Tried and True
Written by Joshua David Anderson
There are some video game developers that, for good reason, inspire a rabid fanbase. Bethesda Game Studios is one of those developers. The creator of the popular Elder Scrolls series, Bethesda’s brand of open world RPGs create a passion within gamers. When Bethesda announced at E3 that their next project was a new Fallout game, people were excited but not surprised. When they announced that their newest game, Fallout 4, would be available less than six months later, fans were ecstatic. Now that it is out, fans are too busy being lost in the wasteland of Boston to think of anything else.
The Fallout series has a unique setting, one that sets it apart from other post-apocalyptic fiction. Taking place in an alternate history, players are treated to a world where the technology and optimism of the 1950’s became the actual future, and the 21st century resembled the lofty ideals of World’s Fair demonstrations. People lived in idyllic neighborhoods with robot butlers and drove nuclear fusion powered cars, all while enjoying an old fashioned feeling of Americana. All until the bombs fell and destroyed the world.
In Fallout 4, we pick up hundreds of years after that world was destroyed, and travel the blasted landscape of Boston, where insects have mutated into giant monsters and people can mutate into irradiated zombies. Alongside these wasteland threats are people just trying to survive, creating makeshift towns in abandoned baseball stadiums and living in broken down diners. You play as a character waking up to this world, trying to find your son, and dealing with all the different groups vying for control of Boston, including the militaristic Brotherhood of Steel, and the Institute, a group of scientists creating human-like robots to replace the populace. You will interact with all of these characters, as well as raiders, super mutants, and nuclear wildlife as you explore the ruins of Massachusetts.
A rich world filled with so much to see is only fun to explore if the game controls well, and thankfully Bethesda has made some important improvements to Fallout 4 over it’s predecessors. Most notably, the shooting controls feel like a modern game. This Fallout game, as the previous ones that Bethesda has made, is all played in a first person perspective. And while the previous games had shooting controls that felt less than adequate, Fallout 4 is much close to feeling like a contemporary first person shooter than ever before. Aiming down the sights of a laser pistol feels snappy and Bethesda was smart to add a dedicated sprint and grenade button, all things missing from the past Fallouts. What still needs a bit of work is the menus and UI, with trading and managing items feeling more clunky and frustrating than they should.
As far as the graphics go, Fallout 4 is certainly not the most technically impressive game out today. There are still some performance issues in the bigger sections of Boston, and the framerate can still drop, especially when you are playing on one of the consoles. However, all of this is more understandable when you see the scale and size of the world Bethesda has made. There is so much to do and see in Fallout 4, and so much detail in all the items in the world, that you can forgive the game for not looking quite as nice as the other games that came out around it.
Certainly, a lot of Fallout 4 feels familiar to the previous games. Sometimes you will find elements that are lifted directly from an old entry in the series. This works as much to the advantage of Fallout 4 as it does to its detriment. There are things in the post-apocalyptic world of Fallout that you simply can’t get anywhere else in video games, and those things make the game a unique joy to experience. As the Fallout series famously says, “War never changes.” Neither does Fallout, and perhaps that is why we like it so much.
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