Wot I Think: Fallout 4

Fallout 4 [official site] is an open-world roleplaying game from Bethesda Game Studios, creators of Skyrim, and is set in the Boston area of America, 200 years after nuclear war all but wiped out a technologically-advanced civilization. Your character emerges into this blasted world after centuries in cryosleep, then must choose their own objectives and allegiances while battling mutants, monsters, machines and militia. It’s out tomorrow.I spent last week with it, and here’s what I made of it. This piece does not contain any plot spoilers.

52 hours. A level 29 character. 27/50 achievements. Two different endings seen. Feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. Size, of course, is something we can all but take for granted from the follow-up to Skyrim and Fallout 3 – the lingering question is whether a new layer of quality could be applied to all that wasteland quantity.

Well, good news. Either technology finally caught up to Bethesda’s aspirations, or they took so many arrows to the knee from the resoundingly popular but much-lampooned Skyrim that they finally did something about the presentation issues we’ve been whining about. The refreshingly characterful Fallout 4 fixes problems which have dogged their games for years – although it then throws in brand new ones to compensate, and it maintains the traditional smattering of bizarro bugs and underwhelming combat.

Perhaps Fallout 4’s greatest failing is one which will please hundreds of thousands of people – the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree. ‘Oblivion with guns’ comments about Fallout 3 notwithstanding, this is the Bethesda game which is most like its preceding Bethesda game. When I sit back and think about what I’ve been doing, I realise that, underneath the newly crisp and colourful skin, it’s exactly what I was doing in Skyrim, Fallout 3 and Oblivion before it.

From spending far too long crafting minor weapon upgrades to painstakingly dressing up an AI companion who keeps getting stuck on scenery, from clumsily decorating my homestead to pickpocketing everyone in sight, and most of all from constantly interrupting my current goals with a new questline to endlessly fighting men and monsters. Structurally, no matter how much it might contain and how flashy it looks, Fallout 4 almost always boils down to Go Here / Kill Lots Of Things / Upgrade / Do It Again.

This is business as usual despite numerous tweaks here, fleshings-out there and this twin series’ most impressive presentation to date. Its surprises really come only from art, and almost never from possible actions you can take. On paper, Fallout 4 isn’t doing a whole lot new, and there’s definitely an argument to be made that the Fallouts are simply the tock to The Elder Scrolls’ tick (to use the terminology applied to iPhone S releases). Despite their many flaws, Oblivion and Skyrim were still experimenting with the possibilities created in Morrowind, but like Fallout 3 before it Fallout 4 only really pushes the ideas forward in terms of themes and guns.

This would be damning, were it not for the fact that Fallout 4 does much of what it does so, so much better than Fallout 3 particularly, but also than Skyrim.

Tradition dictates that I should spend a few paragraphs moaning about how turgid the voice-acting is, how pudding-like the character faces are, how lacklustre the storytelling. And… I’m not going to. I don’t have to. Those things, those ancient Bethesda bugbears, have improved immeasurably. Not completely, but speaking as someone who repeatedly tried to kill Brother Joffrey in Oblivion so I didn’t have to hear his wretched voice again, tried to mute all Fallout 3’s voices to spare myself from lifeless shopkeepers’ dull ‘a traveller, eh?’ utterances and made arrow/knee Skyrim references only as a demonstration of contempt, I simply haven’t seen red in that way during Fallout 4.

We’re not looking at best-in-class character modelling by a long shot, and unfortunately most of the peripheral NPCs still move like clockwork-powered automatons, but the leap is dramatic enough that I’m happy to wave away the remaining shortcomings as a consequence of how much the game has to show at any one time.

Even the many, many minor bugs – people raining from the sky, farm animals mysteriously stranded on rooftops, NPCs with chairs sticking through their midriffs, enemies I could pickpocket a supposedly rare and precious resource from infinitely, disappearing companions, allies who’d futilely attempt to sprint through solid surfaces, and so many entities getting caught on scenery so frequently that you’d swear the nuclear bombs had mutated the entire world into Velcro – didn’t bother me. I guess partially I’m now so familiar with those sorts of glitches in Bethesda games that I’m almost fond of them, but partially they’re simply far less depressing when the overall presentation is so powerfully improved.

The most striking improvement is to plot-central characters and companions. These benefit from extra-detailed and more carefully-animated faces; this paired with bolder character design, more characterful and convincing writing and what seems to be a whole new broom when it comes to voice direction (far more of a problem than the actors themselves were) makes Fallout 4’s cast and dialogue revelatory by its developer’s recent standards.

Though the optional NPC companions might not quite be up to BioWare standards (and there’s certainly a whole lot less you can do with/to them), they are at least within touching distance now. There are people I wanted to have with me because I enjoyed their company, not just because they ticked the requisite combat boxes.

Even quest-givers and other major NPCs have presence now. Rarely did I feel some hired voice was reading a script aloud for the first time, or that I was listening to the first respondent to a casting call for ‘Evil Gangster Boss Guy’. (The exception being generic bandit-type cannon fodder enemies, but this relates to wider problem with these I’ll come back to later).

A fat injection of colour into the wasteland makes an enormous difference too. In its defence, Fallout 3 came at a time when post-apocalyptic settings in mainstream pop culture were still relatively rare, and irradiated deserts still seemed exciting compared to traditional RPGs’ forests and caves, but even so, it was bleached of far more life than it needed to be to sell the fantasy. Here, it’s as though a brown fog has been lifted.

Sadly Fallout 4 still makes the errant assumption that not a single tree would have survived or sprouted even one leaf after two centuries after the bombs fell, so a foundational brown’n’grey remains – but then again it is the series’ signature look.

Fortunately this game does reason that radiation would not, in fact, have removed both all existing paint and the materials with which to create new paint from existence, and so almost every single scene flashes with smatterings of vibrancy. There’s a slight cheat going on in that, even though the game is set at least 200 years after the bombs fell, its New England is designed to look as if the apocalypse was relatively recent. This means more colour, and more dark detail too – skeletal bodies found, BioShock-style, near logs and props which tell the story of their final hours, and near-intact shops and buildings which feel abandoned, Marie Celeste-style, rather than dilapidated and looted into ruin.

Similarly, a peculiar number of terminals and defence systems have retained power even after all these years and all that destruction. But while there might be logical fallacies underpinning this (though that’s an absurd claim to make anyway, given Fallout is inherently maximalist, anything-goes sci-fi rather than true grit realism), I’m entirely happy with it – it’s more life, colour and personality to the world, saving it from the hollowness of Fallout 3’s brown, dead sprawl.

The same new vibrancy is true of outfits; although armour remains faded and ramshackle, there’s a huge amount of non-combat apparel on show, from sparkly sequin dresses to Thin White Duke suits. These can make NPCs more distinctive, or inject a little bit of Saint’s Row dress-up merriment into your own character. (Clearly, a dress or suit has no defensive capabilities so you’ll don armour for quests and fights, but they do tend to have Charisma or Perception bonuses, thus are highly useful when shopping or stealing in towns).

Looking through my hundreds of screenshots, the vast majority are simply me posing my hero in a new outfit. It’s here that Fallout 4 is at its most playful, and most successful at offering self-expression rather than mere utility. It’s almost as though Bethesda are trying to get a march on modders – or perhaps openly inviting them to make silly stuff. Fallout suits that far more than The Elder Scrolls ever could, after all.

Which brings me to a complaint of sorts, and that relates to tone. I can’t go into plot details, but it gets very dark very quickly, and then seems to create a pulsing sense of urgency. Your character, a survivor from just before the bombs dropped, is leaving Vault 111 in order to rescue someone very important to them, and very vulnerable. There’s a sense that every moment matters – until it doesn’t. Fallout 4’s very nature is to be a teeming mass of distractions, and pinballing from the gruesome to the absurd, and from micro-managed shopping to doing other people’s routine dirty work. It simply can’t maintain that urgency, that sense of crisis and tar-black seriousness.

It’s analogous to how Batman’s mission to save Gotham from this psychopath or the other in the Arkham games is constantly undermined by rooting around for Riddler trophies, but at least Batman didn’t stop to try on a new hat or find seven broken toasters so he could weld new bits onto his armour.

