[There will be spoilers to the Fallout 4 in this game in this blog post, so if you don’t want to know – stop reading!]
It’s certainly no secret to the people who know me that I am a little bit addicted to the game Fallout 4. The game came out in November 2015, however I didn’t get to play it until December when I got the game as a Christmas present. I am fairly new to the gaming scene, only recently buying an Xbox One a few months ago and my old Xbox 360 a year or so before that so this is the first Fallout game I have ever played. In fact I hadn’t really heard of Fallout before so I didn’t really know what it was about. Watching the opening titles reminded me of Call of Duty Ghosts, so I was thinking this game might be like an extended and elaborate Call of Duty campaign (apparently I didn’t really question why it was named ‘Fallout’).
I quickly learnt this game was about the Earth in the future, which seems to be heading towards destruction due to international tensions over declining resources. As the opening titles suggest, there may be a war coming. As a player you’re left with this notion and introduced to the part where you can create your own character.
Although the voiceover in the opening sequence is male, this is the chance where you can choose to play as a female character, with the male character continuing to live on as a character in the Fallout 4 storyline. However when I say ‘live on’ this is only for a short amount of time, as bombs fall and the family seek safety in Vault 111: an underground stronghold generously provided by the company Vault-Tec where certain eligible people can be protected from the danger above. Our characters are allowed into the vault because of the male character’s previous military service. There is another member of the family: the baby Shaun, who becomes a key part of the storyline when he is kidnapped by a man. In this scene we witness the father being shot but are unable to do anything because we are frozen in a cryogenic chamber. Now because I chose to be the female character the father dies, however if I had chosen the male protagonist it would have been the mother that got shot. Shaun is taken away and we are refrozen again, until the system apparently crashes and we awake from our chamber, find a way out of the vault and negotiate the world above in an attempt to find and rescue Shaun. We quickly find out that the world has completely changed, the wildlife has been weaponised due to radiation and the people aren’t any better with raiders, gunners and supermutants all looking to dominate the rest of the population.
The gameplay straight away encourages you to take charge of your own survival, as you have to go scavenging for food, water, weapons, ammo and armour. Pretty quickly in the story you come across your first companion, the adorable Dogmeat who can accompany you through the whole of the story if you want (and why wouldn’t you, look at his face!)
There’s no doubt as to why this game is so popular, the gameplay is full of tasks that you can chip away at, from salvaging buildings you come across, to the largest story missions which require more effort but allow you to glimpse who might be behind Shaun’s kidnapping. What I really like about the game is that you get lots of choice in how you want to play the game, you aren’t following a heavily structured storyline as it follows a more open world dynamic. This actually allows you to progress in the story in different ways: either doing the smaller tasks that teach you more about the post war world and mean you get to level up before tackling harder tasks or pursuing the main storyline straight away, all the way through to the end. In addition to this, you get a choice of what to say when your character is talking to other characters in the game. You get four options, each of which could facilitate a different response as quite often in the dialogue there are opportunities to threaten, persuade or bribe the other person. If you successfully persuade a character then you can gain access to information you probably wouldn’t have got any other way and you earn XP points which are beneficial if you want to level up sooner rather than later.
This freedom I think is really important for a story game as it shows that developers have put a lot of effort into actually creating a whole world, not just a set of different environments that the character just moves through. As a character you build relationships with the potential companions you meet and you become responsible for the people under your care when you ally with different settlements. There is a real sense that you belong in this world, which then makes the game more addictive and compelling because you as a gamer form an attachment with the world and it’s people. I’m really looking forward to exploring all this world has to offer and hopefully make the right choices when I progress further with the storyline.