Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Genre: Action role-playing game
That’s So Meta
Fallout 4 plops you in the post-nuclear war setting of North America, in an alternate timeline where war never stopped. It may be 2077, but it looks more like 1957, where the focus is on nuclear science. You and your family live in Boston, enjoy your nuclear-powered car, humor your robotic butler, and reserve your spot in the local fallout shelter just in case the worst happens. Well, the worst does happen, and pretty quickly, and things don’t go as you expect. Your shelter is testing cryo-sleep and you wake up in time to see your spouse murdered and your baby stolen. It’s time to go full Mad Max and get your son back.
Fallout 4 took over five years to create from Bethesda Softworks, the same geniuses who took my money and time for Skyrim. You’ll see a lot of the Skyrim customization, gameplay, and quest style within Fallout 4 with some much-needed improvements (and zero dragons). This is a huge open world where you choose what you do—and don’t do—on your way to find your son.
You don’t need to have played the previous Fallout games to figure out what’s going on, which is nice for new players to the series.
TL;DR: If you love Skyrim and a post-apocalyptic setting, go buy Fallout 4 now.
Power Up: Howard Stark’s Future
The setting for the Fallout series is where Howard Stark wants us to live, but after the bombs fell. It’s the world that we imagined as the future in the 1950s, where power is bountiful and robots take care of our every need. In the ruins of the Commonwealth you can still find that influence in the clothing, hair styles, radio shows, and parts you salvage.
Power Up: That’s My Jam
You carry around a personal computer called a Pip-Boy that looks nothing like your iPhone, but much like your phone, one of the best things it can do is play music. The local radio station plays old 1950s music, goofy DJ included, which is a carefully chosen list from the creators. I end up with earworms every time I play.
Power Up: Crafting
You don’t want to walk around and shoot things all the time, you say? We gotcha covered with more crafting than you can shake a mini-gun at. You can craft to improve your weapons and armor, and you can also create settlements for other survivors in the Wastelands. You can create up to thirty settlements within the game if that’s your thing.
Power Up: Companions
While the concept of companions is nothing new in gaming, you have up to 13 people to meet and take on adventures with you. Each has unique personalities and motivations to match your style from helpful to ruthless. Some are kind-hearted, some are mercenaries, and one is Data if he was created as a 1950s detective. WHY CAN’T I ROMANCE YOU, NICK VALENTINE.
If you are new to gaming, this is definitely a jump in the deep end sort of game. It is MASSIVE, which can feel pretty daunting.
You’re given quests and a map on the Pip-Boy, so you know something you can do, but the beauty of games like this is finding the places you aren’t directed. You can be headed off to find the closest settlement, but on your way there discover the remains of Walden Pond and be sucked into a side quest you weren’t expecting. There’s no “right” way to finish the game, even though there is a main quest (saving your baby, remember?) that completes it.
Fallout 4 does not do a tutorial or come with an instruction manual, so if you’re new to Bethesda games in particular, try googling around for some starter tips. It’s a lot to take in, so try it in chunks, like using your Pip-Boy, combat, and crafting settlements. And watch out for spoilers because the story is rich.
The leveling system is pretty cool because it’s not linear. Again, there are no wrong choices, and it all depends on how you want to play the game. Each “perk” shapes your character, so if you want to bash people in your power armor or be a sniper, you can focus and specialize.
If you have any social plans for the next two months, cancel them. Once this game hooks you, you find yourself waking up at 6am to squeeze in a little more playtime to finish up that last quest. You can log literally hundreds of hours doing side quests and settlements without completing the game (sorry baby Shaun).
The customization is ace, like you’d expect from Bethesda. You can be male or female, and there are some beautifully pre-made choices of all ethnicities if you don’t want to go into the details. And if you’re a big dork like me and love changing outfits, there are plenty to discover out there in the Wastelands.
The game generally scales in difficulty, so you’re not going to run into a group of level 35 raiders at level 2, unless you venture south. The further south you go, the harder it gets. And watch out for Natick, that island kicked my ass.
While you can get some great weapons and armor from kills, it’s really worth investing a few points into the Gun Nut and Armorer perks. It can get rid of some pain points like recoil and weight, even on rare items.
Are you a Minuteman freeing the Commonwealth, or are you a Lone Wanderer destroying the Wastelands? Share your favorite Fallout 4 experiences and finds in the comments, and I’ll see you in Diamond City!
About the Contributor:
This post was written by Bianca Bickford.