Fallout 4 was officially announced at this year’s E3 after the teaser hit the internet the week before. Excitement is understandably high, but so is trepidation about plans for the new installment of the beloved series and concerns over Bethesda’s track record with buggy releases and unreliable patches. I also have high hopes for this game, but several concerns as well. There’s, of course, some misplaced outrage over various hints, features, and images from the game but I’d rather talk about the game itself from now on. Here’s my breakdown of the good, the bad, and the ugly concerning the upcoming release of Fallout 4.
What I’m looking forward to
More, more, more seems to be the name of the game for Fallout 4, and I like the sound of that. More exploring, more crafting, more items, more to do. The first thing that really caught my eye is the ability to break down anything in the world for parts, though I imagine ‘anything’ is a bit ambiguous. I’m sure, like most games, there will be a lot in the world that the player will not be able to interact with, but from the looks of it you will be able to break down a lot of the objects around you to use in crafting. This new feature, of course, plays into to other features I’m excited about.
Crafting wasn’t always worth the time or effort in Fallout 3 as far as I was concerned. Other than a couple of exceptions, the items I found in the world, or could buy, were far superior to the items I could craft. I think the only thing I ever really used regularly from the crafted items was the dart gun, the rail gun, and the shishkebab. For the most part these items were fun, but limited in their usefulness and when I wasn’t using them they just took up inventory space. In the announcement we hear there are over 50 base weapons and an excess of 700 upgrades, but I don’t know how many of them are crafted items.
More interesting than the weapons though, is the announcement that players will be able to dynamically change the world with the new crafting system. Building settlements, houses, defenses, and the fact that NPCs will populate them after you build is pretty exciting to me. It gives a real sense of survival and rebuilding to be able to establish a foothold in the world and protect it from raiders and monsters. This will definitely be an improvement over previous games where you could have home of sorts, but no real sense of established security.
The new pip boy app, and real pip boy are also exciting. From the description it sounds like you will be able to download an app for iOS or Android that will give you a mobile pip boy which I believe will be connected to your in-game unit. To add to the uber-geekness of that, a special edition of the game will be available with a wearable pip boy replica that can also hold your smart phone, essentially putting a huge aspect of the franchise right on your wrist while you play. I haven’t decided if I’m going to fork over the extra cash for this yet, but I’m sure I’ll get the app either way.
Dogmeat will be more useful it appears. From gameplay video it looks like you can send your dog companion to fetch items that are within sight. This can certainly be a time saver, if done right, but it could also turn out to be a case of it being just as fast to do it yourself. Gimmick or not, I like the idea of the dog being more versatile and useful to the character.
Bethesda.net was part of the announcement but I don’t have too much information about it yet. It sounds like it will be Bethesda’s version of Steam or Origin, which could be a good thing. I have a very love/hate relationship with Steam so if this game won’t require me to log in to Steam and lock it to my Steam account then it’s a start. I bought a physical copy of New Vegas but since I let my son now use my original Steam account, which New Vegas is linked to, I can’t install it on my own PC until I buy a new copy. That’s just one of the minor irritations, but as far as I’m concerned as long as Bethesda.net is just like Steam then it’s no loss. If it’s better, then I will definitely call this a win.
Finally, the story sounds interesting and already has me hooked. It appears that you will play a survivor that actually witnessed the bombs fall before going into the vault. We don’t know yet how your character is alive after 200 years, but it’s got me intrigued. As usual for Fallout, and most RPGs that have character creation, you will be able to play a male or female character based on your choices during the opening sequence it looks like. This continues the trend of working character creation into the story that I remember from Fallout 3 and New Vegas, a concept I liked a lot.
What I’m worried about
First and foremost, Bethesda is notorious for buggy releases, and game-breaking patches. I got caught in the patch that broke my Fallout 3 for more than a month waiting for the fix. This is my biggest worry, I love the Fallout franchise and loved FO3, but the frustration of the bugs often had me walking away from the game for extended periods of time. Of course glitches and bugs are part of any piece of software, but I’ve played few games that have been as bad.
I’m also worried that crafting will be as useless as it is in many games, even past Fallout installments. There has yet to be a game that I found crafted items to be superior to those I could find or buy in game, which doesn’t make the time and inventory investment worth it in most cases. The only exceptions I can think of in my library is Guild Wars 2 when it comes to the higher level gear, and H1Z1’s crafting of ammo and building materials. When it comes to crafting items for your home/settlement, I’m worried that most of them will be useless cosmetics that would be great if the game were multiplayer so you could show off your settlement, or for streamers that can show it off to their audience. If I find that creating your home is only fun while you are doing it, but leaves little or no reason to return once done it will just wind up being a useless gimmick.
Lastly, Bethesda.net could just be another add-on app that is not any better than Steam. As a rule I don’t like added software that must be running, connected to the internet, and logged in to play a game. It’s just one more cog that, if broken, keeps you from being able to play. It’s one more program that must stay up to date. This is especially true in single-player games. If there is no cause to be online to connect to a server with other players, there should be no cause to be logged into servers in order to play. From my experience with New Vegas one had to be logged into Steam to play and while I never had my internet go down at the time, it stands to reason that without internet one cannot play. If that’s the case with FO4 I’ll be a bit perturbed should I lose internet and want to play one of my single player games.
Of course, my concerns are all just speculation. There will most likely be constant updates to the features and release notes for this game right up until release. As long as it’s playable on release day, with minimal bugs, I’m sure I’ll be happy. Let us know below what you are looking forward to or are worried about with the release of Fallout 4.
Teaser announcement trailer
E3 Gameplay first look