E3 2015: Fallout 4 Showcase
Late last night, Bethesda kicked off E3 with their first ever E3 press conference to showcase some of their upcoming titles. The healthy list includes games like Doom, The Elder Scrolls: Tamriel Unlimited, Battlecry and recently announced Fallout 4 and rumored Dishonored 2. Doom looked beautiful but with this long-established franchise you know what you are getting. I’m familiar with The Elder Scrolls MMO and they just launched on consoles so they are still going strong over there at ZeniMax Studios. Not much was shown outside of a trailer for Dishonored 2 but it still manage to peak my interest as we can now choose to play as a female protagonist, Emily Kaldwin, the daughter of the murdered Empress from the first game. All and All there were good showings but today I want to focus on what was revealed about the next iteration into the Fallout series, Fallout 4.
I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest Fallout fan out there.Something about post-apocalyptic settings just never quite did it for me. The challenge in living in one is a curious thing, it’s just the bland brown color palette that populates it that turns me off. I’m a fan of color and I love variety so when the teaser trailer hit prior to the event I was genuinely interested. Using an improved version of the Creation Engine, the same engine that powers The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim their palette expanded greatly even though the setting has the same theme and tone. Even though a building is old and decrepit doesn’t mean it has to be only a few shades of brown. As people repair it and add-on to it into a makeshift whatever, different pieces are added, red panels from an old gas station, some metal recycled from vehicles to give it patchwork feel but stay true to that dysphoria theme. Everything really popped.
Spoiler territory going forward, so be warned. The game starts you off in futuristic Boston with a family before it succumbs to a nuclear attack . It begins in the bathroom where you pick your avatar and customize them. Character creation and visuals have been massively improved and are a far cry from what we have seen in the past, although I could still see people making a plethora mods that alter character meshes and textures. Once again you have the option of choosing between a male and female avatar and you customize them by simply clicking on various portions of the face and making your adjustments. To note, no matter what sex you choose they will be full-voiced. As a bonus a baby is also randomly generated depending on how you design your avatar and spouse.
Shortly into the game, you are introduced to Vault 111 and the imminent nuclear attack that will place you and your family in the Vault. Fast forward 200 years later, you are the only survivor and as you exit the vault the world opens before you and you are back to familiar territory when it comes to open-world RPGs. From the presentation given by Todd Howard I learned that will be able to have a dog companion that will aid you in battle and be given commands such as picking up far off items or going to specific locations. I’m not sure however if the dog can die in combat or be limited to being incapacitated and out of the fight. The VAT system returns once more to deliver precise shots to your enemy granted you have the right attributes to be accurate. Also firing your weapon feels a bit more closer to FPS shooters and looked a lot cleaner and smoother with is a plus in my book.
Conversations this time are a bit more dynamic this time around. You can start and end a conversation when you want. Dynamic camera angles similar to what you would find in Mass Effect or the recent Dragon Age game, Dragon Age: Inquisition. A button input decided how your character responds. The PIP boy makes a return as well, used in the same as it was before. Bethesda is offering a second screen experience and allowing people to use their mobile devices to emulate the PIP boy and if you buy into the Collector’s Edition you will actually get a working functional PIP boy. Admittedly, Todd called it a gimmick but stated it was the coolest gimmick he has played around with; I have to give him props for saying that during a conference.
Crafting returns as well and they pushed that they streamlined the material process. Most items in the game can be broken down and salvage and turned into something useful for your character. The demo presented had us building a long scope for a gun. It needed adhesive, glass, screws and steel. Each component could be acquired from a number of items found in the wasteland and abandoned areas. For example screws could be found from breaking down handcuffs, typewriters, a toy car or even a world globe. This extended to customizing power armor and weapon modifications and they promise the later will have hundreds of ways to customize the 50 base model weapons. On top of that you will also be able to build within the world and create your own stronghold. You be able to construct builds and furnish them. Build defenses including turrets and traps which you will need since bandits will attack any settlements that you have made.
Overall I’m fairly excited for the game. One of the biggest drawbacks I have with the Fallout series is the visuals and they seemed to have improved that by leaps and bounds. I still have questions however I want to know if having a voice protagonist will help Bethesda craft the story differently than they did in years past. How meaningful are the upgrades to weapons, how much am I going to want to use and build and how much is fluff. Can my dog companion die permanently? Will the game support a controller? I want to see everything the game has to offer and what type of tools will they give players who want to mod. Will people just use the existing tools available to them with Skyrim. Fallout 4 left a very good impression on me and I can’t wait to see more.