I won’t lie that I am most biased when it comes to items and equipment, I can even play a boorish game and enjoy it if the selection of goods is interesting enough. Thus, when I heard of the amazing crafting system I got quite excited and truth be told, for the first ten hours of game-play, I thoroughly enjoyed it. That’s about 3% of my total game play. What happened then? Well, the system is well built and reasonably well balanced, for example you cannot unlock new mods unless you reach a certain level threshold. It got old quite quickly and that for two main reasons.
The first problem that quickly showed was twofold: first it is very expensive to invest in customization of any kind, would you spend an extra point to get a scope or to get a 20% damage bonus? What can be done with perk points can be so much more beneficial than just installing a better grip on a rifle or a serrated blade on a knife.
Most modded weapons and armor will be available at the merchants by the time you reached the level necessary to unlock the mods anyway. And although caps are hard to come by (to put it mildly) it’s still worth it more than to spend these precious perk points.
The second problem is variety, there isn’t much of it. Go on the wiki and look at the list of equipment from New Vegas and Fallout 4. It feels like the designers were lazy, there are only two unique weapons that have their own sprite, all the others are exact copies of the default equipment with a different name, didn’t even bothered making it a different color. It fell a bit flat. That’s alright if you use the same equipment for a fourth of the game and keep on upgrading it. But that’s not the case, because most people won’t spend that much points in gunsmithing or chemistry and those who do will quickly find out that there is equipment out there that will have better stat than theirs before they can upgrade it. So it was fun, but it was short lived fun. Especially once you start stashing up caps…
Why did I play 300 hours??
Well, there is something completely new in this game that got me quite hooked. Every time you “free an area/settlement” from danger, you can actually build a radio beacon and attract settlers. Once that is done, you can get into “settlement mode” and basically play a new game. Now, truth be told except to help you amass caps and crafting material, settlements are quite pointless. So why did I bothered? Because it is extremely self-satisfactory to see your defense system and your settlers repeal a wave of raiders or watch them sitting around the community table and chill out. It turns the game into a mix of Sim City and The Sims if it happened in a post nuclear wasteland. Now the building system is incredibly flawed (although there are more than enough mods out there that fixes each of these flaws).
As a big fan of Lego and other “construction blocks” as well as a big fan of simulation games, it is easy to understand how I go so interested in the settlement concept. It is a lot of fun, if one has the patience. Seeing an a derelict farmhouse turned into a multi-floor mansion or a drive-thru turned into a proper fortress whose safety your companions will mention in awe is pretty cool.
It has a lot of limitations and I really wish there was more to work with. It’s somewhat frustrating when you start observing the locations you visit and say to yourself “why the designer did didn’t put these walls or these catwalks available for the settlement?” Other than this very case specific issue, the system is not very well designed, its again frustrating when the auto-complete mess up your work or when you need a pristine flat ground (which doesn’t exist) to put a floor down. But all these aside, I played a vanilla version of the game. I thoroughly enjoyed it enough to have never even bothered finishing the game, which brings me to my conclusion…
To get to the points which I rapidly skimmed earlier, the game feels very limited, there is an impression of choice and an impression of plenty but one quickly ends up following a pattern. The side quests are nice but somewhat uninteresting, at least after a while.
I have never finished the game, because I do not need to. All this great storytelling tells a story which after the first half of the game becomes too obvious. In a different game this would be alright but this is a title in the Fallout series, a game that prides itself with (if not pioneered) the open ending -choose your own adventure- style. Take weapons and armors for example, granted you can craft & mod but there are some items so obviously better that you will end up using one or two and discard the rest. You aren’t forced to do anything but unless you want to make your game preposterously hard for no reason, you’ll eventually “fall in line”. The story feels the same. At least in New Vegas, you could go your own way and make a mess.
In conclusion, as a stand-alone, this game is pretty good. I’d recommend it in a heartbeat. Alas, it isn’t a standalone, it is a Fallout game and as such, it has great standard to attain to and it did not.
Final score: 7/10