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The RPG Files: The Top 20 Highs and Lows of Fallout 4 So Far

Columns By Christopher Coke on November 20, 2015

The Top 20 Highs and Lows of Fallout 4 So Far

Fallout 4 has been in the wild for a little under a week, and I’ve repeatedly lost myself in the wasteland, coming up for air on more than one sleep-deprived night. It’s early days, but with my experience, and that of countless other players sharing their thoughts on blogs, message boards, and sub-reddits, the RPG Files presents you with our Top 20 Highs and Lows of Fallout so far.

Plus Sword Coast Legends gets an update, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided gets a big delay, Pillars of Eternity’s - The White March Part II gets a release date, and more!

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Warning: Minor Early Game Spoilers Follow

1. High - The story is much better

Compared to Fallout 3, Fallout 4 deserves some kind of award for its story. Sure, it might not stand up to Dragon Age or The Witcher, but the tale of a man searching for his son resonated with me on a personal level. I’ve been ignoring most side quests to play the role of the father on a mission. It’s nice to have a meaningful purpose!

2. Low - The framerate is not

Sometimes the framerate is great. Other times, it plummets. Turning indoors often causes me to slow and stutter before it picks up again. This is a game where so much simulation is taking place in the background, though, where a little stutter can be forgiven.

3. High - Gunplay and combat are hugely improved

I went back to New Vegas to remind myself where we’ve come from, and it was embarrassing. Fallout 4’s gunplay is so much better that it makes you wonder how we ever made due. Try it for yourself and see. Fallout 4 could be played entirely as a shooter, which is a first for the series.

4. Low - The FPS and RPG systems clash making VATS much less satisfying

In fact, the first-person shooting has been elevated so much that VATS feels almost pointless. Sure, you need it to control your critical hits, but it’s frustrating to miss just because a dice roll said so. That the game is a better shooter also highlights how bad enemy AI is. Keeping popping your head out, bandit. I’m sure the I won’t shoot you this time.


Image Credit: usgamer.net

5. High - Your character can speak! (And the rest of the voice acting is pretty good too!)

Giving the character a voice breathes fresh life into the storytelling in Fallout 4. It’s refreshing to play a character that feels like a character instead of a vessel for your conversation inputs.

6. Low - You can’t backtrack in conversations as much.

That said, the dialogue is more limited this time around. You can’t just cycle through dialogue options as often as you could in the past, which makes taking in all of the lore that much harder.

7. High - Many players aren’t having trouble with bugs

My experience over the last ten hours or so has been very positive. There’s the occasional clipping issue but nothing that major and lots of players are reporting the same. Just check out the comments to last week’s article.

8. Low - Many others are having a terrible, game-breaking time

Unfortunately, a lot of that seems to be whether you’re unlucky enough to stumble upon them. Monsignor Plaza stands out as a particularly bad spot that is likely to crash your game simply by walking near it. Others report broken quests, graphical glitches, and NPCs that simply stop moving after you’ve talked to them (breaking their quests until you reload or rest).

9. High - Settlements are super deep and customizable

Minecraft meets Fallout: That’s an apt description of the game’s settlement system. You can make a small base with your workstations and a bed, or build up an entire homestead with stores, traders, gardens, turrets, and custom lighting for your sweet, sweet artwork collection. Generating enough resources to take care of your people is a game in itself.

10. Low - I’m still not sure what their point is

Except, everyone is still a little sure what the endgame is here. It’s very micro-manage-y, but to what end? If it’s simply housing, ala Skyrim’s Hearthfire, great. But there’s a lot to it for that, and it’s leading players to wonder about the point of it all.

11. High - The graphics are much improved

The Boston Commonwealth is beautiful in its dystopian squalor. I am loving the saturated aesthetic. Landscapes can be downright breathtaking.

12. Low - Character models, not so much

The character models, though… well, they’re still a little creepy. It’s clear something had to be sacrificed and, save some bad textures in the game world, it seems to be the characters.


Every Vault Boy is a Perk

13. High - Systems, systems, SYSTEMS!

Have I mentioned how deep this game is? Fallout 4 is a game of systems on top of systems. From building your character with dozens of perks, to your relationships with factions, to the mechanics of actually navigating the world and surviving this world, the game is rich in complexity.

14. Low - The game is frustratingly opaque

Yet, despite all that, Fallout does its level best to hide information from you. Quests and enemies no longer show you their level, for example, so when you die, you’ll probably wonder whether it was skill or simply the monster was simply too high. Settlement morale is another mystery. And why was it so hard to figure out that crafting tables automatically scrapped your junk?

15. High - “Everything has a purpose” crafting is pretty great

For the first time ever, everything in the world has a purpose. Junk can all be turned into valuable crafting resources to fuel the robust modification system. Every weapon and most armor can be modified to fit your playstyle, so hoard away, fellow pack-rats!

16. Low - I’m constantly bogged down by junk

Except, invest in strength first. My “collect all the stuff” mentality really got the better of me here. It’s a good thing your companions have spare inventory space you can cram into.

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17. High - Companions are useful, interesting, and have opinions

Companions each have strengths and weaknesses, and unique personalities to consider when taking them on the road. Their stories get teased out the longer you spend with them, making your relationships feel more organic.

18. Low - The dog is kind of lame

That said, the companion that should have been my favorite because I’m a sucker for fuzzy things on four legs, has been a let down. Number one, you can’t rename him, and I hate the name “Dogmeat”. Second, how many times can I say “How ya doin’ boy” before goes for my jugular? No pet command? Come on, Fallout, let me love.

19. High - The world is massive!

The Commonwealth is big. The main campaign will only take you through parts of it. Be prepared to explore if you want to see all Fallout 4 has to offer.

20. Low - There is a lot of loading

But like every Fallout before it, you can expect a loading screen anytime you die, enter or exit a building, or fast travel; which wouldn’t be so bad if they weren’t so long. It’s a fair trade off for a world as big and rich as this, but still. Loading. Lots of it.

Bonus. High AND Low -The incredible amount of freedom

This remains the biggest catch-22 for the series. You can go anywhere and kill (almost) anyone. It’s possible to lock out entire quest lines without realizing it, especially if you pop off “fun rounds” without saving first. It’s not uncommon for players to feel lost in a game like this. But that freedom also means that your adventure is your own. The simulation behind it all allows for emergent gameplay like few other RPGs giving rise to situations other players may never experience. Fallout 4 is the pinnacle of this game type and  gamers love it for that.

Quick Hits

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided has been delayed to August 2016. Originally due at the end of February, the team shared that they would need more time to meet their own high standards. After the flop that was Thief, this is a good delay.

Want to know what your character will actually say in those Fallout 4 dialogue sequences? Grab this mod to see your actual responses (one more reason to own on PC, I might add).

Shroud of the Avatar is keeping the information train rolling with this behind the scenes look at the making of the North Pinelands region. Is it just me or do the graphics look better here?

The excellent Pillars of Eternity will receive the second part of its White March expansion in late January 2016. The add-on will raise the level cap, continue the story with a new Barbarian companion, new abilities, and add a “Story Time Mode” to speed up the game.

Finally, Sword Coast Legends received a meaningful update which added 150 new DM items, 100 new monster abilities, companion specific skill trees, and a player stash. Check it out!

Christopher Coke / Chris has been a fan of MMOs since the mid-1990s when he cut his teeth on MUDs. These days he scours the internet for the latest and greatest multiplayer gaming experiences.