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Yakov's Fallout 4

Yakov's Fallout 4

Fallout 4. A game yet to be developed… A game belonging to a company that never cared about it. Well. What if suddenly Obsidian – the true Fallout people – had the right to make another game, but this time with less supervisory and more freedom. Well, this is fairly what I think Fallout should look like – as if Black Isle continued to live and build the wonderful franchise without turning mainstream.

Story

You are a true descendant of the Chosen One, dubbed the Runner. Despite that it is unknown where you have been born, life had somehow made you end up in Arroyo, a major settlement to the North. NCR, a humongous faction with a trained military force and lots of resources, had now turned into a greedy, violent government only giving the good seeds to its citizens and army, isolating them from the rest of the world – partially, that is. The Republic took Arroyo, throwing its people out into the Wastes, and killing those that resisted giving them a goodbye hug.

You did not give them a goodbye hug and instead ran off. After travelling North, you end up at a little village, almost self sufficient. You learn of other settlements around, of which most are independent factions with their own resources, small armed force and a chunk of land, which had been divided quite a time ago. Soon, you are entangled in their intrigues, learning the true nature of your visit here and thus receiving a quest that many had failed to complete…

Technical Aspects

Ooh, one of my favorite parts.

  • 32 GHz 64-threaded multi core CPU.
  • 32 GB RAM.
  • An equivalent of a quad CrossFireX setup of ATI Radeon HD 6950.
  • At least 95 GB of free HDD space.

From this very fictional setup, you can see that CPU is the most viable part of the game. Anyways, here’s the rest.

This Fallout has an isometric view, with a rotatable and zooming camera, which obviously makes the game 3D. The character models are greatly detailed and they thus vary – about 10-15 types of males and the same for females, taken off real-life people. In addition, the character’s outlook changes depending on his Strength attribute and specific traits or perks. All weapon models look different in the world view, all modifications to those weapons are also visible upon being added (e.g. scope, silencer) in both the interface, inventory and world view, and as the condition of the weapon changes so does the way the weapon or the mod looks.

The physics are very complex – for an isometric game, that is. All objects (including dead bodies) in-game are dynamic. Throwing a grenade will have an impact on, say, a nearby barrel, which will change the way it looks (e.g. burned) and be thrown aside. The game has a special map grid that examines the size of the explosion, determines the distance between the explosion and the object, compares the location of both and triggers the ‘impact event’. As in addition, a big black hole will be left on the place of the explosion, removing the previous texture and thus staying in the same place for the rest of the game. Plus, liquid objects (water, goo) will also have the specific impact on them.

The effects of the game are stunning – explosions, different energy weapons shots, blood and gore etc. In a dark place or during the night, glowing objects have full dynamic lightning (enchanted with the latest DirectX options), throwing shadows on the floor or a wall nearby, and spreading light rationally (depending on how bright and big the glowing object is).

The animation for different NPCs and characters is wonderful. You can watch as your player picks locks, takes medicine, drinks alcohol or goes to rest.

The music of the game is similar to the original titles in terms of style, but the tracks are made specifically for the game. Much like in Fallout 1, every location has its own track which represents the atmosphere (e.g. Hub, Cathedral). The audio for different effects vary depending on the location (outside or inside, cave or lab etc.) and is close to realism.

There’s no auto-save feature. The amount of save files for the game is infinite (at least until there’s no more HDD space) and it is possible to name the saves upon making or replacing one.

In-game mechanics

The game has a World Map, with undiscovered territory blacked out and explored grounds fully shown. It’s possible to zoom in and out, clicking on a specific location will center the Map on it and clicking again will make the Runner travel there. It’s still possible to stop in the middle of nowhere. Unlike the original games, the Map isn’t divided into big squares or in fact isn’t divided at all; the Runner discovers land as (s)he travels.

Most locations have independent areas. Like in the original games, stepping on a yellow grid will move you to the World Map, while stepping on a green grid will move you to the next area of the location. Upon entering a location in the Map, it’s possible to click on an already visited area to end up there instead.

As in Van Buren and Tactics, there are multiple vehicles which are obtainable in the game – each one has a max storage space and a different speed with various energy consumption costs.

The interface is quite similar to the one in Fallout 1 and 2 and inherits some parts from Fallout Tactics. It consists (from left to right) of a dialogue box, an Inventory button, two slots (as in Tactics) for weaponry or items, a Hit Point and Action Point (HP and AP) slots, position status (taken from Tactics), buttons for the Map, Character and Pip-Boy, a combat status window and a “Skilldex” right above – exactly the same as the original titles, with the specific skills bound (it is possible to customize this menu and change the hotkeys).

The dialogue box is no different than the one seen in the first three games – used for describing locations/areas upon first visiting them, examining, combat etc. The letters are green and the screen itself is black, although both have higher brightness than in the original games. In addition, the dialogue box can be rolled over in length upon clicking on the specific button.

Inventory is handled pretty much the same way it was in Fallout Tactics. On the left part of the screen are the items, a few of which can change the way they look depending on the condition and modifications applied. Quest items are highlighted in a green background (unlike all others, which have a black background). This part of the screen can be “classified” (e.g. Weapons, Armor, Ammo etc). The middle part of the screen shows your character with three big slots – two for weapons or items and one for armor. The way the character looks changes if at least one of the slots is edited or if his position is now different. It is possible to roll your character model around and zoom in and out. The upper right part of the screen shows your character’s stats (SPECIAL, HP and AP status etc.) in bigger size than in the original titles, as well as weapons - (one above, the other below) with their default stats (condition at 100%, SPECIAL at 5, no perks or traits, the respective skill used at 50%, no mods) and modified stats (depending on the character, condition, the mods applied and ammo type) – and armor (below the weapons) with, again, its default stat (100% condition, no perks or traits, no mods) and modified stats. The lower right part is the item description and condition status. This space is usually blank. Upon clicking on a specific item, a green-lettered description shows up. If it is a medical item, its effects are shown below. If it is a type of ammo, its modifiers are shown below. If it is a modification, its modifiers are shown below. Finally, if it is a weapon or a piece of armor, its condition is shown below – there’s the outline of the weapon or armor, and clicking on a specific part (including mods) will show the description, the percentage of the condition and the buttons to remove or replace. In addition is the type of the weapon/armor and the 'add' button.

