The RPS Verdict: Fallout 4

Alec’s already run his own review of Fallout 4 [official site], based on 50 predominantly campaign-inclined hours in post-nuclear New England, but now Bethesda’s latest is out John and Adam have been taking a more leisurely look at it too. Have they found convincing life in the wasteland? Do they agree that writing and characterisation is much improved? Or that the relentless focus on combat keeps it just short of rad status? Is the Witcher 3 still 2015’s RPG king after this? And why do they think a game which is prompting rather a lot of griping about bugs and graphics and meatheadedness has scored so many 9s and 10s from other critics? Time to set the post-world to rights…

There are no plot spoilers below, bar a passing reference to what happens in the introductory 15 minutes.

Alec: Who else here has completed Fallout 4?

John: Not me.

Adam: Nope. I’ve barely completed a single quest.

Alec: Well as we all know the main campaign is the only thing that matters in Bethesda games, therefore none of your opinions can be considered in any way trustworthy. If it turns out you’ve just been – ugh – exploring, you’re all fired. How much have you seen, anyway?

Adam: It’s worth keeping in mind that it took me around 40 hours to leave White Orchard in The Witcher 3 because I really get carried away with that whole ‘enjoying the details’ thing. In Fallout 4, I’ve seen Concord and Sanctuary, which is to say the first two proper locations. And quite a bit of the wilderness around them. Along the way I did a boss fight against a Deathclaw, which bothered me because I didn’t feel like I’d earned power armour or a boss fight yet, and I’ve collected quite a lot of toasters. A retail park Curry’s worth of toasters.

John: I followed the main quest for a bit, because it seemed important to rescue my infant son. But the main quest appeared to be entirely people telling me to go somewhere and kill everyone and then come back again, and that didn’t really feel like finding my son at all. So now I’ve decided to go mad and kill absolutely everyone in the entire game.

Adam: I’ve only killed baddies. I think. There may yet be a twist that reveals the kind-hearted nature of leather-clad raiders everywhere. I’m wearing a sack on my head, which is quite the thing.

Alec: Tell me about your characters before we go any further. Who did you make and why?

Adam: I’ve written about my character creation technique for these big ol’ RPGs before – I tend to randomise everything. Fallout 4 doesn’t have that option built in so I used computerised dice rolls for most of the features and ignored sculpting. I ended up with a chap who vaguely reminds me of Larry David.

He is intelligent but weak. Perception high, endurance and strength low. I’ve taught him how to pick advanced locks and fire a rifle real good. I really love the character builder though – surely Bethesda’s best yet?

John: I tried to make me, but self portraiture has never been a strong skill, and it didn’t have my hair. I’ve come out looking even fatter than I think I do in real life.

I’ve become quite obsessed with post-apocalyptic fiction of late – I don’t doubt for a moment directly related to having a one year old and so little downtime, and the strange appeal of there being absolutely no one else to bother me. (I don’t want my family to die quite as much as this sentence suggests.) So I thought I’d be me. But then it turns out the world is as populated as in any other game, so huh.

Adam: Is that why you’re killing everyone? You are the embodiment of the post-apocalypse apocalypse. Terrible state of affairs. I can’t help but be lovely in RPGs. Probably because I’m so lovely in real life. Never take payment for quests I’ve done if I can help it and rarely hurt anyone unless they’re repeatedly battering me around the face and neck with a tire iron.

John: See – that’s how I play every other RPG ever. And it’s how I’d be playing Fallout 4 right now if – and here’s the true tragedy of the games critic – it would give me something unique to write about. I figured this would be interesting, and it is, so far!

Alec: I’m always nice to everyone, which is mostly so I can feel a bit better about myself when I subsequently rob them blind. But also I always worry that I’m missing out on the best stuff if I keep starting fights and mow people down before they can chat or reveal their secrets. Question is whether new worthwhile stuff comes out of slaughter, I guess, and hopefully John will be able to reveal that soon.

What are your general impressions? How wildly and horribly incorrect was my review?

Adam: I loved the opening until the dash to the vault became more farce than drama when everyone started bunching together and I couldn’t find any way of running or walking that let me keep pace with my wife. At that point, I was all “FALLOUT 4 IS A GAME IN NEED OF A NEW ENGINE”. Then I enjoyed reading the computer logs in the vault and thought “FALLOUT 4 HAS MY INTEREST”. And then I got outside and was in love, briefly.

So far, I’m worried that there’s too much focus on killing, which is something you mentioned in the review. It seems to be my main mode of interaction with the world. Killing and looting junk. I haven’t done much work on my first settlement yet because the interface annoyed me when I first encountered it, but I’m finding the conversation choices a bit limiting. I don’t feel much of a connection to my character – but the world is making up for that. It’s a fantastic place to explore. In short, currently it’s a 7/10.

John: I never got on with Fallout 3, could never get past Megaton City, so I can say without doubt I like this one better. But I too am really shocked by the emphasis on combat, and the combat being the most weakly designed aspect of the game. The world seems great, albeit staffed with cardboard cut-outs instead of characters, but the quests are just “kill everyone”, and general exploring descends into “kill everyone”.

I find the Bethesda Phenomenon as fascinating as ever, where I find myself putting up with the most basic shit that would have me abandoning so many other games – hideous interface, dreadful explanations of how to play, clumsy boring crafting, etc – because of the scale and depth of what’s behind it. It defies belief that a human being played this game before release, that there wasn’t a single person who said, “Do we really think we want to insist on PC players pressing ‘Enter’ to close 30% of dialogues?” “Should we maybe make it so it’s faster to use a stimpak/change weapon via the shortcut than to go into the Pip-Boy and do it manually?” “Might it make some sense to have a map that’s vaguely possible to look at which your eyes fizzing in your head?” And yet, I persist, because of what’s behind it, which is the acres of potential.

Adam: I agree on just about everything there. Jim (RIP) wrote a feature about Skryim’s cacky interface shortly after it came out and, at the time, I was happily persevering with it and didn’t notice how much I was looking past the issues until they were pointed out to me. With Fallout 4, I feel like there’s a layer between me and the game and I’m constantly trying to scrape through it. I’ve considered switching to a controller rather than mouse and keyboard, but I’m stubbornly sticking with the latter for now because I much prefer struggling through the menus with a proper pointer if at all possible.

Alec: This vaguely relates to the main – I’m going to do it I’m going to do it – fallout I’m getting from my review, which is the bit where I essentially went ‘meh’ about the glitches and stuff, dismissing them as coming with the territory. Obviously I can see why that’s not right, but the fact of the matter is they are hallmarks of these games and I expect them so much I really do smile when I see a cow on a roof or a man with a chair through his torso. And it’s mile-wide grin for stuff like this:

But maybe I should be dismayed rather than tickled pink. Between that and the UI stuff, how badly are Bethesda letting us down really though? Should the pitchforks be out, given everything that does still work?

John: I sort of agree. I’ve had the game bug out on me in stupid ways, it feels so clumsy, and yet nothing was going to stop me in the last hour reaching the big tall red modern-looking building I could see on the horizon. That urge to reach the horizon is so powerful, it allows so many shortfalls.

But it frustrates me very much that they likely know they can get away with it. I think they’re letting us down desperately badly. I think they should be doing so much better, and people should be up in arms. But then probably go back to playing some more despite it. Because, and here’s the thing: imagine Fallout 4 but NOT clogged up with stupid shit. Imagine that game.

Adam: For all of my falling out (BOOM) with The Witcher series over the years, The Witcher 3 is right up there among my favourite RPGs of all. And CD Projekt Red showed that the argument that “ambitious open world RPG = bugs and clumsiness” doesn’t have to be true. It’s not a perfect game, Geralt’s latest romp, but it fits together so much better.

And I’m not making a direct comparison – I’m not interested in a pissing match between the two – but I keep seeing the argument that the shoddiness apparent in parts of Fallout 4 is the cost of its ambitions. I don’t think that’s the case. For me, it’s a little like Dwarf Fortress of all things – I love the game and will recommend it to anyone interested in simulated fantasy worlds and settlement management, but the interface is a horror to behold and learn, and I make no excuses for that. Does it bother me more in the case of Fallout 4 because it’s an enormous release from a huge studio with a large budget? Yes. Rightly or wrongly, it does. I can’t shake the feeling that a lot of these legacy problems haven’t been addressed at all.

Alec: The Witcher 3 doesn’t do awe, though. Hell, it doesn’t even do characters that well – the Bloody Baron aside there’s basically three different characters who repeated endlessly. But the awe specifically, I’m prepared to pay the price of total slickness in order to get that. The Witcher 3 I dash through looking for things to fight, but Fallout I just like to wander. I want there to be fewer rough edges, of course, and I agree that there is probably some degree of hand-waving going on at an executive level, but it seems so distantly secondary to having the place. It’s the fact that Fallout keeps trying to make me fight everything which bothers me far more, because it goes out of its way to build a roleplaying infrastructure then makes every option play out the same way.

Adam: That’s interesting because I’m having the experience you describe with The Witcher 3 with Fallout 4 at the moment. I rarely dash at all – never put any points into agility – but I’m finding myself pinging around fighting and rarely taking time to stop and smell the radioactive roses. I feel like I should be doing something all the time, rather than just exploring for its own sake. I’m hoping I’ll settle into the rhythms of it soon, rather than treating it like a world of collectible junk. I’m hopeful!

Alec: It should be mentioned that I’m now on my second campaign, and it’s quite different to the first, which had a definite sense of the pressure you describe. I know how the plot stuff plays out and where fights might happen, so I don’t have those itches to scratch. I’m taking the long way around and playing at a far more relaxed pace.

John: But what you say is true. I got into my big red building, and it’s just a mad gunfight between me and a faction I’ve never heard of that seems to want to kill me for reasons not given.

Alec: Oddly, at a certain stage in the first campaign I had exactly the opposite problem, and it was even weirder. I’d progressed quite far through three different factions’ quest, but not taken any of the missions which would set me against one or the other of them. So there’d be these colossal, roaming fights across the Commonwealth, lasers and explosions everywhere, but no-one took a shot at me – even when I was actively on a mission for one of the factions involved in the fight. I just wandered through the debris and looted everyone’s corpse. Delightfully strange, great to have the freedom to see them rather than spend the experience hiding or shooting, but sadly it was broken too.

I had this one single-shot quest companion who couldn’t take me to the next stage of the mission because he kept infinitely getting attacked, but was immortal. At one point he just stood in the sea for ten minutes getting lasered endlessly, unable to shoot back but unable to die either. I had to fast-travel away and come back, only to find him magically stood on the dock again. Then the enemy arrived again and it all kicked off anew. I had this elaborate system of to-the-microsecond saves, hoping to find the brief window between attacks so we could progress to the objective.

Adam: Those fights sound great. I’m always delighted when there’s a sense of an ecosystem in the world – I think it was your review that referred back to STALKER’s AI battles, which are one of my favourite things in all of games. At the moment – and it’s very early days – Fallout 4 feels like one of those worlds that only moves if I’m standing there prodding it. I saw some bloatflies lazily buzzing from house to house on the way back from Condor and enjoyed just watching them, off in the distance. Proof, more than all of the characters I’d seen and spoken to, that there was life in the Wasteland. More of that would be very pleasing!

John: Yeah – I just had a nice moment where I was being chased through city streets by ghouls – my least favourite enemy and the most tiresome to kill – and then a pack of dogs rushed them from an alley, and I was able to take pot shots at both sides from a distance. That sort of thing is splendid.

