Fallout 4 review: Through the Boston Commonwealth

Nadine Pacis
Fallout 4 review: Through the Boston Commonwealth
Nadine Pacis takes a run through the PlayStation 4 version of the Boston Commonwealth with this Fallout 4 review

Genre: Action RPG
Available platforms: Xbox One, Playstation 4 (reviewed), PC
Suggested for: Action RPG fans, open world lovers, narrative enthusiasts, Bethesda fans

The latest addition to Bethesda’s Fallout series feels familiar to seasoned fans but brings in a fresh set of tweaks and updates that enhance the overall gameplay. This time, Fallout 4 takes place in post-apocalyptic Boston where you end up as the lone survivor of Vault 111.

Fallout 4 is a pretty heavy game that takes you on an emotional rollercoaster, peppered with light moments and dark humor. It’s a long journey to the finish line, so better be prepared for hours and hours of gameplay.

But fret not, the journey is an exciting and rewarding one with twists and turns to keep you playing. 

AFTER THE BOMB. Screenshots from PlayStation 4 playthrough.

A post-apocalyptic Boston: Diverse, dangerous

Newcomers to the series will quickly find out that the game world is massive, dangerous, and dense.

Boston, or what is now called The Commonwealth, is well crafted with different areas that house a variety of irradiated creatures and mutants, as well as the not-so-occasional despicable humans.

To those well-versed in the world of Fallout, this is not surprising. However, we can appreciate the fact that The Commonwealth is creative and more diverse than ever before. The Commonwealth has a variety of biomes. There are the urban apocalyptic city districts, the simple yet thriving farms, the dead forests and eerie swamps, and even pleasant-looking beaches.

This is how side quests are done

There is much to explore in The Commonwealth and players are bound to stumble into some unsavory trouble or rewarding treasures at every turn.

Fallout 4 isn’t only large and dense in terms of the map and its contents, however. The game has appealing hidden quest lines that not only reward handsomely but also unravel well-written stories that mesh well with your personal journey.

These side quests will keep you busy and will eat up most of your time, but they will not feel like errands as what most open world action role-playing games tend to be like. The side quests vary and have compelling stories. They feel essential to understanding the Boston you’ve woken up to and how the nuclear war has affected humanity.

The characters you meet are also interesting. There’s a detective “robot” who acts, speaks, and thinks too much like a human. He can accompany you in your journey and is quite a handyman when it comes to picking difficult locks and hacking into heavily secured terminals. There’s also a determined journalist who’s on the hunt for a conspiracy that threatens every citizen in The Commonwealth. Other companions for your adventurer are available should you come across them in your travels. 

Most of the people you meet in The Commonwealth, including villains, have their own backstories that you are bound to uncover, making Fallout 4 such a difficult game to play when you’re more focused on the narratives.

The storylines and personalities in the game are complex, resulting in more than a handful of difficult decision-making moments.

Settlements for creatives

Aside from engaging sidequests, another reason for you to spend hours on the game is settlement building. Building settlements in Fallout 4 has become a favorite pasttime for many creative fans of Fallout, including yours truly.

There’s a feeling of accomplishment in developing towns and linking them to each other to create a massive and beautiful haven for survivors of the nuclear war.

It’s a nice distraction that has somewhat created a mini-game within Fallout itself, due to the fact that you have to be able to build and manage your resources for a safe and happy settlement.

The settlements give good reason for you to hoard every single item you see in the game. Important structures such as power generators and defense turrets have components that are difficult to spot in The Commonwealth, so hoarding certain objects such as desk fans and typewriters make a lot of sense despite the strain on the inventory.

Easier crafting equals easier hoarding

Building settlement structures are not the only reasons to keep you hoarding in The Commonwealth. Fallout gamers (specifically those who remember Fallout: New Vegas) will know that crafting weapons and armor has become an essential part of surviving in the game.

The easier crafting system in Fallout 4 encourages some hoarding, which could lead to difficulty when you need extra space in your inventory for more important items.

Looting from containers is faster and more organized with lists that quickly inform you of its contents. Searching for necessary components can also be made easier with a tagging system that can identify which items hold the particular components that you lack. Modifications for your weapons and power armor are also easier to understand. These modifications are also incredibly detailed and varied. Each modification impacts how your weapon works in the battlefield, which gives you more reasons to stress out over your inventory.

A more tolerable shooter game 

Speaking of weapons, using guns in Fallout 4 has never been better. It may not be an FPS masterpiece, but its updated system has made wielding guns more fluid and fun. Gone are the days of awkward and frustrating aiming in Fallout.

The Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System – VATS for short – also received some tweaks to give out some exciting slow-motion shooting action. A manual critical strike button has been enabled to trigger epic and bloody shots. You can also cancel slow-mos and critical strikes in case you make a mistake, such as realizing that critical strikes do not always mean death to the enemy.

Newcomers to the wasteland should also remember to never rely heavily on VATS. The system only aids you in targeting. It does not protect you from a hail of bullets from the submachine guns of a post-apocalyptic mafia. It also takes up much of your AP points, which is crucial in case you feel the need to run away from the firefight.

No handholding here

For all the great updates and tweaks to Fallout 4, the game lacks in explaining the finer details in gameplay. Depending on the player, this could be seen as a shortcoming on the side of Bethesda.

Both newcomers and nuclear war veterans may spend a little more time than necessary fidgeting through controls or figuring out the new systems. There are helpful gameplay details that are hidden from players’ immediate reach, especially when it comes to building your character or setting up your settlements.

For some gamers, the delight of discovering these important elements may be a welcome change. For others, figuring these out by themselves could be considered time-wasting.

App integration ups the immersion

Many developers have tried pushing specific companion apps for their titles and have failed in doing so due to the fact that it takes away from the immersive experience from the actual game. Bethesda has done an incredible job in integrating the Pipboy app with Fallout 4. The Pipboy app is linked directly to your in-game Pipboy to keep you immersed.

If connected to the same Wi-Fi network, the Pipboy app updates its information real time. The Pipboy app has all the functions of your in-game Pipboy. It can act as your handheld mini-map if you feel lost. It can also make it easier for you to switch weapons that are not on your shortcuts, and drop loot whenever your inventory is too full.

Those who snagged a physical Pipboy cradle with their Fallout 4 games can mount their handhelds on the device for the ultimate Pipboy experience, allowing you to snap one onto your wrist like a true vault-dweller.

A long and enjoyable journey

Bethesda proves with Fallout 4 that they are indeed the master of open world RPGs.

They have delivered the expected standards for a Fallout game: an immersive and well-written story set in a large, busy, and unforgiving world. They have also gone beyond hype and expectations through bold additions and subtle updates in gameplay. Fallout 4 highlighted the best of Fallout while fixing some of the series’ more frustrating elements.

It will not be a surprise if it breaks sales records and wins several Game of the Year awards. It is a game worthy of all the hype and recognition, and is a must-play for open world enthusiasts.

Fallout 4 is a massive, incredible, and exciting game that will keep you on your toes from start to finish, if you ever do finish it. – Rappler.com

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