The slots for weapons and items look exactly the same way as in Tactics. The one that is chosen looks brighter than the unused slot. There’s a yellow crosshair in the lower right space for weapons which is an aimed shot toggle. The amount of AP required is in the lower left space. The ammo type is written in the upper left space.

The HP and AP slots are pretty similar to the original games. First is shown the current stat, then the max stat for the player (e.g. 40/50 HP, 3/7 AP). Hit points are usually colored green. When the stat falls below 50%, it changes the color to yellow, when below 25% it becomes orange and when below 10% it is red. When either HP or AP is decreased or increased, it quickly jumps to that level (instead of the rather long number counting in the originals) and a green or red (depending on how the number change – if it became smaller, it is red, if it became bigger, it is green) number depicting the change quickly shows up just to the right (e.g. +5, -50).

The position status looks the same way it looked in Tactics – a stand position, crouch position, and prone position.

Clicking on the Map button will lead you to the area map (places that you haven’t explored won’t show up). It is possible to upgrade your Pip-Boy so it can also do a scan of NPCs nearby, which is quite useful for stealth characters and those playing on the harder difficulties (instead of going head on).

The Character button leads to the Character screen. Apparently, it hasn’t changed since the times of Fallout 2, except that it’s fully 64 bit and looks superior.

The Pip-Boy button will lead you to the good old 2000, with a better color palette (obviously). Since the Runner is a descendant of the Chosen One, this was gifted to him or her and (s)he wears it with pride and glory. The Clues button is missing like always, and apart from that there’s the Map button, the Quests button and the Archives button. The Quests screen is no different from the original one, but clicking on the appropriate quest will hand you more details (so picking up on a specific task won’t require a good memory or a walkthrough). The Archives button works the same as it did from the originals – without the ugly videos, of course. It stores data which can be read at any time, and finding an appropriate character in the game grants you the ability to hack into the deleted data, and thus find some information on what the Chosen One did after he blew the Enclave guys to hell (possibly when he was nearing death, although the date isn’t shown). Not that it’ll mess with your character build, of course.

The combat status window is like the one in the original games, which is usually closed and opens up only during combat (more on this in the Combat section).

The world view screen features haven’t changed since the original games. Negative effects (irradiated, poisoned etc.) are in the upper left space, while leveling ends up in the lower left space. Clicking on either will move you to the Character screen. The controls are done through the mouse (obviously). The cursor has changed, however, and it is now an arrow with a round shaped Vault Boy who does a thumb up all the time. He also likes to spin, e.g. when you’re walking, but always ends up in the same position. Like in Fallout 1 and 2, clicking the right mouse button will change the actions you plan on doing (interact or move), and clicking the LMB will do the action. To start combat in a non-aggressive environment, simply click on the used weapon slot. The cursor will change to a red (blood-like) crosshair which you’ll need to point at whoever’s life you want to end. If there’s an item, the cursor will change to a beige crosshair which again, you have to use on someone (they have to be standing right next to you, however). Double clicking the item will make you use it on yourself (except dangerous substances like poison).

Character Creation

Building your character is very important as it has an impact on how well you will play the game. SPECIAL is back once more, with just as much significance as in the original games (and more so in Tactics). Despite me wanting for all attributes to start at 4 and the player given 7 points to distribute, Fallout 4 is a Fallout game which inherits the same rules. In addition, you get to create your character once you start a new game (no long and boring tutorials as in Fallout 3 or New Vegas – and no Temple of Trials).

First of all, you’re given the option to name your character and your age (16-35 years), as well as your gender (male or female). While the first two have no impact on the game (your age advances as in the original games and the Runner’s birthday is 4th July, which allows you to have a party which will, obviously, end in a tough fight with some bad guys and loads of references – simply from some guys wanting your space in the bar to bounty hunters trying to kill you), the latter does – male characters can sleep with females and vice versa unless you’ve taken a special option in the start of the game (it could be just a trait) which makes your character a bit… different. It also changes dialogue between various people and you.

All attributes have the same effects as the ones seen in Tactics. That is, all the formulas for skills and other stats (e.g. poison resistance, HP gain etc).

Traits make a return, with as much choice as the original titles offered. Some of them will make your character look different (e.g. Heavy Handed). These can only be changed through the Mutate! perk, which can be picked later on in the game. There’s even Gifted, even if it is more a cheat than anything else.

The experience between different levels hasn’t changed. Experience points are once again awarded for either killing something or someone, or finishing a quest. Do note that while there’s practically no level cap (the maximum level is 999), the average amount of XP points that you will receive will be enough to bring two non-tagged skills to 500% (which will equal to about 312,5 levels to gain, and with Gifted it will be around 234,4 levels and 375% for each – quite a lot if you ask me, but not for a game with the scale of Fallout 4).

Perks are of a wide variety, just like in Fallout 2 (with the ‘waste’ perks coming back for the fun of it), with some from Van Buren, Gamebryo games and some new. The choice to pick one is available every 3 levels, or 4 with Gifted.

Skills have changed since the times of New Vegas. Guns is again divided into Small and Big (yes!), and so is Speech, as planned in Van Buren (don’t know why, but I liked the idea), as well as First Aid and Doctor replace Medicine. There’s, again, Unarmed and Melee. Survival is replaced with the rather useless Outdoorsman (as the game isn’t set on one big map, the need for food – partially - drink and sleep is no longer). The Sneak is back to Sneak and Steal. So in total, there are 19 skills: Big and Small Guns, Energy Weapons, Traps, Melee Weapons, Unarmed, Throwing, First Aid, Doctor, Outdoorsman, Gambling, Barter, Steal, Sneak, Science, Repair, Lockpick, Deception and Persuasion. They can be raised till 500% (the game is big enough) and the costs to do so are partially changed. 1 skill point till 100%, 2 skill points till 150%, 3 skill points till 200%, 4 till 250%, 5 till 300%, 6 till 325%, 7 till 350%, 8 till 375%, 9 till 400% and 10 till 500%. An average character should have 250% invested in his skill to be somewhat successful in his doing, however this will be lacking after around mid-game. 350% - 400% is recommended for the end game, with the latter being for more dedicated players (is a bit of a waste, though). Tag works pretty much the same way it did in the original titles.