Alec: It’s something a lot of people asked me actually – is there life out there, outside of the cities?

On page two: gripes intensify, and theories are offered for why such a glitchy game is scoring rave reviews elsewhere.

217 Comments

  1. colw00t says:

    Weirdly, I found myself wishing for the usual crappy Bethesda animation in one very particular instance: Dogmeat. Dogmeat got a major upgrade in this one, and I just cannot deal with the hurt-dog noises and the animations when he’s critically wounded. He stays at Sanctuary now, with his lovely red bandanna in a house I made for him.

    I know it’s not a real dog, and I know that this not-real dog is immortal, but watching him whimper and try to stand up, fail, and fall over makes me just want to flee from my computer and go hug my dogs until they get tired of hugging and run away.

    • gmillar says:

      Every time I get stuck on him in a doorway, I care a little less about him getting hurt. Plus, I gave him badass armour and a spiked muzzle. Which actually has no gameplay effect…

      • frightlever says:

        Yeah, I’m growing to hate dogmeat.

        • hungrycookpot says:

          I’ve found the overall experience is way better when you just leave all the companions and their shoddy AI at home and go it alone.

      • DiiGiiTAL says:

        There’ll be a mod for this. Any day now. Noclipdogmeat.

    • Arglebargle says:

      More credit to you!

    • Jockie says:

      When he gets in my way I tend to shoot him and shout ‘stupid dog’ at my monitor. I am a cat person.

      • criskywalker says:

        I’m pleased and surprised by the great amount of cats in Fallout 4! I thought there were none in the post-apocalyptic world.

        • suibhne says:

          Cats will inherit the Earth. (Seriously, look at the “100 Years” mark: link to worldwithoutus.com )

        • MisterFurious says:

          When Humans go extinct, the next species that goes will be dogs because they can’t take care of themselves. The species after that will be rats because they feed off of our garbage and no more Humans will be an end to their free lunch. Cats, however, will do just fine without us.

  2. Dale Winton says:

    It’s funny how he runs about and knocks everything over though – just like a real dog

    • colw00t says:

      He does get a perfect smug/happy look on his face when he does his sit up and beg trick that tells me he was definitely animated by someone who really loves dogs.

    • Magical_Hippy says:

      I think you should try giving him a teddy bear and see how dog like he is.

    • SomeDuder says:

      In a Bethesda game, anything can knock over anything. It’s a miracle the game manages to boot up at all or that the physics engine doesn’t implode as soon as a ragdoll hits another objects in the gameworld, where everything starts flying around as if influenced by a poltergeist on a cokebinge.

      I, for one, do not accept these stupid glitches, getting stuck on thresholds, windowstills, bugged switches et cetera. I’ll just wait till the GotY is released at the usual 75% discount. If that means I’ll have to do a few months without an overhyped game, I’ll count that as a blessing.

      • Premium User Badge

        gritz says:

        If you don’t own it and aren’t playing it, how do you know what the physics is like?

        It’s really nothing like the days of Oblivion, where everything floated 5 inches off the ground and everything went flying if you touched something.

        • minijedimaster says:

          There’s this new invention called streaming video. It’s pretty cool. You can go to websites like youtube.com and twitch.tv and watch people play the game and see for yourself exactly what the in game world is like without having to own or play said game yourself. You should check it out.

          • Premium User Badge

            gritz says:

            Feel free to post a youtube link of the shitty physics that guy is describing, killer.

          • neotribe says:

            You mean like link to youtube.com ? Havok really does show its age, even with the framerate capped to prevent junk from turning into a giant cloud of shrapnel when opening a door.

        • Bobtree says:

          F4 physics are framerate dependent: link to youtube.com

  3. ohminus says:

    “Alec: The Witcher 3 doesn’t do awe, though. ”

    Huh? If the cliffs of Skellige don’t awe you, I don’t know what does. Not to mention looking up to the castle high atop and knowing you can actually go there…

    And then there’s some of the worlds you travel through…

    Heck, just check out a random let’s play on YouTube and you will find gamer XYZ stand in awe at the sunset in Velen.

    • popej says:

      I don’t know what it is but Fallout and Tobago lesser extent Skyrim have ‘something’ the Witcher 3 doesn’t, despite its brilliance. I can’t put my finger on it, a sense of deeper interaction with Bethesdas world’s perhaps? The Witcher seems more like floating through an oil painting, not interacting with it.

      Gamebryo is a messy ugly thing but it works somehow. I guess it helps that the lore and setting of Fallout is of much greater interestnto me.

      There’s the mods too.

      • LacSlyer says:

        I think it’s simply immersion. Fallout does it well, while The Witcher, be it because it’s third person or what have you, lacks similar immersion. To me the main reason is the game looks gorgeous, but fake in a way that you feel like you’re playing a game the entire time.

        • gunny1993 says:

          TO me 3rd or first person doesn’t effect immersion at all, why? Because no matter what the perspective is I always KNOW i’m playing a game, it’s an element that my mind wont allow me to forget because it’s so obvious, so instead I simply ignore it in it’s entirety so both perspectives are equally immersive.

          SO my measure of immersion comes from gameplay, characters, writing, graphics in varying measures and I can say that whilst I love both games I prefer the witcher, but, I shall have my cake and eat it too by loving both of them.

        • ohminus says:

          First person could never do justice to playing a Witcher. Remember in Witcher 2 where Geralt told Zoltan to callout the password when Zoltan didn’t see or hear anyone around? Geralt was well aware there were elves sitting in the trees pointing their bows and arrows at them. His senses give him a keen awareness of what’s going on around him.

          • Coming Second says:

            Now you’re reminding me how much I dislike Geralt for being an insufferable woe-is-me know-it-all ow-the-edge Marty Stu. I think that’s one of the things that hurts people’s immersion in the Witcher: You’re always aware that you are not you, discovering things wide-eyed in a strange world, but Geralt, who knows everything and furthermore is deeply sulky about it.

          • neotribe says:

            Geralt’s ‘keen senses’ mostly amount to going to a map marker, pressing the button for Witch-O-Vision and following the trail of glowing funk to the next quest POI (which seems to be the inspiration for the VANS perk), repeat once or twice, then fight something. This is the gameplay loop for 90% of W3, and for me, is its biggest flaw.

      • ohminus says:

        See, for me, it’s precisely the opposite. Yes, there’s loads of stuff you can do in Fallout or Skyrim – to the point where it doesn’t make any sense. You can achieve things that are a lifetime achievement for others over the course of a few weeks. And while it might be said that desperate need can speed up picking up lockpicking, you don’t suddenly become an engineer overnight.

        What’s more, while you can do lots of things, it’s massive quantity but very, very shallow.

        Take crafting in Witcher 3. While you can make potions and bombs as you please, that being something that Witchers learn, when it comes to weapons and armor, you may find some diagrams, but to actually make the stuff, you need a pro. And pros aren’t all the same, either. Not everyone is a master without peer.

        The fundamental misunderstanding of Bethesda is that being able to do more makes the world more immersive. I don’t think so. Because in the real world, you can’t just operate a nuclear reactor safely just because you suddenly decide it’s a neat idea to operate a nuclear reactor today. AND because being able to do A usually has repercussions on being able to do C, D and E that they didn’t think about and thus didn’t code into the game. That’s why to me, a lot of the stuff is fluff, thin veneer of interactivity that’s little more than fan service but lacking an actual CONCEPT as to how the world works AS A WORLD.

        • Blackcompany says:

          This really nails it.

          I feel much more immersed in the world of Witcher 3 than ever I have in a Bethesda game. With the possible exception of Fallout New Vegas, which was really Obsidian…so, yeah.

          As mentioned the things Geralt can and cannot do make sense contextually. An experience never delivered by Bethesda. Moreover, Witchers and Magic Users are a breed apart in Geralt’s world; not every third Bandit can throw Fireballs at your face all day long. Makes magic feel like something special, that little touch. Add in things like monsters with very, very specific combat styles, varied enemies each of whom presents a different sort of threat and a gorgeous world made for screenshots (those sunsets, you know) and Witcher 3 delivers a level of immersion never seen in Bethesda games.

        • Archonsod says:

          That’s kinda the thing though. If I had any interest in ‘being in a world’ I wouldn’t be sat at my PC.

        • neotribe says:

          Geralt really needs to see someone about his terrible brain disorder that causes him to forget all this shit every couple of years.

        • epeternally says:

          For all that the game is in a lot of ways a miss, Fallout 4 actually does right by this. Leveling is a slow process and you really have to put the work in to get good at something. If not the work into one particular thing, at least the work into the game. I’m 60 hours into the game and I still can’t pick up the skill to get master level locks. I’d guess that totally filling out your stat tree would take 300-400 hours which in video game world is a really decent approximation of the lifetime of work it would take to acquire a wide breadth of skill. That interesting things always happen around you can’t really fixed, but the perk system in Fallout 4 is exquisite, and it’s a shame it will probably be dropped because of whining from people who expect to unlock all abilities in ten hours. Because of this, it’s also one of the few games that really allows room for their DLC, rather than throwing you more content in a game which you’ve got no more progress to make in.

    • BloatedGuppy says:

      Yeah that was a weird way to put it. I was significantly more awed at Witcher 3 than anything I’ve seen in Fallout 4 to date. Most of my awe has been “awe at this shoddy mouse and keyboard interface” or “awe at these horrendous and creepy facial animations” or “awe that they thought halving the movement of the y axis on a mouse was a good idea”.

      I don’t hate Fallout 4, but it’s a ridiculous mess. It’s more of a sandbox than Witcher 3, and thus imparts all the joys that sandboxes tend to bring, but in virtually every other respect CDPR’s game rather humiliates it.

      • DanMan says:

        That’s the point really. Bethesda games provide you with a big sandbox to fool around in. You build a character, try out some stuff, see what happens and have a laugh at it. It’s “fun” in a childish – yet brutal – sense.

        The Witcher is different. You get to experience a world in which you accompany a character on his journey/life. It’s not about toying around, but completing a story. So the word “fun” isn’t the 1st that comes to mind here, it’s “enjoyment”.

        Something like that. The difference is subtle, but it’s there. One is more like Goat Simulator, the other is more like The Vanishing Of Ethan Carter, if that makes sense.

    • Stupoider says:

      “Alec: The Witcher 3 doesn’t do awe, though. ”

      Ridiculous, right? Novigrad is the most awe inspiring city I’ve ever seen in a fantasy RPG. Skellige took Skyrim to ANOTHER LEVEL. Crow’s Perch was a gorgeous settlement too.

    • misho8723 says:

      Exactly… Witcher 3 has so much great scenes – Kaer Morhen, Skellige, the battlefields in Velen, Novigrad, the woods in Velen, etc.. and the great music (mainly on Skellige) make the most beautiful world in any modern open world game

      Fallout4 world is – boring… in Witcher 3 you discovering the world, you want to discovering it, you want to find new locations, because of finding new great written characters, interesting main or side quests.. in F4 you are only discovering new location mainly because you need something to find to shot at… the main discovery of this game is “killing”.. F4 isn’t a bad game, it’s just a bad Fallout game.. even Fallout 3, not to mention New Vegas, very still proper RPG games – F4 feels more like a open-world FPS with some RPG and crafting elements.. hell, even STALKER games are more RPG now than this new entry in the Fallout series

      • oarstruck says:

        I really wish Bethesda would take a step back. I’d love a real stat-heavy RPG in an old-school style again, not an action based simplification. I could forgive the old issues and glitches in Morrowind as it was such an advanced marvel at the time and one of the first times I really felt immersed in a world, but not in a ‘oh my gosh this is real’ kind of way, but in a ‘I really feel I’m playing a tabletop RPG crafted just for me!’. I miss that. That really made me feel like exploring, and not just the world, but the very game systems. Plus, I could make a constant ring of invisibility. The best RPG’s are always the ones that allow you to truly break the game with the mechanics.

