|Developer(s)||Bethesda Game Studios|
Fallout 4 is an action role-playing video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Released worldwide on November 10, 2015, it is the fifth major installment in the Fallout series. The game is set within an open world post-apocalyptic environment that encompasses the city of Boston and the surrounding Massachusetts region known as "The Commonwealth". The main story takes place in the year 2287, ten years after the events of Fallout 3 and 210 years after "The Great War" that caused catastrophic nuclear devastation across the United States.
The player assumes control of a character referred to as the "Sole Survivor" who emerges from a long-term cryogenic stasis in Vault 111, an underground nuclear fallout shelter, after witnessing the murder of their spouse and kidnapping of their only child, and ventures out into the Commonwealth to search for their missing child. The player will subsequently explore the game's dilapidated world, completing various quests, helping out factions, and acquiring experience points to level up and increase the abilities of their character. It is the first game in the series to feature full voice acting for the protagonist. Fallout 4 received positive reviews from critics with many praising the world depth, player freedom, overall amount of content, crafting, and soundtrack, whilst criticism was mainly directed at the game's visuals and technical issues. The game shipped 12 million units and generated US$750 million within the first 24 hours of its launch, and received numerous awards and nominations from various gaming publications, including the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences and British Academy Games Awards, making it both a commercial and critical success.
Fallout 4's gameplay is similar to that of Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, the previous two main entries in the series. Returning features include a camera that can switch between a first-person and third-person perspective, and the ability to roam anywhere on the map. Fallout 4 introduces new features including a layered armor system, base-building, a dynamic dialogue system featuring 111,000 lines of dialogue, an in-depth crafting system which implements every lootable object in the game, and much more. Enemies such as mole rats, raiders, super-mutants, deathclaws, and feral ghouls return in Fallout 4, along with the companion Dogmeat.
Players have the ability to roam anywhere on the map, and leave a conversation at any time. They have the ability to customize weapons; the game includes over 50 base guns, which can be crafted with a variety of modifications, such as barrel types and laser focus, with over 700 modifications available. Power Armor has been redesigned to be more like a vehicle than an equipable suit of armor, and can be modified, allowing players to add items such as a jetpack or selecting separate types of armor for each part of the suit. A new feature to the series is the ability to craft and deconstruct settlements and buildings. Players can select some in-game objects and structures, and use them to freely build their own structures. In addition, the towns can be powered with working electricity, using a dynamic power line system. Merchants and non-player characters can inhabit the player's settlements, for which the player must provide sustenance by growing food in makeshift patches and building water spouts. Players can build various defenses around their settlements, such as turrets and traps, to defend against random attacks.
The Pip-Boy, a personal computing device strapped to the character's wrist, allows the player to access a menu with statistics, maps, data, and items the player have acquired. Players can find game cartridges, which can be played on the Pip-Boy. Another returning gameplay feature is the Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System (V.A.T.S.), which plays an important part in combat. While using V.A.T.S., real-time combat is slowed down, and action is played out from varying camera angles in a computer graphics version of "bullet time". Various actions cost action points, limiting the actions of each combatant during a period of time, and the player can target specific body parts for attacks to inflict specific injuries; head shots can be used for quick kills or blinding, legs can be targeted to slow enemy movement, and opponents can be disarmed by shooting at their weapons. Unlike previous games, in which the player had a random chance to inflict a critical hit, they are now performed manually through V.A.T.S.
At the beginning of the game, players are given points to spend on a character progression system called S.P.E.C.I.A.L.. The system represents seven statistics, namely strength, perception, endurance, charisma, intelligence, agility and luck. When players earn enough experience points to gain a new level, they unlock a new ability. When players allocate more points to a stat, more abilities can be unlocked. These perks can also be upgraded to improve the protagonist's efficiency and to further unlock new abilities. There are about 275 perks available for players to unlock. There is no level cap and the game does not end once the main story is complete.