Of course, historically the main questline in Bethesda games is but a sideshow to your fundamental freeform existence in the world. The big stories are good for dramatic back-of-the-box blurb and self-important trailers, but really they’re just a structure to guide players across the world and provide guidance for players who freak out it there isn’t a quest arrow as soon as the tutorial ends. While you can of course go entirely off-piste almost immediately and for as long as you like, here the main plot both feels more time-sensitive (though it isn’t in reality) and a little more intrinsic to the world. Where these games usually offer discreet sub-campaigns for the factions you can optionally join, here all those feed into the main story, as do several side-quests, and there are even large, spectacular, oft-revisited areas that you’ll only get to see if you head deep into the central quests. All this is great in terms of providing a new coherency, but it does feel a little like Fallout 4 is trying to have its cake and eat it – be an open world game and a Big Story game.

I actually think it broadly gets away with this, bar some discomfort in the first hour or two that I wasn’t getting on with The Very Important Thing and that my character barely ever mentioned it despite being in tears not long ago. (And, in fairness, Fallout 1 did something similar, though there the comparisons pretty much end). The plot is pure pulp and drizzled with perhaps inadvertent silliness, but it’s BIG, has this driving sense of escalation to it, and builds to its conclusions carefully rather than abruptly, with plenty of opportunity to make your mind up about who you’re going to support – or even double-cross.

It’s not a case of having a do-or-don’t finale dropped on you in the final mile, but rather of making ongoing choices with their own setpiece quests throughout. Put it this way: you’re not to be quickloading a save from two minutes before the end, Deus Ex-style, so you can try out every conclusion for size. To see the endings I haven’t yet brought about, I’ll need to go several hours backwards.

A conclusion, then, feels earned, and you get to see some immense stuff both within quests and across the world as a whole in the process. There are several facepalm moments as the denouements approach, and we’re going to see some exasperated articles and videos about them, but for my money it’s nothing like as clanging as Fallout 3’s resolution. Best of all, several key storylines resume after the ‘ending’ sequence plays. To what extent I don’t yet know as it became time to write, but I’ll be doing some follow-up pieces. Right now I feel there is still tons to mine from the game; if nothing else, despite hitting level 28 after 50 hours, I can see skill unlocks which require me to be almost level 50, and most of the in-game map remains unexplored. If I want it to, this is going to keep me busy for at least the rest of the year.

On page two: combat, disappointments, crafting and a conclusion.

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297 Comments

Top comments

  1. Alec Meer says:

    FYI I can't talk about plot yet - though may do post-release - but I will try to field any other questions in this thread, if you like.
  1. Andelect says:

    Well this is a much better review that the one that was accidentally posted early by a different website (In the Fallout 4 discussions thread). I am much more trusting of this review and it’s made me somehow more excited for tomorrow.

    • PancakeWizard says:

      That makes absolutely zero sense. You’ve just said you prefer the review that confirms your own bias. Nipping all internet hyperbole in the bud (haha! how naive!), the ‘leaked review’ was actually fairly positive, but numb to to the fact this was ‘Bethesda as usual’. Now the interesting thing isn’t that this review is more positive than that one, it’s that it directly contradicts it in regards to character and voice acting.

      While I don’t doubt Alec enjoyed himself, I am skeptical that Bethesda hasn’t made the same mistakes with NPC design. The ‘brighter’ art style (ignoring the fact we are so far from Fallout’s original leanings it’s just through the looking glass at this point), shouldn’t really disguise this, and I wonder if that didn’t have an effect here.

      • PancakeWizard says:

        As an aside, the stuff I’m reading about with the Fallout 4 launch party in LA makes me think “Were the fuck are we now?” concerning the game industry.

      • Ergates_Antius says:

        That makes absolutely zero sense. You’ve just said you prefer the review that confirms your own bias
        That makes perfect sense. All humans do this, every day. It’s how our brains work.

        • Unclepauly says:

          Beat me to it, as I can’t find the senselessness in the OP.

        • SomeDuder says:

          It may make sense, but don’t be surprised when you get called out on it.

          I have no attachment to any “videogame “”””””journalism””””””” sites/mags (sorry I couldn’t add more quotes around “journalism” without breaking something), but it can only be a good sign that there’s multiple views on a single product. Plus, I don’t get the impression that either review is written from a sensationalist standpoint to generate dem clicks.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Philopoemen says:

    So to sum up, its lots more pretty, and voice acting has improved…but the actual gameplay of running around doing stuff (other than building a house and dressing oneself) is a bit of let down? Not even going to worry about the storyline, because Bethesda.

    The description re the usefulness of Charisma just makes me realise, that while this will be the game for many, it will not be the game for me. I hope everyone who is looking forward to this enjoys it as much as it’s been built up though.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      I think Alec more or les said that the “bad” parts are those that basically offer no step forward compared to previous games, which is a way to say that if you liked them this still is an improved version of games you already love in many other regards.

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        Plus i still don’t know what to think about the Charisma part, maybe Alec can better clarify, because if it’s anything similar to NV in which i still killed a million souls i’m already sold. You could do some key things with it but mass murder in many other parts was still inevitable.

        If it’s worse than that or worse than FO3 we might have a problem, but i think we need more context and a direct comparison wouldn’t hurt.

        • ohminus says:

          In FalloutNV, you at least had a slim chance to talk your way out of having to fight the cheesy, overpowered end boss. And for a lot of other things, you also had nonviolent options. Of course you could go into Red Rock Canyon guns blazing. But you could also win the Khans over and have them kill the Legion emissary for you…

        • Echo_Hotel says:

          Falllout 1&2 Both had multiple methods of nonviolently ending most ploted encounters, I recall that it was possible to finish both games without killing any humans/mutants/ghouls at all.
          Fallout 3 was the game that introduced raiders that would chase you from one end of the world to another. I truly wish there was some sort of enemy moral system so I could spare at least a few people, I’d like to be able to see random NPC’s as more than blobs of exp and loot.

          • Laurentius says:

            In Fallout 1 and 2, wounded enemies actuall run away, I don’t recall seeing this in games in recent years at all. If combat starts you’ca got to end them, every last of them.

          • Hedgeclipper says:

            Oh yes, and the wounded go all Black Knight “I’ll bite your kneecaps!”

          • Coming Second says:

            Sometimes raiders in Fallout 3 did run away… the problem was they generally fled in the direction you also had to go, and they recovered from the shock of seeing half a dozen of their mates turned into paste in as many seconds.

            Why so few games ever give you the option of stripping surrendering enemies of their weapons and telling them to go rethink their life choices really annoys me.

      • Unsheep says:

        Those who liked the previous Bethesda Fallout games or thought they were ‘OK’ will most likely really enjoy this one too. Those of us who did not particularly enjoy them don’t seem to have been converted. That’s perfectly OK though, diversity is the way things should be.

    • rgbarton says:

      Actually from what I’ve hear the combat has been majorly improved over previous games adding greater sense of weight and impact to weapons

  3. Palladian says:

    What a beautifully written review, I’m sure people will read it in its entirety before replying :).

    I do have a question, though. This review mentions extra detailed animation on main characters: isn’t that terribly distracting? Can you judge someone’s importance to the plot by how they walk?

    • Alec Meer says:

      well it just makes them more believable, when paired with the improved vocal performances. It’s long been a problem that BGS characters are quite puppety. I’m talking primarily about facial and hand animations, btw.

    • SparringLlama says:

      My thoughts exactly. This review was wonderfully written :).

  4. MiniMatt says:

    How’s the comparison with New Vegas?

    If I’m reading this right, FO4 is a technical improvement on FO3, whereas NV was a story and soul improvement over FO3 (certain, otherwise beloved, ex RPS staffer’s opinions notwithstanding).

    • Alec Meer says:

      It’s kinda hard to compare. I suspect NV will ultimately be seen as better-written but the massive presentation bump here (and the size of what it tries to do) can’t help but lift F4 above it in some storytelling respects.

