Fallout 4 on PlayStation 4
It is the year 2077 in a quaint little town within Boston known as Sanctuary Hills. All is well as you settle down with your family after just returning from war. You’ve given some of your best years to your country and life is now changing for the better as you kick back with your spouse and child. But you are a fool. Not because you desire happiness, but because you thought your service changed something. Yet everyone knows, war never changes.
It is a lesson that many inhabitants of the Wasteland have learned before you, and one that you must also come to terms with in Fallout 4. As players step out of the cold embrace of Vault 111, they will be greeted by a world that is entirely new yet eerily, and sometimes horrifyingly, familiar. A world that has seen unspeakable acts in the name of science and will witness many more as humanity tries to pick up the pieces.
It’s that struggling humanity that gives Fallout 4 and its Boston setting an undeniable character. Yes, this is still a mostly barren wasteland full of irradiated threats, sprawling decay, and those who have long given up on any sense of decency. But, in all of this there is life. Real, unconquerable, hopeful life. It’s clawing its way to the surface while the push and pull of several forces try to force its growth in the direction they feel is best for the future, and that’s where you, the player comes in.
When you first step into the harsh sunlight that greets every wanderer, you begin a mission. You must recover something that was taken from you; but with no understanding of the world as it currently exists, you must turn to its inhabitants. At the same time, they are turning to you. You are a savior of sorts, one born from unknown depths and just so happens to have what it takes to help the people. Like all Fallout games in the past, this is where Fallout 4 excels. You have the freedom to go and do as you please (for the most part). Within that free space, you can help or ignore others as you see fit. These choices comes with a price, though, as they always do.
Often enough, choices affect nobody but the player, so it may be easy to gloss over them. But eventually, eyes will turn to you, and every decision will ring hope or despair throughout the Commonwealth. In Fallout 4, freedom is now more than a particular faction hating you. Freedom has a gravity that perfectly balances that sandbox, do-as-you-please feeling.
The story itself is quite a bit heavy-handed at times. Things move at a rather accelerated pace in what seems to be an effort to fend off narrative stagnation. You may find yourself joining a faction only to realize that you are now its supreme leader an hour later. These grand transitions may seem a bit jarring at first, since you may not even realize this was going to happen. There were a couple of times it turns amusing, with some NPCs remarking how quickly and unexpectedly you rose to power within their ranks. Fallout 4 tries to stress that the speed of your promotions is due to the desperation of each faction, as they all try to put their plans in motion while subverting the efforts of others.
You have other ways of interacting with the people and world, as well. The most notable of these are the settlements you can establish out in the Commonwealth. These bases will serve as storehouses, workshops, and bastions for people you save. Tying you closer to characters that in other games would be quickly forgotten, Fallout 4 charges you with the care of each life you save. Making these settlements even more engaging, and sort of addicting, is the fact that you can build on these locations. Expand existing structures, build brand new ones, add power, decorate, set up defenses, and more to fully personalize each and every location. The feature also acts as more than just a “build things, raise happiness” side-game; if you choose to progress certain quest lines and perks, these settlements prove to be an invaluable asset. Hard work is rewarded for those who take part in rebuilding the Wasteland, but this duty is never forced on you.