It’s 1978, I’m 10 years old. The WWII sirens are wailing overhead, frightened to the core with all of my school. Here we are, huddled in lines in the playground and this is drill in case of a nuclear explosion in London. Welcome to the Cold war in 1970’s London.
Apart from this pointless drill filling us with dread and fear, we had propaganda films, documentaries, leaflets. Destruction was inevitable and even in our innocent tender years; the government wanted us to be fearful.
The cold war was a time filled with real panic, an Orwellian invisible war. I’m talking a stream of propaganda with the intent purpose of making a painful and hellish radiation sickness death certain for all. We actually used to have drills at school for the four-minute warning. Sirens would go off and we would have to gather in our playground, already aware at a young age that we were fucked if this shit went down.
Thankfully we can laugh at it now and we have new invisible enemies. Thank God for Daesh.
And thank goodness for Bethesda, for making the Fallout games and satirising the origin of that period.
I’m in a strange position writing this review. By being late to the party and getting my thoughts on paper, seeing what I can only describe as a backlash against Fallout 4.
Let me start by saying Fallout 4 is without a doubt, one of my top 3 games of the year. I’m 35 hours in and still haven’t even fondled the main story with any gusto. Fallout 4 isn’t a flawless game, but given Bethesda’s reputation with having ‘buggy games’, it almost is. That could also be one of its problems and a reason for the backlash.
Let’s do the good old potato analogy, every writer worth their salt uses this….. Surely.
Chips? We all love chips? Oooookay! OK!! I promise never to use the chip analogy again! But you het the poin.
Both Fallout 3 and New Vegas (NV was developed by Obsidian, but the same flaws were present) were tasty chip-shop tucker. Scrumptious, large, well-cooked morsels with lumps and all. Those black bits you get on common garden chips are the bugs; we can cut them off if we’re PC gamers or bite around them and wait if we’re console gamers.
Fallout 4 is one of those fancy triple cooked chips. Cooked in the finest clean oils, none of those black lumps are really present; they’re cooked in the safest of kitchens. That is from my perspective Fallout 4’s weakness and strength. Bethesda have seemingly played it safe, and concentrated creating a game that works, rather than taking risks and facing backlash for a game that doesn’t work. It’s a bit clean and dare I say ‘safe’ in comparison to its ancestors.
So how does it all play? Very well in fact. Fallout 4 has polished the combat and made action much more akin to erm….. Action games. Now, a lot of people are screaming that the game has been dumbed down and is shallow. I can see and value that perspective, but in all honestly I firmly feel that making a game ever so slightly more accessible doesn’t equate to dumb. For the record, I’ve been playing Bethesda RPG’s since Morrowind, so I have seen the transition from what I see and clunky to accessible, I don’t perceive this as a negative. Getting more gamers into the genre is good for gaming. It also has to be said that Fallout 4 is a challenging game, the difficulty is challenging on normal, and you can up the challenge if you so wish.
There’s now base building. It works, it is a nice distraction. Yes, it could have been further developed and more engaging. But it does work and if creation is your thing, there’s a lot of play to be had here, if you’re a compulsive type gamer that loves seeking out materials and spending time planning and creating, it doesn’t do a bad job, it just needs some refining and I really hope it does come back and evolves in future games.
The moral system was another example of a black-lump on a chip in the previous Bethesda Fallout games, lacking real nuance and approaching morals with a very binary approach. You will still have your face shot off for accidentally picking something up that doesn’t belong to you. Now, there is room to manoeuvre and with the addition of more varied companions to aid you in your shenanigans, these allow for a more varied approach to morals and how you choose your righteous, or not righteous so paths.
Certain NPC companions will approve or disapprove of your moral choices. Some like you doing good deeds, others like the scumbag raider thieving mentality. Piss an NPC off too much and they will refuse to travel anywhere with you. This actually lends itself to a more unfettered style of play? Want to be murderous? Change to a less moral companion. This isn’t a massive game changer; it does encourage using different companions, which does add another dimension to your adventure.
How’s the story? There is one?! Of course there is! But the real meat and bones are your encounters, the exploration, the finds, the small encounters, the side quests. The game is crowded with them.
From your first steps out into the wasteland, you find yourself on a quest to find a loved one, but at a much faster pace than previous iterations, you find yourself swallowed by all there is to do.
I get the backlash, I can see and understand people’s misgivings about the game. Yes, character animations are ropey. Yes, it’s more action orientated. Yes, I’m having a fantastic time with this game.
As I said, 35 hours into the game and I haven’t even thought about following the story. More importantly, I never want the game to end. For myself, that’s a sign of not just a good game, but a classic game.
It may be less of an RPG in the eyes of some, but in many ways it’s a much better game. Hopefully we will see some risks being taken in future DLC and dirty-filthy potatoes in the form of chip-shop chips.
Not just a massive world, but a world filled to the brim with discoveries.
Fast paced combat
I never want it to end
Sacrificed some aspects of depth
seemingly not many risks taken in development