Fallout 4 Review

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:Bethesda Softworks
Developer:Bethesda Softworks
Release Date:2015-11-10
Genre:
  • Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • First-Person,Third-Person
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay

Graphics and Sound

Sort of surprisingly, Fallout 4 looks almost exactly like Fallout 3.  Someone with a better eye and more technical know-how might be able to point out lots of differences or improvements, but the only things I noticed were nicer fog and lighting effects.  For example, if you walk through a forested area during the daytime, then you'll see the sun streaming through the branches of the trees, which is a nice sight.  But otherwise, the games look about the same, which isn't meant as an insult.  Fallout 3 looked good, and so does Fallout 4.

As for the sound, there is some music in the game, but it is mostly tied to radio stations that I didn't listen to (because they mask the ambient sounds, and you don't really want to miss the cues for ghouls waking up or mole rats burrowing).  The most important aspect of the sound for me is the voice acting.  Given the sheer number of characters and conversations in the game, the voice actors did a tremendous job, and Bethesda hired enough actors that you rarely hear a repeated voice.

I was less impressed by the male and female voice actors for your character.  This addition to the game made me think of 3D effects for most movies -- a lot of time and effort for at best a neutral result.  I guess Bethesda wanted a more cinematic feel for the conversations you have, but it sounded to me like the actors rarely knew the context of what they were saying, and so their lines often came out wrong.  The female actor also stumbled over her lines a lot -- she's no Jennifer Hale -- and she had a terrible time trying to be the Silver Shroud.  So it wouldn't bother me at all if Bethesda went back to a silent protagonist in their next game.

Technical Issues

I spent about 150 hours playing Fallout 4, and it only crashed on me a handful of times, which is pretty good.  Better yet, the crashes only came during map transitions, which always follow autosaves, and so I never actually lost anything other than a bit of time.  Plus, I only experienced the crashes with the initial version of the game.  I haven't had a single crash since Bethesda released the 1.2 patch.

Otherwise, I only noticed a couple of technical issues worth complaining about.  One is the loading screen times.  These can be extremely long, especially when you're in downtown Boston where the maps are crowded.  But luckily, unless you're repeatedly fast traveling or running in and out of buildings, you don't get the loading screens very often, and so the waiting times are acceptable.  The other issue is just strange.  For some reason the interface sometimes stops displaying your gun and the Pip-Boy, which prevents you from doing much of anything, and to fix it you'll have to save, exit, and reload your game, which is sort of annoying.  But neither issue is huge.  In general, Fallout 4 is stable and runs well.

Conclusion

Overall, I enjoyed Fallout 4 a lot more than I was expecting.  Part of how I rate a game is whether I'm happy or sad when I have to move on to my next review, and with Fallout 4 I'm on the sad side of the ledger.  I ran through the game pretty easily on the "normal" difficulty setting -- I could tell I was too powerful when a suicide bomber sneaked up behind me and detonated a mini nuke... and only took off about half my health -- but my character playing on the "survival" setting is having a tougher time, and I'm curious if the game can maintain the challenge all the way through.

In any case, Fallout 4 is in pretty good shape now.  The game is stable, the locations are plentiful, and there are numerous interesting quests to complete -- and this is all without a lot of mods being available since Bethesda still hasn't released their construction kit (it's apparently waiting in a "to do" queue along with the manual).  So if you like open world RPGs in general, or Bethesda's offerings in particular, then Fallout 4 is a worthwhile game to pick up.