Bethesda Finally Drops The Bombs On The Gaming Industry


Chad Holiday, Co-editor

In 1997 Interplay Entertainment released Fallout: A Post Apocalyptic RPG for PC.  The Fallout universe is similar to our own, but sometime around 1969 humanity became obsessed and extremely dependent on atomic energy. They saw it as a near limitless source of power and began using it for everything. People enjoyed luxuries that were once thought to be only in the realm of science fiction. Average citizens had access to domestic robots, fusion powered cars, and portable computers while the militaries of the world developed massive power armor and laser weapons, in addition to devastating atomic and nuclear bombs. After years of over consumption, the nations of the world began to run out of necessities and thus they were thrust into the Resource Wars. This was an international conflict highlighted with the United States’ invasion of both Mexico and Canada. Meanwhile China attempted to invade Alaska. World peace became an illusion as many powerful nations invaded lesser ones and bloodshed was widespread. The violence came to a head when on October 23,2077 countless nuclear bombs were launched across the world. Nearly everywhere was hit directly by the bombs, and everywhere else was affected by massive radiation as every natural source of water was contaminated and permanently turned a light shade of green. Entire species of  plants of animals were wiped out or converted into hellish shells of what they were. Average crabs and shellfish were turned into the monstrous Mirelurks. Flies and mosquitoes were converted into Bloatflies and Bloodbugs. The environment and everything in it suffered a cataclysmic loss. Cities were abandoned, what was once the Washington Monument was blown apart and barely stands. Humanity’s only hope was a massive, international company named Vult-Tec. Years before the Great War, Vault Tec, with help from governments, commissioned and successfully built hundreds of underground shelters that could hold up to one thousand people and contained many rooms, kitchens and everything needed in homes to survive. Vault-Tec chose people and on the morning of October 23, began loading people in and closing the massive doors. After centuries, people began o emerge and re-populate their new world, now appropriately named The Wasteland.
Thus began the first game in 2167 as your character explored the remains of Southern California. The sequel Fallout 2 released in 1998 continued the story as the first game’s protagonist’s descendant. After massive success fans awaited the next Fallout game, but were forced to wait a while. Then in 2004 Bethesda Softworks acquired the rights to Fallout, a post apocalyptic RPG series previously developed by Interplay Productions.  Upon acquiring these rights, Bethesda got to work on changing the Fallout formula. The previous games were top-down, turn based RPGs with traditional rules and gameplay. The series was well received this way, but when Bethesda took the reigns and put out Fallout 3 in 2008, the series was changed forever. Bethesda scrapped the traditional RPG style in favor  of a first/third person shooter RPG. The series gained even more popularity and exploded in game systems from PS3 to PC. Fallout 3 established countless additions that would go on to be staples of the Fallout series, and even Bethesda Softworks in general.
   Arguably the most used addition was V.A.T.S., a technique players could use that completely stopped all the movement and allowed players to manually select which body part of the enemy they wanted to hit. Thus players could shoot off a leg, arm, or head. Fallout 3 also introduced the Karma system, which gave the player a ranking based upon their actions. A player who saved innocents would have good karma, while a player who turned their guns on the helpless would have evil karma. Both routes were entirely plausible and players and critics praised Bethesda’s game overall as it went on to sell over 4.7 million units before 2008 had even ended. Bethesda went on to release add on content for the game which only increased sales and praise for the game. Fallout 3 had it’s fair share of problems as well though, as with such a big world the game suffered heavily from bugs, glitches and freezes which at worse could prevent progress from certain quests and ruin certain aspects. The game also didn’t have the best graphics, even for 2008 and it cam became notorious for having ugly characters, no matter how hard you tried to make your character look good. The game’s irradiated creatures and monsters looked downright atrocious and nasty as they chased you across the Capital Wasteland. There was also no aiming down the sights(which is unheard of in a shooter), no sprinting(even as the monsters chased you), and slow movement. Most players could bear with the awful graphics, slow shooting, and glitches while others were reasonably turned off by the game. Predictably, it didn’t take long before fans demanded the next great Fallout game. In 2010 they got Fallout: New Vegas, a sequel set in Nevada that fixed some of Fallout 3’s problems. For example, New Vegas introduced iron sights, new skills and perks, and a reputation system that went hand in hand with the karma system but now, every town you visit will have a certain opinion about you, and act accordingly. A town that liked you would shower you with praise and give you gifts, while a town that hated you would attempt to run you off and attack on sight. New Vegas was a worthy entry to hold fans over until they got Fallout 4. As time went on, and Bethesda focused attention on other games such as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Dishonored which both went on to be massive successes. There was even a time were people didn’t know if Fallout 4 would even come. Fallout 4 entered the realm of games like Half Life 3 and became something that everybody wanted, but Bethesda would say nothing. It became a joke. Then in 2015 Bethesda announced the game and that it would come later that year. Hype ensued and when the game finally got here, fans couldn’t get enough of it. But does the game live up to the hype?
