FALLOUT 4 Review – Epic RPG Crushes Its Loftiest Expectations

For an experience about seven years in the making, FALLOUT 4 is here, and it is GLORIOUS.

Really, though, it’s a Bethesda production. What exactly should we expect? An ELDER SCROLLS or FALLOUT adventure without a single charmingly awkward glitch or two would feel almost unnatural. Where it falls short of game-breaking calamity, a little technical clumsiness feels comfortingly familiar, if admittedly immersion-breaking. Discovering a hitch or two in FALLOUT is almost like an Easter egg hunt, a subtle joy that the exploration would feel a little less colorful without.

As shortcomings go, this is where FALLOUT 4’s begin and end. We might as well get mad at water for being wet.

The rest? This is Bethesda and FALLOUT’s finest hour. FALLOUT 3’s desolate sprawl of the Capital Wasteland trades up to a more metropolitan, concentrated and enormous central story taking place in The Commonwealth (post-war Massachussetts, primarily Boston). The earliest reports weave tales of completionist playthroughs spanning upward of 400 hours. Unlike the impressive-but-ashen Washington, D.C. urban landscape encircling the Capitol Mall, The Commonwealth is alive with neon-lit slums beneath imposing high-rises, making it a perfect backdrop for the usual brutal battles with feral mutants and ghouls, raiders, rogue clans, and this adventure’s requisite despotic high-tech authority armed to the teeth with mechs, energy weapons and sweet power armor, The Institute.

The Vault-tec Assisted Targeting System (VATS) has undergone one small-but-meaningful tweak since FALLOUT 3 and FALLOUT: NEW VEGAS, but it is as supremely satisfying as it has ever been. New this time around is a charging “crit-meter” that fills with every successful attack. Once maxed-out, you can unleash your devastation in any fashion you well please.

Outside of VATS, the once-sluggish FPS movement and weapon handling has been loosened up considerably to remedy the weaker fighting-in-molasses experience that often marred not-VATS combat in FALLOUT 3. There aren’t many firearms that can’t be fitted with much-welcomed improved sighting or a scope to already enhance the much-improved first-person accuracy while running and gunning dramatically more smoothly.

It wouldn’t be FALLOUT without a plethora of perks and the classic SPECIAL system of character creation. The constantly active, upgradeable perks still make survival not only far easier, but more complex and deeply personal in terms of how you choose to survive The Commonwealth. Favorites such as Black Widow (increased damage to the opposite sex for lady-wanderers) are back, but joined by Mysterious Stranger’s summoning of an occasional combat ally out of the blue and Cannibalism’s health regeneration by way of…well, care to guess?

Not only do most perks now carry five upgrade ranks, but the level caps themselves have been mercifully more than doubled from 20 to 50.

Of course, get ready to craft, because the modifications to armor and weapons have never been more bonkers in terms of variety and concepts, along with a ridiculous set of mods and add-on components to drastically alter any DIY artillery’s usefulness. However, it’s the settlements that have truly grown. As long as you’re meeting certain settlements’ unique needs, not only will you become a welcome permanent resident, you have the opportunity to build full-fledged bases across The Commonwealth stocked with automated turrets and some serious defensive armaments.

Through it all, we promise you will never miss FALLOUT 3’s morose detachment. Whereas one could once feel terribly lonely while advancing various factions’ agendas, the more focused plot makes genuinely caring about the events that unravel around you virtually unavoidable. You’ll flee nuclear destruction right into Vault 111. You’ll wander through a stranger’s memories. Of course, it’s all enhanced by superb voice acting – including your very own character’s, for the first time in FALLOUT history – that entrenches the player not just in a world, but among its very, very human survivors.

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9.5 Total Score
Perfect!

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