Items and Barter

First of all, weapons and armor. The two degrade at about the same speed as they do in Fallout 3 and New Vegas, but since the game is not that action-oriented, that would be sufficient enough. As suggested by Tagaziel, weapons are repaired by switching independent body parts instead of simply using one weapon on the other. Having a better repair and weapon skill allows fixing these parts by using tools on them, but you’d need to have a weapon repair kit (they are indispensable, unless broken – a repair below 100%-150% can mean that the kit will break after 1 or 2 uses). Other than that, you’d need to find merchants who’d fix it for you (not of a good quality and not so cheap, but useful if you’re out in the Wasteland) or actual static traders who do it sensibly and for a lesser price (depending on barter). Some modifications are permanent while others can be removed – when applying the former, you’re asked if you’re sure. In addition, some mods (mostly non-temporary) require a weapon or armor bench to add, unless you have 150% of the required weapon skill (no armor skill) which will just require a specific weapon kit (breaks easily) or if you have 250% of the weapon skill and a perk, allowing you to add the mod yourself easily. You must make sure to look after the mods too, replacing or repairing them. Armor works pretty much the same way.

Clothes go in this way – leather jacket (with all sorts of modifications that are given through quests), metal-plated and lightweight, metal armor (again, with various modifications), lightweight and titan-plated, combat armor (loads of modifications), lightweight, stealth (later on in the game), power armor (T-45d, T-51b, Enclave along with many other modifications given to you throughout quests). There are other more rare pieces of armor. Do note that wearing clothes does not give you any effects (like it did in Fallout 3 and New Vegas), except Power Armor (which is self-explanatory) and a few modifications (again, they are explained).

Weapons have been carried on from Fallout 1 and 2 and partially Tactics, with no real life weapons or Fallout 3/New Vegas weapons (except the 9mm, but it looks more futuristic). There are some other weapons, pretty much being a merge of a few real life ones (e.g. modern and 50s sci-fi) or being a modified version of a weapon from a futuristic novel, movie etc.

Medical items are quite rare (usually traded in) and have pretty much the same price as in the originals, with some even more expensive than usual. They also have the same withdrawal effects (which actually made me stay away from drugs on pretty much my every walkthrough – super stimpaks, and ultra more so, included). Again, every item has an addiction to it (Nuka-Cola, alcohol, mentats, buffout, psycho, jet, Rad-X, Rad-Away etc.) so watch out. Luckily enough, you can use up to 2 (some even 3) items and their effects will add up.

Miscellaneous items can be quite useful too. You’ll most likely need a lockpicking set to pass through a door – although you could manage without it, those sets (especially extended and another unique one, given to you by cooperating with a specific faction) add up to your lockpicking skill. Going through more advanced doors will require an electronic lock pick (but now they vary and go all the way to Mark 5) and also increase your lockpicking skill, although you won’t be able to use it on more basic doors. Remember that these sets can break. In addition, the door may jam which will require some firepower or a bit of patience. Weapon and armor repair kits, as said already, work pretty much the same way as hammers in the Elder Scrolls series – they don’t have a set amount of maximum uses, although having the repair and weapon skill high will increase your chances of a longer lifespan (in fact, having both at about 300% will mean that the kit will rarely break). Some scrap junk can be used for repairing too (not very good, but you’ll suffice). Apparently, having a special kit can be quite helpful when removing traps. Stealth boys, while being very rare and not appearing until approximately mid game (unless you purchase them for a rather high price), give a good hand in both sneaking and stealing – but remember that they also can cause strange things to happen to your character, as in the case of Nightkin, so using them often is not a good idea. These are just a few examples.

Quest items are, as mentioned, highlighted. It is possible to drop it or put it into a container of some sort, however your Pip-Boy Quest status updates with the location (e.g. I’ve left the holodisk on the second level of the Southern Military Base, in one of the lockers) so you won’t have a hard time looking for it later on. They can, however, disappear if you put them somewhere in an owned locker or drop them in a town, which will then require you to visit the local merchants and persuade them to give you the item (or pay for it). Don’t make mistakes such as these. The Pip-Boy will suggest the following.

Bartering is a bit similar to all the games. First of all, barter only affects the price that you sell for – however, it won’t go above the one that you buy with. To get a discount, you must either do a favor for one of the merchants (can be a bit tricky) or have a high barter (usually requiring a bigger charisma too), although the latter doesn’t work most of the times. The barter screen looks like the dialogue screen (without the art – said in the Dialogue section), with your items on the left, and the trader’s items on the right. In the middle is the trading space – unlike the originals, upon trading caps are automatically given, so that you don’t give things away for free. Obviously, all items have their respective full color 64-bit (perhaps even 128) and upon clicking on it their description will show up (do note that some items may have a different description in the trader’s inventory – his or her way to trick you into buying some poor quality goods, and the only way to see this is a high perception or intelligence, all depending on the item itself). Instead of the rather confusing way of trading in Fallout 2, where you had to click on an independent shelf to see what it offers, you can see the full stock in the barter menu. In addition, clicking on a table or shelf with goods will mean you’re trying to steal, but nothing will happen unless you actually attempt at putting something in your inventory (the same rule applies for stealing from normal people).

Combat

Too important to be included in the mechanics topic.

Combat is a very significant feature of Fallout 4. It is only turn based, however, as real time would somewhat contradict gameplay and would not be a widely used feature (but would still require finances, valuable time and QA testing, which could instead be used to advance TB).