      • namad says:

        I would have liked new vegas to have been mentioned more in the main article. New vegas was the previous fallout game released by publisher bethseda, not fallout 3… you mention fallout 3 again and again but don’t even hint at new vegas.

        • packetstorm says:

          FNV is Obsidian’s creation. It makes sense to compare FO4 to FO3, in order to highlight Bethesda’s progression.

          • namad says:

            When a new CoD comes out they still compare it to the previous one, even though CoD’s alternate developers.

      • yogibbear says:

        I’ve been replaying Fallout: New Vegas up to release of Fallout 4 and will get my copy maybe tomorrow in the mail *fingers crossed* but wow am I concerned about the change in character creation / Perks vs. e.g. choosing to level up speech to 100 to solve all my quests in cool and new ways, I need to meet level and other perk requirements and there isn’t even a speech stat to tell me if I’m doing anything right, instead this is lumped into charisma? WTF? Less Oblivion comparisons and more Fallout 3 / Fallout New Vegas would have been appreciated, but otherwise fantastic article! HYPE IS REAL!

        • Press X to Gary Busey says:

          Skills through perk levels shouldn’t make that much of a difference compared to the old skills. Most checks in F3/FNV were against 25, 50, 75 or 100 and anything in between was useless. Unless you were carrying around a supply of skill boosting drugs or clothing and knew in advance when to use them.

          • ohminus says:

            “Skills through perk levels shouldn’t make that much of a difference compared to the old skills. Most checks in F3/FNV were against 25, 50, 75 or 100 and anything in between was useless.”

            Yes, it does make a significant difference – it takes away the immersive process of having to invest into a skill over time. the proper progress would have been to modify chances such as based on whether you’re in combat, wounded etc. and introduce a few more stages in between, not reducing skills into stickers you can put on your character’s imaginary bumper. As it stands, the system is little different from the one in Bioshock 1.

          • Press X to Gary Busey says:

            It doesn’t make any difference compared to how it’s done in Fallout 3 and New Vegas, for example lockpick between 26 and 49 is the same as having 25, it’s discrete jumps rather than a progression.
            I’m not defending it. I love complex simulations and p&p RPG’s with hundreds of skills, perks and abilities.

          • ohminus says:

            Actually, it does make a difference in that learning “skills” is in big jumps instead of gradually – and instead of actual skills, you just get a fancy sticker you can slap on your puppet.

  5. Alec Meer says:

    FYI I can’t talk about plot yet – though may do post-release – but I will try to field any other questions in this thread, if you like.

    • MiniMatt says:

      Oh, good point, hard not to get spoilery. Um, trying to think how to phrase – that bit in your review about how it ultimately boils down to “go there, shoot them, come back” – is a very familiar vibe from FO3, Skyrim – as you say, Bethesda generally.

      NV, on occasions, just managed to pull away from there – you could wander the desert and have meaningful encounters (with enough willing suspension of disbelief), the world seemed more real, the story broader and filled with inconsequential bits.

      NV felt like an Oblivion game on Bethesda tech, FO3 felt like Bethesda game on Bethesda tech. I’m getting the impression from the review that FO4 is a better Bethesda game on better Bethesda tech.

    • Stock says:

      I could be completely mistaken, in which case you must forgive me, but judging by other reviews I’ve read could this:

      ‘Until it doesn’t’

      Referring to the tension and feeling that every moment matters, be seen as a spoiler? Obviously you don’t need to go into detail, and again if I’m wrong then absolutely don’t worry. I’m just concerned you might be giving away more than you need to.

      • jonfitt says:

        But couldn’t confirming that it might be a spoiler, be a spoiler?
        .
        But also, if it’s not a spoiler, confirming that could be a spoiler!!?
        .
        It’s Catch Spoiler 22!
        .
        At some point you just need to relax and worry less.

    • abHowitzer says:

      How fun is exploration? How interesting is it to actually just wander around, or pick an arbitrary spot on the map and say “hey, let’s go there”. Are the locations and regions and places interesting/fun/peculiar/intriguing/.. ?

      And, how does the world feel – is it static like FO3/NV/Skyrim or do you have some influence based on your actions?

      And, last question, does the gameworld feel like it’s “lived in”? Like there’s an actual living breathing world outside of your existence?

      • klops says:

        Without playing the game (of course), I’d dare to say with 97% scientifical correctness that:

        Exploration is as fun as in earlier 3D-Fallouts. You find places that have a setting like charred skeletons ducked and covered under a table. Then you find bullets and perhaps a holotape or something similar. Many people enjoyed that, I found it boring – the exporation mostly didn’t bring interesting quests or new places.

        The world feels static as cRPGs mostly (always?) do. You may remove/replace main party and residents in some places. Comparable with Megaton quest in F3. YOu may build your own places with robot NPCs.

        Does the world feel lived in? Like the review told, the bombs dropped couple centuries ago and there are lots of places where nothing has happened after that, although animals and raiders are roaming in them. So I’d say no, the world feels like a setting to be explored and feel empowered in. The world is also built by Bethesda, so even stronger “no”.

      • Alec Meer says:

        You can find a lot of stuff through pure exploration, and there are definitely some surprises, but as I say it perhaps too often boils down to ‘go shoot a bunch of things.’ There’s a fair bit of backstory stuff scattered around terminals and holotapes though, and occasionally you’ll run into someone friendly-ish with stuff to say or things to do.

        On static and lived-in, well, it’s playground for the player rather than a living, breathing space. There’s some nice stuff in the main city where npcs interact a little, but it’s mostly just a better-performed take on what Skyrim does. In the wasteland, you might find a few talky NPCs here and there, hiding in buildings and the like, and some things which lead to interesting new quests, but the overarching conceit used is that raiders and supermutants might be anywhere so almost no-one non-murderous is really living out there. i.e. much like Fallout 3.

    • MiniMatt says:

      Oooh, ooh, I’ve got another question – what’s the music like?

      FO3 & NV did such a neat line in 50s/country music that sat so well with the 50s sci-fi fallout theme.

      Although after about a squillion hours in virtual apocalyptic Nevada I was about ready to take Johnny’s guitar and stick it some place he’d never be able to play it again.

      • Alec Meer says:

        The music’s really good, actually. Both the period stuff and the original score, which is more I guess sci-fi and dramatic, but resists ridiculous bombast.

        Also the main DJ is this excellent paranoid wreck who keeps freaking out, which seems a whole lot more appropriate to the situation than Cool Smooth Badass Guy. But the radio dialogue loops a little too often.

        • MiniMatt says:

          Many thanks, I guess looping is always going to be a problem once you sink 50+ hours into something, but good to know it’s still solid.

    • Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

      I have one very important question: Why did they make such a huge effort when this game, then give that dog such awful, awful textures?

    • Doothewop says:

      Did you just say “consolified”?

    • Distortion says:

      Not sure if it already got mentioned somewhere in the large amount of comments. When I played through the intro part, and walked into a room with a bunch of radroaches, the game actually told me what VATS was and how to use it. Maybe that part was bugged (pun intended) or maybe if you’d used vats before that point it figures you know how? I’m not sure. The rest of the things you mentioned it not telling you were the same for me.

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    phuzz says:

    Gah, I was planning on not buying this for a few months so that it got patched and updated, but this review makes me think I could happily throw hundreds of hours into this.
    So, fellow RPS’ers, how long do you think I should wait before buying? First official patch? First fan-patch? First sale?
    (or d: finish all the other games in my backlog first)

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      You should wait until about… Yesterday.

      In all seriousness, if you’re dropping full price you might aswell get it now given this review.

      Off course waiting for a sale is another thing.

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        The best answer is the backlog one, but just in theory, as we all know it’s the greatest lie in gaming!

    • kfmush says:

      Sometimes the best parts of Bethesda games are the hilarious bugs that happen in the early releases. Fallout 3 had some side-splitting bugs that got patched out, so a person playing it for the first time wouldn’t get to experience those.

      Buy it now. You’re going to be buying it eventually and they will eventually patch it up. The price won’t be dropping for at least 2 years either, so it’s not like you’ll save money in the long run. If you can’t stand the bugs, then take solace in knowing that it will eventually be patched up (not to mention modded).

