E3 2015: Bethesda’s Big Two (Part 2: Fallout 4)
Fallout, most notably Fallout 3, is one of the most immersive RPG series to date continues to live on until this day thanks to its dedicated community keeping it alive through game mods and custom addons. The gameplay reveal of Fallout 4 at the end of Bethesda’s conference made the crowd go wild, all the teasing was over and we got to see how this next masterpiece was shaping up and from what we’ve seen, it all looks good.
Fallout’s core themes and gameplay have always been about surviving through a war torn apocalyptic world, making do with what ever scraps you could find. You could play as a lonely wanderer or a power hungry bandit. You could choose to help fellow surviving members of the wasteland or aid in their demise, the choice was yours. Immersion was the focal point of the series. The community of modders is what kept Fallout 3 alive, there is only so much that you can play one game before it starts to get boring and old. Fallout 3 on its own wasn’t all that fantastic to look at and the combat was very clunky and slow, but then modders came to the rescue. With all the available mods out there that completely overhaul Fallout 3’s graphics, gameplay and even basic mechanics, it’s safe to say that the community of dedicated modders have saved this from title from dilapidation. The unveiling of Fallout 4 has us brimming with intrigue on what to expect. Will we be sinking another 200+ hours of gameplay into another epic title or will we be playing another un-polished title and have to wait patiently for the generous community to give it a good once over with a new coat of paint.
From everything we have been shown at Bethesda’s conference is that Fallout 4’s world map will be just as big or somewhat bigger than TES:Skyrim (Fallout’s sister title) giving players more areas to explore and discover. Granted that bigger is always better in modern games, Fallout 4 could be the best game ever made. Open world games give you the decision on how your adventure unfolds, you could go straight to your main goal or wander off the beaten path to find loot or secrets, but if a game doesn’t hold up well in other areas like combat then the open world becomes more of a burden and players may look elsewhere to find their sense of immersion. Fallout 3’s combat has always been a major issue for me, with its clunky weapon aiming and stiff melee combat, it was difficult to find a happy medium. The only viable option was the V.A.T. system which essential aimed and attacked for you at the cost of stopping the game every five seconds to focus on an enemy, choose a body part and watch as your characters rigid animation fails to invoke any sense of fulfillment. The game play reveal doesn’t show us much combat but what we did see is the return of the V.A.T. system, spruced up with more animation but If the combat remains clunky and awkward then the V.A.T. systems may again be its saving grace regardless of how monotonous it becomes.
The main highlight however is certainly their emphasis on customisation through crafting, building structures and lastly the introduction to modding over several platforms. The range of crafting wasn’t anything spectacular in Fallout 3, there were only a few predefined weapons you could create given you have the correct components. We are now told that there are “50 base weapons in the game to find, with a total of 700 modifications for those weapons”. The depth of customisation is much more extensive with the added ability to make ludicrously insane and silly weapons. A minigun with a scope or a sniper rifle that has a rocket underbarrel, is the least we can hope for. Players can now dismantle practically everything they see, including whole structures, for parts to build your own monstrosities, be it your home or your very own settlement. The idea of creating your own settlement, where characters can come and live there and interact with you and each other, further increases the immersion that Fallout 3 had with visiting and owning homes in towns like Megaton, but rather than immersing yourselves in an existing community you can create your own, Sims style.
Fallout 4 is definitely a contender for a game of the year award in spite of knowing very little about the game. It’s a Fallout game, we can expect big things and see its dedicated fan base keeping it alive via modding. Squeezing every ounce of juice the game has to create an experience better than the standard vanilla version. Modding has been a major part of keeping Fallout 3 on the radar. Popular ENB and graphical upgrade mods keep the visuals on par with current gen games whilst gameplay enhancement mods allow players to continually spice things up. All these changes come at a costly price to your hardware though, if you’re not sporting a top of the range desktop PC or laptop then installing these types of mods are going to have an adverse effect on your system, overheating it or lower your overall FPS and this is where my concerns for Fallout 4’s mod support for home consoles. The reactions were all positive when Bethesda announced they were going to support custom mods for console versions of Fallout 4 and since mods are going to be distributed through Bethesda.net then we can expect mods that are more suited to consoles, specifically ones that have no potential damaging properties such as complete redesigns of in game combat. It is safe to say that PC gamers have nothing to fear from Bethesda.net as there are plenty of other sources from which mods can be hosted, allowing more creative freedom for the PC master race. If the mod filtering process through Bethesda.net is strict enough for consoles that content may be limited to smaller additional features such as weapon tweaks through gun customisation or simply adding new furniture to the game for your house. I’m not holding my breath for heavier expansions such as quests or additional areas to the game. Nothing too substantial as I am assuming Bethesda themselves will want to add their own content in the form of paid DLC like they have done to all of their past titles.
It’s hard to say what we can really expect from Fallout 4, from what we have been shown it’s more graphically impressive and we now have a dog but everything looks too familiar. The success or failure of Fallout 4 may be dependant on how Bethesda choose to implement the support of their mods, especially for those players that prefer the console experience. If these mods are distributed correctly, Fallout 4 could keep players locked into this game for a long time to come. Either way we are pretty psyched to see some of the more precious elements of PC gaming creep in to our home consoles.