The Future of the Commonwealth: Fallout 4 Review

Having played an unhealthy amount of Fallout 4 since its release, I've finally set some time aside to review the game and cover what it did well...
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    Nearly two weeks have gone by since the release of Fallout 4, and now that my head is finally clear of the inescapable hype and excitement for the game, it's time to collect the many thoughts I've had over the many hours spent traversing the Commonwealth. Be forewarned, I've experienced most of the game and I have completed the main quests, so there will be spoilers.

    I have put an unhealthy amount of time into the predecessors of Fallout 4. Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas left a substantial impression on me and the series instantly became my all-time favorite. When Fallout 4 was first teased, my mind began racing as I thought of what Bethesda Softworks was going to hit its fans with next. After the critical success of The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim and the confirmation that the next game in the Fallout series would utilize their newly constructed Creation Engine, the anticipation for Fallout 4 steadily grew. Although there were rumors that it would be taking place in Boston, where I grew up, I didn't expect it to be true and I certainly didn't believe it when Bethesda stated that it was the truth.

    My next doubts arose when Bethesda's own Todd Howard showcased the game during its presentation at E3. The demo displayed a totally revamped dialogue system, interactive Power Armor and a game that just didn't look like a Fallout game. I was utterly convinced that they couldn't possibly release a next-gen Fallout game that felt reminiscent of the rest of the series.

    Those doubts were completely shattered when I stepped into the game. I was immediately thrown into a compelling cinematic that tells the story of the Fallout world. "War never changes," speaks the game's protagonist, as he delivers the series' iconic line. The lore of Fallout is explained, detailing the moment in time that differs from our own history. When World War II came to an end with the atomic bombs being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the world realized that nuclear power had more applications than just as weapons. The world entered a time of enlightenment with the realization that it could be used for energy. Although they prospered, this new world became greedy in its attempts to control resources, and in time it grew complacent. Economies hinged on certain resources, and without them countries were doomed to fall. Left with no other option, the world entered its former blind state, turning towards war and conflict yet again.


    Credit for the video goes to YouTube user TrueCutScenes.

    After this cinematic, I was introduced to my character and their spouse, whom I could customize to my choosing, as well as my infant son, Shaun. Outside of my house, I saw the world of Fallout like never before: the world before the Great War. However, as any Fallout fan would know, that time in history wouldn't last much longer. Shortly after interacting with Shaun and my spouse, an announcement appeared on the television with reports of nuclear attacks within the U.S. Struck with panic, the entire country delved into what bunkers it could, while our protagonist had no choice but to flee to the local Vault: the only hope for survival.

    Vault 111, like any other Vault, was not what I expected. The creators of the Vault, Vault-Tec, had a twofold plan in place when they established the Vaults. Ensuring the survival of the Vault residents was only one task given to the Overseer of each Vault, while the other purpose was more sinister. In Vault 111's case, the idea was to gauge what would happen to unaware test subjects if they were in cryogenic stasis for a prolonged amount of time. Shortly after entering a "Decontamination Pod", my character was frozen for an undisclosed amount of time before waking up to someone opening the pod across from my own, containing my spouse and my infant son. A woman in a suit and a rugged, armed man began to take my child out of my husband's hands, and due to his refusal to give Shaun up, he was shot dead and left in the pod as they reactivated the cryogenic stasis.

    My character wakes up a second time from her stasis and I immediately tried to open the pod containing my spouse. Knowing there was no way to bring them back, my character takes the ring from her husband's body and vows to find Shaun and whoever did this to their family.

    After escaping Vault 111, I was given the freedom signature to the Fallout series. I had all of the choices in the world of where I wanted to go first and who I wanted to find first. I was able to choose exactly what person I wanted to play as with the different dialogue options. A mercenary shaped by the loss of my family was there for me, but I had wanted to be someone who could make the Commonwealth a better place. Not long after I began my adventures in the Commonwealth, I heard a distress signal that led me to the Cambridge Police Station where a squadron from the Brotherhood of Steel was being overrun by Feral Ghouls. As I had done in Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas, I sided with the Brotherhood of Steel, which introduced me to a chain of quests that I had only dreamed of in previous games.

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    Before getting any further into the story, I'd like to mention the most unbelievable thing about this game. Despite all of my skepticism going into it, worrying about how it wouldn't 'feel like Fallout,' all of my disbelief was completely shattered when I actually began playing it. The combat, though it was brand new and built from the ground-up, managed to make me feel like I was still in a Fallout game. It wasn't always fast-paced, but it was open and I had any number of ways to approach the enemies I fought. Whether I wanted to lay traps for Feral Ghouls, or just gun down any Raiders and Super Mutants I saw, I had all of those options. In every case, I just knew that I was playing Fallout. To me, it is an amazing feat that this is an entirely new game with a new engine, yet it retained everything that made me love the series in its previous installments. VATS was never something I used in earlier games, but I found myself using it during tricky encounters in this game when agile enemies could outmaneuver my ability to aim. All of the different types of weaponry got a significant upgrade with the many different types of mods available and I even found myself consistently using energy weapons, which is something I've never done in other Fallout games. Even using melee weapons, which was dull and tedious in Fallout 4's predecessors, proved to be entertaining and useful in a lot of situations.