    • Unsheep says:

      Considering how long it took before Skyrim had a significant price-cut during a sale you might as well buy it now, it will most likely be well over a year before a sales purchase becomes rewarding enough and worth the wait.

  7. anHorse says:

    The perks system sounds a bit oblivion, where you’d make the game harder for yourself if you ever actually levelled the skills you want to use

  8. Andelect says:

    When you say it’s a little glitchy does that mean you didn’t run into anything game breaking or quest stopping?

    • Alec Meer says:

      That’s right. Couple of times I had to reload a savegame because a companion had vanished and, in one instance, the PipBoy UI wouldn’t load, but that the worst of it.

      • brucethemoose says:

        As it should be. A Bethesda RPG without a few game-stopping bugs would be a sign of the apocalypse.

        • lepercake says:

          I’m pretty sure I’ll never forget the days of oblivion guards replying to everything with “then pay with your blood!” before mercilessly slashing you down. Good times!

      • TerminatorJones says:

        Would you be able to comment on whether or not the console is still available to enter commands and cheats? I found this to be a great way to overcome glitches in F3 and NV without having to go back and re-load saves. A character disappearing is a problem I had in NV, but with the console commands you could instantly teleport them to you from wherever the hell they had been.

  9. TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

    Wot you think…

    NO! Stop thinking! Why are you playing? I want in!

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    Lars Westergren says:

    I like scavenging and crafting, and I haven’t actually played any of the popular survival titles so I’m actually looking forward to that part. Though it sounds like it is very much optional.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      It’s never optional for those who love that stuff, you will sink a hundred+ hours on it, whatever you do will never be enough and depression will always be around the corner.

      • Premium User Badge

        Lars Westergren says:

        “There is a hole in my soul, but Fallout 4 scrap couldn’t fill it either.”

  11. KaMai says:

    The second-to-last paragraph is what I was looking for, and sadly I have to say it’s what I expected. I really hoped until the last minute that this wouldn’t be a Fallout 3 2.0 and it took more from New Vegas and the original games in terms of approach and “role-playing philosophy”, but I guess that since this is ultimately a Bethesda game that’s not to be expected.

    I do hope that we’ll see some sort of New New Vegas though, which would take a bit of the “Bethesda factor” away.

    • james___uk says:

      Indeed! I was discussing this with a friend who’s very much for the story telling and rpg mechanics New Vegas and Fallout 2 offered over 3. Personally I like that but Fallout 3 2.0 is what I’m expecting and I’m fine with that. But companies like Obsidian and Inxile really know how these mechanics work and how they fit in story wise too, especially since they have some experience with the series too ;)

  12. Brosecutor says:

    This might be apples vs. oranges, but how does it compare to The Witcher 3 in terms of world-building, storytelling and so on?

  13. Babymech says:

    “combat still comes down to gradually carving away health bars rather than twitchy headshot precision.” Yeah that’s a real shame, that they didn’t take this chance to turn this into a twitchy action shooter. What a fuck-up.

    • Alec Meer says:

      My point being it tries very hard to present itself like a twitchy headshot shooter, and because it doesn’t behave like one it feels really odd.

      • rgbarton says:

        Actually from what I’ve heard instead of being built after COD the shooting in fallout 4 was inspired by destiny which also kind of involves widling down enemies large health bars but thats good for me considering I actually really liked its combat. And argue that at leasts vats and some other abilities to help sepperate it from some other humdrum shooting affairs.

        • Borodin says:

          “widling down enemies large health bars”

          That sounds like a urinary assault. I think you mean “whittling”!

          • rgbarton says:

            No I meant using the acidic Urination attack unlocked in Fallout 4 by doing so and so side quest in such in such way :)

    • vahnn says:

      The supremely lackluster combat is the reason I can’t stand FO3 and NV. There’s no sense of controlling a deadly weapon, barking and bucking in your hand as it spews death upon your foes, landing hits lacks any sort of satisfactory feedback, and everything feels light and floaty. It’s all plinking away until your next VATS shot.

      I was okay with that kind of gameplay in System Shock 2, but that was 15 years ago. (Actually I thought it still held up nicely 2 years ago, but surely that’s due to nostalgia-tinted love goggles.)

      I think just a little more work on the FEEL of combat would would make these games amazing. I’m not talking about turning it into CoD. I just mean making it feel more… weighty, and less…underwhelming.

      So, sadly, as a long-time FO1, 2, and Tactics player, FO4 will be a pass for me.

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        Odd, for me the Varmint rifle was one of the best things ever and i’d buy COD if it licensed New Vegas universe and provided matches that are devoid of stupid gadgets and extremely poor on automatic weapons and grenades.

        • jonfitt says:

          Have you tried Red Orchestra 2?

          • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

            Indeed i have and that’s pretty much perfect for my tastes in onlyne FPSes were it not for the fact that RO2 in particular is not the best polished jewel in existence, and that’s a pity.

      • Razumen says:

        Yeah, it sounds like it still plagued by the same problems as Fo3 and NV, some combat is relatively OK, but then you come across enemies (even human ones mind you) that can effortlessly shrug off 50 laser pistol shots to the face without flinching. Not only is it immersion breaking, it’s just not fun at all.

  14. onionman says:

    here the main plot… feels more time-sensitive (though it isn’t in reality)

    This was true of both Fallout 1 and Fallout 2. So, this seems like a throwback rather than a pacing mistake per se.

    (For the pedants in the room, yes, Fallout 1 had the timer to get the water chip, but after a patch released by the devs you could spend as much time as you wanted to get the chip).

    • Premium User Badge

      Qazinsky says:

      Honestly though, that timer in Fo1 was the one thing I didn’t like about it, I like to be able to take my time in games. I could have gotten behind timed quests and such, but not the big main quest.

    • packetstorm says:

      Well, I’d say a majority of RPG(s) give the illusion of time-sensitivity. Even after the patch for Fallout, there’s was at least one, kinda big, time sensitive quest that sort of ties in with the main story (survival of certain mutants). I think Fallout 2 had some time sensitive outcomes, I can’t remember for sure.

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        I felt that sensation in pretty much any RPG that allows me to create my own pacing despite all odds.

        I’m actually starting to think that you feel it more strongly simply when you care more, and not much else.

    • GamerHazelnut says:

      They only released that patch because of feedback from many players that hated the time pressure, even though it was a long enough due date to be difficult to overrun unless you spent ages aimlessly wandering the worldmap.

      • KenTWOu says:

        Fallout 1 game timer was a controversial thing among the team. Half of them loved it, half of them hated it. Tim Cain said it was a mistake and they should release the game without it (source).

    • Doubler says:

      I don’t know about that. Bethesda has been trying very hard to instill a sense of urgency in their main quests ever since Oblivion. Personally I’m not sure why since it clashes horribly with the kind of game they make.

      • Unsheep says:

        It sends a mixed message to gamer; ‘here, explore our world and do everything possible in it…but do hurry on because the clock’s tickin’. I’ve had the same issue with other games though, most notably Mass Effect 2, Dead Rising 2 and Fable 3.

        The Souls games did the exploration thing really well, as did games like Just Cause, Mad Max, Red Dead, GTA and so on. There’s no real sense of urgency in those games.

    • onodera says:

      Nope, the water still runs out in 180 days or whatever, it’s the other timer that was removed, mostly because there was no way to learn it even existed.

      • onionman says:

        Yes! Thank you. I had it backward. The time limit for the water is still there (150 days). It’s the time limit for the mutant attack that they removed.

        In any case, the point stands that the tension between the narrative urgency for the main plot objectives and the design emphasis on wandering around aimlessly go all the way back to the first two games in the series.

  15. Fnord73 says:

    Any news on what is needed hardware-wise to run it? (Translation: How crappy machine can you have?)

  16. packetstorm says:

    Well written review. Confirmed my suspicions that it was the same old formula with lackluster combat, despite Bethesda’s promise to compete with modern FPS(s) in that regard. At least everything else seems to be upgraded, enough to make me want to have a go at it. But having revisited Fallout 3 and spending another 100 hours recently, I feel burnt-out from even looking at the streams.