All actions are executed through action points, the cost of which is no different from the original titles. The battle field is divided into squares rather than hexes (to avoid clunky movement). Targets are highlighted red upon the Runner wishing to attack, with a percentage to hit when you point the crosshair at them (unless it’s an item). Clicking the target will make your character attack, unless you have chosen aim attack which will then show the independent body parts and the percentage to hit. Apparently, those parts are as varied as they were in the original games. Moving one square requires 1 AP. However, these squares are half the size when your character is crouching, and a third of the original size if your character is in a prompt position. Obviously, both increase your chance to hit and hide you behind small cover (e.g. cars, barrels) if there is one in front. Going into a new position will not cost you any AP, however executing an action will cost an additional AP (unless you go back to your original position). Entering inventory requires no AP, but doing an action does (as in the case of Tactics). You are unable to do a few of the Skilldex actions during combat (lockpicking, repairing, science etc). And when it’s not your turn, the Vault Boy on the cursor will be spinning. He might feel good, but you won’t.

The AI can be quite tricky on harder combat difficulties. Their actions will change with every move you take (take a shot, grab a stimpak, come closer or flee etc). Some of the more ‘smart’ combat enemies can count the amount of shots you did from your weapon (unless it isn’t powered by ammo or has a great amount of shots), e.g. .44 Pistol, and then start advancing on you once you’re low on ammo (to catch you when you have to reload). Enemies may also notice if you’re healing (especially in bigger amounts) and then try to go for critical shots (head, eyes etc). If you take cover behind a barrel, they will try to get it out of the way, or get prepared and wait for your go (heal, reload, change weapons, use drugs). If they manage to throw the barrel aside, it can hurt you (depending on how far the dynamic cover can fly). If you’re fleeing, they will run after you. If there are multiple enemies, they will try to surround you (e.g. one is shooting at you, the other is sneaking from behind). If your weapon condition isn’t very high, they will be more aggressive and less passive. The AI also notices patterns in your combat behavior. If you’re pumping yourself with medicine, the script may think you do not have a big amount of max health. If you’re using physically enchanting drugs, your skills or attributes may be hurting. If you’re constantly changing weapons, this may mean that you’re either unaware of which one would be better to use, or that you don’t have a lot of ammo in your inventory. If you’re taking cover, you may not be a good combatant. If you’re going head on, it means that the AI will try to use the environment or their numbers to beat you. Don’t forget they will also be able to aid each other in battle by providing stimpaks or drugs to those badly damaged, take a hand in using both static and dynamic cover, or concentrate on a specific, more weak target in your party.

Companions will be of great help. You may click on them (remember to switch from walking to interacting) and then give them a command which will cost some AP (e.g. change weapons or save ammo, cover me, get closer to the enemy, get out of my line of fire). It is always better to give them a combat pattern before you go into a fight, which may change a little depending on the combat situation (as in the case with the enemy AI), however these commands may be crucial to your victory. Telling them to cover you will make the companion look for the closest cover, and then tell you to go once they’re ready (not voiced, of course). They can also give you ammo of the type you need (you can tell them to wait where they are and trade for it, or you can tell them to run towards you and trade for it. In the former option, your companion will cover you until you’re close enough). They can also ask for ammo, and then you choose who will be the one to run. Telling them to save ammo by sitting in cover is another option. Remember that smarter enemies (or those on harder difficulties) with a high perception may hear you cry those commands and do anything to stop you (concentrate on the one giving ammo or the companion covering you etc). In addition, companions will try not to fire their weapons if you’re somehow blocking their target (no more Ian or Marcus) and instead tell you to move or duck (if you don’t comply, they will move instead on the next turn).

You can use the environment to gain victory in a hard battle. Hiding in some desert weed grants you a better chance of ambushing your opponent (and especially so if you’re sneaking and the skill is at a higher level – but don’t forget to tell your companions not to open fire until you or the enemy does). If you’re in a bar shootout, it’s possible to turn over the nearest table (since all objects are dynamic) and duck behind it (to make your companions do the same, tell them the command). Throw a grenade or simply shoot to put the light out (don’t forget to adjust your night vision – the place should have a few independent light sources, not including the Sun). Use windows or other large holes to take your enemy down without him noticing. These are just a few options – more are there to be explored. Sneak critical hits are present and useful for the ninja type.

Note that unlike the original games, the enemies can’t leave for the exit grid, making them impossible to hit. During random encounters, the map is rather big so you must have a higher amount of AP to run away from your merciless foes.

Death animations is another feature that makes Fallout 4 truly Fallout. There are about two animations for every type or variation of weapon (handgun, SMG, heavy handgun, CQC rifle, long-range rifle, gauss weapon, energy weapon, pulse weapon, flame based weapon, melee, unarmed, spear as melee and as a throwable weapon, explosive weapon, minigun), some being more similar, others being more different. Different creatures also have various death animations, depending on size and other attributes. Your enemies can have their head punctured, their chest holed multiple times (depending on what the burst of the weapon is), put on fire and run around and afterwards drop dead, turn to ash or a corpse with little skin left, have the head cut off, get sliced in half, liquidize into goo, lose their torso, neck cut and choke on their own blood, lose a leg, stagger for a moment, then fall down, get half the body torn with ribs shown, explode into some serious bloody mess (with chunks of guts on the walls, if they are there, and floor), have a lung damaged and die from loss of oxygen (violent), have both legs lost and many more, with different painful sounds (from simple cries, different for males, females and creatures, to the agonizing sounds of lack of oxygen, as described above). Note that children are present in this game, and they can also be killed in the same violent ways. Get ready to lose your karma real fast… And the BB Gun slayer will be on your tail too.

To loot a dead body you must exit combat (therefore get rid of all your opponents) and then simply interact. Do note that armor (except in some very rare cases, quest related) is not in the loot screen. If anything, I go for balance instead of realism here, because wasting an opponent that has metal armor while you have a leather jacket and then suddenly becoming two steps ahead of where you’re supposed to be is beyond me.

