Fallout 4 Review – Welcome to the Borderlands…No, Wait, What?

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When Bethesda took over the Fallout series and dragged its fans – kicking and screaming – into the first person, real-time, modern world, they did so with very little care as to what the games were about and why they were successful in the first place.

Introducing a version of the Brotherhood of Steel that were law-abiding do-gooders and Super Mutants whose mere existence retconned the previous games’ lore, Todd Howard’s first Fallout game became responsible for most of the hate you see directed at him today. Granted, they explained away the changes to the game’s lore, but it was done in awfully slapdash fashion and, like giving money to a homeless drunk, it was a kind gesture that only made things worse.

For many of those who were upset at the premise (and gameplay elements) of Fallout 3, Obsidian’s Fallout: New Vegas felt like a breath of fresh air. Memorable companions, a branching plot line, multiple endings, real faction play, and quite a few callbacks to the older Fallout games made it a fan favorite. Even an isometric camera loving grognard like me loved it and found myself thinking that yes, a 3D, FPS-focused, modern Fallout game could work.

This brings us to Fallout 4. A sequel that was either going to build on the successes of New Vegas or backpedal and become nothing more than a Fallout “3.5”. Fans fought back and forth on message boards for nearly a year, theorizing what path Bethesda would take. Would they give us faction play? Would we get a non-linear questline? Would we get multiple endings that both were diverse and interesting?


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Before I start the review proper, I would caution that anyone who preferred New Vegas’ depth and complexity will be very disappointed if they expect the same of Fallout 4. Going into the game requires abandonment of any hope for a “FONV2”, and instead, a fair amount of compromise.

The reason why this is the case is due to Bethesda wanting Fallout 4 to be a much more cinematic experience than before. To facilitate this change, however, they’ve had to throw quite a bit of Fallout’s celebrated depth away.

Want a long list of detailed and branching dialog options? Not when the game requires all lines to be spoken, resulting in a very small smattering of conversation choices that can be boiled down to “agreeable” and “arrogant”. Like Mass Effect, NPC interaction in Fallout is now contained within a sort of conversation “wheel” that severely limits both roleplaying and character development. It’s also especially cringe-worthy when the lack of dialog options results in repeated phrases that are completely out of place with the conversation they’re thrown into.

A good example of that would be the conversations you have with Preston Garvey, the minuteman who assigns you the time-consuming task of recruiting settlements to his makeshift militia. After recruiting a settlement and reporting back to him, you expect to hear your character say they’ve decided to support your cause…but what about the 3rd time? Or the 60th time? Every single time you do a quest for a recruited settlement, your character will speak as if it was the first time you’ve contacted them. A minor gripe, if it didn’t happen so often.

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The problem is that it does, in fact, happen very often. Such as when you finally complete enough quests in the Brotherhood of Steel faction to get power armor from them, but the knight giving you the equipment fails to realize that you were given a full set only 2 hours into the game and you are, as I was, probably wearing it while he talked to you.

That’s the price that a game has to pay for being cinematic, and double is this cost if the game is open world. Unlike something structured and heavily compressed like Mass Effect or The Witcher 2, going the cinematic route in a large open world title means you need to pad a lot of the title’s virtual real estate with recycled content. Doing so creates a sort of MMO-esque feel that many cited as one of the downsides to the recently released Dragon Age sequel. Sadly, it leaves its mark here on Fallout 4 as well.

Going the cinematic route has also killed the freedom of the user to roleplay, since much of the game is far too structured to allow anything such as diverging quest lines or player choice. A good example of this is when you, roughly 10 hours in, confront the man who attacked your family at the start of the story. Even though this hired gun explains that he is just as much of a pawn as you, even though he regrets what he did and wishes things had turned out differently, even though he has pity for the player – you are not given the chance to hear him out and let him live. Instead, your character breaks off the conversation and immediately starts a gunfight.

When I first confronted that NPC, I expected something along the lines of New Vegas’ meet-up with Benny. Like that scenario, I figured I would have several ways to approach it. Since you could kill Benny, sleep with him, or even trick him several different ways, I assumed Fallout 4 would borrow from Obsidian’s masterpiece and give me a way to non-violently resolve the quest.

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However Bethesda, once again, proved it’s the laziest RPG developer out there.

This theme of laziness pervades the game, with repetitive random quests pairing up alongside of respawning dungeons that make the game feel more like some sort of Diablo clone instead of a tried-and-true Fallout sequel. Throw in the randomly appearing “Legendary” enemies and the randomized item drops they give up and it’s hard to go from Fallout 3 or New Vegas to this title. It simply has so little in common with them.

The same goes for the NPCs you can recruit to aid you in your quest. While New Vegas had some truly memorable companions (ED-E, Boone, Veronica, Cassidy, and especially Lily), Fallout 4 is seriously lacking in that respect. Although I liked Piper’s voice actress and thought Nick Valentine was a cleverly thought out character, none of them ever truly grew on me.

Of course, it didn’t help that the men were all hitting on my male character and asking to be romanced, which, in my opinion, smacks of forced social justice pandering. Not to bring up this tired argument again, but making everyone bisexual just to tick the “friendly to all people” box on your design document is downright stupid. It goes to show you that story cohesiveness and realism aren’t Bethesda’s strong suits.

So there is no reputation system, no karma system, the dialog choices are anemic and player choice is nearly non-existent…but what about the core stats? Is the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system still the overflowing fountain of min-maxing possibilities that it has always been in this series?

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As you can imagine, Bethesda completely rewrote the rules on stats, and as they did in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the game is now more about skill trees than it is statistics. While there are still S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats, all they truly govern is which tier of perks you can unlock. Sure, strength still determines carry weight and agility governs action point regeneration, but the affects they have on gameplay are secondary to the fact that they decide what skills you can invest in.

