Nearly any gamer who knows me has, no doubt, heard how little interest I have in the Fallout series. I’ve made it known. Repeatedly. It’s not that I think the games are bad, or that I have an aversion to Bethesda, but I have never really gotten along with the series. I never played the original games, I hardly played Fallout 3, and I could barely bring myself to play more than a few hours of New Vegas – it bored me just that much. So, with baited breath, I watched my partner’s Steam copy of the game download, and dove in head-first to see whether or not the latest incarnation could change my mind.
The game’s first half hour or so serves as a tutorial, guiding you from your home to the safety of Vault 111. Having narrowly escaped certain nuclear annihilation you are then placed in suspended animation for a period of several hundred years. Once you wake up you are then given the tasks of escaping Vault 111, and finding your son and the people who took him from you. It was at around this point that I first noticed just how dated Fallout 4 is.
Seriously, it’s dated in pretty much every way. The graphics are of a low standard, models are what can only be described as “angular”, and the basic movement and combat mechanics feel dated.
For the time being though, let’s suppose that these drawbacks are acceptable because of the sheer amount of content that is apparently on offer.
Just like other Bethesda games, The Elder Scrolls series, for example, your path isn’t set in stone. You can go where you want, cooperate with whomever you please and place a bullet in their head if that’s who you want to be. The degree of freedom is almost disorienting.
See a fixture off in the distance? Chances are you can go there – although the same kind of limitations you experienced in Skyrim are in place, due to Fallout 4 using the same engine. That NPC who has a whole quest line for you to accept, if you want? Yeah, you can kill them and the quests they would have given you, too.
I have to admire the sheer scope of Bethesda’s vision. There are more than a few different playthroughs on offer here. If you’re the kind of gamer that rinses every ounce of enjoyment out of your games, it’s going to take you a good while to do that here.
I suppose that’s a major part of the allure – most people, I presume, would make the concession that the game is technically dated, but what it offers in terms of content more than makes up for it. The choice and consequence style of gameplay allows them to become engrossed in the game that much more, even if what I have seen from the story was less than stellar. You can be the good guy or the bad guy, or somewhere in between.
Unfortunately, Fallout 4 just isn’t the game for me. The technical deficiencies, such as the poor visual presentation, finicky controls, poor performance on every platform, and broken NPC pathfinding are enough to put me off.
Admittedly, Fallout 4 isn’t your typical Bethesda release. It’s not broken to anywhere near the same degree as New Vegas or Skyrim when they launched, and the PC version is otherwise pretty solid. So, that’s something, I guess?
With the luxury of playing on PC I have been able to clean the graphics up a little using Sweet FX, and it can almost become a good looking game. Extra content will also, no-doubt, come by the bucket load – although it remains to be seen how much of it will be deemed suitable for release on consoles.
I really admire games like Fallout 4 – from a distance anyway. I’m definitely not the man to play them. I like my games a little more technically refined, with a smidgen less freedom, and that’s no bad thing.
So, while you’re off engrossed in a world of lasers, robots that can call you “fuck face”, and raiders, I’ll be over here remarking just how horrible the texture work is. That’s something my girlfriend will attest to, I’m sure.