The series also allows for the player to have a companion follow and assist them, similar in style to Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas. There are thirteen possible companions, seven of which (Dogmeat, Codsworth, Preston Garvey, Piper Wright, Nick Valentine, John Hancock, and Deacon) must be encountered during the main quests, although only Dogmeat is required to join. For the first time in the series, these companions can interact with the environment on the player character's behalf. For example, if the player character does not have required skills to hack a terminal or pick a lock, they can order the companion to do it for them. The player may only travel with one companion at a time, although the player is accompanied by other characters in certain quests. A few companions are able to be romanced by the player regardless of gender. Some recruitable companions also provide additional perks for the player, such as Codsworth, who provides bonus Energy Resistance.
Fallout 4 takes place in the year 2287, ten years after the events of Fallout 3 and 210 years after a Resource War over natural resources that ended in a nuclear holocaust in 2077. The setting is a post-apocalyptic retro-future, covering a region that includes Boston, Massachusetts and other parts of New England known as "The Commonwealth". Unlike the previous titles, Fallout 4's story begins on the day the bombs dropped: October 23, 2077. The player's character (voiced by either Brian T. Delaney or Courtenay Taylor) takes shelter in Vault 111, emerging exactly 210 years later, on October 23, 2287.
The game takes place in an alternate version of history that sees the 1940s' and 1950s' aesthetics, design and technology advance in the directions imagined at the time. The resulting universe is thus a retro-futuristic one, where the technology has evolved enough to produce laser weapons, manipulate genes and create nearly-autonomous artificial intelligence, but all within the confines of 1950s' solutions like the widespread use of atomic power and vacuum tubes, as well as having the integrated circuitry of the digital age. The architecture, advertisements and general living styles are also depicted to be largely unchanged since the 1950s, while including contemporary products, such as a robotic rocking horse for children in one advertisement, or posters for the underground vaults that play a central role in the storyline of the game.
The story begins on the morning of October 23, 2077 at the player character's home, Sanctuary Hills, with the player character, their spouse (Nate or Nora depending on the player character's gender), their son Shaun, and their robotic butler, Codsworth. As the player character is preparing for an event at the Veteran's Hall in Cambridge, a representative from Vault-Tec comes to inform them that their family is approved for admittance into Vault 111, the local fallout shelter. Moments later, a news bulletin warns of an incoming nuclear attack, prompting the family to evacuate to the Vault. They enter just as a nuclear bomb explodes. Upon entering the Vault, the player character and their family are tricked into entering cryogenic tubes by the Vault-Tec staff and frozen alive. After an unknown period of time, the player character and their spouse are re-awakened by two strangers, and the player witnesses Shaun's kidnapping and their spouse's murder. The player is put back into cryogenic sleep, but manages to get free themselves when the life support system malfunctions. The player discovers that they are the sole survivor of Vault 111, and vows to avenge their spouse's death and find Shaun.
The player character, known as the Sole Survivor, heads home to find Sanctuary Hills in ruins. The Sole Survivor meets a distraught Codsworth, revealing that 210 years have passed since the war. Codsworth suggests that the player character to go to Concord for help, on the way, finding and befriending a German Shepherd named Dogmeat. When the Sole Survivor arrives at Concord, they rescue Preston Garvey—one of the last of the Commonwealth Minutemen—and his band of settlers from a group of raiders. After assisting Garvey and his group, the player is recommended to travel to Diamond City, a fortified settlement based in the ruins of Fenway Park, where they meet Piper, an intrepid reporter. From her they learn about a secretive organization called the Institute terrifying the Commonwealth, kidnapping people from their homes and sometimes replacing them with "synths," synthetic human beings indistinguishable from real humans.
The Sole Survivor seeks out Nick Valentine, a detective based in Diamond City, to locate their son, but soon learns that Valentine went missing two weeks previously. After finding Valentine—who is revealed to be a second-generation synth; a sophisticated biomechanical android—the Sole Survivor uncovers the identity of their spouse's killer, a man named Conrad Kellogg. The Sole Survivor tracks down Kellogg and learns from him that Shaun is currently in the Institute. The player kills Kellogg, avenging their spouse's murder, and retrieves a cybernetic implant from his brain, then heads to Goodneighbor to seek help from Doctor Amari—a scientist skilled in neuroscience—to access the dead mercenary's memories. During their hunt for Kellogg, the Survivor also witnesses the Brotherhood of Steel arriving in the Commonwealth with the Prydwen, their mobile airship headquarters, and has the option to travel to Boston Airport to offer their assistance to the Brotherhood in the fight against the Institute.
