Game review: Fallout 4

An epic adventure sees Bethesda’s series reach new heights

Combat has been drastically overhauled in Fallout 4. Picture: Contributed

Game review: Fallout 4

Platform: Xbox One (reviewed) / Playstation 4 / PC

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Score: 9/10

FROM its wondrous weapon designs and evocative scripts through to its madcap characters and sprawling, desolate wastelands, the Fallout games are cherished for many reasons. A series that began as an RPG has gradually morphed over the years to the extent that it is now so vast and bold that it defies all categorisations. The latest eagerly anticipated entry continues this trend.

The series has always benefited from a compelling and original tone and the fourth main instalment is no exception. Bethesda’s nightmarish apocalyptic vision of New England - a blend of science fiction and apple pie Americana - is an inviting and immersive playground, full of possibility as well as danger. The crux of the story may involve a mysterious organisation known as The Institute, but as with Fallout 3, the campaign is at times indistinguishable from the bevy of side missions and quests, such is the game’s ambition.

The array of peripheral encounters eschew the bog standard approach to fetch quests

Some of those supposedly peripheral encounters will take up several hours of your time. There are undoubtedly highlights, such as the adventure that awaits in the Museum of Witchcraft, but tellingly, nearly all eschew the bog standard approach to fetch quests, requiring combat, intuition and exploration. It is quite easy to while away days at a time on these encounters and that, in essence, is the joy of Fallout 4.

Nor is it all epic crusades and grand vistas. The game’s attention to detail means that it is the little things that stand out, from harvesting junk and broken electrical appliances so as to fashion new items, to building bases for settlers, a process that can focus on fortification or decoration depending on your priorities. Fallout 4 can be unfathomably vast but features like these allow you to own and nurture your own nooks and crannies and feel connected to its world.

The combat mechanics have been significantly overhauled

For those familiar with the series, the good news that there are other welcome improvements, most notably the overhaul of the combat mechanics. While the V.A.T.S system once stopped time to allow you to target an enemy’s body part, proceedings are now slowed down, giving encounters greater momentum. Gunplay outside of V.A.T.S also feels much tighter, with the sound and recoil of the arsenal of weapons drastically improved. The game could never be described as a shooter at heart, but these tweaks make the overall experience far more riveting.

As is to be expected in a game of this scale, there are a handful of minor faults.Technically, Fallout 4 is not quite the evolutionary leap many had expected. The drama of frantic skirmishes is at times undermined by a sagging frame rate, while a number of minor irritating bugs interrupt the game’s flow. Overall, however, this is a superb continuation of one of gaming’s most unique and compelling series and one of the best titles of 2015.

TIPS AND TRICKS:

Remember and catch some sleep in beds around the world. The Well Rested perk allows you to boost your experience.

Returning overdue library books you find lying around provides you with tokens that can be redeemed for goods.

Stack quests if you want to build up experience quickly at the outset of the game.