ImaJAN Media Network
MeltedJoystick Home
   Games  Members
Search +
Searching... Close  
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
  
 
  Login Using Facebook
Twitter
 
     

Nelson Schneider's Video Game Reviews (359)

view profile + 
 
Sundered 3/5
Iconoclasts 3/5
Divinity: Original Sin 2 4.5/5
Heroes of the Monkey Ta... 4/5
Lands of Lore III 2.5/5
Lands of Lore II: Guard... 1/5
Lands of Lore: Throne o... 2/5
Rage 2 4/5
EnHanced 3.5/5
Blossom Tales: The Slee... 3.5/5
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 2.5/5
Far Cry 5 4/5
Jotun 2/5
Armada 4/5
RiME 2.5/5
Song of the Deep 4.5/5
Shadowrun: Hong Kong 4/5
Destiny 2 4/5
Shadowrun: Dragonfall 4/5
Shadowrun Returns 3/5
Kirby Star Allies 3.5/5
Dark Quest 2 3.5/5
Never Alone 3/5
Octopath Traveler 3/5
Guacamelee! 2 4/5

Next 25
 

Fallout 4   PC (Steam) 

‘Fallout’ Never Changes… But It Really Needs To…    3/5 stars

The last main ‘Fallout’ game was released in 2008, in the form of Bethesda Softwork’s “Fallout 3,” which impressed me with its fawning authenticity and appreciation for the lore established in the franchise by Black Isle Studios before the death of Interplay allowed Bethesda to swoop in and buy-up ‘Fallout’ from the auction block. Two years later, Obsidian Entertainment, an Indie development team crafted from the post-apocalyptic remains of Black Isle, was given the opportunity to make another ‘Fallout’ game, thus in 2010 we got the inauthentic-feeling bug-fest that was “Fallout: New Vegas.”

It wouldn’t be until 2015, a significant 5 years after the release of “Fallout: New Vegas” and a whopping 7 years after the release of “Fallout 3,” that Bethesda would continue the much beloved Post-Nuclear RPG FPS franchise with “Fallout 4,” going it alone, once again, without the assistance of the folks at Obsidian. Having quite enjoyed “Fallout 3,” and having seen early footage of “Fallout 4” that revealed Bethesda adopted the improved shooting mechanics from Obsidian’s work on “Fallout: New Vegas,” my expectations and excitement were high. With a few refinements to the gameplay and some better quality control and bugtesting, “Fallout 4” stood the best chance of being the series high-point…

…But then I played it.

Presentation
“Fallout 4” is built in Bethesda’s proprietary Creation Engine, which is really just a customized suite of existing third-party engines, including both Havok and Gamebryo, which were used as the foundations of other Bethesda games, including “The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion” and “Fallout 3.” The Creation Engine was first used in “The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim,” and “Fallout 4” definitely has a similar look, feel and level lack of polish to that game. Taking place largely in the ruins of Boston, Massachusetts, and surrounding areas of the Commonwealth, “Fallout 4” looks slightly less drab than both “Fallout 3” and “Fallout: New Vegas,” largely because much of the urban enter of Boston is still intact and recognizable. Standing on top of a ruined skyscraper will present the player with an almost beautiful vista of the post-nuclear-holocaust world. While I still find it odd that so much of the world remains seemingly-untouched and left-as-it-was as the Chinese bombs obliterated The American Dream once and for all, the recognizable locations from real-world Boston and its surroundings are still interesting to explore.

Character designs remain largely unchanged from “Fallout 3.” However, while there are a large number of named individuals with whom the player can strike-up a conversation, “Fallout 4” actually manages to feel over-populated due to the huge number of samey-looking generic NPCs who seem to exist only to grunt or say, “Huh?” when the player talks to them. Indeed, between the enormous number of Raiders (hostile humans who take ‘Every Man for Himself’ as gospel) and the enormous number of Settlers and Traders inhabiting the Commonwealth, it doesn’t really seem like all that many people actually died in the war.

