My name is n0signal, and I didn't like Fallout 3. I remember when it was released and my friend was all over it like a rash, and repeatedly tried to get me to play it, but to me it just looked like "Oblivion with guns" (which is precisely what Bethesda said it wasn't). When my birthday rolled around, my friend bought me Fallout 3 anyway because he was *convinced* I would enjoy it, so I installed it on my gaming-rig (I was a member of the so called 'master race' back then before I abandoned them for Read Dead Redemption and Demon's Souls) and played through roughly 20ish hours before I decided that I in fact DID NOT like this videogame that was almost *exactly* like "Oblivion with guns", except with an over-reliance on the awful VATS system and behind-the-scenes die-rolls reminiscent of Morrowind. Yeah, good luck trying to shoot that bloatfly out the air, even at point blank f**king range!! Break out the "pause time and click on people's heads" cheese system!! Lame. So when Fallout 4 was announced for a November release this year, I couldn't have given less of a s**t, so much so that it didn't factor at all into my game-playing plan for this year. November was the month of Persona 4 Dancing All Night, which is *awesome* by the way - review forthcoming.
However, this year I've been enjoying being involved in the hype surrounding new games, with pretty much all my GOTY nominees being subject to a lot of community gossip and goodwill, including Bloodborne, Witcher 3 and Metal Gear Solid V. November seemed like it was going to be the first month where I was going to miss out on all the excitement, and have to sit and read through tons of commentary from people playing a game that I simply wouldn't understand. Since some of my most cherished games have been sequels to other games I didn't like, I thought perhaps it was worth giving Fallout 4 a go, a fair trial, I'd pick it up and see what all the fuss was about and if it was just Fallout 3 all over again I could at least trade it in and pick up something else instead. It really was to my surprise that not only do I actually enjoy Fallout 4, but I'm *really REALLY* enjoying it!! A LOT! Whereas to many it may seem like a given, I'm genuinely surprised by how much I've been enjoying this game and how much it is gripping me and how many hours I'm sinking in. I'll obviously be writing a full review once I've finished it (enough to move on to the next game anyhoo), but I'd like to highlight some of the things that I'm finding personally improved the Fallout experience for me.
Firstly, I really love my character. In the Elder Scrolls games I enjoy creating my own completely original character, complete with my own imagined backstory, personality, etc. and then rolling through Tamriel doing whatever the hell I want. But in Fallout 4 it seems like Bethesda decided to go the 'commander shepherd' route and take away some of that control in order to have a more fleshed out protagonist, and in my opinion this suits Fallout very well. I'm playing a female character called Betsy Draper (obviously ripped from Mad Men but it fit with the pseudo-1950s vibe) who is classy and sassy, always choosing the sarcastic dialogue option when available, and generally smack-talking her way through the wasteland. She has so much charisma, and the 'black widow' perk maxed early on, that another character remarked "If we could use harsh words like bullets we'd have taken the Commonwealth by now!". She's also really pretty, which is something revolutionary for a Bethesda game. I can't speak for the male protagonist, but the voice acting for my female character is *fantastic*, really good work and plays well off the other characters. Whilst some of her backstory forms the backbone of the game's plot (i.e. the death of her husband and kidnapping of her son), I've decided that she never really loved her husband, and has used the apocalypse as an excuse to start her life over again; free from society's judgmental attitudes, she's experimenting with lesbianism at the moment and has enjoyed a fling with the singer at The Third Rail dingy nightclub.
One of the things I really didn't like about Fallout 3 was the overwhelming drabness of it all. I know, I know, it's post-apocalyptic and nuclear fire has destroyed the world, but there's only so long I can stand walking about a brown wasteland, with a brown sky, and brown water, and brown brown BROWN. *sigh* It was too much and very depressing to play. I also remember nothing at all about the music, which is a shame because the haunting melodies of Jeremy Soule were some of the more memorable things from my time playing the Elder Scrolls games, to the extent that whenever I hear those soundtracks I still think of the scenery that I walked and the sights that I witnessed. Fallout 4 is a much brighter and more colourful game, with varied landscapes that often look very beautiful whilst still looking post-apocalyptic, causing me to stop and take screenshots frequently. A big part of this is obviously the improvements to the lighting system, with naturalistic day-night cycles augmented by light shafts through trees and realistic materials rendering making the whole world feel a lot more real and interesting to spend time in. Also, the ambient music is much, much better than before, and I only use the pip-boy radio for tuning into distress signals because the melancholy score is just such a good compliment to the visuals. This might all seem a bit trivial to most people, but if I'm spending hours and hours wandering a vast open world I want to it to look and sound good, and I really like games with a sedate pace and ambiance out the wazoo.
I *love* power armour!! It's no longer a special type of outfit you get over half way through the game but instead Fallout 4's power armour acts more like a vehicle, with you getting in and out in the most BADASS of animations, and whilst keeping your currently equipped outfit on underneath. I even started taking off the helmet so that my human head poked out the top, replete with aviators and a tricorn hat! You get a basic, and slightly crappy, suit of power armour early on in the game but whilst journeying through the wasteland you'll constantly pick up spare components that you can swap out, and eventually a few entire suits. I've built myself a "garage" back in Sanctuary so that I can store them all now, and I'm trying to get a collection of different types and builds. They're also very modifiable: when I journeyed into the severely radioactive "glowing sea" I covered one in lead for extra shielding, you can build in extra doo-dads that help you target stuff in VATS, and even make a goddamned jetpack!! It's very rare in Fallout 4 that you'll go anywhere on your own, unless you spec for it using certain perks, as usually you'll want one of the many companions with you to provide fire support and to carry all your extra s**t. Well, one of things you can make them do is climb inside a spare suit of power armour so that you can both kick some ass in a nuclear-powered mecha; the only thing missing is a robotic dog-robot for your canine buddy to jump into. DLC opportunity confirmed!
There are lots of other improvements and things that I like in Fallout 4, which I'll talk about in more detail when I review the game, such as the cheeze-removal of VATS (you no longer freeze time but instead just slow it down - I've been killed by 'assaultron's whilst trying to target their glowing-about-to-fire-at-me heads!) and the drastically better gunplay, courtesy of ID Software's support. You can now run and gun with almost-FPS levels of accuracy, and often this is preferable to relying on your pip-boy, making the game a lot more exciting and it feels really good to play. As I mentioned before, its a genuine surprise to me how much I'm enjoying this game, as I basically thought I wouldn't like it at all, but I'm sitting here typing this whilst wearing a Fallout 4 hoodie thinking about what I'm going to do next when I jump back in tonight or tomorrow. Perhaps a GOTY contender? I wouldn't say so just yet, as I think it's still got some problems such as encumbrance and the clunky awful inventory (something that the Witcher 3 fixed through patches so there's still hope), but certainly another great game release for an already crowded 2015.