Fallout 4 Initial Thoughts

Fallout 4 is a lot of fun to play, however there has been some things nagging at me for a while. I couldn't put my finger on them until now.

I have about 90 hours of FO4 under my belt, and probably somewhere about half way through. Part of the fun is looking through the new mods every day. However that is really the underlying problem with the game. There is a lot of detail put into certain aspects of the game, but other aspects are half fast measures.

The overall graphical experience is pretty good, but there are so many horrible elements that take away from the experience:

-Low res textures. There are some high res ones here and there, but there are tons of horrific textures in this game. I think the 2 dimensional catwalk floor grating (it has no thickness) is recycled from Fallout 3.

-'fake' lighting. About half of the indoor lighting does not match up with the lights placed in the area. This lighting simply comes out of nowhere. The game looks way better with these lights removed via mods, but it ends up really dark in most places. http://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/2139/?tab=2&navtag=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nexusmods.com%2Ffallout4%2Fajax%2Fmodfiles%2F%3Fid%3D2139&pUp=1

-fog mascara. The devs have added fog in nearly every place be it indoors or outdoors. This seems to be used to cover up imperfections in some of the textures, and the graphics implementation as a whole. The game looks better with mods with all fog removed, even with the imperfections ( http://www.nexusmods.com/fallout4/mods/2212/? ). Unfortunately the light brightness in areas was increased dramatically to offset the fog, so another mod is needed to tune this back to normal (see realistic lighting mod in the point above this).

I rate the graphical experience as a D due to the lack of effort in the areas which weren't 'new and shinny features' compared to competitor's games. This game should be getting a B+ (since it isn't going for the best of the best in graphics), but the low res textures and the cover ups are inexcusable.

RPG element:

This game is on par with Fallout 3, and Skyrim. However I also have to call out Bethesda on some things. Dialogue and mission progression is COMPLETELY linear! Dialogue outcomes are the same no matter what option you choose, and thus is a fairly large step backwards from Fallout 3, Skyrim, and other modern RPGs.

Also I did not like how they handled some of the Fallout cannon, in particular the Brotherhood of Steel:

Spoilers for those who have not met the Brotherhood yet: The Brotherhood is completely out of character when you meet them at the police station. You could walk up to them in power armour and they wouldn't bat an eye. In reality they would confiscate it from you by force. Also you are recruited by them right away. It seems Bethesda are pandering to kids who play the game rather than to fans of the game. This statement is summed up nicely when you call for and board a vertibird by the pilot saying "Your weapon is fully loaded. Happy hunting, Knight". You asked for retrieval in the field, not to go on some sort of safari. Again Bethesda pandering to kids by saying: "Here is a minigun, cool hey?! Blast away!"

The settlement feature is neat, but again this is where most of the effort went. You can build up settlements, and build bases, but only if you have enough charisma to unlock the whole experience. On the one hand it is good to have something that makes charisma worth investing in, but in reality this kneecaps a huge selling feature advertised for the game.

Minor spoiler for those who haven't played at least the start of the game: Settlements contribute nothing to your advancement through the game. I find that the settlements are merely a glorified side game unless you unlock the ability to have traders and caravans.

Bethesda put a lot of effort into the new features, but LESS effort in the 'standard' components of the game. This almost undermines the settlement feature.

I would give the RPG aspect of the game a grade of 'incomplete'. A lot of effort in some pieces, but compared to other RPG games out there it is an unfinished piece of work technically speaking. This is mainly due to the linear dialogue, but also due to the lack of attention to cannon. This game should be striving for an A or A+. However so far the game feels like a B rating due to the shinny new features distracting from what should otherwise have an F rating.

Items and equipment:

The Fallout franchise has been known for having a lot of variety, possibly to the point of excess. Fallout 4 aimed to build on that by having craft-able weapons and armour. The truth is much different however.

The crafting system is really neat.....until you notice crafting pieces like "armour piercing receiver'. Then you realize that the wealth of alternative ammunition found in the other Fallout games has been tossed to the wind. Armour piercing ammunition extended the life of some weapons, or was important later on in the previous games. However, many weapons in fallout 3 at higher difficulties are a grind due to lack of alternative ammunition. This is componded by the fact that armour piercing receivers usually have to trade a lot of damage for that feature.

Digging deeper, they advertised X base weapons with 100s of craft-able possibilities. However there are faaar fewer base weapons than in New Vegas. Fallout 3 already tried going the route of having less weapons than in the previous games, and that error was fixed in New Vegas.

It is truly baffling why Bethesda culled many weapons from the game. This is another case of a lot of effort going into a new system (crafting), but less effort going into a 'standard' part of the game. The crafting system really is neat, but eventually you realize that most modifications you will never use. This is further compounded by the lack of weapon variety from the previous games undermining this new system.

I would give the item system a grade of B. Fallout 4 is still good in this area compared to its peers and still retains the need and usefulness of chems (equivalent to potions, but a more detailed system). However it is step forward, and then back again compared to other Fallout games.

In conclusion:

Fallout 4 is a fun game, even despite the linear dialogue, but these shortcuts that Bethesda has made really detract from the game. This dissatisfaction is always in the back of my mind, and is fairly distracting. I think it is quite clear that Bethesda was not an ideal company to sell the rights to the Fallout franchise, especially when the franchise went back into the hands of some of the original creators. Fallout New Vegas was sub contracted out to another studio who had key figures in their employ who worked on the original games. New Vegas was based heavily on the Interplay version of Fallout 3 which was scrapped, and in all was a better story, and implemented better than Fallout 3 or 4.

I'm just now playing Far Cry 4. Then after that will be Witcher.. by that time mods for Fo4 will make the game what its suppose to be ;p

The Witcher 3 is a good counter to all the Fallout 4 hype. I was lucky enough to play it just before FO4. It is a good benchmark to compare to.