Fallout 4: What to Expect

Bethesda dropped a bomb over the course of E3. Several, actually, but this in particular was a nuclear comparison. Fallout 4 has finally been announced. 

Fallout 4 is the going to be the most detailed, dense environment Bethesda has made to date. The world has so much content even game director Todd Howard hasn't seen everything in the game. This means there will be so much exploring for people to do. No word yet on the collectables, such as Bobbleheads from Fallout 3. Speaking of, Fallout 3 will be included with Fallout 4, meaning you can head back to the wasteland and listen to the wise words of Three-Dog himself. Bow-wow-wow.

The extra graphical horsepower provided by the new console gave the team a tech backbone to iterate on its Creation engine and add more dynamic details. Physics-based rendering and volumetric lighting help create more atmosphere in the world, opening the game up to more environmental storytelling. However, the team decided to scale back the graphics to allow for more gameplay mechanics. Unfortunately working with consoles means you are quite limited to what you can actually do. You have to sacrifice some things to make other things better.

Fallout 4's narrative has a lot more branching paths and overlapping of "if that than this" than Fallout 3. They want the game to handle all the fail states of missions instead of forcing players to reload saves. It also means that you can leave mid conversation and shoot the person talking to you in the face, if you should so choose.

Boston and its surrounding regions offer more varied, vivid colors than Fallout 3, though the color palate still relies heavily on grays and browns in the blast zone where the nuke was detonated, much like in the previous games. However, unlike the previous games, Fallout 4 has a full weather system that sends radiation storms across the world.  

Bethesda wants to bring more emotional resonance to the plot thread running through the game. This is why they chose to recruit voice actors for both the female and male protagonists the player can make their own. This means your character will actually have a voice, not just text based responses.

Combat is receiving a major update thanks to some consulting with id Software to improve the second-to-second shooting. The studio even hired away some Bungie talent to help with this remodel. With the new, built-from-scratch shooting system, Fallout 4 plays much more like a modern shooter. You can aim down the sights, use V.A.T.S., and play in first or third person. 

V.A.T.S. has received some slight overhauls. As some of you may have noticed in the demo (which you can see here), it is no longer completely pausing the action, and critical shots are no longer random. If you look at the videos, you'll notice a "critical" bar on the bottom of the screen that the player fills. Once it is fully filled you can decide when to use it. Your luck skill determines how fast the bar increases, and there are perks that dig into how criticals work and how you use them.

Bethesda is tweaking the way encounters works for Fallout 4 to create more challenge. There will be an an area where enemies come from and the will be level 5 to 10, and then a different area will be level 30 and above. This means that you will run into stuff that will crush you, and you will have to run away, or that you can simply walk through an area without fear, once you are a high enough level.

Bethesda's proprietary Radient A.I. and story system are also being used for your settlements to drive random encounters. It will determine if someone should be sent to your town, if raiders should attack the settlement or abduct your caravan, etc. People will come to your settlement on their own but there are also others you can recruit. A list of your settlements will appear in your PipBoy. You can send caravans between the various bases to get your supplies where you want them to be.

As you could see in the trailer, Fallout 4 introduces new modes of transportation in the form of the gunship. There won't be cars or anything, but you can use this gunship to fly, attack and travel.

The workshop system is quite deep for weapons crafting. You can mix and match everything from scopes, muzzles, barrels, stocks, grips, and more. You can also ditch old weapons and use their parts for furthering the creation of your master weapon. All the junk in the world you collect can now be used to build up your settlement and customize your weapons rather than be sold off. Finally, retribution for the hoarders out there.

Companions have always played a role in Fallout games, and that exends into the new game as well. So far Bethesda has only shown off your trusty dog, but expect to see several others as well. 

Another big announcement about the game is that the mod community will get a say on consoles. Mods has always been strong with Bethesda games. Skyrim is barely the same game on PC anymore. Modding tools are expected to become available on PC in early 2016, with Xbox One owners getting access to their creations shortly thereafter. Once the modding is thriving on these two platforms, Bethesda hopes to work on extending this content to PlayStation 4 as well, but there is no timetable for that, yet. When you play a modded version, the game will make a copy of your save file so your pure state game will be preserved.

Fallout for will be released on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 on November 10.