ByTim Horton, writer at
Business Development Manager at Universally Speaking. @TimHortonGame | Email: [email protected]
Tim Horton

As the inevitable Christmas crisis of what to buy and what not to buy your loved ones looms – look no further than Bethesda’s latest smash hit title, Fallout 4. Fallout 4 is a shockwave of entertainment that rips through your world from the moment you switch it on.

In this mighty action-packed, open world game, every new day brings with it the struggle for survival. The year is 2287 and war has ravaged the world, excessive consumption of resources has plunged the world into war. Every nation is fighting for what remains of world's fuels. Fallout 4 takes us into a new era following the total implosion of humanity. Get ready to immerse yourself in some of the most beautifully hostile places on earth. It's time for a new adventure—one that promises to thrill, scare and humble us all.

Bethesda is a giant of ambition and this latest Fallout game is representative of just that. Fallout 4 shows us an all new world that is, in so many ways, unrecognizable yet at the same time still retains that age old familiar Fallout feeling.

Home is where the heart is – this is certainly a premise that must resonate throughout Bethesda Studios. From the moment Vault Boy pops onto the screen as the game revs, clunks and clicks through its installation to the moment we find ourselves surrounded by mutated monsters with nothing but a teddy bear stuffed down the barrel of a gun to defend ourselves - Fallout 4 is still very clearly that game we all know and love and whilst otherwise lost in a stark, broken world – it gave me that warm, fuzzy feeling of being right back where I belong.

210 years after the bombs dropped it is now safe to leave the confines of the vault - and boy was I excited. As the sole survivor of refuge Vault 111 we must now embark on a journey of survival in a world unrecognizable in both landscape and culture. After a somewhat distressing opening sequence of kidnap and murder, the elevator clunks and cracks as I rise to the surface for the first time. I squint as the sunlight peels down my body from head to toe like pulling the lid off a yogurt pot. I can hardly contain myself - the time has finally arrived, my long awaited adventure in the wasteland of Fallout 4 is here.

With almost 60 hours of gameplay under my belt, I still barely feel like I have scratched the surface or yet fully grasp the true expanse of this game. There is so much to do it is mind blowing. Even during a mission you will get distracted or interrupted by new characters. Believe me there are times that I just wanted to stand still in the middle of Boston, look up to the sky and scream “Can you people just leave me alone for just two minutes – I am on a bloody mission!”.

There is so much to do, so much to discover that I have become scared to even walk down the street in fear that I will miss something. Every step in Fallout 4 brings with it a new experience, a new adventure. My advice – play this game with a notepad, note down all those locations and all those doors that you can’t yet unlock. Get a decent amount of hours under your belt and head back there later, you will not regret it. Trust me.

The world is even bigger, even more deadly with literally hundreds more interactions available. And, not only is the sheer size greater but the depth of the world has increased. Fallout 4 gave me that very rare moment in life in which I genuinely felt that I could have my cake and eat it too. The game is overflowing with content, supported by outstanding graphics, all backed up by beautifully tragic scenery.

All this perfectly matches the scope of which the game was designed. Fallout 4 is set a good few years after the initial effects of the great white out. This has allowed life to begin to take hold of the earth once again. A little mutated but thriving – Fallout 4 is full of colour. Wherever you look the screen is full of different shades of red, yellows and greens – it really is beautiful and some of the imagery really evokes an emotional response. Dr Malcolm from Jurassic Park was right – “life finds a way”.

The results of this extra time granted to the land is evident everywhere I looked. We now have a city that is loaded with both alive and dead and decaying flora and fauna, the vegetation is so thick at times that even Tarzan would struggle to swing through it. Trek to the peak of a mountain or dive to the bottom of a lake (possible only in power armour), there is no limit to the exploration – it seems that in Fallout 4 the only limitation to our adventure is our own imagination. Just be mindful of the local wildlife mind, Yogi and Boo Boo are not as pic-a-nic loving as you may remember.

Make the place your own

This latest edition has taken customisation to a new level. Not only can you build your own house on your own plot of land, but you can even decorate and furnish it how you want. Just make sure you include defences, to protect you from those pesky raiders. The bigger and stronger your house is the more they will come running to tear down your property. Build generators to get electricity, built in plumbing to save you using the darn outhouse and you can even build a doghouse to keep the new improved Dogmeat warm - or was it just me that did that?

This new building element is a big pull for all you Fallout Shelter fans – I personally opted for gunplay over carpentry. But that’s the best thing about it, it is entirely optional. Some players out there will spend hours upon hours building there settlements and others will do the bare minimum, just enough to collect those precious caps. The choice is yours.

Scattered throughout Fallout 4 I found numerous settlements, many of which contain within them a whole heap of new characters, stories and brilliantly funny easter eggs for the player to interact with.

These fortified structures can be found scattered amongst the derelict ruins of the wasteland. They are placed within the game specifically for the player to find. Some may not be easy to find but if you do stumble across one, bear in mind that they may contain a fair few bad guys.

Some may be friendly but most, I think we can assume will not. These outposts are key to the game’s longevity and depth. Each and every character will have a story and each will have a plan. And believe me, it is not all sunshine and roses, whether they claim to be friend or foe take heed that people aren’t always who they say they are and not everyone can be trusted.

And as for character customisation, whoa! The ability to sculpt an in game character right at the beginning whilst looking in the mirror – inspired. Choose from a plethora of customisation options to create a truly astounding character.

Let’s talk companions – we are not alone in this universe. We are assisted along the way by various characters and factions that we interact with. We will accompany and be accompanied by various characters throughout the game as we lend people a helping hand.