After viewing Kellogg's memories, the Sole Survivor is then tasked to go to the Glowing Sea—the ground zero of the nuclear blast shown early in the game—to find Brian Virgil, an ex-Institute scientist, to get help infiltrating the Institute. According to Virgil, the only way to enter or exit the Institute is with a teleportation chip that only Institute Coursers—trained synth killers—possess. The player must then track down and kill a Courser in order to obtain the chip.
The Sole Survivor tracks down the secretive Railroad organization for assistance decoding the chip. The Railroad is dedicated to rescuing synths from the Institute, believing them to be oppressed by their creators and mistreated by the inhabitants of the Commonwealth. After they decode the chip for the player, the Railroad asks for their assistance in fighting the Institute, in which the player can accept or decline.
Virgil provides the blueprints for a device to hijack the Institute's Molecular Relay signal and teleport into the Institute using the chip data. The Sole Survivor has the choice to ally with the Minutemen, the Railroad, or the Brotherhood to construct the relay device. The player successfully enters the Institute, where they discover that their son Shaun is now an old man and the director of the Institute. Shaun reveals that he was kidnapped from the Vault as a specimen for synth experiments thanks to his pure pre-war DNA, and that the Sole Survivor remained in stasis for a further sixty years before being awoken again. Shaun later reveals that he is dying of cancer and wishes for the player to take up his role as Institute Director if the Sole Survivor sides with the Institute and continue the organization's plans for the future of the Commonwealth. However, if the Sole Survivor sides with either the Minutemen or Brotherhood of Steel or Railroad. Shaun will blame the Sole Survivor for destroying the future's only hope and re-program the latest synth prototype as the Sole Survivor's son. It is the Sole Survivor's decision to either save the latest synth prototype or destroy it along with the Institute.
The player then faces a choice to determine the future of the Commonwealth. They can side with Shaun by siding with the Institute:
- The Institute – the player must handle internal issues within the Institute, which was caused by Shaun's announcement making the Sole Survivor the next director of the organization. Siding with the Institute will lead the Sole Survivor to initiate a purge in the Commonwealth, wiping out the Railroad and the Brotherhood, who pose threats to their progress.
Or they can go against Shaun by siding with one of three other factions:
- The Brotherhood of Steel – siding with the Brotherhood will lead the Sole Survivor to rebuild Liberty Prime (last seen in Fallout 3) to be used as a weapon to destroy the Institute. The player must also lead an attack on the Railroad headquarters to wipe out the organization, as they pose a tactical threat to the Brotherhood's ultimate goal of wiping out synthetic life from the Commonwealth. After reactivating Liberty Prime, the Brotherhood of Steel leads a charge against the Institute and blows up its nuclear reactor.
- The Railroad – siding with the Railroad will lead the Sole Survivor to go undercover in the Institute and meet with a man codenamed Patriot, to devise a plan to free all the synths and destroy the Institute. The Railroad also deems the Brotherhood of Steel a threat to the freed synths and devises a plan coded "Rockets' Red Glare", a plan to bring down the Prydwen and destroy the Brotherhood of Steel.
- The Minutemen – siding with the Minutemen will lead the Sole Survivor to rebuild the Minutemen in order to create an army to fight the Institute. Once the Minutemen is restored to its former strength, the player is then tasked to bring the fight to the Institute in order to protect the Commonwealth. If the Brotherhood of Steel is hostile towards the player, the Minutemen will launch a strike to put a stop to the their dealings with the Commonwealth. If they are not hostile, then the Minutemen will remain essentially neutral towards the Brotherhood and the Railroad.
Unlike the previous two titles—Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas—which used the Gamebryo engine, Fallout 4 uses the Creation Engine, which was previously used in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Modified for Fallout 4, the Creation Engine includes a revamped character editor system that allows freeform creation of faces without the use of sliders seen in previous games. Instead, the player can click and drag each feature of the face to accurately customize their character, which can either be a man or woman as the previous Fallout titles have featured. Bethesda announced that the game would run at 1080p resolution and 30 frames per second on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Bethesda revealed that mobile devices would be integrated into the game as a form of second screen, acting as a secondary display for the Pip-Boy.
