“Fallout 4” review

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Despite the barren soil, terrifying mutants and obviously unclean water, I missed the wasteland.

“Fallout 4” has come to us with such promise and vision that it was terribly hard to decide how to review this game. Granted, it’s always difficult to review a Bethesda game that has an open world.

I suppose I’ll start with the basics that everyone knows. The game is, at its core, a “Fallout” title. There are side quests galore, tons of world to scavenge and explore, a plethora of characters to meet and recruit, and some interesting stories to make you think and really get into the world. That’s what all “Fallout” games are, and I’m glad to see that Bethesda hasn’t ruined that in any way, shape or form in its iterations on the franchise.

The V.A.T.S. gameplay mechanic from previous “Fallout” games has changed slightly this time around. It is less of a world pausing insta-cheat and more of a bullet-time function that still allows for complete attention to be on the battle. Personally, I think this nerfs V.A.T.S. enough to still make it viable for the player to use but also gives it a healthy bit of difficulty.

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It really is a pretty game. You’ll just have to decide which point of view provides the best view for you.

Boston, in which “Fallout 4” is set, provides a nice change of pace from desert wastelands and horribly crumbled capitals. While not wholly different from the Washington, D.C. setting in “Fallout 3,” Boston feels a little more thematically different with its suburbs and less Metropolitan destruction.

All these things make a good and expected “Fallout” setting and game. Giant mutant monsters, wasteland raiders, fun radio stations and a mild amount of dark humor are all what we know will be in these games.

What’s new is a little more exciting. Currently, my favorite addition to this recipe is the customization system for armor and weaponry. As you traverse through the nuked landscape, you’ll be able to take all weapons and gear you equip to workstations where you can modify them to your liking. Need your leather armor to have some pockets so you can carry more things? You can do that. Like your pistol but want to use it as a long-rage device as well? Put a scope on it. The levels of manipulation that are available to you are really impressive, and it does lend itself nicely to being able to play the game in the way you like. Also, armor now layers, so if you like some of your wasteland duds you can just slap your armor onto it. This doesn’t work for complete outfits, however, so don’t expect to armor out your haz-mat suit. And you can edit your power armor components, even giving them a sickass paint job, if your into that kind of thing.

The biggest and most ambitious addition may be the building system for the towns and settlements. While not really intuitive and lacking in some tutorials, the controls are fairly easy to learn if you take the time to sit down and figure out the rules. Mostly comprised of modular pieces which you can use to complete the most basic of buildings, you’ll spend all your junk that you don’t use to make guns and armor on houses, generators, water purifiers and more. Each settlement will need things like beds and defenses to make the inhabitants feel safe and happy after their basic needs have been met, too.

There truly isn’t an immediate benefit to having any of these settlements until you level up much higher in Charisma. At that point, you can set up shops and trade so that you can start purchasing all the items you need for armor and weapon modifications rather than having to go out and scrounge for them in the wasteland. I feel that the settlements and buildings really are for the game after completion of the main story for those who want to keep playing and really make the wasteland their own. For those who just like being a lone wanderer, don’t worry. Managing the settlements is completely optional.

Honestly, this is where I come to a bit of a halt. “Fallout 4” has some really impressive additions to its very expected offering. Of course, the graphics are improved over previous installments in the franchise, and the game does in fact feel a little bit more polished. I won’t mention the bugs people have reported running into because, honestly, I haven’t run into any myself, and that would be unfair to comment on anything I haven’t had contact with. At the end of the day, “Fallout 4” fulfills the Bethesda gap we’ve been walking in since “Skyrim” ran out of ways to entertain us.

Is this bad? Not necessarily, but it certainly means that “Fallout” has to do something more to garner us giving it a good review than beyond just being “Fallout.” The fact that Bethesda needed to incorporate a new crafting system and building management mechanic shows that “Fallout” needs new mechanics to achieve critical acclaim, and that alone really shows “Fallout” is aging.

This is a “Fallout” game in the truest sense. It is by no means a bad game, and it certainly deserves your attention as a truly good game for current-generation consoles which have been sorely lacking in role-playing games. Is this game-of-the-year worthy? I actually don’t think it is. Is this the best game we’ve had in a while? No, I don’t think that’s the case either. But is it fun? Absolutely.

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I’m honestly curious about how much time I log in customizing weaponry and armor.

If you’re a Bethesda fan or a “Fallout” fan then you are going to get what you pay for: A game that will suck the life out of you for hundreds of hours, and you’ll likely never complain about it. If you have never played “Fallout” before, then by all means, pick this game up for a truly fun experience. But make no mistake, this is exactly what we thought it was going to be, and that’s not bad, but it certainly isn’t more than good.

“Fallout 4” is currently available Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC through Steam.