FIRE FERRET GAMES

Fallout 4

People have demonstrated consistently since Fallout 4's release how dangerous expectations can be. To expect great things from the game, and to be disappointed when those expectations are not met, is quite normal. When judgement is rendered solely on the result of those expectations, the fatal mistake is made. It in turn leads to a propensity for jumping to conclusions, and from that point it's a rapid descent into ignorance.

 

Back when Fallout 4 was released, most of the Steam reviews consisted of incoherent, furious ranting that tarnished the whole title after only a few hours worth of gameplay. After being shocked by the overwhelming amount of negativity, I decided to make my own and openly condemned the bad reviews for what they were: baseless and devoid of perspective. It was quite obvious the authors made that fatal mistake, which is unfair to the many developers who put their soul and passion into creating the game.

 

In the end, Fallout fans will almost assuredly find disappointments with Fallout 4, as did I. But if the ignorance of the older reviews and reception of previous games ought to teach one thing, it's that those disappointments are no excuse for blind judgement or jumping to conclusions. If an opinion is to be rendered of this game in the form of review, let it be guided by reason and supported by logic. It is in the pursuit of that fairness and clarity that I chose to write this review.

 

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Fallout 4 is a deeply enjoyable and well-crafted game. However, it definitely has its issues. Bethesda tried new things in this title, some more ambitious than others, and not all of them were successful.

 

It's true that dialogue has been watered down as the devs chose to forgo text conversation choices in favor of a voiced and much more simplified dialogue wheel, which is further hampered by boring choices and weak voice work. Character advancements have been combined into a single perk/SPECIAL sheet. Settlement building, while certainly fun, is mostly aesthetic filler that has little impact on the game world. Side quests far too often amount to just killing some mandatory enemies, particularly with the Minutemen (who are supposed to be the "good guys" of this installment), and can become repetitive.

 

My most prominent grievance with Fallout 4 is the dialogue overhaul and removal of the karma system, which was completely unnecessary and not desired by a single player in existence. Unlike the previous flaws, this thoroughly irks me. I realized that this ties in to the primary weakness of Fallout 4: its lack of meaningful dialogue in comparison to most Bethesda titles. Far too often, your dialogue choices are short, shallow, meaningless, or all three.

 

The only choices that have any outcome are blatantly outlined as persuasion options, a lot of which only help you get some extra caps. It's not that you should be making major decisions all the time; the problem is that you, as a speaking character, now have a voice that carries no power. What you decide to say is almost always inconsequential. The dialogue system is highly reminiscent of Mass Effect except watered down; the reason it doesn't work in Fallout is that the two games have totally different approaches to conversation. The previous Fallout games had much better dialogue options because they meant something. Sometimes, your choice of words just made someone hate you, allowed you to entice or inspire others, or developed your reputation through the karma system. Now that karma is gone, your choices are just that much more pointless.

 

The bottom line is that Bethesda sacrificed a tremendous amount of RPG dialogue elements to accommodate full voice-work. While it was an ambitious attempt, it was an all-around mistake and it sticks out like a sore if you're a fan of Bethesda games or RPG's in general. The dialogue wheel system could have worked out just fine, but Bethesda carried it out in the wrong way.

 

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All the aforementioned flaws are some of the most central complaints naysayers have about Fallout 4 and yet not a single one of them has been horrific enough to ruin my experience or let me down. Despite the few bugs I've come across, despite the certain questionable and sometimes idiotic design choices Bethesda made here, this game is still extremely well done. I still feel that incomparable thrill that only Fallout can bring.

 

Even though Fallout 4 falls extremely short on dialogue and all aspects associated with it, it's still an improvement over its predecessors in almost every other way imaginable. The game suffers some graphical issues like muddy textures and poor lighting at times, like any good Bethesda game, but it's still astoundingly beautiful and even breathtaking at times. Movement, melee, gunplay, and physics are better and smoother than they've ever been.

 

People were quick to judge the Commonwealth map based on its size and I was prepared to be disappointed as well, but it's surprisingly the best one Bethesda has whipped up thus far. The suburban locations are more organically dispersed and things become more compressed as you near the cities. Streets are narrow, buildings are tall, and locations are absolutely jam-packed alongside a ton of unmarked ruins and buildings you can enter. There are hardly any copy-pasted environments and they all show great attention to detail.

 

I was also worried that granting access to power armor and a minigun within the first thirty minutes of the game would be a huge balancing issue as well, but it really isn’t. Power armor relies on uncommon fusion cores for power and you’re not an unstoppable god while wearing the suit, especially not at higher difficulties or levels. You can acquire some strong weapons like the minigun or Fatman relatively early but finding sufficient ammo is another matter entirely.

 

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Skyrim was a simplification of the Oblivion formula, but it was still a fantastic game. In much the same way, Fallout 4 is a simplification of the Fallout 3/New Vegas formula and is still extremely good. Even in light of its issues, this game has not been a disappointment at all. RPG elements can be enhanced through the wonderful modding community and will eventually make up for some of the game's weaker points, a perk of the PC version. Bethesda has, however, been on a recent trend of simplifying their games too much and I hope they change course.

 

Truthfully, the negative Steam reviews had me partly worried that I’d be disappointed but I chose to disregard them and arrive at my own opinion. I’ve learned that nearly every point of contention was blown out of context. The few issues that haven’t been redeemed in my eyes still pale in the face of the tremendous work that was done to bring this new and beautiful Fallout world to life. I have no doubt that the naysayers worked up their expectations to heights beyond reason, and it’s therefore no mystery that they hit the ground so hard afterwards. I chose to see Fallout 4 for what it is rather than what I expected or imagined it to be: a lovingly crafted game that, despite being marred by some of its shortcomings, has that same engaging splendor that far supercedes its flaws.

 

I highly recommend you try the game and approach it with a neutral and reasonable demeanor, and you won’t be disappointed.

 

21st February 2016

Author: Minyel

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