The audio in “Fallout 4” is definitely less impressive than in previous Bethesda ‘Fallout’ efforts. While Bethesda games typically have a large and diverse voiceacting cast, with a handful of big, recognizable names/voices in key roles and a larger number of relative unknowns pulling multi-duty in voicing a large number of characters, “Fallout 4” largely does away with big names. Sure, Ron Pearlman does a little bit of ‘War Never Changes’ at the very beginning, but aside from his token appearance, the only voice I actually recognized was the wooden performance of the ever-grating Tim Russ, who ruined “Star Trek Voyager” with his portrayal of Tuvok. Most of the other voiceactors in “Fallout 4” are mid-range or niche actors (though they are indeed actors, and not just the Intern from Accounting) I’ve never heard of.

The soundtrack is likewise a step-down from preceding ‘Fallout’ titles. With “Fallout 3,” Bethesda introduced the idea of accompanying the game with a radio station that played a number of lore-authentic licensed tunes from the 1940s and 1950s. These tunes provide a great opportunity to juxtapose the bleak game world with cheery music, or to go all melancholic. “Fallout 4” continues this tradition, and reuses a number of tunes that were licensed in “Fallout 3,” but mixed things up by dropping a few songs and adding a few new ones. The handful of new songs are all great additions to the line-up, with titles like “Atom Bomb, Baby” and “Crawl Out Through the Fallout,” but I really missed some of the songs that were dropped and really hated some of the songs that were kept (“Butcher Pete,” anyone?). As always, this radio station provides the player with the opportunity to listen to something else besides the horrible pseudo-ambient-noise soundtrack that has accompanied ‘Fallout’ since the beginning. However, the audio mixing in the game is generally quite horrible, making it difficult to hear dialog, even when manually turning off the radio.

Technically, “Fallout 4” is probably the worst experience I’ve had with a modern Bethesda-published ‘Fallout’ game. While it didn’t crash-to-desktop nearly as much as “Fallout: New Vegas” did, I experienced a bunch of annoying bugs that I had to fix with the command console. Because of this, I can’t imagine trying to play one of this technical disaster’s console ports. Worst of all, though, is the fact that I had to install a third-party mod in order to fix the load times in the game. While playing from a SSD, I was getting ridiculous random load times when entering or exiting buildings that would take up to two minutes(!). Upon researching the problem, I discovered that, apparently, loading in “Fallout 4” is tied to v-sync, and the game apparently waits for a bunch of invisible animations to complete before it will finish loading. The mod I installed simply disables v-sync during load screens, which resulted in the 2-second load times I was expecting. How does a bug like this get past QC at a “AAA” corporation?!

Story
“Fallout 4” returns its setting to the East Coast of the former United States of America, opening with a short pre-war scene in which our protagonists, a married couple whose default names are Nate and Nora, are getting ready for their day in the retro-futurist year 2077, in which The American Dream of the 1950s never died, and American culture remained largely unchanged, despite some truly sci-fi advancements in technology thanks to rampant and careless use of nuclear power and lax government oversight of (or, indeed, collusion with) corporate America. In 2077, America and China have been at war for years already, and society lives in perpetual fear of atomic annihilation. A friendly Vault-Tec representative, going door-to-door to sign-up new residents in Sanctuary Hills for the nearby Vault 111, serves as a distraction for our heroic couple – Nate being retired military and Nora being a lawyer of some sort – as they deal with watching the morning news, eating breakfast served by their robot butler, Codsworth, and taking care of their infant son, Shaun, all inside their tiny, suburban house.

The player is given free rein to customize the appearance of both Nate and Nora, then must ultimately choose one of them to inhabit as the main protagonist. No sooner do the happy couple sign the dotted line on their Vault-Tec forms than air-raid sirens sound and the world begins to end. Nate, Nora, and Shaun all rush to Vault 111, making it inside just as the first nuclear shockwaves rip through their community. Inside, they discover, coming as no surprise to anyone who have ever played a ‘Fallout’ game before, that Vault-Tec isn’t really on the up-and-up, and instead of inhabiting an underground shelter together, all of the dwellers in Vault 111 will be cryogenically frozen against their will.

An indeterminate amount of time later, our heroic family is briefly defrosted by an unknown party, who abduct the infant Shaun like a bag of frozen peas, while simultaneously murdering the parent who shared his pod. They then put the other frantic parent back on ice.