    Fallout 4 was also able to maintain a healthy balance between wanting to explore the world and wanting to do quests. I wasn't forced to do either one, which is what I expect from Fallout. Every location in the game had something unique to offer and I was frequently rewarded for my efforts with collectibles and oftentimes, a rare weapon or piece of armor. Although I was disappointed by the lack of "unique weapons" that I exclusively used in Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas, the enhanced modding and crafting system in the game did fill that gap.

    Although I could choose whether or not to do the quests, the plot felt like it was well thought-out and I wanted to see it through sooner rather than later. Plot twists are not something that I thought would be present in Fallout 4, but I got my fair share of them through my interactions with Kellogg and, later on, Shaun. After reuniting with my long-lost son, I decided to put my familial attachments behind for what I felt was the betterment of the Commonwealth. Although Elder Maxson was an unusually ruthless leader of a Brotherhood of Steel chapter, I have always thought that their goals in the post-apocalyptic America were the most realistic and beneficial. Having decided to ally myself with them, I was surprised to actually see that your character is a genuine part of the Brotherhood of Steel. Unlike any other Fallout game, I was actually able to join the Brotherhood of Steel and advance through the ranks. When I was a lowly Initiate, no one paid me the time of day, as respect from the higher-ups in the Brotherhood was not warranted for me. After accomplishing some major feats within the Brotherhood of Steel, I was promoted to Knight and after I had gone above and beyond to advance the Brotherhood's goals, I was made a Paladin. After finishing the main quest, successful in the Brotherhood's task to destroy the Institute, I finally saw the iron-willed Maxson tone it down a bit, just before granting me the title of Sentinel.

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    With all loose ends tied and no more feeling like I had an obligation to do the main quests, I began to fully explore the Commonwealth. The variety of challenges in the many different locations in the game kept me on my toes, but I was also having an absurd amount of fun. There was so much put into every minor location in the game, and the crazy part about them was that a lot of people will never see those places. There is so much optional content in the game that it becomes hard to imagine that very many will get to see everything the game has to offer without a couple hundred hours' expenditure.

    That said, Fallout 4 is not without its flaws. Although the play testers were surely instrumental in making the game solid and largely bug-free, it can't compare to the millions of people who have been playing the game since its release. The game has its fair share of bugs, especially with settlements, but overall it's a more solid release than any other game Bethesda has released. Playing on the PC, however, I do have access to some commands to alleviate some of the bugs I've seen in some settlements. I have sunken over 80 hours into the game and I've yet to experience any game-breaking bugs or any major issues at all, really.

    The soundtrack is a major improvement from its predecessors as well. Although the songs I hear on the radio are mostly recycled from Fallout 3, there are a lot of additions that make it feel familiar yet refreshingly new. Aside from the radio songs, the game's actual soundtrack that I hear whilst exploring and doing various tasks around the Commonwealth is fitting, and adds even more enjoyment to the game.

    Visually, the game is stunning; even on my medium graphical settings with lighting turned to their lowest possible levels. Although Fallout 4 was met with some criticism regarding its graphics both before and after its release, it more than achieves a level of "next-gen graphics" that gamers generally expect to see in recently made games. The lip-syncing animations with character dialogue could use some work, but that is my only criticism towards how the game looks. Every location looks and feels different to explore, and having been in Boston many times, I was actually able to figure out where I was and where to go based on how the streets and locations on the map were structured. It is apparent that even though the game had to be scaled down in size from the real-life Boston, it was recreated as well as it could have been. The enemies in the game got a serious face-lift from previous installments as well, with Ghouls obviously looking the most different. Feral Ghouls look and act as terrifying as they should, and their more sane counterparts look like how I always imagined they should. Super Mutants look more vicious and fighting them is no longer a joke like it was in other Fallout games. Every visual aspect of the franchise got a significant upgrade in Fallout 4 and aesthetically, the game is great overall.

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    I would have wholeheartedly recommended this game and the entire Fallout series to anyone if they had asked me whether or not they should try the game out. Having experienced a good amount of Fallout 4, I can safely say that you will find a lot of enjoyment in it if it is your type of game. I can also safely say that this would be my top pick for Game of the Year.

    Aside from my claims that this game is a success, many others have stated that Fallout 4 is a major success, having broken several records and topped the charts. For me, only one question remains.

    If you've seen the ending of the game, you know that you literally reshape the Commonwealth and truly decide its fate. Whether you sided with the Institute, the Brotherhood of Steel, the Railroad, or the Minutemen, the Commonwealth changed when you made that final decision. Future expansions were confirmed long ago with the selling of the Season Pass, but what will we see from those expansions? Bethesda might have a Broken Steel-type of DLC planned that will explore the aftermath of the choices we made. We saw several characters from Fallout 3 make a return in Fallout 4. Perhaps we will see even more characters make a comeback for future expansions.

    How did you feel about Fallout 4, if you played through it? What kind of expansions do you think Bethesda has in the works for their fans in the future? Let me know in the comments below.

