Totally (Cods)worth it.

Super Mutants, the hideous, grotesque creatures that they are, roam the decrepit wastelands of Fallout 4 as though they are kings among men. And quite frankly, I’m sick of it.

Sure, they’re physically stronger than any mere mortal man, and a damn sight more resilient, too. But the gargantuan, green-skinned nasties have one fatal weakness. A weakness that only a student of the Cobra Kai dojo could think to exploit.

No Mercy

In a fist fight against a Super Mutant, you’ll be toast before you even graze its skin – or a mushy, blood-covered corpse to be precise. And you won’t fare much better in an all out shootout, either – weapons permitting. So what do you do? Run for your life? Lob a grenade? Well, yes, you could. Or alternatively, you could sweep the leg.

Sweep the goddamn leg.  

That’s how I managed to survive my first meeting with a stinking Super Mutant. I activated Fallout 4’s fancy Vault-Tec assisted targeting system and took aim at the onrushing freak’s sinewy right leg. I knew that with a couple of well-placed shots, and the fact I’d spent most of my experience points on perception, I’d soon have the beast hobbling around like a young Daniel LaRusso competing at the Grand Finals.

And I was right.

The confidence quickly drained from the Super Mutant’s snarling face as he dragged his limp, bullet-riddled leg behind him. I then aimed at the hulking giant’s head and watched as chunks of brain and bone fragment scattered throughout the air like bloody confetti.

Fallout 4 vats

81% chance? You know what to do. Show no mercy.

I was delighted, ecstatic even, because the one tactic – which must never be used at your local karate tournament against an injured opponent – had finally paid dividends in a video game. And it’s one of the many precious, undeniably childish memories that Fallout 4 has provided.

I’m looking forward to making many more.  

Crawl Out Through The Fallout

While Fallout 4 does little to deviate from the foundations laid down seven years ago, everyone will have their own personal stories to share as they wander through the post-apocalyptic remains of Boston, 210 years after a devastating nuclear war. And that’s because there are no restrictions on how to “play” Fallout 4.

I’m not just talking about picking stealth over gunfights, although that is a valid option down the line. No, Fallout 4’s flexibility comes down to the crazy amount of seemingly insignificant decisions you make throughout the game that culminate to shape your experience. 

Fallout 4 dogmeat

Companions, such as Dogmeat, can help in combat, discover items and help stave off any pangs of loneliness.

Whether it’s down to the perks you choose, the way you dress, or the insanely customisable weapons you can wield, Bethesda’s latest open-world epic is a sandbox game in the truest sense. Max out your endurance and sprint across the wasteland like Mo Farah, barely breaking a sweat. Or invest your experience points in intelligence and create complex, mind-boggling pieces of technology that even an extraterrestrial would be proud of. It’s up to you.

World, Meet Oyster

But just like a lavish buffet, featuring all your favourite delicacies, it can be difficult to know where to begin – and at times – overly distracting. I was constantly pulled away from the main story quests by the most pointless of things, be it walking to some wreckage in the distance or playing mini-games on the Pip Boy’s screen (Fallout 4’s marvellous wrist-strapped inventory tool). I also spent far too long deliberating how best to answer conversations with NPCs or which perk to invest in next, worried that my decisions would somehow negatively impact my character later down the line.

Fallout 4 sucks you into its strangely captivating, haunting world.

Nevertheless, I slowly stopped caring about every minute decision I made and proceeded to stuff my face with all the goodness the game had to offer. And believe me, you won’t go hungry in Fallout 4. Even though there are weapon and armour to craft, recipes to cook, settlements to manage, relationships to build, and countless camps to raid, the game’s biggest appeal revolves around one beautifully simple premise that holds everything snugly together, and kept me coming back for more.

The joy of discovery.

Fallout roaming

I don’t know where I’m going. And that’s just grand.