        It’s quite disappointing to me that Bethesda seem to be moving as quickly as possible away from that style of RPG, and have been doing since Oblivion, really. Even Fallout 3 was a step away, but still retained SOME of these elements. By Skyrim, the game world started to show just how hollow they’ve made these basic mechanics such as levelling, world-building etc. By Fallout 4 I cannot really care anymore.

        • ohminus says:

          Exactly my feelings as well.

        • Hayward1066 says:

          Removal of the skills system was an aberration and has directly caused the game to have less RPG elements. In the past you could use your repair skill or explosives skill to creatively deal with different situations, now its 90% shotgun diplomacy.

          Don’t get me wrong skills needed to be updated, the small guns skill for example could have tied in with critical chance and reload speed (hell even include a misfire/screw up system).

          Just like in Skyrim (although it bovered me less) instead of fixing an outdated but solid principled system, Beth scrapped it. Do they think people are to dumb to get it or are they just lazy?

          Honestly i think at this point Bethesda can be regarded as one of the worst RPG makers in the business, they make great worlds (probably the best in fact) but there incompetent when it comes to doing anything with it. I’m praying obsidian can put some RPG back into fallout again at some point!

    • adwodon says:

      My only thoughts on why this might be is possibly because The Witcher 3 feels crafted, everything seems to have care put into it, it is a game and in many places you can feel the designers intent. I love this, its amazing, but I think on the flipside you don’t get that feeling with Bethesda games, they feel more like someone just dumped a load of stuff in a pile and as a result when cool things happen it almost feels organic in a way.

      My preference is with The Witchers approach every time, but I can see why people like Besthesda games for that reason, they are more of a sandbox than The Witcher, which isn’t even close. A better comparison might be something like MGS5 which is a kind of open world stealth sandbox, or even FarCry (although I haven’t played those).

      The designers in The Witcher 3 have clear intent, they give choice but its still designed choice and they plant well designed stories into random areas for you to find, in sandboxy games they don’t and I think the end results ‘feels’ like you have infinite possibilities, you don’t, in most cases the difference is just letting you kill other NPCs, the serious changes come with modding but obviously modding is separate.

      Really thats the only credit I can give Bethesda games these days, they are just sandboxes for modders, some people love that.

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        I don’t think you really played much of FO4.

      • minijedimaster says:

        “with Bethesda games, they feel more like someone just dumped a load of stuff in a pile”

        Bethesda games in a nutshell.

        • neotribe says:

          The problems come out when they try to apply elaborate scripting to the pile of stuff. Although supposedly the Papyrus scripting engine got a re-write this time around and will hopefully no longer melt down as readily.

      • DanMan says:

        Very well put. A big toy box for you to play around in, without much focus.

  4. carewolf says:

    Wow. Good review. I was afraid I wouldn’t see one of those for Fallout 4.

    • geisler says:

      What in the world are you talking about? Almost every mainstream site has deemed it Dorito & MTNDew GOTY with 80% scores and up. link to metacritic.com

      • minijedimaster says:

        I believe he was referencing the review as a good review, as in more balanced with both pro’s and con’s as opposed to the general critical review “10/10 because its fallout!”.

  5. Jason Moyer says:

    “Should we maybe make it so it’s faster to use a stimpak/change weapon via the shortcut than to go into the Pip-Boy and do it manually?”

    Are you comparing using the Pip-Boy to switching with the numbers keys, or are you actually bringing up the favorites menu first? I’m not finding weapon-switching or aid-using to be slow if you just use the number keys.

    • colw00t says:

      Yeah, I don’t understand that line either. Binding a stimpak to a number key means that all you have to do is tap one key to use a stimpak. It’s hard to imagine anything faster.

      • gmillar says:

        Honestly, most of the time when I need to use a stimpack, I appreciate the brief respite that opening the Pip-Boy gives me.

        • Coming Second says:

          This. The magic pause button I have on my wrist is the only reason I win most fights.

  6. FurryLippedSquid says:

    As one of the unfortunate few, I refuse to play it until I can actually see the lock I’m trying to pick. Gutted.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Try the fix on this page for the invisible lockpicking, it worked for me:

      link to steamcommunity.com

      • FurryLippedSquid says:

        Thanks, but I think it only works for certain aspect ratios. Doesn’t work for my 5:4 1280×1024 screen.

        • minijedimaster says:

          1280×1024? Welcome to 1995. Couldn’t you just skip a couple of day 1 purchases of $60 games to save a few bucks for a monitor made in the last few years?

      • FurryLippedSquid says:

        I didn’t realise it had been updated since I last looked. Fix works! Not ideal as it’s still in a window but it’ll do for now.

        Many thanks!

      • neotribe says:

        If the lockpicking problem is linked to the menu scaling problems, the currently available widescreen menu fix required someone to unpack the Flash (ugh) menu files and re-do them for widescreen aspect ratios. The same thing might be needed for legacy ratios? The process is discussed in the FO4 thread at WSGF.

  7. Premium User Badge

    gritz says:

    By far the biggest itch it’s scratching for me is the scavenging/crafting/base building. Yeah, the interface was designed by a sadistic villain, but stay with me.

    I never got into Minecraft and the like because their worlds felt so bereft personality and life. Building things was so lonely and meaningless. Putting some of those mechanics into a traditional open-world RPG like Fallout was a stroke of genius. Now that I’m building things for NPC’s with names and stories my construction finally has meaning it never had in other survival/builder sandboxes.

    It’s disturbingly effective, and I’m afraid the terrible UI is going to break my brain entirely.

    • badmothergamer says:

      Settlement building was the new feature I was most excited about. I loved Real Time Settler in both FO3 and FNV and even spent 100+ hours in the GECK building a nice flat area in New Vegas just for settlement building. The interface for it isn’t great but once I saw the tip about using the shift key so I didn’t have to keep moving to the arrow keys it became much easier.

    • neotribe says:

      I’m really wrestling with ‘fun’ vs ‘broken.’ Also, there should be a way to (order settlers to?) patch up existing structures w/viibly scavenged materials. There should also be wood pieces that are not ‘shack’ parts, and walls with windows. Beyond that, what about cement, stone, brick or even adobe buildings? Or (theoretically) less permanent structures, like prefab ploppable yurts? The options seem very limited, even if more choices would be mostly skin (texture) deep.

  8. klops says:

    I really enjoyed JW comments.

  9. criskywalker says:

    Fallout 4 has me terribly underwhelmed so far. It feels like Fallout 3.5. After 7 years I was expecting a bit more. Some Minecraft non sense gimmick isn’t enough.

    It has the same music as FO3 and New Vegas, although the classical station is good.

    The dialogue wheel… It’s awful! I even like the voiced protagonist, but I wish we could have a low intelligence character o a genius one with different dialogues. And talking about the dialogues, they’re brief, but they’re also bloody awful. Why can’t Bethesda hire writers?

    I agree that The Witcher 3 isn’t perfect. Those bloody awful peasants with their similar faces and uttering the same damn phrases in every village. At least Fallout 4 hasn’t taken a bullet to its knee and it seems, so far, that NPCs have a bit more phrases. But The Witcher 3 has amazing quests. I haven’t found a single quest as good as those in FO3/NV so far.

    I still hope that playing more hours I’ll find the game better, but I insist it feels like a more polished but more dumbed down Fallout 3.

    • LacSlyer says:

      I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I’d even venture to say that some aspects are even a step back because of their obvious consolization. The UI and the dumbed down dialogue system are the obvious draw backs to me. A mediocre housing system that’s basically designed to be a time sink is practically a clone of the Skyrim version with semi-useful companions. And the ridiculousness of the junk item collecting is so bloody obnoxious that I don’t understand how anyone can stand it.

      I will say the one good thing they improved is the combat. The weapons have more weight to them and the sounds are considerably better overall. But with that, the combat system is nothing different from the previous game with minor adjustments. Now I’m not sure what else could be improved, but the combat just feels stale to me because it’s nothing different.

      • neotribe says:

        The weapons do feel weightier, but it makes the floatey, gliding movement more conspicuous. Especially when characters are clip-pushing each other around, it looks and feels like ice-skating.

    • cpt_freakout says:

      Glad to see someone finally mention the music – it’s too bad it’s exactly the same. There’s so much material from the time they could use, or even help recover. Oh well, it’s not like I was gonna get this now… I’m waiting a few months to get all the good music mods.

      • Arglebargle says:

        It was probably cheaper to recycle what music they’d bought the rights to, rather than to go and get new pieces.

      • neotribe says:

        Eh, this feels ‘right’ to me. The chord progression in the FO menu theme is like coming home. Kind of like how when you open up a Battlefield game, you expect to hear (a version) of the Battlefield theme. Which is now probably playing in your head, dear reader.

        • neotribe says:

          Or are we talking about the radio music? In which case, yes, that’s not so very far from wrong: it’s freaking terrible and it’s making my balls go jingle-jangle.

    • Sirnizz says:

      I’am still surprised that NOBODY talk about the mass feature removal and generally dumbed down system (“streamlined” if you don’t like it) the game has been under.

      No skill ? Really, they’re just gone, I feel so disappointed by this I just can’t stop thinking about it. Why would you ever do that, no specialization, you can use any gun from the start, no sentiments of progression, nothing.

      The dialogue wheel is terrible, why would you put your @**#### Mass effect system in my Fallout F*** you bethesda.

      This wheel system doesn’t do any good thing, I don’t see any one good thing over the previous dialogue system. You don’t know what your character is actually going to say ( even more now that it’s voiced) and you can just spam left option to be sacarstic, don’t even have to read or even look just spam left and you know you’re doing the “right thing”.

      With the skill removal, there’s no skill check dialogue, and I didn’t play much I guess now there’s is no stats dialogue and no perk dialogue also so that’s a whole bunch of thing I can’t get over with.

      And lastly the perk system is… really annoying, your stats do matter and don’t matter at all at the same time. Any character can now hack terminal ( I don’t even know on what it is based now, there’s no science skill, does perception do the hacking of terminal ( that’s bullshit if it does)), the lockpick are arbitrary blocked by perk level, and just about so many thing doesn’t make any sense to me from a gameplay and immersion perspective.

      I just can’t get over all of this, this is what made Fallout really enjoyable for me, waiting my level up, putting my precious skill point ( determined by your Int) every level, feeling what did you need, what you could go by without for another level, getting 1 perk every 2 level in NV, not feeling too overpowered.

      I just don’t get the game designer when they all think about this and they say ” Yea those are great thing, they’re going to love it”

      Am I just too grumpy about little thing ? I don’t think so but I’am still surprised that nobody talk about this more, Like it’s no big deal. I don’t want the formula to change, certainly not the way F4 went am I wrong for wanting this ?

      Skyrim made exactly the same thing ( removal of stats, 3 school of magic instead of 15, less and less thing, streamlined process etc..) I played 300h+ of skyrim I don’t think I can play more than the 5 hours I’ve had with F4.