In random encounters it is possible to avoid combat (but not through persuasion, since that’s left for other locations) – if your enemies are bandits of some sort (you can always stumble upon faction guards and military). If you’re wearing Power Armor, the bandits (up to about 4) will back up and run. You can still shoot them in the back which will definitely play a role in your reputation (they have eyes and ears nearly everywhere). At last, if you have managed to put down the majority of the team one or two will beg for mercy. You can kill them, sell them off as slaves, strap them of their items and let them go (or do just the latter). This also depends on the weapon and armor you’re using, although it happens rarely.

Dialogue

Dialogue (technically, of course) is very similar to the one in Fallout 1 and 2. First of all, there are the one-liners. They are used by different characters both in combat as taunts, and during peaceful times as info depiction. As in case of both games, these one-liners are not voiced and change colors depending on the relation between the speaker and the player (however these liners are also used for depiction of dialogue between certain characters). It will be green if the character is friendly towards you (‘Hello, my friend!’), yellow if the character is neutral (‘Welcome to the Shark Casino, traveler.’) and red if the character is aggressive (‘Holster your weapon, stranger.’) – taunts are also colored red. Then there’s the full fledged dialogue. Upon interacting with a character, a big dialogue screen will appear in the lower part of the screen (although there won’t be any more silly art as in the case of Fallout 1 and 2). Your caps are shown to the left, as well as the log button. Pressing this button will lead you to the dialogue log, where you can read what you said and how the character responded, and vice versa. This can be important in case you accidentally click and miss what the other character told you (especially if it’s quest info). To the right is the barter button – so now you don’t have to go through a certain dialogue branch to start trading (as in the latest games). As in pretty much all core Fallout games (the 4 of them) there are dialogue checks, which use your skills or attributes (and sometimes traits and perks) to reveal more information and open up more dialogue (as in the case of the originals) or to somehow ‘edit’ the current task (make it easier, add more payout etc. – as in the case of the two latest games). If you have the requirement for this line, it will show up as a dialogue option (without the requirement written there, that is – no more [Speech 80]), if not, it simply won’t. All dialogue lines are mixed up so there isn’t any pattern as to what to expect after you’ve said something, and so that a new walkthrough feels somewhat fresh even in this criteria. More important characters you speak to have a talking head – apparently so detailed that it looks more like FMV than computer graphics. And unlike the Gamebryo games’ FaceGen, the heads are taken off real life people using latest technology. The background is also greatly animated, with attention to even the littlest detail.

Dialogue may be affected by various factors. Having an Intelligence below 4 will make your character speak gibberish, which will also cut off dialogue to some NPCs or make their lines very few. Having an Intelligence of 1 will make you speak some kind of language of your own. Good for a laugh or two on your (extra) playthrough. It is also dependent on your reputation. If you killed quite a few people (even bad), some may slightly dislike you, others may be afraid of you. If you’ve helped lots, others may ask you for help (and otherwise wouldn’t, shutting off the quest). Obviously, most characters won’t speak with you if you have your weapon drawn – they’ll ask to put it away first. In fact, taking out your weapon inside a town or settlement will make the guards aggressive who will ask you to put your weapon down, and if you do not comply the guards will start shooting at you. It also depends on how far you’re from finding the nuclear warhead military base.

Reputation

Karma works as a reputation meter (no longed named karma, however). Your kills and actions are taken in mind – remember that all your kills are recorded and like in the original games, you see exactly who or what you’ve killed (e.g. brahmin, ghoul, male etc). In fact, killing will add in some negative reputation most of the time (obviously, blowing up a random cockroach in the Wastes won't).

However the reputation between factions and usual settlements is displayed once again. ‘Karma’ can change these values - if you killed, the raiders might like that, while the Followers won’t etc. Other than that, the reputation system hasn’t changed since New Vegas.

Backstory and setting

The Runner’s quest – that many had failed to complete – is not that complicated – find a nuke. There are multiple factions who want to get their hands on it, and you can aid them in finding the military base with the warhead.

The game is set in Northern Oregon, Washington and a little part of Canada (apparently, from December till mid February on the northern edge there will be some snow – all locations are filled with snow too, and there is a thick chance of meeting an Easter Egg of someone celebrating Christmas – pop culture reference time), somewhere on the edge of the 23rd and 24th centuries. Apparently, there are four major cities in the game – Portland, Salem, Seattle and Olympia. But oh no, the three of those had a bomb dropped (except the latter – Olympia was hit in the wrong place and there are many ghoul survivors, along with Post-War settlers) and thus the city ruins are still wildly irradiated, meaning that people are happily avoiding the cursed places. The game also has two Vaults, around which the major settlements are. They are greatly detailed and are bigger than the ones in Fallout 1 and 2, so that a 1000 people in-game could easily fit inside.

Pretty much there are three main factions, who all came out of the Vault. Their Vault had made it so that there was a constant competition between them. Upon the all-clear signal, all the dwellers were divided into three groups, rivaling. One group found a Pre-War military factory, and was now able to produce armor and weapons. Another group found a science lab with a heap of medical equipment – after repairing it, they were able to not only produce various medical objects, but also treat those heavily wounded. The third group eventually found a good piece of land that would be easy to maintain – with loads of books and equipment, they quickly repaired the Pre-War farms and started making a big amount of food. In order to survive, the three rivals were in need of cooperating with each other, setting up various trading routes and outposts, with their own militia guarding borders. As years passed, more and more explorers were found, who had learned of a military base located somewhere in this region which had a nuke. It was unknown wherever this warhead was launched or not, but the three factions would happily gain power over such a weapon. However, due to lack of information, sending a group would be too dangerous, and very few adventurers would accept a prize for such a suicidal job. And the fact that spies are present, a less passive search for the weapon could simply mean war.

