I shouldn’t be enjoying Fallout 4 as much as I now am.
Before I continue, I have to tell you that I am a HUGEMONGOUS Fallout fan, both of the video games as well as its universe. I’ve spend many accumulated months playing through the first two games, several times, and I read the Fallout Bible. I have played the long-defunct and now very little-known Van Buren tech-demo (look it up), spent an unhealthy amount of time playing both Fallout 3 and New Vegas and I’ve also played the fan-made Fallout Pen and Paper RPG – yes, such a thing exists. I have, of course, also played the runt of the litter – Fallout Tactics. That one I did not enjoy as much. However, all of this dedication stems largely from Fallout’s atmosphere and stylistic approach.
So let me put it out on front street, Fallout 4 is nothing like its predecessors. It’s extremely different from the isometric originals and it differs a bit from the 3D entries in the franchise as well.
Fallout 4 isn’t an original Fallout game
Much of the Role-Play aspect of the originals is set aside. Pretty much the only “role-play” that you can do is in the revamped stat and perk system, because there is only the bare-bones of a dialogue system left.
The dialogue system was a major part of the appeal of the original Fallout games, offering a variety of choices – influenced by a bunch of variables – ranging from the clear-cut to the more morally ambiguous, to the simply hilarious and comical ones.
This is where Fallout 4 fucks up royally.
Fallout 4 offers a severely dumbed-down version of this dialogue system – meant to appease the console player market. Similarly, the focus on the First Person Shooting aspect of the game appeals to that target audience as well. In Bethesda’s defense, this has been true since Fallout 3, but even more-so in numero cuatro.
On paper, things look bleak for me and other players like myself, who are more interested in talking their way through the post-apocalyptic wasteland and exploring this weird alternate version of the future but…
I prefer to light a candle than curse the darkness
And I want to share with you why I am enjoying Fallout 4 so much more than I should be, given the described circumstances.
A quick detour first
Gamers have been artificially increasing the level of difficulty of games since ever, pretty much. By self-imposing all manner of restrictions upon their play style. Play without healing, use only one type of attack or weapon etc. These restrictions depend both on the type of game, as well as on the player’s self-supervision.
But what happens when to play a game, you are restricted by your available technology? Not that you restrict the technology, but the technology restricts you.
Well in the case of Fallout 4, it turns the game into more of a stealth/survival and resource management game, not a FPS with some lite-RPG elements in it. And it’s very good when you look at it from that perspective.
Fallout 4 the stealth/survival game
Technically I shouldn’t be able to run Fallout 4. The game’s minimum requirements are as follows:
Windows 7/8/10 (64-bit OS required)
Intel Core i5-2300 2.8 GHz/AMD Phenom II X4 945 3.0 GHz or equivalent
8 GB RAM
30 GB free HDD space
NVIDIA GTX 550 Ti 2GB/AMD Radeon HD 7870 2GB or equivalent
And my laptop’s specs are as follows:
Intel Core i5-4210M CPU @ 2.60 GHz
6 GB RAM
NVIDIA GeForce 825M
I’m not really able to run Fallout 4. Not even at an acceptable level in the lowest of low graphics options. My rig doesn’t even show up among low-end laptops to this game.
I can sort-of run it in windowed mode, on three-quarters of my screen, in the lowest of low graphics options possible. Even in these circumstances it is far from acceptable, it stutters a lot, sometimes it crashes and I made it something of a habit to play a bit of Fallout Shelter during the loading screens.
However, I am able to play it because I do my very best to keep as few things on-screen as possible. You can consider what follows a list of Fallout 4 tips meant to allow you to maybe give the game a try.
This means I’m playing the game without companions, even though I’m a dog person. Dogmeat would surely create all kinds of issues for me and my play-style. Problems ranging from having another moving model needing render, to attracting enemy attention when I don’t wish that to happen. This is where the Lone Wanderer perk makes all the sense in the world.
I spend most of my time, crouched, armed with a self-crafted silenced sniper rifle of sorts, sniping suckers out from a comfortable distance. Even my shotgun has a silencer.
Benefits of recon and patience
My low-end rig has made me play the game in a more stealthy and strategic way than I believe most players will.
It has made me appreciate the benefits of proper recon and patience. Whenever I’m going into a new area for a mission, I make sure to scout around the area from afar first, dealing with the guards and getting a better understanding of where I am to nearby landmarks. This makes it a much more immersive and role-play friendly approach, since that would be the way one would go into a derelict building filled with super-mutants looking for some doohickey.
Due in part to the stealth approach, and to the fact that I noticed the game moving even more shitty in general when I’m in Power Armor, I also tend to limit Power Armor use to only when I know I’ll need it. For instance, when going into said super-mutant infested building or some place crawling with mirelurks and shit.
