So after a large amount of time invested into the game, 87 hours for the curious, I some more detailed insights and critiques of the game.
First off, like I said in my previous post, the game is good. It can be left at that and it would be fine.
Bethesda really did pack a lot into the game, each time I explore the Commonwealth I’m impressed with how much they packed the landscape with. There are many places to explore and scavenged from, a few factions to join/destroy, and a lot of settlements to build. It’s the settlement building that I find myself doing the most, it was my favorite part of Assassin’s Creed 3 (it was a good game, get over it, and stop longing for the bland workshopped white person ideal in a main character), and it’s quickly becoming my favorite part of Fallout 4. I’ve been scavenging materials (junk items and scrap), hoarding all manner of gear (weapons, armor, clothing), and scrounging up caps to buy shipments of materials from various wandering merchants to expand my numerous settlements. I focus on defensive upgrades first because if I’m gonna put a lot of effort into developing a settlement I don’t want that settlement destroyed or crippled in an attack by Super Mutants, Raiders, Feral Ghoul packs, or Synth Attacks. Once I have the settlement defenses all up and running, I start on water and food and I usually set it up so I have at least a rating of 20 food and 30-40 water. I usually find a semi central or well defended open area to place the various crops I plant (Mutfruit seems the best here because 1 plant = 1 food rating, although I do plant corn/tatos/razor grain/gourds/melons as well.) I also set up a feeding trough for a brahmin and a scavenging station. After having the water and food situation settled, I build a compact dormitory that is usually 2-4 floors (usually able to have at least 20-36 beds) with roof used to add more defensive turrets, power generators, power relays, and a settlement recruiting beacon. After the housing is done, I put up some lights and crafting stations (it’s worth it later in the game, usually in between levels 10-20 to get the local leader perk to build the crafting stations and stores.) When it’s finally done and set up, I build a nice personal home for my character with plenty of storage space. Even I don’t regularly visit or stay in a settlement I do it because you are often called to assist a settlement later, either a call to defend it, or a quest from a settler that will ask you to rescue a friend from raiders or super mutants, or a settler quest to secure a new area to settle. When you can build stores and assign a settler to it, you can really start to bank caps and barter for junk/materials to build up other settlements. I set up a trader that sells mostly scrap and bought materials there to transfer to other settlements by using the transfer option at the workstation in the settlement you want to expand on.
Some advice for building up and defending your settlement. First off, don’t get focused building walls to surround your settlement, they cost a lot of resources and they limit how much you can build in the long-term (there is a specific limit to how much you can build, unless you get a mod to remove the limit.) While walls look good and function well as defense (although it doesn’t provide a defensive rating), your settlers a have a rather bad habit of running out of the walls to engage attackers, thus leaving your well protected settlement and wondering why you even built up the walls in the first place. Turrets are the best defense, so it’s worth those points you put into science/gun-nut/local leader and it’s best to place them along the perimeter with good angles to engage attackers. Also, use the floor option called foundation, it will let you build a structure on uneven ground or troublesome areas by adding a level floor foundation to build on. When you can build up, make multi leveled buildings as you will need the space in some of the smaller settlements.
Also, build things to store your gear and gear looted from enemies, you can use this as barter to get more materials to build up your settlements and transferring those materials to your settlement workstation. You can get a ton of free experience here just from building up settlements, and you can get even more by sleeping a bed for 3-6 hours to get the well rested bonus. I’m level 56 right now and I can say at least 30 levels of that was from building up various settlements.
As you can grasp, Bethesda did a lot here and quite well enough with the settlements. It’s challenging to get the materials you need to build up a settlement. It’s satisfying to see a settlement you build up grow and thrive. It’s rewarding in many ways as you because you can personally gain a lot of experience to level up quickly, you can get access to merchants you set up for caps and materials, you have a base you can store stuff at and retreat to if you need to heal up.
Settlement building also problematic in some areas as well.
- There is barely a tutorial to show off what you can do or how to do it. The are plenty of choices you can do, like assigning settlers to different settlements but it isn’t even mentioned or hinted at or explained how to do at all.
- The “snapping” of certain buildings is troublesome to manage. Often times the thing you want to snap onto with choose an odd direction and it is annoying to fix.
- Some structures have little function at all. For example, setting up a computer terminal, it’s weird to set up and the functionality is questionable at best.
- Settler A.I and management is bothersome and questionable. Settlers can be assigned to various tasks such as harvesting food, defensive structures, and stores but sometimes settlers will just stand around and won’t go to the assignment you set them to. So stores, crops, and guard outposts/towers will be unattended. The A.I is also quirky in that settlers will rush out to attack whatever is threatening the settlement despite your defenses or walls. So the settlers you assigned to a tower or artillery will abandon their post to shoot their pathetic weapons at threats and put themselves into harm’s way.
- There some options that require garbage perks before you can make them. Local Leader should have been an earned perk by setting up multiple settlements, as well as having an option to invest perk points into it. The same goes for Cap collector.