      • Myrdinn says:

        You said in many words what I came to say with just a few words; why the heck did they throw out skills? I like perks, don’t get me wrong, but they’re supposed to enhance your skills, not replace them. I’m playing a stealth character and it has been pretty useless for the first 25 hours or so, since you have to be something like level 25 to get a couple of stars into the perk.

        Why does Bethsoft always think their audience is a bunch of idiots? Especially when Todd Howard says stuff like “Our fans are amazing; they’re super-smart.” Are we so smart we can’t deal with attributes in Skyrim or skillpoints in Fallout?

        • ohminus says:

          This!

          Instead of being a skilled individual with a history of delving into sundry topics, the PC is a puppet with a bunch of perk stickers on it…

      • LacSlyer says:

        I completely agree with you. Unfortunately the problem is the mass appeal the game gets for being so dumbed down. Skyrim did the exact same thing for the Elder Scroll series. It improved the graphics and a few minor things, but seriously dumbed a lot of things down so their FPS RPG would have mass appeal, and it did. Overwhelmingly so. They had already done a number on Fallout with 3, and while I enjoyed that, they took it a step further here and added extremely minor improvements overall while dumbing the majority of content down.

        In fear of sounding like a grumpy old man, I’m really upset they did this and I understand why they did, but it’s really disappointing. It makes the game much more appealing to console players because of this simply because the controls limit how complex you can make certain features. Primarily combat the combat.

        They had an opportunity to really build around an already good design with Fallout 3, but instead they dumbed it down even more. My only hope is that modders are able to come in and add some complexity to the game so it’s more than a simple shooter with bad dialogue.

      • Archonsod says:

        Given a lot of the stuff the perk levels are used for, like hacking, were locked to specific skill values in NV I’m not seeing the huge difference. Well, beyond not wasting any points in a skill between those arbitrary values. It certainly makes a lot more sense than dictating something is impossible at 59 while being possible at 60.

      • neotribe says:

        The design philosophy for FO4 seems to be: take FO3 and bolt on various subsystems and features from other successful action/first person/open world RPGs made since. (‘Successful’ being mostly defined by console platform sales figures.)

  10. montorsi says:

    This one time, back in band camp, I hit escape and clicked help.

  11. shagen454 says:

    I agree, I want F4 with MGSV combat! I’m basically playing the game like I would MGSV – sneaking around in the dark. My lady butt definitely does not look very good in sneaky third person mode which is a… bummer. I feel like the game looks better at night plus sneaking through the night just feels good – trying to avoid needless combat.

    MGSV no longer immersed me after about 30 hours. It was easy to set aside and say, some day I will come back to it. I played Witcher 3 for weeks on end and I loved it, so much detail, so much perfection – but it still did not immerse me as much as Fallout 4 is and at the end of the day that is what I’m looking for – for fun. Somewhere around sneaking through the night into Cambridge and watching a group of super mutants cross a bridge before me, nuke flashes in the distance, great atmospheric sound design, it all began to click. I appreciate that I can walk long distances, just hiking, coming across hidden treasure. There is a lot of detail in this game and the mechanics feel a lot better than F3. If you need weighty combat – start lobbing some grenades.

    Witcher 3 gets my game of the year vote. However, Fallout 4 is the best fun I’ve had all year.

    • Rizlar says:

      Yet, pretty much that middle paragraph. Although F4 is yet to match feelings of pure joy I had playing TW3.

      • neotribe says:

        Whatever it may do, FO4 is never going to make me butt-dance in my chair while chanting GET YER GWENT GOT.

  12. Zenicetus says:

    Yeah, I’ll agree that the shoddiness of the presentation can’t be handwaved by how ambitious it is. I’m able to look past it (or through it) and enjoy the game, but takes a determined effort to ignore the wooden faces, the floaty NPC movement over the ground, the horrible UI and all the rest. I play the game anyway because it’s Fallout and I like the setting.

    I am worried about the power curve for the main character though. In Fallout 3 and New Vegas, I enjoyed the early part of the game the most, when I was spending many hours stumbling around in low-grade leather armor and using crappy basic weapons. With the new crafting stuff in F4, I’m wearing armor and using weapons that feel way overpowered for the early areas when I haven’t been in the game that long. I’m not getting that vulnerable sensation I’ve enjoyed in previous games.

    For example, the first time I ran into a group of Feral Ghouls I died quickly, then re-loaded and ran away. The time between that, and being able to easily handle a group of three or four Ghouls swarming me with a heavily upgraded 10mm pistol and a little help from Dogmeat was only about an hour or so of playing time. That doesn’t feel right. I think it may be due to the crafting system allowing access to fairly powerful stuff too early in the game, once you figure it out.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      Nah, just go way south and be ready to cry.

      I was a god way earlier and for way more encounter in the previous ones, honest.

      I have 1 endurance though.

    • neotribe says:

      How practiced you are with first-person shooting also makes a bigger difference in FO4. If you’re head-shotting everything outside of VATs a lot of the early opposition is somewhat weak. Although, not enough to make me crank up the difficulty.

  13. Jimbo says:

    The early doors Power Armour vs. Deathclaw bit irked me perhaps more than it should have. All it achieves is to highlight just how shallow and mediocre the combat is (it’s a glorified turret section), while immediately removing any sense of danger from the setting.

    It’s a bit hard to feel vulnerable clearing mole rats out of a junkyard or whatever after you’ve already been made a demigod 10 minutes after leaving the vault.

    • Premium User Badge

      gritz says:

      Except that “demigod” status is based on you not running out of some very important resources (fusion cores and 5mm) – if you want power, you have to go out and scavenge for it in Fallout 4.

    • suibhne says:

      I actually found that section a neat way of intro’ing the PA mechanics in FO4, while still showcasing its vulnerabilities. But that may be down to the fact that I’m playing on Hard, knowing that my standard stealthy sniper approach will quickly become overpowered otherwise.

  14. Mario Figueiredo says:

    This is the “review” I was hoping for! Thanks for this followup, which much more detail and unafraid of talking critically of such important aspects to any RPG, like art direction, technical developments, narrative and dialog.

    Bethesda does get away with it, because they excel at making worlds. As you guys so well put, their games have an horizon we are always wishing to reach and a hill we want to climb. And once there, we don’t usually get disappointed. It’s this satisfaction that ends giving players that needed fix that helps null out some of the constant disappointment.

    But not to everyone. I feel that since Fallout 3, we have been missing on a great opportunity to make these games grand. The Fallout intellectual property ended up on a company that can’t handle its narrative. The whole game is instead a weird exploration on drawing a convincing post-apocalyptic painting, not a story. Fallout NV has hints of that greatness. But Fallout 4 proved to us that no lessons weren’t learnt and no advances were made. We are back to worse than when we didn’t had Fallout.

    And that’s how I see it. I’d rather not have seen Fallout 4 developed. The game is just taking the space of something that could have been much better. I feel like I’m watching a bad movie on one of my favorite themes. And the press, with its all too soon high scores and its scant analysis of the game is just helping to perpetrate this madness.

    • Zenicetus says:

      If there is a silver lining in all this, it’s that the Fallout IP is valuable enough that they have to be planning another one, and I can’t imagine Bethesda getting away with something this rough a few years from now. Especially if CDPR hits it out of the ballpark with the upcoming Cyberpunk sci-fi RPG.

      • Myrdinn says:

        I’m -so- hoping they give Obsidian a chance to make a new Fallout spin-off though.

        • Hedgeclipper says:

          But why would Obsidian want to now they’re working on their own IP, especially after the way Beth screwed them on New Vegas.

          • suibhne says:

            How did Beth screw them on NV? I mean, other than forcing them to use the same engine with all the same bugs and mechanical idiocies, ha.

            I’d be perfectly happy if Bethesda kept partnering with Obsidian for the FO “tock” in the Western US. Obsidian understands the setting much better, and the West does a much better job of supporting it.

  15. KaMai says:

    I’m a tad disappointed because okay, this is a Bethesda game, but it’s also a FALLOUT game.

    Why is everybody comparing it to Skyrim and Fallout 3, but New Vegas and the original Fallout games are almost never mentioned? I mean, New Vegas came out one year before Skyrim, and its Ultimate Edition one year after, it’s more or less the same time-frame.

    I do understand that we can’t draw comparisons with the original games in terms of gameplay, technical quality etc., but we can talk about the writing, the consistency with the established lore and the feeling and the soul of the game.

    I’m feeling that the approach here is more “let’s see how’s the last Bethesda game” than “let’s see how’s the last Fallout game”. Which is a bit sad, looking at it from an old-time fan’s perspective.

    • Cinek says:

      Why is everybody comparing it to Skyrim and Fallout 3, but New Vegas and the original Fallout games are almost never mentioned?” – New Vegas is not a Bethesda game. It was made by Obsidian. So it’s not a sequel to Fallout 3, it’s more like a… spin-off. All the things like lore consistency between FONV and FO4 don’t really matter. Plus: it puts Fallout 4 in a better light, as Fallout 3 was really mediocre game with lots of terrible writing, New Vegas was a whole bar if not two above it, IMHO in many aspects it stands above Fallout 4, so putting them against each other is… more controversial and doesn’t help selling a new game ;).

      • KaMai says:

        Yeah, I know that and that’s my point… So many flaws of this game are shrugged off as “Bethesda shenanigans”, while I feel its legacy as a Fallout game should be taken more into account.

        • suibhne says:

          I’d venture to say that most of the problems with FO:NV are due to the tech inherited from/required by Bethesda. Yes, Obsidian’s design falls short in some ways…but it always amazed me to see NV get dinged for massive bugs that were never fixed – and rarely criticized – in FO3. From this perspective, I think it makes perfect sense to characterize all this stuff as the usual Bethesda bullshit.

          • neotribe says:

            This was because most people did not understand the relationship between Bethesda and Obsidian, and that due to it Obsidian’s hands were mostly tied as far as fixing core engine bugs that Bethesda had continued to neglect. I think some of these people realized the situation in hindsight, after Skyrim released with unfixed problems dating back to Oblivion.

  16. Rizlar says:

    Jim (RIP)

    He’s dead, Jim.

    Anyhoo, I realise that it was being talking about in terms of review scores, not personal experience, but the reason I am able to overlook so much in Bethesda games is indeed related to scale. They give you a huge world full of moving parts and just let you dive in. Why does everyone like Minecraft, surely it’s a rubbish game too? (note: has never played Minecraft). But the advantage of not reducing everything to a review score is that I can hold two conflicting opinions about something at the same time. The UI, controls, bugs and characters/story are rubbish but the world is fantastic and submerging yourself in it is hugely compelling.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      Indeed.

      Now please escape this “first Fallout that is so combat centric” ( ??? ) bandwagon, go play, immerse yourself, build settlements and have a good time.

  17. Arglebargle says:

    Bethesda’s generally crappy delivery of their games has led me to the point of just not buying their games on release. Haven’t done so since the mistake of Oblivion. No more full price for shoddy workmanship.

    Wait a year or so, give the modders time to fix the most egregious of the Bethesda screw ups.

  18. drewski says:

    Oblivion is Bethesda’s worst RPG.

    Good chat.

    • Cropduster says:

      It was bland yes, but IMO it had the best quests of any Bethesda game by a long way. The painting thief mystery, mages guild recommendations, the entire dark brotherhood line, so many good ones.

