Friday, February 17, 2017

Fallout 4 (2016)

Fallout 4 (2016) brings us back the same Fallout that we've known since Fallout 3 and Fallout NV. The wasteland is the wasteland and war, war never ends.

I'll get to the bad stuff first. The bad stuff for me is more apparent, while the good stuff takes a little thinking about.

This game went on too long for me. If a game goes over 100 hours of gameplay, I get bored. Once I finished exploring the wasteland, I rushed through the ending, happy to be done. Which brings me to a second part of the game, unengagement. I often walked through these quests, no caring who lived or died. Part of this was their use of random quests to fill out the game. At first I didn't notice this as the quests were new, but once I got to know that these were just randomized quests, they lost any real story meaning for me.

The story didn't feel like a 200 years later sort of story. That never felt right. This story should have been a thirty years later sort of story, or maybe seventy, but not two hundred. For two hundred, I needed a wasteland stranger and even more decrepit than Fallout 3.

I felt pretty mixed about the settlement system. Early on, I just ignored it. Later, as the end game came on, I appreciated its use in game play. Its through the settlement system that you build rapport with the Minutemen. By literally walking in their shoes and taking on their jobs, you build an appreciation of their goal, which is to rebuild the Commonwealth. When the end choices come, this gives them a powerful implicit argument to support their side, which is what I went with. I could support a military dictatorship (the Brotherhood of Steel), a meritocracy (the Institute), or a Democracy (the Minutemen). I'm not surprised that I went on to support the democratic solution.

I enjoyed the robot content. Here is where the humor and the twisted ideas of the original Fallout remained in full force. Here is the biting social commentary and outlandish personalities. Everywhere the robots showed up, they worked.

With the customizable guns and armor, I wound up enjoying the equipment crafting system a little less than I had expected. Once I settled on my kit, very little came around that could replace it. I went the rifle route, with a close rifle and shotgun, and a sniper rifle for longer ranged engagements, with my combat rifle and sniper rifle acting as my main weapons. I didn't have the points to put anything into hiding, so I wasn't a super-sniper.

I spent my entire game with Dogmeat. His strange wandering about patterns made sense for a dog. When I went about with a companion, they always felt a bit weird acting as strange as Dogmeat did. For most of the game, I was heavily committed to the lone wanderer lifestyle.

As for VATS, I didn't use it at all. That saved me a massive number of points, but it made dealing with insects absolutely infuriating. Otherwise, I found that I didn't need it for most fight. By pointing with my mouse, I found that I was well coordinated enough to hit most opponents.

While Power Armor was interesting, I found that the armor provided just as many negatives as positives, so I went about in Combat Armor instead, doing just fine in most situations. I only fell back on power armor when the radiation levels got too high or the opponents got too tough for my level.

Unlike previous Fallouts, this Fallout scaled well above 30th level. Only when I reached 60 did I start encountering enemies that proved ridiculously resilient. In previous Fallouts, that happened around Level 30. (If I ever play Fallout NV again, I am so taking the level 30 limit perk.)

I haven't done any of the DLCs, mostly because I don't want to pay for them as they cost more than what I paid for F4 on sale. The main game gave me enough content. (Admittedly, Nuka World does look tempting. There has to be something twisted to it.) Eventually I may purchase some content, but not until it's cheaper.