As the entire gaming world knows, Fallout 4 released this week. And I, like the entire gaming world, am currently engrossed in the wasteland that is the Boson Commonwealth. As a die hard Fallout fan (and I mean diehard, I’ve played every Fallout game, including Tactics and Brotherhood of Steel) I had high expectations for this newest installment. While my first handful of hours with the game have been immensely entertaining, there are some differences and changes between Fallout 3 and Fallout 4, some good and some bad. Here’s a quick rundown of my thoughts on the game so far.
Perks are redone and the game is way better because of it
In past Fallouts, leveling up meant you could spend a few skill points to increase skills like lockpicking, small gun efficiency, and sneaking. Every few levels you would also get a new perk, which were like abilities in other RPGs. Perks were character enhancements like permanent increases to weapon damage, the ability to drink irradiated water and not suffer as negative an effect, and so on. In Fallout 4 however, this system has been redone completely. As you level up, you get 1 point to assign to a perk to unlock it or increase its rank. Perks include the old ones like Iron Stomach and Bloody Mess in their classic form, but there are also new perks that take place of the old skills. For example, if you want to hack a computer you need to take the hacking perk, and if you want to hack advanced or expert consoles, you’ll need to take the advanced or expert hacking rank as well. It means you don’t get bogged down with spending skill points as well as perk points, and instead can totally shape your character as you see fit. It’s limiting at first, but you’ll love the freedom later. Also, there’s no level cap, so you won’t have to worry about spending your last precious point on something you might not want! You can have it all!
Customization is crazy and changes everything
There’s also been customization in Fallout games, but in Fallout 4 it’s pretty much the main aspect. You can upgrade and customize your weapons, armor, and even the settlements you discover. The amount of modifications is kind of overwhelming, and not making it any better are the resources you need to do so. You remember all those useless coffee mugs and screwdrivers in Fallout 3? Well, they’re not so useless anymore as they provide you with the necessary components to build and craft those mods. I found myself picking up all kinds of random shit because I needed it to build a new stock for my gun. It’s a lot to get used to right off the bat, but using the game’s tag feature will help you find what you really need and weed through the junk.
Ammo is scarce but enemies are squishy(-ish)
Ammunition is harder to come by it seems, and even after taking the scavenger perk I still seem to have a hard time getting a comfortable amount of the ammo I really want. This might change as I continue exploring, but it does seem ammo isn’t as plentiful as in Fallout 3 and New Vegas. That being said, enemies are relatively easy to take down. A well placed sneak attack or close-range shotgun blast has been my savior for many a fight. Also, melee weapons are incredibly fun and useful again. I’m just sad I haven’t come across a Power Fist yet. Here’s hoping it’ll be soon!
The story doesn’t have the same appeal as Fallout 1, 2, 3
With the exception of New Vegas, which I thought was an alright story but not incredible, the Fallout franchise has always had a strong story element. The first Fallout gave us a great story driven RPG with a lot of humor and dark themes, and the more recent Fallout 3 laid it on thick with your disappearing dad and teenage bullies right off the bat. But in Fallout 4 it just seems like I’m looking for my wife’s executioner and kidnapper of my son. Sure, those are as cliche as cliche can get, but they are good starting points for something better. I just haven’t seen it yet. I feel like I’m this careless father who’s just running around killing people and taking drugs. Hmm, maybe it’s better I never find them then…
I’m glad Power Armor has been reworked
A staple of the series, Power Armor has always (and still remains) the best armor you can wear in the game. But instead of making it so once you find a set you never wear anything else, unless you find a more unique version of said Power Armor, you can only use Power Armor for a limited time. This is accomplished by the introduction of fusion cores: they are the power supply for your Power Armor. There’s a limited number of them in the game, but so far they’ve been uncommon and not rare. But, this means you’re not going to just run around in your Power Armor and instead you’ll need a viable suit of “regular” armor to get through your exploration. It’s nice, and it really makes the visually creative and exciting armors in the game way more appealing and likely to be used. Good on you, Bethesda, for fixing something I didn’t know I wanted fixed!
This is still a Fallout game despite the changes
No matter how you slice it, Fallout 4 is still a great Fallout game. I think some changes have been for the worse, but time will tell if that’s just my initial love for the old, or if it’s actually a turn for the worse. But the good outweighs the bad. And if you’re a Fallout fan you’ll love Fallout 4. I think the game doesn’t lose what it means to be a game: you can carry absurd amounts of items, you can stop combat just to look at your equipment and even drop some, you can pretty much do whatever you want, and there is no repercussion for just wandering around and exploring (in fact, it’s usually rewarded!). That’s always why I’ve loved the Fallout games: you can do crazy things the game doesn’t expect you to do, but totally allows you to do. Want to lockpick a door and bypass the entire section and get the rewards? Sure, you can do that. What about equipping a dress and a pool cue and wrecking havoc on the next raider group you see? Why not? And you can do it all however you want, at your own pace, and without fear of the game yelling at you for doing it.
Fallout 4, you’ve been great so far, and I hope you can keep it up while I explore the rest of the Wasteland!