  17. TomxJ says:

    From the review Fallout 4 seems to suffer from the same, “I am Player Character becomer of Death Incarnate” syndrome Skyrim had. I’d hoped for more, especially as its in Fallouts genes to play a non-combat character.

    • Zenicetus says:

      That’s my main complaint about the mechanics of Bethesda games — the way it’s so easy to become a walking death machine when you’re only halfway through the game. At least if you lean towards being a completionist with side quests and exploration. Mods are always available later to increase the difficulty, but it’s always that way in the vanilla game.

      In my second play-through of NV recently, I just house-ruled it to make it more difficult by wearing light armor and avoiding the more powerful weapons, using a Wild West theme for my character.

      I was hoping to avoid going straight to power armor in F4, but it sounds like the later game throws enough enemies at once (with grenades!) that going light may not be possible.

  18. Laini says:

    Bar the bugs how does it perform?

    The min specs say you need a graphics card with 2GB of VRAM, mine only has 1 (it’s a Radeon 7850HD). Not sure if that’s just them being overly cautious or if it really would run like crap, or not at all, on my system.

    Everything else meets min and just short of recommended but if the graphics card is gonna hold me back I’ll just wait.

    • Alec Meer says:

      I got mostly steady 60 at almost max settings (dropped shadows down from ‘Ultra’ to ‘high’) and 1440p on a GTX 970 and a first-gen i7 oced to 4GHz. Not tried on a lower-end system yet I’m afraid.

    • ATwig says:

      As a um… “proud citizen” of Australia I have recently begun playing.

      I have a GTX 760 and a i7 @ 3.4ghz: Everything on High @ 1440p I never dip below 30fps. Usually average mid 40s running around and only during some dialogue when the camera turns back to do I notice the drop. Usually depends on what’s going down in the background.

      Have not done any tweaking yet, just wanted to get a couple hours in before work, so i’m sure i can eek out a couple more frames here and there. Overall looks way better than i was expecting.

      • TerminatorJones says:

        Is getting your Australian citizenship something you can do just with a VPN, or is it more complicated than that?

        • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

          Just a VPN if you want to unlock the game earlier.

          The stuff you suggest is more about getting around regional pricing in the least risky way possible.

      • MiniMatt says:

        *flicks through passports* Curses! Can only arrange Japanese, Singapore or Hong Kong nationality at short notice.

        Looks like the best I’m going to get is an hour early by jumping on my private jet and flying to my second home in Stockholm, because internet oceans are silly.

  19. Premium User Badge

    Risingson says:

    Sounds great. On top of my list of games to play in 2017.

  20. Premium User Badge

    caff says:

    …people raining from the sky, farm animals mysteriously stranded on rooftops, NPCs with chairs sticking through their midriffs…

    I’m a bit odd because I love glitches like these. Some of them have me in stitches, particularly when the game is trying to be all serious.

    I’d better start playing before they patch any of these things.

    • Katar says:

      Bethesda have been releasing Gamebyro engine derived games for around 13 years. Every single one has had those glitches, they aren’t going to patch them out. It’s either a case of they don’t care or they have no idea how to, though I think it’s both.

      • klops says:

        Gamebryo is mentioned so often that I had to google it. The engine, ok. But Gamebryo is the engine also for Civilizations IV and V and Bully, for example. I don’t remember those games being buggy.

        • Nucas says:

          precisely. gamebryo receives updates just like source or unreal and is widely deployed.

          the problems with bethesda’s games are from the code they do themselves.

    • Premium User Badge

      Andy_Panthro says:

      I’ve been playing Skyrim recently (for the first time), and it still has those sorts of bugs a few years after release. I killed a dragon yesterday, and shortly after when I fast-travelled, the dragon’s body fell from the sky on top of me.

  21. kalniel says:

    Tick-tock is Intel CPU strategy no? link to intel.com

    • Turin Turambar says:

      Yep, when I read it attributed to Iphones it made me roll my eyes.

      Apple really invented everything!

    • Nova says:

      Indeed, and that on a PC gaming site. *sigh*

    • Person of Interest says:

      Alec scores a nerd-snipe triple headshot! I ctrl-F’d “intel” as soon as I read that line of the article and was not disappointed.

  22. Gribbstar says:

    I just hope when I stealthily shoot someone in the back of the the head, all their friends dont stand up and say “Is someone there?” before immediately going back to eating lunch with their now dead friend. Skyrim, so good, but so shit.

  23. Bodylotion says:

    I really hope this will be a great game. I still fear however that Bethesda has gone all the way to please the Mainstream even more this time. Building houses, voice acting…. yeah it’s all pretty cool but I want a good storyline/quests and fun gameplay. I have no doubt the game is great fun but for it to be memorable it needs more than that. Bethesda just doesn’t seem to be very good at creating a good story or a good hardcore RPG. Obsidian knows how to create an RPG like that.

    • Unsheep says:

      Most genres and franchises are getting diluted today though, its not unique to F4. Games like Far Cry 3 & 4 and the new Tomb Raider games all have survival and RPG elements now. The Assassin’s Creed games have constantly been adding new gameplay elements into their games. MGS 5 is yet another example.

      The risk is that you end up with elements that feel mediocre or weak, or are simply boring to a large group of gamers. This seems to be the future of gaming though.

  24. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    Does the Karma system return? Are there still arbitrary Karma requirements for NPC companions?

    • Alec Meer says:

      It’s more ‘so and so liked/disliked that’ now, with them offering new convo options if they like you enough. I admit, I mostly went companion-free because most of them get pissed off by theft, which is kinda my thing. Also they get stuck on doors/I get stuck on them.

      It’s just much less faff when they’re not there, but I know I’ve missed out on some good character work stuff, as I’ve enjoyed the personalities.

      • Premium User Badge

        Qazinsky says:

        B-but, how can they dislike that? That shiny thingie over there, it beckons to me, just because someone else found it first doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have it now, when their back is turned. :(

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        Well the lone wanderer perk is huge anyway, so why not? I wonder if you still qualify if you bring the dog though.

  25. Shiloh says:

    Well, that’s me going into hibernation till Christmas then.

  26. skulgun says:

    >To recap, you no longer improve skills by practicing them,

    This has never been a feature of Fallout.

    • Itdoesntgoaway says:

      Yeah, I was a bit confused by that too. Also, were there trainers in Fallout 3? Feels like no. Skill books and SPECIAL boosters I recall.

    • Nucas says:

      he was probably just channeling skyrim. i think he can be forgiven for that since bethesda has been making the same game repeatedly for 15 years.

  27. eljueta says:

    Well I still got the Witcher 3 to go through, and seeing as I got bored with Skyrim, I guess I’m gonna pass, maybe buy it discounted (and patched) later.

  28. Chalky says:

    Really looking forward to playing this. Graphics wise, I can’t help but wonder how long Bethesda are going to get away with using this engine if they can’t substantially improve its graphics. It’s really starting to show its age and without a huge revamp I think it risks being left in the dust by other engines over the next few years.

  29. popej says:

    Is it possible to turn the quest markers off? If so, is there enough description in ‘Quest’ descriptions for this to work?

    • Hibiskus says:

      You are my man!
      I’ve always found this approach to exploration highly contradictory to the very nature of exploration. Following points of interest scattered all around you, always placed conveniently close enough so you won’t have to walk more than half a minute to get from one “adventure” to another, takes away (for me at least) the mistery and the deeply personal aspect of exploring. In fact, this form of opwnworld game design means, that the game does the exploration instead of you: it marks your next step on the map, draws a route to it on your GPS minimap (I know bethesda games dosn’t have this awesome feature), all you have to do is follow the signs.
      And this is particulalry annoying in a game, that advertises itself as “open” and “free”. Obviously I’m not saying that openworld RPGs should be survival games. But it would really benefit them, if they trusted their audience enough to design an open world filled with quests and whatnot, where world navigation is based entirely on visual, textual etc. hints and clues instead of objectve markers and a GPS.
      In other words, let the player think. I’m not dumb, I don’t get lost in the city every time I do the shopping, if I don’t use a map. Treat your gameworld as an individual entity, not just a highway sytem that connects the really meaningful places in it.

