Review – Fallout 4
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Genre: Open World RPG
Director: Todd Howard
Release Date: November 10th 2015
Almost six years on from its initial release, I decided to go back and revisit Fallout 4 for review. This is also the first time that I have played the game in over half a decade. It was an interesting experience to see how the game has aged in that time and how different my modern perspective on it to the hype-ridden thoughts that I had at the time.
When Fallout 4 dropped back in late 2015, it was a pretty huge deal for me. I love Fallout 3 and New Vegas, so the idea of an updated experience from a Bethesda who were riding particularly high at the time, was an exciting one. Ultimately, I was largely let down, not because the game wasn’t any good, but because the game couldn’t possibly live up to all of the hype it had garnered prior to its release.
Fallout 4 was exactly what we had been waiting years for, but that’s just it. This game was exactly what fans were hoping for and nothing more, which felt fairly underwhelming at the time.
A great deal has happened since Fallout 4 dropped six years ago. Bethesda released one of the worst received games of all time when they dropped Fallout 76 in late 2018, and in late 2020, Microsoft acquired Bethesda’s parent company, Zenimax in a move that is set to shift the entire paradigm of the videogame market. Therefore, playing Fallout 4 in 2021, it actually feels like you are getting to step back to a simpler time.
Playing this game for the first time in years feels like slipping on an old pair of comfortable slippers. The controls all come back to you immediately, the charm of a Fallout game is immediately present and it feels like you are right back at home. The world is vast, beautiful in parts and grotesque in others and I’m not just talking about the intentional aesthetic ugliness of the game’s world.
Stretched textures, dated character models, stiff animation loops, clipping, short draw distance and technical glitches are just some of the problems that come with Bethesda using the dated Creation Engine to create their open world games. The best thing graphically in this game are undoubtedly the lighting effects and the more vibrant colour pallet that was chosen. When the rays of sunshine hit the trees of Sanctuary Hills at the right moment this game can actually look quite beautiful, but that is immediately lost when you turn around and see the eerie face of Mama Murphy. So the presentation could be better, but I feel that’s to be expected from a Bethesda game and that is still a problem to this day.
This standard of quality shouldn’t have been acceptable even from a game in 2015. If CD Projekt Red and Kojima Productions could put out large scale open world games in the same year that didn’t look like they were developed for early PS3, then there is no real reason that Bethesda couldn’t. The fact that we had to continually endure these flaws right up until as late as November 2018 is frankly ridiculous.
The shooting still feels just as clunky as it did at the time, but I am a big fan of the VATS system and it feels really good to re-experience the feature after it was butchered in Fallout 76. The crafting system in this game is also a great addition. It obviously has its flaws and it is far from the smoothest crafting system I have ever used, but in a game like Fallout it just makes so much sense and it is truly astonishing that Fallout 4 was the first game in the series to feature this mechanic. I’ve never really been into the weapon, armour, chemistry or cooking crafting stations, but the ability to build your own settlements is still awesome.
The companions in the game are all quite interesting, even if there is a strange lack of female options for companions. The worst companion though by far, is Dogmeat. He is the worst programmed and therefore the most broken. Constantly blocking corridors and doorways, not fetching items for you when they are within reaching distance and just being a general annoyance. He goes from being cute to extremely irritating in a couple of short hours.
The voice acting in the game is also something that varies vastly in quality. Both the male and female protagonists are voiced excellently, (even if it is a Caucasian man and woman doing the voices, which means if your character is any other ethnicity, they will still strangely sound white.) However, the other voices of NPC’s etc are wooden and downright awful in places.
Certain areas in the game are really cool, helping add to the tone and the immersion of the overall experience. The sound effects and score help with this too, but there is a level of polish that is clearly absent here. It lets the game down as a whole and is clearly the thing that stopped reviewers from giving the game a perfect 10 score at the time. People on the internet have given the game’s dialogue system a lot of hate over the years and while I can see where that is coming from, I’ve always personally thought that it functions perfectly fine.
Fallout 4 was never going to break any major ground, it was never going to change the gaming landscape on any grand scale and it does feel like a 10+ year old game rather than just a six year old game. In hindsight, I’m okay with all of that, because at the end of the day, it is more Fallout and that was all that I needed it to be. Sure, it would have been nicer if the game had looked a bit prettier and some of the systems were a bit smoother. Regardless of this though, to be back in the wasteland, taking part in random battles that break out beside you as you wander through this dead world, looting until you can’t walk properly, it brought feelings out in me that I haven’t felt since Fallout 3. And going by the utter train-wreck that was Fallout 76, feelings that I may not ever get to feel again.
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