But we also have a permanent companion for the road. Again the choice is yours; players can choose whoever they like to accompany them, from the lovable doggy sidekick, Dogmeat to ass kicking robots, confused super mutants or even scrappy Irish pit fighting chicks. I went for the dog for most of it however as time goes on you may wish to give Codsworth a try – he has a buzz saw and a flame thrower, plus he’s British– need I say more.

This companion, whichever one you choose, effectively helps add voice to the game, as long as you don’t choose Dogmeat that is. Let’s face it - we are a bit of a loner most of the time, so our companion does go a long way in keeping us from going insane.

The companion will assist you as you delve ever deeper into the wasteland. They will point out various things along the way, assess danger and sometimes give us hints and tips when working on missions and objectives. Great call Bethesda, these guys rock and I couldn’t imagine life without them!

The new crafting element is great for those of you out there that like to go out and salvage various bits and pieces to upgrade your gear. You can upgrade pretty much every piece of armour and every gun. So long as you have everything you need, which by the way is never, you will be crafting some truly epic face blasters.

A large world needs large guns. The game features around 50 base weapons for the player to use. However, this is not all; players can customise these weapons with as many as 700 modifications.

Me, I opt for either buying or finding my weapons – the crafting system is great and I will invest more time into this aspect as time goes on but based on the returns which I have seen so far, I would much rather buy my raider blasters from the various traders I come across. With this many potential weapons/weapon combinations featured in this game, finding a firm favourite amongst that lot will not be too difficult.

Power Armour on the other hand is something totally different. You will come to treasure this baby so much you will be scared to take it out the garage. In my first 20 hours or so of Fallout 4 I used this only once - I ripped my way through a load of bad guys and a Deathclaw, marched on into the wilderness feeling like a boss and proceeded to get myself stranded in the middle of nowhere with no power, now feeling like a bit of a tit.

But as time goes on and resources become a little easier to obtain, you will find that you will be able to spend more time and caps pimping out your ride. Since I began taking an interest in my power armour again, I have become what I like to call a fair weather player. I will only take my power armour for a spin if it’s a clear day and the area is mostly clear of bad guys. If I have to take her into battle, avoiding standing water on the way of course, this brute is the key in swinging those big firefights back in your favour.

It is like fixing up a car or building a model aeroplane once you have built it, you get scared of actually using it for fear of breaking it. You will flinch and wince as the bullets prang and ricochet off your expensive armour but trust me, you will be thankful you have it on - at times this piece of kit is not only a life saver but it is one heck of a life taker.

As you get further through the game you will modify and tinker with it more and more and eventually you will, as I did nick name it something geeky like, The Angel of Death! And if so, you will, as I do spout off many a coy and brash tough guy phrase as you thump your way into battle.

V.A.T.S is back but back with a difference. The Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System (or VATS for short) from Fallout 3 is better than ever in Fallout 4. This time around instead of stopping time dead – the new VATS system actually lets us slow down time, aim for a specific part of our target and fire, the rest of the system is basically the same - certain body parts have a higher chance of hitting than others. Getting those 'critical' hits won’t be left up to fate anymore, either.

There is now a critical bar at the bottom of the screen that the player can monitor. Having high luck helps fill the meter faster by the way. This means that the tactical strategy element is even greater in Fallout 4 - as it does not stop time entirely, bad guys will still move around allowing you to now prioritise your targets rather than just the first one that the system locks onto.

And if like me, you can’t get enough of that slow mo action, I have yet another way for you to get that sick, slick slow mo action shot. Jet! Simply suck down on some Jet and you will enter into a free style, FPS type mode similar to a Max Payne type scenario where time slows right down, this will allow you to gain the upper hand in many situations. Whether you just need that little extra time to think or you want to make that perfect headshot, the slow mo mode is here and it rocks.

Oh, what a world

In essence, it is a terrifying environment to be dropped into—Bethesda has honestly created the best post-apocalyptic environment I have ever experienced in a video game. It is an extremely confusing emotional experience; in one respect, you want to explore the tragic beauty that surrounds you, while on the other hand, you want to escape from this barren landscape that is so devoid of recognisable life.

The overall narrative is great – there are so many real and likeable personalities involved in the game that it almost becomes inevitable not to bond with at least twelve of them. I already see Paladin Dance as a tough father like figure that I am always super eager to impress.

There is literally a story being told everywhere you look in Fallout 4 – you cannot, not be entertained! For example I urge you to take a closer look at the many skeletons of the deceased that litter the wasteland. Once you take a second look you will realise that each and every one of these earthly remains is telling you a story.

They are snapshots, showing us how people lived and interacted in their last moments on this planet. Some funny, some tragic and some will even bring a tear to your eye. But Fallout 4 is full of these brilliant side stories. Look around you will not be disappointed.

This was one of the hardest games I have ever had to review - which is why I have sort of just rolled with it - how can one pick just a few things when the game is positively overflowing with cracking content. Fallout 4 brings all the best elements of the open world genre and combines them together with those of the best RPG’s, this game will tailor to gamers across the board. I cannot speak more highly of Fallout 4. I tip my proverbial T-60 helmet to you Bethesda.

Let me put it in simple terms - Fallout 4 is a must for all gamers. An all-encompassing masterpiece. Believe the hype – Fallout 4 is the whole enchilada, the full kit and caboodle, the full Monty… you get the picture.

Shine brighter than Rudolph's nose this Christmas, earn that extra roast potato this holiday and buy them Fallout 4. The gamers have spoken - Fallout 4 needs to be under each and every gamers Christmas tree this year.

10/10 – An all-encompassing, riptide of adventure – the end of the world has never looked so good. A must have for every gamer. The spirit of adventure truly is alive and well in Bethesda’s latest smash hit, Fallout 4!

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