During each Nostalgic Gamer segment we’ll take a look at a game that has been out for at least a year to see if it’s appeal changes with time. Nostalgia can get the best of us sometimes but a game that you can go back to is the mark of a really great game. You could almost say a game is only as good as it’s Replay Value …hey wait…that’s the name of the blog.
Fallout 4 is weirdly not the fourth instalment in Bethesda’s Fallout series, thanks to Fallout New Vegas, the series is more confusing and difficult to keep up with than the Flash on speed. Despite the somewhat confusing naming convention the series has become synonymous with lasting value, something that holds up against the test of time but Bethesda’s latest instalment initially received some criticism for not looking good in comparison to the others. I downloaded Fallout 4 again about a week ago to see if I could get back into it. I actually started playing another 2015 hit, Arkham Knight but I lasted about 3 hours before I got bored and decided to start up a new file in Fallout instead so here we are. I tried not to get overly technical, so here a few observations, also this shouldn’t matter since the game is over two years old but just in case:
The main story line in Fallout 4 is a pretty confusing jumbled mess. It’s not BAD necessarily, in fact compared to a lot of open world RPGs Fallout does a pretty good job of guiding you through the nuclear ruins of Boston. The biggest drawback with the story is the timeline, which is a pretty glaring plot point, when The Institute comes into the Vault and steals your son Shaun it’s implied that this is 200 years in the future, but you are then re-frozen and wake up another 60 or so years down the line? (I’m assuming 60 because you meet Shaun later and he’s pretty old). Anyway long story short, the timeline is super confusing and while it doesn’t detract from the game, I have a hard time caring for “my son” when he’s older than me vs when I thought he was a child. Like most game’s in the franchise the main story is just an excuse to get you to travel the giant world they’ve created but still it can be a little difficult to keep up whenever time travel and cryogenic freezing and stuff enter play.
So the main story doesn’t offer much but you can play it differently depending on who you ally yourselves with. My first play-through I actually signed up with The Institute and this time I’m going with The Brotherhood. I actually think for a game like Fallout to really shine you HAVE to play it at least one more time, just to see all the different reactions characters have. Also, with the recent innovations in home AI’s like Amazon’s Alexa, the entire story line revolving around AI gone a muck is especially poignant. Don’t say Fallout didn’t warn you when your smart home tries to replace you with a robot.
Fallout has always had really great characters and Fallout 4 is no exception. The Ghoul Hancock, the Reporter Piper and my personal favourite, 1940’s Noir Detective, Nick Valentine lead a cast of characters who help the sparsely populated world of post-war Boston feel lived in. There’s no better compliment for an RPG than me struggling to decide which characters I want to partner with. Valentine especially has a habit of dominating the screen (as if he’s an actor), whoever that voice actor was did an incredible job. There’s a few frustrations with other characters like Strong and Preston Garvey who really don’t offer all that much to the player but again you can just elect not to bring them with you.
Again, playing the game a second time offers you the chance to flesh out characters you didn’t really give a chance to before. My first play-through I ran with Nick Valentine almost exclusively and had no idea Hancock was even a character you could take with you. This time I’ve got a revolving door of partners including Hancock, Piper, Strong and Danse.
The VATS system is still there, and is still as usable as ever. I remember the first time I played Fallout I loved the VATS system instantly and it’s because it reminds me of what Bioware’s Knights of the Old Republic did so well, it allowed you to get lost in the combat and feel like you’re watching a movie. Combat is never going to be an RPG’s strength but in Fallout you can elect to play it as a First Person Shooter, modify your guns and run away and play “Call of Duty: Post-War” if you want. If you do decide to play this way, however, you’re wrong and you should feel bad. Slow motion cinematic kills are better than everything else. The graphics are a big improvement but that’s pretty standard for anything on a next-gen console.
There were a few bugs I didn’t notice or remember from my first run through post-war Boston. Mainly whenever The Brotherhood started flying around it would slow my frame rate down which is pretty annoying considering that was the faction I elected to join. I also found a few of the quest and maps to not connect very well. For instance a Minutemen mission where I had to build artillery just kept telling me to build it and assign it and no matter who I gave the artillery to the mission just didn’t seem to complete. It’s not a major drawback considering how massive the game is, but you can only paper over mistakes like that for so long before the game becomes unplayable. Luckily these bugs were minimal so I can keep playing without throwing my controller in anger. The Preston Garvey quests are as annoying as ever but once you know they don’t lead to anything I really just avoided them. You can only hear “another settlement is under attack” so many times before I just become numb to it, like jeez guys learn a little independence.
So Does It Hold Up?
If you haven’t played a Fallout game before, Fallout 4 isn’t a bad way to join the franchise. The characters do a pretty good job of holding your hand and explaining the world around you. The combat is pretty intuitive and you can customise it to your play style. I’ve been playing for about a week now and I can’t see myself stopping anytime soon. Changing the way your character acts every play-through is a great way to add some extra replay value. This time post-nuclear war Darcy is a sarcastic self-centred jerk who has no time for anyone, (gosh I wonder what that would be like).
The game world is also massive so I seem to keep finding quests and areas that I don’t remember from my earlier play-throughs. This is where games like Fallout make their cake (to turn a phrase from my Millennial audience), there’s so many areas and quests etc, that the game screams replay value. It’s like going to Costco vs Whole Foods, maybe Whole Foods steaks are higher quality, maybe they taste better, but I can only get one. At Costco I can buy 700 pretty good steaks, so its that quality vs quantity argument except the quality is actually pretty good anyway. If you haven’t grabbed Fallout 4 yet I definitely recommend it, especially since it’s probably a lot cheaper than the $80 I bought it at on release day. If you’ve only played it once, load it up again on a Friday night, grab a Nuka-Cola and a bag of chips and tell your friends you’re going off to Boston.
-For a Game Set in Boston not a lot of characters had Boston Accents
-The Weaponry seems a lot more fun than previous games. A baseball bat that hits people heads off while fans cheer and an organ plays? Yes Please.
-The difficult really ramps up from one-shotting random mole rats to being eaten alive by a Deathclaw while your partner weeps.
-The Power Armour stuff was an interesting way to not have people wear it 24/7 but it ends up being too much of a hassle for me to EVER wear it.
-The hats are terrible in this game. Every fedora makes my lone wanderer look like a hipster who got lost attending a wedding for his craft-beer-making friends.
Thanks for reading! This is the inaugural post on Replay Value, I hope the Nostalgic Gamer segment is something you get some enjoyment out of because I really like reading it. Please comment, share and like this blog as I try to get it off the ground (assuming you liked the blog of course).