For the first time in the Fallout series, the player's character, the Sole Survivor, is fully voice acted and is able to have dynamic conversations akin to that of Mass Effect. Brian T. Delaney and Courtenay Taylor are the two player character voice actors.
Todd Howard revealed that mods for the PC versions of the game would be usable on the Xbox One version, and that the team hoped to bring them to the PlayStation 4 version eventually. When asked about the failed effort to add a paid mod system to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Howard stated there were no plans for a similar effort with Fallout 4. The mods created by PC players through The Creation Kit, which contains the official modding tools, will be released for Xbox One players and PlayStation 4 in May 2016 and June 2016 respectively. Fallout 4 mods were released to Xbox One in May 2016. PlayStation 4 mods were officially cancelled in September 2016, but Bethesda announced a month later that mod support would still happen.
Fallout 4 uses Bethesda's Creation Engine, which was created for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Just after Fallout 3's release, the team devised numerous design objectives to meet for Skyrim—which were updated for Fallout 4's next-gen hardware requirements. The updated Creation Engine allows for numerous improvements in graphical fidelity over Bethesda's previous efforts. For instance, the draw distance renders much farther than previous Fallout games; in an interview on the engine for Skyrim, Howard provided an example where the player can stare at a small object such as a fork in detail, and then look up at a mountain and run to the top of it.
Dynamic lighting allows shadows to be created by any structure or item in the game world. Howard revealed in the E3 Press Conference that the updated Creation Engine allows for next-generation god rays and advanced volumetric lighting. The updated engine features a variety of visual effects not present in previous Bethesda games such as motion blur, temporal anti-aliasing, height fog, dynamic dismemberment, screen space reflections, filmic tone mapping, an updated material system—for wet textures—among numerous others. The updated engine allows the Bethesda team to add more dynamic lighting to every scene as well as “paint surfaces with realistic materials.” Bethesda released an example on how the updated engine works: "When a rain storm rolls in, our new material system allows the surfaces of the world to get wet, and a new cloth simulation system makes cloth, hair, and vegetation blow in the wind."
The updated Creation Engine allows for a more advanced character creation system, which utilizes sculpting—forgoing the series of sliders present in previous games. In detail, the new character creation system introduces a new, freeform, entirely slider-free facial editor controlled via dynamic, real-time modeling interface. The updated engine allows for more fluid animations designed for next-generation hardware.
With regards to the aforementioned fluid animations, the updated engine also allows a much more open approach to conversations with NPCs—wherein the camera views can change depending on the player's preference from a first person view to a cinematic third person view—compared to Fallout 3's rigid and instanced conversation system. The protagonist features dynamic dialog, which is context sensitive, and allows players to back out of a conversation. In Howard's words, "you are free to walk away any time, if you want, or punch him in the face."
Rumors and hoaxes
In 2008, Pete Hines of Bethesda Softworks stated: "The whole reason we went out and acquired the license and that we now own Fallout is that we clearly intended to make more than one. This is not something we're going to do once and then go away and never do it again. When that will be or how long that will be God only knows, but we acquired it specifically because we wanted to own it and develop it and work on it like we do with The Elder Scrolls."
On January 8, 2013, Fallout 3 voice actor Erik Dellums hinted via Twitter that his character, Three Dog, would be returning. In a follow-up tweet, he stated, "I was given permission to release that tease". However, in July of the same year, Dellums tweeted that the game he is working on is not being produced by Bethesda Softworks, therefore it was not the anticipated new Fallout title.
On November 13, 2013, an alleged ZeniMax-funded website, thesurvivor2299.com, was created. The site contained several coded messages and morse code, and most notably a timer believed to be counting down to an announcement or teaser trailer for Fallout 4, which was also done with Fallout 3; the messages and morse code was in turn translated by several Fallout fansites. On December 6, Bethesda responded in regards to the site stating; "PSA: If you don't hear it through an official channel like this, assume all rumors and speculation are false". The site was revealed to be a hoax shortly thereafter.