      Outside of the main quest and the fighters guild it was very rarely the “kill all these things” or “I left my wife’s treasured bangles at the end of this dungeon please get them for me” staples that more recent Bethesda games are sticking to.

      • Coming Second says:

        What can be said of Oblivion is that Bethesda were at least trying something new with it. Not all of it good – but it was a genuinely fresh experience, as compared to Morrowind. Aside from the new engine a lot of things jump out as innovative for the time, and there truly were some stunning quests in there, maybe the best Bethesda have ever written. Of course the gross simplification of everything, the neutering of the magic/crafting system and the fact Todd and co flagrantly lied about a lot of stuff tarnishes the achievement somewhat, but still.

        Since then though, Bethesda have more or less been standing still, refining and rehashing the Oblivion formula interminably. Why? Because it turned out to be immensely profitable for them. For me – and like the RPS crew I’ve enjoyed myself so far – F4 marks the end of any hope that Bethesda will ever do something special or genuinely make me go “wow” like I did in Morrowind. They’re in their happy little rut now and only declining sales will see them hoist themselves out of it.

        • Cropduster says:

          Agreed, they’re playing it far too safe these days.

          When you consider that Oblivion is nearly a decade old, it’s like Bethesda has been in suspended animation all this time.

        • neotribe says:

          The ‘neutering’ was only partial in Oblivion. Skyrim did away with spellcrafting completely, which truly sucked. (Yes, I’m aware of the spellcrafting mods.)

  19. Cinek says:

    Fallout 4 is… well… basically more of Fallout 3, with some good bits from New Vegas included and graphics slightly improved.

    Overall it’s not a bad game, but… I feel like I’ll forget about it till Xmas. It’s nothing truly gripping in it… nothing earth-shaking. It’s just a good game. But… at the same time only a good game (which is far less than the hype around it indicated). I went though good 50 hours so far and I haven’t seen even a single quest in this game that would grip me at least to the level of some early quests in Witcher 3 prologue, and nothing even remotely close to the highlights of TW3, like the Botchling quest. Combat perhaps is better than the average for Fallouts, but still very much meh. Writing is below the level of New Vegas. Graphics are good 3 years below the current standard, if not more (low-res textures just hurt my eyes, shitty animations don’t help). Overall gameplay is OKish, but nothing special. Then there are bugs… no blockers so far, but stupid things like opponents clipping through walls, or attacking you through solid concrete, or enemy AI doing some completely stupid stuff (eg. running back and forth doing nothing), or missing collision meshes on some fences, or even worse: terrain (finding a video of that bug took me 10 seconds, lol), tons of animation bugs (as if quality of animations that work right wouldn’t be bad enough already), random FPS drops for no logical reasons, and many, many more…

    IMHO Fallout 4 will quickly fade away in a memory of most players, while the the game that’s going to be a point of reference for all the other RPGs will still be The Witcher 3, well: at least for these real time RPGs with more pressure on action.

    Don’t get me wrong – it’s a good game, but all the things considered – it’s nothing special, nothing you’d use as a benchmark to compare other games against, nothing you’d want to re-play once you feel like you’re done (as, damn, quests in FO4 are awfully linear), nothing that would justify all the hype build around it for months. It’s… meh, ok, but still meh.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      Thanks for the bolded parts for clarity, i’ll absolutely make sure to take your opinion for something sacred and stop playing immediately.

      Look, FO4 is different, you have to experience it in a different way. I loved TW3 but as a different game, and it’s wrong to pit the two against because it creates a contest for GOTY.

      There’s no contest, TW3 wins the GOTY also because of CDPR and their background, they shown the world a weird studio can teach a lesson to everyone, they deserve the price on each single level.

      FO4 is still a game more suited to my tastes though.

      You are only hurting yourself with your approach anyway, even on a financial level, since it’s not wise to buy a game just to prove to your ego that it wasn’t good enough. Still, you can’t play TW3 and FO4 in the same way, you can’t sample and taste it with the same measure, especially not now that FO4 is a very different sandbox and has it’s strenghts elsewhere.

  20. Soapeh says:

    Once I realised pressing E is the same as pressing Enter a lot of my gripes about the interface were muted. Now I’m looking forward to an inventory mod that lets you list weapons by ammo type, armour by slot and a more sensible base crafting interface.

  21. Sinjun says:

    So much whining about the interface. It’s not that bad. You can hotkey favorite anything you want, from weapons to stimpacks to the map. I don’t understand what’s so difficult about using it.

    • neotribe says:

      Stimpacks should have a dedicated hotkey, mappable in game options. That’s a universal enough hotkey that a favorite on the number row shouldn’t be used up.

      The console era has made Bethesda shockingly lax about interface and control considerations on PC. The favorites bars is the way it is because that bind-anything universality lets the devs kill all birds with one stone without having to think about PC gameplay & control affordances. Just don’t try to kill more than 12 birds.

      Similarly, it was apparently Just Too Hard to add a few lines of code to let us actually type a number into the ‘quantity’ field in the transfer screen.

      Another egregious example of the Doom brought upon us by controller play is the absence of freelook/aim given the importance of that feature for immersion, shortly followed by the removal of the ability to move the camera and properly steer the character in third person. But there aren’t enough buttons for that on a controller, so all we have left of that functionality is the broken animcam.

      These are things that Gamebryo (or whatever it’s called now) used to do and would still do if Bethesda would put in the minimal effort needed to support those basic PC gameplay features for PC players. It would make the game look and feel a billion times less clunky.

      • neotribe says:

        Although it occurs to me that they’ll probably have to restore freelook/aim despite themselves, if they plan on flogging this game engine into the Occulus era.

  22. Hitchslapped says:

    I am just not interested in investing that much time into games like this anymore. It’s similar to Diablo 2 for example. Doing one run after another to finish a gear set and farm for items was AMAZING back then but it just doesn’t hook me like it used to.
    There will be plenty of mods for Fallout 4 that let you do crazy stuff on this huge map but that won’t be enough for me to keep me going, ESPECIALLY since this is a singleplayer game and I can’t do those crazy things with friends.
    Just like it was with Fallout 3 it is damn near impossible to care for any of the quests ingame because every single NPC feels like a robot. Witcher 3 made me care even for sidequests. I WANTED to help that woman cure her sister or at least ease her pain. I WANTED to reunite a couple in death to free their souls. And the only thing the developers had to do to make me WANT to help those people is to write somewhat believable dialogue and get some adequate voice actors.
    In Fallout I would easily shoot a homeless child in the face if it bothered me because none of the NPCs feel even remotely alive. I just don’t feel like spending some 100+ hours in a soulless world just because it’s big or I can do some basic physical shenanigans. There is way more interesting stuff to do.

  23. Sinjun says:

    The important thing worth pointing out is how ludicrously boring the writing is. I’m 15 hours in and the only character worth a damn is Nick, and there’s been nothing even remotely interesting about the main or side quests so far aside from one moment in a BoS quest chain. I’m just going to assume Bethesda thinks that to continue their monumental successes, they have to make their games rather dumb and thoughtless so that no one gets their feathers ruffled. Todd Howard once said he wants their games to be power fantasies, and I guess that’s really self-evident here… you’re the wasteland messiah again.

    The pure gameplay and visuals of this are dramatically better than FO3/NV, so just for that I’m really enjoying it (I think everyone saying it’s only slightly better looking need to revisit FO3), but after seeing what Obsidian did with FNV, going back to writing this terrible is tough.

    • All is Well says:

      I couldn’t find any way of running or walking that let me keep pace with my wife
      Why do games insist on doing this? NPC walking speed is never the same as your own. You’re almost always slightly slower than NPCs when walking, but much faster when running, so you’ll start off alongside them, gradually lag behind, and then have to run up to them. Over and over again. It’s ridiculous.

      • All is Well says:

        Uh, that wasn’t meant to be a reply. Sorry.

        • Hitchslapped says:

          That’s by the way not the case in Witcher 3. They walk when you do and they start running if you start running. And the magical thing is: THEY ARE AS FAST AS YOU ARE!

  24. Rhodokasaurus says:

    “Some people are not very good at their jobs” -John Walker, without a modicum of irony. Not even talking about this “review” but good lord man have some self awareness.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Oh, you’re so clever aren’t you. I wish I was as clever as you.

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      You appear to have become confused, as I’m *extremely* good at my job!

      • LennyLeonardo says:

        I’m hoping that his understanding of irony is in line with Alanis Morisette’s, and that he agrees with you.

    • jonahcutter says:

      Well, there is a bit of entertainment to be had in watching a very mediocre critic rant about others being “bad at their jobs”.

      There’s that slight value in his work, at the very least.

    • padger says:

      So bad that he makes a living running his own website. What a klutz!

  25. lomaxgnome says:

    Fallout 2 is still to this day the buggiest game I ever played on release (which basically made me stop buying games on release), and barely a single mention of that made it to any reviews, so that’s not exactly a new thing for the series.

  26. yogibbear says:

    The Witcher 3 has GWENT
    Fallout New Vegas had Caravan
    Fallout 4 has NOTHING and therefore it SUCKS.
    Yes that’s right I am going to judge these games on a 3rd mechanic. (Ok FO4 has dumb versions of existing 2D games… but…. you don’t win anything so there’s no game loop!) Plus this post was just meant to be funny…. :(

    • Hitchslapped says:

      Gwent was such great fun.

    • gbrading says:

      Except Fallout 4 has half a dozen Pip-Boy games you can play which are pastiches of Missile Command, Pitfall and Donkey Kong.

      • Archonsod says:

        Yup. So far it’s the best early 80s arcade simulator ever. I even recognise some of the hairstyles.

    • Premium User Badge

      gritz says:

      Fallout 4 has an entire settlement building minigame.

      • Hayward1066 says:

        TBH this is one of the things im most looking forward to when the modders get there hands on it. I bet someone builds a “sewage disposal mod” because most people appear to poo in the corner! its a wonder the settlements aren’t rife with cholera.

  27. ainokmw says:

    I think there’s an element of groupthink at play. Most reviewers don’t want to be the one that sticks their neck out and says highly-anticipated game X is a 6/10, maybe 7/10 at best. So they default to giving 8’s or 9’s to even the sloppiest AAA offerings. Only after a game has multiple weak releases in a row will reviewers start to question a title.

    I’m not even saying they’re being duplicitous. I think the reviewers start to look subconsciously for reasons to give these games more points than they deserve. There’s a psychological bias at play here, but the name eludes me at the moment.

    This happened with Mass Effect 3. Sure, some people liked the ending, but the vast majority of people did not. You would at least expect reviewers to discuss the divisive nature of the ending, but almost every reviewer took the safe (read: cowardly) option of simply ignoring the ending entirely.

    • J. Cosmo Cohen says:

      You make good points about the reviewers. Don’t they also go to a review session setup by the developers? I wonder how much that factors into review scores.

      Also, one of the problems is the view that somehow a game that scores a 7/10 is bad. A 7 is really good! For the most part, these gaming websites have shot themselves in the foot by not properly utilizing their entire review scale.

      • SuicideKing says:

        7/10 is more like “meh”. Not bad, but not that good that you’d ask everyone you know to play it.

        • Premium User Badge

          Qazinsky says:

          That is kind of his point though, 7 SHOULD mean good, 5 should be a decent game, neither good nor bad, most 9-10 should be 7-8 and 1-5 shouldn’t essentially be the same thing. It’s pretty much just a 1-4 scale (how often do you even see 6 or 8?) that places so many games on very similar levels and renders it useless.