What this means is that each point you invest in a S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stat unlocks a new perk you can raise levels in. So for instance, if you want to invest in the sniper perk which gives bonuses to long range attacks, you need a perception of 8 to unlock it at that 8th slot. If you want Adamantium Skeleton, one of the previous games most useful perks, you need an Endurance of 7 to unlock it at the 7th slot. Essentially, S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats only serve to act as keys to unlock the perks you want rather than add to the uniqueness of your character.

Charisma suffers the most from this, since even at high levels it fails to become the game-changer it was in the previous games. Having made a character with 7 Charisma, I thought I could talk my way through most of the Fallout’s quests. While the game rarely gave me any chance to actually use my charisma in dialog, the few chances I did get were failures. More often than I wanted to, I had to reload a save a few dozen times just to make a skill check. While I’m not proud of save scumming, keep in mind my desperation for some sort of non-linearity was so great I was already chewing through my couch cushions in frustration at the fact that my charismatic nerd of a hero was unable to exercise his skills.

The problem with the skill checks, which are few, is that they aren’t dependent on your ability score but are instead merely a game of chance based on percentage. The old way it was handled in every previous Fallout – where certain ability scores unlocked different tiers of dialog options – is gone. Now you’re left with dice rolls in probably the only place where a dice roll doesn’t belong. Funny thing, that.

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Intelligence opening up dialog choices? Certain skills such as medical and outdoorsman allowing you to steer the conversation into new and advantageous territory? Not here. Everything has been sliced away to placate Bethesda’s desire to make the game more cinematic.

So Fallout 4 isn’t a roleplaying game, that much is certain. The question is though, what type of game is it and what does it do that makes it worth paying money for?

The thing with Bethesda is that ever since Julian Lefay left during the development of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, they have adopted this odd tactic of removing small sections of their game with every sequel. In an effort to make their games more appealing to wider audiences, they take the most popular portions of a title’s gameplay mechanics and make those parts of the game much larger in the sequel – throwing away the rest. Looking at Fallout 4, it’s easy to see where they did this. The things that people loved, such as the power armor, the gun modification, and the NPC relationships…all of these are available from the start.

This immediate gratification Bethesda supports is what has contributed to their games becoming more and more dumbed down. They take the sweetest, most beloved parts of the previous game and over-inflate those aspects in the sequel while removing most of what remains. It’s sort of like eating a pumpkin pie and having someone complain that the crust is too crunchy. In response, the baker creates a pumpkin pie without crust that is merely custard sitting in a tinfoil pan. In theory, you’d think that would be an improvement, but in reality it’s just a giant tub of pudding without anything to hold it up.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, Fallout 4 is a vastly different game than any of its previous entries. Even the armor system has changed, with equipment coming piecemeal the same way it is in the Elder Scrolls games. While you do still get fully contained suits, the vast majority of the game’s armor is found in right arm/right leg, left arm/left leg variants. Sure, it does allow for a more natural “post-apocalyptic” look – with the mismatched mad max armor and all – but it felt jarring to see such a huge part of the Elder Scrolls series bleed into Fallout like this.

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Another huge change is the new settlement mechanic, which has you constructing towns for the wasteland’s citizens and setting up defenses to protect them from raiders and mutants. While the Minecaft-esque nature of city planning and building is extraordinarily addictive, the constant pleas from your settlers to help them clear out random dungeons or protect them from mobs of bandits is nearly as annoying as it was when this same mechanic was used in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Clear Sky. After about 30 hours of trying to please a bunch of dirty-faced and highly demanding squatters, I gave up on the whole idea and went back to the main quest. Though it has its moments, it doesn’t give out any real rewards and has hardly any effect on the game world as a whole.

Even the crafting system, which I’ll admit is considerably better than New Vegas’ own version, doesn’t come without a few negatives. The biggest of which is the fact that its overwhelming power quickly negates the need of the player to barter with merchants. After all, why buy a plain old pipe rifle when you can take one off of a low level bandit and quickly mod it into a sniper rifle that pops heads from half a mile away? Granted, the higher level mods require higher levels of the gun net and science perks, but even with the level scaling, it’s very easy to outclass the enemy with your own modded weaponry.

Another downside is that the hunger for modding means that you will become a voracious packrat that scours every nook and cranny of a building for duct tape and alarm clocks. True, hoarding is normal in a Bethesda game, but the amount you need to do to keep your modding habit going is insane. So much so that I chose my followers not on how well they performed in combat, but on how much random junk they could cram into their pockets.

There are other minor annoyances, like small-ish world causing points of interest to be clustered together and the god awful radio DJ, but at least you can fix the latter with an optional quest. The rest of it? Well, don’t come into Fallout 4 expecting Fallout 4. Instead, expect Borderlands 3.

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And here’s where the review takes an unexpected turn: if you play the game like Diablo or Borderlands, you’ll have considerably more fun than you would have otherwise. As much as it pains me to admit it, Fallout 4 is actually quite enjoyable if you just want a quick RPG-lite FPS hybrid that is heavy on the gunplay and generous about its ammo and equipment. Like oldschool action RPGs, Fallout 4 is more about hoarding rare loot and killing things than telling a story or allowing for player choice.

Amazingly, the gunplay is as tight as it ever was. With enemies now ducking and dodging (as well as running at a fairly fast clip), knowing how to move and shoot is much more important than it was in Fallout 3 or New Vegas. Even VATS has changed, with the game now merely slowing into a bullet-time effect rather than pausing when you enter it. Of course, any improvement to VATS is negated by the fact that its percentages are widly inaccurate and don’t seem to match up with actual hit chance. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shot 4 times in a row at someone’s head and, even though I had more than 60% to hit, missed all 4. It became so bad that I stopped using VATS altogether. Especially when using my sniper rifles, since they seemed to miss 90% of the time in VATS but would insta-kill anything I lined the scope up with manually.