In December 2013, Kotaku reported that Fallout 4 was indeed in development, having obtained leaked voice casting documents which they had confirmed to be real. The leaked documents indicated that the game would be set in Boston and described a mission set in "The Institute", a post-apocalyptic version of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The documents referenced areas mentioned but not shown in previous Fallout titles. The voice script page that was leaked begins with the usual introductory line spoken by Ron Perlman: "War. War never changes". In February 2014, Bethesda game director Todd Howard was asked about new game announcements in which he replied: "We don't have a timeframe for our next game announcement, but I think it's gonna be a while".
Following the announcement of Fallout 4, there was renewed interest in a June 2014 Reddit post by a user named SandraReed, who claimed to have played Fallout 4. She stated that she used to be a Bethesda employee and was fired for leaking information about the game. In her post, SandraReed stated that the protagonist would have a speaking role and that the game would support the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Kotaku noted that many of the details have proven to be incorrect, and most of those that were correct had already been covered earlier in the leaked details from Kotaku's 2013 article.
After Fallout 4's release, Bethesda has released several patches to address some of the issues present at the game's launch along with presenting new features that improve general gameplay. The first patch—coded as patch 1.2—fine-tuned the game by improving the frame rate in heavy areas around the game, such as in the Corvega factory. Patch 1.2 also fixed a few bugs and errors present at the launch of the game but interfered with unofficial mod support. Patch 1.3 improved the game's graphics on all platforms, along with presenting the game with new features such as an added status menu for settlers in settlements. With regard to the new graphical updates introduced in this patch, the PC platform was given a new weapon debris effect and a new ambient occlusion setting. The patch also fixed several bugs and glitches present in the game. Patch 1.4 was designed to ready the game for the upcoming Creation Kit and downloadable content. Patch 1.4 also brought a variety of additions to the settlement building mechanic of the game by adding symbol to new content placed in by the modding community along with adding a variety of items, such as Raider and Supermutant decors. The patch also brought general improvements to the game's stability. The latest patch—patch 1.5—added a revamped survival mode along with support for the downloadable content. The patch also brought bug fixes.
Marketing and release
On June 2, 2015, Bethesda published a countdown timer scheduled to expire on June 3, 2015 at 14:00 UTC. The game's official website went live slightly ahead of schedule, revealing the game along with its box art and platforms. The game was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. The site was taken down later but was put back up again at the scheduled time. The official trailer was released when the countdown timer expired, and the game has been confirmed to take place in Boston and its surrounding Massachusetts countryside, as suggested by earlier rumors. More details were given during Bethesda's E3 2015 press conference on June 14, 2015.
Bethesda announced that Fallout 4 had gone gold on October 23, 2015.
Fallout 4 became available for pre-order immediately following the product announcement. In addition to the standard edition of the game, there is a collector's edition which includes a wearable replica of the Pip-Boy. This is able to house a smart phone device, which can then run the second screen functionality of the game. As a pre-order bonus for the Windows version of the game, an announcer pack featuring the voice of Mister Handy was released for the multiplayer online battle arena game, Dota 2.
On February 16, 2016, Bethesda announced details, prices, and release dates for the first three add-ons for Fallout 4. The first add-on, Automatron, which allows players to build their custom robot companion by using robot parts while adding additional quests, was released to the European and North American markets on March 22, 2016. This was followed by Wasteland Workshop on April 12, 2016, which introduces new build options for settlements and the ability for players to put captured creatures or humans in a cage, and adds new decorations like neon lights and lettering. The second add-on, titled Far Harbor, is a story expansion set in the post-war city of Bar Harbor, Maine, and was released on May 19, 2016. On June 12, 2016 at E3 2016, Bethesda revealed three new DLC packages for the game; the first two, Contraptions Workshop, released on June 21, 2016, and Vault-Tec Workshop, released on July 26, 2016, are structured similarly to the Wasteland Workshop DLC, offering the player more build options and decorations; the Vault-Tec Workshop also adds a brief narrative. Fallout 4's third and final DLC, Nuka-World, which was released on August 30, 2016, adds an amusement park-based area for players to explore, in which the player can either side with or put an end to various raider groups residing in the park. If the player decides to do the former, they can help one of the raider groups take control of various settlements in the Commonwealth from the base game. It also came with new building and crafting options, which allow players to decorate their houses with Nuka World items and crafting new Nuka soft drinks.
