Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
BETHESDA created a working recipe for a western role playing game (rpg) back in 2002 with the Elder Scrolls: Morrowind.
Since then they have been making steady improvements with each entry in their two main franchise, The Elder Scrolls and Fallout.
The release of The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim in 2011 made such an impact that any subsequent rpg from other developers was instantly being compared to it.
Skyrim was the gold standard, an accolade that Fallout has aimed for.
Fallout 4’s scenery may not be as breathtaking as Skyrim’s nordic mountain ranges but it has been crafted with an equivalent level of care.
To those un-initiated in Fallout, you play as a self-created character stepping out of a nuclear bunker (Vault) 200 years after the world went trigger happy with nukes.
That world was one where nuclear technology had caught on but artistic aesthetic was permanently stuck in a 50s art-deco state.
Now, mutants roam the wasteland, secret military equipment is utilised by morally-grey surviving groups, cities lie abandoned, make-shift settlements offer refuge or death while you are free to do what ever you please.
That is the beauty of Bethesda’s creations, you are never funnelled into doing anything specific, never forced into a predetermined role.
The freedom is intoxicating.
Want to be the hero of the people? You can do that. Want to be a murderous psychopath? You can do that. Want to build a fort and fill it to the roof with dog bowls? You can do that.
Creating and developing your character is once more a very deep and engaging process, a wealth of perks allow you to make them as capable as you want in the areas you need.
You are also given the ability to make and modify equipment in any way you see fit, whether that be making your shotgun fully automatic or giving your power armour a jet pack, there are plenty of options to play around with.
The wasteland is a consistently purposeful playground, it is dense and a real joy to explore with hundreds of interesting quests to complete and thousands of useful items to discover.
But, the crown is staying with Skyrim as the top rpg, for a couple of reasons.
To start, Skyrim’s levelling system develops skills as you used them, Fallout relies on a cumbersome mechanic where you must manually choose what stat to increase every level.
The main flaw though is the user-interface.
Menus are all delegated to the Pip-Boy, an in-game wrist mounted computer.
The Pip-Boy has a nonsensical layout, tiny text and is always mono-colour so you must squint to see anything.
There are also very few tutorials for complex tasks, building a safe house is a frustrating trial and error for the first couple of hours.
This initial education barrier damages the introduction to Fallout’s new world, but it is well worth getting past.
The Commonwealth wasteland has an unfathomable amount of content and things to do, so when Bethesda’s next rpg arrives in the distant future, people will certainly still be spending time with Fallout 4.
Positives: immense crafting system, fascinating mission narratives, satisfying combat, massive and intricate world
Negatives: cumbersome Pip-Boy, lack of explanations
See full story in the County Times