Don’t They Know it’s the End of the World?
If you’ve never played a Fallout game, keep reading as is. If you have played a Fallout game and don’t need an introduction to the series, skip to second paragraph.
Fallout, simply put, is one of the most engrossing and elaborate video game series out there. It’s an RPG, a choose your own adventure book with an emphasis on exploration, action, and creativity. In the the year 2077, when technology had advanced to the point where robots, lasers, and flying vehicles were commonplace but 1950’s music and style remained popular, the Great War happened. Nuclear missiles fell, some found refuge in the underground vaults, but many were forced to suffer the radiation first hand. Society rebuilt around the horrifying mutants, strange creatures, and unbridled wreckage. Each game in the series takes place in a different area in the United States and follows a different character on their journey through the wasteland. The wide variety of weapons make for fun combat and exploration is encouraged, if not expected, by the incredibly wide and detailed map. Seriously…its huge. The Fallout series prides itself on the richness of the post-apocalyptic world it creates, and players are often confronted with choices of varying importance throughout the game. Every game is unique in its own right, but they revolve around one common theme:
War. War never changes. The notion bookends each and every game in the franchise and confronts the player with some dilemma relating back to it. Fallout 4, however, finally takes this theme and turns it on its head. When we think of war, we think of violence, fighting, and death. But here we are challenged with a different idea: life. What the value of life? If life a necessary cost of achieving and end? Can life be created and does it mean the same thing as any other life?
Fallout 4 raises these questions and allows you to answer without rendered judgement. It’s up to you to determine if you’re willing to kill one person, a group of people, an entire organization if they pose a threat to your standing. And sure, wiping out pixels is no challenge, but these pixels all have names, faces, and emotions. They are characters who you know and who know you, so when you are welcomed into their homes with open arms, it makes pulling the trigger harder, if not impossible. You have your directions from HQ, but you think you can find an alternative, give it a shot.
The game has four possible endings, and while each one drastically changes the climate of the Commonwealth within the context of the story, they all have a common thread…you need to take out a faction or two that you’ve previously been friendly with. Which one you have the guts the kill is up to you and you’ll need to make one heck of a pros and cons list. The story ultimately takes the best elements from Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas. You help determine the outcome of the city while completing a personal quest for your character. The ties between the two work extremely well, and it makes the story all the more intimate, despite the far reaching implications.
And “far reaching” is as literal as it is figurative, because Boston is huge. It’s gigantic. The city has a huge footprint and it’s vertical structure makes the map more expansive still. The way skyscrapers stack and connect makes for an added layer of exploration and combat. Speaking of combat, this game has the best in the series. With a tightened up V.A.T.S. and no bullet-sponge enemies, the system is much improved over its predecessors. A wide variety of weapon mods allow you to fight enemies your way. I’m a stealth guy, and I chose my weapons accordingly, but for brawlers or those who go in guns blazing, you’ll be more than happy with the system.
All of this can sound intimidating to first time players, but they can rest assured that the game is not a chaotic hodge-podge of different games. There is a clear formula to the game, one that die hard fans may find repetitive. There will be lots of buildings to be cleared and items to be retrieved in the main quest, so much of structure boils down to familiar elements, but the varied locations and wealth of side quests prevent the game from becoming stale. Looting, exploring, and getting creative with quests are still rewarded, even more so this time around.
The newest added value element to the game is the base building feature. From ramshackle houses to sprawling complexes, players will find themselves losing hours upon hours to this portion of the game. The practice can be a bit tricky to figure out at first, and may get a few “floating houses” on the uneven terrain, but after a few trials and more than a few errors, you’ll get the hang of it, start building, and then text your friend telling him that you don’t have a problem and that spending nine straight hours building a base with disco balls, cat pictures, and auto defenses is perfectly fine, so how about you stop judging my play habits STEVE.
Uh…where was I again?
Fallout 4 is the natural progression of the franchise. With a bigger, beefier map, streamlined combat and customization, and a thoughtful series of choices and dilemmas, this game truly deserves praise. Bethesda has crafted a game that innovates and evolves in all the right ways, but stays true to the forever constant heart of the series: War. War never changes.
Alex Russo crawled out through the Fallout. You can tell him that you are also sick of that song on Twitter.