Spoilers (Weapon types, enemy types, upgrades, companion options, settlement options)
Boring, that was the first thought I had when I started playing Fallout 4. It seemed to lack the kind of draw, or spark, that I saw in previous Fallout games and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The systems were there, all of the “go here, kill this” objectives and the initial hook for the main story. The small pre-war section was great, but after that I didn’t think it had much going for it that was new or original. I still found it to be a great sandbox video game, and so I started playing it as a first person shooting game. Enter – The Responsible Maniac.
I cared heavily about my settlements, but pursued side quests and exploration over following any particular storyline. Fallout 4 fills the space of its map better, I feel, than previous Bethesda games have and that helped keep my invested and immersed. I always felt with Fallout: New Vegas that there was too much empty space, and it hurt my immersion. I cannot honestly say the same for this game, because every area has enough unique enemy or side quest possibilities that I became satisfied much more often than I was disappointed.
Mid game was a lot of me building up my power armor and acquiring the perks to make it last longer with fusion cores, diving into dungeons and clearing rooms with particular zeal. I found the variety in weapon customization very enjoyable and didn’t mind that there were fewer bases for each option (sniper, shotgun, assault) because of all the options within that were given to me. I made sure I got better and better weapons that continued to be fun to use and fun to shoot with.
Then I met my buddy, Nick Valentine. Nick, you see, is a robot that has the personality of a 1980s beat cop. Lots of drawling dialogue and the accent to match. If you follow a particular quest you will encounter him and have the option to keep him as one of your companions. Never in Bethesda history have I felt attached to a companion before this guy. The whole game touches on the question of whether robots can be sentient and the writing for Nick gave me no doubt at all that he was a thinking feeling conflicted being. You meet other companions that I enjoyed as well, but Nick felt more like a partner to me in my playthrough than any forced partner in other video games.
Settlements was actually I new feature that I enjoyed immensely. Late game I had enough money to buy any amount of resources, and had salvaged much more. I started dressing up every settlement with extreme defensive capabilities and better overall settlement quality. I enjoyed seeing more and more people flock to my settlements and loved defending whenever they were attacked. It gave me a sense of permanence and personal effect on the world of Fallout 4 which was something other Bethesda games often lacked for me.
I actually felt that the in-game factions, both the ones you can choose from or others, had their rivalries and opinions about the other factions very well described. Whether it is ghouls and super mutants, raiders or a settlement village, or one of the main factions you encounter through the story, all of them have their thoughts and opinions on other factions fleshed out. At no point did I feel a faction was strangely disconnected from the world, and that is also something I have experienced with Bethesda games before. Instead I was able to decide how I personally felt about each one, and consider whether I should discriminate against a faction because of their opinions. I had a lot of fun navigating through moral questions as a result of that.
Finally, I want to talk about two areas of the game. The main city, Boston, and the fringes of the map. Boston feels, for the first time to me, like a real broken down city. No Bethesda games have really made me feel that a city was a city. They always felt too small, or too empty. Boston in Fallout 4 is neither. Every new street corner could lead you into a firefight between two groups, or a trap waiting to be sprung by an irradiated monster, or any of the dozens of other encounters you can experience navigating through the city. There are multiple places where you can take advantage of verticality to get onto roofs and into buildings, and the whole place just felt real and was more than enough to immerse me.
On the very edges of the map is where I felt was the most fallout in the sense that the monster and quest design became much more weird and unpredictable. You the player became much, much more likely to run across an unexpected boss monster or a very creepy locale. Some of Fallout 4’s best side quests were located on the edges of its map and discovering them was most of the fun.
There are many opportunities in Fallout 4 to play it in a way where you will enjoy yourself. They give you a whole host of weapon options, you can play in first person or third, and there are actually a good variety of moral choices to make throughout the quest options, even if they have less detail than previous titles. I have spent 131 hours enjoying this game after I thought I would have less than twenty, all by figuring out how I could best enjoy the world. Best of luck in doing the same if you try out this game.
For popular or very successful games like this I am starting a new category called “How I enjoyed this game” to express the ways that I had fun playing these very popular video games. In no spoilers impressions I describe how I feel about a game after playing it, and avoid narrative spoilers. In this new section I tell you how I, personally, enjoyed playing these games and may spoil certain things to accomplish that. What I am spoiling will always be at the top of the article.