I couldn’t believe it was happening. The excitement for this game’s announcement was near Half-Life 3 levels and deservedly so. The last 2 games in the series were some of my favorite games of all time. Yes, even New Vegas. Don’t be a hater.
The game opens with you in your quaint 1950’s house, having discussions with your spouse about your baby, how you need to get your Mr. Handy serviced soon, and eventually goes to the topic of the inevitable nuclear war. Just then, a salesman from Vault-Tec knocks on your door, wanting to ensure your spot in Vault 111 when the bombs drop.
Wouldn’t you know it? Within minutes of him leaving, you are running for your life. Running past all your friends and neighbors, the rest of civilization that doesn’t have a spot in the vault. As you get to the vault and the elevator starts to drop, BOOM, you see an explosion. The world turns a terrifying shade of orange, and the doors close above you. You and your family are safe.
I’m not going to dig deep into the story, as I want you to be surprised by the twists and turns that it takes. The main storyline is great, and as with other Fallout games, your choices can change the wasteland in a very visible way.
Let’s get real here, though. The draw for Fallout games is never the main storyline. It’s everything else you can do in the open world. It’s dealing with the different factions, finding companions, getting that perfect suit of armor, scavenging for that perfect gun, and finding that next bobblehead. It’s popping that super mutant’s head off with a sniper rifle from an obscene distance. You get all that and more in this game. If you thought you were testing the limits of your marriage with the last game, this one adds new mechanics that might just push it to the breaking point. Call your lawyer and get the divorce paperwork ready, and let’s dig into this.
First of all, when I play a game with role-playing elements, I always pick a female character. DON’T JUDGE ME! Anyway, something I love about Fallout games is all the different clothing options available to you. A downside to this particular Fallout game is that you have to make a choice: Either be fashionable, or have armor and not die immediately. I’m hoping that’s something they patch in later. I did my best to find a compromise i could be happy with. This is, seriously, the outfit I have worn through the majority of my play time.
Though, sometimes, a lady just needs a suit of power armor to get the job done. You get your first suit of power armor very early in the game, which I wasn’t a huge fan of. I haven’t used my suits of armor more than a handful of times, because they made me feel overpowered, as well as the fact that I didn’t spend all that time creating my characters look just to cover it up with a big metal helmet through the whole game.
I am a dog person in real life, so it makes sense that in the game my character would use Dogmeat as a companion whenever possible. When I first found him, mere minutes into the game, my first thoughts were “YAAAY PUPPY TIME” followed shortly with “I need to find him some armor. Wait, is there even armor for dogs in this game?” After my 60+ hours, I have finally found the last pieces to make Dogmeat look like the wasteland rock star he is.
There are downsides to having Dogmeat as your companion, though. The biggest downside, in my opinion, is that Dogmeat can be hurt. It’s not a bad gameplay mechanic, because an invincible companion would be stupid. Its a downside because seeing a raider kick my dog, and hearing his pained whine, sends me into an uncontrollable killing frenzy. A bloodlust that can only be sated by the complete annihilation of all living entities in the vicinity of my puppy. Also, I have wasted so many valuable stimpacks because it pains me so much to see my poor Dogmeat dragging himself around, barely able to move after a big fight.
A second downside is that now, when a raider sends an attack dog after me, I kill the raider and let Dogmeat handle the dog. I then praise Dogmeat after he rips the other dog’s throat out in an epic finishing move. QUIT JUDGING ME!
Really the only gameplay reason why Dogmeat sucks is for the sneaky type players. If you shoot at an enemy, he runs in, thirsting for blood. It makes sneaking much more difficult, and it may be a problem among all companion AI. Having only used Dogmeat, I can’t comment on that.
The biggest new mechanic that they added to the game is the addition of “Settlements,” and it’s a doozy. Think player housing, x1000. In the first 10 hours I played, I would bet that at least half of those hours were spent just customizing my first settlement, not knowing that I would be able to get other settlements in the future. Truth be told, I have no idea how many settlements are actually available, but there are a ton, and you can customize every single one. When you first get a new settlement, it’s usually a trash covered pit of junk, and it’s your job to change that. From clearing out fallen trees and piles of tires to building new houses, trading depots, salvage stations and supply lines, to keeping your current settlers happy, it’s all up to you and your creativity.
So, because you have to build power lines, water pumps, houses, turrets, guard posts, etc., you need materials. You get materials from getting rid of all those fallen trees and tires, sure, but the good stuff comes from exploring the wasteland. Everything in the game can be salvaged. This has changed the loot mechanics in a very interesting way. Now, when you are in that final room of a long quest, having just killed a boss, you will be more excited to pick up that desk fan for its sweet, sweet screws rather than the missile launcher sitting on his dead body. It is a very smart way to make all that junk you see sitting around useful, and you will wish you maxed out strength to carry it all home with you. I did not, so I found myself loading up Dogmeat with as much as he could carry just to get a little bit more back to my settlement.
Along with crafting for your settlement, you can also use materials to upgrade your guns, clothing, and power armor to suit your playstyle. One thing you can’t craft, however, is ammunition. It sucks, and is something I hope that they will patch in later on.
The game isn’t perfect, I have run into a few bugs, but not nearly as many as others have claimed. Because I am playing the PC version, every bug I have encountered was easily fixable by using a console command or two, but I imagine those bugs would be pretty irritating for you console peasants out there. Also, the radio is entertaining for the first hour of the game, but after the fourth or fifth play through of “Atom Bomb Baby”, you will find yourself switching to the classical station, or putting pandora on while you play.
So, how would I rate this game? It’s a really great game with a solid storyline and no shortage of things to do. The positives far outweigh the negatives. With that said, I give the game 9 out of 10 Dogmeat throat-rips. I highly recommend buying this game for PC if you have a system that can handle it, as there will be a ton of mods released in the coming months to fix the bugs and add all new gameplay elements.
Thanks for reading! Let me know if you agree with me in the comments below.