VATS en­ter­tain­ment

SFX - - Reviews -

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.

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