Yet another indeterminate amount of time later, the cryo system in Vault 111 completely shuts down, killing every other resident of the vault, but defrosting our surviving parent, known as the Sole Survivor, and allowing them to escape into the outside world.

The world the Sole Survivor awakens to is nothing like the world they knew, as 210 years have passed since the bombs fell and brought The American Dream to an abrupt end. Seeking nothing more than to track down the people who abducted Shaun, the Sole Survivor sets-out toward home in Sanctuary Hills, only to find burned-out skeletons of the houses there… as well as good old Codsworth the robot butler, still functioning despite being hundreds of years out of warranty.

As the Sole Survivor follows the handful of leads they can find regarding the whereabouts of Shaun and who may have taken him, they come into contact with four major factions in the Commonwealth. One of these factions, the ominous Institute, floats to the surface as a leading candidate for ‘Main Antagonist,’ while the other factions are a mix of old and new: You’ve got the Minutemen, who were an organized militia that protected the freedom of peaceful Commonwealth citizens before their Castle filled with Monster-Fish; the Railroad, an SJW group that cares more about the rights of fake people than real ones; and the old standby of the Brotherhood of Steel, who have made their way to Massachusetts from Washington, D.C. in pursuit of their goal of protecting humanity from technology run amok.

While the main story in “Fallout 4” is laughably short (roughly 15-20 hours), the game’s total runtime gets stretched to over 200 hours by both the ridiculous amount of (unimpressive) side content and by the mixed bag that is the Season Pass. I ultimately found the main story in “Fallout 4” to be completely unsatisfying, as there is no way to bring the conflict that arises between the factions to a peaceful resolution, while finding Shaun ultimately becomes something of an afterthought. The fact that the entire narrative soon switches gears from finding Shaun to worrying about Synths – robots designed to be indistinguishable from humans – also rubbed me the wrong way, as I felt that Synth paranoia was one of the dumber plot threads touched-upon in “Fallout 3.” Furthermore, as someone who has sided with the Brotherhood of Steel in EVERY other ‘Fallout’ game, I found their hardline stance and nearly-religious zeal to be significantly more off-putting than previous representations of the Brotherhood. The leader of the faction claims that this is how the Brotherhood is ‘supposed’ to be and that other leaders were too soft and moderate, but that just feels like a cop-out by the writers to make the series’ most traditionally sane faction look less appealing.

Like “Fallout 3” and “Fallout: New Vegas,” the Sole Survivor can join-up with a number of NPC companion characters. Unlike “Fallout 3,” every single damned one of them is willing to join-up, regardless of the player’s behavior (though they can sometimes be permanently lost by allying with opposing factions near the end of the game). And unlike “Fallout: New Vegas,” the player is stuck with only one companion at a time, regardless of whether they are a robot or not. Each faction has a potential companion, while there are more than a half-dozen other ones floating around the wasteland, just waiting for a friend to come along and make their day, ranging from Super Mutants, to Ghouls (who must have collectively looted an abandoned wig factory), to robots, to run-of-the-mill humans, with their own stories to uncover. In general, though, most of the companions feel like they’re in the game just to be in the game. Most of them are uninteresting, and very few of them are particularly useful (not a single one of them can hold a candle to Boone’s head-popping prowess from “Fallout: New Vegas”). I found myself traveling with each of them in turn, just for the sake of making them like me and unlocking their exclusive Perk for max friendship, then switching to the next interchangeable thing-carrier-and-bullet-magnet and repeating the process.

Like nearly every other “AAA” game in existence, and like both “Fallout 3” and “Fallout: New Vegas,” “Fallout 4” has a Season Pass, featuring a smattering of new story content. Plenty of people were unimpressed by the Season Pass content, and I generally have to agree. Much of this additional content isn’t even story-based, but merely provides new buildable objects for use in the game’s new Settlement System. Of the three story-based DLCs, one of them “Automatron,” employs the rather short-sighted technique of “Skyrim’s” “Dawnbreaker” DLC, adding random encounters with over-powered robot mobs to the entire Commonwealth map until the problem is dealt with (making it a priority over the main story of base-game sidequests). The other two DLCs, “Nuka-World” and “Far Harbor,” take place in separate map regions connected by a monorail and a boat respectively. In “Nuka-World,” the player is railroaded into becoming the Overboss of three different Raider gangs who have plans to turn the ruins of an old Disney-inspired amusement park into their own private criminal empire. In “Far Harbor,” the player must travel to Maine in order to track down a missing girl, encountering several new factions and experiencing the quirkiness of Maine in the process.