      • Archonsod says:

        To be honest I usually find it does the opposite in most Bethesda games. You kinda need the GPS pointer to remember precisely which tree that cat you promised to rescue is stuck up after you’ve spent three months randomly wandering the world because something or other on the next hill looked interesting.

  30. scornfulmoose says:

    Great review. Hell of a lot better than the one I read on verge which spoiled numerous plot points without so much of a warning.

    I wish Bethesda would focus on either a story driven narrative, or an exploration driven narrative. Doing both makes your actions look the result of psychosis. Like in Fallout 3 “My father is missing, maybe dead. His entire life’s work which could save the world is in danger. And a shady organization is after me. I should really get to that…but first I’m going to help this weird shop-keep kill molerats.”

    Though I suppose it’s not just Bethesda. I mean The Witcher 3 was very insistent on me finding Cirri when I just wanted to try on masks and doublets.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      The only way to get around that is by crafting a main story arc that is not about urgency or anything at all, or at least that’s less heroic and epic and more grounded in your place in a world in which you first need to have a strong footprint.

      For the latter you’d also need many side activities to actually matter, but some might argue that you’d destroy a century old balance if you changed the meaning of side quests, plus i also get the feeling some times that there’s a strange group of people who simply want to “burn through the story”, which confirms that there are some trends in design that are nowadays taken for granted.

      • Thurgret says:

        So Fallout: New Vegas’ plot of ‘find out why someone shot you, if you feel like it’, basically? Because that worked out as a main plot, I thought.

  31. xenn says:

    I know you can’t mention particular plot details, but are we talking about more-of-the-same with Fallout 4 in terms of overall story and world-building? In the marketing of this game, I was never given a good sense about what this game is truly about. I suppose Fallout is about building your own character but at least with FO3 and New Vegas, the setting itself was very important to the story. Boston itself doesn’t come off as very important from what I’m seeing.

    • Alec Meer says:

      I can’t go into stuff at all yet, I’m afraid, but I guess it goes a lot… bigger than F3 did. There’s more of a central core, and as I say the faction quests now tie into that central core rather than existing within their own cells. And yes, the writing is better than F3.

  32. thedosbox says:

    There was a lot of pre-release guff about this being a good first person shooter, but it sounds like they haven’t quite pulled that off.

    Would it be possible to play entirely in third-person mode?

  33. Wulfram says:

    Fallout was never learn by doing, was it?

    • Premium User Badge

      Qazinsky says:

      Nah, it was spend skill points at level up and books sometimes.

    • Alec Meer says:

      I was talking about Skyrim there, as both the most recent BGS game and the one whose pick-a-power-up skill tree thing F4’s Perks system is clearly based around, but appreciate it comes off confusing.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Fallout New Vegas used improve-skills-by-doing with lockpicking and (I think?) hacking.

    • Unsheep says:

      The first Fallout games by Interplay had that system though, for example if you tried to lock-pick something enough times you’d eventually gain XP doing so and the more times you used ‘science’ on something the better you got at it.

      • klops says:

        No. You eventually perhaps got XP when you finally succeeded picking a lock. But your lockpick skill did not grow the more you used it. It grew when you put points in it after a level up. You could also read books and manuals to raise the skill.

  34. Premium User Badge

    Grizzly says:

    My god it’s full of colours, and it’s beautifull.

    • klops says:

      Yes. That’s very nice.

      If more devs went for this instead of “gritty” or “grim-dark” where you have to look the brown and grey world through grey filter. “But but but: during medieval times or after a nuclear bomb, the sun just don’t shine, right?”

      If you want dark, make the game dark light-wise, not coulour-wise, would be my first rule for gritty n’ cool game devs. Because Bethesda with its million-sales definitely need MY advice.

  35. Mezmorki says:

    I just don’t know … I think I might be finally done with Bethesda games (after starting with Morrowind).

    The thing is, I love the physical worlds they build. They really do have some talent here. And when I look at their games as a sort of fancy walking simulator, that’s also where I get the most enjoyment. Assigning myself stupid tasks like walking from Point A to Point B across the entire game world is what gives me the most enjoyment. The games are beautiful. And it is fun for a little while getting your character outfitted in some landscape selfie-worthy shot …

    … but that’s about it. The gameplay “mechanics” just aren’t very interesting or compelling. They are trying to ride the line between RPG and action game, and failing in both. The RPG systems I find dull and uninspired (and getting worse in each game it seems). Simultaneously, the action-focused combat is just lagging further and further behind its peers, especially in the realm of shooters.

    I recently stumbled into the world of PayDay 2, and despite the current micro-transaction controversy, am having way more fun advancing my character skills and gear (the RPG stuff) than I ever did in recent Bethesda games. And it goes without saying that the shoosting is much better in PD2.

    I spend forever modding FO3 (creating to Wanderer’s Edition Mod) to make it a little more enjoyable and functional as a shooter – but there are certain engine forces at work that just can’t be improved.

    I so wish Bethesda would just realize the “gaming with friends” potential of their games. All of their game’s faults could be easily forgiven, IMHO, if I could run a private server for me and invited friends to share the worlds that Bethesda so lovingly crafts.

    • LurkingPresence says:

      I think you describe my own feelings on the subject pretty well. I kind of wish they would just make a sort of fallout-themed Day-Z in a way. Call it Fallout: Infinite or something. No plot, no main story. You just design a character, pick a starting location (vault, raider camp etc) and then just go out and do stuff. Support a server of like 4-6 people so you can visit each others ridiculous wasteland forts.

      This is how people play these games anyway. Quit trying to make something like Mass Effect and make something closer to Civilization or Sim City.

  36. Stevostin says:

    “Despite their many flaws, Oblivion and Skyrim were still experimenting with the possibilities created in Morrowind, but like Fallout 3 before it Fallout 4 only really pushes the ideas forward in terms of themes and guns.”

    Oh my eyes are bleeding.
    One of the defining quality of F3 / FNV is that most quest have several ways to be solved with several outcomes. That’s something you can’t say about Skyrim. That’s most likely the most important point to adress. Does it keep up with Fallout 3/FNV legacy to that regard or does it go Skyrim (more gameplay in action, less in decision ?)

    • Stevostin says:

      “To recap, you no longer improve skills by practicing them,”
      … and Hem. You never had to do that in Fallout (1,2,3,NV. None).

      • Premium User Badge

        Qazinsky says:

        I feel like Alec is just comparing FO4 to FO3 and Skyrim at the same time as “the Bethesda games”.

    • Alec Meer says:

      There are some different outcomes sometimes, but it defaults to wanting violence – and there are some particularly absurd instances late in the game where you tell a major NPC that you won’t do the big murdery thing they want you to do because it goes against your own belief, expecting that to lead to a whole different outcome, then they just say ‘well do it anyway’.

      • Stevostin says:

        Ok thank you. Well, that is certainly disappointing. Other reviewer confirmed most fights are unavoidable and conversation skilled limited in use.

  37. Laurentius says:

    I have a question. Is it all wasteland a la Fallout3 with its one Megaton town and a ship or is it more like Fallout 1/2 with their many different communities you move around. You know, does this game has any population ?

    • Alec Meer says:

      Somewhere in the middle. There’s a main town, a huge semi-ruined urban area around it peppered with quests and enemies, and at least two other hub/town areas I’ve found so far. In addition to that, you can essentially build at least half a dozen ‘new’ towns of your own with the settlement construction thinger. I haven’t met all that many people wandering around outside of town, however.

    • Stevostin says:

      Fallout 3 had way more important cities thant that. Big Town, the one to the east with the super heroes, the slave one, the Ghoul’s one (which I entirely missed on my first play through…) and the kid’s cavern pops to my mind. I did blow Megaton early in games so if it was the only one I’d know.
      That being said it’s true that it has a limited amount of NPC globally in every town. Most than a lot but underwhelming considering the setup for sure.

  38. scornfulmoose says:

    How did you find the voice acting. Was it the familiar Bioware stuff consisting of the jesus, the snarkster and the asshole?

  39. instantcoffe says:

    Anyone know if there is a “hardcore” mode like in New Vegas?

