Checkpoint: 'Fallout' is getting bigger and better

“Fallout 4” has really raised the bar when it comes to how much content you can expect in your game. It's not perfect, and I can see several things that can be improved, but it is fair to say that “Fallout 4” is one of the best purchases that $60 will get you. (Courtesy/Bethesda Game Studios)

I’ve spent close to an entire day playing “Fallout 4,” the new blockbuster title from Bethesda, and I’m far from the most devoted fan of “Fallout.” My review is included in this issue, but there’s plenty of stuff that I noticed in the latest game that wouldn’t fit in my review. Without further ado, here are even more of my thoughts about “Fallout 4.”

First, the opening of “Fallout 4” is vastly superior to the boring information overload that was “Skyrim’s” opening. Character creation feels fairly natural, and the player is left to roam around a small Boston suburb minutes before the world is destroyed by nuclear warfare.

There’s so much hope and optimism, from the loving spouse to the prosperity on display and even the baby that the character can play with. It all magnifies the sense of danger when this paradise is shattered by the air raid siren. It’s an effective and engaging opening that drew me into the world of “Fallout 4” and made me sympathize with the main character.

Companions have been a mainstay in Bethesda games for years now, but somehow the companions you can recruit in “Fallout 4” feel much more compelling than those in previous “Fallout” games or “Skyrim.” There’s a great group of characters that you can recruit to your side, from a robotic detective to a drug-dealing madman and an investigative reporter with a penchant for insubordination. They feel like real people, even when some characteristics are exaggerated, but they’re infinitely better than the bland mercenaries and bodyguards that one could recruit in “Skyrim.”

While I’m on the companions, I should mention that the relationship system, wherein characters like or dislike the main character based on their actions, is ridiculous. It’s not just quest decisions that affect a character’s opinion of you. It would make sense for the policeman to dislike the main character taking bribes, but at other times it’s just weird.

For example, the devoted robot butler chastised me for taking life-saving drugs in the middle of a firefight, while the aforementioned madman clicked his tongue at me shortly after I recruited him because I wasn’t doing enough for the people. It’s a poorly-implemented system that should have been left on the cutting floor, but it doesn’t take away too much from the characters, as a few kind words are usually enough to make any character your friend again.

Last week I wrote about “wow” moments in games, or huge, memorable moments that makes a game stick in a player’s mind. I cited the atomic bomb from “Fallout 3” as one “wow” moment, and I’m glad to see that “Fallout 4” has several moments as impressive or more so than “Fallout 3” or the underwhelming moments in “Fallout: New Vegas.”

What really impressed me is that the game manages to disguise these moments, lulling the character into a sense of complacency before dropping a bomb on them. One moment midway through the story came right as I thought the action was done, only for my jaw to be dropped with an amazing spectacle that still makes me smile as I write this.

“Fallout 4” is by no means a perfect game, as the game has not managed to escape the technical issues that have plagued Bethesda games in years past. But “Fallout 4” has such a massive world, filled with so many intricate details, that it’s actually surprising how few bugs there are. “Fallout 4” has really raised the bar when it comes to how much content you can expect in your game. As I said, it is not perfect, and I can see several things that can be improved, but it is fair to say that “Fallout 4” is one of the best purchases that $60 will get you.


Edward Pankowski is life editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at edward.pankowski@uconn.edu.