This is going to be quite a short review for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I've already written a blog post about why I've been enjoying Fallout 4, so it should come as no surprise that this is a positive review, even before you reach the score at the bottom. Secondly, I'd already written a full review for this videogame at the weekend but the glitchy-as-a-Bethesda-game blog editor trashed it before I could finish and post it up; it's taken me a few days to find the willpower to do it all over again. Anyhoo, Fallout 4 came out at an odd time for me, in a year already ram-packed with highly anticipated games, I had absolutely zero interest in this one. It was only because of the extreme levels of hype that I thought I would check it out (after trading in a bunch of games and picking it up on PS4 for £15), and didn't expect much because I didn't get on with Fallout 3, and expected its successor to be much of the same. And it kinda is, but pretty much all the problems I had with the previous entry have been fixed for me, leaving what is actually an excellent game, only marred by its own brand of foibles but nothing that ruined the experience. In fact, it's been the biggest surprise of the year to me just how much I enjoyed Fallout 4 and upon finishing it at the weekend I've been enthusiastically talking with other players about their choices and experiences in the core narrative. Something I don't remember doing with any other Bethesda RPG.
I think the main story of Fallout 4 is one that will actually cause a lot of contention between fans of the series, as this time Bethesda has attempted something very different from it's usual open-world RPGs. Fallout 4 lets you create a character using a creator at the start of the game, as usual, but gives this character a backstory and even other family members, an idea which forms the crux of the narrative. You are frozen in an underground vault during the Great War and afterwards are only briefly awoken just in time to see your spouse murdered and your son Shaun stolen from you, thus begins your journey across the wasteland in search of your stolen child and revenge upon those who violently took him. You character not only has this pre-made backstory and motivations for his/her actions, but is also fully voiced and dialogue options are now more concentrated and scripted, with choices like "Sarcastic" "Yes" and "No". Of course, I can see how many people would just not like this at all as it reduces the ability for your to create and roleplay your character, and also takes away a lot of the 'emergent narrative' that often develops in Bethesda RPGs, which is usually always waaay better than the weak main story. However, the trade-off is a genuinely interesting and complex narrative with a strong central protagonist like Commander Shepherd, or Geralt of Rivia with a bit of customisation, and the main story for me was actually the best element this time. Faction quests also play a different role in Fallout 4, and integrate almost wholly with the events of the core narrative, making the world feel more cohesive, and unlike Bethesda's other RPGs you can't become the leader of all factions equally before finishing the main story. In fact, my chosen faction of the Railroad never gave me any position other than a "Heavy", and only the Minutemen made me their leader... kinda. There are also some agonising decisions to be made towards the end of the game and your choices are never simply black and white, right and wrong, but rather everything is open to interpretation and I was never really sure that my actions were the "right thing to do".
So yeah, I loved the core story, loved the "ending" of the game and really enjoyed the improved gunplay, power-armour (which acts more like a vehicle this some 'round) and even the changes made to the VATS aiming system, which doesn't feel like a bucket of cheese anymore. All this I've covered in my other blog post, although I've not mentioned the base-building stuff, which is also really strangely addictive - even though the idea sounded awful on paper. I spent a decent chunk of my time creating a power-armour garage back in Sanctuary, and generally sprucing the place up so that it was a decent home to return to at the end of an adventure; I also liked the way that many missions involved using the building tools to create and use something, and this was a quick way to learn the necessary skills for more ambitious projects. The main negative for me, and something that became simply infuriating during my playthrough of Fallout 4, was the god-awful inventory system and the stupid encumbrance rules regarding the weight of items. To be fair, this was also a problem with Witcher 3 upon it's release but CD Projekt Red realised this and quickly patched it out. Basically, to craft weapons/armour or to build structures you will need lots and lots of junk items to scrap into precious resources, but these (for some unholy reason) have a given weight just like other more useful items like apparel and weapons. The result is that you routinely have to keep trekking back to your base of choice to "bank" all of your junk as well as other things you have picked up whilst adventuring, sort through it and try to clear your inventory, otherwise there will always be the risk of becoming over-encumbered and not being able to run or fast-travel. This, putting it bluntly, is bullshit, and just wastes unnecessary time. Despite this major slip up (easily fixed by making junk weigh nothing and being able to fast-travel whilst overweight) I still *really* enjoyed my time with Fallout 4, and I have every intention to dive back in once some DLC or an expansion has been released.