it be? After all, both The Elder Scrolls and the Fallout series were always focused in being the most engrossing time sinks in the industry - and succeed in doing so. Furthermore, those expecting another pseudo-gargantuan world can rejoice, since, instead of a big region with lots of forgettable dungeons sprinkled around, there's a POI every 10 or so steps; each unique in design, and each telling a small story through the use of visuals, or terminal logs. The only serious flaw in terms of immersion is how easy it is to get lost in all sorts of missions and areas that beg thorough exploring; something that diminishes the urgency of finding the hero's/heroine's child - not to mention some of the storyline's weaknesses, like the anti-climactic endings, or those half-hearted stabs at some scientific/philosophical subjects whose surface barely gets scratched. Then again, Bethesda was always a master of world-building, not storytelling.

Gameplay-wise, this is still a game of exploration, questing, and fighting, with gunfights being simply the best in the series. Fallout 4 makes use of V.A.T.S., a unique variation of the Bullet Time mechanic, which enables aiming at a specific part of an enemy's body, with some more susceptible to damage, and some stunning the opponent when shot. This wonderful system has been rebalanced, slowing down time instead of freezing it, and feeling less like a godly power, and more like a nice supplement to manual aiming. Another improvement is that the extremely useful Power Armor is no longer a piece of equipment, but a bipedal, human-size walking tank that needs specialised fuel to work, turning the use of it into a tactical decision. What about the cons, though? Well, they are the usual bunch: there are only a few types of enemies, their AI is simplistic, and the challenge is pretty low - even in the Survival difficulty setting.

Screenshot for Fallout 4 on PC

Exploration has gotten a slight, but all-around useful re-tweak. Collecting loot is now much faster, since there's no need to open a container in order to look what's inside, but the best thing (and the one that gives Fallout 4 some sort of survival vibe) is that most items, and especially the useless junk that litter all Bethesda titles, can be scrapped into useful components like wood and steel, gears and screws, or even rare resources like adhesive or fibre-optics; in other words, crafting materials for altering the available equipment… and building towns, because it's now possible to create communities in various parts of the world, and populate them with settlers. While simplistic and far from an essential part of this adventure, this The Sims-like pastime can be quite the addictive time-muncher, making anyone forget to kill some Super mutants, and instead focus on creating beds, water purification devices, small farms, or robotic sentries, amongst others - and all these with the use of the worst user interface imaginable.

After Morrowind, Bethesda has surely taken a turn for the worse, with all of its products being tailor-made for consoles - and, no, the excuse of how much harder it is porting something to PCs is ridiculous when the title at hand is nothing less than a multi-million dollar production. Long story short: the UI sucks, and - as of now - many of the controls can't be changed; controls that were made with the gamepad in mind. On the bright side, bugs and glitches are almost non-existent, which, if nothing else, shows that Bethesda has finally learned a few lessons from past mistakes. Furthermore, it all runs pretty smoothly, with only a few hiccups and frame rate drops, although the loading times when entering an indoor area can be quite nerve-breaking - and a perfect opportunity to turn on the in-game radio stations, and enjoy calming classical orchestrations, or fantastic golden oldies from the '50s, played by the most hilariously socially-awkward and absent-minded DJ.

Screenshot for Fallout 4 on PC

Of course, the meat and potatoes of any RPG, and especially an open-world one, are its quests, which, thankfully, are all very good, although, like Skyrim, they hand-hold a bit more than needed, with a marker pointing out the location of each subsequent step - which means that the best missions are those that require a little more effort, like, for instance, the search for the keyword that opens up the entrance to a secret base. In terms of character development, writing, voice-acting, and overall story and plot-twists, there's not much to say, other than that it's all exciting and well-implemented, but still far from perfection. An aspect that spices things up a bit, but also disappoints, is the ability to be escorted by companions; companions who can't understand what stealth is, who repeat the same things over and over, and who, as expected, are freaking immortal - which is another long-running and immersion-destroying tradition of the developer.

The thing that raises the replay value quite a bit is Perks, along with the major attributes that they are linked to, fiddling with which can lead to all sorts of characters, although this system has yet to reach the depth of the first two, pre-Bethesda Fallout episodes. It's possible to create accurate gunslingers, strong and resistant pack-mules, charismatic leaders that can talk themselves out of problems, sneaky thieves, and so on - yet even this part isn't without its fair share of flaws, with some types of builds being far better than others. Most notably, Fallout 4 doesn't give enough opportunities to be truly evil. Sure, the hero can mock, steal, and generally be a dick, but not really a menace of society. In conclusion: addicting, but also repetitive; enjoyably open-ended, yet lacking enough end-game material; an engrossing experience with an unparalleled attention to detail, but full of both minor and major flaws. In other words: a Bethesda game.

Screenshot for Fallout 4 on PC

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Those expecting a pure AAA, next-gen experience, an innovative product that pushes the genre forward and sets the bar high, or a flawless diamond, will be disappointed. Fallout 4 will not create an industry revolution, and it won't leave the rest of the competition in the dust - but it's a great game, nonetheless. It's better than previous Bethesda creations in some ways, inferior in others, but overall, it's another wonderful addition to the franchise; addictive, immersive, spellbinding. Its grim world is vast and beautiful in its own unique way, its plot captivating despite its many shortcomings, and the few minor, but still interesting, additions and tweaks make the gameplay even better than before. Grab that nuclear-fuelled Power Armor, then, step into the acid rain, and get ready to enter a world that might not be perfect, but is certainly hard to avoid coming back to again, and again, and again.

Fallout 4 can be bought from Play-Asia.com in Steam format today, along with many other great digitally released titles on the likes of Nintendo's eShop, the PlayStation Network, and so on, across all regions.

Image for

Developer

Bethesda Game Studios

Publisher

Bethesda Softworks

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=AyVQ9KaPxRI

After spending more than 300 hours on it, I just have to add that, while as a whole F4 is great, building settlements and doing quests for them might just be the worst part - buggy as hell, and full of design problems.

Can't a fella drink in peace?
                                -Farnham

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