Fallout 4 - Stripped
Updated: Mar 27
Fallout 4, was one of 2015’s most eagerly awaited titles. With gamers anxiously losing sleep, Fallout 4 had one of the biggest hype trains of any game to date. Unfortunately it fell quite short of a lot of the expectations the fans had. With a shallow and predictable main story, extreme overuse of radiant quests, and a huge step-back in dialogue options it’s no wonder fans were unhappy. Fallout 4 also had quite a few “features” that were hot issues with fans like a voice acted character and settlement building. Let’s dive in.
The main story has a lot of good moments and isn’t inherently bad, it’s bad within the context of a Fallout game. The story is about finding a lost son that was kidnapped while you were in cryo-stasis. The dialogue and pacing force a strong sense of urgency which is unfortunately misplaced in a game that's greatest draw is exploring the world. It’s misplaced in the sense of the quest as well. With the player being in cryo-stasis while the child is kidnapped you quickly deduct that you have no idea exactly how much time went by. Bethesda doesn’t give the players any credit and the player is forced to choose dialogue options that are completely obsessed with finding Shaun now.
The story is rather short if you know what faction you already want to side with. It feels like Bethesda expected the player to explore all factions and exhaust all quests before deciding on a faction to side with. The Institute and Brotherhood both give a decent amount of quests but the Railroad and Minutemen only have a few with story before the radiant quests take over. If you choose Brotherhood, Minutemen, Institute, or Railroad before you explore all the other factions the main story can be ended just a few quests after discovering The Institute.
There are a few aspects of the story that feel like they had much larger intentions. Nick speaking to you in Kellog’s voice after the Memory Den quest being a prime example. It felt like Bethesda was setting up some kind of interesting duality within Nick for one last quest or DLC involving Kellog. It was an unnecessary line that just gets the players hopes up for nothing; Similar to when a parent mentions something fun to a child with full intentions to never do it.
The story did however have some fairly interesting moments. The memory den scene was one of my favorite literary scenes Bethesda has done. Getting to delve into the mind of the man you are hunting; Discovering what he’s done, and how he came to be. This kind of insight paints Kellog as more than just a mindless psychopath. He was a real human being, and we killed him without hesitation. Unfortunately future dialogue options don’t allow us to react in too many ways outside of being glad we killed him, even after seeing Kellog for who he was.
The main story is pushed forward through different factions the player can decide to work for. There are 4 you can end the game with, but realistically there are only two choices. The Minutemen are completely unreliable and in need of constant supervision, and the Railroad is a small guerilla operation. The only two realistic options to side with to end the conflict is the Brotherhood of Steel and The Institute. The others don’t have a practical way to destroy the other factions. It just shouldn’t be possible.
If the player decides to pick a faction that is against The Institute, you are forced to invoke a Scorched Earth policy. There is no saving the building or research. You blow the place with a nuclear explosion, giving the Sole Survivor another beautiful view of man’s arrogance. I felt that the game should have allowed us some wiggle room with the destruction of the institute. Killing off all the staff and saving the building and research for yourself seems like the most logical thing to do. Bethesda tried to give us morally grey quests, but they’re ones that can only be solved with black and white options.
All in all the story isn’t anything to brag about but it’s definitely enough to give the player something to work on in between scavenging and clearing out random buildings for interesting gear and bits of lore.
The combat in Fallout 4 is very similar to the other games but you’ll find yourself free-shooting a lot more rather than using VATS. VATS in Fallout 4 does not freeze the gameplay entirely anymore, now everything just works in slow motion. Because of this I found myself free aiming at most enemies other than bloatflys and bloodbugs.
You can still choose to use melee weapons or guns in this game but unlike New Vegas there is a much shorter supply for people who enjoy up close and personal. For those who do like to do those melee playthroughs you are going to have a rougher time of it in this one as you get less SPECIAL points early on. You’ll have to put almost all of them into strength and endurance right away to be able to survive, but this means you’ll have almost no points in all the other categories. It’s a lot less viable in this game, but still can be quite fun with Grognak’s Axe and Outfit.
Sniper Rifles are surprisingly lackluster. The strongest Rifle caliber you can use is the .50 and it just feels like it’s barely a step up from the .308 when in reality it should be a massive damage upgrade. I found myself using the .308 and even the .45 version of the Combat Rifle because for the rarity of the ammo it just wasn’t worth carrying around Fallout 4’s .50 cal.
Overall the combat is still quite fun. Utilizing more of your own aiming skills puts more power into the player’s own abilities and kills feel more rewarding. VATS is always still there for you to use for hard to hit enemies or proccing Mysterious Stranger on a Mirelurk. I felt the overall Combat experience was a definite step up from the previous two installments.
Fallout 4’s companions are a varied and lively bunch. There are several fun personalities to take with you on your journey if you like having them with you. If you’re walking around with the French accented Curie or crushing your foes with the Super Mutant Strong Fallout 4’s got a companion for your type of playstyle.
There’s 13 possible permanent companions you can choose from. Deacon the railroads synth infiltrator, Nick Valentine the synth detective, Cait the drug-loving ringfighter, Codsworth your pre-war Mr. Handy, Curie the robot scientist, Paladin Danse the honorable Brotherhood of Steel Paladin, Hancock the mayor of Goodneighbor, MacCreedy the ex-gunnar, Piper the dedicated reporter of Diamond City, Preston Garvey the boring ex-leader of The Minutemen, Strong the super mutant, X6-88 the synth courser for the Institute, and the ever faithful Dogmeat.
My personal favorites are Deacon, Nick Valentine, and Cait. But each character has it’s own distinct personality to fit whatever kind of character you like playing. Fallout 4 didn’t slouch in the follower department, of that I strongly believe.
