How’s Fallout 4 Shaping Up So Far?

We’ve seen much from Fallout 4 since its highly-hyped announcement at E3, and a lot has been trickling out of the Bethesda rumour mill since then. From the removal of time stoppage from VATS to the incredibly diverse and complex weapon modding system, there’s a lot to make this installment in the series unlike anything you’ve seen before. To help you keep track, we’ve compiled this handy list.

VATS doesn’t work like you’re used to

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As far as we can tell, the addition of VATS in Fallout 3 was necessary for two reasons. Firstly, it was a nod/concession to purist fans of the original games, who didn’t like it going all first person and real time, but could be bought off with action points and a more planned approach to combat which allowed for old favourite techniques like locational targeting. The second was that it reconciled players of more modern shooters with the lack of accurate iron sights on the game’s weapons (something Fallout: New Vegas fixed).

By contrast, VATS appears to now work more similar to Max Payne‘s time manipulating abilities, slowing events by 75% and retaining damage incurred by the player during that mode. It looks more like a supplmentary ability used for rapid targeting and clearing yourself space during fast-paced combat rather than a core ability used for avoiding real-time combat entirely. Whether or not this is a good thing will depend on your perspective.

Skill Points might not be a thing

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In all of the promotional videos (including that leaked video) which show off the Pip-Boy interface, there doesn’t appear to be any menu option where one would see skill points for various abilities. Items which adjust stats have only been seen to adjust SPECIAL scores, not add to skills like Guns, Lockpick or Sneak. You may also have spotted that default SPECIAL scores are now 1 across the board, and can only be increased from the start to all 4s. This leads us to believe that as a trade-off for removing skill points, there will be more scope for adjusting SPECIAL stats (and, we’d hope, a return to Fallout 3’s awarding of one perk per level).

It doesn’t seem that such an adjustment will quite make up for the level of fine-tuning that previous Fallout games had, though. It’s not quite clear what the game will do to skill-check activities like lockpicking and computer hacking – we know the latter will be included because it’s been shown in gameplay footage.

One system that could work for seasoned veterans and newbies is the approach adopted by Final Fantasy II in which skills develop naturally and behind the scenes as the player actually uses them. It would better match the way in which real people acquire skills, although what the subsequent point would be in levelling up we’re not so sure.

There’s an airship – but we’re not totally certain how it ties in

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One of the most prominent features of the game’s teasers has been a hulking great airship circling the skies around Boston. What we’ve not had is any confirmation of what it is, who’s in control of it, or why it happens to be there.

There are some theories. For example, some think it could be a roving presence in the wasteland, stopping at regularly scheduled intervals to moor and trade with the outside world. Others – perhaps more likely – suspect it is a story-relevant vehicle owned by a technically-advanced faction (like the Brotherhood of Steel) which will come up as an important ally in set-piece main plot battles.

Of course, it could be neither, and instead fill some role heretofore not guessed. To pick examples at random, it could be an asset of whoever are revealed to be the villains, or even an upgradeable player-commanded vehicle.

Getting through without combat may be an issue

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Fallout 3, hard as it was to do, could almost entirely be completed without once killing an enemy (that poor radroach in Vault 101 being the only necessary victim). Fallout: New Vegas went one further and made the game pretty damn easy to beat without fighting – the amount of its almost 100 quests which can’t be completed without killing can be counted on one hand. Train enough in Speech, Barter, Sneak, Lockpick and Science and you could basically get away with anything.

In Fallout 4, the depth of modification we’ve been shown as applicable to weapons makes us suspect that they’ll want to show their working. While it would be amazing if non-combat equipment could be modified as well – for example upgradeable lock picks or the ability to make clothing more sneaky – we suspect that’s an unlikely outcome given that it’s not been mentioned so far.

While blasting your way through hordes of enemies was always a fun way to play in previous Fallout games – and heavily encouraged with all the excellent hardware they dished out for doing it – it would be a shame if other methods of conflict resolution were excluded entirely. Can’t we all just get along?

It will inevitably annoy somebody

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The problem with Fallout comes down to its two constituencies of fans. The people who like the word building and the factions and the exploration of a desolate world trying desperately to rebuild. And the people who think it’s really cool to blast Super Mutants with a minigun. Both legitimate, both right in a sense, but quite hard to marry successfully. Go in one direction and a group will complain it’s too boring and slow, in another direction and it’ll be derided as having turned into an FPS with none of the thoughtful explorative gameplay of the older instalments.

But this is video gaming and fans are unpleasable so perhaps we shouldn’t expect so much. More announcements will surely hit us in the next three months before the game comes out, so keep an eye on Cubed Gamers for more as it happens.

What’s your favourite aspect of Fallout 4 so far? Is there anything you’re worrying about? Shout up in the comments!

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Robin Wilde

Co-Editor of Cubed Gamers, meaning I send out, take in, edit and upload content. I'm also in charge of doing much of the graphics and design stuff for the site.

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