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Fallout 4 review: Won't set the world on fire, but might start a (tiny) flame in your heart

Hayden Dingman | Nov. 10, 2015
For nigh-on fifteen years, Bethesda’s games have stood as my benchmark for the open-world genre—from Morrowind’s opening “Wake up, we’re here” all the way through the last minute I played of Skyrim. Even Oblivion’s obvious missteps mattered little to me at the time, given the scale of the game.

This process is far less satisfying than finding unique loot, though. Remember how cool it was to find Lincoln’s Repeater in Fallout 3? Or Vengeance? That feeling is all but gone in Fallout 4, replaced with the dubious “thrill” of finding “Hardened 10mm Pistol with Reflex Sight” or some other generic bit of crafting mishmash, even on boss enemies.

Fallout 4

As I said, there are still a few unique pieces of gear in the game, but the incidence is far less than it was previously and as a result there are entire locations in Fallout 4 that exist solely to replenish your supplies of RadAway and Stimpaks. As if you need more. I currently have over 500 Stimpaks.

Crafting also has the unintended consequence of making you use the same weapons and armor for hours and hours and hours. A hundred hours in, I’m still using the same customized rifle I built six hours into the game.

This is Fallout 4: A bunch of systems that seem interesting at the beginning, but kill the experience stretched over 100 hours. You’ll take over Settlements, for instance. These are custom bases of operation, where you can put on your carpenter hat and build new houses, furniture, fences, et cetera. Cool—initially. I spent an hour early in the game building a fence around my first settlement. It looks kind of intimidating (although it kills the frame rate whenever I’m nearby).

Fallout 4
The wall.

But then the game made me unlock two settlements. Then three. Then a dozen. And with each new settlement, I became less and less interested in making sure everything looked good—on placing the fence pieces just so. It would’ve been far more interesting to have one settlement you put all your resources and work into. But no. There are a bunch, and each will periodically come under attack and expect you to come help defend. Tedious.

Or we can talk about Power Armor. In an effort to make you understand that, yes, Power Armor is A Big Deal, Bethesda has changed the way it works. You no longer wear it perpetually. Instead, it now acts almost like a vehicle—one you need to periodically refuel with a rare item, called a Fusion Core.

The actual result? I never wore Power Armor, because it’s too much a hassle to monitor.

And the radio’s rotation of tracks is still way too small to support a game a hundred hours long. Even worse, multiple tracks are repeated from Fallout 3. I hope you weren’t sick of hearing “BONGO BONGO BONGO I DON’T WANT TO LEAVE THE CONGO” yet because you’re going to hear it a million more times in Fallout 4.

 

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