Fallout 4 received positive reviews according to aggregating review website Metacritic.
GameSpot's Peter Brown awarded it a score of 9 out of 10, saying "Fallout 4 is an argument for substance over style, and an excellent addition to the revered open-world series." Brown praised the "thought-provoking" narrative, "intuitive" creation tools, the large amount of content, the overall combat, and the overall freedom the player is given, especially in world exploration and story progression. Brown's main criticisms were concerning the average visuals, the technical issues, and the unintuitive management of companions, the map, and the inventory.
Game Informer's Andrew Reiner scored the game a 9 out of 10 and said: "Bethesda has created another game you can lose your life in. New experiences just keep coming, and you always have another perk to unlock." Reiner praised the "vastly improved" combat, the "denser" world, and the "brilliant" score, but had mixed feelings about the visuals, saying: "The visuals can be simultaneously breathtaking and a little ugly. The vistas and lighting are beautifully created, but some of the texture work is muddled and steals some of the finer details." Reiner was also relieved to not run into many glitches.
Dan Stapleton of IGN scored the game a 9.5 out of 10 and wrote: "The world, exploration, crafting, atmosphere, and story of Fallout 4 are all key parts of this hugely successful sandbox role-playing game. Great new reasons to obsessively gather and hoard relics of happier times, strong companions, and sympathetic villains driving tough decisions make it an adventure I’ll definitely replay and revisit. Even the technical shakiness that crops up here and there can’t even begin to slow down its momentum."
Phil Savage of PC Gamer mentioned that Fallout 4 is "a loving production. It's filled with care and attention to detail—like the expanded set of radio stations, or the way flash radiation storms bathe the world in a sickly, ominous green hue. It's a pleasure to pick through the world, to discover new sights, and to pick through the perks and customisation option to conceive the perfect character build, however bizarre. In short, many of Fallout 4's problems, like every Bethesda RPG before it, are a consequence of what makes them unforgettable."
Polygon awarded it a score of 9.5 out of 10, saying "Fallout 4 brings great gameplay to match its world and ambiance". PC Gamer awarded it a score of 88/100, calling it "A brilliant, massive sandbox of systems, albeit largely the same one Bethesda has been making for years." Fallout 4 was also noted by Chris Livingston of PC Gamer that "The best stories in games aren’t the ones developers tell players, it’s the ones player tell themselves and each other. Bethesda RPGs have always given players ample room to ignore the official narrative and create their own characters, histories, motivations, and stories, and Fallout 4 is no exception."
Fallout 4 sold 1.2 million copies on Steam in its first 24 hours of release. The game also sold more digital than physical copies on day one of launch. With almost 470,000 concurrent Steam players on launch day, Fallout 4 broke Grand Theft Auto V's record for having the most concurrent online players in a Steam game not developed by Valve Corporation. Bethesda shipped 12 million units to retailers within the first 24 hours.
Fallout 4 received numerous awards and nominations from gaming publications such as GameSpot, GamesRadar, EGM, Game Revolution, IGN, and many more. The game received a game of the year award from the 19th ceremony of the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences—also known as D.I.C.E.—among numerous nominations for the award from The Game Awards, Telegraph, PC Gamer, IGN and more. It was also placed on various lists of the best games of 2015 in which GameSpot put it at sixth, GamesRadar at fourth, among others top lists. The game also received awards and nominations for Role-playing game of the year with it winning the award from Game Critics and D.I.C.E. with nominations from various other gaming publications.
|List of awards and nominations for Fallout 4|
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- "Fallout 4 PC patch 1.3 out now". PC & Tech Authority. Retrieved March 1, 2016.
- "Fallout 4: Patch 1.4 Brings A Number of Additions, Fixes and Performance Tweaks to The Game! | Day Herald". www.dayherald.com. Retrieved March 1, 2016.
- "Fallout 4's New Update Arrives on PS4/Xbox One, Adding Survival Mode". GameSpot. Retrieved May 6, 2016.
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