To use an analogy that is perhaps a bit staid by this point, playing Fallout 4 is like eating your favorite dish for the hundredth time. It’s still filling and satisfying in its own way, but has lost some of the magic it once had.
Don’t get me wrong, Fallout 4 is not a bad game; I’ve put around 40 hours into my adventures in the Commonwealth and I’ll more than likely be close to double that by the time I’m done. Even though Fallout 4 hews closely to the established Bethesda formula, there’s a reason it works so damn well.
It helps that the shooting in Fallout 4 feels a lot better than it did in 3 and New Vegas. Bethesda has said that they were inspired by Bungie’s Destiny in this regard, which was a wise decision. VATS is still available to use, but it’s far less of a crutch for the wonky shooting than it was in the earlier Bethesda Fallout titles.
Fallout 4 thankfully removes the item upkeep mechanic that was present before and allows you to customize your weapons and armor at the workbenches you will find throughout the world. I really like this system and I’ve made some pretty killer combinations. It’s even better if you can find a Legendary weapon with a good perk such as the bottomless shotgun I found last night. I nicknamed that bad-boy the Pain Train.
Power Armor works a bit differently in Fallout 4 as well: instead of serving as the late-game armor set that you’ll wear forever, Power Armor is kind of your trump card, the thing you save for the hairiest of situations. Power Armor now requires a finite power source to run called fusion cores and while they are fairly abundant after a certain point it still encourages you to save breaking out your suit for when it is really needed. Power Armor can also be customized so my best suit is rocking black and red flame paint with a Tesla-charged chest piece meaning that enemies who get too close are electrocuted. Tuning up your Power Armor is akin to meticulously maintaining a car or a PC rig and it makes it feel like something special, not just another checklist on your box of things you earn by progressing.
There is also a settlement building layer where you can clear out certain sections of the map and build power generators, defenses and shelters to try and get citizens to occupy those areas and build up little outposts. The game throws you into the deep end with a fairly bare-bones tutorial and even as far in as I am I’m still learning new things. The most I’ve done with the building tools is make a shack for my Power Armor collection, but that’s barely even scratching the surface of what I’ve seen accomplished with what the game provides.
The world of the Commonwealth is a great environment to explore as well. There are colors on this map other than brown and the denizens are just as diverse and interesting as you expect. There isn’t too much more to say here without giving away some choice moments which I feel should be experienced with fresh eyes, but let me just say that if you find an old wooden ship stuck on top of a bank, do yourself a favor and check it out.
Even though Fallout 4 is “more of the same”, I find it difficult to take umbrage with going back in for another few dozen hours of roaming aimlessly, shooting and looting. Even though the engine Bethesda is using for these games is getting extremely long in the tooth, they’ve managed to eek another excellent game out of it.
Anyone else been exploring the Commonwealth recently? What has your experience been with Fallout 4?