It’s this combat system, which is so fun and frantic, that literally saves Fallout 4. With the continuous torrent of gear, the large respawning mobs of enemies and the (this is the shocking part) tight FPS mechanics, Fallout 4 is fun…so long as you’re looking for a Borderlands-style loot haul that is nothing more than you turning monsters and bandits into gooey red paste with dozens of laughably over-powered weapons. If that’s what you want, then Fallout 4 is your game.

Collecting loot, crafting the perfect (and heavily imbalanced) set of weapons and armor, and making a gigantic 10 floor tall tower to sit in and lord over your main settlement is mindless and addictive fun. It’s not realistic fun, or even lore friendly fun, but it is fun.

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Sure, there is the typical Fallout aesthetic and the goofy music and that joy of seeing deathclaws rip the occasional NPC to death, but with much of the core roleplaying aspects torn out of the game, it isn’t the New Vegas (or even Fallout 3) inspired heir that many hoped it would be. Still, it is fun to engage in, if you don’t mind being an early adopter and paying full price for a loot hauling ARPG. If you’re fine with that, hit the trigger on the game and spend the next 60 hours killing mutants with missile launchers.

If, however, you’re a hardcore CRPGer looking for choice & consequence as well as a crunchy serving of statistical depth, you might want to look elsewhere. Fallout 4 is lacking quite a bit of the necessary bits that held its older siblings together. Like the pumpkin pie analogy I used earlier in this review, Fallout 4 is like a pie without any supporting crust underneath or around it; a formless pile of sweetened pie filling in a tin pan. If you just want something sugary to fill your figurative belly and don’t mind the guilt, knock yourself out. Otherwise? Find a pastry that has some real crust underneath.

Second Opinion

Brandon Orselli here, I’ve played the game on PlayStation 4 quite extensively. I essentially agree with all of the points Carl has made here – the game is insanely fun and addicting as just an action game, however, if you’re looking for a deep RPG … definitely consider other options. The game also runs quite well on PS4 – I rarely had issues (only one elevator/stuck glitch).

Fallout 4 was reviewed on Xbox One using a retail copy purchased by Niche Gamer. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.

The Verdict 7.0

The Good

  • Contrary to popular belief, the visuals are great
  • Addictive, well crafted combat
  • Scratches that itch for ARPG/Loot-haul/randomization
  • Lots of content to shoot through

The Bad

  • Very little RPG mechanics left in the game
  • No choice & consequence
  • Can get repetitive fast
  • Rewards come too fast, too soon


Carl is both a JRPG fan and a CRPG'er who especially loves European PC games. Even with more than three decades of gaming under his belt, he feels the best of the hobby is yet to come.

  1. Jack
    December 1, 2015 at 4:31 pm


  2. Uncle Ocelot
    Uncle Ocelot
    December 1, 2015 at 4:34 pm


  3. Para-Medic
    December 1, 2015 at 4:35 pm


  4. Phelan
    December 1, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    I might be one of the few people who will say that…

    But I never liked what Bethesda did with Fallout series. 1&2 are the best parts for me. Third part was so-so although it wasn’t “my” beloved fallout. As for the fourth… I’m going to pass.

    Also all those legal issues and the way Bethesda “acquired” rights to Fallout… not going to lie about it… I’m not fan of theirs.

  5. Tyrone Jackson
    Tyrone Jackson
    December 1, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    Meh, yeah that’s about what I’d give it.

    New TES when?!

  6. CrabCombat
    December 1, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    Yeah, agreed. Running around shooting and looting things is pretty fun, but thinking about all the actual RPG elements that have been stripped out of the series is depressing.

    In an ideal world, Fallout 4 would just be a spin-off and the “actual” Fallout 4 would be like New Vegas. Oh well.


  7. Trance
    December 1, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    Spot on review, i disagree only for the graphics, in my opinion they are terrible for 2015 standards.

  8. Para-Medic
    December 1, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    I played about 150 hours on PC completing all storylines and getting 50/50 Steam achievements.

    I’d say that this review is mostly spot-on. I was surprised that during those 150 hours I had only 2 freezes and one CTD. None of my quests ever glitched, and yes there was lots of jank typical of Bethesda’s engine but it wasn’t nearly as bad as previous games.

    Where the game really falls apart is delivery. RP’ing is basically dead because no matter what you imagine in your head, anytime your character speaks it brings you back to the character Bethesda wrote. “Muh Baby.” It also get’s really dense really fast, but not in the good way. Often times I felt that things or objectives were just needlessly tacked on to add artificial depth or another place to scrounge for junk. … it also doesn’t help that as is typical of Bethesda, the writing is positively cartoonish in how it depicts conflict.

    All that said, 90% of the combat changes (unique staggers, throws, animations, etc…) actually made me think about how much better they would be applied to Elder Scrolls. So I am in a really cautious way looking forward to Elder Scrolls VI now.

  9. OSad
    December 1, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    I agree with pretty much everything, except the score, I would’ve given it a six, tops. I do fit into the group of people that were looking for a more branching, story-driven game and 48 hours in of playing a weird post-apocalyptic version of The Sims and Pipe-pistol-lands, this game just doesn’t do it for me the way NV or even Fallout 3 did.

    I love these new Fallout games because I could never get into the old ones. But apart from the setting, this one really doesn’t feel like Fallout at all.

    P.S. (SPOILERS BELOW, maybe?) You seem to have made this comment in your review:

    “Introducing a version of the Brotherhood of Steel that were law-abiding do-gooders and Super Mutants whose mere existence retconned the previous games’ lore, Todd Howard’s first Fallout game became responsible for most of the hate you see directed at him today.”

    I really do disagree though, because from the introductory mission until now, this version of the Brotherhood of Steel doesn’t feel very good-guys esque at all. They (the leader of the group, at least) make mentions to recover and safeguard technology from everyone else, even if it might help someone in need, because other groups might misuse it. They have a hint of fanaticism in the way they generalize the rest of the population as being untrustworthy, I feel.