  40. LionsPhil says:

    …not a single tree would have survived or sprouted even one leaf after two centuries after the bombs fell, so a foundational brown’n’grey remains – but then again it is the series’ signature look.

    Literally one of the first few areas in Fallout 2. Yeah, it’s brown, but at least it’s brown with plants.

  41. Premium User Badge

    Mungrul says:

    I’d be happy to be proven wrong, but I’m taking it that because this is still Gamebryo, building interiors are still separate map cells, thus requiring a transition load?

    • Alec Meer says:

      Yeah, afraid so. Fairly quick loads at least.

      • Premium User Badge

        Mungrul says:

        Still, definitely shows up exactly how primitive the tech is when compared to contemporaries. And not particularly reassuring either seeing as how I lost my last Skyrim save to a bad transition.
        When will they finally ditch this horrible engine?

        • int says:

          When people stop buying the games.

          *bought the game*

        • Myrdinn says:

          One can hope they’ll do it with the next TES game. But I wouldn’t count on it. If they wanted to upgrade the engine, they would’ve done it by now. I guess the reception of F4 and the next TES game will probably be their benchmark in order to decide if they’ll keep upgrading the dang thing.

          On the other hand, I can understand it’s probably a titan of a job to make an engine from scratch and still have all the functionality (especially concerning moddability) of the older engine.

          • Premium User Badge

            Mungrul says:

            I think that re-training people on a new engine is probably the bigger barrier. With Gamebryo, they know it like the back of their hand.
            But they just so happen to have acquired id software who know a thing or two about making a neat game engine.
            Or did.

        • Premium User Badge

          Grizzly says:

          To be fair to them, that’s what people said with Arma 2. And then they made Arma 3 out of that same engine and it’s amazing.

          • colw00t says:

            The vast, incredible, huge, overwhelming majority of people complaining about game engines on the comments of websites have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about.

        • Stevostin says:

          Can you give me one exemple of one engine doing what that one does ie seamless huge world with each object distinct with it’s own weight, name, stats and now transition whatsoever ? Because apart TW3 that I skipped I *think* I played all of them and AFAICT Gamebryo is actually the only one where I can do that. Which I came to consider RPG ABC: if you don’t have that, you may be a good game, but you’re not really an open world RPG. Which is my stance about Bethesda: far from perfect, but actually the only ones at doing real role playing games on computer rather than adventure games with stats and level and gear.

  42. Visualante says:

    I had concerns over the player character being voiced since it was announced. Do you think this is something modders could remove? If so how successful could their attempts be?

  43. gbrading says:

    I’m still very much excited to play this. PC Gamer said “Unlike its predecessors, it’s an accomplished and enjoyable shooter” so it seems that the shooting may be according to taste. I was expecting it to be “More Fallout” and that was essentially exactly what I wanted. I think this is probably the last game Bethesda can get away with it though before having to significantly reinvent the formula.

    • Crowlands says:

      Most of the early reviews seem to use two frames of reference for the shooting and say it is much better than FO3, but still not that close to being a proper shooter.

    • Cinek says:

      I for one would much rather have a Fallout that has very little to no shooting than the one that goes in length to improve shooting and focus a game on that.

  44. trjp says:

    My fear is that I’ll see a repeat of my FO3 experience which was

    “Wow this is amazing” *explores* *game crashes* *can’t remember how I got where I was so backtrack and find something* *explores* *game crashes* – repeat until you’ve lost the will to live.

    If I combine outright CTDs (which were super-frequent) with weirdo bugs and stuff which, whilst probably not outright broken, made zero sense – I never really got to the point I could enjoy FO3.

    I don’t need a repeat of that.

    • Geebs says:

      I would genuinely love to know what hardware you were running it on, because it would help me to narrow down the magical properties of my computer which mean that the only people who’ve ever fallen out of the sky in any Bethesda game were actually supposed to.

      (FONV was broken of course, but, y’know, Obsidian)

      I think it might be that Macs are generally very conservatively-, or even under-clocked, but other than that I’ve got nothing.

      • trjp says:

        That’s a REALLY good question – it was close to launch (patches were still arriving and failing to fix it) so that’s late 2008 or early 2009.

        My guess is I’d have had some sort of AMD CPU, probably a Sempron – and a Radeon 9600Pro (a built-for-WoW system IIRC)

        I wasn’t going to get the thing working on high settings but I seem to remember the issue being VATS, which crippled FPS – but CTDs tended to happen just walking along doing nothing else, which was particularly weird and because of the save system would often leave you some way back.

        The whole game had a sense of ‘janky’ about it then and there was no lack of people with the same issues at the time. I should probably try it again – 6 years is a long time ;0

    • trjp says:

      Just to follow that up, I threw FO3 onto my PC and this was my “experience” – 7 years later…

      Installing threw-up a weirdo Net Framework error – ignored it
      Windows Live demands serial I don’t have – ignored it
      Game crashes during startup – so I change some of it’s ‘suggested’ settings and try again
      Works – change controls to keyboard – run through birth/childhood/upto exitting the Overseers Office
      Game crashes
      Restart and I have no controls – ah, it’s re-defaulted to the pad – change that.
      Open vault door – attacked by guards – I attack one
      Game crashes
      Restart – re-change control options – re-open-door – re-enter combat
      Game crashes

      FML

  45. Premium User Badge

    ffordesoon says:

    Sounds about like what I expected and wanted, give or take the distressing forced murderousness that plagued Skyrim and apparently returns here.

    My main worry is that building the game around a voiced protagonist leads to a narrower set of dialogue options, which then leads to a narrower set of outcomes for conversations. I know the ship has sailed on asking for this not to be the case, and I’ve made my peace with it, but does what you say matter to at least the degree it did in Fallout 3? I’m not expecting New Vegas levels of reactivity, and certainly not with regard to dialogue choices – I know this is very much the next Bethesda Game Studios Fallout, for better and worse.

    I guess what I’m really asking is whether they’ve – to use the broad-strokes terminology of the forum warrior – “turned Fallout into Mass Effect” in terms of how little impact your choices (dialogue and otherwise) have. From your review, I’m getting the sense that the choice architecture is closer to Witcher 3’s, and I can live with that. Am I correct, or is it more of an ME-style string-of-pearls design?

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      “forced murderousness” is a good way of putting it. The Elder Scrolls model where practically every location is a dungeon to clear is fun and has its place but is about as far from Fallout 2 territory as you can get.

      • Premium User Badge

        ffordesoon says:

        I’ll tell you what I especially disliked about it in Skyrim – the fact that you could fight bad guys until they gave up and started pleading with you not to kill them. Which I would have found very cool, if literally every enemy that did this didn’t get up five seconds later and try to stab you in the back as if it had never happened. When you realize there aren’t any enemies without a deathwish, you start cutting them down during the begging act without a second thought. From a systemic standpoint, that is always the wisest course of action. From a roleplaying standpoint, however, your character can’t know that every single plea for mercy is false, which means you’re forced to make your character look like an unbelievable douchebag if you want to play the game optimally.

        At this point in my cRPG-playing career, I expect to be forced to fight far more often than I’d like, but I can usually excuse it with a well-placed “He was going to kill me, there was nothing I could do!” rationalization. That animation in Skyrim pisses me off every time, because it’s the developers making an implicit promise to me they have no intention of keeping.

        And, frankly, it wouldn’t have been at all hard to keep that promise, and doing so would have added an interesting wrinkle to combat anyway. All they needed to do was have an RNG flip a coin and randomly flag the enemy’s state post-begging as hostile or non-hostile. If hostile, they’d do what they always do in vanilla Skyrim. If non-hostile, they’d run away screaming. Boom, the choice to kill the dude while he’s down suddenly feels like a choice rather than an obligation, and that choice has a little bit of bite to it. If you’re going to make that begging animation, give it a function. As it is, it feels like the purposeful fetishization of cold-blooded murder for the player’s amusement, which is really gross and not at all what I want from my entertainment.

        You could, I suppose, make the overly-credulous-liberal-arts-student argument that Bethesda was actually doing a better job of making players think about the deaths they cause by not keeping their promise, but given how weighted other aspects of Skyrim are toward killing (including a few outright screeches of “But thou must!,” which is really strange, I’m inclined to doubt that.

