In what was probably the most obvious reveal since Superman’s secret identity (we were pretty dumb kids in the 80‘s, apparently), we got a countdown from Bethesda. It was a simple timer, done up in a 50s style, with the words “Please Stand By” in the background; to most people, it’s pretty unassuming, but to fans of Bethesda’s work, it may as well have been the announcement we’d all been waiting for. When the timer finally hit zero, Bethesda decided to wow the world with the first official Fallout 4 trailer, not only giving us a delivery date, but confirming a few details about this latest installment in the award-winning franchise. Set for a release later this year, Fallout 4 is going to take us back east to the ruins of Boston, exploring a nuclear war scarred landscape while being attacked by ghouls, mutants, and raiders as we sift through the monuments of the former United States.
Even though a fake trailer came out in late December 2013, it did get our creative juices flowing a bit for the next installment of Fallout, Bethesda’s iconic post-apocalypse RPG. With a library’s worth of lore, a set of mechanics that do the job, and a bestiary of enemies, factions, and weapons that’s spanned five titles and almost twenty years, we know that we expected something great. So since then, we’ve narrowed down our own little wish list of the top three things we want to have with us as we return to the Wasteland for another round of Vault spelunking, junk hoarding, cap collecting, and running scared away from Deathclaws.
A Rich, Giant World
With Bethesda’s other award winning game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, gamers learned exactly how beautiful and involved an open world game could really be; needless to say, we’d love to see post-nuke Boston get the same kind of TLC as Tamriel. And, of course, we’re talking the whole package; a realistic day/night cycle, weather patterns, and a world that’s as large as possible to let us explore. Particularly for PS4 owners, this is where we can really open our hardware up and get an amazing experience; if Fallout 4 really pushes the PS4 hardware to the limit, we know we’re going to get a graphically amazing game full of realistic water, faces with depth and feeling, and monuments so true to life, you’ll feel like you’re getting a free walking tour of Boston’s historic downtown all from your couch.
Of course, the world itself is only part of the picture. Like we said earlier, Fallout 4 already has a great library of characters and factions to draw from, and a revisit in one or two of them would be a real treat for the fans. Depending on the timeframe of Fallout 4, we’ve already got possible entry points for the Enclave, the self-proclaimed government of the United States, the iconic techno-soldiers of the Brotherhood of Steel, and, going back to the early PC games, the Master and his army of Super Mutants. In addition, from the lore of other games, we’ve got the Commonwealth, the group that apparently controls the Boston area in much the same way that the NCR did in Fallout: New Vegas, but with the added benefits of the Institute (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and their rumored creation of androids and other AI. Throw in the usual faction of raiders like the Jackals or the Vipers and some mostly independent towns, and we’ve got a ball game. Whether Bethesda chooses to play it dark and make their own post-apocalypse Game of Thrones or keep the same kind of tone that’s pushed them as far as it has, we’re hoping for a world that, while destroyed, feels just as large, just as thought out, and essentially, just as real as the one we’re living in now.
Fallout has always been easy for anybody to fall into (pardon the pun); from the veteran RPG fanatic to the absolute novice, picking it up and figuring out how everything works has been, more or less, intuitive. Specifically for the real RPG junkies, the improvements in Fallout: New Vegas were a real step toward much more immersive gameplay, giving us real iron sights, customizable weapons and ammunition, and the survival-centric Hardcore mode that made us eat, sleep, and hydrate while we trekked across the Mojave. Combat in Fallout, ever since Fallout 3, however, has always seemed very disjointed; on one end, you’ve got a lot of blind swinging of melee weapons like Link sans Navi, and on the other, you’re essentially pausing the game every few seconds to line up another V.A.T.S shot. What we really want with Fallout 4 is, again, the same kind of tough love that Skyrim got. When we’re walking around like the Ghostbusters (with unlicensed nuclear accelerators on our backs), we as gamers want both an enemy worth our time and talent, and the game mechanics to keep things interesting. Essentially, smarter AI, more enemies, and a combat system with a little more panache. The mod community for Fallout has been nothing but innovative, and it would really blow our minds if we could get some of that innovation moved onto the new generation of consoles.
In many ways, Bethesda games are like purebred German Shepard puppies; they’re beautiful, they’ve got spirit, and when stacked up to other dogs, they just seem all-around better. Unfortunately, these puppies also, for no reason, decide to piddle on all of our clothes at random intervals. In this situation, we really, really like the pups; we just wish they’d stop piddling on our clothes. If you understood that, you understand gamers’ relationship with both of Bethesda’s giant franchises, The Elder Scrolls and Fallout. Both, unfortunately, had a pretty solid share of bugs and glitches that weren’t able to get fixed, and they could range from the innocent phasing through walls into the truly horrifying inability to play through DLC or finish important side quests. However, Bethesda is still an incredible studio, so much so that we keep buying and playing their new titles, regardless of these little snafus; In a time where the boss of Ubisoft Montreal had to release DLC for free as an apology when Assassin’s Creed: Unity bugged out, the fact that we overlook these things in Fallout is simply staggering.
However, it would make everything much more pleasant if Fallout 4 tried to be more functional than its predecessors, even at the expense of some next-level features. Bethesda, we love you, we really do, and, more importantly, we know you’ve got it in you to make a cleaner game. If that means pushing back the release date a bit to clean things up, we may gripe and grumble a bit, but we only do it because we know that Fallout 4 is going to be great.
Well, now that this review’s out of the way, I think its time to start raiding trash cans for potato chips and bottle caps. Until Fallout 4 comes out later this year, I suppose it’ll have to do...