I held off from buying Fallout 4 for my PS4 for all of…ooh, three days before I took the plunge and traded in my copy of Arkham Knight over the weekend.
In all my dislike of the latter game (a serious disappointment!) I’d forgotten that the long-awaited release from Bethesda was pretty much the entire reason I paid over three hundred quid for the privilege of a new console back in July.
So after a very late night getting to grips with the Commonwealth on Saturday, plus bumper playing sessions throughout this week, I wanted to talk about two things which have made the biggest impression on me during my gameplay so far.
One is a completely new feature which was sort of previewed in the less impressive Fallout Shelter mobile game (and which I’d previously loved the hell out of in Animal Crossing: New Leaf – how’s that for a night and day comparison), and another old RPG favourite used in an interesting way.
Today I’ll talk about the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. and Perk system, before moving onto Workshop and crafts later this week.
Fallout 4 Perk System
Before Fallout 3 I don’t recall having a fondness for the RPG genre (unless you count Legends of Valour…which I do not) but the previous Perks system utilised in Fallout 3 and New Vegas always made me look forward to levelling up, when I could choose from a plethora of useful and less useful ways to enhance my abilities in the Wasteland.
I knew that big changes to the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system were coming as soon as I watched the very funny intro video to each as the game installed, but I can’t say I was ready to ensure my character (who I’ve named Lucy) would end up being very balanced in each unique skill area.
In previous playthroughs of New Vegas and Fallout 3 I always, ALWAYS favoured Intelligence and Charisma over any other system, and would even reduce points assigned to Agility or Endurance in order to ensure that my guy or girl was the smartest and sassiest Wanderer around. It didn’t matter how nimble they were or how much damage they took because I’d always have some decent armour and plenty of Stimpaks to hand, whenever the going got tough.
But the first thing that strikes me about Fallout 4, which ties in neatly to the topic next time, is just how much actual crap I need to be able to carry. The Strong Back perk can only carry me so far, and it’s especially annoying because I don’t like to focus on Melee Weapons, but I really need to top up my Strength stats. I’ve already had to leave behind a Junk Jet in the Institute because it’s too bloody heavy, and I’m afraid of what will happen if I go back in there. But not giving Lucy some muscle will come at a heavy price.
If I don’t collect all that junk, my settlements will go unstocked, and I will run out of valuable building materials. I’m actually dropping guns over aluminium cans just to be able to get precious resources to my settlers. In placing such emphasis on the need to scavenge (which you would do in this doomsday scenario, naturally) Fallout 4 has managed to turn one of its prequel’s interesting but ultimately useless features into an absolute necessity. That’s the kind of upside-down world-turning I like to see in video game sequels, because it has made this place a lot more realistic.
But now that levelling up seems to take bloody forever (and oh man I hope the level cap is, like, 1000), Lucy’s stuck with her mid-level intelligence, polite tone and rubbish bartering skills. Hardly a winning combination for wasteland survival.