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  1. CallummL
    I finished the main quest a couple days ago, the only bad things I can really say about the game is, on console there is some really bad frames drops when entering a large gun fight, the lip sync seems to be out of time in a few scenes and there are a couple of bugs here and there. But overall, I really enjoyed playing and I was engaged since I first bought it. Fallout has always been one of my favorite series and Fallout 4 is just brilliant. I can't wait for the DLC. :biggrin:
      Feyfolken likes this.
    1. Feyfolken
      I've seen my friends play the game on their consoles and there does seem to be a noticeable FPS drop during larger fights. On my PC, I've only had FPS drops in certain interior cells and that has to do with the lighting and certain assets that are used (the Super Mutant meat bag makes my FPS drop, for example). As for the lip sync, try disabling "Dialogue Camera" in your options. All conversations will be in first-person and the lip syncing will be fixed.
    2. CallummL
      I can deal with the lip sync it doesn't bother me all that much, it just looks a lot better being on time, obviously. But I'll give it a try anyways when I'm next on. Plenty of side missions and exploring the commonwealth to do, plus finding all the other vaults. :smile:

      PS - I forgot to mention, great article!
  2. denz
    I think it's a 7/10 game due to bland rpg dialogues and old engine bugs.
      Destiny likes this.
  3. Ultra Pikey
    My only gripe with this game was that the AI of the companions if there is even one could of been a bit more intelligent. The list of stupid things that they would do that would in some instances ultimately cause my death meant it was just safer to patrol the Commonwealth on my own.
      Feyfolken likes this.
    1. Feyfolken
      That's true. I somehow overlooked that in my review, though it was definitely a complaint I had. I suppose that I was already thinking about the A.I. improvement mods.
  4. Jeeper
    Can't really make a "review" with spoilers. I am looking to buy the game but wanted insight on it...not story details/spoilers. I guess I'll check out IGN's spoiler free review. Regardless, thank you for putting time into the creation of this article.
    1. Feyfolken
      The game has been out for 2 weeks. I figured it would be better to talk about the plot than not. I only go into details for the introduction, anyway.
  5. The Awesome Guy
    Awesome review man!

    Also, have you run into any game-breaking bugs?
    1. Feyfolken
  6. LookBroZombies_XBL
    I have the same mindset as you did before this came out but after this review I have to at least try the game since it sounds better than I thought it would be. That's awesome that you grew up in Boston, I grew up outside the city but live there now! Great article man, thanks for taking the time to write it.
      Feyfolken likes this.
    1. Feyfolken
      It's definitely worth it. You'll see places you recognize, despite it being scaled down and post-apocalyptic. Going around Beacon Hill, I could figure out where I was and where I was going, and the ruins around the city are all like that.
  7. Vino
    Good game, definitely on my top 5 list for the year. Unfortunately, I wouldn't consider it my GOTY. I did have a lot of fun playing through, and I still have some tidying up to do now that I've gotten through the main quest.
      Feyfolken likes this.
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    2. Feyfolken
      You only like it because of those Yennefer/Triss scenes. Or maybe you like the Geralt booty.
    3. Dead
      Hey Fallout gets n*** mods :wink:

      We can see vault dweller booty whenever we want
    4. Feyfolken
      We got Schlongs of Skyrim as a mod, now let's see Phalluses of Fallout
  8. televisedfool
    My game of the year pick. It's just an incredible game and it helps that Bethesda is my favorite developer.
      Feyfolken likes this.
  9. Dead
    I was hoping I'd get the chance to do a review, or at least play it a decent amount. But life came around and I moved cross country for college. Haven't played it in over a week unfortunately, and barely played it much to begin with. Hopefully I get to burn a bunch of hours into it when I'm able to play it.
      Feyfolken likes this.
    1. Feyfolken
      That's really unfortunate, man. I'm not sure if you had heard or not, but the day after Fallout 4 came out, I actually had to go to Boston for a week. It's pretty ironic that I couldn't play Fallout 4 because I was actually in Boston.
    2. Dead
      No I didn't hear that haha. Hopefully you got to see some spots that are in the game!
  10. Arxhive
    I wish there was a secret set of pristine-condition power armor hidden deep somewhere. Would be cool as a status symbol. Great review!
      Feyfolken likes this.
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    2. Feyfolken
      The thing with that, Red58, is that a lot of the items don't even show up in the item ID list. Not if you look them up by name, anyway. For example, there are different forms of the armor you see in the game (Normal, Sturdy, Heavy) and they all use the same ID for that. I'm blanking on it right now, but I know there are some items that don't even show up at all when you look them up in the console. The unique weapons from vendors don't show up in-game if you try to pull them up in the console.
    3. Red58
      Yeah i honestly dont know how they set their whole system up. Maybe someone will figure it out one of these days.
    4. Feyfolken
      The testing room doesn't even have half of the in-game items. It barely has any weapons or armor. There's a lot that they want to keep hidden for now, I think. Pete Hines said something about it when the harpoon gun was discovered. It seems that Bethesda wants to keep a lot of things in their game a secret until someone finds them legitimately.