What makes Fallout 4 so S.P.E.C.I.A.L.?

What makes Fallout 4 so S.P.E.C.I.A.L.?

I’m trying something new instead of dry old game reviews.


See, I love games, especially narrative driven games. Therefore, I occasionally review games, as you may have noticed.

But today I’m keeping it short, because I’ve been playing Fallout 4 and reviewing the damn thing only eats into my time for playing the damn thing.

That’s why I’ve resurrected the Gist, an old comic from my student days, but now with game screens! It’s there at the top of the article. What do you think? Want to see more? Let me know with the comments section.

Fallout 4 wise… bloody brilliant. I was hesitant at first, but this game really sucked me in. So what makes Fallout 4 S.P.E.C.I.A.L?

S is for Surprises! This is what keeps me playing and keeps putting a smile on my face. Fallout 4 is full of surprises, both little and huge. I can’t tell you any huge spoilertastic ones, but those who’ve played it will know what I mean. That moment, when you leave the building and… yeah. The small surprises are things like a wealth of contextual dialogue; characters will mention your enemies, talk about what they’re standing on, comment on your activities and even the light in the room. The impact your actions have in the wasteland surprises me, as does little responses your character makes to things like taking some Psycho.

P is for Perks! The new perk system is like comparing Oblivion to Skyrim; simplified and streamlined. Some will consider this dumbing down, with percentages being removed, but really it makes sense to me. This isn’t an isometric RPG, it’s an action RPG. 66% in small guns means fuck all when you aim with your mouse half the time. Instead, you have your core stats and then perks to unlock things like hacking, instead of having to get to X percentile level. Makes sense- easy, fun, sorted.

E is for Exploration! At first, you’ll worry, like I did, that the map’s too small. You’re going to have to refer to section 1, Surprises, because that relatively small space is absolutely packed with locations. On top of that you have a myriad of quests and the Skryimesque recurring radiant quests to do. Plus, in another Oblivion vs Skyrim/Fallout 3 vs 4 comparison, each location feels unique, with something to make it interesting.

C is for Charisma! Basically, this game gives more for the Charisma stat to do. You get a fair set of dialogue options and they don’t just end quests (I’m so nice that we don’t need to fight! Great… that was fun). The stat’s related perks are useful, too, like the ability to make beasts stand down. A small but good step away from the old ‘everything wants to kill you at any cost’ approach to monsters.

I is for I should have used C for Construction but it’s too late now! You can build loads of shit, basically. This starts out as a chore but becomes quite addictive, as you raise settlements and build their homes, furniture, defences and special items. Okay, it’s not perfect. There are clipping issues and the settlements constantly ask for help when they don’t need it, but it’s a cool idea. Finally, it feels like the wasteland is moving forward. It still bothers me that 200 years after the war, nobody can pick up a fucking broom. Side note: you can piece things together vertically with no regard for gravity. I made a sky shack.

A is for Attention to detail! The old Interplay motif of ‘by gamers, for gamers’ seems to have been taken to heart by Bethesda. Like I said with the surprises thing, you find lots of little details built around gameplay elements. Customisable armour and weapons, dialogue that changes depending on your clothes, references to past Fallouts, you name it. You can actually find uses for all the random crap littering the place, now. I pick up more telephones (mmm precious copper) than I do guns.

L is for Looking at stuff! This game has taken some unfair flack about graphics. Even I initially thought ‘ugh, I stepped in a low-res texture’. But that was wrong, so I punished myself. This game is gorgeous. The graphics, in technical terms, may not be cutting edge (note, this means that older systems can still play it!), but the artistic style is there in spades. The scenery feels right, has atmosphere and the world really captures the fallen 50s rocket-age vibe. A splash of colour goes a long way to creating juxtaposition and the city doesn’t just feel like a series of straight roads and right angles, like the bland maze of the Capitol Wasteland. Oh, stick Listening on there too, because it’s my review and I say so. The radio, soundtrack and hidden stations are excellent.


Well, I’m stopping there, which is more than I intended to write. I need to get back to sniping Raiders with my customised 2x damage sniper rifle, Bloodwing. They might be hiding my missing son! Well, he could be anywhere, right, so I have to explore everywhere? And I should build bathtubs and basketball hoops around the place too, in case… erm… he needs a bath and competitive exercise. Yeah, I’ll get back to you on the storyline later.

by Bret

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