‘Girlfriend wants to break up; she says I play too many games.
Well that’s nothing to Fallout four.’
The above pun was made entirely by a friend the other day; I had no part in it! 🙂
There’s a feeling, nothing short of a tingle when you’re holding a shiny new game in your hands. The plastic film is ready to be ripped into, revealing the squeaky-smooth, never before touched casing beneath, and the itch to download and play the damn thing is practically painful in that moment. This was the same itch I felt last Tuesday morning, after waiting weeks for the release date of the latest instalment of Fallout. But I decided to play good girl and wait a little longer; share the ‘ooh’ factor with C after he’d finished work.
And what a game it’s chalking up to be. The allure of a brilliantly-designed open world, rivalling, if not surpassing the majesty of the Province of Skyrim. Making your character look badass with off-the-radar customisation for you and your in-game spouse; coupled with the building of the most awesomely protected bases in the game, are just a few of the promised creative features I could barely wait to sink my teeth into. Then there are the allusions to Bioshock found throughout; what with its 1950s feel in the prologue, retro-futuristic setting, and ever-present Vault-Tec imagery in the Pip-Boy and Perk chart. After reading a short while on the similarities I found here so far, I will not be delving into the ‘who ripped off who’ discussion. These franchises are two completely different works of genius with a slight overlapping of intertextuality, and now both have brightened my world in their own separate ways – that’s good enough for me!
While I am no veteran of the previous instalments, this doesn’t stand in the way of my immersion into the game. Sure, I won’t immediately recognise a recurring character, or even any Easter eggs, but chances are I’ll read about them at some point anyway. Building my first settlement from the ruins of Sanctuary was certainly an experience. It was a strong reminder of the Creative Tool available on Steam for Skyrim; a tool I was completely lost in using at the time. Bethesda made it fun, and not overly complicated, to play around with the various materials, and find what was right for me. The question of whether I should build a pre-fabricated shack as my base, or raise a tall sniper tower from scratch, was easily answered. The customisation available in the latter option, too good an opportunity to pass up.
A few niggles about the tool, however. Although it might not have been necessary, undoubtedly like many others, I felt the need to build a secure wall around my base, a task made all the more difficult by the fact that the walls cannot be tilted when placed, and insist on snapping together while I’m trying to position them diagonally and such.
Not only does this create problems where the land around Sanctuary, and any other settlements is sloped, but also where it is not perfectly square-shaped. While I know that, if I can’t get through, not much else can, the unrealism of the aesthetic gets my goat every time I spot the gaps I couldn’t fix.
These issues can easily be forgotten, however, whilst exploring. The immediate danger in this instance takes over the concern for the safety of my settlement. With the threat of Ghouls and Deathclaws, Super Mutants and the odd Yao Guai, fear for my character’s health (more like my sanity) is much more prominent out in the Wasteland. That is to say, I don’t handle jump-scares well, and Ghouls tend to be the jumpiest of the lot.
Since the trophy selection has no constraints related to what difficulty one must play, I chose the easy option (not super-easy, that just felt wrong). Not one for the needless challenge, I prefer that the story be less fragmented by multiple deaths and hour-long trials against impossible foes. This is still present in easy though; at this very moment, a Mirelurk Queen stands between me and a settlement I’m gunning for. The next time I try against her will be the third – time’s the charm, I hope.
I also play to experience the most out of the game first time around, despite my history of replaying a game until I hate it. So, yes, I do tend to look at a guide once in a while, for ideas about the best character builds, and whatnot. No shame – I just don’t play for the stress. For those of the same inclination, I found this Guide quite informative for the beginning levels, and for my fellow aspiring completion-ists, PowerPyx has aided me in the past, specifically with the Thief nightmare (have you any idea how many collectibles that game has? So shiny!). Have a look at his collectibles guide Here.
Despite the glitches known to spoil the overall feel of this game, (malfunctioning lifts; unable to use weapons or speak to NPCs after using the building tool; lights not staying on) personally I think that Fallout 4 will ultimately surprise those who speak against it. Whether it follows too closely in the footsteps of The Elder Scrolls, or the graphics are not what were expected for the console generation, the immersion tactics of the game, such as the radio function and weather cycles, still make it a game worth putting the time into. Try listening to Diamond City Radio while exploring the wasteland– the DJ might seem a bit repetitive, but the songs between soon became my favourite soundtrack for sniping Raiders.
That’s pretty much all I have to say on Fallout 4, so far. I’m only about level 15, and loving the endless array of adjustments available for weapons and armour. I can’t wait to get truly absorbed into this fantastic, if slightly buggy world, and look forward to whatever Bethesda throw at us next, be it DLC or another work of genius.
Last note: Pip-Boys are real now. I want one, who’s with me?
(Edit: with the help of the remaining Minutemen, and Dogmeat’s persistence in running after anything that shakes the ground, the Mirelurk Queen is gone!)