Fallout 4: Ten things you need to know

Bethesda has been pretty mum about Fallout 4 since the big reveal, but there's still plenty to be excited about. Here's ten things you need to know about this fall's big release.

Are you excited about Fallout 4, but overwhelmed by all the hype? Not sure what, exactly, the game is going to offer that's cool, new, or interesting? More information is coming in every day, but for now, here's ten things you need to know about Fallout 4 before it comes out.

Boston and the Commonwealth

Fallout 4 is taking place in an entirely new location -- Post-War Boston, in a polity known as The Commonwealth. The Commonwealth is home to the mysterious Institute, which is known to have created artificial intelligence and even androids. The Commonwealth was referenced a few times in Fallout 3 and its DLCs -- one NPC referred to it as a "war-ravaged quagmire of violence and despair" -- but we don't know a whole lot about it aside from its location. Previews and interviews with Bethesda have hinted that The Commonwealth is going to be more alive and thriving than the Capitol Wasteland. 


Dogmeat, a canine companion that made an appearance in previous Fallout games, is coming back - this time as a permanent, invincible companion with unique interactions. The player can order Dogmeat to perform tasks, such as moving to a location or fetching an item, and appears to be a critical part of the game from the very beginning.

Tons of New Weapons and Armor

Fallout 4 reportedly has 50 base models for guns and a whole wardrobe of armor to choose from that includes multiple styles of power armor. There is also a new customization system (more on that later) that opens up an almost infinite variety of weapon and armor choices, including awesome add-ins like jetpacks and cryo damage.

New Perk System

In a bold move, skills have been replaced entirely in Fallout 4 -- instead, you now gain a perk every level, with perks replacing some of the functions that skills had in previous games. Your perks will be tied closely to your SPECIAL score, and while we don't know much about which perks will be available, there are bound to be some interesting changes.

Voiced Protagonist

Fallout games have always been about customization and creating your own protagonist, and Fallout 4 isn't changing that. But Bethesda wanted to create a more engaged, emotionally resonant experience this time around, so the protagonist will be voiced. Similar to games like The Witcher, in addition to speaking with NPCs, the protagonist -- male or female -- will comment on the environment and the world around them.

New Emphasis on the World

Fallout has always had some emphasis on the world that the player inhabits, but recent iterations -- in large part because of engine limitations -- have felt somewhat empty and even incomplete. Bethesda is working overtime to make sure that's not the case in Fallout 4. The world of The Commonwealth is going to be the most detailed game world yet, with the Radiant A.I. quest system from Skyrim returning and a souped-up Creation engine being used to make the game more colorful, interactive, and alive.

Build A Settlement

One of the coolest new features of Fallout 4 is the ability for the Lone Survivor to create settlements to house and shelter the people of the wasteland. The player will need to manage resources like food, water, beds, and power, and can use materials gathered while exploring to build important structures, defenses, and more. Your settlement will also serve as a hub for quests and a gathering place for traders offering unique goods.

Overhauled Crafting System

For Fallout 4, Bethesda has taken the crafting and weapon modification systems from previous games and added a whole new level of functionality. Weapons and armor are highly modular, and you can create weapon mods from ingredients gathered in the wasteland. Deconstructing and reconstructing items will give you more options than ever before when it comes to building the weapons and armor that fit your Lone Survivor.

Improved Combat System

A whole lot of improvements have been made to Fallout's aging combat system to make the new game more like a modern action-RPG, and the results are pretty impressive. Guns fire more smoothly and accurately, combat flows more organically, and V.A.T.S. no longer pauses your game -- it just slows it down, allowing you to react without taking you out of the fight. Crits are also no longer random -- a crit meter will fill up as you fight, allowing you to control when you take that perfect shot.

Huge Graphical Improvements

One of the main criticisms of older Fallout games is the overemphasis on browns and greys in the world of the wasteland, and Bethesda has taken these criticisms to heart and responded beautifully. The world of Fallout 4 will be more vibrant and colorful (though brown and muted where appropriate), and that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to graphical and visual improvements. Lighting, environmental detail, and character modeling have all been given a serious facelift.

More information is sure to come out, but from what we've seen, Fallout 4 is shaping up to be a more than worthy successor to its predecessors. 


Writer, freelancer, historian. www.robertwguthrie.com

Published Aug. 16th 2015

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