  10. Alexis Nascimento-Lajoie
    Alexis Nascimento-Lajoie
    December 1, 2015 at 4:48 pm

    Man I needed this review badly. I felt I was going insane from all the praise it was getting from other outlets.

    I think “lazy” is what I took the most from this. I haven’t played a whole lot of this game mind you but everything that I feel is wrong with it is on full display in the first few hours.

    Minor spoilers:
    The Kellog confrontation is what killed it for me. Having no options on how to approach completely contradicted what a Fallout game should accomplish, and I fear the rest of the game is like that.

    I’ll try to continue playing, but it’ll be a hard chore to do if anything.

  11. Etherblaze
    December 1, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    I’m so glad someone feels this way:

    “So Fallout 4 isn’t a roleplaying game, that much is certain. The question is though, what type of game is it…?”

    I felt the EXACT same thing with Skyrim. It didn’t FEEL like an RPG, to the point where I enjoyed Oblivion tons more than it. It felt more like an action game with some stats and dialogue. It looks like this is only emphasized in Fallout 4.

  12. sanic
    December 1, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    I just that I can’t look at weapon specs without picking them up, if you’re going to steal from borderlands at least still the few good things…

  13. Madbrainbox
    December 1, 2015 at 5:04 pm


  14. Madbrainbox
    December 1, 2015 at 5:05 pm

    Stats?In Skyrim?I probably missed that.

  15. Madbrainbox
    December 1, 2015 at 5:07 pm


  16. Dammage
    December 1, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    Soo… wait for the Obsidian sequel that will hopefully come. In the meantime I still have not played Wasteland 2 or Pillars of Eternity So I guess I’ll stick with those

  17. Madbrainbox
    December 1, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    “Rewards come too fast too soon”.There!Getting a power armor in the first 2 hours of the game is a bad joke.

  18. Madbrainbox
    December 1, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    Pillars is great.

  19. Michael Richardson
    Michael Richardson
    December 1, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    The town management nonsense and lack of real RP options has definitely given me a bad initial impression of the game.

  20. Para-Medic
    December 1, 2015 at 5:18 pm

    After the metascore nonsense between Bethesda and Obsidian over F:NV I HIGHLY doubt Obsidian will ever want to work with Bethesda again.

  21. Tyrannikos
    December 1, 2015 at 5:22 pm

    I couldn’t finish. I got way too bored.

    -Building settlements is fun, albeit frustrating due to not being able to angle objects however I want (unless I’m missing something and I can rotate as well as spin objects). It was ultimately a pointless mechanic with no risk or any rewards.
    -Decent-to-Good level of gunplay is ruined by the environment. Bland, bland and more bland in the same buildings or around the same burned out trees. It’s been 200 AND 10 FUCKING YEARS, BETHESDA. THE WORLD SHOULD BE REBUILDING BY NOW. New Vegas got it right, jesus christ.
    -Companions fucking suck. They are mostly A) Boring, B) In the way, or C) Both A and B.
    -Voiced dialogue kills roleplay and replay value.
    -Only four dialogue options kills roleplay and replay value.
    -Certain SPECIAL stats being useless kills roleplay and replay value.
    -Sneaking is pointless since you are forced into fights constantly (and many of your companions will help with starting unintended fights), which further kills roleplay and replay value.

    I should stop now. Either way, I rate the game 5/10. My 5 on a 10-scale is an “Average”. Decent gunplay, decent weapon customization and temporarily enjoyable settlement building is ALL this game has going for it in my book.

  22. Tyrannikos
    December 1, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    Yes! Confronting Kellogg was the final straw for me as well.

    They force you into this linear bullshit that forces his past on you to try and get you the sympathize. Then you meet the guy and he IS sympathetic. Then you are forced into one scenario 100% of the time? Fuck off, Bethesda.

  23. Tyrannikos
    December 1, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    I believe Carl was referring the the Fallout 3 BoS faction. Todd Howard really did turn them into this do-good organization that was there to help the Capital Wasteland because reasons. I feel Bethesda wanted to make them sympathetic because they were “cool guys in cool armor” and people like cool guys in cool armor.

  24. Dammage
    December 1, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    A man can dream, I would really like to have a good story in my RPG

  25. Maciej Miszczyk
    Maciej Miszczyk
    December 1, 2015 at 5:37 pm

    it’s a common opinion about oldschool RPG fans. I’ve enjoyed F3 for what it was but it’s not even close to being on the same level as 1 and 2.

  26. OSad
    December 1, 2015 at 5:39 pm

    I’m surprised most people seem okay with the whole settlement building thing. It felt so forced to me, really counter-intuitive to the wasteland setting of the game.

    Giving you this ability to build settlements and re-populate the land makes the main character seem so much more godly than what he should be. It should be just a guy who’s in a lawless, timeless setting who really shouldn’t be able to change whatever goes around him so easily. It’s… weird.

  27. NuclearCherries
    December 1, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    Man, It seems like I’ve heard nothing but complaints from most people. Even the more casual friends I know who were sucked into the hype have learned a nasty lesson after they discovered that Fallout 4 just isn’t that good.

    Still though, expect the same amount of hype when the next Elder Scrolls is revealed. These people never learn.

  28. Siveon
    December 1, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    I’ve played a lot of games many might consider boring, and many that you don’t really do much in them. But I have to say, I think Bethesda’s coined method of making games is just plain boring.

    Morrowind was okay, but it was still a snorefest for me and it really only went downhill from there.

  29. Ubernoob8470
    December 1, 2015 at 6:01 pm

    I’ll admit- I was kind of wary of the Brotherhood being in this game, but this time around they are proper assholes and I’m loving it. Took one of the little shithead scribes you can get from the Captain dude- whose hat is on my shortlist of “things 2 steal”- out on a mission to kill some super mutants. He said our mission was to purge the Commonwealth of undesirables.
    I’m so proud of the little guy.

