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My first 15 hours in the wasteland

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Where does one even begin to talk about 'Fallout 4'? It is a massive game, not in terms of land mass (it is big but not mind-blowlingly so) but in terms of how much there is to do and see. Whether you are doing side quests or the main story, there is always something luring you away - a new settlement or an abandoned factory filled with goodies.

'Fallout 4' is the long awaited sequel to Bethesda's landmark post-apocalyptic RPG. This time they have switched the setting from Washington D.C. to Boston. The change in locale is probably my favorite improvement so far, and it is a big improvement. In 'Fallout 3' I found D.C. to be a rather bland city. It was cool seeing the big landmarks but aside from that it got boring walking through one gray, crumbling building to the next. The area outside of D.C. was even worse: a flat, empty-feeling brown-gray expanse that made me want to get to my destination more than it made me want to explore.

Although the Boston of 'Fallout 4' is still a wasteland, they have brought much more diversity and color to the world. From blasted out forests to murky swamps to coastlines, the area outside of Boston feels much more vibrant and alive, while still maintaining the destruction and decay. The city of Boston itself is also much better than D.C. The winding roads and alleys create a great sense of claustrophobia as you hear a firefight coming from somewhere nearby. Will you turn the corner to find a weapon stash or a super mutant running at you with a mini-nuke? City life keeps you on your toes. There are also many more interior environments, and they are more elaborate. All in all it is just a much bigger game.

The other big improvement is the gunplay. While it isn't 'Halo,' it feels much more like an actual shooter instead of an RPG that has guns. The V.A.T.S system is still present, allowing you to slow down time and target specific body parts. In 'Fallout 3' it felt like a crutch for the game's awful shooting mechanics, but here it feels like another tool at your disposal.

Not only did Bethesda improve almost every aspect of the game, they added many new features. You can now build settlements, which involves recruiting people, defending the settlement and making sure there is enough water and food. The real highlight of the settlements is that you can build pretty much anything you want as long as it is fairly basic. This isn't 'Minecraft,' but it is closer than you may think. In about a half hour I was able to build a nice two-story house for myself with working lights powered by a windmill on the roof.

They have also greatly expanded the crafting, allowing any weapon or armor to be customized. The more basic guns have a ludicrous amount of customization options giving some of the more basic firearms renewed purpose.

I'm only 15 hours into 'Fallout 4,' but I can already tell I'll be playing for a long time to come. There are a decent number of bugs, as to be expected with any Bethesda RPG, but I haven't encountered anything game breaking. Between everything I've mentioned above, the good story and better characters, higher focus on companions and endless customization options, it seems 'Fallout 4' actually lives up to the hype.


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