    • SuicideKing says:

      I’d argue that RPS fell into that trap with MGSV – it was a fairly 7/10 game (though well optimized so good on them).

      • padger says:

        Dwelling on review scores is… an instinctive reaction. But we all know that arguing the nuance of different numerals is a fools errand. Games are too complicated to be summarised usefully in a score, which is why sites like RPS don’t apply them. More importantly, my 8/10 (MGSV) is your 7/10. Why? Because there is no objective scale, so attaching games to such a thing is simplifying something for its own sake. Games aren’t a phenomenon of physics that can be explained with an equation, they are a massive mix of variables (including personal taste) which can only be adequately addressed with large slabs of description and analysis (words, videos.)

        Ironic, then, that a jokey reference to a score in this article causes further discussion like this – no wonder they got rid of scores!

      • neotribe says:

        I think the RPS review and follow ups reflect the same reaction over a couple weeks of play that many people had. MGSV really knocks your socks off upfront, slips in the bullshit while you’re still feeling the initial glow, and then you notice the tedium and the design compromises as it wears off. Although it remains fun.

    • Archonsod says:

      I’d think the problem with discussing the ME3 ending in a review would be spoilers.

      I’d suggest the ‘problem’ stems from the fact that there’s no objective standard by which reviews measure games against. Some reviewers are going to rate a game based on how much they enjoyed it, some on it’s technical achievements. Some might put story and character first, others might focus on mechanics. The Witcher 3 is a good example; I’ve never been that impressed by the East European knock off of Elric, and the third entry extends his mopiness to the point I refer to it as Swords and Sworcery : Eastenders. For me the game got boring after about six hours simply because I couldn’t bring myself to care about random peasant number 15 and his haunted house/field/goat. Technically however it’s impressive, it’s mechanics are for the most part solid and there’s plenty to do there. So if I wanted to put an arbitrary number on it, I could go 10/10 for technical and mechanical merit, 1/10 for it basically being Dot Cotton the barbarian, or any point in between depending on whether I’m rating it as a game or a personal experience.

      Of course it also illustrates why arbitrary scoring systems are pointless and reviews are useless unless you actually pay attention to the validation of the writer’s opinion rather than the opinion itself.

  28. yogibbear says:

    I think the biggest take away is the reluctance of reviewers to compare Fallout 4 to Fallout New Vegas, which even though was developed by Obsidian, if it isn’t mentioned is like a giant white elephant in the middle of the room going “Hey? What about the King?”. It’s just sad that a team that were rushed, given crap QA/QC support in Bethesda produced the better game 5 years ago and Bethesda couldn’t even do a copy paste job and set the game in Boston. It’s sad. So sad. I am frustrated. Still I’m going to stick with Fallout 4 in the hope that the later parts of the game do something… that feels remotely like an RPG… but I highly doubt it. Probs just throw more bullet sponges at me.

    • Buggery says:

      It’s not really being mentioned, but I feel as if the exclusion of NV is on purpose. It’s a Bethesda game – an open world in a cool setting with a story that barely matters.

      By contrast, NV is an open-world game in a cool setting with a story that you can explore and replay however you like.

      Regardless of your feelings, I think people just want Skyrim-with-guns more than anything. Bethesda has discovered how to make the same game with different skins and it seems to be working for them.

    • Stevostin says:

      FNV is great. It’s my favorite. But it’s really marginally better for me than F3 (jury’s out on F4). Looking serious is not good writing. Exposition is super heavy in FNV up to the point you basically can do very little that isn’t connected to “the main story”. It can makes you smile but never laugh. Gameplay allowed by the engine is twisted beyond what it can handles (crafting just doesn’t work within the boundary of that UI. BTW here is a lesson learned by Bethesda on FNV for you. Now it’s by far the most porwerful RPG UI at dealing with lots and lots of items and craft AFAICT).
      Still, atmosphere, lore, and the awesome DLCs make me love it more on the long run. But F3 wordplay at its best reach levels FNV never approach IMO. It made me laugh hard and be amazed. Can’t say that of a lot of games.

  29. v1tr1ol says:

    Why would you mention The Witcher here? This Fallout3-modded piece of shit sold with a money grabbing plastic for 180$ is nothing but a theft. They haven’t changed anything, two most important things combat and AI are so terrible that it insults my intelligence. It’s shallow like any other Zeni/Beth release and everything you do in the game is pointless. Same shitty story bunker-son-father > bunker-father-son is uncreative, lame, shallow that whole game seems like an epic fail. The only reason why this release has seen the light of the day is to cover TESO losses.

  30. Buggery says:

    I’ve said it before, but: Ubisoft would kill to get the free pass that Bethesda does towards bugs.

    Seriously, it’s been years. The engine doesn’t look terrible, but considering how well other games have looked on comparable hardware this year, the fact that it has the level of graphical fidelity it does (and doesn’t perform particularly well on any hardware, it seems) and still requires inflated hardware requirements is pretty appalling.

    Which is to say nothing of the constant gameplay bugs. Other open-world RPGs and the like have been released in a mostly playable form – but I’ve yet to find anybody, reviewer or no, who has not experienced at least a couple of bugs.

    Also the dialogue wheel is garbage and the story is unnecessary.

    • mavrik says:

      When Ubisoft creates a game which will give me that sense of discovery and exploration like looking into what happened in a Fallout Vault does THEN they get a free pass as well.

      But picking up shiny boxes on top of rooftops that ain’t.

  31. Oozo says:

    Size is a massive factor in RPGs, and it’s clear why that is — the romantic notion of a lone wanderer in a huge land is intrinsically linked to the sort of adventure RPGs promise to deliver. (I’m suprised to hear that The Witcher actually isn’t all great in the awe departement.) This willingness to being baffled over gigantic scale is, btw, also also at play in this article, when you take it for granted that the throne of 2015’s new RPG king will automatically go to either The Witcher 3 or Fallout. For me, it will clearly be Undertale, a game that RPS obviously liked a lot, too, but is just too small to be even mentioned here. And I understand that, too — there is a huge argument to be made that it’s just not the same, and that Metal Gear is closer to those behemoths than Undertale ever could be. So, yeah.

    One thing I wanted to ask and that was not touched upon much here: How New England-ish is Fallout‘s New England? I love the idea of, say, stumbling upon a post-apocalyptic fishing harbour which would have made Lovecraft sing, for example… are there moments like this in the game, or is it more of a new paint job for an atmosphere that is basically the same it ever was?

  32. Laurentius says:

    Ok, I have never been a participant of NMA but I deep inside know I am resident of it as I consider Fallout 2 my favorite cRPG of all time a. Many thing can be said in favour of Bethseda Fallout games but writing and dialogues are so subpar then in Fallout2, it’s schocking.

  33. Stevostin says:

    “Do we really think we want to insist on PC players pressing ‘Enter’ to close 30% of dialogues?”

    E & Tab work as well on those menu (or whatever you binded instead)

    “Should we maybe make it so it’s faster to use a stimpak/change weapon via the shortcut than to go into the Pip-Boy and do it manually?”

    You do know there’s exactly that as a standard feature since … actually since every game from Bethesda ? Still, the system is exactly the same as in Skyrim. So even if you skipped on F3/FNV you should probably know (and yes, the game tells you that, both pro actively and in the help section).

  34. Stevostin says:

    It’s amazing how this miss the main point.

    Some people love video games. Generally more so one kind than the other.

    EVERY people, at least when kind, wanted to be someone else, in another world. It’s not a specific taste, it’s something broader than that.

    Still once adult the need for this is not as powerful for everyone. But only video game can provide this kind of experience (ok, with outdoor costumed RPG, I guess). And within video game, only one published, actually does it. Bethesda.

    That’s why basically it’s not crucial how good Bethesda did. Because in the “let’s be someone else somewhere else alley”, they’re the only one who provide. Other RPG offer you to be at best “something flying over the shoulder of that guy in a world that’s mostly fixed elements you can’t interact with at all” (The Witcher) to “interesting story within corridor and contrived path” (Mass Effect). Doesn’t mean those games are bad. They’re cars. They’re good cars for most, even. But Bethesda games are aeroplanes. Flawed ones for sure, but they’re they offer one extra layer of immersion because they’re first person view, open world, with every object being more than just a props.

    For someone like me, I like video games, but if you offer me the choice between 10 superb non FPS Open World games and a new disappointing TES like game, I don’t hesitate for one second. Video games are fun, but they can’t compete with a trip in another world and persona.

    Once you take note that those games aren’t really on the same level than others, some other stuff may come to you:

    – they’re unstable because indeed it comes with the territory. All the problem you list comes precisely from the fact that you have AI that can move everywhere, all objects affected by physics, etc. (and yes it’s living. even Oblivion was living. NPC do travel all around the map whether you’re here of not. If you dismiss a companion to a destination, then wait one hour, then run where from she/he left, you may find her / him. That’s one of the thing their engine do very few others handle – TW3 maybe.)

    – building base is essential. It adds a whole new layer about what you can actually do. BTW UI is actually really fine if you do read tutorial/help and try for hidden shortcuts and very handy feature such as marking missing elements.

    – that’s why ppl keep going back to it, hence why they’re so critic about the UI: UI has to allow you to handle way, way, way more things than say a ME or even TW game. You can move object, store them, scrap them. You carry way more items, do way more operations to them than in other RPG.

    So I am not saying this games is perfect, far from it. But I’d like to read for once an educated take on what this game really delivers and what indeed it implies. Also it tookes a decade to publisher to realise their actually was something to Thief like games and Open world games. I am pretty sure at a point Bethesda will have competition. That would be great. But for now, no, they’re not so every criticism is pointless. Of course we’ll buy and play their game (at least many of us). If we want to play “pretend”, there simply is no alternative (well save for role playing servers in MMO but most of us don’t have good experience here).

    • klops says:

      Bethesda does have competition.

      Even if it didn’t have, that’s no excuse not to criticize it. Bethesda games are not on special level where they are untouchable. I could make a crappy game about something that has not been done. Birds: A simulator about birds mating, nesting and feeding their offspring. Not much competition there, right? This would not make criticism against the game pointless.

      • klops says:

        My example did not mean that Fallout 4 is a crappy game.

      • Stevostin says:

        There will be competition at a point with “that medieval RPG” (sorry can’t remember the title). For now, there is none.

        Also, I didn’t say it shouldn’t be criticized, but that it should be relevant criticism.

        • klops says:

          “I am pretty sure at a point Bethesda will have competition. That would be great. But for now, no, they’re not so every criticism is pointless.”

          • Stevostin says:

            Ok, point taken. In my defense I started by “So I am not saying this games is perfect, far from it. But I’d like to read for once an educated take on what this game really delivers and what indeed it implies.”
            I guess nuances are getting lost in translation. What I meant is that criticizing is relatively pointless considering it’s either playing F4 or playing F4 as Bethesda are the only ones doing “immersive open world RPG”, which is a convoluted word to say “a true play “pretend” video game”. It would make much more sense to criticize every other not doing that kind of game that is actually a fundamental experience sought out by a lot of people and wasting time doing “RPG that looks like TV shows” or “RPG we’re you don’t feel like you’re here” or “ok you feel like you’re here but you can just blow stuff up”.

            Now yes you can formulate criticism, there are plenty to be made, but it’s *pointless* as long as they don’t need to improve because basically they’re the only ones trying to do “the real deal”.

