It’s fair to say that Fallout 4 is the definitive gaming event of 2015. Chances are that you’ve already sunk countless hours into this newest wasteland adventure. We here at CHUD do take time from our copious movie-watching to get in some video game goodness, and quite a few of us have done so with Bethesda’s fourth outing in this monumental series. Travis Newton, Shannon Hubbell, Ryan Covey, and Brandon Marcus all decided to chat furiously about Fallout 4. This is the final entry in our three part series, and links to the previous posts are located at the bottom of the article. Be warned that SPOILERS for Fallout 4 are bound to occur, so traverse this roundtable with caution. You may want to bring some Nuka-Cola for the journey.
TN: Anyone else spending a silly amount of time tending to and building up their settlements?
SH: I have been, although I need to find some more resources to really get them going. The settlements are one of the many elements the game could have explained better — or at all. I had to spend some time on Google to even get a sense of what I was supposed to do. I’m still figuring it out. That said, it is fun once you get going.
TN: It totally scratches that “Sims” itch, but they really chuck you into the deep end with the building stuff. I had to watch a long tutorial on YouTube to really understand it. The terrain of the settlements is very uneven, and largely unfit for building things with a perfectionist’s eye. Shack foundations can help level our your buildings, but they only go so far.
RC: I built a pyramid in Sanctuary and tossed a couple of turrets out at the drive-in and haven’t been back. I should probably check and make sure everyone hasn’t been murdered by raiders.
TN: You can check your pip-boy to monitor settlements and see what’s up. If shit is real dire, a popup will appear and tell you a settlement is under attack.
SH: I’ve stopped checking those with any regularity. The little alert icons next to almost all of my settlements feel a bit naggy.
RC: Yeah, I mean Jesus, you lazy fuckers can plant some carrots yourself. I am literally doing all the work!
SH: And even after you plant you have to assign people. Take some initiative!
TN: Yeah, the settlements don’t run themselves enough. You should be able to appoint a leader. All in all, I have no idea why I’m doing all this building stuff in the game other than the pure satisfaction of building and designing. Presumably it’s just to spread the influence of the Minutemen, but something tells me I’m gonna learn they’re not quite the good guys they think they are.
RC: I really don’t think The Minutemen are going to turn out to be anything but the “aw shucks” spit-curled do-gooders they appear to be. I mean it’s pretty much just you and Preston Garvey, and that doofus isn’t capable of subterfuge.
SH: Any thoughts on the general look of the game? It’s so colorful compared to 3 and New Vegas. The lighting and atmospheric effects are lovely as well. I know people have been critical of the graphics but the game is just so pretty.
TN: Yes, and thank Christ. I replayed 3 this summer and boy, is that game visually monotonous.
RC: Fallout New Vegas was beautiful, but very orange and brown. I don’t mind the washed out look of Fallout 3. The only thing I found visually tedious there were all the damn metro stations.
TN: What do you guys think of the visual redesigns of items, weapons, and creatures from previous games? I vastly prefer the Deathclaw design from 3, for instance. The new ones have a scaly alligator look that I find weird.
RC: Feral Ghouls are now horrifying, Deathclaws look too much like dinosaurs now. I could look in the face of a Deathclaw in 3 (and especially in New Vegas) and know fear. Now they don’t look all that scary.
SH: The feral ghouls are great. It’s not a visual design thing so much but I love how they just launch themselves at you and then stumble.
RC: I think they look more like proper zombies now and less like regular ghouls, it’s harder for me to think of them as the same species any longer. The mole rats and yao guai look a lot better, but the super mutants look a bit too rubbery.
TN: Yeah, I’m not crazy about the super mutant redesign either. Mole rats have two sets of teeth now. That’s cool. I kind of miss the old mirelurk design. They used to look like men-in-suit monsters. Real MST3K stuff.
RC: They don’t look remarkably different aside from having a more realistic texture and the nets on their back. I miss the Creature From the Black Lagoon looking ones, though.
TN: They walk on four crab legs now instead of two humanoid legs. All right, let’s talk power armor.
RC: I do like that Power Armor is more physically imposing, characters wearing it just look massive.
TN: Yes! Bethesda took all the right cues from the Iron Man movies for the new power armor.
RC: I do miss being able to wear it all the time, I want a middle ground between the Fallout 3 system and this one. I want to still be able to jump off buildings and throw a killer punch, but I don’t want the HUD and the fusion core nonsense.
SH: It is SO satisfying to jump off a building in the power armor.
RC: So has anyone had the stones to venture South of Boston yet?
TN: I have. There’s a military checkpoint with a bitchin’ full suit of power armor, and a nearby town full of feral ghouls you have to clear out to make a new settlement. I’ve also done the story quests that take you south of the map’s bottom edge, deep into The Glowing Sea. It’s freaky out there. Lots of Deathclaws.
RC: I have to go there to cure Cait of her part-girl ways soon and I’m dreading it. I’ve only encountered two Deathclaws thus far; the first when I was helping the Minutemen and the second was a nearly dead one in South Boston trapped behind some Vertibird debris.
SH: One of the things I love about this kind of game is that everyone’s experiences are different. The other day I was bitching about fighting the Mirelurk Queen and a friend said they had killed her with a summoned Vertibird. I didn’t even know that was a thing.
RC: I think it’s a perk with the Brotherhood. I hit her with a mini nuke, four missiles, and then just poured five millimeter rounds into her.
TN: Where the heck is this Mirelurk queen?
SH: In the Castle, the Minutemen fort you have to clear of Mirelurks.
RC: There’s another one I’ve encountered and she was much more inconvenient. I got it on the second try but I definitely needed more artillery. I only had 4 mines, 4 missiles, and a nuke. I’d been mostly using a shotgun and a .44 for the game.
TN: Which brings me to sentry bots. Fuck those things now.
RC: Oh God, the fucking Sentry Bots. Those things used to be a joke, but now I’ve even had a Protectron kick my ass a couple times.
TN: Robots don’t fuck around in this game. Assaultrons are bad, too.
SH: Oh, Christ. You ain’t lying. Screw sentry bots.
TN: All right, guys. Closing remarks on Fallout 4?
BM: I feel like Bethesda throws down the gauntlet and other developers follow through. They show HOW to do it and then other companies make it look prettier and work better. They make the template and then others color it in. It happened with Fallout 3, Skyrim, and I bet it’ll happen with Fallout 4.
TN: Fallout 4 certainly follows the pattern. It’s a healthy blend of mechanics from Fallout 3 and Skyrim, with a really surprising amount of streamlining and simplification.
RC: I have some gripes about Fallout 4, at times it feels like it’s pandering too much to the FPS crowd which is a mistake because they’re going to hate it on principle. I have stuff I wish they hadn’t changed, I have stuff I wish they had changed more, but a week in now and I haven’t stopped enjoying the hell out of my experience.
SH: I guess my biggest beef is how poorly explained (i.e., not explained at all) many features are. I played for about 15 hours before discovering you can shoot from behind cover. That seems like a pretty obvious candidate for a bit of onscreen instruction. But, all in all, I’m loving Fallout 4. Bethesda has built a rich and engaging world, given you tons of things to do in it and tons of ways of doing those things. The writing is iffy and, as usual, the game is a bit buggy, but these are quibbles. I’m looking forward to cranking up the Xbox later tonight.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this roundtable discussion and invite you to join the conversation in the comments!