Have you ever wandered the wastelands?


Jesse Boland

If you are over 5 years old you most likely have been to one of the wonderful regions of this post apocalyptic United States. This is an alternate universe that Bethesda Game Studios has made into a playground for anyone to do just about anything they could imagine doing. It is an Earth just like ours but with some subtle changes to the history, with conflicts that broke out long ago between this world’s super powers.

Canada was annexed and became part of the United States, and The war between China, and the United States finally ended in total nuclear war. This is far from the 4th game in the Fallout series, there have been many others including Fallout 3 which took place in and around Washington DC, then Fallout New Vegas which took as to a post apocalyptic Las Vegas and the areas around it. For most people this was the start of their Fallout experience, but there were others, a tactics game, and some first person and third person versions, even overhead much like Diablo or Balder’s Gate. Here though we have Fallout 4 which takes place in what is called the Commonwealth, (basically Boston) and it is surrounding area which was renamed after the war during the rebuilding over centuries. The biggest change to this iteration of the Fallout series is the addition of colour. That might sound strange as all the other games were in colour, but those other games were in places mostly devastated by the wars, and this time we have a much more vibrant, and living world.

This is a world where you are any type of person you want to be. You can be a man, or a woman. You can choose your appearance, and customize your avatar to act, and speak however you choose. Then within this world there are a multitude of things to do and finely detailed locations for you to explore in anyway that you want. You could sneak through, and use silent kills to get past the inhabitants, or you can just run in with your guns out. You can even choose to bring along a companion to help you carry things, or just as backup in a fight. There are no invisible walls within these regions only at the outer limits to keep you in the game, and even those tend to be more up to the folks at Bethesda’s discretion, tending to be opened up in certain secret places, or just as part of the very rich story lines. If you see a door you can most likely enter that building. If you want to earn money you can do odd jobs and there are quests around every corner. Almost every piece of equipment can be customized or scrapped for parts. As your character learns new skills, and upgrades the ones you have you will gain access to richer options when crafting, or hacking, or building, or farming.

The many companions available are all quite different. You might first find a dog, or you could decide not to follow the path that leads out of your starting location and simply wander off into the woods, or following a creek off toward some larger body of water. Nothing in a Fallout game says you have to do anything. If you are talking to someone, and you decide you don’t want to do that right now, you just walk away, no button to press, or action to take, just move your controller or press the key on your keyboard and the conversation is put on hold until you want to be dealing with it. There are some characters you might meet who for some caps (bottle caps which are the currency of this alternate world) might join you, or a random person you save might want to join you for any number of reasons. Each companion has their own side story that you can explore, and possibly help them to solve their issues in so making them love, or admire you strongly. Once any companion has reached that point you will get a new perk which is a bonus skill, or increase to one of the skills you already possess. Once you have this perk you can switch companions and the new skill stays with you permanently. There are Humans, and Bots, and even some Synthetic people who might join you on your adventure if you are the right kind of person for them. Eventually though you will be so strong that the companions can be left behind, or you only keep them around to carry your stuff.

In March of 2016 we saw a new piece of DLC (Downloadable content) which gives the player the chance to build their own robot companion from scraps, and parts taken from other bots that you might defeat in your travels. Coming on April 12 2016 we will see the next DLC which promises to give us the chance to capture a character, or creature, and then choose to send them into the all new Arena in order to fight for your amusement, and prizes of course. Each new DLC addition adds a new quest to follow, and new features to try out. There will be an entire new landmass to explore in May with the release of Far Harbor said to be the largest landmass of any added DLC locations so far for any Fallout game. Meaning that it will be larger than the added areas from Fallout 3, or Fallout New Vegas the two previous titles in this series. Without a doubt there will be a lot more additional content added over the next year that will keep most of us coming back to the wasteland at least once a month.