Once inside however, your options for keeping as little movement on-screen as possible are a bit more limited. This is where stealth, silenced weapons and mines comes into play. In order to make things as easy for my laptop as possible, I would also, ALWAYS, activate the Protectrons – if there are any – with their Law Enforcement protocol. I’d stand back and wait for them to do a nice clean and sweep of the floor they are on.
Power Armor musings
I am rather torn on the quick availability of Power Armor though. In the original games, getting Power Armor was a major part of the games. Of course, you DIDN’T have to get it, but you wanted it for the obvious benefits. On the other hand, due to the heavy mod crafting system implemented in the game, as well as the fact that using Power Armor is resource limited, seems to counteract the fact that you get one so early in the game.
What I do like about its design is how Iron Man costume-ish it is. Whenever I get in and out of one I’m reminded of that scene in Iron Man 3 when Tony “parks” his suit in a car parking spot.
What Fallout 4 gets right
Despite the lack of true role-playing, Fallout 4 does get some things rights, namely the world and the wandering.
The Fallout 4 setting, namely Boston and surroundings part of the American Wasteland, seems like a very open and “living” world. Whilst traveling you’ll encounter factions fighting other factions, raiders attacking traders, super-mutants being super-mutanty, you know the drill.
I really enjoyed the look of the synths. At first they’re like “I, Robot” aesthetics, which is a nice approach, but once you start damaging them they look a little like Terminators, which again, I like. Basically two great tastes that taste great together.
The Crafting System
I absolutely loved this detailed crafting system. Each upgrade comes with pluses and minuses making you make a choice on how and where you’ll be using said weapons or armor. Loved the ways that you could combine chems, cook food for buffs and most importantly, make adhesive.
Where the Wonderglue at?
The crucial need for glue, in my opinion, is one of the best, little touches to increase realism, possible. It makes sense, that in a post-apocalyptic world, in which people are living off the decay of the dead world, keeping things together is almost as important as having them in the first place. Think about it.
In our not post-apocalyptic (yet!) world, once something breaks, whatever it is, odds are we throw it away and get a new one. Well, in Post-Apocalyptia, that’s not an option, you need to fix your shit up and do your best to keep it together for as long as humanly possible, because as far as you’re concerned, that might be the only one of that thing left in existence.
So yeah, Wonderglue and duct tape should be the actual currency of the wasteland, not caps.
Settlement building system
The truly new Fallout 4 idea and addition to this game is the fact that you can build and manage entire settlements. This means you can plant crops, build power generators, build defenses for your settlers to use. If nothing else, this is a massive time sink that I’m sure appeals to at least a contingent of some players. As far as I’m concerned, it’s just one thing that I could be doing with my time, but I’m having much too much fun exploring the Wasteland so I prefer to do that and usually use the settlements as sources of ingredients for vegetable adhesive.
But the devs put a lot of time and detail into it, there are perks associated with it, I’m sure there’s a whole other mini-game of building and management somewhere in this system, but I’m here to explore Post-Apocalyptia goddamnit!
What Fallout 4 fucks up, modders fix
After awhile of playing the game like I described I started looking for ways of making it run less shitty.
Thankfully there’s a Fallout 4 low-end graphics mod available which made it slightly less shitty. So make sure to check that out if you’re in a similar situation to mine.
There’s also a full dialogue mod which makes the dialogue system less cryptic and generally less shitty. It allows you to see the entire dialogue line, as opposed to just a tiny part of it, so at least you’ll be sure what the fuck you’re saying.
There are crap-tonnes more mods available out there, but these are the two that I considered to be most important to enhance my experience with the game.
At the end of the day though, it is quite unfortunate that Bethesda have chosen to take it this route with the Fallout franchise. I understand the reasons, of course, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. Having the benefit of a more capable computer I would’ve probably breezed through the game’s main storyline by now, shooting everything that moves or that shoots at me.
I think those of us interested in the role-play aspect of the Fallout franchise have to start looking either to the past – to Fallout 1, Fallout 2 and Fallout: New Vegas, gather up some real-life humans and fire-up a game of the Fallout Pen and Paper RPG or look forward into the Fallout modding communities.
I am aware of two story-based modding projects that promise very different things.
The first one is called Fallout 1 – The Story, whose aim is to transfer the entirety of Fallout 1’s story into Fallout: New Vegas. Basically allowing us to replay Fallout 1 in a 3D environment.
The second one is called Fallout New Vegas: Project Brazil and this one is close to its final version. It’s an almost complete conversion mod, offering a different experience, basically a new game, taking place in roughly the same area as Fallout: New Vegas does.
Let me know in the comments about other Fallout 4 and Fallout: New Vegas mods to keep an eye out for!
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