        • Razumen says:

          Yeah, the whole pleading for mercy thing was such BS, like how hard was it for them to set their behavior to run away and be non-hostile unless you attacked them again? Too much for Bethesda I guess.

          There are mods that let you tie up enemies instead of killing them, where they’ll eventually escape a certain amount of time later, but it’s such a small improvement to the large issue that Skyrim’s combat has.

  46. Shadow says:

    I don’t get some of the complaints about Fallout 3’s desolate landscapes. Sure, colour has its place in Fallout 4 and that’s fine, but I found F03 to be quite immersive at the time, portraying a truly devastated wasteland. It was intensely post-apocalyptic and conveyed a sense of loss well.

    While also a valid, perhaps even semi-realistic course of action, a vibrant, colourful world full of life also feels rather antithetical to “post-apocalyptism” (sic?). I mean, from my point of view the signs of the apocalypse need to be and remain very strong. Or perhaps that’s just the kind of post-apocalyptic fiction I like, not one depicting a somewhat rebuilt, if comparatively primitive society on a healing world, but rather one in which people struggle to get by in a permanently crippled landscape.

    Thoughts appreciated.

    • ohminus says:

      I think the chief point of criticism is that the “apocalypse” has come and gone several centuries before and there was plenty of time to clear the rubble.

      • Zenicetus says:

        Plenty of time, but not much opportunity if the population is constantly being harassed by rogue robots, human mutants and mutated animals. That’s the easiest way to handwave the lack of recovery and progress in 200 years. In a world without that kind of threat, recovery would have gone faster.

        Keeping the world primitive also helps hide the way the engine can’t show too many NPC’s at once. A clean, fully recovered settlement or city would have a lot of people in it after 200 years. A decrepit, broken-down landscape is a better fit for fewer NPC’s.

        • ohminus says:

          But there’s not just rogue robots, there’s working ones, too. Heck, even FONV fell for that – there was a fully functioning robot sitting around smack in the middle of Freeside and a handful of giant rats were enough to scare people away?

          And with Ghouls, they actually also have people who can wade even into the most irradiated areas and who can preserve applied knowledge over generations.

          The main source of the criticism is also the comparison with the early games and locations like New Reno and San Francisco. Junk Town in FO1 was labeled Junktown for a reason – in FO3, basically everything looks like Junktown and worse.

          • Zenicetus says:

            That’s a good point about contrast. If everything looks rusty and decrepit, it’s harder to portray one specific area as being REALLY decrepit.

            On the other hand, what would a restored settlement actually look like, considering the advanced sci-fi tech theme of the game? It wouldn’t have the Fallout vibe, if everything was clean and shiny like the near-future cities in Deus Ex or the upcoming X-COM 2 game.

          • ohminus says:

            What would it look like? Well, like San Fran or New Reno for example. Heck, they had no problem portraying the Strip all nice and shiny in New Vegas.

        • Shadow says:

          Yes, I suppose it’s a matter of time since the apocalypse. The wastelands of FO3 and NV are represented as if much less than 200 years had gone by since the War. Instead of going back on that, the developers understandably opted to fully think through what the passage of two centuries means, and add some more life to FO4.

          Strictly speaking from my personal preference, it’d have been better if the FO3-borne side of the series had taken place only 50-60 years after the bombs (wasn’t that the time of the old games?), with survivors having come to the surface only 20-ish years ago, to a properly blasted world. As I said earlier, the post-apoc magic is gradually lost the farther you get from the Event.

          As it is, I suppose the current Fallout world can justify the Capital Wasteland being so particularly devastated even 200 years after the War simply claiming the DC area was among the most heavily hit by the bombs, and therefore significantly delayed the local survivors’ return. It’s quite plausible.

          • Erithtotl says:

            I never thought about the dates for FO3. I guess I always assumed it was far less than 200 years. To me the devastated areas of DC were incredibly effective and moving. The ravaged Washington Monument, and especially Arlington Cemetery were extremely affecting.

        • Ergates_Antius says:

          Plenty of time, but not much opportunity if the population is constantly being harassed by rogue robots, human mutants and mutated animals. That’s the easiest way to handwave the lack of recovery and progress in 200 years. In a world without that kind of threat, recovery would have gone faster.
          Still doesn’t really work though. Think of our world in 1815 compared to now. Quite a lot has changed, and it’s not like we’ve not had the odd mishap on the way.

    • Premium User Badge

      cpt_freakout says:

      As with everything that relates to environment building, I think it depends on what the designers and writers do with that color. I agree with you regarding FO3, the fact that it’s all brown sort of sets the idea that this going back to a ‘state of nature’ is not the result of a natural course (thus greener and stuff) but completely human-driven, muddled because society is a ruin, a desert, not dead (can’t go for black) but not alive either (can’t go for grey – things are pretty clear). I haven’t played FO4 but I’d say that if they do something creative with the colors it could even say something new on the idea of the post-apocalyptic in this particular form.

  47. AyeBraine says:

    I concur with other commenters, skill system in all Fallouts never worked on repetition (it’s Elder Scrolls), you always could raise skills with the push of the button and you were always gated by stats.

    Also, it’s very strange that the text goes out of its way to pretend F: New Vegas never existed, and Fallout 4 is a direct descendant of Fallout 3, being compared to it and Skyrim (?) exclusively.

    • ainokmw says:

      I think the reason for that is that it’s being compared to the games that Bethesda actually made. Bethesda only published New Vegas, but it was made by Obsidian.

  48. KaiWren says:

    I absolutely adored Fallout 3 – in many ways it was the game that got me back into gaming. I am somewhat nervous about the usefulness of charisma, but honestly ‘more Fallout with shinier graphics’ is basically everything I want.

    So. Damn. Excited.

  49. GamerHazelnut says:

    Thanks for the preview, it covers a lot and is very informative. Unfortunately the two aspects I am most interested & concerned with are internal consistency and writing quality. I think it can be safely assumed that Bethesda wont reach Obsidian quality in that department, but my purchasing decision hinges on them taking a leaf out of the NV book and avoiding the theme park hodgepodge with groan worthy dialogue that was #3.

    Thanks.

    • GamerHazelnut says:

      This is my first time commenting and I should have realised there’s no edit… so I’m asking if you could add some opinion on the internal consistency & writing quality since I feel you didn’t really cover that in the review. (Sorry for not making myself clear in a single post)

      • Alec Meer says:

        the writing and dialogue is much better than both F3 and Skyrim. I suspect ultimately New Vegas will be considered superior writing-wise, but there’s some really good stuff here. And some really silly stuff too, but F3 is most certainly is not in that respect.

        • GamerHazelnut says:

          Thanks Alec, much appreciated. I don’t mind silly (I enjoyed Fallout 2 so…) just not completely inconsistent crap like F3. This and Witcher 3 for xmas then I think!

          • Herodotus484 says:

            Watch some let’s plays of the early stuff, I had a totally difference experience to the reviewer here in terms of story and writing quality, so much so I found it quite disappointing and jarring. It sounds like you enjoyed New Vegas a bit for it’s writing, so I do recommend dipping your toe here as experiences seem to vary considerably.

            Big bombastic budget presentation doesn’t sway me much, so the lack of passion in the writing and characterisation caused it to fall flat. It really is a sequel to Fallout 3, better looking, bigger, very nice environments but very little influence from New Vegas in terms of characters, lorebuilding and quest design. The Talk/Hack/Science/Sneak/Fight is not the formula here.

        • Stevostin says:

          The story is better in New Vegas. The lore is better in New Vegas.

          The *writing* is fine in New Vegas but as most things Obsidian, it never shines. In F3 it can be dull, but it can be also very funny. I had a few loud laugh with F3 which is saying a lot. Bethesda as been known for up and down in the writing. Oblivion could be awful yet the Dark Brootherhood quest lines was just plain awesome, as several other side quests.

  50. dorobo says:

    Thanks for the honesty! Well it needs a walking without restrictions mode to just look up all the pretty things without wasting time on it. I guess i can forget about this one now.