The crackle of gunfire in the distance; an abandoned, derelict building; the millions of draws and shelves filled with somber reminders of what life was like before the atom bomb obliterated almost everything in its wake. Fallout 4 sucks you into its strangely captivating, haunting world quicker than a spider caught under the nozzle of a Dyson vacuum. And just like the Spider, spinning frantically around the cylindrical tubes of its expensive new home, you’ll have trouble escaping its pull.

Make Me Beautiful

The game begins by letting you create your character. It’s as easy as selecting a feature, picking a pre-set and having a fiddle like a deranged plastic surgeon. It’s wonderfully intuitive, and your character, who can be either male or female and ugly as sin, passes comment on the changes you make, which is a clever touch. Crucially, Fallout 4 features a handsome selection of hairstyles and beards to choose from, which is the yardstick all character creation systems should be judged on in my opinion.

It’s time to set out on your adventure and become an obsessive compulsive hoarder with a frightfully exotic diet.

Once you’ve sculpted your unsuspecting hero, you get to experience a brief glimpse of what life was like before everything goes to pot. Oh, and if you’re wondering how on earth you survive the nuclear war, well, you can thank Vault-Tec for that, a company who had the foresight to build huge underground vaults for lucky residents to occupy in the event of any nuclear war. Smart thinking, right? Well yes, and no, because it turns out that Vault-Tec isn’t as squeaky clean as their door-to-door salesmen first appear. Nevertheless, Fallout 4’s story shall remain spoiler free.  

Speaking of salesmen, this is where you get to delegate your starter points that form the base stats of your character. These are broken down into 7 areas: strength, perception, endurance, charisma, intelligence, agility and luck. As the game’s marketing rightly stated, these are what make you “S.P.E.C.I.A.L.” From there, you can gain access to a variety of perks, each of which can be catered to your playstyle. I tried to create a realistic interpretation of my personal stats – that meant 1 for luck, then.  

After you’ve moulded your character and picked your perks, it’s time to set out on your adventure and become an obsessive compulsive hoarder with a frightfully exotic diet. Just remember what to do if you see a Super Mutant, OK? I won’t tell you again.

Wherever I May Roam

One of the biggest surprises about Fallout 4, despite its many naysayers, is how visually appealing it is. Yes, the framerate can dip to less than satisfactory rates during intense firefights and – as with any open-world game – I’ve witnessed my fair share of bugs and anomalies. But this is a truly magnificent looking game overall, especially when you consider the subject matter: nuclear fallout, hardly pretty. There’s an undeniable beauty to its clinical presentation and rich art style. You won’t find incredibly detailed characters or eye-popping textures, admittedly, but nothing looks out of place. It just works, and it works well.

The same can be said about the game’s infectious soundtrack. Exploding body parts have the necessary pop to make you wince, and the sound of scurrying Mole Rats is enough to make anyone shudder, but it’s the music – that damn music – which complements the whole package so well. I initially thought that Bethesda had written half of the songs themselves, from scratch, because they fit perfectly with the game. Do yourself a favour and pop on your Pip Boy’s radio whenever you can and indulge yourself in some classical music or 1950’s toe-tappers as you pilfer, plunder and conquer the wasteland.

Hazardous Waste

Fallout 4 isn’t perfect, though, not by any means. Tutorials are also slim to none, with only a few lines of text offered as a reprieve. It’s easy to go throughout the game without understanding the deeper facets of gameplay on offer, which is a dream for those who hate their hand being held, but potentially daunting for others. I also found the game’s navigation bar to be a needless source of frustration. It can be difficult to determine exactly where your objective lies. I frequently found myself going in circles or missing a nearby objective completely.

Loads times are passable (note: I had the game installed on the Xbox One Elite’s internal hard drive), but they can begin to grate, especially when you have to re-enter an area quickly. Thankfully the game boots up quick enough, which is always a bonus.

A review code of Fallout 4 was provided courtesy of Xbox. The game was reviewed on Xbox One.

Pistol Packin’ Mamma