2015 has been an amazing year for gamers. With titles like The Witcher 3, The Nathan Drake Collection, Forza 6, Project Cars, Dying Light, Bloodborne, Rise of the Tomb Raider and now Fallout 4 (and there are many others), I’m going to have a hard time picking my top ten favorites next month. I may have to go with a top twenty list instead this time around. One thing is for certain, Bethesda’s latest masterpiece is unquestionably making my top five list. Fallout 4, like the recent Witcher, is absurdly vast in scope and detail. It’s the kind of game worthy of locking yourself away for weeks, and cutting all communication to the outside world. Well, that’s how I typically like to pay my RPGs.
Fallout 4 doesn’t break new grounds like Fallout 3 or Skyrim did, instead, it combines the best bits and pieces of past Bethesda titles into one of the best experiences the developers have crafted to date. Is it perfect? No. This is Bethesda we’re talking about, and like every Bethesda release, Fallout 4 is plagued with bugs and glitches across all platforms. But, even with its technical shortcomings, this is a journey worth exploring multiple times, especially on the PC due to superior visuals and smoother gameplay.
By now, there are over fifty Fallout 4 reviews on Metacritic, so most of you have a general grasp of the game’s narrative and gameplay fundamentals. So, to keep things more interesting, I’m primarily discussing the things I personally enjoyed, and didn't enjoy, without regurgitating the same information many other reviewers have already covered.
"Fallout 4, like the recent Witcher, is absurdly vast in scope and detail. It’s the kind of game worthy of locking yourself away for weeks, and cutting all communication to the outside world."
Fallout 4’s most notable difference is its smoother gunplay and more dynamic VATS system. The shooting itself is tighter and more precise, unlike the wobbly controls seen in its predecessors. VATS no longer freezes time, ,instead it slows it down, forcing you to make choices more rapidly. This gives combat a greater sense of emergency and challenge, especially when surrounded by pouncing animals. Guns and armor don’t require repairs anymore, and while this may seem like a step down at first, it actually made the overall experience more enjoyable. Instead of repairing your inventory every couple of minutes, you can now spend more time modifying and improving your gear, which is unquestionably more fun than searching out repair kits constantly.
Having a voiced protagonist makes Fallout 4 far more immersive, since you no longer have characters just talking “at you,” instead they’re speaking “with you.” Courtenay Taylor and Brian T. Delaney have done a superb job, and I personally think the voice acting gives your avatar more personality and depth. Dialogue options also don't feel as black and white anymore, and knowing how your responses will play out down the road isn't as clear anymore. This makes conversations more engaging and realistic.
"Like every Bethesda title, Fallout 4 has its issues. However, none of them are serious enough to deter from what is an otherwise spectacular adventure."
Structurally, Fallout 4 is nearly identical to past Bethesda titles. There are quests around every corner, and the sense of exploration and discovery is as exhilarating as always. One of the biggest improvements is the companion AI. Regardless of who you choose to accompany you on your journey, your partners no longer feel like generic NPCs like in Skyrim. In fact, some of the most exciting quests are given by your companions should you choose to develop your relationship with them further.
Of course, not everything is perfect in the world of Fallout 4. I tested the game on both the Playstation 4 and PC platforms, and both are plagued with serious performance issues. The console version can barely keep a consistent 30 fps, and the asset quality is equivalent to low (or lower) settings on the PC. The PC is unquestionably more stable and better looking, although even with our MSI 970 and i7 6700k, I experienced major fps dips in dense areas, some of which appear to be directly related to poor Godray optimization. But, even with all the technical hiccups, Fallout’s art direction is sublime, and it’s one of the most enjoyable open worlds since the Witcher 3.
Like every Bethesda title, Fallout 4 has its issues. However, none of them are serious enough to deter from what is an otherwise spectacular adventure. I enjoyed every second of Fallout 4, and I’m already excited for my second playthrough just to see a different outcome and explore other paths. It’s another win for Bethesda, and another superb release in what’s been an amazing year for the industry.
Review by: Tin Salamunic | Reviewed on: PC