Fallout 4 takes place about 10 years after Fallout 3 in the city of Boston. There is a factional war going on between The Brotherhood Of Steel, a militaristic organization that wants to destroy synthetic androids, The Institute, who creates synths and The Railroad, who wants to liberate synths.
The game looks great, and Bethesda took time to update the graphics and texture models so the world you explore is definitely vibrant with colors and lighting everywhere. The once ugly characters look a lot better, although it is still possible to create an abomination if you choose to.  The game also plays a lot like a modern shooter should, with rapid gameplay and smooth gunfire. Whether you’re using a 9mm pistol or  a high tech Plasma Rifle you won’t have a problem letting off rounds into whatever crosses your path. The monsters that do cross your path look scary and detailed, from the tiny Radroach to the ferocious Deathclaw. Playing in first person is an amazing experience as you see the detail and work put into every creature the Wastes has to offer. Your character is also voiced, a first in the series, with a variety of dialogue choices to personalize their conversations. There is a new system in which players could build settlements and have settlers come and live in their town, This was a wonderful addition in a game where people are re-colonizing the world. The ever-loved V.A.T.S. system was reasonably nerfed, as it only slows down time instead of completely stopping it, making players more vulnerable.
Even with those innovations, Fallout 4 has it’s shortcomings. Bethesda once again released a game that is buggy and glitchy. The past has proven that over time, through patches and updates, the game can overcome these, such was the case with Skyrim. Bethesda also decided to completely remove the beloved Karma and Reputation system. Now, a player’s actions have little consequence, if any at all. There is also the removal of the previous skill system. In Fallout 3, every time you leveled up, you could put points into various skills from Medicine to Repair to Speech, all of which increased effectiveness with their respective traits. For example increasing Small Guns would make you do more damage with pistols, sub-machine guns and shotguns, while increasing Speech would make it easier to influence others through dialogue. In Fallout 4 however, that is completely removed and instead you can only increase S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats, which are capped at 10 and increase generally everything in that category. Putting a point into Strength would make you do more unarmed damage, as well as make you carry more weight among other things. The S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system was in Fallout 3, except you gained points by finding and reading rare books and once increased, they functioned the same. Perks were also in Fallout 3 and functioned the same as Fallout 4. Changes like this are meant to make leveling more “streamlined”, but it feels like you have less control over what exactly you want to increase. You can no longer increase just Unarmed, you’d have to increase Strength in general and hope you do more damage when you punch an enemy.
Fallout 4 was a long time coming, and now that we’ve got it, we have to make the best of what Bethesda gave us. Fallout 4 is a great game, and I for one will definitely dump dozens of hours into it, however as a fan of the series I cannot ignore certain things that simply don’t make sense. The story, graphics and setting are great, but Bethesda drops the ball when it comes to how you level up and they once again have given us a game that inevitably will glitch and be buggy from time to time. These things in mind, plus the promise of DLC in the months to come, I would say Fallout 4 is a must buy and I rate it 8 out of 10 Soaring Eagles.