Quarantine lead me to buy a console for the first time in nearly fifteen years for the mental escape. As a note, I'm an old Fallout hand, loving FOs 1 and 2, even really liking Tactics, and Wasteland was maybe my favorite game ever. I've started with FO 3 and then started up 4 to see how the graphics would look and wound up hooked. (I expect to play NV once I'm done.)
Can I say… I'm confused by the adoration FO 3 receives? Certainly there are good moments, especially Tranquility Lane (amazing), and my first forays along the Potomac, trying to pick my way around Super Mutant encampments. But… where's the good story everyone talks about? I'm a bit baffled. The game world fails to feel coherent and I don't see how purified water is going to have much impact on anything. The Enclave gets thrown in late, there's a weird deus ex machina when you get clonked over the head, so the speak, and then blow up their base. Most of all, I got tired of navigating murky, endless, and confusing tunnels and subway stations. The location design was pretty shitty. I mean, I'm not alone in giving up on trying to find the White House. Trying to locate the Lincoln artifacts was a fucking disaster.
Meanwhile, Fallout 4 captured me from the start. Maybe it's because I have a kid, but I was already starting to feel bad having Codsworth put diapers on my baby, and then the whole sequence in the vault was tremendously gripping. Watching my spouse get splattered and that baby stolen — holy hell, what a hook. The sight of my neighborhood, ruined under the bright light of day, beyond matches the intro of Fallout 3. Everything spread from there. Unexpectedly, I was hooked into this character, processing every moment in terms of trying to mentally survive this nightmare, and wound up flirting with Piper almost as much because she was a sturdy center within the craziness. I've rarely connected with my main character like this before.
Right now I'm approaching 50th level. Admittedly, the game has wandered from those early connections. I've simply wandered around more, acting as much like a kickass warlord (with a heart of gold) than anything. It's strayed from that personal thrust, which is okay, and I've encountered sidequest-wrecking glitches. (People forget Fallout 2 was horrible with these.)
But the moments, man, they linger! Trailing Kellogg was incredibly eerie and moody. Seeing the BoS's zeppelin casting over the night sky after was tremendous. Gunfights that included mirelurks, super mutants, gunners and the BoS in downtown Boston. (Heck, Boston is far more realized than D.C. ever was.) I'm impressed at how the game keeps throwing new, exciting things, like how a return to the Quincy Police Station after sawing the gunners there in half had a Automatron show up who just blended my ass. The Glowing Sea is creepy as hell. While I sadly had the Museum of Witchcraft spoiled for me, the moment a Mirelurk Queen erupted from the ground behind a certain chapel on an isthmus, having me race up the stairs, up to the steeple, to try to plunk her with my sniper rifle while her hatchlings scuttled up the stairs behind me and she spewed acid funk dozens of feet into the air to reach me… might truly be the best video game moment I've ever had.
Ultimately, though… there really is a story in this game. The factions are far, far better than Fallout 3, which barely had any. Even if you took out the Shaun questline, there's something serious going on in the Boston area and our character can have a huge impact. I honestly don't know what people are talking about when they denigrate this game. Of course it's flawed. Any game is. I've been stunned by how absorbed I've been with it, how much of it absolutely works, and it's becoming one of my favorite games ever, joining the ranks of GTA: San Andreas, Civvy 4, Star Control II, etc., etc.
Thanks for listening.
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