You might not have noticed, but a little game called Fallout 4 quietly arrived on PS4, Xbox One, and PC a few weeks ago. It was a fairly low key launch and event on the gaming calendar, so I’ll forgive you if you need to go hit up Google and brush up on your knowledge of the game. I’ll wait here.
Fallout 4 was the biggest of big deals, and when it was released, it hit the gaming world like an atom bomb, tearing personal lives and commitments asunder as average, unassuming citizens like you and me began to hoard so much ashtrays, duct tape, phones, clipboards, and bobby bins that they were in danger of appearing on one of those terrible TV shows.
There has also been muttering dissent. That Fallout 4 runs poorly, that it has glitches; that it crashes, that it’s not different enough from Fallout 3, which was also released to massive fanfare way back in 2008. I have a few caveats to these arguments right off the bat. First up, when Fallout 3 turned out to be the best thing since the Supersledge, what did we all cry for? That’s right, a sequel to Fallout 3. We got New Vegas a few years later, which was also fantastic, and since then, we heard nary a whisper about a new Fallout title, save for a canned MMO. That is until E3 of 2015 where the nuclear apocalypse arrived again, and we welcomed Armageddon home with open arms.
Fallout 4 is very much a follow up to Fallout 3, the clue is in the number at the end of the title. Many of the systems are essentially the same, with a few major changes. The graphics look much better, the gunplay is improved immensely, the systems and skills are streamlined so you can change your character on the fly and aren’t locked into poor skill choices early on. The character models actually look like human beings now, and your main character is fully voice acted. Everything about the story and the questing has been improved. There is a hugely deep weapon crafting, armour making, and settlement building system added that’ll make you horde everything, and could become a game, in of itself. Fifteen hours in, my girlfriend still hasn’t left Sanctuary; she’s been building her town and home just right. I bet when she ventures for real into the wasteland, she’ll probably just be doing it to get more supplies. There’s something in Fallout 4 for everyone.
There’s all that new, with the same wry sense of humour, terrifying foes, unpredictable difficulty, and massive open world filled with quests and emergent moments of game play. For some reason, many people seem to think this is a bad thing. Has anyone heard of Call of Duty?
It’s strange that a series that has been releasing a new title year on year for about a decade now with the barest signs of iteration for the most part, seems to get a free pass. Every year we sit down to see if this year’s Call of Duty is better than last years. There is the murmur of how it’s a cash grab and all that, before we settle down to actually see what the difference is. We walk away from a few minor changes, nodding fervently, saying to ourselves, hmm, yes, this is better than Ghosts, better than Modern Warfare 3, about as good as Advanced Warfare, not quite as good as Black Ops 2 or Modern Warfare 1, but I tell you, nothing still tops Modern Warfare 2. Let’s see what they do next year.
While Fallout 4 is decried for having a low frame rate, glitches, and being more of the same. Like more of the same isn’t all gamers want. How well did The Master Chief Collection sell? How well is The Nathan Drake Collection doing? Why do the last two games I bought before Fallout 4 end with the number 5? Why are we all surprised that a Bethesda title has a low frame rate, not-quite-up-to-par graphics, and glitches? It’s what Bethesda do.
In the same way that Activision make a Call of Duty every year and Bungie consistently try to drain your wallets with Destiny to make you pay five times over for a game that’s still a fraction of what we were promised at launch. Why is it such a terrible thing that a game otherwise as fantastic and huge as Fallout 4 has a few minor technical issues? Metal Gear Solid V had a huge chunk of the story missing. The Master Chief Collection still barely works. Call of Duty games are still marketed with their season passes. Destiny is adding microtransactions. Get angry about all that. Not about frame rate, or Dogmeat occasionally falling through the floor.
I guess the point of all this is, why can’t we just be happy when a game is good, and when we enjoy playing it? Nothing I’ve experienced in Fallout 4 has made me regret a single penny I’ve spent on it. I’ve seen minor glitches, I’ve seen major ones.
Just do what you do in every open world RPG. Save every five minutes, and be happy that while the hard core decry systems being simplified, instead realise that this is refinement of game design that ultimately saves you rerolling a character three times over until you’ve got the perfect build. There are no perfect builds, every build works. There are no perfect games, play whatever you find fun.
If you love Fallout 4, shut up and go play it, because as soon as you finish it, you’ll be whining for the first DLC pack, and once all that’s done, you’ll be gurning for Fallout 5. While you’re at it, remember that Bethesda practically invented good DLC (horse armour not withstanding) so when you see a pitch to sell you the Fallout 4 season pass, remember that you’ll probably get four or five new sizeable in game areas, rather than a handful of maps and a few gun skins. There’s so much out there to get pointlessly riled up on the internet about. Leave Fallout 4 out of it.