I have been anticipating the release of Bethesda's space based RPG for quite a while now. And when it did launch, Starfield looked amazing. Despite all the constraints and its fair share of negative reviews, there was a solid RPG with interesting side quests to keep you engaged.
You may be wondering why I started this article touting about Starfield, when I should be speaking about Fallout 4. I am getting to that. Having been on the fence to jump to a next generation console since now I have a reason to choose both the PS5 and the Xbox Series X, I never did make a decision. So, without next gen, I had no choice to but to settle for the closest alternative, Bethesda's other RPG, Fallout 4.
Fallout 4 is amazing RPG and it gave me my fill of proper role playing. I was sucked into the world with ease and found myself enjoying and being challenged by the game in no time. It was one of the reasons I stepped away from the game when I started it. I could feel its claws sink in then and felt it even now.
Rediscovering the Story
I started Fallout 4 a few months back on my Xbox and I made it through the opening. I had engaged with the game a few times over the years on my laptop and my PS4 always making it past the opening area, defeating the Deathclaw and leaving it at that. So, when I did play on my Xbox, I pushed beyond that point and decided that I would focus on doing the main quest.
Now, if you know Bethesda RPGs, you would know that it is not how the game is meant to be played. I was reminded of this in my current playthrough.
When I returned to the game, I found myself in Diamond City in search for leads to find my son. I continued to pursue the main quest and found myself challenged quite a bit. It seemed that I was rusty with the combat, having invested a lot of points in my charisma and it was only after multiple reloads and switching the game to "Easy" that I made it through the next series of main quests.
I realized that I needed to level up and had to engage in the other quests the game offered. So, I took to exploring.
Igniting my Curiosity
Fallout 4 is chock filled with content and side quests which you can discover organically. The map is not filled with markers to check off like Horizon Zero Dawn or Assassins Creed. It is a blank canvas waiting for areas to be discovered.
Only the immediate points of interest are highlighted on your compass, leaving the choice to explore up to the player. This sparked my curiosity just enough to head in that direction and I was rewarded with a sense of discovery when I found something of interest.
At first, like I said, I avoided these markers altogether. But then, when I shifted to exploration, I took it on as a task to complete. Suddenly, I found myself engaged in this random side activity.
Not only were the side quests engaging, they pulled you in by expanding the lore of the world and its people. I was further rewarded by going out of my way and helping different factions. I got weapons that were way more powerful than that in my arsenal and it made challenging fights balanced. It seemed that had I engaged in these activities before, the main quests I had completed would have been a tad bit easier.
The variety of quest types kept me engaged and always looking for more. I saw human resilience, how humans have the tendency to segment and isolate those that are different even after going through an apocalypse, and hope spring in the most unexpected of places.
One of the greatly advertised mechanics of Fallout 4 is the ability to build and manage your own settlements. The game assigns you certain tasks when you start out to get food and drink for your first settlement, Sanctuary and then it lets you free to do as you wish.
I found myself spend hours getting my settlement up and running and setup radio towers to get settlers into my settlement. I started finding other settlements, with whom I could engage with and started getting them into my fold. I discovered the perk to create supply lines between settlements and that got me really excited. I wanted to get connections between my settlements going. I loved this mechanic and had to drag myself away to do other quests.
I have learned with RPGs, it is very useful to have dialog options that can resolve a conflict without having to fire a bullet. So, I chose to invest quite a few points into Charisma. Having forgotten the opening tutorials on perks and how to unlock them, for quite a while through the game, I thought you can only invest points into the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. attributes.
So, I maxed out my Charisma and started adding to my Luck as well. It seemed that Luck was another useful skill to invest in. I later found that beyond these attributes I had to also invest into perks which were the ones that actually provided you the true benefits.
So almost 12-15 levels into the games and I had no perks unlocked. It was only when I was looking at how to setup supply lines that I realized my mistake. I could invest points in perks. The thing was I looked at the perks only after investing points intoo attributes and they always seemed disabled. Such a rookie mistake!
Fallout 4 provided you with a range of companions who can joing you in your journey across the Wasteland.
I started with Dogmeat and later was offered to be joined by
- Nick Valentine, the synth detective
- Codsworth, the robot butler
- Piper, the reporter
- Preston Garvey, the Minutemen leader
- Cait, the washed-up fighter
It is fun to have company in my journey and some assistance in the fights I get into. Also each companion held certain beliefs and they react to the choices you make in the game. This makes you think twice when you are leaning towards the more crueler option including extorting quest givers for more money.
The Impact of your Choices
When it comes to most RPGs, I always like to play as the most honorable good guy. In more cases than most, the choice is always clear. But sometimes, there are occasions when the choice has to be made for the lesser evil. That is what makes the role playing all the more fun.
The choices always seem to hold weight and I can't wait to learn more about the impact of my decisions early game.
I have been thoroughly enjoying myself in Fallout 4. I had to literally stop myself from binging through the game doing all the small stuff. I love how the game rewards your exploration and feeds you with an engaging world that is filled with deep stories. There are moments when I get the feels on discovering a note left behind in the Wasteland.
I have quite a lot of the game left ahead for me and have taken a brief respite from the game to engage with the space faring RPG that is Mass Effect 3 to get my fill of the space-side of Starfield (Yes, I am still undecided on getting the Series X). I sure am looking forward to getting back from the Mass Effect side quest to the main quest of Fallout 4.
Until next time, remember: "War, war never changes."