The Fallout games have all had narratives revolving around a single character reshaping the world after the catastrophic war that all but destroyed humanity and rendered the Earth a radioactive wasteland. The original Fallout saw the Vault Dweller from Vault 13 trying to retrieve a Water Chip to save his vault but eventually having to foil a plot to release a mutagen that would transform any effected survivors into Super Mutants. Fallout 2 saw The Chosen One try to find a Garden of Eden Creation Kit (GECK) to save Arroyo. Fallout 3 had the Vault Dweller of Vault 101 tracking down their father and eventually trying to complete plans to purify the waters of the Potomac (or poison the water to kill all mutations) and Fallout: New Vegas finds “The Courier” having to decide the fate of the Hoover Dam and Las Vegas. While we don’t know any real plot details for Fallout 4 at the moment, what we do know is that the game will continue this tradition of seeing the main character reshape the world, only this time this reshaping will be both narrative and mechanical.
For the first time in the series, players will be literally capable of reforming the world around them thanks to a robust new crafting system that, although the developers have gone to great lengths to explain is in no way a compulsory part of the Fallout 4 experience, looks like to will form a deep and hugely satisfying part of the new game. As a scavenger of the wasteland, players will be able to break down objects to their component parts and then use those resources to build all manner of things ranging from accommodation through to generators, automated sentry guns, gardens and more. As long as the player has enough materials they can build nearly anything they could want, and rather than player built towns simply being a visual modification to the game, they will also effect the population of the wasteland. The bigger and better equipped the town the more people will move there, sometimes opening up businesses or shops, many of which sell rare gear. Set up more than one thriving town and the player can even set up trade caravans running between them to boost the economy and start raking in the bottle caps.
To supplement buildings, players will also need to construct amenities like power generators, lighting and automated sentries, as some survivors are more inclined to raid player settlements than they are to move into them. It hasn’t been clearly stated as yet but it appears that the more successful a settlement becomes the more likely it is to be raided, giving a price to progress. The way built technology will work in Fallout 4 is similar to the way the building of structures works, with modular pieces slotting together to create larger, more complex objects. In the case of lights, sentries and the like, the power generator serves as the hub of all technology for both power and control. Anything requiring power needs to be connected to a generator, and depending on the technology the control terminal in the generator will allow players to modify aspects of the attached technology, such as the intensity and colour of light, display patterns and the like. The gameplay reveal for Fallout 4 showed multiple kinds of defensive weapons being placed and used around a settlement like some kind of brutal tower defence game – we won’t be surprised if some modders make that style of gameplay a reality.
This idea of crafting and modification extends to the player’s armour and weapons. There will be around 50 base gun types with multiple parts that can be swapped in and out to modify the attributes of the base unit. By changing these modifiable aspects of weapons – adding longer or shorter barrels, different shoulder stocks or grips, longer or specialised magazines, players will be able to, according to the developers, create over 700 different weapons with which they can explode the dangers of the wasteland. In many ways, powered armour in Fallout 4 will be treated more like a vehicle than a form of defence, with players being able to modify different modular parts affecting the defensive and movement capabilities of the armour as well as being able to add things like jetpacks to allow for boosted jumps. Hopefully some of these modifications – like the aforementioned jetpack will be available for lighter armours as well, as not everyone wants to get about the wasteland looking like an angry low rent Cyberman.
Plot wise there hasn’t been a great deal of information released as yet, but what has been released is certainly intriguing. The player, either male or female is the only survivor of their Vault – 111 in this case – and rather than being born there, they are survivors from the actual war. Players will be able to experience what life was like before the bombs dropped, in the quaintly retro-futuristic year of 2077 with its 1950s civility and creepy cephalopod style robotic butlers before the inevitable happens and the main character’s family must make a mad dash to the Vault for safety. What we do know is that they don’t make it to the Vault in time and a bomb drops nearby. 200 years later the character emerges blinking from Vault 111, all but unchanged and with no idea that such a length of time has elapsed. Nothing has been revealed about the workings of Vault 111 and the events leading up to the Vault Dweller leaving its safe, if lonely confines, but given the fact that the Vaults all seem to have been based around scientific or psychological experiments we wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that Vault 111 was involved with either cloning or cryogenic research.
The player’s journey will take them through the wasteland and the ruined city of Boston. What they will do there remains to be seen, but given the fact that Iron Brotherhood powered armour is featured strongly in promo are and power armour modification is a key component of the crafting system, we can assume that the character will run into the Brotherhood and most probably the Enclave and other less powerful factions. The conversation system has been redesigned to be more dynamic, with more dialogue choices and the ability to break from conversation at any time, a godsend for anyone who doesn’t want to hear the same snippet of conversation over again if they click the wrong button, of for someone who has been attacked while they’re locked into a conversation. As with previous games, some NPCs will join the Vault Dweller in their mission. We haven’t been introduced to any of them as yet, but we’re definitely looking forward to finding out what they, and the world of Fallout 4, are like in coming months.