  30. Kaihaku
    December 1, 2015 at 6:41 pm

    Great review. Even learned some bits of Bethesda history that explained a lot, Morrowind is and always has been my favorite of their titles…now I have an idea why subsequent titles have let me down.

    “Rewards come too fast too soon.”

    Meanwhile, Xenoblade Chronicles X is getting points deducted for forcing players to put in 30 hours before getting the entry grade mecha.

  31. John Tesh
    John Tesh
    December 1, 2015 at 7:24 pm

    “Of course, it didn’t help that the men were all hitting on my male character and asking to be romanced, which, in my opinion, smacks of forced social justice pandering.” > seriously? I heard a lot about this game but first I heard of that.

    I’m fine with a realistic 1 in 20 swinging both ways or completely gay but everyone is gay in the game? Yeah that’s definitely pandering.

  32. Etherblaze
    December 1, 2015 at 7:34 pm

    I’d forgotten. One of the reasons I felt it was an action game was the LACK of stats aside from health, stamina and magic.

  33. Heresy Hammer
    Heresy Hammer
    December 1, 2015 at 7:40 pm

    I’ve played a good chunk of the game on pc. No weapon durability really ?
    Constant frame drops on pc, shit building. While I like the graphics they are a bit just a little bit too colorful, it feels like the wasteland was hit with more of a giant dustbowl rather a million nukes. At least mods can probably make this into new vegas 2 electric boogaloo.

  34. Tyrannikos
    December 1, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    The bad part is you show up, save one Minuteman and he’s suddenly sucking your dick and calling you General. He’s giving you a free Settler Starter Pack and asking if you want to claim your very own fortress for the low price of killing a few (albeit slightly tough) lobsters.

    I think building some kind of settlement this long after the war makes sense. It just shouldn’t be as easy as it is and there should be actual risks and rewards to the system.

  35. Dom The Elegy
    Dom The Elegy
    December 1, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    All Bethesda did was turn Fallout into a poor Elder Scrolls dressing up as Mad Max. The games can be fun at times but they’re insulting when compared to where they came from.

    I pretty much hate Bethesda for the way they’re treating their games, not giving /any/ shit about quality control or bug testing, dumbing them down further and further while promoting the pre-order, throw away mentality of today’s game development. Games don’t have to be good anymore, merely adequate and marketed to shit. Don’t mind about longevity we have several sequels to shove out. It’s sad, really.

  36. TophatKiyaki
    December 1, 2015 at 8:52 pm

    If you go into 4 expecting New Vegas 2, I don’t know what to tell you. There was never a chance of that happening, and it boggles my mind anyone actually thought it would. I played through NV once 4 launched as an excuse to force myself to play through what people were saying is one of the best installments in the series, and I loved it thoroughly. My love for New Vegas made me fear I would not enjoy 4, because people keep talking about what a terrible RPG it is; or rather, that it just plain isn’t an RPG at all.
    Then I took off the rose tinted glasses, and I remembered that Fallout 3 wasn’t an RPG either. Not even close. It was like Oblivion: a Faux RPG with just enough coats of RPG-brand paint over the game underneath that it fooled people into thinking it was. I loved the everloving shit out of 3; it and Oblivion were probably the most significant games of my teenaged years…but, it wasn’t an RPG. I didn’t spend any time in 3 interacting with interestingly written and engaging characters, learning about the world or progressing through an epic story that felt bigger than me and would have reaching consequences beyond my actions. I spent my time in 3 scavenging, killing, and exploring in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The enjoyment and excitement were simply what was behind the next corner, as opposed to the climax of an epic journey and the path that led me there.

    Because Bethesda games are Adventure games, and have been ever since Morrowind. Oblivion and Fallout 3 were pretending to be RPGs, because they came from RPG backgrounds. Skyrim, and now Fallout 4, simply decided to remove the paint and show themselves for what they really are; Bethesda playing to their strength, making interesting worlds that are fun to explore, drifting away from a focus on epic storylines or layers of character depth. Even Morrowind was less of an RPG than most others at the time, with the focus mainly being on exploring various ruins and caves.

    If you loved 3, you’re probably going to love 4. 4 is designed to appeal to the audience of 3 the same way New Vegas was designed to appeal to the audience of 1 and 2. If you didn’t enjoy 3…well, what the hell are you looking at 4 for in the first place? Did you really expect Bethesda’s extremely successful game to not be followed up with another game in that same style? Just load up New Vegas again with some stability, graphical and gameplay mods and go to town (Hell, there’s a mod in production to recreate all of Fallout 1 in New Vegas), or pick up Wasteland 2 if you want a real modern post-apoc CRPG experience.
    If you’re expecting the mainstream Fallout series to go back to it’s RPG roots, you’re partaking in the ultimate exorcise of futility. The fanbase of “Modern” Bethesda games completely eclipses the oldschool fandom. We will never be catered to again by them, because they don’t need us. If you pick up Fallout 4 looking for what it actually is (a sequel to, and improvement upon 3 and completely alien to 1 and 2), you’re gonna have a grand old time.

    Otherwise, just pass it by. There’s no reason to be embittered or angry at it when there’s so many other games out there that will scratch the itch you’re looking for, and hey, maybe we’ll get another happy accident like New Vegas at some point going forward.

  37. Raziel Barkrai
    Raziel Barkrai
    December 1, 2015 at 11:48 pm

    It’s awful when people try to sweep the glaring problems Bethesda games have with “Oh, well mods will make it better.” When you have a community dedicated to fixing your fuck-ups because you’re too lazy to do your job, and they do it better than you could for free, you should be ashamed.

  38. IndigoHawk
    December 2, 2015 at 12:02 am

    Hmm, so 4 is a worse RPG than Fallout 3 and more like Borderlands. Good review.

