Fallout 4 is finally here and there’s a (mega)ton to talk about. Instead of spoiling the game for some who haven’t played it, I wanted to focus on one of the most special things Fallout 4 delivers on and that’s immersion. Similar to Fallout 3, Fallout 4 has all of the bells and whistles that made it so great. Open world where you’re free to explore, great atmosphere and soundtrack and solid RPG elements. But Fallout 4 ups the ante when it comes to immersing the player in The Commonwealth and that deserves some recognition.
Fallout 4’s immersion is extenuated by it’s visual prowess and it’s gameplay the most. Visually, the game looks stunning. Volumetric lighting and hi-resolution textures make the wasteland a beautiful place. There’s a lot more movement within the environment, making it more believable. Trees or bushes swaying in the wind, flags fluttering in the breeze, discarded fans rotate their blades, water following the curve of the land, it’s all very impressive and immersive. Even the Pip-Boy screen gets more realistic, with your character actively moving dials around as you switch screens.
Improving animations also make the conversations you have in game very much improved from previous titles. In Fallout 3, characters stared straight on and barely moved as the world paused around you, making it a jarring and immersion-breaking experience. In Fallout 4, conversations are more fluid and believable, with NPCs being more animated and even your own character talking. While strange at first, it really gave a depth to my character in general when you can actually hear what your saying in a conversation. There is even added flavor dialogue for when you find a great item or successfully pick a lock. Your character is much more well rounded and doesn’t feel like an empty vessel your controlling but rather an actual person this time around.
But it’s not just graphics that Bethesda took advantage of when creating Fallout 4. Using the extra horsepower, Bethesda was able to pack the wasteland full of junk and that’s a great thing. One of the best new features of Fallout 4 is it’s extremely extensive crafting system. Pretty much anything can be crafted, drugs or healing items, food and drinks, weapons, Power Armor and even your clothing. This new crafting system focuses on raw materials which everything in the world is made out of such as cloth, glue, steel or wood. This means everything and anything is useful.
In Fallout 3, you would see the same handful of things cluttering up different environments. How many times did you see a Pressure Cooker or Wonderglue lying around? It felt samey and had that “copy-and-paste” feel which was understandable given the game was made in 2008. Now with the improved version of the Creation Engine, environments are littered with anything you can think of. Walking canes, gold and silver plated lighters, space-man themed monkey toys, baby rattles, blocks of wood, pumpkin buckets and much, much more are strewn throughout The Commonwealth. This makes every place you visit different and new and it makes those environments come alive more now than ever.
Having everything and anything contain raw materials means you can scrap it and use those materials to craft things. This pushes the immersion to a whole new level in terms of the Post Apocalyptic/Survival feel. Being able to use everything you grab to craft a makeshift rifle or chairs for your settlements adds another layer of depth and makes you feel like you’re truly trying to survive in the wastelands.
Speaking of settlements, new to Fallout 4 you’re given the ability to create bases of sorts where you can scrap the environment and build houses for settlers, wells and gardens for food and water, defenses to protect against Raiders and even shops that can trade between other settlements in the game. This combined with the crafting of everything else puts a huge cherry on top of the “Survival” cake. Never in a game have I felt like I was surviving and planning to rebuild society in the post apocalypse than in Fallout 4.
I was so immersed in Fallout 4 I nearly spent 3 hours straight just crafting my settlement, planting my garden, setting up defenses and making sure the settlers had a nice base to sleep at night. Fallout 4 is a fantastic time so far and it’s immersion is spot on. It’s a highlight that Bethesda should be proud of and something all single player games should strive for in the future. The time and care that went into making every area feel lived in and worth exploring, the meticulous detail in characters mannerism and animation and the insane amount of depth in the crafting system all come together to form a game that you can sit back and sink 10 hours into without even noticing.
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