Strolling through the wastes.
Fallout 4 isn’t a terrible game, but it certainly isn’t a great game either. I remember being extremely excited to play it back in 2015. I preordered it and felt like a child on Christmas day when it finally arrived. Fallout 4 is one of the first games that I’ve written a review for as well.
So I played it for a long while, and my interest waned. Once the mod features rolled out, I jumped back in and played around with them for a while. That sated me for some time, but it didn’t last. I ended up selling my copy of Fallout 4, along with Rainbow Six: Siege and Grand Theft Auto V. However, I resolved a long time ago to pick it back up again once the inevitable Complete Edition release (I don’t think it deserves the title: “Game of the Year”), and with it getting a huge price reduction, I bought another copy.
It’s an okay game, but there are some things that prevent it from being a total loss.
Home, Sweet Home
Oddly enough, what sucked me into Fallout 4 was one of the things that the majority of gamers seemed to dislike the most: settlements.
For some reason, I derive endless enjoyment from building up my compounds. My first playthrough of Fallout 4 consisted almost entirely of furthering the story just far enough to expand my empire of city-states. It isn’t enough for me to create merely-functional settlements; I must create structures with purpose.
Critical systems must be protected. Walls must be erected. All intruders must be detected, then promptly dealt with. I’m honestly rather surprised that Bethesda implemented a system that works so well without needing a secondary client software program, like the level editors you’d normally get a hold of when you install certain first-person shooters or real-time strategy games. I remember spending far more time in level editors than I ever spent in the main game, and perhaps that’s why I love the settlement creation in Fallout 4.
If you’re feeling adventurous, take a gander at my Fallout 4 Settlements Compendium. It’s definitely not complete, but it’ll give you an idea of what I can throw together. I’ve since jumped right back into Fallout 4 with full intention to test the limits of what the game can render in one area at once.
The one caveat to all of this mod talk is that the PS4 version of Fallout 4 is woefully inferior in this regard. Sony’s hangups on modding has left the community with little leeway to make content for the PS4, due to external assets being banned from use in mods. As far as I know, this hasn’t changed (and it looked like the PS4 version wouldn’t have gotten mods at all for a while), and likely won’t change. So if you’re interested in Fallout 4 on consoles and you have the options available, you’re better off playing the Xbox One version.
Mod It Up
And speaking of testing the limits of Fallout 4, I have to say that Bethesda knocked it out of the park with their mod implementation in the console version. Even the PC version is extremely simple to use (and far more stable than NexusMods in my opinion), but definitely more limited. Funnily enough, the mod features are extremely modular modifications.
It actually is rather necessary to have simple mod options on console platforms if mods are implemented at all. While some console owners are tech-savvy, there are many out there that wouldn’t want to go through the trouble of locating the correct file folders to export downloaded mods into. It’s not difficult really, you just need to know what you’re doing. But the mod client that Bethesda built into Fallout 4 and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition is really well put together, and it makes installing and trying out mods essentially plug-and-play.
Linking back to settlements in Fallout 4, there are quite a few mods available on consoles even, that expand the options available to those that like creating structures. Some simply allow players to build in larger areas and remove just about anything from the buildable areas, while others give you near-infinite resources to use for building materials and help you manage your settlements more easily.
Still Flawed, Still Somewhat Fun
Fallout 4 isn’t perfect. In fact, I’ve found it to be a little boring at times. Actually, outside of building settlements, it’s pretty standard at best. It doesn’t do much to set itself apart, and that’s pretty funny to me, because Fallout 3 often has been called “Oblivion with guns”, so it seems apt to describe Fallout 4 as “Skyrim with guns” (though GameStop aired adverts in their stores featuring Machinima’s quote giving Far Cry 3 that title).
I will say this though, Fallout 4 does have two redeeming qualities: settlement building and mods on consoles. I know that PC gamers have had Fallout mods for forever now, but (legitimate) mods on consoles is a big deal, and the settlements are entirely new as a concept to something as expansive as Fallout. Going back to it, I’ve found renewed fascination in it; not in the story or setting (because neither are particularly interesting or compelling), but in a few of the mechanics and features.
If only Obsidian had a hand in Fallout 4…
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