    I barely made it through 3, enjoyed NV more, and thought Borderlands was alright but had too much loot management and killing pointless NPCs without much story. So I probably wouldn’t enjoy Fallout 4 and would get tired quickly of the repetitive settlement building system. I skipped Skyrim too, so I guess I’m done with Bethesda’s open world games. I used to look forward to them!

  39. Grampy_Bone
    December 2, 2015 at 12:53 am

    Okay, time to be a Bethesda apologist.

    First off, I’m a fan of the original fallout games (obviously) but they were never exactly ‘successful.’ Like it or not, Bethesda took a niche franchise and made it mainstream, garnering more success than any prior Fallout title.

    Second, I’m not getting this “not a true RPG” complaint. What does that mean? Since when is an RPG about “choice and dialogue?” For some reason people seem to think old RPGs were these scholarly affairs where the player engaged in diplomacy and riddle-solving, and combat was only a last resort; are you thinking of King’s Quest or something?

    Oldschool RPGs weren’t about talking and avoiding fights, including Fallout. Fallout 1 and 2 were combat sims–tactical turn-based combat instead of real time FPS–but that’s what they were. All RPGs are combat games, filling them with dreary tedious dialogue and offering false choices is a modern innovation. Baldur’s Gate, Wizardry, most Ultimas, Might and Magic, Bard’s Tale, Eye of the Beholder, D&D games; these are all combat sims, with story and dialogue as secondary to the action. The root of all computer RPGs, tabletop D&D, derives from wargames. Gary Gygax was not interested in ‘telling stories’ or extemporaneous acting, he was about killing monsters, collecting loot, and leveling up.

    Fallout 1 and 2 are rather anomalous in the degree of freedom they offer the player in completing individual quests. But they still have one ending and only one real way to beat them. You can make a few decisions that affect the final encounters, but that’s about it. There’s nothing in those games that comes close to choosing between four fully fleshed out factions like in Fallout 4. Fallout 1 and 2 were also short games without a great deal of content, so putting together branching quest options is not that hard.

    So I agree that Fallout 4 is a lackluster visual novel or interactive movie, but as an RPG it’s fantastic. There’s just so much to fight, explore, build, and increase in strength. Going from a weak wimp to an almighty badass in power armor, with maxed out weapons, ruling over the wastes, is great fun, and Fallout 4 does the job.

  40. Maciej Miszczyk
    Maciej Miszczyk
    December 2, 2015 at 2:22 am

    the specific direction computer RPGs took in the 90s was about freedom, dialog options, multiple solutions and sometimes about avoiding combat. King’s Quest was never about such freedom because like most adventure games, it was pretty damn linear

    as for endings, Fallout 1 and 2 had plenty and that’s not even counting the strictly bad ones like becoming a supermutant, endings of each of them showed what happened to different places and people you’ve met on your journey and they changed logically because of your actions (unless the bugs caused them not to work like with Deathclaws in 2).

    I also wouldn’t say that there’s only one way to beat those games. 2 is a bit more restrictive than 1 but it still allows for eitehr violent approach or disguises. the 1 has not only that but also three different ways of dealing witht he final boss: straight fight, dialog (IIRC you can use either high speech skill or documents which prove that Master’s plan will fail) and detonating the nuke.

  41. ecolink110
    December 2, 2015 at 4:13 am

    5/10 at best i say
    made me think that obsidian should make a spin off game again
    but then i remembered chris avellone quit

  42. Madbrainbox
    December 2, 2015 at 4:14 am

    I miss Morrowind.And Gothic.And Bloodlines.
    I want complex RPG’s not….this thing.

  43. Stilzkin
    December 2, 2015 at 5:10 am

    What metascore nonsense?

  44. Fighunter
    December 2, 2015 at 6:11 am

    Their yearly bonuses were tied to Metacritic scores. FNV needed a score above 85 I think and got 84.

  45. Stilzkin
    December 2, 2015 at 6:27 am

    Wow that’s stupid

  46. Crizzyeyes
    December 2, 2015 at 8:16 am

    “Contrary to popular belief, the visuals are great” Oh really? I must have not noticed from all the Half Life 1 quality resolution textures and fish mouth lip syncing. It’s still painfully obvious that this is reskinned Gamebryo. They did update the animation engine, though.

  47. Go D. Usopp
    Go D. Usopp
    December 2, 2015 at 10:13 am

    I liked Borderlands so i’ll probably pick this up used once the price comes down a decent amount. I may have to try out New Vegas now, you’ve kinda sold me on it even though I found 3 terribly boring

  48. Hudson
    December 2, 2015 at 10:19 am

    You people would complain over a wet dream. They have basically given you a Post Apoc sandbox and all I see is whine cry whine. Get over yourselves. There is no perfect game. The Witcher 3 is not perfect. In fact it is quite a bit overhyped (talk about repetitive with shitty combat)

  49. Hudson
    December 2, 2015 at 10:20 am

    Yes too lazy. They only delivered their most bug free game after 6 years of development. You moron

  50. alterku
    December 2, 2015 at 11:51 am

    7 is higher than I expected, but I guess if you approach it from the angle of a loot shooter instead of a story-driven stats-focused RPG with shooting mechanics that’s probably fair.
    Fuck me. Bethesda turned Fallout into a shitty Borderlands sequel (relative to the first game; the second and all subsequent releases have been awful games).

  51. NuclearKangaroo
    December 2, 2015 at 7:59 pm

    “However Bethesda, once again, proved it’s the laziest RPG developer out there.”

    come on Carl, how can you look into these deep blue eyes and say that?


    these are the eyes of a man that would never lie to you

  52. Acti
    December 2, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    Thank god a good review. Thanks for being honest Carl Batchelor. Keep up the awesome work.

