To play Fallout is to love Fallout. At least that was my experience, and judging by the uncorked delight surrounding the Fallout 4 announcement earlier this year, that seems to be the common reaction.
Developer Bethesda has shown off quite a bit of the game already, but the information is scattered around in various articles and videos. So we’ve done the legwork and collected all the information we know about Fallout 4 right here.
Nuts and bolts
Fallout 4 is scheduled to launch on November 10 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
It’s being made by the same core Bethesda team that made the mega-successful open-world games Fallout 3 and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Those games received astronomical scores on Metacritic (93 and 96, respectively), so it’s safe to say Fallout 4 is in good hands.
If you know anything about Fallout, you probably know that it takes place in a post-apocalyptic America. Fallout 4 rewinds things a bit and starts before the nuclear war turned the country into a destroyed wasteland.
You wake up on a beautiful Saturday morning and look in the mirror. This is where you pick your character — male or female — and determine what you look like.
As you begin your day, a Vault-Tec salesman shows up to finalize your registration for a spot in a fallout shelter in case the worst comes to pass. The form lets you name your character and allocate points into stats like strength, endurance, and luck. It’s the same S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system from previous games.
Then it begins. Emergency sirens start to wail, and you and your family rush over to the vault just as the bombs drop. Something happens — Bethesda isn’t ready to reveal the full story yet — and somehow you emerge 200 years later as the only survivor of Vault 111. Now the world looks like the Fallout we all know and love.
The setting this time around is a destroyed version of Boston, and just like in previous games, you’re free to go anywhere and do whatever you want.
That’s all they’ve announced of the story so far. We don’t know know what the main quest will entail, or what kinds of side quests we’ll be able to take part in if we choose. Most of the substance of the game is still anyone’s guess.
It wouldn’t be a Fallout game without V.A.T.S., the targeting system that lets you freeze time to line up shots aimed at specific parts of the enemy’s body. It makes a return here, and at a glance it looks pretty much the same as it did in the last two Fallout games. Todd Howard, the game’s director, insisted that they worked hard to make the combat feel good even if you forego V.A.T.S., which would be a big step up over previous games.
Once again, you can have a dog accompany you if that’s your style. You can issue it commands to do things like retrieve loot, inspect new areas, and fight enemies. You can even build a dog house.
The oversized smartwatch called a Pip-Boy is back, filling in for the game’s menu system. You’ll use it to check your stats, rifle through your inventory, view the map, and listen to the radio. You can even play retro games on it, like thinly veiled versions of Donkey Kong and Missile Command.
The biggest new addition they’ve revealed so far is the ability to build things. You can construct your very own house using items and scrap materials you collect in the game. Then you can deck it out with furniture, decorations, and anything else you find.
If you get ambitious, you can build an entire neighborhood, which will attract people to come and start up a settlement with you. Once you have a community, you’re going to need a defense system to ward off raiders, who are sure to attack.
This system extends to crafting. You’ll be able to use all the random junk you collect to build new weapons, modifications, and power armor. It looks like an incredibly robust system that some gamers will spend lots of time using.
The modding community has always been a big deal for Fallout fans on PC, but now those mods are coming to consoles as well. So far they’ve only announced that mods created on PC will be available on Xbox One, but there’s a good chance they’ll come to PS4 as well.
How to tide yourself over
Now is also a great time to catch up on the previous games if you missed any of them. Fallout and Fallout 2 are available on digital stores like Steam. Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas are available as digital downloads for PC, but you can also find physical copies for Xbox 360 and PS3 for less than $25 at many retailers.
So hop in. The wasteland awaits.