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Gamescom 2015 Blog Header

There's less than a hundred days left until the release of one of the biggest games this year, Fallout 4. But so far the only gameplay we've seen came from E3's press conference, and fans have been hungry to learn more about the latest iteration of the hugely popular post-apocalyptic game series. At Gamescom, fans and press were finally given the opportunity to check out an extended gameplay look at what's shaping up to become yet another fantastic installment in the Fallout series.

The extended gameplay was actually preluded by a short introduction to one of Fallout's SPECIAL skills, namely strength. In true Fallout fashion, a narrator explained the purpose and importance of strength, demonstrated by the Vault Boy being crushed under his own weight due to overencumberance. Said Vault Boy then attempted to take on a Super Mutant Behemoth with a power fist, as he was promptly killed in a bloody fashion by the Behemoth's own oversized fist. The clip was reminiscent of the G.O.A.T. slides seen in Fallout 3, as well as the classic Duck-And-Cover films. Hopefully these clips appear in Fallout 4 as introductions to each of the SPECIAL skills and perhaps other gameplay elements, as they serve as a fantastic preface to the basics of Fallout and its dark satire of '50s culture.

We were then treated to a first look at the town of Lexington. Once inhabited by people trying to survive in the harsh wasteland of Boston, it has since been overrun by ghouls and raiders. Everything in Lexington shows that it was once a lively industrial city, with the Corvega car factory at its heart. Bethesda has truly mastered the art of storytelling through environments and world building, which becomes apparent by just strolling through the somewhat colorful Lexington.

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Lively colors and bright skies
Fallout 4's world is not as grim or dark as the Capital Wasteland: it's filled with bright colors that help emphasize what life was like before the bombs fell. It's a very welcome change from the unending greens and browns we saw in the past Fallout games.

The new dynamic weather system being introduced in Fallout 4 really helps accentuate the new atmosphere of the game, as sunbeams blind you and the clouds cover a beautiful blue sky. While it's certainly a major shift from what we're used to from the past games, it's without a doubt a change for the better. During longer gameplay sessions of the past games, the dark colors really started to wear on you. Fallout 4 certainly won't have that problem.

But appearances are deceptive. Lexington's still overrun by vile creatures and raiders, which becomes especially clear upon entering the Corvega plant where raiders have made their base. This dark area looks much more like the Fallout we remember, with sentry guns covering the production floors and blood and skeletons being a common sight.

The game's certainly not going to win any awards for its graphics, but the atmosphere and areas that are so meticulously handcrafted certainly make up for its lackluster textures. But with stiff competition this year such as The Witcher 3, which has both a huge open world as well as stellar graphics, the lack of graphic fidelity is certainly not something to be overlooked.

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Murderous ghouls and raiders
One of the huge improvements in the game is its much improved combat and gunplay. Weapons feel like they actually pack a punch, and enemies don't act as bullet sponges: they'll actually stagger when they're hit by bullets. Similarly, when a raider is hit by a melee weapon, the force of the swing will actually have an impact on them, rather than them shrugging off the impact like the Hulk. Dismemberment is no longer exclusive to kills either: if you use a shotgun to blast off a ghoul's leg, it'll drop to the ground and crawl towards the player. All in all, the game's combat is much more responsive and fun.

In addition to this, enemies no longer just roam the halls endlessly waiting for a player to show up. A seemingly empty Super Duper Mart can suddenly become infested by ghouls, as they fall through the ceiling and cracks in the wall. It makes the game and its areas feel much more dynamic, and forces the player to be on their toes at all times.

Areas are also made much more dynamic trough the use of the environment: shooting explosive barrels will actually cause them to explode, creating opportunities to kill a large number of hostiles by luring them close to a propane tank.

What remains to be seen is whether or not the new combat system will come at the cost of the game's RPG features. While every SPECIAL attribute has 10 different perks, each with its own different levels (some even have more than five levels), the game's skill system has been completely removed. For instance, this means that there's no longer a small guns skill which governs the aim of your character when using guns, which may considerably reduce the depth of the game and the variety of the characters you create.

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The Brotherhood returns
Towards the end of the demo, the player was ambushed by a number of raiders at an empty square. Not long after, the Brotherhood arrived in force, as a vertibird dropped off two power armored knights, and then started circling the area, while opening fire on the raiders. It wasn't long before a raider in makeshift power armor used a mini nuke to take out the vertibird, causing it to start losing altitude and crash and explode into a building. To those who have played Broken Steel, this is certainly much different from a vertibird just magically exploding in a nuclear explosion in the sky upon being destroyed. It's a small difference which makes the game feel like a true triple-A title.

While this may have been a scripted event, the player had ample time to take out the armored raider, possibly allowing the vertibird to continue supporting the player in a later battle against a Super Mutant Behemoth. As vertibirds have shown up in both demos now, it's starting to seem like they'll play a very major part in the game's outside combat.

Lexington also had a sense of verticality to it: raiders weren't just on the ground, but were also positioned on catwalks and other higher ground, similar to certain areas in Lonesome Road. While this hasn't been confirmed, it'd make sense if many areas are a lot more vertical, allowing players to use the power armor's jetpack or even vertibirds to travel between rooftops. This could really change the way the game is played, and add a new depth to exploration.

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Conclusion
Whether or not Fallout 4 will live up to its predecessors remains to be seen. After all, we still know very little about the game's story and its quests. But so far what we have seen is very impressive, and if Bethesda manages to not just create a fantastic world, but also deep quests and characters like Obsidian did in Fallout: New Vegas, we're in for a treat.

What are you thoughts on Fallout 4 so far? Do you think it'll live up to the hype, or will it not be able to live up to its predecessors. Let us know what you think in the comments down below!