  53. Grampy_Bone
    December 3, 2015 at 9:44 am

    Yeah, and then you know what happened in the 90s? CRPGs kind of died. It’s a well-known slump. They lost the market to consoles and COMBAT GAMES like Final Fantasy 7.

    My point is that Fallout 1 & 2 do not allow as much freedom as people seem to think. In Fallout 1 you always have to find the water chip, and you always have to beat the master. You don’t have a choice. WHERE’S THE FREEDOM!? Where’s the roleplaying!? You can’t. You’re always the hero. Same with Fallout 2. Defeat the Enclave, save the villagers. The end.

    It’s true, the games have a variety of endings. None of these affect gameplay. You finish a quest, and then at the end of the game they talk about what you did. The game play is the same. Your choices don’t have a visible impact on the world, in most cases. Maybe you kill the raiders, or maybe you talk to them. Then go to the next quest. The endgame is the same. Not a deep ‘role playing’ experience does this make.

    Fallout 4 actually lets you side with very different factions. They all have opposing goals, and you end up defeating the others you don’t side with. This has a lasting effect on the game. It changes your playstyle and what you can do in the world. It affects what items, quests, and game systems you have access to. It’s not perfect and it’s not some kind of open-ended sandbox, but it’s way more freedom than is offered by any previous Fallout game. Anyone who says otherwise is ignorant or lying.

  54. Grampy_Bone
    December 3, 2015 at 10:04 am

    I’d like to know what your definition of RPG is, because it’s likely nonsense. There’s no distinction between “real” and “not real” RPG you can apply to Fallout 4 that will make any sense in the context of gaming history. RPGs were always about exploring caves and ruins. Wizardry. Might and Magic. Ultima. Bard’s Tale. Gold Box D&D games. Every MMORPG ever made. Yes, even Wasteland and Fallout. Fight monsters, collect loot, level up. The roots of the genre is tabletop wargaming. That’s an RPG.

    Deep story? Moral choices? The ability to make a speech check and sometimes avoid a fight? Pshaw. Modern gimmicks. RPG devs who think themselves great novelists. Most of them are bad at it. People never played RPGs for story, that’s what adventure games or interactive fiction were for. Games like Ultima 7 are outliers. You know what? They killed the genre. PC RPGs died in the 90s, because the developers forgot what they were about. Nowadays, even when Bioware makes a game with a deep story like Dragon Age Origins, they still fill it with lots of combat. I wonder why?

  55. Maciej Miszczyk
    Maciej Miszczyk
    December 3, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    actually no, the late 90s were when the popularity of RPGs returned. Baldur’s Gate games were pretty damn big while the likes of Planescape: Torment and Fallout became cult classics. even a clunky and buggy (although really awesome, it’s one of my faves) game like Arcanum got enough money for the devs to acquire two major licences (D&D for Temple of Elemental Evil, Vampire for VtM:B). the genre really died around 2004-2005, minus a few titles like NWN2 – but it’s also making a comeback in recent years with Divinity: Original Sin, Shadowrun Returns, Pillars of Eternity, Age of Decadence and the upcoming Torment: Tides of Numenera. there’s a reason for the staying power of this style of role-playing games: it’s actually pretty damn great and allows for both deep gameplay and interesting stories.

  56. UnpluggedBeta
    December 5, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    “Amazingly, the gunplay is as tight as it ever was.”

    This in a game that is already famous for its enemies being absurd bullet sponges?

    One other thing: when did Fallout ever have tight gunplay?

  57. UnpluggedBeta
    December 5, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    I don’t understand; I thought Fallout 4 had some of the most annoying bugs ever.

  58. Dom The Elegy
    Dom The Elegy
    December 5, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    If you want to defend Fallout 4 (by insulting people, bang up job there), please explain the pisspoor PC port of it. Blurry textures, terrible hardcoded controls that can’t (all) be altered, no way to change any of the graphics options in game, no FoV slider, physics coupled to framerate, obnoxiously long load times even for small areas, awful UI with loads of wasted space, etc. etc.

    Also it may or may not be true that Fallout 4 is their most bug free game yet, but considering they’ve been in the industry for almost 30 years that’s more a statement against them.

  59. Eternal Wanderer
    Eternal Wanderer
    December 7, 2015 at 2:05 am

    I really don’t get why developers keep trying to make their games cinematic, if I wanted a cinematic experience I would watch a movie.

  60. JackDandy
    December 9, 2015 at 4:27 pm

    Keep your eyes on UnderRail..

  61. Meittimies
    December 14, 2015 at 7:28 pm

    Shame really. Losing rpg elements wouldve been fine if it then wouldve gone with heavy “survival”-aspect route, much like STALKER games. Disappointing that is not the case.

  62. Kainevil Rc
    Kainevil Rc
    December 17, 2015 at 11:28 am

    Oh, teh irony on that post.


  63. RKade8583
    December 23, 2015 at 7:40 pm

    I agree with all of this and the Borderlands connection is one I didn’t make right away but is wildly valid. This is a slower-paced Borderlands and I don’t have a problem with that.

    That being said, I would have preferred an RPG rather than Fallout-Lands: The Minecraft Edition.

  64. Grahav
    December 28, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    So, the “fun” part is a fps skinner box of loot.

    Not interested.

  65. Seremoth
    December 30, 2015 at 9:07 am

    FO4 was terrible. I can’t believe it got so much praise – I think it is a testament to how stupid a lot of people are and how easily are swayed by hype and mass trend.

    Thankfully now that a lot of people wake up from the hype stupor, a lot of reviews show what it really is, as do the user scores in metacritic and the goty awards.