There are so many hidden things to find, and amazing skills that you can learn along the way that really make every action that you take feel rewarding. You gain experience for doing everything. You can learn to make things, and sell them, or get a bunch of people to do it for you at any one of your settlements that you can create and build on in so many ways, or once again you can just ignore that whole option and just wander and explore. You can be good, or evil, you can steal everything that’s not nailed down, or you could earn it. If you get your skills up you can hack anything, or you can open any lock. You can build a suit of power armour that can be like wearing a tank, and even add a cloaking system so you are invisible when not moving, or even jet packs that allow you to come at things from a whole new angle than before. Your settlers can farm, and trade goods as you get better skilled in dealing with them.

You might find a group of characters who are just living in fear for any reason that you help who give you access to their site or it may become your new base of operations with the inhabitants now all working for you. Or you might find say a long forgotten Chinese submarine Captain on a much aged submarine in the harbor who only wants to go home, but needs your help to repair his sub’s nuclear generators, and you can decide completely how you will treat him, or even if you can be bothered.

In a game this open you might expect to be overwhelmed, but Bethesda are masters of the open world, and never push you to do anything you are not ready for, while making sure that you have ample opportunity to learn to use your skills. The difficulty is always under your control with a sliding scale you can adjust anytime to add, or reduce the challenge. If you simply stay on the path that is laid out before you the game will teach you to be a total warrior, or a skilled negotiator. You will be rewarded for any choice you make though you may make some enemies along the way.

So I know I am a bit late to the game in reviewing Fallout 4, but I’m still gonna do it.

You will love this game from the start with it’s life filled fifties style world just before the bombs drop that is used as your character creation tool to the deep rich story that takes you along, and lets you decide the outcome. The companions are amazing people that you will want to know and the dogs (there are way more than just one) are great to have around even just to earn their perks. And the factions you choose can change the entire landscape in many ways.

I have played two hundred and thirty plus hours so far personally, and will be spending a good deal of next week back in there when the Wasteland Workshop releases on Tuesday.

Graphically there are plenty of games that have better looking pieces to them, but not many that come close to the whole that is Fallout 4. It does depend entirely on your system though. If you play on an Xbox One, or a PlayStation 4 then you can expect a consistent quality, and for PC’s it can range greatly depending on what your build can handle. I have a friend who had to buy two new PC’s before he got one that could actually load the game(Intel systems are prone to not liking this game). My experience has been great. I run a middle of the road build PC that plays the game at a decent forty five to sixty frames per second, and I am able to see most of the amazing lighting details like the God rays, and the highly volatile storm systems (the green lightening is very cool).

Sound is great. Character voices are perfect. Bethesda recorded thirteen thousand lines of dialogue, not to mention the singing. Every character is alive and has something to say to you especially the bots, and synths. Lynda Carter (TV’s Wonder Woman) even has about four or five new songs that she wrote, and performs herself as one of the characters you may run into if you ever go into that particular bar, that later end up in regular rotation on one of the wastelands radio stations. Lynda Carter has been doing voices on Bethesda games since 2002.

Story is magical and where Bethesda always shines, even in a case like Fallout 4 where there really is a lot of the same from other games being done again. Many of the side quests are all but identical to those of the previous Fallout games. If you put a couple of hundred hours into either of those past games this will feel quite familiar, and not quite fully new. However if you are a fan who just likes the world, and you know the story quite well it should be expected that another place in the same country at relatively the same time things would be quite similar and that is how I see it.

To wrap this up I have loved my time with Fallout 4 from the moment I first pressed play. I like the gradual improvements to my character, and how those affected the game. I loved the world and nearly every character that I met in it. The fear factor is way down in this version though as everything is just so much brighter, and more colourful than before so I didn’t have nearly as many of those moments -alone in a dark house with only the light from my Pipboy to guide me and down to my last few rounds on a crappy 10 mm, but they can see the light too- type things. Parts of this game are too easy, but there is a DLC coming that will change that too.

If you are looking for a game to take you to another world, any Fallout game can do that for you. Start with Fallout 3 if you can but if you start with Fallout 4 you will get the best of all worlds though not quite as challenging. In the end however the wasteland will leave it’s mark on you as it has so many before.

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