          • klops says:

            I don’t agree.
            But I get what you mean.

    • ohminus says:

      “That’s why basically it’s not crucial how good Bethesda did. Because in the “let’s be someone else somewhere else alley”, they’re the only one who provide. ”

      And that’s precisely where I profoundly disagree. Their worlds are puppet houses, plastic stuff inhabited by plastic puppets. Like in a puppet house, you can be anything you like, you can be a nuclear engineer MMA fighter who can put Simo Häyhä to pale as a sniper and pity Bear Grylls for his poor survival skills. That’s not how a world works! In a world, you have to make choices. You cannot have your cake and eat it, too.

      Do you want to be an electrical engineer? Or do you want to be able to duke it out with a bunch of feral ghouls? Make your pick. What Bethesda does has become pure and unadulterated fan service, features for features’ sake without any underlying concept, let alone common sense.

      • Hayward1066 says:

        Agreed, im rapidly coming to despise the “power fantasy” aspects of there games. It would be far more rewarding to reward specialization in a set of skills, i had this problem in Skyrim as well, after a certain point it starts to become a god simulator.

    • TheAngriestHobo says:

      I have to disagree with the crux of your argument. I think what most people crave from videogames is an emotional connection, not (necessarily) escapism. That’s why, when a game comes out that does a superb job of humanizing its characters (Life is Strange, The Witcher 3, Mass Effect) they meet near universal acclaim – until, that is, they hit that critical mass of popularity when everyone needs to bash the game to prove they’re above the crowd.

      I also think that that’s part of the reason why the response to FO4 has been so mixed. Bethesda tells stories without meaningful characters, because their engine is so old and decrepit that the strings holding up the marionettes are immediately visible to us all. Even the better written companions are not immune. The end result is that you have a world you can explore, but cannot emotionally connect with. This wasn’t as much of a problem ten years ago, when the engine was still relatively new and groundbreaking, but now the disconnect is emphasized by the lack of attention it’s received from the devs.

      Long story short… emotion > explorability. Also, and this is an important point for everyone, stop trusting Bethesda with your money. They’ll just consume it, digest it, and hand you whatever comes out the other end.

    • xalcupa says:

      Fully agree with Stevostin.
      That in combination with the fact that the games are fully moddable means you over time can tailor the game to your liking. No game that I know of has that flexibility.
      As a “veteran” Beth-game-player I know the quirks or the engine, most console commands and many of the tools that help shape the game to something I will like. Only drawback is that one has to exert some patience and preferably wait 4 months to buy so that mod tools etc are released.

  35. gorgonaut says:

    The controls are really bothersome, BUT!
    -I’ve discovered that instead of pressing “Enter”, you can always press”e” instead.
    Also, when building, you can use shift+WSAD to navigate the component menus!
    If only the component placing worked properly.. my settlement is all kinds of crooked. (there’s also a way to remove the maximum settlement part-number- just google it!)

    • Zenicetus says:

      I found out by accident, that when placing items in settlements you can rotate them back and forth with mouse buttons 1 and 2 before final placement. Made things a little neater.

      • gorgonaut says:

        Yeah, that usually helps a little. Sometimes! Having removed the limit, I’ve built myself a little town. It’s still a pain to throw empty bottles and ashtrays on the floor, entering build mode, and then placing them in tables. The result, though, feels a lot more lived-in and cozy.

  36. TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

    Random thoughts:

    1) game never crashed in dozens or hours
    2) I have a truckload of settlements and even if the controls for that are wonky, the experience has been a blast. I’ve built huge farms and all kinds of things
    3) You always lack glue for crafting, right? Wrong, if your settlements are linked and you have an overabudance of food and water, you get to take what’s left. Then you can craft vegetable glue at the oven.
    4) I have 10 intelligence and with that crafting thing and all i’ve built, the exp is so huge i am level 32 and i never saw the institute, only made a bit of story, some minutement quest, random exploring and some minor quests.
    5) I have 1 endurance but the best mods you can have thanks to the non strictly-combat perks, i’m still competitive. All of the above show how flexible the game is in what you can do.
    6) I was about to stop playing the first hours out of Bethesda fatigue, and if it was another one of their game i would have, but it’s something more this time despite some problems.
    7) didn’t find many charisma options but the few i found were rather hidden ( hint: check “covenant” ) and mattered a lot. I don’t mind not having the option to reason with most raiders.
    8) Combat is still not Doom 4 but it’s a far better thing and it’s silly to damn the game for improving that. People need to go back to the previous Bethesda games and vomit.

    • fredc says:

      I have to say I generally agree with TacticalNuclearPenguin. The interface just ain’t that bad and the game hasn’t CTD’d at all on me in the first 20+ hours. I just replayed FNV and couldn’t say the same. The only thing I couldn’t figure out after 5 minutes with the settlement modification interface was how to assign people to tasks.

      It’s much more Skyrim than Fallout 3 (or FNV) and the crafting and settlement building components seem to be there mostly to inspire people who enjoyed Borderlands, but I still really enjoy the environment.

      I do also think the combat is an improvement on previous fallouts and much more satisfying, with or without VATS. I’m not sure what the RPS’ers were expecting from an open-world RPG with guns but I certainly don’t think it’s awful or even materially worse than Witcher 3.

    • Stevostin says:

      Well Charisma matters for settlement to start with. I am as nice as a prison door and can’t do anything but the basics.

      I also think the new rules may actually be well thought out. It’s pretty flexible pretty fast and I don’t think you’re actually loosing customization vs previous skill system. More thoughts on that latter.

      I think the UI is pretty nice for settlement if you compare it to say, minecraft. Pretty much as fast or not much too slower, and asking for the same level of trial and error at first. Ditching Bethesda is a trend but IMO it’s more tied to the expectations that come with that “be here, do what you want” pitch than their abilities.

  37. ebmocces says:

    “There are no plot spoilers below, bar a passing reference to what happens in the introductory 15 minutes.”

    John: “I followed the main quest for a bit, because it seemed important to rescue my infant son.”

    I’ve been reading RPS for a very long time, and have always held it up above sites like The Escapist and Kotaku for game reviews and news, but today I feel like I’ve been punched in the face.

    I’ve stood away from all the Fallout 4 hype as I loved 3, and even though I played NV on my PS3 and it crashed more times than I care to remember, I really wanted to go into this one with a completely blank opinion, with no prior knowledge.

    Now having said that I did wonder “What do the guys at RPS think about FO4? What of it’s graphics, and it’s sound, and voice acting, et al. Oh wait, they have a review? Now I _know_ I can count on that not giving stuff away like plot lines and spoilers, because they’re awesome!”. Oh how wrong I was. *facepalm*

    • Alec Meer says:

      That is the aforementioned thing which happens in the first 15 minutes, yes. The only person punching you in the face is you, punchy.

      • ebmocces says:

        I figured you meant the locations, not the main quest plot :P

    • Jason Moyer says:

      That bit you quoted happens in the first 15 minutes of the game. John was not lying.

  38. elderman says:

    I wont have a computer than can play Fallout 4 for years. That doesn’t mean the release is irrelevant to me, though. I’ve had the original Fallout sitting in my GOG library for ages and now I’m interested enough to try it out. Finding the game full of atmosphere, weird, and difficult. The game world is so open, I don’t know what to do first. It feels like the game systems are arbitrary and obscure. The characters are sketched, but vivid. I’m really enjoying it.

    • KaMai says:

      I’ve booted up the original Fallout games lately, and it’s crazy to see how badly they aged, interface-wise and, to some extent, gameplay-wise.

      Putting that aside they’re a blasting role-playing experience and they masterfully convey the atmosphere they’re aiming for. It’s sad to me that the series has basically transformed itself in a shooter with some RPG elements. Mind you, I’m not saying that shooters are a bad genre, but it’s not what I think of when I hear the name Fallout.

      • Atomica says:

        I played Fallout relatively recently and enjoyed it a lot, possibly more so than F3 and F:NV, which I never finished because I got bored.

        Anyway, quick tip from someone who started Fallout, got really stuck (too weak): hire a companion (you’ll know who I mean) as soon as you can. It makes the game more enjoyable (IMO) early on.

    • Hunchback says:

      Haven’t played it yet, but judging by videos i’d say F4 engine is the same as in F3, with a bit of more eye-candy (if you can call it that, considering how … ugly it is, sadly). So maybe if you could run F3 on your pc, you could do fine with F4 with some extras off?

  39. TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

    95% of people there are bitter, i guess there’s no one else as the others are happily playing.

    • KaMai says:

      Come on, the criticism going on here is explained pretty well and stand on fairly solid ground.

      Fallout is one of (PC) gaming most successful, historical and loved franchises and Bethesda is one of the biggest players in the market, with a long history of games that have impacted the gaming world in some major way. On top of that, this game has received lots of resources for its development, in terms of time, money and advertising.

      If you take all of that into consideration it’s pretty reasonable to be almost excessively nit-picky. (Almost) nobody is saying that the game isn’t fun to play and a nice experience, if you consider it as a “stand-alone” thing. The problems and the criticisms come when you look at it from a broader perspective and start to consider its legacy.

      • Stevostin says:

        Is it really ?

        Fallout 3 was totally flamed. FNV was not praised, especially not here. Yet there are huge expectation by everyone.

        My guess is that those games may be disappointing at first but after a few dozens of hour you really get into it and actually the game starts to matter but by then there is no hot topic to express that going on. To that regard I bet exactly like all Bethesda game once dust has settled, it will stay there as that important game it is. Simply because at the end of the day there is nothing quite like it (although this might change in the future hopefully).

        • Assirra says:

          You probably mean they are enjoyable after the modders are at work to fix broken stuff and add a ton of new content and fixes. We already require an extra configuration tool to adjust some basic settings like FoV without having to go in the ini files.

    • Hayward1066 says:

      Christ, ive been reading your “comments” on this site such as they are. At this point you would defend Bethesda even if they broke into your house shat in your freezer and shagged your siste! Why is it that most sad little fanboys take any criticism of there “brand” as a personal insult.
      If your happy with the game good for you run off and play it, but if your going to try and dance with other people who are legitimately criticizing it try to come up with a better argument than “WAHHAAAAAAAA”!

  40. teamcharlie says:

    How can somebody enjoy a video game with a clunky interface? HOW?!?!

    The gamers who say they love the game must be liars! The reviewers who give the game good ratings must be bad at their jobs! They should be ashamed! Nobody in the history of the world could EVER enjoy a game with an interface as bad as that of Fallout 4!

    Who needs the best writing Bethesda has done in a decade, or a novel and functional take on a character creator, or a deep weapons upgrade system, or the ability to make and manage a whole settlement (if you want) in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, or engaging companions that spawned a whole separate article on this site as to how well one of them was characterized and voiced, or a fascinating take on the issue of artificial intelligence?

    I’ve learned my lesson. Wonky interface=bad game. Fallout 4: 0/10.

    • Stevostin says:

      Huhu.
      BTW UI is great. Journo that don’t read instruction neither help, not that much.

      • Premium User Badge

        gritz says:

        No, the UI is still just monochrome lists and tabs with several actions bound to a contextual keybind (rather than allowed to have their own keybinds) and several unchangeable keybinds.

        It is improved over FO3, but it’s still hot garbage.

    • TheAngriestHobo says:

      “the best writing Bethesda has done in a decade”

      Truck stop graffiti everywhere, take notice. There’s a new sheriff in town.