Out of all the story-based DLCs, “Far Harbor” is actually good… no, it’s GREAT. It’s actually better than the base “Fallout 4,” as it actually has focus, is reasonably-sized, and includes numerous, satisfactory ways to resolve the issues between its factions. Hell, if Bethesda had just put “Far Harbor” in a box and called it “Fallout 4,” I would have been far happier with it than with what we actually got.

On the other hand, “Nuka-World” is only of value for Evil characters (and I always play Good in these types of games), as a Good character will miss out of half the content. Likewise, “Automatron” isn’t terribly interesting and comes across as a throw-away sidequest that isn’t relevant to the base game or even to itself.

Ultimately, though, the fact that, like “Fallout: New Vegas,” the story devolves into a rats’ nest of quests dealing with factional conflict, with no good way to resolve said conflict in a way that works well for all parties involved just kills the experience for me. But the final turd on top of the ice cream sundae has to be the fact that the ending sequence does almost nothing to address the player’s actions and decisions made throughout the game. Siding with one faction vs. the other three leads to a tiny, insignificant change, but that’s it. The tradition dating all the way back to the original “Fallout” of running a number of placards and narrating the consequences of the way the player handled the side quests associated with them is completely gone. Hell, the DLC stories don’t even have any kind of ending sequence. They just… end.

In order to experience as much of the game as possible, I ended up playing all sides against each other until a final, ultimate decision, and also scoured the game for side quests and explored nearly every building I stumbled across. As a result, I sank nearly 230 hours into the game before I consulted the ‘Fallout’ Wiki, discovered that it was impossible to shape the ending I wanted, and just rushed through to the end. “Fallout 4” wore out its welcome far before I was done with it, and would have been a better experience if it was less sprawling, more focused, and about half as dense.

Gameplay
“Fallout 4” is largely identical to “Fallout 3” and “Fallout: New Vegas” from a gameplay perspective. The vast majority of the game still revolves around First-Person Shooting (or super-janky Third-Person Shooting) one’s way through the ruins of a large American city in the aftermath of a nuclear war that wiped out civilization over 2 centuries ago. Like “Fallout: New Vegas,” the shooting is reasonably refined, with ironsight aiming mechanics. And like “Fallout 3,” the player has their S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats and Perks, gaining access to either a permanent stat gain or Perk at each level-up.

Actually, “Fallout 4” adds quite a bit of polish to the core gameplay the series has featured since it transformed from an RPG into a FPS. There’s no longer a level cap, allowing players to explore the massive amount of mediocre content in the wasteland without worrying about no longer earning experience after a certain point. Weapon and armor durability has been removed completely (following the example of “Skyrim”), and gear has been further bolstered by the ability to craft modular customizations for nearly everything (even robotic companions!). As someone who goes nuts over customizing gear in FPSes, this new system really spoke to me… but then annoyed me by forcing me to pick-up all the clutter objects that litter Bethesda Sandbox games in order to scrap them for materials back at my home base, making trip after trip back to base as my carrying capacity filled-up. Unfortunately, the iconic Power Armor that has graced the box art of most ‘Fallout’ games is the sole exception, as it still takes damage and requires repair. Even worse, a suit of Power Armor also requires a Fusion Core to operate, and burns through their charge at an alarming rate just doing simple things like walking around. I understand why Bethesda thought they had to overtune and nerf Power Armor so much, as it not only increases player carrying capacity significantly (allowing for much bigger junk hauls before returning to base), but also can have a jetpack attached to it, allowing for some crazy acrobatics and exploration.