There’s also the ‘gray mass’ – the usual wastelanders, with their own police and government. They trade between each other and sometimes go out on a route to one of the three factions, however it is quite dangerous – filled with deathclaws and raiders (who apparently are from Vault 15) among other Pre-War and Post-War traps. None of them have the thrive to find a nuclear weapon – the majority don’t even know about its existence, but those that do consider it an item no human should ever posses. The gray mass pulled out of the other Vault, and knows little things about the three factions. They are your starting grounds – they sell things more cheaply (although don’t have more advanced items), have easier caravan jobs and ‘solve this dilemma’ quests which award you with experience points and sometimes money or items.

There’s the embassy of NCR. Rumors spread fast, and they’re already in search of the nuclear warhead too (apparently they feel like using it against the Legion). You may cooperate with them if you want, and although they only have one small outpost in the Wastes, they can be considered a semi-major faction. You don’t have to hate them for taking over Arroyo. They won’t reveal what has happened with New Vegas, instead simply saying ‘it’s a hard fight with the Legion, and they aren’t giving up their positions just yet’ (not an exact quote).

In addition is the Gun Runners. Apparently, they’ve decided to stretch out even further, away from the rather angry Republic, and are interested in getting the Pre-War factory for their business. You may help them fight off the Gun n’ Armor faction or make a truce, all depending on how you want to do it. You may even wipe the Gun Runners out. Note that either way; you’ll always have a place to buy some ammo, weapons and defensive apparel. Such a quest grants you your own T-45d (you’ll need to constantly power it with Energy Cells) – there were only a few rather broken pieces of it, and the faction happily repaired them. You can always steal it or take it by force. You may cooperate with the Runners to get them a warhead, which they will then sell to the highest bidder – probably the NCR. A kind of ‘rich’ ending.

Then are the Followers (again). They’ve been heavily fought on the NCR territory and decided to tell them goodbye. Here they are, helping the injured and being all good and knowledgeable. They are also interested in the medical equipment of the second faction, thinking that this Pre-War technology is not helpful if not everyone gets it. You can help them find the warhead and blow it up. A ‘good’ ending of some sort (not good for the others, that is).

To get a bit medieval, clichéd and Fallout 1-style, there’s a thieving faction. These guys have been inspired by Loxley all the way from the Hub. They award you with the very good set of mechanical lockpicks (not electronic) and you can do various jobs for them. They are a ‘gray mass’ faction, and can be traded in to the cops for either nothing, or money, or power (ugh, corruption) – without the set of lockpicks. Do note that their jobs aren’t infinite and they ask you not to kill anyone. If you do, they won’t like it.

The Brotherhood of Steel and the Enclave are not present in this game, not even remnants of some sort. You do get to find Enclave armor (which stats are the same as in the originals) in a quest, but I haven’t thought it out that good yet. In addition, the game has many military bases – one of which has a set of T-51b, still weaker than Enclave’s Advanced. To get to it you must use your stronger skill (combat or stealth – why would a diplomat require something as big as the 51?), however do note that it’s not going to be a walk in the park. There’s also many other stealth and light armors throughout the game, useful for different kind of characters.

Then there are the raiders (Jackals, as I’m aware). They have a main camp set up somewhere to the East (in fact, the three factions and the gray mass are located near the shore and the big cities, to the West) which you can visit. In addition are a few ‘lesser’ camps which are key positions to raiding the gray mass (since the rivaling Vault factions have a pretty strong control set out, with turrets and walls, the raiders are too afraid – unless you step in). You may join them and help them get some more money and kills. In addition, you may tell them that there’s a nuclear weapon which they will gladly leave – not launch - for the NCR – a ‘bad’ ending of some sort (again, it’s a two-sided coin here).

There’s the Olympia ghouls and settlers, who fight between each other for territory. Here’s your chance to respect the old, help the young or sign a truce between both. You can cooperate with one or the other, and they will aid you in finding a nuclear weapon to drive out their opponents.

There are the slavers (like those at the Den, but more cruel). They eat those that behave bad and are generally very, very bad people (at about the same level as Jackals, or even worse at a few aspects). They don’t care about the nuclear warhead, and you can join them, getting various tasks to enslave. You can be the seller too, if your barter (sometimes Charisma and Intelligence) is at a higher level. Like in the case of joining raiders, your reputation with most will drop dramatically.

At last are the bounty hunters. There are about two or three groups who offer their services to those in need of an assassination. You can join them for a few jobs (they are scripted to be available after a set amount of days – e.g. 10, 30, 60 etc) which are obviously not infinite. These groups hold no interest in the nuclear warhead, although are afraid that if someone took control of it, their business would be over. Apparently, they hunt down search parties and ambush them, and the same happens with the player.

In the end of the game you’re set to go to another military base which has the nuclear weapon (the map is filled with snow). Once you find it, the game warns you to go back and tell your friends that you have actually found the base. If your level is lacking (there’s always a recommendation) you’re simply going to get torn or blown apart by the almost infinite layers of high-tech Pre-War security (bots, turrets, traps etc). When you warn your friends (you don’t have to – if you want to use it for yourself) they may or may not give you some help (all goes down if you’re more into diplomacy or not). Since there are lots of spies, and the way takes a week or even two (yes, that much – when walking, and your vehicle will be stored away), the other rivals will be following your footsteps so you must get prepared for a rather lengthy fight (two or three end-game bosses). The military base – much like the Oil Rig – is a test of skill and knowledge of the game. You may pass as a combatant, shooting from your minigun, bringing down from a sniper rifle, setting up traps and removing them, throwing grenades, destroying with a sledge or being Jackie Chan (don’t know how the latter would work out). You may pass with stealth, finding various shafts, sneaking away from bots, bypassing turrets and avoiding all sorts of hazards along the way. You may pass with diplomacy, using your science skill on the security system, simply ‘repairing’ (actually breaking) it, persuading your friends to defeat the robots or deceiving AI into believing you’re one of the workers (being a professional doctor will make your friends believe you can stitch them together anyway, while outdoorsman is… useless), as well as take a more funny route and use your barter or gambling skill to play with one of the combatants or the AI and win. Do note that you can’t simply go one way – you’ll most likely be tested in about 7-8 ways, requiring different attributes and skills (sometimes perks can make life easier for you). Obviously failing a test will be a hard, hard fall, so better come prepared.

