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A Beautiful Apocalypse

Fallout_4_-_Jonah

Role-playing games have been seeing a strong revival in recent years. With the success of games like “The Witcher 3” and “Skyrim,” alongside numerous others, it has become clear that these massive gaming experiences are making a comeback. In keeping with this trend in gaming, “Fallout 4,” which was released on Nov. 10, 2015, is a massive game. According to the game’s developers, there is at least 600 hours of content, and that does not include multiple playthroughs, or any player-made modifications (which are sure to come). However, the question remains whether those 600 hours of gameplay are enjoyable, or if they are a tedious slog.

The answer, in short, is that “Fallout 4” is a really good game. However, to simply review the game in a single sentence would be to sell it short. It is not a perfect game, but it truly is one of the most enjoyable gaming experiences to be released in quite a while.

Of course, two of the most important elements of a role-playing game are the story and the world in which the player will be immersed. In this particular category, “Fallout 4” delivers in spades. For those who are not fans of the series, or who simply have not encountered it before, the “Fallout” games are post-apocalyptic roleplaying adventures. They take place in an alternate United States in which a nuclear war has desolated the world. Small groups of survivors attempt to rebuild society while fending off all sorts of irradiated mutants, or even other humans who have taken to raiding and pillaging. The world is grim and sometimes incredibly dangerous, but there is also plenty of beauty to be found if the player explores.

Some of this beauty comes from the game’s unique setting. The world of “Fallout 4” is an apocalyptic one, but it contains many elements of American culture from the 1950’s. The radio stations in the game play music from the 40’s and 50’s, and much of the decor and clothing is from that period as well. “Fallout 4” specifically takes place in the area outside of Boston, Massachusetts, which is referred to as The Commonwealth.

Many of the characters the player will encounter in the wasteland are unique, and have interesting personalities that make them far more engaging than some of the series’ previous NPCs, which sometimes had all the personality of a cardboard box. From an awkward radio DJ, to a by-the-book but loyal soldier, to a private investigator who is more than meets the eye, there is a character in the game for everyone to love.

One of the absolute best elements to the game is the amount of companions the player can encounter in the wasteland. Each of these individuals has a unique personality, unique needs, and unique reactions to the player’s choices throughout the world. Bringing one of them along will sometimes change the way situations in the world are handled, and they add a whole new layer of intrigue to the world. On top of that, they also contribute to combat, and make the wasteland just a little easier to survive.

The game’s main plot line contains multiple twists and turns, but as with the other games in the series, the truly beautiful story is the one that the player creates along the way. There is an enormous amount of side quests for the player to enjoy, and while some of them are pretty basic, others are overflowing in personality. The world of “Fallout 4” is a desolate one, but that does not mean it is not an immensely enjoyable place to explore.

From a graphical standpoint, “Fallout 4” is beautiful. On PC, even the minimum graphics are attractive, and surpass the visuals of many recent games. On both the Xbox One and PS4, the visuals are solid, with minimal stuttering and generally solid framerates. The downside to these beautiful visuals, and one of the only downsides to the game itself, is that the graphical requirements to play it on PC are incredibly high. If people do not have dedicated gaming computers with powerful hardware, they are better off playing on a gaming console.

The gameplay of “Fallout 4” is by far the smoothest in the recent series. The shooting and action feel far superior to both “Fallout 3” and “Fallout: New Vegas.” At its core, the game is a first-person shooter hybridized with a roleplaying game, though it can technically be played in third person as well. Many elements of the game have been streamlined, such as removing the need to repair weapons and armor, and while some fans are complaining that this removes some survival elements from the game, it also allows the player to enjoy a very immersive experience without the tedium of constantly fixing his/her gear.

The character customization in “Fallout 4” is by far the most complex in the series’ history. Players can mold the character’s face like clay, smoothing out various features until they are at the exact proportions desired. This allows players to make a much more personalized character than ever previously available.

The skill system from the previous games has also been removed and replaced by perks. Perks, or small upgrades to the character, which are gained by leveling up, have been present in the series since the beginning. “Fallout 4” uses them to much greater effect. Some of them are incredibly fun to play around with, such as one called Ricochet that causes enemy bullets to reflect off of the character and back at the foes who shot them.

“Fallout 4” has also introduced many new gameplay elements that were not present in previous games in the series. Weapons and armor can be modified and altered at certain workbenches, and while “Fallout: New Vegas” played with this concept, “Fallout 4” embraces it and makes it an incredibly interesting process. Almost every gun in the game can be modified to change its range, accuracy, damage, or even the types of bullets it shoots. This allows the player to customize his/her weapons in order to fit his/her unique playstyle.

Alongside this, the player can also capture areas in the wasteland and build new settlements on them. It is an incredibly enjoyable experience to turn a beat-up little gas station into a thriving wasteland community, full of shops, defenses, crops, and supplies for the player to use. These settlements are not just a place to take advantage of, however, they also add new elements to the game, such as the player having to defend them from raider and mutant attacks.

The game’s developer, Bethesda, is rather infamous for having many bugs in their games, and unfortunately “Fallout 4” has not escaped that plague. While not many bugs were encountered while writing this review, some of the ones that were encountered were quite game-breaking. For example, the enemies in one particular location got stuck in a wall, and could not be fought, rendering one quest impossible to complete. However, these bugs appear to be few and far between, and should by no means convince a player not to purchase the game.

Though not a perfect game, “Fallout 4” is pretty close. The only flaws are in the system requirements for the game, and potentially some changes to the gameplay, though those are only flaws subjectively. It is a wonderful gaming experience that any fan of the series, or of RPGs in general, should most certainly not miss. This game gets a 4.5/5.

This review was based off of 40 hours of gameplay, and was made on a mid-range gaming PC.

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