Developer: Bethesda Softworks
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date: November 10, 2015
Platform: PS4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Genre: Open-world RPG
Gamers have been waiting half a decade for a new Fallout game, and Bethesda has made up for the lost time with one of the most engaging and truly enjoyable open-world RPG's of all time. Rather than being a new iteration or sequel, Fallout 4 completely redefines the old formula with a complete overhaul that injects a staggering amount of content without changing familiar core concepts.
The progression system is both intuitive and expansive, and exceedingly well balanced. When I heard that traditional skills like Science and Repair would be absorbed into the new crafting system, I have to admit I was quite reticent: but Fallout 4 makes these changes feel so natural you don't even notice.
The new Perk system is absolutely massive. We'll go more in-depth on the Perks later on, but the general gist of the changes is that players now have a huge offering of endgame character development. You're not done filling out your character once you hit level 20 like you were in Fallout 3; with this new system you can just keep going and going and going as long as you want.
Other additions like environment crafting--yes, Fallout 4 literally gives you the tools to customize and create your very own bases and settlements--and item modding represent even more endgame customization to the fold. It's like Skyrim's enchant system only infinitely more expansive, making Fallout 4 feel like it already has mod support on day one. Other Skyrim favorites like cooking food and chems are on the menu, and you can even mix and match chems to make Buffjet and Psycho Jet.
In many ways, Fallout 4 feels like a doorway into a new dimension of post-apocalyptic survival. Everything has been enhanced, tweaked and perfected to add such depth to gameplay that you can easily shave off hours upon hours without even noticing. The building blocks are still intact, but Fallout 4 is to Fallout 3 as Legos are to Megablocks. The changes are obvious but exciting, bringing a genuine thrill to every new moment of exploration.
Players are engaged on such a level that there's authentic motivation to continue: you want to keep playing to discover everything that irradiated Boston has to offer, whether it's finding hidden items and loot, talking to quirky NPC's, taking on memorable quests or conquering the most fearsome Super Mutants around.
The FPS combat is really really strong this time around. With the help of id Software, Bethsoft has created a Fallout game that really does feel like a modern shooter. Adventuring in the wasteland is now pretty challenging and risky thanks to different grades of baddies, adding a true sense of danger to every single encounter. Power Armor helps mitigate these risks in a huge way, but we'll cover that in section three.
Right away the game instills a true and profound sense of awe that only compounds the more you play. A good portion of the awe is inspired by the majestic environments. Bethesda has made a ruined world look truly beautiful, and the environments are very much like living, breathing works of art. Atmospheric mist curls around the broken shattered streets of Boston while post-apocalyptic cities like Diamond City stand as gems throughout the chaos.
The other portion is from that distinct feeling of being on an epic scavenger hunt for amazing hidden treasures. I don't just mean loot, I'm talking about the entire picture: hilarious NPC's, amazingly tough baddies, synthetic Humphrey Bogart android detectives, human-robot marriages, Super Mutant companions, snowball-shooting superweapons, Power Armor suits with jetpack upgrades, and a whole galaxy of delicious sci-fi wonders. Fallout 4 not only brings that authentic Fallout feeling to the table, but it completely redefines the recipe for a delicious new meal you can chew on for years to come.
One thing console players will notice is that the graphics aren't so good. Fallout 4 does make use of great-looking lighting and atmospheric effects both indoors and out, but we noticed basic console graphics trade-offs like lack of detail on distant textures and a few graphical hiccups here and there. Overall things look great, but the PC experience conquers that of PS4 and Xbox One.
Although this review will dive deep into Fallout 4, the game is so massive that it still feels like we're barely scraping the surface. All those jokes about being able to spend thousands of hours in post-apocalyptic Boston are starting to look less like jokes and more like reality. Even Bethsoft has said that a single playthrough of Fallout 4 will last over 400 hours, and this is 100% true.
Now, fellow traveler, it's time to venture into the hazardous wastes of Boston. On our journey, we'll find treasures and terrors alike, and meet tons of unforgettable survivors. You have your Pip-Boy, right? Good. I hope you've brought lots and lots of ammo. You're going to need it.
Editor's Note: While we reviewed the PS4 version of Fallout 4 this time around, we'll be making a more direct push towards PC game reviews in the future. The PC version was sent to us a bit later than the console versions, and we had made a lot more headway on PS4. As a result, we stuck with PS4 to maintain progression.
As for the reports of considerable frame-rate drops on PS4, I personally didn't notice any real instances of substantial game-breaking lag. Overall the game feels smooth on all platforms, but you'll get the best experience on PC.
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