Finally you arrive at the launch pad. The moment you’ve most likely been waiting for ever since you became aware of your quest. Here you fight the end-game bosses (most of the time, that is) and their crew, with the former having completely unique death animations with guts blowing out which takes about a minute or two (very impressive). Usually they are grouped together, but you may turn out to be very persuasive (or again, barter or gamble) and tell them that death’s awaiting all anyways, which means they will fight each other (and sometimes not even you). After lots of stuff happen, you’re finally relieved into making a choice. First of all, you may help one of the factions. All of them will scare the rest of the ‘fellow’ Vault dwellers and make use of them. Bad, bad people. Different endings for each of the factions. You may help the NCR who will use the nuke on the Legion. You may help the Followers and blow up the nuke and run away. You may help the raiders gain power through this magical weapon. You may help one of the Olympia guys who will eventually keep things under their order in the city. You may let the Gun Runners have the bomb who will sell it to the NCR and thus become good friends… for some time. At last, you can keep it for yourself. Quite a big present for just one person, right? You can ditch the warhead or blow it up (doesn’t matter that much – a Followers’ ending of some sort), as well as launch it at the NCR, one of the three factions (or the factions as a whole) or the gray mass (on one hand, you could gain enough hate for this almost inhuman rivalry and use it on them; on the other hand you could be quite a bad guy and a lonely raider, hating government and people and be a psycho). Your choices are, however, restricted to the friendships you've made, so if you helped NCR along the way giving the nuke to raiders would be off-limits. Let's be sensible, okay?

The consequences are all quite visible, although your actions in this part of the Wastes also have an impact (not end-game choice ending). Helping the NCR will make them very strong – they will defeat the Legion and eventually grow even further, without much obstacles in the near future. They will become even worse, very corrupt and angry, and doom all outsiders to a short and difficult life, becoming an almost slave state. Helping the Followers will only result in a big blood bath. The NCR will leave the region, while the factions will eventually become angrier and start out a full-fledged war between each other. Helping the raiders will make the NCR give up its positions, and legalize the worst sins in the Wasteland, pretty much returning to something far behind Stone Age. No government, no rule, no order. Helping the ghouls of Olympia will make them simply keep the weapon, while the settlers of Olympia will eventually use it, due to their ‘new’ violent nature. Either way, their enemies will be neutralized. The three factions will be, however, aggressive towards either one, willing to take over the warhead; the ghouls will soon blow it up in the ocean. While the more peaceful act will only cause another bloodbath between both, the more aggressive act will cool down their feelings and they will sooner agree to a truce than war. Using the warhead on one of the factions will slow down the other two’s progress – in fact, they will soon be overwhelmed and fall apart – some into merchants, others into raiders. Wiping all the factions out would not really have an impact on the rest of the Wastes. Using it on the gray mass would only, again, cool down the three factions and those that were not hit (since the wastelanders have spread) would leave the place, looking for more civilization. Ooh, the destructive nature of this weapon.

And now, the Runner. ‘Karma’ is a reputation, not a good-or-bad-meter. Due to this, your friendly faction will eventually get rid of you if you have killed a lot (unless your combat, barter, gambling, outdoorsman, deception or persuasion skill is high enough, along with a few attributes, or if you’re also very bad). Of course, it also comes down to what faction you’ve made friends with – the NCR may not like a bad guy, but the raiders appreciate it. So don’t be surprised to find out that you’ve been used all along to get the nuclear warhead.

Things to do

Another fun section to write.

Fallout 4 offers a chunk of things to do. When you first arrive at the village, you won’t be able to simply head for one of the three factions. You’ll need a decent weapon, an ammo supply, some first aid (and, if your skill is higher than usual, doctor) items, armor and experience, along with a friend or two. To get that you’d have to have some money and help a few of the nearest settlements. Each one from the gray mass offers anywhere from 10 to 20 (yes, that much) quests. You’ll most likely be able to complete 4-9 of them.

The Runner managed to grab some items when the NCR was raiding Arroyo. All of them depend on your character skills (even more variety than in Fallout 1, oh yes). A doctor might get a doctor’s bag, a thrower might get a spear, a melee character might have a knife, a lock picker might be given a set of tools etc. The base items would always be 2 stimpaks, a fully loaded 9mm handgun (looking quite unique and not very real-life, to be honest – as described in the Items and Barter section), 10 usual rounds (adds up to two clips) and a rather bad kitchen knife, as well as some money (50-100, depending on barter and gamble). The model of the character without armor is unique to the whole game (to avoid confusion) - add the many visual options during character creation.

Receiving caps is a bit harder. Quests require some basic skill and knowledge, along with items. Not every one of them even pays or gives you items (the latter is very rare, for the sake of balance). There are multiple caravan offices throughout the game (Far Go and Crimson have spread here, but there are other independent merchants) which you can work for (be warned that you are seen as competition and you may be subject to an assassination by one of the caravan groups). These give little trouble and some starting money. But this isn’t the only way. You can visit the nearest casino and gamble there. You can also visit some of the rich people and steal from them (if you’re successful, that is).

Once you’ve made your first money you would need to find a merchant and buy from them and repair your items. Random people on the street may ask you for help and if you’re up for the job, you can get some more experience or raise your reputation (and have some more dangerous but well-paid quests).

Sometimes there may be a scripted raid from the Jackals. They happen about twice or once for every settlement, and if you help by fighting, or helping the injured afterwards, or paying out for the town’s sheriff/mayor (you can give them some money to buy more ammo and fix the guards’ weapons the next time a caravan arrives) your reputation will increase, especially in the specific location. If you do not help – do note that if you're a lower level, the loss won't be so big - your reputation will drop. The number of raids can be bigger if the player has decided to join Jackals, however not a lot of people will like you if you’ve made friends with them.