Really, the only ‘new’ mechanic in “Fallout 4” that wasn’t already established in other Bethesda games is the Settlement System by which the player can create (a) home base(s). One of the game’s factions, the Minutemen, is really fixated on creating habitable settlements throughout the Commonwealth, and by completing an infinite number of Radiant Quests (e.g., procedurally generated side quests that can be given out by a certain NPC almost endlessly), the player can clear the threats from a huge number of locations and setup each of them as a Settlement for wasteland dwellers to inhabit. Taking certain Perks allows the player to connect these allied Settlements via supply trains, making all of the crap they’ve stashed in each Settlement available to them in every connected Settlement. This crap, junk, and scrap can be used not only to customize weapons and armor, but to build the Settlements themselves, in a method that is clearly inspired by the likes of “Minecraft,” but whose actual execution is beyond clunky. Building Settlements is perhaps the biggest time sink in the game, thanks in large part to how finicky the system can be with regard to snapping building pieces together and the player’s limited movement abilities while building. I sank dozens of hours into making my Settlements look ‘cool’ and designing them to be safe… but the whole exercise was ultimately a waste of time, as even a crude, simplistic settlement that meets the minimal requirements of Food, Water, Beds, Power, and Defense will continue to function just as well as an elaborately-built one.

Lastly, I’d like to touch on the dialog tree system. Because of its roots as an RPG, longtime fans expect the protagonist in any ‘Fallout’ game to be able to say a variety of different things during conversations with NPCs. At first glance, “Fallout 4’s” revised dialog trees are great, as they streamline every conversation choice by the protagonist down to four different options, represented by 4 different input buttons. It makes dialog far less annoying and mouse-centric than it had previously been, and ultimately, four different options is plenty, especially when each option can easily lead to four more options. However, in execution, the new dialog system is just horrifically watered-down, and seems like the key culprit in the story’s lack of true choices for the player, and the player’s inability to influence the game’s outcome in all the ways one might like. Invariably, instead of offering four truly different choices during dialog, the player can either ask a question, be sarcastic, agree or disagree… and that’s it. Shades of gray and mediating options are all but lost in “Fallout 4,” and in the few cases they remain, they simply lead to more railroading toward the game’s one ultimate end. So, the ‘Fallout’ fans who complain that the new dialog tree system ‘ruined’ “Fallout 4” are only partially right: The system itself is great… it’s the choices themselves that are bland, and that could have been the case even using the old dialog tree system.

Overall
From a gameplay perspective, “Fallout 4” makes great strides in polishing the series as it continues its transformative journey from RPG to FPS (the bitterest of opposites). However, the uninteresting main quest; the bland, samey, overly-padded side quests; the railroading and overall lack of satisfying choices; and the flat, lifeless ending completely sink the overall experience. Combined with the fact that this is still a Bethesda Bugfest, and there’s actually very little reason to recommend this title to any but the most ardent ‘Fallout’ fan.

On the other and, the “Far Harbor” DLC is fantastic, and worth a play as a stand-alone experience at least. If the entire game was as focused and well-designed as this one expansion, the overall package would have been far greater.

Presentation: 3/5
Story: 2/5
Gameplay: 4/5
Overall (not an average): 3/5

 

 


Recent Comments
Comment On Review

 
 
Log In
 
For members wanting to use FB to login, click here
remember me
 
 

What Members Are Doing

Comments about...

New Game Reviews

Life is Strange: Before th... game review by Chris Kavan
Sundered game review by Nelson Schneider
Iconoclasts game review by Nelson Schneider
Divinity: Original Sin 2 game review by Nelson Schneider
F-Zero X game review by Megadrive
God of War game review by Chris Kavan
Doom (2016) game review by Chris Kavan
Cthulhu Saves the World game review by Nick

New Game Lists

Top Game List by SIngli6
Games I Own: Switch by dbarry_22
My Backlog by Chris Kavan
Backlog: Dump Truck by Nelson Schneider
Top GameCube Games by Batgirl1979
Top PlayStation 3 Games by Megadrive
Top Nintendo (NES) Games by Nick
Top Games I own by MeltedJoystick User

 

 

 

Contact Us Public Relations MeltedJoystick Friends    

Advertise and Business

Contacts Us

Jobs

About us

SiteMap

 

Support Us

FAQ and Help

News and Press

Terms of Use

Privacy

Hitfix.com

Amazon.com

OVGuide.com

   
Are you sure you want
to delete this review?