Fallout 4’s strongest draw, like the other Fallout games, is it’s interesting and well crafted world. Bethesda has always been known for great world building and this game is no black sheep. There are all kinds of interesting object placements to give you a chuckle, gear to find, quests to do, and conversations to have. You can spend hours just walking around downtown Boston clearing out buildings filled with raiders or assassinating Super Mutants in the streets.
Whether you are exploring Boston’s surprisingly beautiful beaches, the Downtown, Diamond City, or even The Glowing Sea there is a plethora of interesting locations to keep you busy and entertained.
Fallout 4 hit us with quite a controversial change with the new power armor. Instead of wearing it like normal armor, it’s used like a vehicle that you step in and out of. It uses fusion cores that you find throughout the wasteland for fuel.
The change has been controversial because fusion cores can be hard to come by without the scrounger perk which means you will want to save the power armor usage for tough battles. Another problem comes with not knowing when those tough battles will arise. It becomes a pain in the ass to constantly fast travel back and forth leaving and picking your power armor up whenever you come across a tough mission.
I’m a personal fan of the power armor change. You feel like a real walking tank while wearing it. You take no fall damage and deal damage to those around you when falling a large distance, the damage and radiation resistance is exceptional and you look like a badass.
Settlement building is an interesting mechanic that is unique to Fallout 4. You can build buildings, food, and water items to give the people of the Commonwealth safe places to live and build up the Minutemen in an attempt at rebuilding a sort of civilization.
Settlement building is a huge time-sink and it gives the player a reason to grab all the random knick-knacks and trash around the world. It’s easy to spend just as much time building settlements and doing supply runs as it is questing and killing monsters.
The settlements do feel like a feature that was half assed. The quests for each area are just radiant quests with no real story. The people at the settlements say they need help clearing out some kind of enemy that’s been bugging them, an enemy that somehow seems to be all the way across the map. After you clear the settlement out they join The Minutemen and then you can start building that area into a nice settlement.
There’s no story involved. I believe that there were larger intentions and the studio ran out of time. What it ended up being was just a time sink. The settlements are exceptionally fun to build up to something great for the first 3 or 4, but after that it becomes a chore.
The DLC does expand settlement building to allow a lot of interesting build choices like elevators. After putting a solid amount of hours in, your settlements can look just as authentic as any Bethesda created town.
Weapon and Armor
Fallout 4 came out with a fresh system for modding out the weapons and armor you come across in the Commonwealth. This allows us to increase damage, accuracy, recoil, and even change the whole caliber of the gun itself. Unfortunately about 70% of the weapons you are going to come across are pipe weapons. These crude imitations of a gun are exceptionally weak, ugly, and unsatisfying to use. It becomes a problem because these weapons don’t really pack enough punch to be very useful past level 10, but you will find them well into level 30 being used by just about every raider and super mutant.
Even though there are only a few types of armor between Leather, Raider, Synth, Metal, and Combat I never was too worried about finding too much leather armor as we always have that set of T-45 power armor we get right at the beginning for tough situations.
With the modifications I was able to use the leather armor until I was finding combat armor fairly regularly. Using the perks to keep gaining new armor modifications, I felt like I was really giving myself that edge against stronger enemies.
Voice Acting and Dialogue
This is the first Fallout game to have a voice acted main character. I’m on the fence about this change. I enjoyed having my character talk out certain lines and make snooty comments to the people of the Commonwealth. The problem as I see it is that they skimped on dialogue options and streamlined the process so far that you lost what was a huge part of the Fallout experience. You can no longer choose options due to a high skill in Medicine or Science. All of the dialogue options you got from different skills are no longer there and it’s always four choices in every conversation.
I’m assuming this change came from having to pay for every different voice option. With two main characters having more and more dialogue options can rack up a decent bill. I miss the roleplay value that we had with the previous games. It really takes away from the whole Fallout feel. Your character is now in some murky ground between an established character, and one you craft through your own choices.
I personally hope that if they choose to go with the voice acting in the sequel game we get a throwback to all those beautiful dialogue options that were scattered across the various wastelands.
Fallout 4 has two main DLC packs you can explore, Far Harbor and Nuka-World. Far Harbor is a full fledged DLC with a large area to explore, interesting people with quests, and main story arc. Nuka-World is about half of that. There is a moderate sized area to explore and one main story quest. Nuka-World falls flat because after the first main quest it devolves into radiant quests that are solved within the Commonwealth, not Nuka-World.
Far Harbor is the one out of the two that I would consider buying. It’s unique enemies, landscape and quests kept me busy for a while and if you take Nick Valentine with you the place adds a lot of new unique dialogue with him.
Nuka-World starts of strong but quickly dissolves into the mediocrity of radiant quests and mindless exploring. There are several interesting locations and one fun ghoul but after the strong start
you are left feeling empty and used.
The workshop DLC’s are worth picking up if you really enjoy settlement building but outside of that it’s not worth the town. The Automatron DLC is a small story arc revolving around Robobrains that is fun for a short amount of time.
In the end Fallout 4 is pretty fun game that can keep you busy for hours. Exceptional combat, an intriguing world, steroid fueled power armor, and settlements come together to form what was one of my favorite games of 2015. This is a great game, but I felt that too many things were changed or removed to make this much less of a Fallout game. Bethesda is straying away from the original formula in negative ways. I hope with the next installment we get back the diverse dialogue, and more crafted quests rather than a slew of radiant quests designed to just keep us busy.
Fallout 4 earns a 7.5/10 from Buck Naked Gaming.