released OUT NOW! Reviewed on Xbox One
Also on Ps4, PC
Publisher Bethesda softworks
You emerge from Vault 111 into a radiation-ravaged Massachusetts. The people of the New England Commonwealth are a fearful bunch, and that fear is centred on The Institute, a secretive scientific organisation which has been working on robotics for generations and has now seemingly mastered the technology to produce synthetic androids which appear indistinguishable from humans. And since the “synth” influx has coincided with a raft of suspicious disappearances, a spring of mistrust has flooded the settlements of the Commonwealth. It’s a rich premise that serves as the setup for philosophical pondering, Bethesda-standard warfare, and a slightly limp main questline.
But the heart of any Bethesda RPG lies in its world and its side-quests, and on this front, Fallout 4 delivers handsomely. Freed from the demands of longform storytelling, the game’s designers use secondary activities to tell engaging tales of the Commonwealth’s irradiated eccentrics, and the results are often hilarious. And although Fallout 4 may not be the largest open-world game of its kind, it is exceptionally well judged in terms of how it distributes its content. It’s also a very serviceable shooter.
There are rickety bits: some subpar character models, choppy framerates, wonky physics. There are a stack of glitches, too. In a sense, that’s always been the bargain that players willfully enter into in return for a game of this scope: hundreds of hours of play in an enormous gameworld in exchange for a little understanding when pet mutt Dogmeat clips into the floor. But in terms of worldbuilding and tone, Bethesda has delivered another confident triumph. While Fallout 4 may not arouse the sheer sense of excitement and newness that greeted Bethesda’s first take on the franchise, it’s nevertheless a deftly refined continuation of the concept. James Nouch
VATS no longer stops time: it just slows it down. So don’t hang around if you’d like to keep your face attached to your skull.
Yes, it was his pint you spilled.