  66. bateruchan
    January 8, 2016 at 3:51 am

    The men hitting on my male character, while I’m gay, myself, annoyed me. It was so clear to me that my character was female-leaning bisexual, or simply straight, that yes, it does feel a bit like pandering. Even though I would not mind AT ALL to see more gay characters in games… yes, you’re right, unfortunately, it felt like pandering.
    I couldn’t even roleplay my character as myself… because I had a wife. And a kid. I neither want a wife, nor a child, so basically, it had already presented to me my fate: a bisexual (at best) man who had chosen a woman to keep a life with. That wouldn’t be my choice, neither would a child.

    Also, one of my funnest runs in FO3 was when I played a betamale nerd with a sniper rifle who aimed to get into Moira’s pants. Did all her quests and when she inevitably didn’t open her legs, I blew up Megaton. It was fun, because my dude was so thirsty for any chick and would inevitably murder and woman who he treated ‘nice’ but then didn’t put out for him.
    Roleplaying is why I play Bethesda games at all.

    But Fallout 4 failed to deliver even that very basic tenant. If I want my character to like men, I want him to be -gay-. That is, no wife, no kid, hitting on every fine ass in the wasteland. If I wanted to be a misogynist gay man who hated anything to do with femininity and ruled every settlement with an iron fist with my walking dildo along my side, goddammit, that’s what I wanted to do–oops, I had a wife.
    And also, if I wanted to be a misandrist who kept Megaton alive to spite the bastard who wanted me to blow it up for his patriarchal end goal, then so fucking be it.

    It was frustrating and I am sick of my coworkers telling me “Bateruchan you’re missing out, Fallout 4 is sOoOoOoOoOo fun!” No, it’s not. There’s a reason I sold it to you for $50 and bought Disgaea 5 instead.

    And this time I was literally going to play as myself… but my name isn’t in the system (I guess I expected that, as it is, in reality, Russian, not Japanese) and from the very beginning it was KILLED for me. I keep harping on this “wife and child” thing, but it REALLY DID ruin a big portion of the game for me. And that’s before going into skill checks and all that. That’s before I realised that charisma (I always love playing at least one file as pacifist as humanly possible, with sly wit and good extraneous skills like Science and Medicine) was so destroyed it literally meant nothing.

    Power armour was also boring to me, because I spent 2 hours creating my character and he was pree hot and I wanted to see his pretty face. LOLNOPE, said the story, here’s power armour! Never see all that work again!

    I never played FO1 or 2. I started with 3, and I know that’s not a good thing, but I do own Wasteland 2 these days and I’m pretty excited to try it out soon, and I know that’s kind of a spiritual successor to Fallout 1 and 2?
    But I really did like 3 and all I wanted from 4 was “Fallout 3 (or New Vegas) with additional content and perhaps not so brown.” What I got was a stripping of Fallout 3 and content I didn’t ever really ask for (like settlement building) and it resulted in me just being bored and disappointed. Maybe I’ll grab it again when it is $10 at Gamestop. But I do not regret selling it for Disgaea 5. At all.

  67. bateruchan
    January 8, 2016 at 3:55 am

    I had one coworker even tell me “well, Steam is going to make you pay for mods soon anyway!”

    I just… I… what?? I was literally saying something about how the console games would take forever to see patches, and the PC market at least had mods, and they said that to me.
    I understand a huge open world WILL have bugs. I get that. But then Bethesda basically said “why should we bug test when players will do it for us?” and I quit bothering. I used to say that to cut them some slack, but then they came public with it.

  68. Nothing
    February 14, 2016 at 4:04 am

    No FUCK YOU!

  69. Tyrannikos
    February 14, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    Thrilling argument you got there m8.

  70. avvy
    May 30, 2016 at 7:22 am

    I don’t think it is about being lazy, they just have a limited budget and so much to do that it spreads themselves so thinly. I also don’t think it has anything to do with being “cinematic”. It is about dumbing down the game for the lowest common denominator gamer which is what they have been doing since about 2003, and there are countless examples to prove that this is the case, both in the Fallout series and the Elder Scrolls series. I was really surprised with the crafting system though, that is an improvement, even though they didn’t do it properly. It becomes a real chore to collect so much virtual crap, but at least there is some depth to the items in the game now, for the first time ever.

    I think they made a decent game overall. It’s just another shooter like FarCry or Borderlands or whatever. It is (mostly) open world which makes it part of a fairly small elite club, it has quests and story to justify your rampage, albeit not very interesting ones. It has an inventory and items and a selection of weapons which makes it more interesting than military shooters etc. It is pretty action packed now, you don’t just come up against a few ghouls in each settlement, but a dozen or more bad guys.

    I think it is a decent game, just not great. I think like most modern Bethesda games, it suffers an identity crisis. It doesn’t know if it should be a full on action game, or an RPG, so it tries to go down the middle and struggles. The RPG elements get in the way of the action, having to stop every 5 minutes to sort through the billion items in your inventory etc. and fix your weight problems. If I want tactics and thoughtful gameplay, I have to just play another game. Blackguards for example, or Aarklash Legacy, Pillars of Eternity, Divinity Original Sin etc. If I want pure action I also would probably be better with some other game, like the new Doom or something similar. At least that way it is pure unadulterated action without having to be drawn out into a grindy offline MMORPG type experience. But still, some people will surely like this game for being an action game with a bit of extra depth. I just wish Bethesda could make more focused products. If I was in charge I would get rid of the inventory entirely, the character choices, the loot, etc. and make the world less open. I would make it more like S.T.A.L.K.E.R games or similar, give it a focused story with better characters and voice acting, and more story based game, with better action that is more finely tuned. More well scripted encounters instead of just shooting a million ghouls or whatever. Make it into the true action FPS masterpiece that it COULD be if they didn’t have to waste so many resources on the half assed RPG elements. And then with the Elder Scrolls series I would go the opposite direction. Get rid of the action combat and make it a tactical RPG, with deep and challenging combat and better quests. Save money by cutting down on voice acting if necessary, make it more about choices like old Bioware games, and make loot actually matter with many different item sets etc.