Bethesda Game Studios, the award-winning creators of Fallout 3 and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, welcome you to the world of Fallout 4 - their most ambitious game ever, and the next generation of open-world gaming.
A Familiar Wasteland
by Andrew Reiner
A straightforward sequel with improved combat and a denser world to explore
The visuals can be simultaneously breathtaking and a little ugly. The vistas and lighting are beautifully created, but some of the texture work is muddled and steals some of the finer details
From the powerful Fallout 4 theme to radio stations filled with classic tunes, the score is brilliant. Most of the voice work (especially the protagonists') is equally as good
Gunplay is vastly improved, making the act of exploring the wasteland more enjoyable. Better yet, I didn't run into too many glitches in my playthrough
Bethesda has created another game you can lose your life in. New experiences just keep coming, and you always have another perk to unlock
My lone wanderer from Vault 111 is as much a stranger in a strange land as he is a person returning to the familiarity of his own home. His crisis of identifying with the world echoes my journey through Fallout 4, a game that is as new and exciting as it is old and familiar.
Roughly seven years have passed since Bethesda Game Studios ventured into Fallout's wasteland, but you'd think the development team never left it, as Fallout 4 feels like a well-worn Pip-Boy. The studio clings to many of the great (and not-so-great) gameplay trappings and overarching designs that made Fallout 3 such a captivating release. This wealth of identifiable content is used as the backbone of this sequel - sometimes to a fault - but all in support of making the act of wandering the Commonwealth Wasteland one of the most rewarding (and time-consuming) experiences in gaming.
Despite the image of a large, hulking character on the box art, Fallout 4 doesn't roar out of the gate with guns blazing. As much as I enjoyed seeing the world prior to the bombs falling in the game's opening moments, Bethesda rushes through this event. The player is given barely enough time to take a snapshot of it, let alone develop a meaningful connection with the family members - whom are supposed to be the central hook of the narrative. The subsequent descent into the vault doesn't fare much better, and is used mostly to establish an antagonist in the brief minutes the player spends there. The studio clearly wanted to get the player into the wasteland as quickly as possible, but the rapid pace hurts the story in the process. As a result, I didn't understand who my character was; I just knew what he lost.
The wanderer (who can be male or female) comes into his own when he becomes a conduit for your choices, and ends up being more than a blank slate this time around. The new spoken dialogue fleshes this protagonist out, much like Mass Effect's Commander Shepard. I connected with his actions, but was fascinated by his choice of words and tone, which are not spelled out in the streamlined (and improved) dialogue tree. The protagonist's lines are well-written and believable, no matter what approach was used in conversation. If you enjoy role-playin