    • EhexT says:

      Buggy, Ugly, ridiculous hardware requirements for it’s looks, atrocious UI, awful writing, seriously badly tuned mechanics and did I mention the bugs?

      But hey, someone who’s not the developers and doesn’t get paid by anyone will fix it, so clearly Bethesda did a good job 10/10.

  41. Hunchback says:

    So basically F4 would have been much better if it was done by another studio, who wouldn’t rely on modders to fix the game for them?

    Also, the Steam “quotation” of RPS about the game should be:

    “And I think that’s the thing that makes me slightly sad – it probably is “good enough” but I don’t feel particularly excited about going back to it this evening. It’s there, and I’m glad to spend some time with it, but I won’t be telling people who aren’t already converts to seek it out for the thrill of it all.”

    to be more realistic.

  42. Leafcutter says:

    It would have been nice also if Bethedsa (one of the biggest studios) had supported all types of screen resolutions (including Multiscreen, SLI and 21:9 aspect ratio).

    Appreciate we are a minority but beggers belief that players are having to fix this shit themselves.

    Lazy, arrogant *****

    -LC-

    • Zenicetus says:

      Agreed, and the didn’t care about supporting the older legacy options either, like the 4:3 ratio 1600×1200 monitor I use. I need a good color-corrected monitor for photo/printing work, and I can’t afford one like I’m using now in 16:9. Every other game I’ve played recently — Witcher 3 and all the rest — support 1600×1200 just fine.

      I’ve been able to use the file hacks on that Steam guide to manually force a 1600×1200 resolution, and it works okay in normal use, but I still can’t use power armor because the HUD doesn’t re-scale in power armor (some of the gauges are cut off, and the PipBoy is way too big).

      It’s very clear that consoles were the prime target, and they did the bare minimum to support the PC version.

      • neotribe says:

        There’s a widescreen interface menu & hud fix on WSGF — it’s a replacer for the Interface ba2 datafile. Some kind soul decompiled the Flash files, tweaked them for widescreen, and re-packed them. If you want to do the same for 4:3 there is discussion in the thread on how the fix was made.

        link to wsgf.org

        If you just need to move the HUD offsets see the ‘safe zone’ settings in the [Interface] section of the .INIs

        • neotribe says:

          Also, pipboy arm view scales according to its own FOV (apparently also scales the weapon in hand), not exposed in the INI. You can set it using the console FOV command, which seems to override all FOV settings at once.

          So the way around this is to set the 1st and 3rd person FOV you want in the .INIs, go into the game and set the FOV you need for Pipboy view in the console, do a ‘refreshini’ to get your 1st and 3rd person FOVs back, then save the game. You should be good to go after that (the Pipboy/Weapon FOV setting is in your savegame file, the others in your INIs).

  43. ButteringSundays says:

    It’s not a very good game, but it’s been hyped for the past 6 months so much that people are struggling to move past their cognitive dissonance.

    It’s a series that clings to the principle that flashy graphics make up for crappy gameplay. It’s a janky themepark. That might have worked 5-10 years ago, but the industry has move on. We expect more.

    Or maybe I’m still bitter about my Fallout 3 experience, which lasted a short afternoon because I accidentally completed the main quest before seeing most of the game.

    • LacSlyer says:

      The fact that it’s a beloved franchise done by a studio known for creating massive open world games is a significant factor for people I think. Skyrim and the previous Fallout had a very similar reaction, with tons of bugs, a lot of criticisms, but still sold very well and is typically a fan favorite despite all the issues they have.

      How anyone can look past the obvious clone of Skyrim this game is I don’t understand, but if that’s the type of game they want then there’s no point arguing with them. I’ll move on to other things for a while and come back in a year or so when mods allow me to circumvent all the problems I have with this game, as per usual with Bethesda games in general for the past 5 years.

      • LacSlyer says:

        I meant to add, if Bethesda were releasing this on a yearly basis I know for a fact people would be extremely disappointed with this game. But because the market is quite yet watered down with the Bethesda style of games people are willing to overlook the flaws.

        I can only hope that if the next Bethesda release is as monotone as this one is they may actually get negative feedback from their games from the people so willing to overlook the flaws.

    • neotribe says:

      Well, FWIW, ‘janky themepark’ is more or less the Fallout genre at this point.

  44. gbrading says:

    My first 3-4 hours of the game, I confess I felt really disappointed. I thought the world felt small compared to Skyrim and the framerate wasn’t holding up. When I got to Diamond City, I feel the game really opened up and I’m enjoying it more. The world isn’t as enormous as Skyrim, but it is very densely packed with stuff. I’ve also tinkered with a lot of the settings to make the framerate good everywhere except downtown Boston, where it still tanks when looking in certain directions (hoping for some AMD drivers or Bethesda patches on that front).

    I’m generally enjoying the combat a lot; granted I am playing on Very Easy (because I am a coward who never sees the point in dying), but it certainly feels leaps and bounds better than 3/New Vegas. I think so long as the technical issues are ironed out, I’m going to enjoy Fallout 4 a lot, but I generally agree that this is the last game where people will tolerate the open-world jankiness so common in Bethesda games.

    • neotribe says:

      The world is tiny, and I can’t figure out why people keep saying it looks so good. I’m playing on 5760×1200, sitting maybe 8″ away from IPS screens, settings on Ultra (980ti) and it looks mostly like crap. I’m still having fun, but it is not a good looking game. My modded Skyrim install puts it to shame, and I don’t even have the full STEP setup.

  45. Chaoslord AJ says:

    After three hours – Intro and 6 locations I’m not completely happy with the game. Character faces seem next to lifeless. Keyboard and mouse controls are a terrible mess. I’ll try to rebind them but some settings may be fixed like the 4 dialogue options. For some reason I’ll just have to use the whole range of the keyboard to play. Weapon changing feels awful – hopefully I can bind it to the mouse wheel. I’d play with the xbox controller but can’t do precision shooting without mouse which means just using vats. The crafting menu too is optimized for controllers…
    Vats, criticals, leveling and crafting go unexplained like in some indie game + no manual available. Usually I’d say: “no hand-holding –good” but I know it’s just Beth’s laziness here – Obsidian did a good tutorial btw.

    • Zenicetus says:

      If you haven’t discovered it yet, holding shift with WASD on the keyboard makes the Settlement crafting menu easier to manage on mouse and keyboard. Now why they couldn’t just to the SAME THING for dialog options is beyond me. Maybe someone can mod it.

      • Chaoslord AJ says:

        Thanks, I’ll try that. Seems like an underdocumented feature.

  46. Gribbstar says:

    haha! Thanks for featuring my Iron Roach vid!

    I wish I had my mic active at the time as I was both laughing my ass off and kinda scared.

  47. suibhne says:

    This may be the best review-like piece I’ve ever read on RPS, and I’ve been a fan for many, many years.

  48. kfmush says:

    Why does everyone keep saying Fallout 4 is overly combat focused (“meatheadedness”)?

    I have been pleasantly surprised that I’ve been able to talk my way out of more conflicts than shoot my way out. I expected it to be better than FO3, but I didn’t expect to be surprised. The only times I had to shoot was when I failed the persuasion checks. I’m sure if someone were max Charisma out, they would be able to talk their way out of anything with normal humans.

    Super mutants and raiders are different. They shoot on sight and can’t be reasoned with. And they’re hard to avoid if you go into DT Boston. Maybe that’s what everyone has a problem with? Maybe then max out CHAR and AGIL and take a bunch of sneak perks. You may have to shoot very few bullets in your play through.

    Or maybe it’s just because I’ve been doing more side quests than main story. Maybe the main story is too pew-pew focused? I was disappointed when I absolutely HAD to fight Kellog. It was as if my character had already made up his mind about the outcome, despite what I thought — and I AM the damn character; I named him my name so the robot would say “Master Isaac” and made him look somewhat like me (and the woman my wife) after all. But then, it would have been tricky to get that thing out of his head if he was alive.

    I know I’m rambling, but I just don’t get it. Playing a mostly non-violent charismatic character seems extremely possible in FO4, despite some instances.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Avoiding combat may be possible within the limitations you mention, like unavoidable Raider, Ghoul, and Supermutant confrontations.

      However the game mechanics don’t exactly encourage it, especially with the heavy emphasis on crafting to upgrade armor and weapons. Vendors alone aren’t a great source for that, compared to what you can make yourself. Crafting means clearing out areas for phat loot, rather than sneaking past. You won’t find many of the “legendary” one-of-a-kind items that way either.

      So yes… it’s possible, to an extent, but the game doesn’t support that style of play very well. Or maybe I’m just rationalizing my combat-oriented playing style. :)

  49. DoktorV says:

    I myself decided I wouldn’t buy another Bethesda product because of how sloppy the programming was in Skyrim. Considering the budget and resources they had, it was clear that it wasn’t a mistake. The only interpretation that makes sense is they didn’t care, that they expected the modders to fix everything they were too lazy to check. It appears that F4 has the same problem, but maybe I’ll soften my stance and someday buy it on super-sale for $12.50 or so, maybe.

  50. Ravenger says:

    Why have no reviews mentioned how bad the key mapping is in this game?

    As a lefty I use the arrow keys for movement, as well as a bunch of keys on the right side of the keyboard. It’s amazing how many games will actively prevent you from remapping the keys properly, and Fallout 4 is one of the worst.

    For starters the entire numpad is hard bound to the item shortcuts, so I can’t use any of those keys for my normal binds. In fact the default bind for stimpaks is numpad 0 which is one of the main keys I use so initially I was constantly using them when I didn’t need to.

    Then other keys are only partially rebindable, such as the Use key (E) causing loads of conflicts if you rebind them. I’ve had to use my mouse profile software to bind the middle mouse to E to get round this.

    Then big features like the workshop building mode completely break if you rebind the movement keys to the arrow keys due to hard bound menu navigation keys – you can’t move around in construction mode.

    The default UI keys are also unintuitive with TAB being the back button, while I would expect Esc or right mouse to do that. The thing is it’s not even consistent across different UIs, as sometimes you do press Esc to go back!

    And to add even more disappointment it doesn’t seamlessly switch between keyboard and mouse and gamepad, so you can’t just pick up a controller to do the bits that don’t work well on keyboard and mouse.

    I don’t know how the game could have been released with the keymapping so broken. It’s a fundamental feature of PC games. Do Bethesda not have anyone working for them who rebinds their controls to a non-standard scheme?

    Bethesda aren’t the only developers who don’t seem to understand how to do keymapping properly – The Witcher 3 keymapping had a lot of similar faults, though CD Projekt did eventually fix most of the issues in patches, though there still are conflicts between on foot and horse controls which shouldn’t exist.

    You can guess that bad keymapping is a pet hate of mine. I wish game reviews would test this stuff properly – it’s as fundamental a feature as the game performance, and that gets lots of scrutiny in reviews.

    • DoktorV says:

      I know you shouldn’t have to buy extra equipment to get around developer incompetence, but you may benefit from a Nostromo pad or Logitech’s equivalent. You can rebind on that without having to change the bindings in the game. It really is indicative of Bethesda’s laziness that this is even necessary though.

    • neotribe says:

      Bethesda has become just shambolic about preserving basic PC gameplay affordances and features that it used to have in the pre-console era. Decent default keymapping (or else more open keymapping), freelook/freeaim, repositionable third person camera that works with third person combat controls (i.e. with a weapon drawn).