- You cannot craft Weapons or Ammunition or Armor. A definite questionable call by Bethesda here. I would have liked to make and improvised sword, axe or knife, and the pipe guns are improvised weapons that look to be crafted from various scrap. A definite disappointment.
- Crafting stations require garbage perks to unlock.
- Crafting is options are robust but are limited in certain ways. It makes no sense that you can add mods to some armor and clothing but not others. Pistol’s are dreadfully limited into what mods they can get, there are precious few options for grips compared to rifle stocks. I’d have liked to see more options pistol grips. Some melee weapon mods are questionable as well, like modding a cane. Why couldn’t there be improvised shivs, swords or axes but there is a fucking Cane you can mod. I desperately wanted to be able to make a Vertibird Sword or a Signpost Axe (or a hubcap axe) or crude but effective Shiv/Knife.
I’m sure once the G.E.C.K comes out, modders will be able address these various issues.
The switch to stat and perk system by doing away with the skills from previous games was another good improvement Bethesda did with Fallout 4. While this does remove something iconic about fallout, it makes for a streamlined and easier to understand system. Instead of trying to get 50 unarmed and 60 melee for the Ninja perk, you only need to have your agility up to 7 to invest a perk into it (it’s well worth it to max it out because the sneak attack multiplier scales well).
From the beginning of the game I had a rather well laid out strategy to level up my character, I wanted to be a mainly stealth based melee character that can quickly clear out 1-5 enemies quickly and quietly. To do that, I put a lot of points into various stats to have access to the following perks: Sneak (requires 3 agility), Ninja (requires 7 agility), Blitz (requires 9 agility), Big Leagues (requires 2 strength), Armorer (requires 3 strength), Blacksmithing (requires 4 strength), Black Widow (requires 2 charisma), and Lone Wanderer (requires 3 charisma.) I couldn’t find anything definitive about the Better Criticals perk stacking or working with the sneak attack multipliers of Ninja or Mister Sandman so I didn’t go out of my way at first to try and get it, I did however put points into luck to get it later. I also rounded out my character to be able to pick pockets (requires 1 perception) (very handy to deal with enemies in power armor, just pickpocket their Fusion core and profit) and pick locks (requires 4 perception). I also maxed out Rifleman(requires 2 perception) and Mister Sandman (requires 4 agility) to have an option at range to stealthily pick off people before moving into sneak attack massacre groups of enemies. Mister Sandman adds a very decent sneak attack bonus to silenced weapons and is well worth it if your weapon can be fitted with a suppressor, if not then it is better to leave this perk out. Black Widow (and the male version, Lady Killer) add an option to be able to talk your way out of things or haggle for better reward or payment. It’s worth it to get but not max out (charisma) as the persuade option is based on chance still (and is color coded for difficulty, green for easy, yellow for moderate, orange for challenging, and red for difficult.) There are also numerous clothing options that will increase your charisma as well as drugs (grape mentats) and alcohol. Still it’s worth a little save scumming to achieve results in conversations to ensure the outcome you want to achieve, so quick save often and reload when necessary.
So leveling up was rather easy with my focus on building up settlements and combat was easy but fun and rewarding because I had an easy to follow plan with stats and perks. Unlike my previous characters in Fallout 3 and New Vegas, which I critically fucked up by not planning well enough to get quick access to perks I needed or wanted. In Fallout 4 this much less of an issue and it less troublesome if you make a mistake in your perks/stats.
Legendary Enemies are also a welcome change, you can randomly encounter legendary Raiders, Super Mutants, Radscorpions, Bloat flys, Rad Roaches, Mole Rats, and a ton of others for legendary gear with random abilities. Right now the most prized stuff for me is legendary armor pieces with stat increases, as this gives you more of an option on what gear you can wear. You can easily forgo the basic stat increases of military fatigues or military hats when all your gear gives you stat increases. Meaning you can run around using your Iconic Vault Suit with whatever else you like. You can also get legendary weapons with random abilities like freezing your opponent, plasma charged projectiles, the ability to do double damage to enemies with full health and a host of other cool effects. The Legendary enemies are challenging but not to difficult and spawn rates are based on your difficulty level you choose. On Normal, a legendary enemy appears often enough. It makes it worth it to go back and clear out places because of the chance of a legendary enemy spawning.
There is a huge area to explore and so much to do that I’m level 56 and barely started on the main quests yet. This is one of Bethesda’s biggest strengths, there is so much to do, explore and encounter. In most games, by not completing the story it’s perceived as a negative and a slight on the story of the game, in a Bethesda game the story is there when you want to do it not because you have to do it. Still, stories in Bethesda games are generic and lack depth or bland. In many Bethesda games, quests are go here and kill whatever, fetch this and bring it back, or talk to this person. Standard game quests that many developers fall back on, it can hardly be considered a negative. Really though, you buy Bethesda games to explore, encounter, and a vast open land do whatever you like, not for a richly detailed or robust or well-developed story.
So to sum up, the game is good. Yeah, that about covers it.
Here’s a current pick of my character Zoe Washington.