Fallout 4 Review

4.5 stars from 1 reviews
Fallout 4 for Xbox One reviewed from a casual gamer.

Features
• Games & Software: Playstation 4 • Technology: Review
• Games & Software: Windows PC • Games & Software: Xbox One

Matt Anderson's Take
This is a review of Fallout 4 on Xbox One from a casual gamer. I was a fan of Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas but never played anything prior to Fallout 3. I’m a fan of open world games that allow me to do what I want, when I want so I was really excited to play Fallout 4.

Background

Not familiar with the Fallout series? It goes like this, imagine an alternate 1950’s type era where everything was atomic powered. All of that “atomic car of the future” hype we’ve all seen but actually happening with a cool retro futuristic tone. Then nuclear war strikes and a lucky few escape to vaults which are underground super-bunkers.


In the case of Fallout 4, your character was cryogenically frozen and then thawed out around 200 years later. You’re now free to explore the post-nuke wasteland that is Boston, Massachusetts.

The game plays in your choice of first or third person and is very much an open world, sandbox style game. You collect a variety of weapons, armor, ammo, and other loot and can outfit your character any way you want. As you play you’ll rank up and further customize your characters abilities.

Gameplay

A main story line has you following the trail of your long lost son who was stolen from the cryo chamber in your vault but there are a zillion (give or take) side stories and missions as well. Just like any open world game, the missions really do just come down to the usual “go there, kill them or grab a thing” variety. Still, they’re well written and just fun so it rarely gets old.


For those who played previous Fallout games, you’ll remember that the combat controls weren’t very good. You were forced to use VATS the bulk of the time. VATS, for those unfamiliar, is the Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System that you use via your wrist mounted PipBoy. It’s basically the game helping you aim and kill stuff. In previous games it would stop time while you targeted the various bits (head, arms, body, etc) of your enemy. In Fallout 4 it slows time but doesn’t stop it which makes for a lot more fun and adds a bit more challenge.

The good news is that real time combat is now excellent in Fallout 4. You could probably play the game without using VATS at all but playing with a combination of VATS and real time shooting is the way to go. It’s vastly improved overall and just works perfectly most of the time.

Graphics & Audio

I read so many complaints about the graphics when the game was first announced and didn’t understand why. I agree, it’s not as fancy looking as other games are. On the flip side, it’s a great looking game overall. The textures look great, the lighting is great, and the whole vibe is great.


It runs at 1080p even on Xbox One so everything is sharp. Worried about slow down? Don’t be, it’s incredibly smooth almost all the time. I’ve seen some minor frame rate drops from time to time but they’re few and far between.

The audio is very well done and there are tons of character voices if that’s your thing. For me, I turn on the captioning and skim what people say and jam on the A button to skip it. I like the overall story lines but don’t need the level of detail offered here. I’m not a hardcore fan like that.


Sound effects and music are great and really fit the whole mood of the game. I really have no complaints in terms of graphics and audio. Of course, this is a Bethesda game so there are graphical glitches all over the place. Arms sticking through walls, dead bodies that twitch endlessly, and so on. I’m surprised that haven’t done better with that stuff by now but it doesn’t take away from the experience. But isn't this as simple as saying "IF game_object = dead AND dead > 10 seconds THEN stop moving"?

Issues

The game isn’t without its faults. First up is a nasty bug that plagues me on Xbox One that causes my game to freeze. It’s easy to reproduce if I play, save my game but don’t exit, then turn off my Xbox One. Come back later and instantly resume playing (a great Xbox One feature!) and things will be fine for ten minutes to an hour and the game will freeze up. Saving and exiting after each game helps but the game will still randomly, but more rarely, freeze after at least a couple of hours of playing. Annoying. Save often! Hopefully the upcoming patch will solve these issues.


My next complaint is a big one. The travel system is terrible due to the insanely long loading times. Meaning, if I am outside and go into a building I have to wait anywhere from 15-30 seconds or longer. If I then come back outside I’ll wait 20-60 seconds while things load. If I fast travel from one place to the next I’ll be waiting 20-60 seconds as well.

Doesn’t seem like a big deal until you realize just how much of the game you spend traveling around and going from outside to inside. It’s very, very annoying. Those on a PC can avoid this with speedy systems and fast SSD drives. If your Xbox One has an SSD it’s likely not quite as bad but I bet still annoying.

On top of that, as if Bethesda felt like pouring salt in that wound, you can’t fast travel from inside a place. So you just cleared out a building and want to turn in your mission. You have to work your way back outside and wait for the outside to load. Now you can fast travel to the next place to turn in your mission. But that next place may require you fast traveling to a door outside and then opening that door and once again waiting for the interior to load. That can be three load times (or more actually) just to turn in a mission.

So, so, so annoying. If everything else wasn’t so great this could become a deal breaker for me it’s so bad. I should be able to fast travel from anywhere, to anywhere.

Other issues include buggy missions where you’ll arrive at the mission marker but the thing you’re supposed to do isn’t there. Sometimes you can come back later and it works. I’ve also exited a building or fast traveled to a location that had an enemy right next to me that instantly kills me. When the game re-loads you start in that same spot so creating new saves is a good idea from time to time.

Not so much an issue but a dislike would be the fact that I never feel like I can carry enough stuff. My inventory fills up way too fast and emptying it requires a lot of fast travel non-sense that sucks the fun out of things really fast. I’ve also had missions “expire” on me and thus fail without me even knowing there was a time limit to do them. If a mission has a time limit then tell me! Better yet, don’t put time limits on anything in a game like this!

Conclusion

I love Fallout 4. It’s easily the best Fallout game ever made by a huge margin. It’s easily one of my most favorite games of all time as well. It looks great, plays great, and the missions are usually fun. Combat works well in real time and via VATS.


Some things like adding mods to my weapons and armor is fun. Other things like crafting food is pretty lame. You can also build settlements which feels like some Minecraft fun was thrown in. For the most part it bores me and keeping my settlements “happy” doesn’t make me happy. But you can mostly pick and choose how you want to play and ignore the bits you don’t like. Besides, it’s a wasteland out there, where are unhappy villagers going to go! Let them eat cake I say!

Bottom line? It’s an incredibly good game that you must, must, must buy and play. You’ll lose weeks of your life just in the amount of time spent on loading screens but it’s otherwise awesome. If the loading issue wasn’t there it’s an easy 5 Star game. With that annoyance, I can only offer a 4.5 Star score.
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