Caravans also pass by (on the right dates) and you can join the ride home (if you’re low-level, you will be sent to hell – verbally). In addition, when you’re caravanning, you may lose a big amount of guards and the driver will ask you to find some people who would agree. Do note that instead of 1 encounter there are 2 or 3, and even 4 for more difficult routes. The gray mass tours usually have some critters or a pair of bandits on the way with which the other guards can deal (they carry either no armor or a leather jacket, as well as a shotgun or more high-powered pistol, or a melee weapon).

You can get married in this game. There are multiple wives/husbands that are willing to live with you. Most of them are just as annoying as the Fallout 2 ones and your best bet is to sell them off to slavers or just kill them (that’s called Fallout divorcing). When you marry, your reputation with the faction will increase and dialogue will change to something brighter (although the parents and siblings may still dislike you – time for a few hilarious references).

And now, companions. Your party can consist of 5 followers and 1 vehicle. There are many who’d fight for you and have a nice backstory, along with one to three quests (some may appear during your adventures). To recruit you’d need to have a specific level at a skill or attribute, or a set amount of caps. They all have their strength and weaknesses, so it’d be smart for you to pick your type of companions (e.g. stealth characters don’t want someone with a minigun or a rocket launcher). Most of the time they are scaled to your level (not always) not to end up as killing machines for early players (although they can be quite weak for high-level characters).

There are multiple vehicles in Fallout 4. Some are faster but have less storage space as well as less companion spaces; others slower but can carry much more. Being on the former does not only mean travelling at big speeds, but they also cut the amount of encounters (except Easter Eggs and some scripted events), making Outdoorsman extremely useless. Other vehicles have an increased amount of encounters, but still less than if you were on foot.

There are different types of matches in the game. You can compete as a boxer or bet on one. The pay increases as you defeat various opponents. Do note that if you kill one (which is possible – like in the original games, it is possible to kill someone by scoring a critical hit that can even land a blow worth 0 HP with unarmed combat) your pay is either reduced or you're thrown out of the competition. You can compete in a Wild West themed shootout – you’re given a unique revolver, as is your opponent, and you shoot at each other. Again, you don’t have to kill to win. Then there are animal fights – similar to Fallout 2. You bet and watch as a mole rat or even radscorpion kills its own brother. There are multiple quests on this (some want to stop it, others want you to cheat customers, and the rest want you to trap some more creatures for the fight – this isn’t an infinite quest, however). All matches end one day and are not huge so this won’t become a source of thousands of caps for players.

More advanced unarmed characters can learn boxing or karate. Boxing is recommended for players with a big Strength, while karate is recommended for those who have a large Agility. This makes the unarmed skill quite useful later on. And all fighting animations are changed, too.

Apparently, there is a contest in the Gun faction – who makes the better gun. If you win, you get your unique weapon and your reputation increases. To win, you must have a high Intelligence, a large level in one of the weapon skills or a big Charisma and Persuasion, allowing you to cheat your way. In the Doctor faction, there’s too a contest – who makes the better chem. Again, having a higher Intelligence and First Aid or Charisma and Persuasion allows you to pass this competition. You can get about two doses of your newly made medical item and it also affects the ending. There are three more ways to pass, however – having a higher Strength and Melee or Unarmed, a higher Agility and Sneak and Steal (both!), or a bigger Charisma, Barter and lots of caps. None of these five ways include violence. Although not acting fairly may get you in a bit of trouble.

Since the game supposes that you’ll be working for one of the main factions (again, there are multiple choices) you may be given a task that requires you to assassinate the leader. If you go in guns blazing, someone may notice you. This means war. In about three days in-game, a little army will collect on one of the borders. You’ll be asked to participate in the fireworks, and you can in multiple ways (fight, sneak past enemy lines, set traps etc). This is the part where you have to turn the Speed Meter all the way to the right, or turn on the special ‘Speed’ option (it makes everything move at ridiculously high speeds and leaves a red trail behind every movement, allowing you to take note of every step that the enemy or ally takes). Unless you want to die of boredom, that is. If you have a higher Persuasion, Intelligence and Charisma, you may actually command the military by ordering them to prepare (e.g. dig trenches, set up ammo boxes), although there are about two or three options (offensive, defensive or something in between) as to how you set up these troops and you can’t actually change them (since this is an RPG, not a strategy game). You may choose to fight and gain reputation within the military force, or hide in the headquarters and watch tens of people die. You can also ignite war by telling that someone from this faction assassinated that faction’s leader (the leader has to be already killed). Do note that if you sneak your way through (either by Sneak or Deception) and then kill the leader people won’t figure out who did it and they obviously wouldn’t want to fight two enemies instead of just one (it is possible that the two will get rid of the weaker enemy and then try to tear apart the resources).

If you’re up for it, you can scavenge the three cities which are glowing from far, far away. They hold many secrets and dangers, one of them being the nuke crater. To make sure that you live, have some anti-radiation defense and lots of Rad-X. You may find various items, like vehicle engines and other parts that can help you with quests. There are multiple scavengers on the outskirts of the city (which isn’t irradiated anymore), but moving towards the center would be pretty suicidal for them.

As you gain reputation the price on your head does, too. There are always people who don’t like your actions because they hurt their interests. Apparently, this is a good way to keep your character in shape, even if he likes non-violent methods more. Note that you can actually hire a mercenary company with quite a few caps which will then loosen the amount of bounty hunters running after you, or do them a favor or two (e.g. work) to gain some reputation. This allows diplomats and stealthy characters to work their way around this problem too.

You can’t buy houses in the game, although you may rent a bed for the night (prices aren’t too high) in case you ended up late. Do note that when travelling through the Wastes, your character will be in need for food (water is a bit easier to find), so if he doesn’t have any in his inventory he will be eventually spawned at a location, supposedly nest, with a few critters nearby (geckos, radscorpions etc.) and will need to kill at least one to feed himself. If the Runner stays for long on one of the locations, he may become hungry, thirsty or fatigued.

-- Yakov 13:23, October 30, 2011 (UTC)

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