Thanks for having me, everyone. Basically, I’m here to explain what makes me believe in this game and why I can say, without question, that the hype is real. First, let me explain my gaming background a bit. I came into the Fallout series with not a whole hell of a lot of context beyond playing Fallout Shelter like it was my job over the summer. I eventually kicked that habit, but the mobile game did the job it was tasked with: capture my interest and entice me into playing the full-on console experience when it arrived this past Nov. 10.
But I wasn’t 100 percent convinced. Call me cheap, but I was skeptical of dropping $60 on a game that I’m not terribly familiar with—you know, beyond reading previews and, eventually, reviews—and that could be completely broken. Let’s be real here, everyone knows that Bethesda’s huge, open-world games have issues, so that right there is a strong enough reason to at least wait a few months for them to sort things out before investing any time and money into a game that, again, could be broken.
And then there was the tidal wave of praise that occurred. Glowing Fallout 4 reviews were published on pretty much every gaming site, and a friend of mine got his own copy and couldn’t put it down (on his PC). What was I, a curious gamer, to do in this situation? Ignore the fact that people were actively enjoying something? C’mon, son! I didn’t play the previous Fallout games, but I’m familiar with action-RPGs of this nature. Your Mass Effects and Borderlands, if you will. By the way, the aforementioned friend said that Fallout 4 had some bits that reminded him of Borderlands, and that basically sealed the deal. I proceeded to go to Best Buy, find the last physical PS4 copy of Fallout 4, and install the damn game on my console.
A few hours later—yes, a few hours, because my PS4′s connection is completely messed up—and I was ready to go. I was ready to enter the alternate-reality future of Fallout 4, where everything is adorably weird and shiny and reminiscent of those borderline-creepy ads from the ’40s and ’50s. And as I entered the vault amid the nuclear mushroom clouds surrounding my character’s neighborhood, I was officially hooked.
Some folks aren’t too keen on the fact that you are so abruptly thrown into the post-nuclear war narrative of the game, but I don’t really understand their argument. Did you really want to wade around the introductory portion that much and for that long? Honestly, I was ready to get into the actual narrative to the point that I was trying to figure out a way out of the house. The 1o to 15 minutes or so that you spend in the past perfectly sets it up without pandering or shoehorning in some grandiose establishment of the story. How difficult is it to understand that shit was clearly hitting the fan and that you were about to enter a vault to save yourself and your family from nuclear war? Would it have been nice to know why the war was happening? Sure, I guess, but you don’t have to be a genius to know that the world is a fucked up place where, guess what?!, nuclear war could happen in our own fucking reality. Therefore, a narrative centered on a man or woman trying to keep his family safe from impending doom doesn’t need a huge build up. It’s obvious.
Additionally—and spoiler alert, I guess—who needs more of a story than “I’m a parent trying to find my child who has been kidnapped by a mysterious group of individuals”? It’s a perfect setup for a story that can be filled with twists and turns that require detective work, hunting down bad guys, and trying to just make sense of the world you’re thrown into that, by the way, is 200 or so years after those nukes were fired. I don’t mean to beat this into anyone’s head, but who needs more of a story than that? Not me, because I believe a simple narrative is often the best one. It allows for all the other stuff it needs, like the aforementioned twists, to make their way into the story in a natural manner. Don’t give me some overblown reason for why everything is happening, just make sure that it’s believable.
And Fallout 4 is believable—just like the hype surrounding the game.
Are there some things that I wish were, say, easier about it? Sure. I would love it if I somehow knew that, say, certain piece of junk that you gather are going to be exactly that: junk. But where’s the fun in knowing right from the jump that maybe you shouldn’t collect everything because your character can’t carry a thousand teddy bears? Trial and error is important in any game, whether you’re solving a puzzle or, in this case, putting together a sanctuary for other survivors you either run into or recruit from the wasteland via broadcast towers. The art of building and crafting isn’t (and shouldn’t!) be simple, nor should it be overly difficult. Personally, I think it hits the sweet spot of being a bit of a pain at first but rather intuitive as you continue playing.
After a solid 15 hours or so filled with playing story missions, side missions, and building my safe zones, I get it. I know that I have to gather more gears and screws than, say, plastic plates. I know it’s important to wear layers of armor rather than the slick suit I picked up after killing a boss. These are things you shouldn’t necessarily know as soon as you start playing, and I feel like anyone saying otherwise is either lazy, entitled, or both. A game that encourages experimentation like this should be held up, not condemned. If nothing else, it ensures that you put more hours into it and get your money’s worth.
And again, even though I’m only about 15 hours in, I definitely feel as though my money was well spent. I have had Fallout 4 dreams where I’m walking around collecting various items to then craft bigger and better items. I have withdrawal where I feel like I can’t get anything accomplished when I’m not playing the game. All I want to do is keep playing, leveling up my character to the point he’s an unstoppable killing machine (and eventually charismatic enough to persuade some folks in a conversation). And the best part about that? I can pretty much do it as long as I keep playing, because there’s apparently no level cap.
I can imagine that some tasks in the game might get a little repetitive as the hours bleed into each other in the coming weeks and months. I know that the “clear the ghouls” side missions won’t be as thrilling as they were the first or tenth time, but so what? They’re there for me if I want to go tear some shit up. And if I don’t? I can explore, gather, and maybe kill a few raiders if they get in the way—or the legendary creatures out there, should they cross my path. Speaking of, that brings me to my next point: the bugs.
Unfortunately, there’s a downside to Fallout 4, and it’s that there are some bugs that you’ll no doubt come across in your travels. However, they’re not all the woOoOorst:
- I was fighting a legendary Radscorpion and, to be fair, wasn’t doing that great against it—and it suddenly disappeared.
- I experienced some absolutely horrendous framerate issues at one point, and it was so bad that it took like 10 seconds for my Pip Boy to load.
- The game has crashed two or three times so far, and yes, that was kind of a pain.
- I fell into a piece of equipment at one point and couldn’t get out of it, so I had to fast-travel elsewhere to get out of there.
- One time I couldn’t complete a mission because, inexplicably, an NPC was on top of a house and I couldn’t speak with him. That, too, was fixed by fast traveling, so it wasn’t that big of a deal.
These issues are sure to annoy some people more than others, and that’s totally fine. “Why did I spend $60 on something that’s not 100 percent perfect!” you may roar as your game crashes.
Well, here’s the deal: this game is massive and I’ve come to terms with the fact these problems will happen. It’s life, ya know; not perfect, but pretty fucking great when you find ways to enjoy it. Like hunting down ghouls and making one hell of a modified shotgun as I try to find out what happened to my son. If that doesn’t sound like fun to you, you may need to check your pulse.