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Games : Highly Recommended
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Release Date: November 10th, 2015 Movie Release Year: 2015

Fallout 4

Overview -

This is it. After years of conjecture, Bethesda returns to their continuation of the 'Fallout' franchise. After Obsidian's 'Fallout: New Vegas' and Bethesda's own 'The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim,' 'Fallout 4' is a kind of Bethesda PS4 and Xbox One debut. And let's not forget the PC version, which will see mods that are expected in part to follow to the Xbox One and then the PS4.

Bethesda's 'Fallout 4' marketing hasn't gone out of its way to differentiate the game from the much acclaimed 'Fallout 3' of the last generation. Far from it. The S.P.E.C.I.A.L. videos alone are exactly in character with the preceding numbered installment. Even so, the new setting, new characters, new game systems and new platforms seem to have grabbed the interest of series' veterans and newcomers alike.

Now it's time to strap on a Pip-boy and the familiar Vault-Tec blue and yellow and venture out into world.

Highly Recommended
Rating Breakdown
Tech Specs & Release Details
Video Resolution/Codec:
Audio Formats:
5.1 LPCM
Release Date:
November 10th, 2015

Video Review


No doubt, when it comes to the visuals, quantity has most certainly been emphasized over quality. It's not just that there is so much world, so many characters, and so much content. If 'Fallout 4' had been a Xbox One/PS4 launch title, the visual grading would have been much different. In late 2015, however, its best visuals, which consist of playable vistas that usually can be approached, admired, and played without a load screen (until hitting a building interior) are still below the best looking games we've seen this gen. Texture res, geometry complexity, and detail density of any given area can be very uneven, though the lighting often impresses.

Many of these Xbox One rough spots are improved when jumping onto the PC, but one of worst offenders is character animation. In essence, the game uses frequent in-engine cutscenes, and these moments, which are crucial to the story, the individual quests, and the presentation of the characters, are fraught with animation splicing that is unfortunately well behind the times. There's a reason that games like the original 'Gears of War' used custom animations for matinee delivered cut scenes, and that's because it wouldn't have been smooth using a stock Unreal 3 library (or some variant thereof).

Fallout 4 Xbox One Review Valentine Screenshot

These issues are not helped by the overall level of character detail. Often, say when meeting a new companion, the first meeting will be decent enough, but later on, with quest-based conversations, the roughness to the movements will become more distracting until an overall numbness sets in.

Combat animation is much better, and weapons can be very slick looking with the mods being noticeably cool. The armor system is less dynamic and interesting. (I did wind up looking very Road Warrior like, but with a Vault Suit mixed in.)

Fallout 4 Xbox One Review Vault 114 Screenshot

Having all the armor pieces is great, but I wish we could designate sets. The UI for the Pip-boy, Power Armor, terminals, and so forth is clean, stylish, legible, and customizable to a degree.

On the Xbox One, there are a bevy of performance issues. For one thing, load times are pretty harsh. Building interiors with balconies, roof access, and anywhere else that is going to lead to a load, turn around, and load again, feel perverse. The bigger the area, the longer the load time.

The game performance does an interesting job as far as I'm concerned. On the Xbox One, the game will hitch predictably in various areas like the middle of dense cities, where it feels like the game is having trouble streaming and unloading too many areas at once. Amazingly, this always happens when things are calm combat wise, which prevents the hitching from becoming frustrating. Some pop-in is normal, but better than other issues might suggest. Occasionally, a texture or model will take an extra half second to load.

AI pathing for the companions can be tricky. Dog Meat is a little too familiar, and is constantly underfoot. Certain small areas that have chests are inaccessible for the companions. Tracking down idle companions seems like it should be easier. Otherwise, the most egregious bug I can recall was an inaccessible terminal/safe combo, which was adjacent to a badly pathed room.

Audio Review


There is loads of voice acting to consider as well as well sound effects for a mess of weapons and enemies. Overall, the voice is acting is good. Sometimes it's great, and other times just ok. Often it's undercut by the aforementioned animations (cough Preston), and also by the game's tendency to advance events at the player's whim. (Like a character answering "back again?" right after you complete your first conversation.) When in-game player character camera cutscenes feature a magically appearing weapon and all-too classic tense/relax/tense display by the NPCs, the effect of proficient voice acting can be lost. I expect any player will be able to pick out their favorite voices 10-20 hours in the game.

Weapons sound good and go well with the crisp sound of V.A.T.S., S.P.E.C.I.A.L., the Pip-boy, and so on. I started using a new SVS Prime Satellite 5.1 set-up during my play, and the game didn't disappoint. Enemy chatter is quite frequent when sneaking , and it pans wonderfully.

In 40 hours of play, there is lots of dead air and recycled radio. Some of the cooler weapon sounds usually mean my character is dead.

The game's original music is excellent, while the radio station music is good, but not necessarily good enough to justify running around the clock. Mission-based radio broadcasts can be refreshing. I found myself wishing for more radio drama.

Final Thoughts

Load up, head out, and see the world. Haul some of it back. Be a law-bringer or a scoundrel. See what's behind the curtain, and make some battery-powered friends. It's all here and more. I wish the visuals of 'Fallout 4' were better, even much better in places, but the gameplay eventually had me hooked. I wanted to see what was around the next bend, and if I could take it. I wanted to see if I would dish out pain or aid, and if the reprehensible machinations of the powerful would yield fascinating, if deplorable, results.